Umami Bomb Chorizo Grits

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Umami Bomb Chorizo Grits! Say whaaat? Somebody needs to tell me what that word means. Umami. Evidently it is the taste bud beyond the famous four: sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. Oh yeah, taste buds we’ve been familiar with since we first began to put food in our mouths. This “umami” envelopes earthy, meaty, and savory. Examples of foods that reflect this are soy sauce, tomatoes, cheeses, anchovies, and cured pork products. Chorizo falls into the latter category, you probably concluded. Sooo, are we good?

UMAMI BOMB CHORIZO GRITS

Ingredients:

1/2 cup grits, uncooked

1/3 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

2 chorizo sausage links, casing removed

1 tablespoon red pepper, diced

1 tablespoon green pepper, diced

1 tablespoon red onion, sliced

1 tablespoon frozen corn, thawed

1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, crumbled

1 hard-boiled egg

Cayenne pepper, to taste

Instructions:

Prepare grits according to package directions. Stir in cheddar cheese. Set aside. Remove the casing of the chorizo. Spray a skillet with nonstick oil. Add chorizo. Sauté over medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Crumble the meat with a fork as it cooks. Add red pepper, green pepper, red onion, and corn. Continue cooking until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. To serve, transfer cheesy grits to a shallow dish. Add chorizo and sautéed vegetables. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Serve with a hard-boiled egg. Garnish with cayenne pepper, to taste.

Huevos Rancheros Casserole

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Huevos Rancheros Casserole! Looking for a little variety for a weekend breakfast? Take a trip down a rural road for an old classic that was served as “ranchers eggs” on the farms in Mexico. By turning it into a robust casserole, you can give it an American twist. It still has eggs, cheese, salsa, and tortillas in there. I chose street-size corn tortillas just because they were smaller and easier to work with. Obviously any type will do. Feel free to add beans and chorizo if you’re looking for hearty portions. Do ahead and refrigerate overnight so it’s ready to bake first thing in the morning.

HUEVOS RANCHEROS CASSEROLE

Ingredients:

10 street-size corn tortillas

1 cup chunky salsa

1 cup black beans, drain liquid

1 1/2 cups Colby-Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1/2 pound chorizo sausage, coarsely chopped and cooked; drained

3 poblano peppers, stems and seeds removed, cut into strips

6 eggs

1/2 milk

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon cumin

Sour cream, for garnish

Green onion snips, for garnish

Instructions:

Spray on 8-inch square casserole dish with nonstick oil. Line the sides and bottom with 8 street-size corn tortillas, slightly overlapping. Spread a layer of salsa over the bottom. Next, layer with black beans. Sprinkle on 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Top with cooked chorizo, poblano peppers, and another 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Cut the last 2 tortillas into strips and layer over cheese. In a bowl, combine eggs, milk, oregano, red pepper flakes, and cumin powder. Whisk together. Pour egg mixture over all. Sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese. Press lightly into egg mixture. Cover dish. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. To bake, preheat oven to 350°. Bake covered casserole 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake 15-20 minutes longer or until center is set. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with sour cream and chopped green onions.

Uruguayan Chorizo Cheese Dip

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Uruguayan Chorizo Cheese Dip! Traveling exposes you to all kinds of different foods, especially nowadays. I can’t tell you how often we are hundreds of miles from home and end up running into someone who used to live down the road from us. It’s a small world, isn’t it? Striking up a conversation with strangers, who have become city residents, brings out the best places in local hot spots. After all, when asked, “What restaurants do you favor in your free time”, they begin rattling off a list of specialties worthy of remembering. At that point I’m making notes on my cell phone to further explore reviews and websites for our next meal. That’s what happened the day we ate at a fusion restaurant and discovered how tasty hot melted cheese can be. Pass it on.

URUGUAYAN CHORIZO CHEESE DIP

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/4 pound smoky provolone cheese, sliced

1/4 pound montamoré cheese, crumbled

1/4 pound parmesan cheese, shredded

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 cup chorizo, cooked and crumbled

2 tablespoons pickled jalapeño slices

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Place an iron skillet, rubbed with vegetable oil, into the oven while it is preheating. Carefully remove it after 4-5 minutes, or when the buzzer indicates the oven has reached that temperature. Layer the sliced provolone cheese in the bottom of the skillet. Be sure to cover the bottom completely. Next, cover the provolone with crumbled montamoré cheese. Finally, top with grated parmesan cheese. Sprinkle dried oregano, kosher salt, and red pepper flakes over all. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges are crispy and the cheese is melted. The bottom of the cheese dip will be slightly seared. Remove from the oven and garnish with warmed chorizo and jalapeño slices. Serve with corn tortilla chips.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter J

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Jalapeño Cheesy Cups! Fusion foods are the rage right now. Restaurant and Food Truck menus are the trendsetters that carry over into our home kitchens. Fusion foods blend a couple cultures into a balanced dish with copacetic results. Take this one, for instance. Asian wonton meets Mexican spice. You get the gooey cheese with spicy meat perfectly portable in a crispy cup. Pick one up and walk around. These handheld appetizers don’t last long. Forgot a napkin? No worries. Lick your fingers and meander back to the buffet line to snag another.

JALAPEÑO CHEESY CUPS

Ingredients:

24 wonton wrappers

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

2 tablespoons pickled jalapeños, chopped

2 tablespoons bacon bits

2 tablespoons cooked chorizo, crumbled

2 green onions, chopped

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Jalapeño slices, garnish

Cilantro, garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin. Place 2 wonton wrappers in each cup. Bake 4 minutes. Remove muffin tin from oven. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, chopped jalapeños, bacon bits, crumbled chorizo, and green onions. Mix well. Divide cheese mixture into cups. Top with cheddar cheese. Finish with jalapeño slices. Bake 10 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Wontons should appear golden brown and slightly crispy. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve warm.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter T

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Tortellini Soup! No matter the weather, a classic Italian soup is always a good idea. Make it a budget-friendly weeknight meal with all the flavor of a Tuscan countryside, without the cost of an airline ticket. Common ingredients like garden veggies, rich plum tomatoes, sweet aromatic herbs and zesty spices blend together to enhance the dish. I love the mushroom-stuffed tortellini pasta. It’s curly ring-shape is very gourmet. When it all comes together at the table, you’ll think you created a masterpiece. Well done!

TORTELLINI SOUP

Ingredients:

1 pound chorizo sausage, ground

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped

1/3 cup green pepper, diced

28-ounce can Roma tomatoes, crushed

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon basil

1/4 teaspoon marjoram

14 ounces vegetable broth

8.8 ounce package porcini mushroom tortellini

1 cup fresh spinach leaves, torn

Parmesan cheese for garnish

Instructions:

Brown chorizo sausage until fully cooked. Meat will be crumbly. Drain well. Set aside. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, combine olive oil, chopped onions, and diced green peppers. Cook until soft. Add crumbled chorizo. Stir. Add Roma tomatoes, garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper, oregano, basil, and marjoram. Stir well to mix ingredients. Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 30 minutes. Gently fold in tortellini and spinach. Cover and simmer 10 minutes longer until tortellini is tender. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with shredded parmesan cheese. Serve with crostini.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter G

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Gluten-Free Crustless Pizza! Are you ever tempted to just eat the toppings off a pizza? For those who require a gluten-free lifestyle or simply desire fewer carbs, here is a healthy alternative on pizza night. Eliminate the crust altogether. By substituting eggs and cheese for bread dough, it’s surprising how this turns into a delicious deep dish pizza.

GLUTEN-FREE CRUSTLESS PIZZA

Ingredients:

8-ounce cream cheese

2 eggs

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded

1/2 cup pizza sauce

1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

4 ounces pepperoni, sliced

1/3 cup ham, chopped

1/3 cup chorizo sausage, cooked and crumbled

2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/4 cup mushrooms, sliced

1/4 cup onion, chopped

1/8 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon basil

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 10”-12” iron skillet with nonstick oil. Set aside. Combine cream cheese, eggs, black pepper, garlic powder, and parmesan cheese. Spread in a single layer in the prepared pan. Bake 20 minutes until light brown. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes. Spread pizza sauce over crust. Top with mozzarella cheese. Arrange pepperoni, ham, chorizo sausage, bacon, mushrooms, and chopped onion. Sprinkle with oregano, basil, and marjoram. Bake 15 minutes longer until cheese is melted. Cool 5 minutes before cutting into pizza slices.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter F

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Daily Special: Frittata Frenzy! So you like quiche, but sometimes you could really do without the pie crust. Me too. And what about those small containers in the fridge with a smidgen of leftovers that are just too yummy to toss out? Here’s your answer. Mix your favorite ingredients such as cheese, meat, and vegetables. Combine them with egg, dairy, and spices. The end result is practically a masterpiece. It promises to surprise everyone, including you!

FRITTATA FRENZY

Ingredients:

4 eggs

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon Mrs. Dash garlic herb seasoning

2 tablespoons green pepper, chopped

1 tablespoon onion, chopped

1 tablespoon pimento, diced

4 ounces Mango Fire Cheddar cheese, shredded

4 ounces chorizo, cooked

1/3 cup herb croutons

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Beat eggs, milk, yogurt, and seasonings. Gently stir in green peppers, onions, pimentos, and cheese. Pour into two 6-inch individual greased baking dishes. Divide crumbled chorizo over the top of the omelet. Gently fold in croutons. This is done right before baking to avoid the meat and bread from sinking to the bottom. Bake uncovered 40 minutes or until omelet is set and top is golden brown. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter R

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Red Onion Chorizo Flatbread! Get your spice on as we crank up the taste buds a notch or two for a Spanish twist on an old European favorite. Chorizo is a type of pork sausage that made its way to Mexico and South America years ago. Cured in vinegar and chili powder before it reaches the supermarket makes it a spicy favorite from the first bite. Now add cheese and red onions for a complete taste explosion. 
RED ONION CHORIZO FLATBREAD 
Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon cornmeal 

1 prepared flatbread 

8 ounces chorizo sausage

1 medium red onion, sliced and divided

1/4 cup salsa or pico de gallo 

6 ounces Mexican cheese blend, shredded

6 Ciliegine mozzarella balls (cherry size)

Fresh cilantro and oregano leaves for garnish
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Brush olive oil on the bottom of flatbread. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Bake 5 minutes, then remove flatbread from oven and set aside. In an iron skillet over medium heat, cook chorizo sausage until browned, about 5 minutes. Add red onion pieces, reserving a few raw onion rings for topping. Cook, stirring often, until onions are softened, about 4 minutes. If using pico de gallo, Pulse in a mini chopper to create a sauce consistency. Spread salsa or pico de gallo over flatbread, stopping 1/2″ from the edge. Sprinkle Mexican cheese blend over sauce. Layer next with chorizo/onion mixture. Press Ciliegine mozzarella balls on top. Finish with the red onion rings. Bake 12-15 minutes until cheese is bubbly and crust is golden brown. Garnish with fresh cilantro and oregano leaves. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter N

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Simple Sensations: Nacho Macho Supreme! Get ready for the most amazing loaded nacho platter for those warm summer nights on the back porch. The music is playing, the conversation is flowing, and the margaritas are going down real slow. These are the nights that are made for us.  
NACHO MACHO SUPREME 
Ingredients:

1 large bag of corn tortilla chips, café style

1 pound ground Mexican chorizo 

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon cumin powder

1/2 cup frozen sweet corn, thawed

1/2 cup black beans, drained

1/4 cup sliced jalapeño peppers 

4 green onions, sliced

2 tomatoes, diced

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded 

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1 cup salsa

1 cup sour cream
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a pizza pan with nonstick oil. Lightly salt. Set aside. 

In a shallow skillet, cook chorizo, garlic, and cumin until meat is brown. Drain on paper towels. Assemble nachos by dividing into three or more layers to form a pyramid—chips, chorizo, corn, beans, jalapeños, green onion, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, and mozzarella cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Watch! Serve with salsa, sour cream, and cilantro garnish.