Feeding a Crowd for Pennies

When you’re faced with a big group heading your way for dinner, it’s easy to go overboard with your menu- you don’t want people to go hungry, after all. If you want to stay on budget, though, you need to reach for a crowd-pleasing recipe that is tasty, filling and cheap to make. So let’s see how we can be feeding a crown for pennies!

Veggie chili, lasagna, and pot pies are all entertaining staples in our house, but we wanted to mix it up for this spring-like celebratory meal. I’m making this awesome meal for my study group, a great bunch of folks all working towards their Master’s degree in nutrition.

After heading to the farmer’s market, we scored a few butternut squashes on the cheap (about $2/each) and decided to incorporate them into a meal that would be veggie-friendly and delicious.

Enter: Butternut Squash Enchiladas. Unconventional? Yes. Authentic? Probably not. Delicious and cheapy cheap? Check and check.

We intended to serve this with a spice-rubbed pork tenderloin we grabbed on sale at our local butcher for about $3 but ended up just serving the enchiladas because the recipe yielded twice the amount we intended to make.

Butternut Birthday Enchiladas

Note: this takes a little over an hour to make, but you can prep the enchilada sauce and squash in advance and refrigerate. If you’re crunched for time, sub-store-bought enchilada sauce and thawed, frozen squash gussied up with some spices.

Preheat oven to 400° f. Halve and seed 2 medium squash and throw in a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil or dot with a couple of tablespoons of diced, cold butter. Optional: sprinkle with chipotle or chili powder, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Roast for around 30m (depending on how big your squash are, this could take up to an hour).

While the squash is doing its thing, make the enchilada sauce.

In a saucepot, combine:
2-28 oz cans of tomatoes (we used stewed but whole or tomato sauce is fine)
12 tbsp ground cumin
12 tsp chili powder (not HOT, unless you’re a spicy person)
14 to 12 tsp chipotle powder (depending on how spicy you like your food)
14 tsp cinnamon
zest of 1 lime
juice of 1 lime
12 tsp salt and pepper

Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes or so.

Let cool and puree in the blender (unless you like chunky tomatoes in your sauce!)

When your squash is done, it should give when you poke it with a fork or your finger. Scoop out the flesh and mash it up. Mix in 1 or two containers of cream cheese, goat cheese or whatever you like- cotija or feta would yummy.

Here, you can also pretty these bad boys up with some black beans, corn, shredded chicken or whatever else makes you happy. Just be sure to not take too many risks, that would be a pity, wouldn’t it? I’ll be honest. Part of my delicious recipe comes from one of Chicago’s top restaurants, but I definitely gave it my own twist, don’t worry!

Pour about a cup of sauce in your casserole dish. Plop a tablespoon of filling in each corn tortilla and roll into a tight little roll. Stick into the dish seam side down. When you’re done, pour the sauce over top to cover, top with shredded cheese (we like jack). Bake 400° f until brown and bubbly.

We garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with homemade pico de gallo. The Pioneer Woman’s is yummy!

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