Reuben Tacos

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Reuben Tacos! Here you go…a Mexican taco with an Irish twist! Anyone who is crazy about tacos will tell you the combinations are endless. Not long after St. Patrick’s Day, there were leftovers of corned beef brisket and a wedge of purple cabbage in the fridge. My husband had gone out for lunch with the guys and I thought, “Hmmm, what can I throw together for a scrumptious mid-day meal?” It seemed like a no-brainer. Corn tortillas, Swiss cheese, pickled jalapeño slices, and Dijon mustard sealed the deal. Try it. One bite and you’ll shout, “Olé! Me Irish eyes ere smilin'”.

REUBEN TACOS

Ingredients:

4 yellow corn tortillas, extra thin

6 slices Swiss cheese

1/4 wedge purple cabbage, shredded

1/2 pound corned beef brisket, cooked and shredded

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons whole grain mustard

1/4 cup jalapeño slices

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Warm corned beef brisket in microwave or medium skillet. On a foil-lined baking sheet, arrange the corn tortillas in a single layer. Divide cheese among tortillas. Layer with shredded cabbage. Pile on the corned beef brisket. Slather with both mustards and garnish with pickled jalapeño peppers. Bake in oven for 2-3 minutes just long enough to melt cheese. Watch carefully as you still want the cabbage to remain crunchy. Remove and fold tortillas in half to eat.

Dos Reales Mexican Restaurant in Champaign, Illinois

Dining Outside the Home: Dos Reales Mexican Restaurant in Champaign, Illinois! When it gets steamy hot in the Midwest , rest assured you can cool things off at a casual spot for classic Mexican cooking and salt-rimmed margaritas that go down smooth and easy. Order a Taco Salad. It’s served in a fried flour tortilla shell, then cradled with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, chunky guacamole, and spicy salsa. Saira can add seasoned ground beef or shredded chicken to suit your taste. Either way, you get a healthy dose of veggies that’ll keep you coming back for more…whenever you pass through town.

Winterfest Walking Tacos

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Winterfest Walking Tacos! Here’s the perfect “Grab and Go” snack when you’re heading out the door. This time of year towns all over the world celebrate the holiday season with dazzling displays of outdoor Christmas lights. From Santa’s Workshop to high-tech Winter Wonderlands, the animation never stops. Pile the kids on board and have a tailgate party in your car, truck, or SUV. Keep it simple by using plastic picnic tumblers for easy handling. Enjoy a tasty snack while embracing the spirit of the holidays.

WINTERFEST WALKING TACOS

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef

1 package taco seasoning mix

15-ounce can chili beans

10-ounce can tomato bits and sauce

2 cups shredded romaine

1 cup cheddar cheese, finely shredded

10-ounce bag of corn chips, slightly crushed

1/3 cup salsa

Instructions:

Brown ground beef in a large skillet. Stir over medium heat until completely cooked. Drain. Add taco seasoning packet, chili beans, tomato bits and sauce. Stir well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes or until thickened. Stir occasionally. Before serving, assemble corn chips in the bottom of each cup followed by beef mixture and toppings of choice. Eat with a fork.

Hacienda Taco Salad Bowls

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Hacienda Taco Salad Bowls! It’s okay to indulge in those fast-food cravings. Everyone does now and then. When I get the urge to succumb to the temptation, I begin to turn things around in my own kitchen. Take, for example, the glorious Taco Salad with the edible crispy flour shell bowl. It can be made for half the cost at home, leaving extra money in your wallet for something like…oh I don’t know…SHOES! Make this guilt-free version at home.

HACIENDA TACO SALAD BOWLS

Ingredients:

6 flour tortillas

1 pound lean ground beef

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cumin powder

Romaine lettuce leaves, torn

2 tomatoes, diced

1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded

2 green onions, snipped

1/4 cup black olives, sliced

1/4 cup jalapeño peppers, sliced

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1/2 cup salsa

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Using nonstick spray oil, coat the inside of oven-safe bowls. Gently mold the flour tortilla inside to form a bowl. Bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Remove from oven and cool before transferring to wire rack. Meanwhile, brown ground beef and drain. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cumin. Mix well. Assemble hacienda bowls by filling with remaining ingredients, per taste. Top with Greek yogurt and salsa.

Jicama Tortillas

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Jicama Tortillas! Jicama is another word for Mexican turnip or potato. Interesting, isn’t it? The flavor is sweet and starchy when eaten raw with a sprinkling of sea salt. Being Paleo-friendly, the jicama is popular as a low-carb, low-sugar nutritious snack. It may be available in your local supermarket’s produce department as a precut veggie that resembles French fries. In that case, simply squeeze a lime wedge over it before sprinkling with sea salt and chili powder. I understand it’s also available in “tortilla” packets. I wanted to make my own tortillas, so the large bulb was an easy choice. Peel, slice, and steam. There you have it; a miniature tortilla similar to a street taco in size. Add precooked shredded turkey, cheddar cheese, and a prepackaged salad kit. It’s a meal-in-a-snap, perfect for weeknights.

JICAMA TORTILLAS

Ingredients:

1 large jicama, peeled and sliced into thin discs

12-ounce bag Southwest Chopped Salad Kit, creamy cilantro dressing included

2 cups precooked shredded turkey, chicken, pork, or beef

1/4 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons vinegar

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1 lime, cut into wedges

Fresh cilantro for garnish

Instructions:

To make jicama tortillas, place sliced discs in a microwave-safe dish with two tablespoons water. Cover and microwave on High for 3 minutes. This turns them from brittle to flexible. Drain hot water; dab tortillas on paper towels, then return them to covered dish to cool. Set aside. Empty chopped salad mix into a bowl. Pour prepared cilantro salad dressing over all. Mix well. Set aside. For the meat mixture, combine orange juice, vinegar, butter, sea salt, oregano, garlic powder, and cumin powder in a large skillet. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and add shredded meat. Stir together. Cook until moisture is absorbed, about 10 minutes. For a crispy finish, add 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Increase heat to medium-high setting. Let meat fry until browned and crispy on bottom. Remove from heat. Stir with a fork. Serve jicama tortillas with chopped salad, shredded meat, and cheddar cheese. Garnish with lime wedges and fresh cilantro.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter L

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Layered Taco Dip! Wait no longer for a great appetizer. Set the tone for a social gathering with foods that say, “Let’s get this party started!”. A creamy dense layer of Mexican spices over a base of refried beans make the perfect foundation to hold the remaining ingredients. Not a fan of black olives? Simply choose green peppers or mushrooms instead. After all it’s your kitchen, so own it!

LAYERED TACO DIP

16-ounce can refried beans, traditional

16-ounce carton sour cream

8-ounce block cream cheese, room temperature

1 taco seasoning packet

1 cup romaine lettuce, chopped

1 large tomato, diced

3 green onions, chopped

1 1/2 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

2.25-ounce can sliced black olives, drained

Tortilla chips or corn chips

Instructions:

Spread refried beans on the bottom layer of a serving platter. Combine sour cream, cream cheese, and taco seasoning packet in a bowl. Mix until smooth. Spread over refried beans. Divide romaine lettuce evenly over cream cheese layer. Top with diced tomatoes and green onion snips. Sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese followed by Monterey Jack cheese over all. Finish with black olive slices. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate dip for at least one hour. Serve with tortilla chips or corn chips.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter T

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Home Cooking: Tiki Tacos! There was a time I could eat a dozen tacos at one sitting. Seriously. I was 20 years old, working two full time jobs and rode my bicycle everywhere! Nowadays, I show a little more restraint and stop after two tacos. But it’s still one of my favorite meals. Sometimes I use corn tortilla shells and other times I use flour. The shell determines which spices to use. Today it’s flour tortillas.

TIKI TACOS

Ingredients:

1 pound lean ground beef

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

8 flour tortillas

1/4 cup butter, melted

Lettuce, torn

Tomato, chopped

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1/4 cup jalapeño peppers, sliced

1/2 cup prepared salsa

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium skillet, brown ground beef. Drain. Stir in garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper. Set aside. Brush one side of tortillas with butter. Spoon about 1/4 cup of meat mixture onto center of unbuttered sides. Fold in half; place on a baking sheet. Repeat until all tortillas are filled and meat is distributed evenly between them. Bake in the oven about 15 minutes or until tortilla shells are crisp. Remove from oven and serve with lettuce, tomato, and cheese. Spoon salsa over too and garnish with jalapeño pepper slices.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter U

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Urban Taco Pizza! If you’re caught between the Taco/Pizza dilemma of what to have for dinner, simply combine the two for a taste extravaganza. Everyone wins. By using a prepared crust, taco seasoning packet, and bottled salsa, dinner can be ready in as fast as 30 minutes. For the cooking enthusiast, I know you already have all the homemade ingredients on hand. Either way, time is valuable in a life of constant motion. Do yourself a favor and prepare a healthy option at home. It’s easy, delicious, and most of all kid-friendly!
URBAN TACO PIZZA 
Ingredients:

1 prepared pizza crust, any variety 

1 tablespoon cornmeal 

1 pound lean ground beef

1-ounce packet taco seasoning mix

1 cup salsa plus more for topping

1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1 cup Sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

1 cup Spring Mix salad greens

1-2 tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup slices black olives

Crushed tortilla chips
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a pizza pan with nonstick oil. Sprinkle cornmeal on pan. Cover with pizza dough. Bake 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. In a skillet, cook ground beef until crumbly. Add taco seasoning mix. Mix well. Cover pizza dough with 1 cup salsa. Layer ground beef mixture, spreading almost to the edge. Top with both cheeses. Bake 15-18 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is completely melted. Remove from oven. Top with mixed salad greens, chopped tomatoes, and sliced black olives. Spoon on more salsa, to taste. 

Dining Outside the Home: Oasis on the Beach in Kapaa, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: Oasis on the Beach in Kapaa, Kauai!  Warm up to the spice in Fresh Fish Tacos. After all, you’re at the beach and the fish doesn’t get any fresher than this. Ask the waiter for the special condiment caddy. Among others, you’ll get a trio of Hawaiian Chili Pepper Sauces for a gratifying south-of-the-border taste extravaganza. These sauces are made locally by the Kauai Juice Company in the heart of Kapaa. Sample between the Chocolate Habanero, the Kiawe Smoked, and the Mango Garlic Ghost. Trust me, you’ll know. The grilled flour tortillas come with shredded cabbage and an avocado mousse to balance out the heat. Go strong…or go home!