Guac-on-Rye

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Guac-on-Rye! Tired of boring early morning breakfast choices? I can only eat a hard-boiled egg or a dish of Greek yogurt so many days in a row before I want to switch things up a bit. Last week I picked up an avocado at the Farmers Market. Granted, it wasn’t quite ripe so I needed to place it in a brown paper bag for a couple days to hasten the process. Nevertheless, it created a level of anticipation that energized my imagination. What you see is what you get. It did not disappoint. Perhaps you may try it, too.

GUAC-ON-RYE

Ingredients:

2 slices marble rye bread, deli-style, toasted

1 ripe avocado, peeled and pit removed

1/8 teaspoon everything but bagel seasoning

1/2 teaspoon lime juice

Baby spinach leaves, washed and patted dry

1 radish, thinly sliced

Instructions:

Place toast on a serving plate. Set aside. In a small bowl, slightly mash half the ripe avocado. Add everything but bagel seasoning and lime juice. Stir. Cut the remaining avocado into chunks. Gently fold chunks into the mashed avocado. Divide guacamole between the toasted marble rye slices. Add baby spinach leaves and radish slices. Serve immediately.

Taqueria Guacamole

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Taqueria Guacamole! Everyone eats out, that’s a fact. It gives us pleasure. Besides, it takes less energy than planning, shopping, and cooking at the end of the day. But have you ever had a taste for one of the vacay restaurant specials and wish you could make it yourself? Well, I do it all the time. That’s why I recreated a popular cantina menu item that takes guacamole to the next level.

TAQUERIA GUACAMOLE

Ingredients:

2 ripe avocados; halved, pitted, peeled, and cut into chunks

2 tablespoons lime juice

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 green tomato, chopped

1 red tomato, chopped

1 tablespoon red onion, chopped

1 jalapeño pepper, sliced

1 roasted red chili pepper, diced

Cilantro to garnish

Instructions:

In a medium mixing bowl, mash avocado chunks with a fork until thick and smooth. Sprinkle in lime juice, garlic powder, and sea salt. Fold in green tomato chunks and red tomato chunks. Transfer to a serving dish. Top with chopped red onion, jalapeño slices, and diced red chilies. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve with tortilla chips.

Guacamole Deviled Eggs

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Guacamole Deviled Eggs! Tired of the same old thing? For years deviled eggs were served two ways: with real mayonnaise or without. Oh, sometimes you might’ve sprinkled a little paprika on top or added an olive slice. But not without criticism from the loudmouth brother-in-law who made sure everyone thought he was the know-it-all on every subject. I see you nodding your head. But now things are different. We have the freedom to be as creative in our cooking as we do in our lifestyle. If you are an avocado-lover, and could devour an entire bowl of guacamole in one sitting, then bookmark this recipe for now and for later. It’s worth it.

GUACAMOLE DEVILED EGGS

Ingredients:

6 large eggs, hard-boiled

1 ripe avocado, cut in half, put removed

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

Cilantro leaves, for garnish

Crushed tortilla chips, for garnish

Instructions:

Peel the eggs; cut in half horizontally; remove yolks. Set aside. Scoop the flesh of the avocado into a bowl. Add lime juice, sea salt, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Mash together with a fork. Add crumbled egg yolks and mayonnaise. Mix until smooth. Scoop a spoonful of the avocado filling into the well of each hard-boiled egg white. Top with fresh cilantro. Garnish with crushed tortilla chips. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Grass-Fed Beef Tostados

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.

Jalisco Mexican Restaurant in Nashville, Tennessee

Dining Outside the Home: Jalisco Restaurant in Nashville, Tennessee! Family-owned translates to heart and soul. In this quaint Mexican cantina, you’re going to be treated like a limb on the family tree. A basket of warm tortilla chips and chunky salsa greet you at the table. The salsa is fresh and light. Dredge a chip through the tomatoes, Serrano peppers, and oregano. Yep, it’s authentic stuff. Add a side of guacamole to balance out the flavor. Love tacos? For those who appreciate it, cilantro is the star attraction. Roasted meat, shredded into small pieces, and chopped red onions with a squeeze of lime create a masterpiece that will pull you back enough to slow down and savor every bite. This is Mexican culture at its best.

OMG Nachos

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: OMG Nachos! The first time I heard about putting tator tots on nachos, I thought, “What’s up with that?”. Curiosity got the better of me. So I tried it and OMG Nachos were born! If you like cheese and potatoes, you’re going to love, love, love this! I pulled it all together in an iron skillet by arranging one layer of corn tortilla chips on the bottom and then around the edge of the pan to form a bowl. Next, I filled it with all the goodies. Fifteen minutes later I was wiping my chin from the incredible taste explosion in my mouth. OMG, you gotta try it.

OMG NACHOS

Ingredients:

1/2 bag of tator tots

Corn tortilla chips, café style

1/2 cup black beans, drained

2 tomatoes, diced

1/2 cup jalapeño slices

3 green onions, snipped

8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese

4 ounces Havarti cheese

Salsa to taste

Guacamole to taste

Sour cream to taste

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Place tator tots on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes; turn over and bake 10 minutes longer. Remove from oven and set aside. In an iron skillet, place one layer of corn tortilla chips on the bottom of the skillet and then arrange chips around the edge of the pan to form a bowl. Layer remaining ingredients, including tator tots, alternating with cheese. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven and dig in. Top with salsa, guacamole, and sour cream to taste.

Dining Outside the Home: Mariachi’s Mexican Restaurant in Lihue, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: Mariachi’s Mexican Restaurant in Lihue, Kauai. Across a footbridge over a cool mountain stream, the dusty road becomes a well trodden path where the festive flavors of Mexico blend into a warm, inviting atmosphere. Hola, amigos. Please have a seat for open-air dining. The family-owned and family-run restaurant originated years ago in San Diego. Now on the island of Kauai since 1992, Mariachi’s not only offers a free ocean view, but the menu options come highly recommended as well. Think about what to order while sipping on a classic lime margarita, salted rim optional. Take things slow and easy. In time, you may come to see why the family chose a new life in paradise serving authentic Mexican food.

Dining Outside the Home: Dos Reales Mexican Restaurant in Champaigne, Illinois 

Dining Outside the Home: Dos Reales Mexican Restaurant in Champaigne, Illinois! Everyone loves a rustic cantina where the salsa is spicy and the margaritas are chilled. Add a platter of sizzling marinated meats and sautéed veggies to stuff into a steamed corn tortilla for combination fajitas. Don’t forget the crispy tortilla bowl of lettuce, sour cream, guacamole, and Pico de Gallo. Now this is authentic Mexican cuisine. Indulge your taste buds with scrumptious offerings from south of the border without the cost of airfare. An outdoor patio is favorable among locals. Try it. As you sit under the shade of an umbrella, enjoy the company you’re in. Well done, Pedro!