Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Holly has been my best friend since 4th grade. She’s the kind of friend who’s like a sister or a family member to me — I’ve known her for so long that she’s part of who am, too.

Holly is sassy, vibrant and fun-loving. She’s a hard worker and a real-talker. She improves my life every time I talk to her. But there have been moments — just two, over the last 15+ years — when we haven’t gotten along quite so well.

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Our first fight happened when we were juniors in high school. I penned a note to Holly while I was in health class: I wanted to date a new boy. But in typical best friend form, she hated him. I told her that she needed to chill out. He was fine and I liked him, so she should be supportive. I texted her, asking to meet in the bathroom, and she came running in a few minutes later. She grabbed the note from me, promptly burst into tears, and I left.

I don’t remember how that fight got resolved, except that Holly never gave up on hating that boy. I eventually went on a date with him and it was a disaster — so it turned out that Holly was right, of course, just as your favorite people often are.

Our second fight happened when we worked in the kitchen of a sleep away camp during the summer after our freshman year of college. I was the camp baker. She was the all-around kitchen assistant. We cooked for 400 kids every week, and it was both fun and exhausting. It’s rare that the weather gets above 85 in Seattle, but that summer we got record temperatures of 95 degrees. The kitchen crackled with heat and we took our breaks in the walk-in refrigerator to cool off.

On one fantastically hot Thursday night, I was making brownies for 400 and Holly was working in the dish pit. The pit was a fun job in the heat – the faucet was a hose, and you had to wear a giant waterproof apron. I walked over to talk to Holly and suddenly felt myself blasted, head to toe, with water. Holly had aimed the faucet at me and turned it on, full power. And I was livid. I don’t know why I didn’t just laugh and walk back to my cabin to change, but I couldn’t get over it. She laughed, but I didn’t think it was funny at all. An hour later, Holly walked a tray of brownies into the fridge and knocked the edge of the hot pan into her arm accidentally, burning herself badly. But I didn’t even feel bad for her — I was resolved to be angry at her for what she’d done. A few hours later, however, we were happily eating brownies and burgers by the lake. We call it “our longest fight ever.”

Of course, these stories seem silly now. But I can’t help but think about how thankful I am for Holly, for her wackiness, for the waterfall of dish runoff that hit me that summer, for her desire to tell me that some guy was a jerk even when I didn’t want to hear it. Throughout the years since high school, I’ve visited Holly in her many apartments and homes up and down the west coast. And whenever I visit, I show her how thankful I am for her friendship by doing what I do best: I cook. Today, I’m sharing her favorite recipe of mine: Sweet Potato Enchiladas.


Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Makes 6 enchiladas, enough for 4 people (it’s also a great dinner for 2 with leftovers)
  • 1 yellow onion, cut in half then sliced into thin rings
  • 6 diced cremini mushrooms
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 T butter
  • 2 t chipotle seasoning (taco seasoning works great as a replacement here)
  • 1 can enchilada sauce
  • 3 cups grated jack cheese
  • 6 flour tortillas
  • optional toppings: green onions, cilantro, lime, avocado

Put a pot of water on to boil. Meanwhile, saute the onions in olive oil for 3 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add the mushrooms and garlic to the plan and cook them over medium heat for an additional 4 minutes. Once the mushrooms are nicely browned, remove the pan from heat.

When the water begins to boil, drop the sweet potato chunks into the water with a pinch of salt. Cook until the potatoes can be easily pricked with a fork, about 8-10 minutes. Strain the potatoes over the sink, then add them to a medium-sized mixing bowl. Using a fork or potato masher, mash the potatoes. Add the onions, mushrooms, garlic, butter and chipotle seasoning to the mixture. Stir to combine. Finish with salt and pepper, to taste.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F and lightly grease a 13×9 pan. To assemble the enchiladas, lay a tortilla flat. Spoon filling down the middle of the tortilla (I add about 1/3 cup of filling to each enchilada) and drizzle with enchilada sauce. Top with a small sprinkling of cheese, then roll it up into a tube and add to your pan. Repeat with the other tortillas, laying them side-by-side in a row. Depending on the size of your sweet potatoes, you may have enough for all 6 or you might end up with 4 – it changes every time I make these. Top the tortillas with the remaining enchilada sauce and cheese and bake for 15 minutes at 375. Then turn the oven up to 450 and bake for an additional 10 minutes, until the top starts to brown and bubble. Let cool for 5 minutes, then top with avocado and green onion to serve.

**Lately I’ve been making these for Sean with chicken and he loves them. Simply replace the sweet potatoes in this recipe with shredded roasted chicken breast or thigh meat! They also freeze really well.

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