Down & Dirty Fajitas

Use this recipe when you've forgotten to marinate the chicken and your kids have likewise forgotten to take the chicken out of the fridge for you even though you asked.

Also, when you don't have time to grill, when someone needs a ride to class within in hour, if you like leftovers, if a relative is dairy intolerant, or if you're practicing a gluten free lifestyle. I'm not sure about the caveman diet, but I'm pretty sure I can fit it into Weight Watchers parameters.

Basically mix and max chicken fajitas can work if you want to slam dinner on the table for most omnivores.

…and yes, even I invest the cash for skinless, boneless white meat from time to time.

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken sliced into bite sized pieces

1 medium to large onion, halved & sliced

2 bell peppers, any color combo, halved & sliced

2 cloves of garlic, sliced, optional

Veggie oil

3 teaspoons cumin, separated

1 1/2 teaspoons coriander, separated

1/4 teaspoon cayenne, optional

1 lime

Salt & pepper

Whole wheat, corn or rice tortillas ….or over rice

Condiments: pickled jalapeño, grated mild cheese, sour cream, lime

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken about 5 minutes, then add 2 teaspoons cumin and 1 teaspoon coriander, toss and finish cooking 3-4 more minutes. Remove chicken. Add 1-2 more teaspoons of oil. Sauté onions, adding peppers and garlic (if desired) after a few minutes. Veggies are done when they're crisp, caramel colored outside & tender inside. Season with 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon coriander (cayenne if desired) when close to being done. Add chicken back to pan, tossing to reheat. Squeeze 1/2 lime into pan. Adjust salt & pepper.

Meanwhile heat stack of tortillas covered by damp paper towels in microwave (about a minute).

Platter, serve, eat & carpool – B

 

20 Minute “Cream” of Tomato…or What to Make When You Don’t Want to Shop

I may be dating myself, but heck I'm old enough to almost have a teen driver in the house! Remember Name That Tune?Two people ID music, competing to do it in as few notes as possible. That's about how I entertain myself in the kitchen from time to time.There are two versions – making food with as few ingredients as possible, or in as little time. I played both last night which birthed 20 minute tomato soup, paired with grilled cheese. Bonus points for delivering on a much requested teen combo (at least from the teen who eats tomatoes).

You will need a Ninja, blender or food processor.

Ingredients

1/2 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup white wine

1 28 oz. can tomatoes (chopped, whole, puréed, whatever!)

3/4 cup Low fat, or any fat, milk

Salt & pepper to taste

Fresh basil, or not

Heat oil in heavy stock pot, medium heat. Add onion & garlic, salt & pepper.Sauté 3-5 minutes. Add wine, reduce to almost dry. Skip if you don't have wine. Add tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then simmer 10-15 minutes. Carefully purée in processor, leaving air hole open but blocked with a dishtowel. Add milk. Purée again and keep warm in the pot.

Can be decorated with fresh chives, basil or croutons.

Make grilled cheese according to preference. Add a salad and you're dinner done!

Eat, enjoy-B

 

The Deal with Matzah Meal

Contrary to what I believed in my youth, matzah meal actually does suffer with age. An open box of bland crumbs converts to stale, bland crumbs shortly after Passover. Resist the urge to toss them in the trash (or for the eco-conscious, the compost bin).

Consider the alternatives:

1) store matzah meal in a closed container in a cool spot to extend its shelf life

2) continue to make the matzah balls your children love but you don't because they're really easy

3) make the pancakes nobody liked so you can suffer together

OR, use the meal for its actual intended purpose, as crumbs. Why not, we all save crusts of bread in the freezer for emergency breading purposes, don't we?!

Throw some matzah meal meatloaf or meatballs. Or better yet, make cutlets. Turkey, chicken or in this case pork chops, pounded within an inch of their lives. But remember, the same thing that plagues matzah meal during Passover remains in place. Relatively flavor free crumbs need help, from salt, pepper, herbs and if you're not diary free, pecorino romano.

Ingredients:

4 boneless pork chops, or the equivalent in poultry, pounded thin

1/4 cup flour

2 eggs, whisked well

1 cup matzah meal

3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Handful grated pecorino romano. Or other dry Italian cheese

Olive or veggie oil

Mix matzah meal with salt, pepper, oregano, cheese. Dredge the cutlets in flour, then egg and seasoned crumbs.

Heat 1-2 tablespoons oil in large, heavy bottom skillet. Add cutlets, flipping when they started to go opaque at the edges and crumbs are golden.

Note: can be made into Parmesan with sauce & cheese. Great topped with arugula and tomato salad.

Enjoy–B

All Purpose Condiment…and an Asian Slaw

 
I don't do yoghurt, but I make an exception for tzatziki (and a couple of chicken marinades and some dressings). Come to think of it, I don't do sweet or sweetened yoghurts or any of those overpriced “healthy” yolo style treats. I will do savory yoghurt. But I digress. Back to tzatziki.
I first ate this app, or dip, or dressing, in Greece with some seriously thick yoghurt. When I came home, I had to strain full fat yoghurt through a cheesecloth and a sieve overnight to get the same effect. Nowadays, Greek style yoghurt is readily available. Eat it with chicken, lamb, fish, or on sandwiches and salads. Seriously delicious.

The picture also has one of my fave no mayo slaws from Martha. That recipe is attached too.

Tzatziki

1 small Greek yoghurt, I use full fat

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Persian cucumber, or 6 inch seedless cucumber, shredded & pressed through a strainer to dry

Squeeze of lemon juice

Drizzle of olive oil

Salt & pepper to taste

Possible additions: dill, chives, (and I sometimes I like a little Coleman's dry mustard)

Mix all of the ingredients together and if you have time, let set in fridge. Enough to dress kebobs for four, but feel free to double down. Perfect for parties too!

Serve, eat – B

Mayo free slaw! (Click here for the recipe!)

 

Chinese Takeout, Without the Takeout

I'll keep it short. Super busy day? Want Chinese? Skip the calories of takeout and make this super healthy rendition of sesame chicken. It's a Martha recipe I have been feeding the kids for years. We're a mostly brown rice family, but white works as well. I even splurge on skinless, boneless white meat (sometimes). Start the rice first and make extra for a stir fried rice later in the week. (Click here for recipe)

On the QT – I always double down on the sauce. Don't tell the food police.

If you want to pair the dinner with a no guilt dessert, brush pineapple slices with veg oil and honey, dust with cinnamon and grill (or broil).

Dinner, done – B

 

 

Super Flexible Vegetarian Supper (or world’s easiest appetizer)

 

It takes no time and very little dough, but flatbread pizzas make you look like a genius. I'll give you the benchmarks on the condition you don't tell anyone in my family.

That's what I was thinking in the aisles of Trader Joe's when I saw the whole wheat Naan. Naan in its best form is a flatter bread that is both puffy and light, perfect for curry dipping, but equally well suited to hold toppings. I came away with a super simple trio of “pizzas” that pair with a salad for meat free Mondays, Sundays, or in my case Fridays.

For the first pizza, I topped ricotta with pesto. There are great store made options, but pesto takes 10 minutes with a food processor or Ninja. Leftovers from this recipe can dress a sandwich, be tossed with pasta for another meal or frozen for a later date. I subbed baby arugula for the basil. It definitely tickled the tonsils, but danced beautifully with the bland ricotta cheese.

Sautéed baby portabello mushrooms with garlic, onions, and gruyere make pizza number two. If you double down on the mushrooms, you'll have enough left over to doll up scrambled eggs or toss into a quick marina.

Last but not least, a simple ricotta pizza topped with a spicy Italian herb mix and olive oil – assembled in two minutes. EZ!

Ingredients:

Pesto (see recipe) or store bought

8-10 ounces Ricotta, part skim or whole (I bought 15 oz and ate some plain!)

10-ish oz. baby bello mushrooms or your fave

1/2 medium onion, sliced

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

Olive oil

Fresh or dried thyme

Pecorino romano or Parmesan

Gruyere

Mixed dry Italian seasonings (oregano, basil, crushed red pepper)

Arugula Pesto

1 bag baby arugula (several cups)

1/3 cup whole or chopped walnuts, toast @ 375 for ten minutes

2 cloves garlic

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup grated pecorino romano, at least 🙂

Squirt a lemon half

Heat oven to 375. Cool nuts and grind or process. Add garlic, process. Add greens but you may have to scrape and start adding oil in a stream to get the greens going. Blend in cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Dash of lemon juice. Blend.

Sautéed mushrooms

In small heavy bottom pan, warm 2 teaspoons olive oil. Sauté onions 5 minutes, add garlic and cook another minute. Combine with mushrooms, salt, pepper and several pinches of thyme. Cook until mushrooms are tender and liquid is gone.

Top 4 naan or any flatbread with ricotta. Top two with pesto, 2 with Italian spices and olive oil. Top remaining naan with mushroom mixture and thin slices of gruyere. Sprinkle all of them with pecorino romano. Bake about 10 minutes.

Cut, eat, enjoy – B

 

No B—(bean) Turkey Chili

I can’t vouch for its authenticity, but I can say this. Last week I made one of the world’s easiest bean free chili recipes. Plus bean objectors, due to digestive or regional origins, can’t possibly take issue with the stomach warming blend of cumin, chili AND chocolate! In this case it is cocoa powder and brown sugar, but if you have an ounce of bittersweet, trade it out. The math tutor watched me throw the whole kit and caboodle (kaboodle?) together in about no time. Chili is stew…you add this and that, whatever you have, spicy or not depends on your crowd. This chili is less so, mostly because I forgot the jalapenos at the store and I was too chicken to add more than a quarter teaspoon ground chipotle. One of my dear friends made it to share. It is so potent I keep it in double zip top bags.

A word here on the food processor. I love it! It is one of my best friends in the kitchen, right next to the microplane grater, but after Ben & Jerry (those guys have been such great company). By all means, chop veggies by hand if it’s rewarding. If not, process away. In soups and stews especially-no judgement.

Ingredients

2 lbs lean ground turkey

1 small can fire roasted tomatoes

2 small onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

Veggie oil

1 tablespoon –ish oregano

1 tablespoon-ish cumin

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon cocoa

1 tablespoon brown sugar

¼ teaspoon ground chipotle

2 bay leaves

Salt pepper

In large heavy bottom pot (hello Le Creuset-xoxo) over medium heat, add enough veggie oil to slimly cover the bottom of the pan. Add the chopped onion with a sprinkle of salt, cooking for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and bell pepper, cook 2 more minutes. Throw in ground turkey, browning and cooking through. Combine tomatoes and all of the dry ingredients in the pot, plus ½ cup of water. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook for at least ½ and hour, an hour is better. Keep an eye on the liquid, adding water as needed to keep meat from drying out and/or burning. That’s it. Adjust seasonings, salt & pepper as necessary.

Great by its lonesome, over rice, with pickled jalapenos, cheese, sour cream etc. I brushed some corn tortillas with veggie oil, sprinkled with salt and cooked till crispy in 350 oven. Like GIANT tortilla chips and dip.

Dig in – B