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.

The Three Amigos in Downtown Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Dining Outside the Home: The Three Amigos in Downtown Edmonton, Alberta, Canada! Authentic Mexican food is as festive as Mexican blankets, wide-rimmed sombreros, and multicolored piñatas. The “Daily Special” boasted Fajitas Al Pastor—crispy chunks of marinated pork cooked with onions and green pepper strips served on a sizzling skillet. Homemade corn tortillas accompanied sour cream, guacamole, and salsa. We ordered a side of refried beans to use as a binding agent once the shells were filled. The finishing touch of habanero sauce sealed the deal with a nice kick of spice. An agave nectar margarita cocktail culminated the entire meal. Bueno!

Enchilada Cheesy Hash Browns

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Enchilada Cheesy Hash Browns! This time-honored recipe came to me from a friend who had perfected the art of authentic Mexican food. Monica shared some of her trade secrets on more than one occasion, but warned me about one unwary pitfall. “Once you perfect these traditional recipes, your husband may be less willing to take you out to dinner as often.” So be forewarned. Choose this perfect alternative for those nights you need a “meatless” meal.

ENCHILADA CHEESY HASH BROWNS

Ingredients:

4 baked potatoes, peeled and shredded into hash browns*

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

3/4 cup Spanish onion, chopped

10 ounces baby peas

1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1 1/2 cups extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

10-count package corn tortillas

15 ounces tomatillo salsa

Green onions for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9″x13″ glass baking dish with nonstick oil. Pour tomatillo salsa into a pie plate. Set aside. Place the corn tortillas on a plate nearby. In a large skillet, sauté onions in olive oil. Add hash brown potatoes, garlic powder, sea salt, and black pepper. Cook until slightly crisp. Add peas and mix well. To assemble enchiladas, dip one tortilla into tomatillo salsa on both sides. Transfer to a dinner plate and fill with potato mixture. Add 1 tablespoon of each cheese. Gently roll enchilada and place seam side down in glass dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Drizzle remaining salsa over all. Spread cheese over top of enchiladas. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and brown cheese 5 minutes longer. Remove from oven. Garnish with green onion snips. Olé!

*If time is of the essence, you may substitute with frozen shredded hash browns.

Dining Outside the Home: Dos Reales Mexican Restaurant in Champaigne, Illinois 

Dining Outside the Home: Dos Reales Mexican Restaurant in Champaigne, Illinois! Everyone loves a rustic cantina where the salsa is spicy and the margaritas are chilled. Add a platter of sizzling marinated meats and sautéed veggies to stuff into a steamed corn tortilla for combination fajitas. Don’t forget the crispy tortilla bowl of lettuce, sour cream, guacamole, and Pico de Gallo. Now this is authentic Mexican cuisine. Indulge your taste buds with scrumptious offerings from south of the border without the cost of airfare. An outdoor patio is favorable among locals. Try it. As you sit under the shade of an umbrella, enjoy the company you’re in. Well done, Pedro! 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet; Letter H

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Homemade Tortilla Chips! Ever wonder why your favorite Mexican restaurant has such incredible tortilla chips? Well now you can make your own café-style chips at home. Begin with flour and corn tortillas the day before. Just open the packages and let them breathe overnight on the kitchen counter. This simple step removes any excess moisture and allows them to fry up crispier. Sprinkled with sea salt and dipped in chunky salsa is practically a dream come true. 
HOMEMADE TORTILLA CHIPS
Ingredients:

2 cups vegetable oil

1 package yellow corn tortillas, extra thin

1 package flour tortillas, soft taco size 

Sea salt to taste
Instructions:

Cut each corn tortilla into 8 wedges. Use entire package. Set aside. Cut each flour tortilla in half and then into strips. Use entire package. Set aside. Beginning with one cup vegetable oil in a large skillet, heat the oil on medium setting until a tortilla sizzles. Avoid smoke. That means the oil is too hot. Place a handful of corn tortilla wedges into the hot oil. Do not overlap. Fry for 1-2 minutes until the chips are golden and crisp. Use tongs to flip over half way through, if necessary. As the oil is used, reduce heat to avoid smoking. Use tongs to remove chips from oil; drain on paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle with sea salt. Repeat in batches until all corn chips are fried. Add remaining cup of oil to skillet. Repeat with flour tortilla strips. Store in airtight container at room temperature. Enjoy!

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet; Letter E

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Enchilada Cheesy Hash Browns! This time-honored recipe came to me from a friend who had perfected the art of authentic Mexican food. Monica shared some of her trade secrets on more than one occasion, but warned me about one unwary pitfall. “Once you perfect these traditional recipes, your husband may be less willing to take you out to dinner as often.” So be forewarned. Choose this perfect alternative for those nights you need a “meatless” meal. 
ENCHILADA CHEESY HASH BROWNS
Ingredients:

4 baked potatoes, peeled and shredded into hash browns*

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

3/4 cup Spanish onion, chopped

10 ounces baby peas

1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1 1/2 cups extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

10-count package corn tortillas

15 ounces tomatillo salsa

Green onions for garnish
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9″x13″ glass baking dish with nonstick oil. Pour tomatillo salsa into a pie plate. Set aside. Place the corn tortillas on a plate nearby. In a large skillet, sauté onions in olive oil. Add hash brown potatoes, garlic powder, sea salt, and black pepper. Cook until slightly crisp. Add peas and mix well. To assemble enchiladas, dip one tortilla into tomatillo salsa on both sides. Transfer to a dinner plate and fill with potato mixture. Add 1 tablespoon of each cheese. Gently roll enchilada and place seam side down in glass dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Drizzle remaining salsa over all. Spread cheese over top of enchiladas. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and brown cheese 5 minutes longer. Remove from oven. Garnish with green onion snips. Olé!
*If time is of the essence, you may substitute with frozen shredded hash browns.