Pork Tenderloin Chimichanga

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food With Soul: Pork Tenderloin Chimichanga! If you want to step up your game from an ordinary burrito, but really prefer the flavor of crispy fried foods, there are healthier ways to accomplish it without a deep fryer. Anyone who owns an air fryer will attest to that. I haven’t purchased this countertop convection yet, although my new kitchen does have the option on the built-in wall unit. The one time I tested it produced a charred burn mark on the wooden cutting board afterwards. The jury is still out if I’ll make another attempt at it. These chimichangas are baked in the oven and deliver golden brown crunchy results. Tried-and-True techniques go a long way in my book.

PORK TENDERLOIN CHIMICHANGA

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups pork tenderloin, cooked and shredded

2/3 cup medium picante sauce, prepared

1/3 cup green onions

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

8 flour tortillas

1/4 cup melted butter

1 cup Mexican blend cheeses, shredded

Lettuce, tomatoes, onions

Ranch dressing, prepared

Fresh lime wedges, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Spray a 9”x13” baking dish with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a large skillet, combine shredded pork tenderloin, picante sauce, green onion, ground cumin, dried oregano, and sea salt. Simmer 5 minutes to heat through and allow most of the liquid to evaporate. Remove from heat. Brush both sides of a flour tortilla with melted butter. Spoon 1/3 cup meat mixture into the center; top with 2 tablespoons Mexican blend cheese. Fold 2 sides over filling; fold ends down. Place seam side down in prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Bake 15 minutes or until crisp and golden brown. Serve lettuce fixings drizzled with ranch dressing. Garnish with lime wedges.

Double-Decker Shrimp Nachos

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Double-Decker Shrimp Nachos! Get set for a taste extravaganza that will implode inside your mouth. Talk about a nacho upgrade. It just may kick the ordinary version to the curb. Look at the ingredient list: sautéed shrimp, gooey cheeses, cayenne peppers, and fresh veggies. Double-Decker means two layers of mouthwatering goodness. Better add a side of plain yogurt or sour cream to control the fire, just in case. Keep ingredients on hand. You’re going to end up making it twice!

DOUBLE-DECKER SHRIMP NACHOS

Ingredients:

11-ounce bag corn tortilla chips

12-ounce bag large cooked shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon crushed oregano

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

8-ounces Mexican cheese blend, finely shredded

2 Roma tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup corn, frozen and thawed

4-5 green onions, snipped

1 avocado, sliced

1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a 9”x13” glass dish with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm olive oil. Arrange shrimp in a single layer. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, crushed oregano, and garlic salt. Turn shrimp to brown both sides. Remove from heat. Repeat if necessary until all shrimp is sautéed. Line bottom of glass dish with a single layer of corn tortilla chips, slightly overlapping. Place half the shrimp over chips. You may cut the shrimp into bite-size pieces. Sprinkle 1 cup of Mexican cheese blend over shrimp. Next top cheeses with one chopped tomato and corn. Using a kitchen shears, snip 2 green onions into bite-size pieces randomly over top. Repeat process for second layer, beginning with tortilla chips. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted. Remove from oven. Garnish with sliced avocado and a dollop of sour cream. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes for extra flavor. Serve warm.

Flatbread Fiesta

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Flatbread Fiesta! Do you ever tire of the same old pizza choices? I get in a rut the same way everyone else does. About that time I stand in front of the freezer, door open, peering into its contents searching for ideas to try something extraordinary. Sure, I’m the one buying the groceries (and should know what’s in the house) but that’s when I surprise myself with unexpected specials. Chorizo is one of those impulse items that make it into the cart. I often fry it up, crumble it for meals later on, label it, and then store it in the freezer for another day. It’s at times like this I pat myself on the back with congratulations for having such foresight.

FLATBREAD FIESTA

Ingredients:

1 naan flatbread

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon cornmeal

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup chunky salsa, prepared

1 cup Mexican cheeses, shredded

1/2 cup cooked chorizo, drained and crumbled

2 tablespoons yellow onion, chopped

2 tablespoons green chilies, chopped

2 tablespoons jalapeño peppers, chopped

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Set aside. Rub olive oil on bottom of flatbread. Spread with cornmeal, pressing into the dough. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Flip over and place this side down on prepared baking sheet. Brush top with remaining olive oil. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove flatbread from oven. Carefully spoon chunky salsa over flatbread, spreading to edges. Layer Mexican cheeses over top. Divide cooked and crumbled chorizo over salsa. Finish layering with chopped onions, green chilies, and jalapeño peppers. Bake 15 minutes longer to melt the cheeses for a nice crispy crust. Remove flatbread from oven. Cool slightly before using a pizza cutter. Serve with a tossed garden salad.

Quesadilla Chile Relleno

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Quesadilla Chile Relleno! Before you shake your head and walk away, hear me out. Green poblano peppers are a pretty mild distant cousin to the jalapeño and habanero. You could almost say they’re from the “other side of the tracks”, so to speak. Personally, I think they’re underrated. If you look up their classification, they might even be referred to as sweet. Now, I don’t know about that. What I do know is they smell somewhat earthy, tend to hold their shape, and are absolutely scrumptious when bathed in Mexican cheeses. In my opinion, they definitely deserve a second chance. What have you got to lose?

QUESADILLA CHILE RELLENO

Ingredients:

2 large flour tortillas

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup Mexican-style four cheeses, shredded

2 poblano peppers, roasted, peeled, and sliced in strips

1/4 cup yellow onion, chopped

1/4 cup ranch dressing, prepared

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon sriracha sauce

Instructions:

Butter one side of each flour tortilla. Set aside. Warm an iron skillet or nonstick pan over medium heat. Place one tortilla in the skillet, butter side down. Add half the Mexican cheeses. Arrange the poblano peppers in a single layer over cheese. Scatter chopped onion over all. Add remaining Mexican cheese blend. Place the remaining tortilla on top, butter side up. Press down lightly. Cover the pan with a lid. Cook 3-4 minutes until tortilla is lightly browned and cheese is melted. Using a spatula, flip over the quesadilla. Cover with lid. Cook 2-3 minutes longer until golden brown. Do not burn. Transfer quesadilla to a cutting board. Let rest for 2 minutes to avoid a flood of gooey cheese. In a small bowl, combine prepared ranch dressing, cayenne pepper, and sriracha sauce. Mix well. Cut the quesadilla into 6 triangles. Serve with sriracha ranch dipping sauce.

Dining Outside the Home: Burger Brasserie in Las Vegas, Nevada

Dining Outside the Home: Burger Brasserie in Las Vegas, Nevada! What happens when the French take an American classic and turn it into their own version of a sandwich? Give up? You get a number of gourmet burgers made of chicken, lamb, or beef with incredible toppings. Caramelized onions are a given. Gruyère, Bleu, and Brie cheeses are also an option, among others. And the buns…well, never mind ordinary white bread, it’s not even on the menu. After all, this is the Paris casino. Expect the best. If you’re feeling lucky, go for the $777 Burger. It’s made with Kobe beef and topped with lump Maine lobster. No worries, included is a bottle of Don Perignon Champagne. After all, this is Vegas.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter A

Letter A – What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Simple Sensations: Au Gratin Potatoes! How’s this for comfort food? Butter, cream, and cheese……with potatoes thrown in. Can you say creamy and luscious three times very fast???
AU GRATIN POTATOES 
Ingredients:

6 medium potatoes 

1 clove garlic 

1 sweet onion, sliced thin

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

6 tablespoons butter

1 cup half & half cream

2 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese* 

Sea salt and pepper to taste. 

* Gruyere or Provolone or all three may be combined. 
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Lightly rub garlic all over a 9×13 baking dish. Butter dish then set aside unused portion of butter. Peel and slice potatoes. Hold in a bowl of cold water until ready to use. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion until cooked. Divide drained potatoes, cooked onion, and shredded cheese into three layers in baking dish, reserving last third of cheese until the final 5 minutes of baking. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat remaining butter with cream until the butter is melted and the cream is hot. Pour evenly over the top of the casserole. Bake for 45-50 minutes until the top is browned, the cream has been absorbed, and the potatoes are soft. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet; Letter U

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? A Burst of Flavor: Understated Stuffed Stromboli! Everyone likes finger food. Take a ready-made French bread dough, add your favorite meats, and cheeses….and Voilà, you have a speedy sandwich assembled in minutes. I often serve it with a side of marinara sauce for dipping. Leftovers make a tasty midnight snack, whether you warm it up or eat it cold. Either way, you won’t see this understated grinder hang around very long. 
UNDERSTATED STUFFED STROMBOLI
Ingredients:

1 tube refrigerated crusty French bread

1 cup mozzarella cheese, finely shredded

1 cup cheddar cheese, finely shredded

1/4 pound deli smoked ham, thinly sliced

1/4 pound deli salami, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon butter, melted

3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

1/8 teaspoon dill weed
Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375°. Unroll the dough and pat into a rectangle about 12″ x 14″. Sprinkle with mozzarella to within half an inch from the edges. Layer ham over mozzarella cheese. Top ham with cheddar cheese. Then layer salami over the cheddar cheese. Roll up lengthwise; seam side down on an ungreased baking sheet. Tuck ends under. Brush with melted butter. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Garnish with dill weed. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Slice into four servings. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet; Letter M

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Daily Special: Meatball Marinara Moat! Lately we’ve been having some maintenance and home improvements done on the house. Whenever I have workmen around, I tend to offer them a bite to eat without hindering the project at hand. I needed something hearty and filling without anchoring them down afterwards. This savory sandwich sealed the deal when served with a portion of potato salad on the side. 
MEATBALL MARINARA MOAT
Ingredients:

1 4-pack hoagie rolls, top cut

16 Italian meatballs, pre-cooked

8 slices provolone cheese

24-ounce jar of all-natural tomato and basil sauce

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
Instructions:

Place meatballs in a covered casserole dish. Add tomato and basil sauce. Heat through on 30% power for 10 minutes in the microwave. Slice an opening in the top of the hoagie roll, hollowing out a portion to create a “moat” for the fillings. Place two slices of cheese in each hoagie, allowing them to overlap. Spoon 4 meatballs with sauce into each sandwich, lining them in a row. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. Carefully wrap each hoagie in foil and place in a warm oven until ready to serve.