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.

Rainier Cherry Watermelon Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Palatable Possibilities: Rainier Cherry Watermelon Salad! I’ve been in love with the taste of Rainier Cherries from my first bite. Truth be told, my love affair began long before it, though. I saw a beautiful blue French bowl overflowing with golden sunset cherries dipped in pink petal blush on the cover of a magazine. I was smitten, as with most things French, no matter the cost. I imagined the natural sweet allure as tempting as the charisma of dark chocolate. Once I grew past being spellbound, I knew I would treat myself to a pound of Rainier cherries once a year. Perhaps that is why this variety is known as the “Champagne of Cherries”.

RAINIER CHERRY WATERMELON SALAD

Ingredients:

2 cups watermelon, seeds removed, cut into chunks

1 cup Rainier cherries, halved with stems and pits removed

1-2 jalapeño peppers, sliced

2 tablespoons red onion, roughly chopped

3 tablespoons lime juice

Sea Salt, optional.

Instructions:

Combine watermelon chunks, Rainier cherry halves, jalapeño peppers, and red onions. Squeeze lime juice over all. Gently toss. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Sprinkle with sea salt. Serve.

Kidney Bean Chili Pizza

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Palatable Possibilities: Kidney Bean Chili Pizza! If you like the spiciness of chili and can’t resist a slice of gooey cheese pizza, prepare yourself for an endorphin rush like no other. Happiness is contagious and I guarantee you, chili pizza will put you in a good mood. Now let me be clear, the pizza itself is not “make you sweat hot”, which is why I listed the hot pepper rings and sriracha as garnishes to taste. To each his own. I probably overdo the spiciness compared to my husband. Just remember, if it’s too spicy, drink milk. It soothes the body much better than soda, beer, or water.

KIDNEY BEAN CHILI PIZZA

Ingredients:

1 pound lean ground beef

1 envelope original chili seasoning mix

14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice

15-ounce kidney beans, with juice

12-inch prepared pizza crust

1/4 cup red onions, sliced

2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Hot pepper rings, for garnish

Sliced green olives, for garnish

Sriracha Sauce, to taste

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown ground beef. Drain fat. Stir in chili seasoning mix, diced tomatoes, and kidney beans. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place pizza crust on a baking sheet. Spoon chili evenly onto crust. Layer with sliced red onions. Cover all with shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is crispy. Top with hot pepper rings and green olives. Drizzle with sriracha sauce. Serve immediately.

Bang Bang Sauce

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Palatable Possibilities: Bang Bang Sauce! Look no further for a tasty condiment that can be smeared, dunked, or drizzled all over fried chicken, grilled shrimp, or even steamed broccoli if the mood strikes you. It’s smooth and creamy, a little bit spicy, honey sweet, and tingles your tongue. You absolutely must share with everyone else at the table. After all, garlic tastes delicious in food, but it leaves behind a slightly pungent odor that can find some people feeling offended or jealous. And we wouldn’t want that.

BANG BANG SAUCE

Ingredients:

1/2 cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons sweet chili sauce

1 tablespoon sriracha

1 teaspoon natural honey

1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

Green onions, for garnish

Red pepper flakes, for garnish

Instructions:

In a mixing bowl, combine mayonnaise, sweet chili sauce, sriracha, natural honey, rice vinegar, and minced garlic. Whisk until everything is combined. Pour into a serving dish. Garnish with green onion snips and red pepper flakes. Serve as a dipping sauce with seafood.

Scoop Chili Cheese Nachos

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Bright Ideas: Scoop Chili Cheese Nachos! Before you sit down to watch your favorite sports team or series on Netflix, throw together a sheet pan of nachos to snack on. It’s the perfect food for grazing because everyone seems to like them. First of all, nachos are finger food. They’re also snackable ( is that a made-up word?) They feel like a treat or a party’s going on. And there’s enough for everyone. Add some sour cream, guacamole, and sliced jalapeños, if you choose. On second thought, better double the recipe if you’re expecting more than two or four. Be forewarned.

SCOOP CHILI CHEESE NACHOS

Ingredients:

9.25 ounce bag Scoops® corn chips*

15-ounce can chili, any brand

15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

2-3 tomatoes, diced

2 green onions, snipped

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Sriracha sauce, for drizzling

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400°. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a glass mixing bowl, combine chili with black beans. Warm slightly in the microwave. Fill each corn chip with a tablespoon of filling. Place chili chip on the prepared baking sheet, forming a single layer. Repeat until the tray is full. Layer the shredded cheese over all. Place diced tomatoes onto cheese. Finish with green onion snips and red pepper flakes. Bake 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted. Serve with sriracha sauce for extra zing.

*I receive no recompense for mentioning this product.

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.

Okinawan Sweet Potato Medley

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Okinawan Sweet Potato Medley! Way back when I was in middle school, my home economics teacher actually graded us on how colorful the foods looked on the plate. Her thoughts were “If it tempts your eyes, your stomach will want it.” I never forgot that message. She was pretty adamant about food presentation. So having mashed potatoes, rolls, and cauliflower was kind of a no-no when meal planning. That’s one of the reasons I was intrigued by Okinawan sweet potatoes when visiting Kauai. They are buff-skinned on the outside with a violet-purple flesh inside. It’s not as sweet as the orange variety I’m accustomed to, but nonetheless, it’s pretty tasty. And as you can see, it passes the color test.

OKINAWAN SWEET POTATO MEDLEY

Ingredients:

1 large Okinawan sweet potato, skin on, washed and sliced

1 medium sweet onion, sliced

2 each of mini sweet peppers in red, yellow, and orange; stems and seeds removed, cut in wedges

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

4 tablespoons butter

Instructions:

Spray a sheet of heavy aluminum foil with nonstick oil. Arrange Okinawan sweet potatoes on foil. Add sweet onion slices and mini sweet pepper wedges. Sprinkle with seasoned salt, oregano, and cinnamon. Dot with pats of butter. Place another sheet of heavy aluminum foil over top of vegetables. Fold sides twice to seal. Fold ends twice to seal. Avoid puncturing foil. Place packet on a 425° preheated grill. Close lid. Cook 25 minutes, or until vegetables are fork tender. Remove from grill. Carefully open one corner of foil packet to release steam. Then remove top layer of foil. Transfer sweet potatoes and vegetables in the herbed butter to a platter. Serve immediately.

Fajita Tortilla Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Fajita Tortilla Soup! Last summer when my garden was at its peak, I spent what felt like hours preparing veggies for the freezer. Among them were poblano, bell, and jalapeño peppers. Poblanos were cut into strips, bell peppers were chopped, and jalapeño peppers were sliced. It turns out, they are ideal for using in stir fry, cooked, or baked recipes. By storing the peppers in ziplock bags, I can take out what I need and reseal the rest for later. I also roasted a turkey and froze the surplus in manageable portions, which kept us from getting tired of eating it several days in a row. Now I get to reap the rewards.

FAJITA TORTILLA SOUP

Ingredients:

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

4 poblano peppers, cored, seeded, and cut into strips

1 green bell pepper, chopped with stem and seeds removed

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

32 ounces chicken broth

2 Roma tomatoes, diced

2 cups shredded turkey, precooked

14-ounce can black beans, drained

14-ounce can refried beans (optional)

2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Tortilla chips

Jalapeño peppers, sliced

Instructions:

In a deep large skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Sauté yellow onion slices, poblano pepper slices, green peppers, and minced garlic. After five minutes, sprinkle oregano and red pepper flakes over all. Add chicken broth, diced tomatoes, shredded turkey, and black beans. Stir well to combine ingredients. Lower heat, cover, and simmer soup for 20 minutes. For a thicker consistency, gradually stir in refried beans. You may not need an entire can. If the soup becomes too thick, add a little water. Continue warming soup until heated through. Top with Monterey Jack shredded cheese. Place the lid over the pan to melt the cheese. Spoon into bowls. Serve immediately with tortilla chips and sliced jalapeño peppers.

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.