East Meets West for an Easy Weeknight Enchilada

Yeah, I know what you are thinking – East meets West must be some sort of strange Asian twist on a Mexican favorite, right? Wrong. In this case I’m talking about a date in History forever dubbed East Meets West.

World War II made strange bedfellows, or so the saying goes. If you look at American-Russian relations today, it would be hard to imagine these two opposing forces would have fought on the same side. Yet America and Russia were considered allies in World War II.

On April 25, 1945 American and Soviet troops met on the banks of the River Elbe, just 60 miles south of Berlin. The papers ran stories of East Meets West. They did more than just meet on opposite sides of the river. They had a picnic – or rather three picnics. While given orders not to contact one another while on patrol, the Russian and American troops did just the opposite at three different points. The encounters were relaxed and friendly, each side recognizing in the other husbands, fathers and sons. It’s amazing what happens between people when politics are eliminated. Under the uniforms of country alliances, we are all the same. We love, we laugh, we want peace and harmony. It’s the ideology that often gets in the way.

I’ve shared thoughts and photographs (both reenactments for the benefit of the press and actual photos of the day) three different times now. The theme of the meal has always been the same; paying homage to the men involved and to the country it took place in. This time, I’m going in a completely different direction, and it’s due in part to my own American ignorance.

When I think of World War II, I think of Japan, the Philippines, Africa, the Germans, the Italians, the French, the English, all of Europe and of course America. The big players if you will. Those stories and events we are all familiar with, especially through the magic of cinema. That got me to thinking – who else sent troops to fight in this global war? Here’s one we don’t think of – Mexico. Like the United States, Mexico was reluctant to join in the fighting that was “over there”. While diplomatically supporting the war, it would take a German U-Boat’s sinking of two Mexican oil tankers in the Golf of Mexico to spur President Manuel Avila Camacho to issue a formal declaration of war against the Axis Powers on June 1, 1942. President Camacho made it clear that Mexico’s war participation was to be limited to economic and material assistance. But over time the Mexican president sought a greater role in wartime strategies and post-war peace negotiations. He believed this could only be achieved through military participation. The result was Squadron 201; better known as the Aztec Eagles, began training in the United States in July 1944. The Aztec Eagles included 33 pilots and nearly 300 supporting personnel. They would go on to fight alongside the Americans in Manila. Seven pilots died while flying missions.

So while today is East Meets West Day, in my heart I felt we should honor all those who died while fighting an evil that had gripped the world. Today instead of serving up German, Russian or American dishes, I thought let’s celebrate the brave Mexicans who died fighting for the freedom of others.

Easy Weeknight Chicken Enchiladas
1/4 Yellow Onion, diced
1 Celery Rib, dices
1 Jalapeno Pepper, sliced
2 (7 oz) cans Chunky White Chicken, drained
1 (4 oz) can Diced Green Chilies
1-1/2 cups shredded Pepper Jack Cheese
1 (10 oz) can Green Enchilada Sauce
9 Corn Tortillas
1 Roma Tomato
1 Green Onion
Sour Cream as desired, optional
Guacamole as desired, optional

Heat oven to 350-degrees. Spray a large casserole dish or Enchilada Dish with cooking spray, set aside.

Dice onion, set aside. Trim celery, dice and set aside. Stem Jalapeno pepper, slice and set aside.

Drain chicken, place in a mixing bowl. Add onions, celery, green chilies and about half of the shredded cheese to the chicken. Mix well and set aside.

Pour a little enchilada sauce into a pie tin. Dip tortillas, one at a time, into the sauce, wiping off excess to coat lightly. Warm tortilla on a griddle, place on a flat work surface. Repeat until all the tortillas have been dipped and warmed.

Divide chicken filling amount the prepared tortillas. Roll tortillas, jelly-roll style, over the filling. Place in the prepared dish, seam-side down. Ladle remaining enchilada sauce over and around the filled tortillas. Sprinkle with remaining cheese, scatter jalapeno slices over the cheese. Cover and bake in the heated oven for about 25-minutes or until heated through and the cheese is melted.

While the enchiladas bake, seed and dice the tomato. Trim green onion, slice and set aside. When ready, remove the enchiladas from the oven. Scatter tomatoes and green onions over the top. Serve with sour cream and guacamole as desired and enjoy.

Don’t forget those awesome margaritas!

One does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

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