Queso Chicken Flautas

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: Queso Chicken Flautas! Are you as torn between corn tortillas and flour tortillas as I am? There are days, and certain dishes, where nothing but corn will do: tamales, taquitos, enchiladas, tacos, and chips. Corn tortillas, generally, are much smaller and easier to hold. When they are soaked in sauce, they are more pliable and suitable for baking. If you like the taste of toasted corn as well as the chewy texture, corn tortillas are for you. The same applies to flour tortillas: quesadillas, flautas, fajitas, chimichangas, and burritos. Flour tortillas are bigger, not to mention softer for folding. You already know this if you’ve ever eaten a monster burrito or ginormous chimichanga. One is baked, the latter is fried. Today’s recipe features the sturdiness of a flour tortilla to hold the juicy chicken and melted cheese filling without turning soggy or falling apart. What a delicious dilemma.

QUESO CHICKEN FLAUTAS

Ingredients for Herbed Sour Cream:

8 ounces sour cream

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

2 tablespoons green onions, chopped

Ingredients:

1 cup cooked chicken, shredded

1 cup Mexican cheese blend, shredded

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

4.5 ounce can green chiles, drained and diced

1 envelope taco seasoning mix, less 1 tablespoon for remaining recipe

12-count flour tortillas

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

15-ounce jar queso cheese dip, warmed

Instructions:

To make the herbed sour cream, combine sour cream, honey, lime juice, and sea salt in a bowl. Stir until smooth. Gently fold in chopped cilantro leaves and green onions. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. In a medium bowl, combine shredded chicken, Mexican cheese blend, cream cheese, and diced green chilies. Sprinkle with taco seasoning mix (less 1 tablespoon of mix). Stir thoroughly. Set aside. In a small dish, whisk vegetable oil with reserved taco seasoning mix. Set aside. Preheat oven to 425°. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. To assemble flautas, place 1/4 cup chicken mixture on bottom third of each flour tortilla. Roll up tightly, leaving ends open. Place seam-side down on prepared baking sheet. Brush filled chicken flautas with seasoned oil mixture. Repeat until all tortillas are filled. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until flautas are crispy. Serve with warmed queso cheese dip, herbed sour cream, and chunky salsa.

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 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.

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.

Chuy’s Tex-Mex in Nashville, Tennessee

Dining Outside the Home: Chuy’s Tex-Mex in Nashville, Tennessee. Where can you go and literally dish up drool-worthy nachos from the trunk of a full-loaded Nacho Car? Say again? You heard me. It’s the trunk of an Elvis-era classic car with a spread of tortilla chips, spicy salsa, creamy jalapeño, cheesy queso, and taco meat. And here’s the kicker: it’s FREE during Happy Hour Monday through Friday at Chuy’s. The restaurant decor is pure Elvis from velvet paintings, neon signs, shiny hubcaps, and nostalgic music. The menu boasts of Mexican favorites and then some of Elvis’s as well. After your fill of food and drink, there’s nothing left to say except, “Thank you, thank you very much”, in that ever familiar Elvis southern drawl.

Nacho Daddy in Las Vegas, Nevada

Dining Outside the Home: Nacho Daddy in Las Vegas, Nevada! What’s not to love about a Mexican restaurant whose name is Nacho Daddy with a slogan of “Never a Dry Chip”. The name alone sounds like a party. Peruse the menu to find a list of incredible nacho combinations smothered in cheesy queso and spicy salsa. But the challenge doesn’t end there. Nacho Daddy double-dog dares you to sling back an original Scorpion Shot, which is actually served with a real scorpion in the tequila glass. If you go to Vegas and want to return home with a story to tell, check out this must-see hotspot and #getstung as seen on the Food Network.

Dos Caminos in Times Square, New York, New York

Dining Outside the Home: Dos Caminos in Times Square, New York! Perhaps Cinco de Mayo isn’t the best time to try out an authentic Mexican restaurant. But then again, maybe it is. The vibrant cantina was hopping like a fiesta celebration. Shot glasses were slung back and refilled on demand. Traditional guacamole was served in natural molcajete stones with warm tortilla chips. The salsa trio was a bonus. Queso Fundido, piping hot in a black iron skillet, was spot on. Thick with melted cheese, poblano peppers, dark beer, and roasted tomatoes made it a meal. Keep the Cadillac Margaritas coming for an amazing culmination.

Kickstart Breakfast Burrito

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Kickstart Breakfast Burrito! Eggs have a way of warding off those mid-morning hunger pangs, in my opinion. Being high in protein makes them a favorite and keeps me from caving in to foods with empty calories later on. Because I’m a bread-lover, the tortilla satisfies like manna from heaven. Cheese, turkey sausage, and veggies kickstart my breakfast so I can stay focused and on point. Choose a breakfast wrap the next time you want a little variety in your day.

KICKSTART BREAKFAST BURRITO

Ingredients:

2 flour tortillas, burrito size

2 tablespoons salsa

2 tablespoons onion, chopped

1 small green pepper, chopped

1 tomato, chopped

1 lemon chili pepper, chopped (optional)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

4 eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons milk

2-4 turkey sausage links, precooked and sliced

4 tablespoons Colby-Monterey Jack cheese, finely shredded

Instructions:

Top tortillas with salsa. Set aside. Combine onion, green pepper, tomato, and lemon chili pepper in a microwave-safe dish. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Microwave on High for 1 minute, 45 seconds. Remove and set aside. Heat turkey sausage chunks for 30 seconds on High in the microwave oven. Set aside. In a nonstick medium skillet over medium heat, add beaten eggs. Cook, stirring occasionally for one minute. Add turkey sausage, shredded cheese, and vegetable mixture. Cook one minute longer or until eggs are set. Do not burn. Divide scrambled egg mixture between the tortilla shells. Fold into a burrito. Makes two breakfast burritos.

Old Town Mexican Cafe in Key West, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Old Town Mexican Café in Key West, Florida! When a restaurant boasts of an abundance of hatch chiles and fresh, local ingredients, you begin to wonder if Santa Fe style Tex-Mex might be a good choice for dinner. Anytime the weather is hot, and the drinks are cold, it draws a crowd on Duval Street for seafood favorites, like skewered shrimp marinated in lime juice and ginger. Take a swig of on-the-rocks margarita. The salted rim offsets the spicy salsa you can’t resist tasting now and then. If you’re in the neighborhood, take advantage of Happy Hour specials. There’s no rush here.

Jalisco Pico de Gallo

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Jalisco Pico de Gallo! It wasn’t until recently I dined at a family-owned Mexican cantina where the recipes truly originated from Guadalajara. I know this because the waitress explained that Jalisco-style dishes might taste different than anything else I tried before. “For starters,” she explained, “only fresh vegetables are used. We use Mexican oregano for flavor.” I was intrigued. So much so, I made a batch of pico de gallo when I returned home. The Jalisco-style street tacos come later. Stick around and tell me what you think.

JALISCO PICO DE GALLO

Ingredients:

7 Roma tomatoes, sliced and chopped

1 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt

6 Serrano chile, stems removed

3 jalapeño peppers, stems removed

1 sweet onion, chopped

2 tablespoons Mexican oregano, dried

2 teaspoons garlic powder

3 teaspoons cumin powder

1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon orange/mango juice

1 tablespoon lime juice

Instructions:

In a large bowl, place Roma tomato chunks. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Using a mini chopper, pulse Serrano peppers until finely chopped. Add to the bowl. Next, place jalapeño peppers in the mini chopper; pulse until finely chopped. Scrape sides and add to the bowl. Add chopped sweet onion to tomato mixture. Sprinkle on Mexican oregano, garlic powder, and cumin powder. Mix well. Fold in chopped cilantro leaves. Drizzle with orange/mango juice and lime juice. Gently stir. Transfer pico de gallo and liquid to covered jars and refrigerate. The flavors intensify as they marinate. Serve with tortilla chips or as a topping for Mexican dishes.