This summer I took a day to recreate some of the more well known dishes of the well known East Lansing restaurant El Azteco. I started off by making some delicious appetizers, but I thought, "Why stop there?" and went all out to make the famous Topopo Salad and Blue Corn Enchiladas as well.

While the Topopo Salad was a piece of cake to throw together, the enchiladas presented themselves as more of a challenge. I had to make the spicy verde sauce from scratch and I couldn't find blue corn tortillas in any of my local grocery stores, so I had to settle for the regular yellow variety. 

With a family of foodies who know their stuff, would I be able to pull this off?

Topopo Salad

  • Prep Time:15 mins
  • Cook Time:0
  • Total Time:15 mins
  • Servings:8
  • Easy


  • 1 head iceberg lettuce shredded
  • 8 oz frozen peas thawed
  • 1 cup shredded cheese choice
  • 2 cups shredded roasted chicken
  • 2 jalapeños finely chopped and seeded/deveined to spice preference
  • 1 bunch green onions chopped
  • 2 fresh tomatoes diced
  • 1/4 cup Romano cheese
  • 1 bag Tortilla chips
  • 2 cans refried beans warmed
  • 2 cups cheese blend
  • 2 cups guacamole
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
vegetable, herb, pepper, pasta
Tatum Kenrick
  • Step 1

    Lay out a layer of chips on an oven-safe serving tray. Spread the refried beans in an even layer. Then top the beans and chips with 2 cups of your cheese blend. Broil this until cheese melts and bubbles.

  • Step 2

    To make the dressing, shake oil, vinegar, and sugar until well combined in a mason jar. Set dressing aside.

  • Step 3

    Take all remaining salad ingredients (besides Romano cheese) and dump them into a big bowl. Mix well with hands, and then dress to preference.

    salad, slaw, coleslaw, lettuce
    Tatum Kenrick
  • Step 4

    On top of tortilla chip base, pile the salad until maximum height is achieved. Dust the Topopo mountain with Romano and serve.

    lettuce, salad, tomato, vegetable, cheese, slaw, coleslaw, onion
    Tatum Kenrick

Blue Corn Enchiladas

  • Prep Time:25 mins
  • Cook Time:45 mins
  • Total Time:1 hr 10 mins
  • Servings:8
  • Medium


  • El Az Cheese Dip
  • 1 package corn tortillas
  • 1 bag shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 can cream mushroom soup
  • 5 jalapeños
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
sauce, lasagna, cheese, chicken
Tatum Kenrick
  • Step 1

    Begin by preheating the oven to 350°F.

  • Step 2

    Prepare the spicy green sauce that gives these enchiladas their signature kick. To do so, cut off the tops of the jalapeños and blend with soup, cumin, and sour cream until smooth.

    chili, pepper, vegetable, jalapeno
  • Step 3

    After the sauce and filling are ready, wrap tortillas in a moist paper towel and microwave for about 30 seconds. This ensures that they won't rip as they're rolled and placed in the baking dish.

    yogurt, milk, cream
  • Step 4

    Fill each tortilla with two hearty spoonfuls of cheese dip, leaving a small lip on the edge closest to you.

    cream cheese, cheese, tzatziki
  • Step 5

    Carefully roll the enchilada into a cigar shape, tucking the edge you left under the filling as well as you can to prevent any leakage.

    Tatum Kenrick
  • Step 6

    Place rolled tortillas seam side down in a baking dish, making sure the enchiladas are snug but not crowded.

    Tatum Kenrick
  • Step 7

    When the dish is filled, pour over the verde sauce. It is important to allow the sauce to settle into every nook and cranny to prevent any dry spots while baking.

    Tatum Kenrick
  • Step 8

    Finally, coat the enchiladas liberally with cheese. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake until bubbling hot, about 40 minutes. Remove foil and place back in oven to brown cheese, about 5 minutes. Serve while piping hot for best results.

    sauce, lasagna, cheese, chicken

After all of the effort I put in to this dinner, I was proud to see everyone go back for seconds.

If you're ever craving El Az but don't want to make the drive into East Lansing and face the hoard of tipsy college students celebrating Tequila Tuesday with a pitcher of margaritas, these recipes are the next best thing. Heck, they might even be the best thing. 
Tatum Kenrick