Unwrapped Burritos

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Palatable Possibilities: Unwrapped Burritos! Casual meals come in handy on those days that are filled with unlimited tasks, scheduled appointments, and day-to-day responsibilities. Or you just don’t feel like making a full-course meal. Presenting……burrito fixings! It has all the good stuff: seasoned meat, tasty jalapeños, shredded cheeses, fresh onions, tomatillos, and corn kernels. Always remember to add crunchy tortilla chips and chunky salsa. Think of it as sinfully wicked. Kinda like sneaking more pizza toppings, scooping out lasagna fillings, or gobbling up the creme “Stuf” in an Oreo® cookie. Guilty, as charged.

UNWRAPPED BURRITOS

Ingredients:

1 pound lean ground beef, browned and crumbled

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Jalapeño slices, for garnish

2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed

1 red onion, sliced

4 tomatillos, sliced and halved

1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Salsa, for dressing

Corn Tortilla Chips, for serving

Instructions:

Combine cooked ground beef, sea salt, garlic powder, and ground cumin. Keep warm, top with jalapeño slices; set aside. For the salad, in a medium bowl combine corn kernels, red onion slices, tomatillos, cilantro, cheddar cheese, and Monterey Jack cheese. Toss gently. To serve, arrange burrito fixings on the table, along with chips and salsa. Enjoy.

Orange-Tomato Pico de Gallo

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Palatable Possibilities: Orange-Tomato Pico de Gallo! Chunky sauces and relishes make a wonderful addition to any meal, in my opinion. First of all, they can be substituted for a vegetable side dish. They also serve as a nice condiment for stuffing into tacos or for sharing a plate of scrambled eggs. The vibrant colors will even catch the eye of a fussy-eater, if you know what I mean. Pico de Gallo compliments seafood, pork, chicken, and beef as well as any vegetarian star attraction. Better make a batch for dinner tonight. It’s a healthy option you can thank me for later.

ORANGE-TOMATO PICO DE GALLO

Ingredients:

4 navel oranges, peeled and chopped

2 tomatoes, diced

1 cup red onion, roughly chopped

1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

2 teaspoons orange peel, grated

Fresh cilantro, chopped

Instructions:

In a bowl, combine chopped navel oranges, diced tomatoes, roughly chopped red onions, and finely chopped jalapeños. Toss gently. Sprinkle with kosher salt, garlic powder, ground ginger, grated orange peel, and chopped cilantro. Stir gently to combine thoroughly. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for one hour. Serve with tortilla chips.

Esquites Mexican Corn Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Bright Ideas: Esquites Mexican Corn Salad! Living so many years in the Corn Belt of the United States, is it any wonder I get nostalgic thinking about cornfields? Once asked, while I was dating, “Where would you like to retire?” My quick response was “On an acre of land overlooking cornfields at sunset.” Imagine the puzzled look I got as the guy shrugged his shoulders and walked away. Obviously he had no idea what I was talking about. It’s the rich smell of corn, its tingle of sweetness mixed with the earthy muskiness that saturates the senses. I don’t even mind shucking sweet corn. Gently pull back the luscious leaves. Inside are golden rows of plump kernels, dewy and sweet, with a crown of blond silky tendrils. Funny how the journey changes. Now I live in Florida, where cornfields have been replaced by orange groves. Sounds like it’s time to meander down the road to the citrus farm. Perhaps I can inhale the fresh tangy aroma of orange groves at sunset.

ESQUITES MEXICAN CORN SALAD

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 ears fresh corn, shucked, kernels removed

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

2 ounces Cotija cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup scallions, chopped

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and stemmed, chopped

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Instructions:

Warm vegetable oil over high heat until shimmering in an iron skillet. Add corn kernels. Season with kosher salt and garlic powder. Allow kernels to cook until charred on one side, approximately 2 minutes. Toss corn, stir, and repeat until charred on second side, approximately 2 minutes longer. Transfer charred corn kernels to a mixing bowl. Add crumbled Cotija cheese, chopped scallions, fresh cilantro, jalapeño pieces, mayonnaise, lime juice, and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Chorizo Beef Burger

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Bright Ideas: Chorizo Beef Burger! It’s crazy the foods we try, simply because we have a craving that refuses to compromise. During Covid-19, many restaurants and fast-food eateries would either not open, limit drive-through options, or simply close due to illness and labor shortages. Late one night, the hubs wanted a burger for dinner. We tried 3 different places without success. The only one open was a Mexican Cantina. We masked up, entered, and were seated in the bar at an isolated table for two. That’s when he saw it……a chorizo burger was listed on the menu. I think you know the rest of the story. Once we got home, you can guess what grocery items I added to the list on the refrigerator.

CHORIZO BEEF BURGER

Ingredients:

1/2 pound bulk chorizo sausage

1 pound lean ground beef

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon cornmeal

4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

4 brioche buns, split

Toppings: Lettuce, Tomato, Red Onion, Cilantro, and Salsa

Instructions:

In large bowl, combine chorizo sausage, lean ground beef, sea salt, black pepper, and cornmeal. Shape mixture into 4 patties, 1/2-inch thick. Place patties on preheated grill, over medium heat. Close grill cover. Cook 6-7 minutes, per side. Flip once. A meat thermometer inserted in the center needs to read 160°F. During last 2 minutes of cooking, top each chorizo patty with shredded cheese. Place buns, cut side down, on grill. Cook until cheese is melted and buns are toasted. Remove burgers and buns from grill. Serve immediately, topped with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and salsa to taste.

Seasoned Shrimp Pineapple Pupus

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Seasoned Shrimp Pineapple Pupus! If you’ve ever needed a simple appetizer that will elevate an evening, think shrimp. By adding fresh ingredients, it definitely kicks things up a notch. When people cram into the kitchen to watch, assign them a minor task such as chopping fruit into chunks or snipping cilantro into small sprigs. Real conversations happen in the kitchen. Everyone benefits and memories are created. After all, being involved is natural and welcoming. It’s how we all stay connected.

SEASONED SHRIMP PINEAPPLE PUPUS

Ingredients:

1/2 cup papaya, cut into chunks

1/2 cup pineapple, cut into chunks

12 jumbo frozen shrimp, precooked and thawed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Fresh cilantro

Instructions:

Arrange papaya chunks on a decorative platter. Set aside. Spray a skillet with nonstick oil. Heat pan on medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot, arrange pineapple chunks in a single layer. They will sizzle and char. Flip over to darken both sides. Remove and add to the platter. Warm olive oil in the same skillet. Layer shrimp without overlapping. Sprinkle with half the seasoned salt, oregano, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Slightly sear, then flip over. Sprinkle with remaining seasoning. When shrimp is golden brown, transfer to the pupu platter. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Kumquat Cilantro Salsa

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Kumquat Cilantro Salsa! For those of you who love the taste of oranges, but hate the idea of peeling the skin, let me introduce you to its distant cousin. The Kumquat; native to Southeast Asia. It’s about the size of an olive and can be either round or oblong. But here’s the best part: you can eat the outer skin. No peeling required. The kumquat has a sugary sweet citrus flavor that makes your taste buds boomerang between sour and tangy. Please note, there are tiny seeds, much like those in a grape, so you can either eat them or remove them.

KUMQUAT CILANTRO SALSA

Ingredients:

1 pound kumquats, washed and sliced with seeds removed

1 Roma tomato, diced

1/2 cup sweet onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Dash of cayenne pepper (optional)

Tortilla Corn Chips

Instructions:

Make sure the skin of the kumquat is blemish-free and not dimpled. Discard if necessary. In a bowl, combine sliced kumquats, diced tomato, sweet onion slices, and chopped cilantro. Gently toss. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, and sea salt. Drizzle over kumquat mixture. Refrigerate for one hour. Serve with tortilla corn chips.

Hawaiian Spam Breakfast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Hawaiian Spam Breakfast! Not everyone is on the same page when it comes to breakfast. Some prefer a bowl of cereal in front of the tv, others like yogurt and fruit while checking their email, and some are perfectly happy with their morning cuppa joe watching the sunrise. That’s where this recipe comes in handy. It is a Hawaiian meal for one. It takes only a couple minutes to heat and eat. So when everyone comes crowding into the kitchen because it smells so good, just roll your shoulders and say, “You already had breakfast.”

HAWAIIAN SPAM BREAKFAST

Ingredients:

10.5 ounce package heat-and-eat microwaveable rice

2 slices Spam* brand canned meat

1 egg, scrambled

1 green onion, snipped

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon soy sauce

Fresh cilantro

Instructions:

Microwave rice according to package directions. Spray a small skillet with nonstick oil. Over medium-high heat, quick-fry 2 slices of Spam. Flip to get both sides crispy. Chop into bite-size pieces. Set aside. Crack an egg into a small dish. Whisk to break the yolk. Spray the small skillet again with nonstick oil. Pour the egg mixture into the pan using the same setting, medium high. Cover. Cook one minute. Remove lid, break up the egg with a spatula. Turn off the burner. Replace the lid for one minute longer. Transfer rice to a bowl, add Spam, scrambled egg, green onion snips, red pepper flakes, and soy sauce. Mix well. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve with chopsticks.

*I receive no recompense for mentioning this product.

Grass-Fed Beef Tostadas

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Grass-Fed Beef Tostadas! If you like the taste of corn tacos, the tostada is a distant cousin. Basically, one is folded, the other is flat. Brushed with oil, then “toasted” crisp, the tostada is made to hold the toppings. This recipe allows you to bend the tortilla if you prefer to eat it that way. Whatever falls onto the plate can be scooped back up into your mouth. No judgment here. Now, about grass-fed beef. It’s going to cost a little more per pound due to the lack of fat content, compounded by the extra time it takes to fatten the cow. Grain makes cows get fat faster, just like it does for humans. I like grass-fed because it is more nutritious with heart-healthy omega 3s plus vitamins. It’s all about the choices we make.

GRASS-FED BEEF TOSTADAS

Ingredients:

1 pound grass-fed ground beef

1 packet fajita seasoning dry mix

1/3 cup canola oil

8 corn tortillas

1/2 head iceberg lettuce, gently torn

1-2 Roma tomatoes, chopped

1/2 red onion, sliced thin

8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Fresh cilantro, leaves only

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 250°. Because grass-fed beef has a lower fat content, steaming it is a good option. In a medium skillet, cover the bottom with water. Crumble the ground beef into the water. Set the stovetop temperature to medium-high. Break up any large clumps. Allow the water to boil. Stir the meat to cook evenly. Turn often. When the meat is brown, it is done. Drain the cooked ground beef using a strainer. Dispose of water and grease. Return ground beef to the pan. Sprinkle with fajita seasoning mix. Stir well to coat. Have the burner on lowest setting to keep warm. Spray a shallow skillet with nonstick oil. Set heat to medium-high. Brush one side of corn tortilla with canola oil. Place oiled side down in skillet. Brush the remaining side with canola oil. Fry the shell until golden for 30 seconds to a minute per side. This makes the shell fairly stiff. If the pan begins to smoke, lower the heat setting slightly. Remove the tortilla and place it on a rimmed baking sheet. Keep tortillas warm in the oven. Repeat process with remaining tortillas. To assemble, begin with a fried tortilla. Layer with iceberg lettuce, seasoned ground beef, chopped tomatoes, red onions, feta cheese, and cilantro leaves. Serve immediately with guacamole and salsa.

BBQ Pork Nachos

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: BBQ Pork Nachos! Mealtime can be hectic for this reason or that. I admit, some days I am not in the mood for a lavish meal. Perhaps you feel the same way and need a shortcut now and then. That’s when I go to the freezer to pull out fully cooked products, like smoked barbecue pork. When buying, always check the ingredient list for additives. From my experience, it’s the sauce that makes the dish.

BBQ PORK NACHOS

Ingredients:

11-ounce bag tortilla corn chips

1 pound container bbq pork, fully cooked

1/2 cup Queso cheese dip, store-bought

1 tomato, chopped

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

6 sprigs cilantro, leaves removed

1 bottle Heinz Hawaii sweet and fruity bbq sauce, to taste*

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Places tortilla chips in a single layer on the baking sheet. Randomly drop bbq pork onto chips using a fork. Next spoon prepared queso dip around the pork. It will melt as it bakes. Scatter chopped tomatoes over all. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, to taste. Bake nachos for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Drizzle barbecue sauce over top. Serve immediately.

*I receive no recompense for mentioning this product.