Dried California Chiles Enchilada Sauce and Crock Pot Stacked Enchiladas

Peyton - day one and two 002

For months, I’ve been making an effort to cook most of our meals at home.  I’m retired and don’t work outside the home.  Although I don’t mind shopping, I try not too spend to much time rushing to the supermarket for a specific (or missing) ingredient.  Instead, I use what I have on hand, make substitutions or completely do without.  Cooking at home has its perks:

1)  Since I’m the one who does most of the cooking at our home, I can keep our meals healthy because I choose the ingredients.

2)  Me and Mister Jack no longer want or need the larger portions served at restaurants.

3)  As long as I shop smart, we save money.

4)  When you save money by cooking your meals at home, then you can put aside funds to occasionally dine out at favorite restaurants.  That way, dining out becomes a special occasion for us.  And it’s even better when we can invite family and friends to join us at a favorite restaurant.  Cooking most of our meals at home allows us to splurge on lunch or dinner.  We very seldom get poor service at our favorite restaurants, so we also make a point to leave at least a 20% tip for our server.

Dried California Enchilada Sauce and Stacked Enchiladas in a Crock Pot


The Sauce

1 – 3 oz. package dried California chiles

2 cups chicken stock

3-4 tablespoons chile powder

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1 tablespoon garlic salt

2 tablespoons oregano

4 tablespoons butter

2 heaping tablespoons cornstarch or flour



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  1. Fill a pot with water (halfway).
  2. Place California chiles in pot.
  3. Bring water to boil.
  4. When chiles soften, turn off the heat.
  5. Drain water and discard.  Remove chiles and place on a plate or cutting board.  Slit each chile.
  6. Remove stems.  Scoop out most seeds. Discard.
  7. Roughly chop chiles, then place in blender or food processor.  Blend chiles into a smooth texture.
  8. Add chile powder, cumin, garlic salt, oregano, 2 cups chicken stock to chile mixture.  Blend.
  9.  In a saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter.
  10.  Whisk cornstarch into the butter until mixture is smooth.
  11. Slowly add enchilada sauce to butter and cornstarch mixture–stirring constantly.
  12. Simmer on low heat for approximately 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  When sauce is slightly thickened, turn off heat and set the sauce aside.

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12 small corn tortillas or 6 large flour or corn tortillas

2 cups filling (shredded cheese, vegetable or meat mixture*)

1 cup chicken stock

Dried California Chiles Enchilada Sauce (above)

1-2 cups shredded cheese

Sliced olives for topping (optional)

Crock Pot Instructions

  1. Coat bottom of crock pot with about 2 tablespoons of enchilada sauce.
  2. Place 4 small tortillas or 2-3 larger tortillas over sauce.
  3. Spread 1 cup of filling over the tortillas.
  4. Repeat steps #2 and #3.
  5. End stacking by topping tortillas and meat mixture with tortillas or tortillas strips.
  6. Sprinkle with cheese.  Top with sliced olives if desired.
  7. Cover and cook on “LOW” setting for about 6-8 hours.
  8. Serve immediately or freeze.

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Refrigerate the Dried California Chiles Enchilada Sauce.  Place the sauce in a sealed container and label with current date.  Use on eggs, chilaquiles, burritos, tacos, etc.  When refrigerated, the sauce will last approximately one week.

sauce 217 sauce 218

Crock Pot Stacked Enchiladas makes an easy and inexpensive meal.  Like most crock pot and casserole dishes, it’s even better the next day as leftovers.  Here is how I packed Mister Jack’s work lunch for next day.

Peyton - day one and two 004

*Meat Mixture for Enchilada Filling

To save time, I freeze leftover meat filling and use it later for burritos, tacos and casseroles.  I used pulled rabbit for these enchiladas since I already had that stored in my freezer.  The pulled rabbit filling already contained  sauce, spices, onions, garlic and celery–saving me even more time.

Choose shredded or diced:

  • chicken
  • beef
  • pork
  • turkey

If desired, add chopped garlic, onion, celery and spices to meat mixture.














  1. Deborah Neyens · July 12, 2014

    Looks delicious! Thanks for sharing.

    • Arlene Poma · July 12, 2014

      Sure, Deb! I had this craving for enchiladas. Since it was 103+ outside, I didn’t want to use the oven. Nor did I want to go to our favorite Mexican restaurant and eat lunch by my lonesome.

  2. marlenebertrand · July 16, 2014

    This is a fabulous recipe. I don’t normally cook because my husband is the cook in our family. But every now and then I will try something new. The first time I made one of your enchilada recipes (stacked) I got rave reviews. I never thought about making the sauce from scratch. But, you make it look so easy it is worth the effort to have homemade sauce. I see you use the green olives. I normally use black olives. I like green olives, too so I think when I make this dish I will try the green olives. I have everything I need in the pantry right now. I’m thinking I’ll try this one tomorrow (Thursday).

    • Arlene Poma · July 17, 2014

      Thanks, Marlene! Yeah, it’s basically the same recipe that you so graciously added to your blog. I learned how to make tamales years ago, so I decided to make a different gravy/sauce with California chili pods in order to bring a regular enchilada sauce recipe to life. I used to make the traditional enchilada dish for years. Like dipping the tortillas in the sauce before stuffing it with filling. Finally, I got too lazy to do all of that. I decided to layer the tortillas the same way I would layer certain pasta dishes. A lot less effort. As you know, the farm stands all over California have all kinds of olives, jams, jellies, sauces, etc. to choose from. The olives you see in the post are actually garlic-stuffed olives that we buy from a vendor at Denio’s Farmers Market/Swap Meet in Roseville. Both me and Jack have been going there for years. I didn’t have any black olives on hand, so I used the green ones. Now that I am cooking most of our meals, I’ve finally realized that I don’t need to plan menus or shop every Sunday. I used to struggle with cooking for just the two of us. Now, I can put a meal together as long as I keep the refrigerator, freezer and pantry stocked. I am a recipe and food blog junkie. Don’t need to follow recipes. I just use them as a guide. Use what ingredients that I have. We make the effort to make our meals at home count, and not to waste. We purchased a smoker in May, so Jack will fix meals on the weekends. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for a break! He loves using the smoker because the meat always comes out moist and tender. He can also use it to cook potatoes and vegetables. When we do go out to eat, we appreciate it even more because it’s a treat.. It’s such an accomplishment for us to eat a lot more healthier than we’ve had when we first met. Sure, we’ll splurge at times. Dining out is now more of a treat instead of a necessity. I just want us to be happy and healthy, so I don’t mind making an effort to plan, shop and cook our meals. I rely on food bloggers for ideas and recipes. I’m a huge fan.

  3. marlenebertrand · July 17, 2014

    I had to back up and re-read your sentence about using the smoker to cook potatoes and vegetables. Never in a million years would I have thought of doing that. But, now that you mention it, that sounds like a marvelous idea. The flavors must be extraordinarily savory. My husband and I have a smoker that we have not used since we moved to this area three years ago. We don’t like using our smoker. We should have bought the kind that has the barrel shape. Instead, we bought the kind that stands upright. It’s OK, but it requires a lot of work to get the meat smoked just right. But, I’ll bet it would work perfectly for vegetables. It might just be worth taking off the cover and firing it up again. Arlene, you always have the most amazing ideas. I can now see the benefit of reading food blogs.

    • Arlene Poma · July 18, 2014

      Marlene, me and the hubby took a road trip a few years back. While in Texas, we stopped at this place for gas. It was outside of Amarillo, but out in the middle of nowhere was this huge store right next to it. Pay for the gas inside that store, and you’ll notice that it’s designed as a tourist’s dream. Not only do you have the big drinks, gourmet food and junk food, you’ve got a department store with all the goodies you’ll ever need for home and on the road. I mean, I could not walk out of there without buying a Christmas ornament with TEXAS all over it. They had those huge, black horizontal smokers of every size. Parked outside in every size you could imagine. I mean, these people meant business, and those smokers took up a city block. And as we were driving away, I could not get the vision out of my mind. I wanted one, but how were we going to stuff the huge smoker of my choice in the trunk of Mister Jack’s ’93 Taurus??? So I finally bought the dream in May. After we were going home from Tahoe, I made him sit with me and listen to one of those timeshare sell jobs. All we needed to do was stuff our faces with the free breakfast burritos, listen to the sales pitch, say “No!,”and take the gift card. I explained to him that it was MY turn to use the money on something I wanted. He was whining because he wanted to take off to Virginia City NOW. Oh, no way! Mama was gonna get her smoker. I had it all mapped out. We would make our regular Tahoe-Virginia City-Reno-Sacramento run. But we would stop by Cabela’s in Reno to pick up a smoker. He didn’t know that back then, but he knows that when I have a burr up my butt about something I truly want, NOTHING will stand in my way. Now, Mister Jack ain’t no dummy. He knew for a long time that I wanted a smoker, so he did his research by asking his co-workers who constantly do the “manly-man” thang and consider themselves “grill and barbecue” experts. I mean, aren’t they all??? Anyway, we have a small, vertical smoker that is electric. I always thought of smokers as being something like an oven that always need to be stoked with wood or something. You see them all the time in restaurants and on television, but you have choices. Anyway, you can have one of those. Or you can have one that is powered by a tank (like those fancy, shiny barbecues that I love to look at) or electricity. During that same road trip to Texas, we had toured the Jack Daniels Distillery outside of Nashville. We found out about their whiskey barrels. At Cabela’s, we also bought Jack Daniels chips. Made from their whiskey barrels. We will only use those because we are sold on the flavor that it brings to whatever meat we decide to cook. It has its perks because I can’t stand hard liquor. I mean, I don’t drink, but I do use beer and wine in my cooking because the alcohol will burn off but leave the flavor. Same thing with those chips. This is the only time Mister Jack enjoys cooking, so I take full advantage of him making our meals over the weekend or whenever we have company. In fact, I just bought more bags of Jack Daniels chips at the local Wal-Mart. To my frugalista delight, they were like two or three dollars cheaper than the ones we bought in Reno. Score! Anyway, since your hubby loves to cook, try getting that smoker out of retirement. The secret in the flavor is in the chips you choose and whatever seasoning you use on the meat. I don’t even use the smoker because it’s basically an oven that can be set at the right temperature and left alone. Mister Jack won’t do that, but I have a tendency to wander while I cook or bake. The smoker is his baby. He no longer uses his beloved Weber grill. In fact, I recently found some Jack Daniels charcoal at the local dollar store, but he hasn’t even opened the bag. I only make sure that the racks and the drip pan are always clean and ready to use. And that’s it. Thanks for the blog post idea! I’ve been trying to get some recipes together, but I need to interview the Master Chef. I also want to do a product review of the smoker.

  4. marlenebertrand · July 18, 2014

    Definitely do a product review of the smoker. I didn’t know you could buy electric smokers. I’ve never even seen one. Your product review is sure to be a highly read article.

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