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.

Diablo Verde Enchiladas

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Diablo Verde Enchiladas! If you understand a little Spanish, you’re already familiar with the term “diablo”. Typically it refers to devil. In reference to food, it translates to spicy or sometimes fiery ingredients that crank things up a level. In this case I used jalapeño peppers, but you are certainly welcome to increase the heat by substituting serrano peppers instead. Since I want to keep my husband around a little longer, I played it safe. You choose.

DIABLO VERDE ENCHILADAS

Ingredients:

2 cups precooked turkey, shredded

1/2 teaspoon chili-lime seasoning

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

12 ounces queso blanco dip

10 flour tortillas

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons pickled jalapeños, diced

1/4 cup taco sauce

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Salsa verde, to taste

Fresh cilantro, for garnish

Green onion snips, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 9”x13” pan with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine shredded turkey, chili-lime seasoning, dried oregano, garlic powder, and queso blanco dip. Mix well. Divide the mixture between the 10 flour tortillas, spreading the meat across the center of each tortilla. Roll them up, placing each seam-side-down in the prepared baking dish. In a saucepan over medium heat, warm butter. Do not scorch. Whisk in flour; cook one minute to thicken, stirring constantly. Add chicken broth; whisk until smooth. Add Greek yogurt and diced jalapeños. Do not allow mixture to boil. Reduce heat if necessary. Remove sauce from heat. Carefully pour over enchiladas. Spoon taco sauce over all. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven when cheese is slightly browned and bubbly. Garnish with salsa verde, fresh cilantro, and green onion snips to taste. Serve immediately.

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.

Quest Fundido Poblano Dip

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Quest Fundido Poblano Dip! When my garden harvested a nice crop of poblano peppers, I was already counting the days until I would take these mildly rich green peppers and transform them into an earthy Mexican favorite. Poblanos, you see, are a cross between a jalapeño and a bell pepper. Hot, but not a scorcher, if you know what I mean. You may be more familiar with them in a popular restaurant dish called a chile relleno or another known as chile poblano. Either way, they’re amazing.

QUEST FUNDIDO POBLANO DIP

Ingredients:

2-4 chili poblano peppers

1/2 pound ground beef

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon cumin powder

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

4 ounces feta cheese

Corn tortilla chips

Instructions:

Heat an iron skillet on the stove over medium-high setting. Place poblano peppers into pan. Allow peppers to blister and blacken. Turn with tongs to allow even roasting. When the peppers are charred and soft, transfer them to a covered bowl to steam and cool, about 10-15 minutes. When able to handle, peel skins and discard. Cut poblano peppers into strips or chop into smaller pieces. Layer in the bottom of a casserole dish. Set aside. In a medium skillet, cook ground beef over medium-high heat. Break into small pieces, turning often until ground beef is browned and crumbled. Drain, if necessary. Add sea salt, cumin powder, garlic powder, and black pepper. Mix well. Layer crumbled ground beef over poblano peppers. Top with shredded Monterey Jack cheese and feta cheese crumbles. Broil until cheeses are melted and golden brown in spots. Serve warm with corn tortilla chips.