What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Wacho Nachos! What do you get when you mix sweet potato waffle fries and savory nacho toppings? Wacho Nachos! The grilled chicken, vine-ripe tomatoes, and spicy jalapeños provide a familiar face, but it’s all about the base. By choosing a healthy serving of sweet potato waffle fries, the crispy crunch offers an appealing meal instead of a junk food snack. Step aside tortilla chips, waffle fries are taking center stage!
19-ounce bag frozen sweet potato fries
2 cups precooked grilled chicken strips, cut into chunks
2 cups Colby and Monterey Jack Cheese, finely shredded
1 large vine-ripe tomato, chopped
1/4 cup sliced jalapeños
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup green onion snips
Bake the waffle fries according to package directions. Arrange individual casserole dishes with a single layer of crispy sweet potato waffle fries, lining the edges to hold in the toppings. Divide the grilled chicken chunks and shredded cheese equally. Top with tomatoes and jalapeño slices. Return to the oven until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Remove casseroles from the oven. Top with Greek yogurt and green onions. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Quesadilla Burger! Two layers of gooey melted cheese sandwiched inside a flour tortilla is just the beginning. Add an Angus beef patty butter-fried in an iron skillet and savor the aromas. Take a walk on the wild side by adding sliced jalapeño peppers for a little heat. After that, who cares? Go crazy with your favorite condiments. Anything goes!
1 pound Angus ground beef
1 beef bouillon cube
1-2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
4 flour tortillas
1/4 wedge lettuce, shredded
1 medium tomato, sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced
1/4 cup pickled jalapeño peppers, sliced
Condiments to taste
In a small bowl, microwave water for 1 minute, 45 seconds. Dissolve bouillon cube. Add mixture to ground beef, working to incorporate. Form beef into 4 quarter pound patties. Refrigerate until ready to use. Preheat oven to 350°. Place tortillas to lay flat on a baking sheet. Divide cheddar cheese and Monterey Jack cheese between four tortillas, stopping before the edges. Bake 4-5 minutes until cheese melts. Remove and set aside. Meanwhile, add butter to an iron skillet set on medium-high heat. Cook burger patties 3 minutes on one side. Flip and cook 3 minutes longer. Take one burger, insert into a cheesy tortilla, fold over, and place back into the skillet just until shell is golden, about one minute. Remove from skillet. Add lettuce, tomato, onion, jalapeño peppers, and other condiments.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Okra is Optional! Mention the word “okra” and you may see people wrinkle their noses. It’s really not that bad, in my opinion. The flavor is mild and the texture is silky. Okra is often eaten fried in a delicious cornmeal batter or combined with vegetables in hearty homemade soups. Today’s version is pickled with its spicy second cousin, the jalapeño.
OKRA IS OPTIONAL
1 pound fresh okra
2 jalapeño peppers, sliced thin
2 garlic cloves, halved
2 cups apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
Wash okra thoroughly and remove tips. Divide between 3 pint jars. Repeat with jalapeños and garlic. Combine vinegar, water, kosher salt, and mustard seeds in a 2-quart pan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Ladle hot vinegar over okra mixture in jars. Wipe rims. Cover jars with kids. Cool at room temperature. Refrigerate for no longer than two months.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Zappy Mango Salsa Scoops! Have you discovered how sweet and juicy the mango is? Like any other fruit, use your sense of smell to tell if it’s ripe. Sniff around the stem for a fragrant aroma. Because it has a natural sugar content, the mango will ferment on your kitchen counter for a couple days. It will be slightly soft to the touch, the same way an avocado feels when it’s time. Although the skin is edible, I prefer to peel it away. Just a note: the center stone is quite large and almost furry. Simply slice fruit chunks into a bowl and cut them into cubes. Mangoes go well with citrus fruits such as lemons and limes, spicy vegetables like jalapeños and peppers, and also protein-rich legumes like black beans. Now it’s time to put my money where my mouth is. Mmmm.
ZAPPY MANGO SALSA SCOOPS
3 ripe mangoes, peeled and cubed
15.25-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 red onion, diced
1/4 cup pickled jalapeños, chopped
1/4 cup jalapeño liquid from jar
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
Scoop-style corn chips
In a large bowl, toss cubed mangoes and black beans with diced red onions. Fold in chopped jalapeños. Add jalapeño liquid, lime juice, sea salt, garlic powder, and chopped cilantro. Gently stir to combine. Serve with scoop-style corn chips.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Desperado Dinner Nachos! The title says it all. I had been running all day long from this to that when I finally returned home to realize I had made no plans for supper. Going back out was not an option. So things got a little desperate. Thank goodness I had some leftover roasted turkey (chicken would work just fine) plus a half a bag of tortilla chips. The rest of the toppings were a given. So you see, sometimes making mediocre effort will suffice, especially if you make it look downright delicious!
DESPERADO DINNER NACHOS
1/2 bag corn tortilla chips
2 cups roasted turkey or rotisserie chicken, shredded
2 cups Mexican-blend cheese, shredded
1 tomato, chopped
1/3 cup pickled jalapeños, sliced
2-3 green onions, snipped
Greek yogurt or Sour cream
Preheat the oven to 400°. Coat a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. In a single layer, line the baking sheet with tortilla chips, covering every space. Sprinkle on shredded cheese, reserving a little as a final sprinkling. Arrange roasted meat over cheese layer. Top with chopped tomatoes, sliced jalapeños, and green onion snips. Toss on the remaining cheese. Bake for 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve nachos with yogurt and salsa to taste.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: ‘Mazing Mango Salsa! Turn Taco Tuesday into one more reason to celebrate. Take ordinary salsa and kick it up a notch into a flavor explosion that is as sweet as it is spicy. Honey mangoes make all the difference when paired with tomatoes, jalapeños, and cilantro. One scoop of a chip and you may find yourself filling up before the meal is served. No worries. Sit back, relax, add a classic lime margarita on-the-rocks, and turn it into “Happy Hour”.
‘MAZING MANGO SALSA
2 honey mangoes, peeled and diced
1/2 Vidalia onion, chopped
1 Roma tomato, diced
1 tablespoon pimento, chopped
3 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Toss gently to mix. Refrigerate one hour. Serve with warm salted tortilla chips.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Waffle Doodle-Doo! The million dollar question of the day is “Why are chicken and waffles so popular?” Could it be the crispy moist chicken tenders, or the fluffy golden-edge waffle, or the sweet creamy butter? Maybe. Perhaps it’s the robust taste of natural maple syrup. That’s good, too. Personally, I like the explosive kick of jalapeño and the bite of cilantro mixed in. Sliced apple sticks are a bonus. No matter your preference, it’s kind of a thing. Go the easy route like I did. Pick up an order of breaded chicken tenders from your favorite food joint. Since my husband is a master on the waffle iron, he does that part. Make extra waffles; they freeze well. You can thank me later. Pull it all together for a unique flavor that works for breakfast, weekend brunch, or late night craving.
4 chicken tenders, precooked
2 buttermilk or Belgian-style frozen waffles
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1-2 tablespoons jalapeño pepper jelly
1 Gala apple, cored and sliced into matchsticks
Butter, room temperature
Warm chicken tenders in a 350° oven while waffles are being made in the waffle iron or heated in a toaster to desired crispness. Combine maple syrup and jalapeño jelly in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat on High in 15-second intervals. Stir together until jelly is melted and the flavors are blended. Core the apple, then slice into matchsticks. For presentation, cut waffles into triangles to form a “tent”. Brush waffles with softened butter. Drizzle with jalapeño maple syrup. Arrange chicken tenders. Add apples. Garnish with chopped cilantro.
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.
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
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: Miguel’s Cocina in Old Town San Diego, California. When the menu captures the true spirit of Mexico, north of the border, it boasts of Miguel’s Signature Fajitas. What makes it so special, you wonder. Pay attention: Skirt steak and chicken topped with bacon-wrapped jumbo shrimp stuffed with Monterey Jack cheese and sliced poblano. ¡Ay, caramba! Now, you’re talking. Better order a hand-shaken margarita to wash things down. Look around. Handmade tortillas, crispy chips dredged between bowls of jalapeño white sauce and chunky tomato-fresh salsa. Is it any wonder if feels like a party?