Pork Tenderloin Chimichanga

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food With Soul: Pork Tenderloin Chimichanga! If you want to step up your game from an ordinary burrito, but really prefer the flavor of crispy fried foods, there are healthier ways to accomplish it without a deep fryer. Anyone who owns an air fryer will attest to that. I haven’t purchased this countertop convection yet, although my new kitchen does have the option on the built-in wall unit. The one time I tested it produced a charred burn mark on the wooden cutting board afterwards. The jury is still out if I’ll make another attempt at it. These chimichangas are baked in the oven and deliver golden brown crunchy results. Tried-and-True techniques go a long way in my book.

PORK TENDERLOIN CHIMICHANGA

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups pork tenderloin, cooked and shredded

2/3 cup medium picante sauce, prepared

1/3 cup green onions

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

8 flour tortillas

1/4 cup melted butter

1 cup Mexican blend cheeses, shredded

Lettuce, tomatoes, onions

Ranch dressing, prepared

Fresh lime wedges, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Spray a 9”x13” baking dish with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a large skillet, combine shredded pork tenderloin, picante sauce, green onion, ground cumin, dried oregano, and sea salt. Simmer 5 minutes to heat through and allow most of the liquid to evaporate. Remove from heat. Brush both sides of a flour tortilla with melted butter. Spoon 1/3 cup meat mixture into the center; top with 2 tablespoons Mexican blend cheese. Fold 2 sides over filling; fold ends down. Place seam side down in prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Bake 15 minutes or until crisp and golden brown. Serve lettuce fixings drizzled with ranch dressing. Garnish with lime wedges.

Almaco Jack Skinny Fajitas

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food With Soul: Almaco Jack Skinny Fajitas! Since fish tacos are a popular menu item these days, it’s not a far stretch to serve fish fajitas. The buttery sweet taste of grilled Almaco Jack fillets, combined with strips of charred peppers and onions, allow us to customize our meal by choosing the stuff we like best. Some prefer the handheld tortilla, others nix the bread and go for the endless toppings. No matter what, you seldom see leftovers and everyone usually walks away feeling satisfied.

ALMACO JACK SKINNY FAJITAS

Ingredients:

4 3-ounce Almaco Jack fish fillets

1/2 cup white wine

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

2 teaspoons seafood seasoning

8 mini peppers, sliced

1 sweet onion, sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

Fresh cilantro, for garnish

Lime wedges, for garnish

Instructions:

In a glass baking dish, arrange fish fillets in a single layer. Pour white wine over top. Coat each fish with a thin layer of mayonnaise. Sprinkle seafood seasoning on top. Cover dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes; turn occasionally. Meanwhile, prepare the gas grill for medium heat, approximately 350°. Transfer each fish fillet to the grill rack. Discard marinade. Close the grill cover. Cook 4 minutes; carefully flip and cook 4 minutes longer. Transfer fish to a platter. The fish will flake easily when done. Cook the vegetables at the same time by using a grill pan. Allow vegetables to char. Serve fajitas with flour tortillas, side salad, and guacamole. Garnish with fresh cilantro and lime wedges.

Unwrapped Burritos

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Palatable Possibilities: Unwrapped Burritos! Casual meals come in handy on those days that are filled with unlimited tasks, scheduled appointments, and day-to-day responsibilities. Or you just don’t feel like making a full-course meal. Presenting……burrito fixings! It has all the good stuff: seasoned meat, tasty jalapeños, shredded cheeses, fresh onions, tomatillos, and corn kernels. Always remember to add crunchy tortilla chips and chunky salsa. Think of it as sinfully wicked. Kinda like sneaking more pizza toppings, scooping out lasagna fillings, or gobbling up the creme “Stuf” in an Oreo® cookie. Guilty, as charged.

UNWRAPPED BURRITOS

Ingredients:

1 pound lean ground beef, browned and crumbled

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Jalapeño slices, for garnish

2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed

1 red onion, sliced

4 tomatillos, sliced and halved

1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Salsa, for dressing

Corn Tortilla Chips, for serving

Instructions:

Combine cooked ground beef, sea salt, garlic powder, and ground cumin. Keep warm, top with jalapeño slices; set aside. For the salad, in a medium bowl combine corn kernels, red onion slices, tomatillos, cilantro, cheddar cheese, and Monterey Jack cheese. Toss gently. To serve, arrange burrito fixings on the table, along with chips and salsa. Enjoy.

Huevos Rancheros Casserole

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Huevos Rancheros Casserole! Looking for a little variety for a weekend breakfast? Take a trip down a rural road for an old classic that was served as “ranchers eggs” on the farms in Mexico. By turning it into a robust casserole, you can give it an American twist. It still has eggs, cheese, salsa, and tortillas in there. I chose street-size corn tortillas just because they were smaller and easier to work with. Obviously any type will do. Feel free to add beans and chorizo if you’re looking for hearty portions. Do ahead and refrigerate overnight so it’s ready to bake first thing in the morning.

HUEVOS RANCHEROS CASSEROLE

Ingredients:

10 street-size corn tortillas

1 cup chunky salsa

1 cup black beans, drain liquid

1 1/2 cups Colby-Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1/2 pound chorizo sausage, coarsely chopped and cooked; drained

3 poblano peppers, stems and seeds removed, cut into strips

6 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon cumin

Sour cream, for garnish

Green onion snips, for garnish

Instructions:

Spray on 8-inch square casserole dish with nonstick oil. Line the sides and bottom with 8 street-size corn tortillas, slightly overlapping. Spread a layer of salsa over the bottom. Next, layer with black beans. Sprinkle on 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Top with cooked chorizo, poblano peppers, and another 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Cut the last 2 tortillas into strips and layer over cheese. In a bowl, combine eggs, milk, oregano, red pepper flakes, and cumin powder. Whisk together. Pour egg mixture over all. Sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese. Press lightly into egg mixture. Cover dish. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. To bake, preheat oven to 350°. Bake covered casserole 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake 15-20 minutes longer or until center is set. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with sour cream and chopped green onions.

Tacos & Tequila Cantina in Fort Myers, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Tacos & Tequila Cantina in Fort Myers, Florida! If going South of the border gives you illusions of adventurous Tex Mex meals filled with bold ingredients and health benefits, this is the place to try. Keep in mind the focus is on tacos. After all, it’s their specialty. With over two dozen ways to fill a taco with meat and seafood, vine-ripened tomatoes, shredded lettuce, sautéed onions, Mexican cheeses, grilled tortillas, pico de gallos, and more, there’s something for every funky craving you can think of. The decor is fun and quirky. Look up to see hanging chandeliers made of empty tequila bottles. The walls are covered with vibrant sugar skulls as well as fiesta “Day of the Dead” custom pieces, making every visit a celebration. Be daring. Try something new. And for goodness sake, be brave enough to try the spicy margarita. That’s kinda the point.

Queso Blanco Shrimp Street Tacos

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Queso Blanco Shrimp Street Tacos! Not everyone has the luxury of accessibility to freshly-made corn tortillas. Because corn tortillas contain less fat than flour tortillas, they are more prone to breakage. One way to prevent this from happening is to dip them in warmed vegetable oil. The extra moisture enhances the taste. Another way is to take two corn tortillas to create a double-layered shell. That way if the inside tears or cracks when folded in half, the outer shell will keep all the ingredients from falling into your lap. Make sense?

QUESO BLANCO SHRIMP STREET TACOS

Ingredients:

8 corn street tacos

1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 pound medium shrimp, precooked, peeled, deveined, and tail removed

2 tablespoons bacon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon raspberry chipotle seasoning

1 ripe avocado, peeled, stone removed, and sliced into wedges

1 cup broccoli slaw

2 large leaves romaine lettuce, gently torn

1/2 cup prepared queso blanco with jalapeños

Fresh lime, for garnish

Cilantro, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 300°. Set aside a baking sheet. Warm vegetable oil over medium-high heat in an iron skillet. One at a time, dip a corn tortilla into the oil for about 15 seconds; flip and repeat. Drain and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining tortilla shells. Stack them two to a pile on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt (optional). Keep warm in the oven. Using the remaining vegetable oil, add bacon olive oil to the skillet. Gently place the shrimp in the warmed oil. Sprinkle with raspberry chipotle seasoning. After one minute, flip. Shrimp should be slightly charred. Cook one minute longer. Remove from heat. In a bowl, combine the broccoli slaw with the gently torn romaine leaves. Toss. Remove tortillas from the oven. On the four stacks of warmed tortilla shells, place avocado wedges. Divide the broccoli slaw blend between the tacos. Top with sautéed shrimp. Warm the jalapeño queso blanco for 20 seconds in the microwave on high setting. Stir. Repeat, if necessary. Drizzle over street tacos. Squeeze fresh lime juice over all. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

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.

Mole Sesame Chicken

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Mole Sesame Chicken! One of my longtime friends introduced me to this dish after spending some time in the Dominican Republic. The unique mole sauce contains chili pepper, aromatic spices, and dark Mexican chocolate making it a savory sauce over turkey or chicken. It creates a fabulous meal when you have leftover meat. Simply add plain or Spanish rice along with soft flour tortillas for the perfect pairings. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds for a nutty finish.

MOLE SESAME CHICKEN

Ingredients:

8.25 ounce jar Doña Maria Mole*

28 ounces chicken broth

1-2 pound rotisserie chicken

1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Shred rotisserie chicken, removing skin and bones. Transfer chicken to a large bowl. Empty contents of mole paste into a blender. Add half the chicken broth. Blend until smooth. Add remaining broth. Repeat. Pour mole sauce over chicken. Stir to incorporate. Transfer to a covered casserole dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Sauce will thicken. Serve with sticky rice or Spanish rice. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

*I receive no recompense for recommending Doña Maria Mole, Mexican Condiment.

Huevos Rancheros Casserole

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Huevos Rancheros Casserole! Looking for a little variety for a weekend breakfast? Take a trip down a rural road for an old classic that was served as “ranchers eggs” on the farms in Mexico. By turning it into a robust casserole, you can give it an American twist. It still has eggs, cheese, salsa, and tortillas in there. I chose street-size corn tortillas just because they were smaller and easier to work with. Obviously any type will do. Feel free to add beans and chorizo if you’re looking for hearty portions. Do ahead and refrigerate overnight so it’s ready to bake first thing in the morning.

HUEVOS RANCHEROS CASSEROLE

Ingredients:

10 street-size corn tortillas

1 cup chunky salsa

1 cup black beans, drain liquid

1 1/2 cups Colby-Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1/2 pound chorizo sausage, coarsely chopped and cooked; drained

3 poblano peppers, stems and seeds removed, cut into strips

6 eggs

1/2 milk

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon cumin

Sour cream, for garnish

Green onion snips, for garnish

Instructions:

Spray on 8-inch square casserole dish with nonstick oil. Line the sides and bottom with 8 street-size corn tortillas, slightly overlapping. Spread a layer of salsa over the bottom. Next, layer with black beans. Sprinkle on 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Top with cooked chorizo, poblano peppers, and another 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Cut the last 2 tortillas into strips and layer over cheese. In a bowl, combine eggs, milk, oregano, red pepper flakes, and cumin powder. Whisk together. Pour egg mixture over all. Sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese. Press lightly into egg mixture. Cover dish. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. To bake, preheat oven to 350°. Bake covered casserole 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake 15-20 minutes longer or until center is set. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with sour cream and chopped green onions.