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.

Double Decker Shrimp Nachos

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Double-Decker Shrimp Nachos! Get set for a taste extravaganza that will implode inside your mouth. Talk about a nacho upgrade. It just may kick the ordinary version to the curb. Look at the ingredient list: sautéed shrimp, gooey cheeses, cayenne peppers, and fresh veggies. Double-Decker means two layers of mouthwatering goodness. Better add a side of plain yogurt or sour cream to control the fire, just in case. Keep ingredients on hand. You’re going to end up making it twice!

DOUBLE-DECKER SHRIMP NACHOS

Ingredients:

11-ounce bag corn tortilla chips

12-ounce bag large cooked shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon crushed oregano

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

8-ounces Mexican cheese blend, finely shredded

2 Roma tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup corn, frozen and thawed

4-5 green onions, snipped

1 avocado, sliced

1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a 9”x13” glass dish with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm olive oil. Arrange shrimp in a single layer. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, crushed oregano, and garlic salt. Turn shrimp to brown both sides. Remove from heat. Repeat if necessary until all shrimp is sautéed. Line bottom of glass dish with a single layer of corn tortilla chips, slightly overlapping. Place half the shrimp over chips. You may cut the shrimp into bite-size pieces. Sprinkle 1 cup of Mexican cheese blend over shrimp. Next top cheeses with one chopped tomato and corn. Using a kitchen shears, snip 2 green onions into bite-size pieces randomly over top. Repeat process for second layer, beginning with tortilla chips. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted. Remove from oven. Garnish with sliced avocado and a dollop of sour cream. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes for extra flavor. Serve warm.

Giordano’s in Las Vegas, Nevada

Dining Outside the Home: Giordano’s in Las Vegas, Nevada! Some things you just can’t rush, like world famous deep dish pizza. Made from a family recipe that originated in Torino, Italy, the “stuffed” version of Giordano’s pizza pie begins with a light and buttery focaccia-type crust. Next comes a layer of fresh veggies and savory meats. A thick layer of cheese is essential for gooey chewy goodness. Finally, an herbed tomato sauce is spread completely over the top before it is baked in a hot oven for almost an hour. Can’t wait that long? Order some cheesy garlic bread to nibble on in the meantime. Giordano’s pizza is definitely worth the wait.

Fondue Pizza Party

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Fondue Pizza Party! Revitalize the 1970s by throwing a fondue party. Gather up the dipping forks, where everyone chooses their favorite color. Remember, these forks are for spearing and dipping only. Never allow your guests to eat from the sharp pointed ends. Another reason eating from the fondue forks is a no-no is to avoid adding germs to the fondue sauce. So, set the table and let the fun begin!

FONDUE PIZZA PARTY

Ingredients:

1 pound Italian meatballs, pre-cooked and ready-to-serve

8 ounces bite size dry salami or pepperoni slices

1 green pepper, chopped

1 red onion, chopped

1 pound cherry tomatoes

8 ounces mozzarella sticks, cut into chunks

28-30 ounce jar pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce

Breadsticks

Bagel chips

Rosemary sprigs

Instructions:

Heat pizza sauce to boiling, then reduce to simmer, stirring constantly. Keep warm. Transfer to a fondue pot when ready to serve. Set on low heat to maintain a constant temperature. Arrange meatballs, pepperoni slices, green pepper, onion, cherry tomatoes, and cheese chunks on one or two serving platters. Include breadsticks, crostini, or bagel chips as another option. Spear dippers with fondue forks or rosemary sprigs. Dip ingredients into the fondue sauce for pizza party magic.

Tex-Mex Tortilla Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Tex-Mex Tortilla Soup! One thing I love about Fall is the convenience of crockpot meals. Throw all the ingredients together, stir, and then forget about it for a few hours. Do something fun……and I don’t mean raking leaves or shelling walnuts. Take a nature walk, visit an apple orchard, choose a mum plant for your front door, photograph colorful pumpkins and gourds. You get the idea. Don’t let the season pass you by. Autumn is in full swing and Mother Earth has splattered the landscape with vibrant colors.

TEX-MEX TORTILLA SOUP

Ingredients:

1 pound lean ground beef

20-ounce can diced tomatoes and green chilies, mild flavor

10-ounce can diced tomatoes, zesty flavor

15-ounce can black beans, organic

15-ounce can corn, drained

15-ounce can kidney beans, drained

4-ounce packet taco seasoning mix

4-ounce packet ranch seasoning mix

1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

3 green onions, snipped

1/3 cup sliced jalapeño peppers

Instructions:

Brown ground beef. Drain any liquid. Place ground beef, tomatoes (juice included), black beans, corn, kidney beans, taco dry seasoning mix, and ranch dry seasoning mix in a slow-cooker. Mix well. Cover and cook on High for 3-4 hours OR on Low for 6-8 hours. Uncover. Ladle Tex-Mex Tortilla Soup into bowl and garnish with Monterey Jack cheese, a dollop of Greek yogurt, onion snips, and jalapeño pepper rings. Serve with tortilla chips or crackers.

Oil and Vinegar Herbed Tomatoes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Oil & Vinegar Herbed Tomatoes! Be amazed at the rich and vibrant colors of autumn in this tantalizing harvest side dish of slow-roasted tomatoes. It may become love at first bite. Inspired by herbs from the south of France, first-press olive oil from the Italian countryside, and garden fresh tomatoes from local farms, this dish is sure to please. Don’t take my word for it. Be transformed.

OIL & VINEGAR HERBED TOMATOES

Ingredients:

2 pints of tomatoes, assorted sizes

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons Lea & Perrins sauce

1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Fresh basil

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. In a shallow dish, combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Lee & Perrins sauce, herbs de Provence, kosher salt, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Whisk until incorporated. Cut the tomatoes in half from end to end. Place cut side down in the olive oil mixture. After a few minutes, turning cut side up, transfer tomatoes to an iron skillet. Arrange in a single layer. Drizzle extra olive oil mixture over all the tomatoes. Bake 20 minutes. Remove iron skillet from oven and snip fresh basil over the tomatoes. Bake 10 minutes longer or until tomatoes are soft and fragrant. Serve immediately.

Mint Leaf Peach Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Mint Leaf Peach Salad! Sliced peaches with creamy goat cheese medallions, OMG! This delightful salad is ideal for a light lunch, an afternoon brunch, or an early dinner. Indulging in the sweet tangy taste of a ripe, plump peach mixed with the nutty crunch of sugared pecans wrapped around medallions of earthy herbed goat cheese is like taking a bath in a tub of dairy rich cream. At first bite, you won’t mind being pampered. The fresh mint leaf garnish is like icing on a cake.

MINT LEAF PEACH SALAD

Ingredients:

1 ripe peach, sliced with pit removed

4-6 cherry tomatoes; halved

2 ounces creamy goat cheese

1/4 cup sugared pecans, crushed

Fresh mint leaves

Instructions:

Cut ripe peach into 7-8 slices. Arrange in a pinwheel design on a salad plate. Cut cherry tomatoes and place seed side up around the peach slices. Crush sugared pecans on a sheet of waxed paper. Take a goat cheese slice and roll in nut mixture to coat; repeat. Arrange medallions on salad plate around the peaches. Garnish with fresh mint leaves.

Italian Bread Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Italian Bread Salad! Panzanella. Travel with me to Tuscany for a delightful dinner on a gardened terrace. Indulge in a bountiful salad of artisan bread, juicy tomatoes, sweet onions, and green bell peppers. Appreciate the herbs de Provence perfectly blended with garlic wine vinegar whisked in extra-virgin olive oil. It’s enough to make you swoon. The ingredients are very forgiving. Tomatoes a little soft? Has the bread gone stale? No worries. This classic Italian meal was originally meant to be eaten that way. It’s truly amazing!

ITALIAN BREAD SALAD

Ingredients:

1-pound loaf artisan bread

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence, crushed

8 Roma tomatoes, sliced

1 medium green bell pepper, cut into strips

1/2 Vidalia onion, chopped

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup red wine garlic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced

Cracked black pepper to taste

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 300°. Slice and cube the bread in bite-size pieces, leaving crusts on. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Form a single layer of bread cubes. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with Herbs de Provence. Bake 10 minutes; flip over and bake 10 minutes longer. Cool. For dressing, whisk together olive oil, red wine garlic vinegar, and sea salt. In a large salad bowl, combine bread with tomatoes, green pepper, and onion. Pour vinaigrette over all and toss to coat. Refrigerate for one hour before serving. Stir occasionally to blend flavors. Just before serving, gently toss with fresh basil. Add cracked black pepper to taste.

* Serving suggestion: Italian Bread Salad is best eaten the day it is made.

Cheesy Burrata

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Cheesy Burrata! For those of you who are unfamiliar with Burrata cheese, allow me to tell you a little bit about it. Imagine a soft delicate layer of mozzarella cheese stretched thin like a piece of hand-formed pie dough. It is placed into a bowl so the center can be filled like a porcelain white water balloon. Inside is heavy cream as rich as butter and luscious cheese curds. The pouch is then tightly tied at the top to ensure maximum freshness. The taste is extraordinary. It’s enough to make you roll your eyes and swoon.

CHEESY BURRATA

Ingredients:

8 ounce Burrata cheese

Fresh basil

Cherry tomatoes, halved

1 tablespoon olive oil

Herbs de Provence

Sea salt to taste

Instructions:

Place the Burrata cheese on a platter surrounded by fresh basil and cherry tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil. Add a sprinkling of Herbs de Provence and sea salt to taste. Serve with crusty artisan breads or crackers.