Red Chili Enchilada Sauce

Red Chili Enchilada Sauce

This is a bit of a teaser for what’s to come on Thursday — for simplicity sake, I wanted to break out the instructions for the sauce and another recipe (plus, there are plenty of ways to use this sauce!). And no… enchiladas are not on the docket! (Though that reminds me I should make some enchiladas soon). In any case, my lips are sealed. You’ll see Thursday’s recipe soon enough!

I first “dared” to make my own enchilada sauce while I was working in a restaurant in college. I was not the saucier, or anything close to it — more like waitress that occasionally helped with some baking - but when I was baking, I would watch the happenings of the kitchen while I slowly stirred a caramel, weighed flours, or chilled dough. It just so happened that my station was right next to the saucier, and that is what gave me the confidence to make this sauce.

Red Chili Enchilada Sauce

First, I realized that the marvelous sauce that was used for braising pork was as simple as puréeing some select ingredients in the blender — and then, I realized that said sauce was pretty darn close to enchilada sauce. I did a little bit of reading and next thing you know I was blending enchilada sauce every week (even without the blender lid on one time… but we’ll save that messy story for another time).

You can use this sauce for oh so many more things than enchiladas (though using it in these leftover turkey enchiladas is perfect). In fact, I started using it to braise beef (Oofta! That recipe is old — please forgive those grainy photos. Oh what a difference three years makes), but now I’m much more into making enchilada casseroles or huevos rancheros with salsa rojo.

Sauce is the start of many a great dish. More sauce! If any of you have ever watched Chopped, you know the judges are always talking about sauce, and with good reason. 😋

Red Chili Enchilada Sauce

Red Chili Enchilada Sauce

Published September 25, 2018 by
   Print This Recipe

Serves: 2 cups   |    Active Time: 20 minutes


  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 sixteen-oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup broth (chicken, beef or veggie)
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper

  • Directions:

    1. Heat coconut oil over medium-high heat in a skillet on the stove. When the oil glistens, add onion and garlic and sauté until onions are transparent and starting to brown. Remove from heat.
    2. In a blender (I use a Blendtec - affiliate link!), combine onions and garlic, diced tomatoes, broth, chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper. Secure lid on blender and purée.
    3. Use sauce immediately or store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to a week.


    The Garden | 2018

    Xeriscape Garden in Colorado with Squash Arch

    Early this spring, I wrote about how I was spending long days removing our grass and xeriscaping our front yard. I promised a few readers that I'd share a post once all was said and done, so here it is! 

    Above: Our front yard, with grass completely gone. Mulched, rocked, and raised veggie beds in. We planted two trees last year (to the right of the veggie beds: a clump of Aspens and a Ohio Buckeye), which are still quite small but hopefully will grow tall and provide us with lots of shade. You can see our corrugated metal garden beds with squash arch, and a small xeriscape garden patch where we're growing native flowers (like echinacea, candytuft, primrose, yarrow, blanket flower, lupine, etc) and herbs (mint, sage, rosemary, lavender, thyme, chives, oregano, and tarragon). Next year -- or perhaps this fall if I'm feeling motivated - I'll add some flowering bushes (like Russian Sage), along with other native flowers on the righthand side of the yard. And ultimately, we'll put in a path going straight up to the front door with flagstone. 

    Summer Xeriscape Flowers

    The first thing most people say when they walk up to the house is, "I didn't realize you put your vegetables in your front yard!" It is a bit different, I know, but our backyard is almost completely shaded so the front yard is much better for veggies. And so far, I like how it adds a focal point to the yard! 

    Sugar Snap Peas in the Morning

    My favorite thing all summer has been getting out in the garden before the heat hits. The lighting is beautiful, and I can see how everything is doing without burning up. 

    Above: Sugar snap peas in early morning.

    Below: First spaghetti squash in early summer. This year, I grew several type of winter squash -- Spaghetti squash, Kabocha, Delicata, and Acorn. Of those, the spaghetti squash and Kabocha squash plants had the most epic harvests -- just one squash vine would reach from one end of the 16-foot squash arch to the other and then onto the ground. Their leaves created a canopy that offers lots of shade and even protection from rain… by the time late summer rolled around, you could hide in that little tunnel through all sorts of weather! 

    Spaghetti Squash growing on squash arch.
    Acorn squash growing on vine
    Squash arch in garden

    Above: Squash tunnel in mid-summer.

    Below: I grew tons of basil this year, most of which we used fresh in bruschetta, but I’ll be making a big batch of this pesto which I highly recommend using in this zoodle recipe! I also grew a patch of Thai basil, which we added to stir fries and curries all summer long -- we still are! 

    Fresh basil, growing in garden beds

    My adventures in tomato growing were slightly less successful -- the bed where the tomatoes grew had terrible issues with blight. I removed a few plants, including a Black Cherry Tomato and a Striped Roman Tomato. In part, this is because I planted too close together… lesson learned. What remained: Brad's Atomic Grape Tomatoes (the prettiest!), some simple La Roma Tomatoes, Blue Gold Berry Tomatoes, and Yellow Pear Cherry Tomatoes. 

    Below: Brad’s Atomic Tomatoes, green on the vine. Below that: Brad’s Atomic Tomatoes harvested.

    The Roma tomatoes were best for carpese and cooking; the Brad’s Atomic Tomatoes were best for eating straight with just a touch of salt, and the Blue Gold and Yellow Pear Cherry Tomatoes were best for salads. I’ve already vetted a list of super blight resistant tomatoes for next year… as I wander around the neighborhood, I see virtually every other garden had similar issues, likely because of our super wet June.

    Tomatoes growing on the vine
    Ripe Brad's Atomic Grape Tomatoes

    Below: An Antigua eggplant on the vine. Below that: A basket full of eggplants.

    I went crazy when it came to planting eggplants. There was just so many varieties to choose from! We eat a lot of eggplant around here (it’s Oliver’s fave), so it seemed fine in May, but since July hit not a week has gone by with less than 5 eggplants to harvest. This copious harvest lead to this Eggplant Cannelloni recipe, but we also made this Harissa Roasted Eggplant, grilled eggplant, and this Roasted Eggplant Salad. In need of more recipes…. please comment with your fave!

    Antigua eggplant growing on plants
    Eggplant harvest in basket

    One thing I’ve barely touched yet in the garden are the hearty greens. While other items in the garden reach a “ripeness point,” the greens just keep growing and growing and I’ve let them go. The Swiss Chard is at least twice as big as what’s shown in the picture below now! And the kale, to the right, is super tall. Just last night I used it to make a Chopped Kale Salad with Dates, Bacon and Pecans.

    Swiss chard growing in garden bed

    Below: Dragon Tongue Beans on the vine.

    Our bean harvest this year was epic — since the plants started fruiting, I’ve had a salad bowl full of beans on the counter that I just can’t get through… they are growing faster than we are eating! This week’s to do list: Pickle some beans! The dragon tongue beans are my favorite because of their colors, but our giant pile of beans is from the Blauhide Poles Beans we grew.

    Next year, I’ll add some yellow and green beans into the mix. 🌈

    Dragon tongue beans growing on vine
    Bean harvest in wooden bowl

    Below: Chamomile flowers in bloom. After the big hail storm in June, I replaced a few plants that I thought were never going to make it with seedlings I found on super sale at a nearby homestead. One of these was a little chamomile plant.

    As the flowers bloomed, I plucked them and dried them. From just this one little plant — which was a bit smothered by an eggplant that took over the space - I got enough for about 2 cups of tea, but BOY do they smell amazing.

    Chamomile flowers in bloom

    Peppers! I planted a few types of peppers this year — Jalapeño, Shishito, Thai chili, Pimiento, and Poblano. Quite a few got wiped out by hail, so later in the season I added some Big Jim and a Red Bell to the mix. Far and away my favorites so far this season were the Poblano and Big Jim, which I stuffed (Poblano recipe here! Big Jim recipe here).

    Below: Biggest pepper harvest yet this season.

    Pepper harvest in basket

    One of the largest losses in the garden this summer was my corn.

    I babied the corn from the get-go, though I also learned I did quite a few things wrong. Turns out, corn doesn’t like to be planted in a row, but in a block. Despite my ignorance, the stalks grew tall — 8 feet! So I hand pollinated them, and they went to town making corn ears.

    Some time in July we got a massive wind storm that blew a branch off our cottonwood tree and onto the corn, bending the stalks in half. Still, the corn recovered. I tied each stalk to a big bamboo stake and they continued to grow.

    And then, one by one the ears disappeared. Darn squirrels! I hope they appreciated all of the work that went into it. Below: I snapped a picture of one ear they left on the ground — a red an purple ear, not quite ripe. So beautiful! This is called Painted Mountain Corn, which does well at higher elevations, and the ears show a variety of colors. I am a sucker for off-beat varieties you can’t find in the grocery store.

    I haven’t decided if I’ll plant corn again next year — I want to - but it’s all a matter of space.

    Painted Mountain Corn

    One of my most exciting harvests all summer was just this week: a sugar baby watermelon!

    It went from baby (below) to all grown up (below that) in just a month or so!

    I also have a muskmelon plant with about 5 melons (not ripe yet!) and a honey dew plant that I put in after the hail. I’m not sure if the honey dew will ripen before our first frost — it’s still only half the size of my fist.

    Baby Watermelon
    Watermelon Harvest

    We don’t see many hummingbirds in my neighborhood, but at the peak of the squash bloom season one took a liking to the yard. Every time I saw him, I would stay very still and just watch.

    In the end, creating this garden was the most therapeutic, rewarding, beautiful thing I did all summer. Watching everything grow from seed and then actually fruit was delightful, and spending the early mornings amongst the bees and the birds was so relaxing, even when life was not.

    Late summer harvest in a basket
    Summer harvest on table

    Below: Happy place.

    Squash arch with morning light

    Cinnamon Pecan Almond Butter

    Cinnamon Pecan Almond Butter

    Almonds, pecans, and a dash of cinnamon. That's it: three ingredients is all you need to make this lusciously smooth nut butter, one that is far superior than anything you'll find in a store. And it's not just superior because you're left with a victorious sense of "I made that!" ... it's seriously creamy, with a flavor that leaves you wanting the whole jar for dessert.

    Some almond butters are thick: they stick to the top of your mouth and clump up when spread on toast. This is not one of those almond butters. Thanks to the addition of pecans, which are naturally buttery, this almond butter is smooth and creamy.

    Pecans have a natural sweetness which sometimes tastes a bit like caramel to me. (If you're as big of a food nerd as I am, maybe you'll appreciate this report I found on different varieties of pecans and their tasting notes.) 

    Cinnamon Pecan Almond Butter
    Cinnamon Pecan Almond Butter

    That caramelly taste is paired perfectly with a touch of cinnamon -- which is also naturally sweet - and the whole trio goes amazing well on a sliced apple (the combo is reminiscent of apple pie), a banana (I have long had "caramel banana crepes" on my list of recipes to create, but spreading nut butter on a banana is far easier), toast, oatmeal...I could go on... and don't forget straight from a spoon!

    And the magic is all in those pecans. 

    So why even bother with adding almonds? Well, they're cheaper for one. And that texture we were talking about before actually helps out here: pecan butter can be a runny when it's just pecans. Almonds balance that out.

    So, there you have it: dreamy, creamy, caramelly cinnamon pecan almond butter. Eat up! 

    Cinnamon Pecan Almond Butter
    Cinnamon Pecan Almond Butter

    Cinnamon Pecan Almond Butter

    Published June 5, 2018 by
       |     Print This Recipe

    Yields: ~1-1/2 cups nut butter   |    Total Time: 20 minutes


  • 220g almonds 
  • 150g pecans 
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  • Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread pecans and almonds out in a single layer on a sheet pan, and place in oven for about 5 minutes, until nuts are fragrant and golden. Side aside to cool for about 15 minutes.
    2. Place nuts and cinnamon in a high-powered blender. I use a Blendtec with the Twister Jar because the lid also scrapes the sides as you go (affiliate link). Place lid on blender and blend on high (or work your way up to speed 10), blending for a minute at a time, and then turning the blender off to scrape the sides. Repeat this process until the nut butter is smooth and velvety. Note: If you place the nuts in while they are still hot, they will get even hotter in the blender — you may see steam in the blender. If you do, let the nut butter cool off before you taste it to avoid burning your tongue!
    3. Scrape nut butter into a jar with an air-tight lid. Great on apples, bananas, toast, or by the spoonful!