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.

BBQ Pork Nachos

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: BBQ Pork Nachos! Mealtime can be hectic for this reason or that. I admit, some days I am not in the mood for a lavish meal. Perhaps you feel the same way and need a shortcut now and then. That’s when I go to the freezer to pull out fully cooked products, like smoked barbecue pork. When buying, always check the ingredient list for additives. From my experience, it’s the sauce that makes the dish.

BBQ PORK NACHOS

Ingredients:

11-ounce bag tortilla corn chips

1 pound container bbq pork, fully cooked

1/2 cup Queso cheese dip, store-bought

1 tomato, chopped

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

6 sprigs cilantro, leaves removed

1 bottle Heinz Hawaii sweet and fruity bbq sauce, to taste*

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Places tortilla chips in a single layer on the baking sheet. Randomly drop bbq pork onto chips using a fork. Next spoon prepared queso dip around the pork. It will melt as it bakes. Scatter chopped tomatoes over all. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, to taste. Bake nachos for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Drizzle barbecue sauce over top. Serve immediately.

*I receive no recompense for mentioning this product.

Uruguayan Chorizo Cheese Dip

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Uruguayan Chorizo Cheese Dip! Traveling exposes you to all kinds of different foods, especially nowadays. I can’t tell you how often we are hundreds of miles from home and end up running into someone who used to live down the road from us. It’s a small world, isn’t it? Striking up a conversation with strangers, who have become city residents, brings out the best places in local hot spots. After all, when asked, “What restaurants do you favor in your free time”, they begin rattling off a list of specialties worthy of remembering. At that point I’m making notes on my cell phone to further explore reviews and websites for our next meal. That’s what happened the day we ate at a fusion restaurant and discovered how tasty hot melted cheese can be. Pass it on.

URUGUAYAN CHORIZO CHEESE DIP

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/4 pound smoky provolone cheese, sliced

1/4 pound montamoré cheese, crumbled

1/4 pound parmesan cheese, shredded

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 cup chorizo, cooked and crumbled

2 tablespoons pickled jalapeño slices

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Place an iron skillet, rubbed with vegetable oil, into the oven while it is preheating. Carefully remove it after 4-5 minutes, or when the buzzer indicates the oven has reached that temperature. Layer the sliced provolone cheese in the bottom of the skillet. Be sure to cover the bottom completely. Next, cover the provolone with crumbled montamoré cheese. Finally, top with grated parmesan cheese. Sprinkle dried oregano, kosher salt, and red pepper flakes over all. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges are crispy and the cheese is melted. The bottom of the cheese dip will be slightly seared. Remove from the oven and garnish with warmed chorizo and jalapeño slices. Serve with corn tortilla chips.

Desperado Dinner Nachos

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Desperado Dinner Nachos! The title says it all. I had been running all day long from this to that when I finally returned home to realize I had made no plans for supper. Going back out was not an option. So things got a little desperate. Thank goodness I had some leftover roasted turkey (chicken would work just fine) plus a half a bag of tortilla chips. The rest of the toppings were a given. So you see, sometimes making mediocre effort will suffice, especially if you make it look downright delicious!

DESPERADO DINNER NACHOS

Ingredients:

1/2 bag corn tortilla chips

2 cups roasted turkey or rotisserie chicken, shredded

2 cups Mexican-blend cheese, shredded

1 tomato, chopped

1/3 cup pickled jalapeños, sliced

2-3 green onions, snipped

Greek yogurt or Sour cream

Salsa

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400°. Coat a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. In a single layer, line the baking sheet with tortilla chips, covering every space. Sprinkle on shredded cheese, reserving a little as a final sprinkling. Arrange roasted meat over cheese layer. Top with chopped tomatoes, sliced jalapeños, and green onion snips. Toss on the remaining cheese. Bake for 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve nachos with yogurt and salsa to taste.

Zestful Ahi Poke

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Zestful Ahi Poke! Have you noticed all the rage about eating raw tuna? Whether it’s an appetizer or poke bowl, ahi seems to be the star attraction. If you’ve never tried it, perhaps it takes some getting used to. After all, the texture is totally different from cooked fish. When saturated in a spicy sesame soy marinade, I found it absolutely irresistible. Then served with crunchy wonton crisps, taro chips (my fav), or corn tortilla chips it evolves from a curiosity to a craving. Just so you know, premium ahi tuna steaks are now available in the freezer aisle for those, like me, who are landlocked part of the year.

ZESTFUL AHI POKE

Ingredients:

2 ahi tuna steaks, premium grade

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

1/2 cup green onion, chopped

Wonton Crisps, Taro Chips, or Corn Tortilla Chips

Instructions:

Pat ahi tuna steaks dry with a paper towel. Cut into 1/2” cubes. Transfer to a bowl. Add soy sauce, sesame oil, chili garlic sauce, toasted sesame seeds, and chopped green onions. Gently toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate one hour. Serve as an appetizer with choice of chips.

Tortilla Crusted Tilapia

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Tortilla-Crusted Tilapia! I never thought of tilapia as an interesting choice of fish until I mixed things up with a Santa Fe style coating. The robust crunch of tortilla chips is a surprising prelude to the tender moist fish inside. It had me wishing I prepared seconds for the hubs and me. If you’re looking for a meatless meal, give it a whirl. Who knows, you may find yourself adding tilapia to the weekly menu.

TORTILLA CRUSTED TILAPIA

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Santa Fe style tortilla strips, crushed

1 tablespoon natural cornmeal

1 tablespoon panko bread crumbs

1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon parsley flakes

2 tilapia fish fillets

1 egg, room temperature

Fresh cilantro, garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Set aside. Whisk egg in a shallow dish. Set aside. On a sheet of waxed paper, combine crushed tortilla strips, natural cornmeal, panko bread crumbs, lemon pepper, cayenne pepper, kosher salt, and parsley flakes. Mix well with a fork. Working one at a time, dip a tilapia fillet into the beaten egg. Flip over to coat both sides. Press fillet onto the crumb mixture; turn over and repeat. For an extra crispy crust repeat process. Carefully transfer crusted fish fillet to the baking sheet. Continue with second fillet. Bake 10 minutes or until crust is golden and crunchy. Serve with fresh cilantro.

Yellowfin Tuna Nachos

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Yellowfin Tuna Nachos! I’m not much of a canned tuna fan, but I do appreciate sushi-grade tuna, even if it’s found in the freezer section of the grocery store. Yellowfin and Ahi are two favorites than have delicious flavor. Being mild, yet firm, they work well raw, cubed, seared, or grilled. Be adventurous. Who knows? You may occasionally substitute a beef burger for a tuna burger. But that’s a recipe for another day. Don’t knock it till you try it.

YELLOWFIN TUNA NACHOS

Ingredients:

Corn tortilla chips

1 cup Mexican cheese blend, shredded

1 tomato, diced

1 avocado, pitted and cut into chunks

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 4-ounce yellowfin tuna steaks

2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

1/2 cup Ranch dressing, prepared

2 tablespoons wasabi paste

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400°. Spray a baking dish with nonstick oil. Layer with corn tortilla chips. Next, layer Mexican shredded cheese over tortilla chips. Divide diced tomatoes and avocado chunks over all. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and dried oregano. Bake for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat a grill pan on high heat. Brush with olive oil. Sprinkle both sides of the tuna steaks with black sesame seeds. Sear steaks on the grill for 3 minutes; flip and sear 2 minutes longer. Remove to a plate and tent with aluminum foil for 2 minutes. Then slice yellowfin tuna steaks against the grain. Remove nachos from oven. Arrange sliced yellowfin tuna over nachos. In a small bowl, combine ranch dressing and wasabi paste. Stir until smooth. Drizzle over nachos. Serve immediately.

Utz’s Spanish Tortilla

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Utz’s Spanish Tortilla! I like to talk with servers at restaurants. More often than not, they reveal significant tidbits about recipe ingredients or preparation that send my mind spinning. For example: Did you know instead of adding hash brown potatoes to an omelet you can substitute potato chips? When folded into a beaten egg mixture, they thicken the omelet while keeping it light and airy at the same time. It’s pure genius. After all, everyone has a bag of potato chips stashed somewhere.

UTZ’S SPANISH TORTILLA

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon olive oil

4 eggs, beaten

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 cups Utz’s Kettle Potato Chips*, crushed

Grape tomatoes, green olives, and baby spinach for garnish

Instructions:

Warm the butter and olive oil over medium heat in a small frying pan. In a mixing bowl, combine eggs, seasoned salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Mix well. Fold in the crushed potato chips. Pour the mixture into the preheated pan. Cook 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Place a flat plate over the top of the pan; invert the pan onto the plate to flip the tortilla out. Slide the tortilla back into the pan with the golden side up. Cook 2-3 minutes longer until firm. Transfer to a serving plate. Garnish with grapes tomatoes, green olives, and baby spinach leaves.

*I receive no recompense for mentioning Utz’s Kettle Potato Chips.