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.

Lettuce Cup Shrimp Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Palatable Possibilities: Lettuce Cup Shrimp Salad! When you need a boost from the usual lunch menu, treat yourself to an outstanding salad that feels gourmet-worthy. As a shrimp-lover, I already had ideas about serving this to my husband. In my opinion, the bigger the shrimp you can find, the better. Because I saw for myself the seafood deli offered humongous jumbo shrimp (yeah, I know), I couldn’t resist getting a pound to take home. Here’s the secret: oftentimes the market gets specific seafood brought in frozen. Frozen shrimp is usually same-day fresh. They thaw it for the customers and sell it individually or by the pound. I asked the seafood specialist if I could buy a frozen quantity from him. He was more than happy to oblige. Now you know.

LETTUCE CUP SHRIMP SALAD

Ingredients:

1 pound jumbo shrimp, precooked and tails removed

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped

1 stalk celery, sliced

2-3 lettuce leaves, washed and patted dry

Red onion, finely sliced, for garnish

Instructions:

In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice, and fresh dill. Gently fold in the precooked shrimp and celery slices. Place a lettuce leaf onto a plate. Scoop shrimp salad on top. Garnish with red onion. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Serve.

PB, Bacon & Jam Burger

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Bright Ideas: PB, Bacon & Jam Burger! Let the debate begin over peanut butter on a hamburger or an American cheese slice…because you can’t have both. Bacon gets to stay since everyone loves bacon. Amirite?! Peanut butter’s nutty taste actually compliments the beef patty. And it’s salty enough to take the place of cheese. The strawberry jam, with a sprinkling of hot pepper flakes, tickles the taste buds at the back of your throat making it an insanely good experience. I’m kind of a snob now that I’ve tasted brioche buns. Their buttery flavor, and the fact that they keep everything contained, is worth the cost difference. Are we good? Then carry on without regrets.

PB, BACON & JAM BURGER

Ingredients:

1 pound lean ground beef

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

4 tablespoons natural peanut butter, creamy variety

1-2 tablespoons sriracha sauce

4 tablespoons strawberry jam

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional

8 slices bacon, cooked until crispy

4 lettuce leaves

4 brioche hamburger buns

Instructions:

Combine ground beef, sea salt, and black pepper in a mixing bowl. Mix well. Divide meat into four equal portions. Flatten into hamburger patties. Set aside. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Meanwhile, combine the natural peanut butter with sriracha sauce. Stir until smooth. Grill burgers for 4 minutes per side or until a meat thermometer reads 160°F. To build-the-burger, layer two strips of bacon on the bottom bun. Place the hot hamburger patty over the bacon. Immediately spread the peanut butter mixture on top. It will begin to soften and melt. Drop a dollop of strawberry jam on top. Sprinkle red pepper flakes into the jam, if desired. Finish with a lettuce and the top of the brioche bun. Serve immediately.

Dill-Sprinkled Cocktail Shrimp

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Bright Ideas: Dill-Sprinkled Cocktail Shrimp! When you live where seafood is easily accessible, the natural thing to do is buy it and eat it as often as possible. Especially if you like it. And I’m crazy about shrimp. Thus, “Seafood Thursday” came into being at our house. It doesn’t hurt that a seafood vendor makes a scheduled stop, like clockwork, in our community every Wednesday afternoon. Taking advantage of specials at your doorstep not only helps us to expand our palate, but it also keeps me engaged by identifying new ways to prepare things at home. Luckily, I have a husband who doesn’t mind being a taste-tester for me. Granted, sometimes I’m the one finishing the portions in the days that follow, but it does keep meals interesting. This appetizer is pretty basic. Please note: adding wasabi definitely adds a spicy kick to the cocktail sauce. Go easy.

DILL-SPRINKLED COCKTAIL SHRIMP

Ingredients:

1/2 cup cocktail sauce

1 teaspoon prepared Japanese wasabi, in a tube (optional)

Romaine Lettuce, shredded

1 pound frozen jumbo shrimp, tail on; precooked and thawed

1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped

Lemon wedge, for garnish

Instructions:

In a mixing bowl, combine cocktail sauce and Japanese wasabi. Mix well; set aside. Divide shredded romaine lettuce between individual serving dishes. Arrange 3-4 cocktail shrimp over lettuce. Add a dollop of cocktail sauce. Sprinkle with freshly chopped dill. Garnish with a lemon wedge. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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.

Turkey Burrito Bowl

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Turkey Burrito Bowl! If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times…freeze leftover meat for another day. I’m still working on that 22-pound turkey I baked some time ago. You’d certainly never know it by the variety of meals we’ve eaten. Soups, sliders, hash, and the daily special are among the numerous ways we reduce food waste while saving money. By adding fresh produce and grains, using leftover turkey simply becomes a brilliant time saving option. You probably utilize leftovers yourself without even giving it a second thought. I’m thinking stir-fry, casseroles, omelets, and basic sammies. See how easy it is? Just don’t tell the kids.

TURKEY BURRITO BOWL

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked turkey, shredded

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup vinegar

2 tablespoons butter

Sides: Avocado, lettuce, red onion, tomato, rice, yogurt, and tortilla corn chips

Cilantro, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine shredded turkey, garlic powder, kosher salt, orange juice, vinegar, and butter. Transfer to an ovenproof covered dish. Bake 30 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed. If necessary, remove lid after 30 minutes to allow the juices to breathe. Serve seasoned turkey with instant rice, tortilla chips, and fresh produce.

Iceberg Lettuce Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Iceberg Lettuce Salad! Generally speaking, we all become pretty accustomed to grocery prices in our home town. We know, when it comes to produce, we can expect to pay a little more for berries than bananas. Just like the many varieties of leafy greens. Typically, spinach, kale, and romaine are always way more than iceberg lettuce. Right? So recently while visiting Kauai, knowing that a lot of food is imported, I made the decision to make some compromises. I picked up a head of iceberg lettuce listed at $3.99. In the States it’s around $1.49 a head. Okay. When I checked out, the register rung up $6.00. Imagine the sticker shock. Come to find out, the sign actually said iceberg lettuce was $3.99 a pound. Let me tell you, I stretched that head of lettuce over many meals and savored every bite.

ICEBERG LETTUCE SALAD

Ingredients:

3 leaves of lettuce, gently torn

1 Roma tomato, chopped

1 green onion, snipped

2 tablespoons Caesar dressing, prepared

1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, grated

1/8 teaspoon oregano

Instructions:

Divide the gently torn lettuce leaves between two salad plates. Arrange chopped tomatoes over lettuce. Using a kitchen shears, snip the green onion pieces over top. Drizzle with salad dressing. Sprinkle on parmesan cheese and oregano. Serve chilled.

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.

Angus Beef Burger

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Angus Beef Burger! Anyone who is a beef-eater understands that when meat has a high level of marbling, it keeps it moist for longer when cooking. Why is marbling important, you wonder? Because the fat ratio is scattered throughout creating juicy, tender, and more flavorful results. Long story, short, angus beef means better burger. No one wants a hockey puck for a hamburger. Right? Although it may cost a little more per pound, the end results are worth it.

ANGUS BEEF BURGER

Ingredients:

1 pound Angus beef, ground

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 hamburger buns, split and toasted

Lettuce, tomato, bacon and condiments as desired

Instructions:

Preheat a gas grill on High temperature. Form the ground beef into four equal portions. Season both sides of each patty with sea salt and black pepper. Brush the burgers with olive oil. Grill the burgers for 3 minutes until brown and slightly charred. Flip over. Do not press down to release juices! Cook 4 minutes longer, for medium rare, until golden and charred. Grill longer for desired results. Assemble the burgers on toasted buns. Add fixings and condiments to taste. Serve immediately.