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Another New Take on a Classic – Chicken Fajitas

Everyone has recipes that they generally try to fall back on time and again. I know for me, I very often make things like meatloaf, hamburgers or roasted chicken and just try to vary things up in different ways each time I do it so we do not get bored with the same old recipe. Such is the case with chicken fajitas. I have been making different types of fajitas for years because it has always been a family favorite. We vary the protein used-sometimes beef, sometimes shrimp, sometimes chicken-but the rest of the recipe always seems to stay pretty much the same. I was looking for something a little bit different this time to spice things up and get a little more flavor out of the dish when I came across this recipe at New York Times Cooking from Martha Shulman. This recipe adds a little bit more spice than some of the other usual recipes I have seen and it sounded like it was a good one to try.

Chicken Fajitas

Finely grated zest of 1 lime (about 2 teaspoons)

¼ cup fresh lime juice

Salt and black pepper

2 teaspoons cumin seeds, lightly toasted and ground

2 tablespoons adobo sauce from canned chipotles in adobo

1 chipotle chile in adobo, seeded and minced (optional)

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 large garlic cloves, minced or put through a press

1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast

1 large red or yellow onion, halved and sliced

2 red bell peppers (or 1 red and 1 orange or yellow), seeded and sliced about 1/4 inch thick

1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced about 1/4 inch thick

1 jalapeño or 2 Serrano chiles, minced

¼ cup chopped cilantro

4 large flour or 8 corn tortillas

1 tablespoon grapeseed or canola oil (or use olive oil)

1 romaine heart, sliced crosswise

Salsa, for serving

Queso fresco or other cheese, for sprinkling

Guacamole, for serving

Sour Cream, for serving

In a small bowl, combine the lime zest and lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, the adobo sauce and optional minced chipotle, 1/4 cup of olive oil and half the garlic. Mix the ingredients well. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the marinade.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and place it in a resealable bag. Pour in the marinade and seal the bag. Move the chicken around to coat it well with the marinade, place the bag in a bowl and refrigerate it for 30 minutes (or up to 12 hours). Flip the bag over from time to time to redistribute the marinade.

Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions and cook, stirring, until they soften and begin to color, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the bell peppers and chile and cook, stirring, until the peppers begin to soften, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Turn the heat to medium, add the remaining garlic and cumin and salt to taste, and cook, stirring often, until the peppers are nicely seared, softened and beginning to caramelize, about 5 to 8 minutes.

Pour in the reserved 2 tablespoons of the marinade and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan. Add half the cilantro, and stir the ingredients together. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Remove the mixture from the heat but keep it warm.

Wrap the tortillas in foil and warm them in a low temperature oven, or wrap them in a towel and warm them in a steamer or in the microwave.

Heat the grapeseed or canola oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy skillet. Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade, reserving the marinade, and pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels. Add the chicken to the pan, rounded side down, and sear the breasts for about 3 to 4 minutes, until they are lightly charred. Flip the breasts over, pour in the marinade, cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the chicken for about 12 to 15 minutes, flipping the breasts over from time to time, until a thermometer registers 160 to 165 degrees when inserted into the thickest part. Transfer the chicken breasts to a cutting board and cover them with foil. Let the chicken sit for 5 to 10 minutes, then cut the breasts across the grain into 1/2 – to 3/4-inch thick strips.

Arrange the romaine lettuce on a platter, then place the chicken next to lettuce. Tip the juices from cutting board over the chicken and sprinkle the chicken with cilantro. Serve the vegetables on the same platter or separately. Serve with warm tortillas, salsa and crumbled queso fresco or other cheese, guacamole and sour cream.

I made one slight change to the recipe as I went along and added the sliced chicken back into the pan with the vegetables so that everything could mix together and the flavors could meld, but other than that, I followed it as is. These fajitas are a bit spicier than what you might usually have because of the adobo sauce, which is usually spicy on its own even if you just use a little bit. I did add any chopped chipotle to the dish because I thought the heat might be too much for everyone, but if you like spicy then you should go for it. This recipe had the best flavor of any fajitas recipe I have tried before and I think the sauce makes a real difference in giving flavor in the marinade to the chicken and the vegetables. I think the marinade would work just as well with beef if you wanted to try it and you can certainly substitute chicken thighs for breasts if you prefer. The recipe makes plenty and we even had some leftover that I was able to have for lunch the next day. Serve the fajitas with any of your favorite fixings – lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, different cheeses – and you could even double the recipe if you are serving a big crowd. This one certainly went over well at our house so I’ll be using it again.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, Enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on November 2, 2016 in Cooking, Dinner, Poultry

 

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Make it Yourself – Not-Quite Chili’s Chicken Fajitas

No matter where you happen to live today the odds are pretty good that there is a Chili’s restaurant somewhere near you. They seem to get more popular all the time and there are always plenty of commercials on TV telling you about what you can get there. We have one that is about 2 miles from our home and ever since Sean was little he has been a Chili’s fan. In fact, whenever Michelle goes away on business, Sean and I have a ritual that we have done for years where we go to Chili’s one night to have dinner while she is away. The menu has changed quite a bit over the years but one thing that has remained constant are the fajitas. Chili’s became quite popular thanks to this signature dish, serving it in a sizzling cast iron dish or skillet with all of the fixings to go along with it. While I do like the fajitas there and some other things on the menu, the fajitas themselves are not that hard to make on your own. However, I wanted to duplicate the flavor that they have with the fajitas so I had to do some searching on the Internet. I found several different copycat recipes to try, and I combined a few of them to make the recipe I tried out, taking he bulk of the idea from Todd Wilbur.

Not-Quite Chili’s Chicken Fajitas

For the Pico de Gallo:

2 medium tomatoes, diced

1/2 cup diced onion

2 teaspoons chopped fresh jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed

2 teaspoons finely minced fresh cilantro

For the Chicken Marinade:

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/3 cup water

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 clove garlic, minced

2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Dash onion powder

2 boneless, skinless chicken halves

1 onion, sliced

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon soy sauce

2 tablespoons water

1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice

Dash ground black pepper

Dash salt

1/2 cup pico de gallo, for serving

1/2 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese, for serving

1/2 cup guacamole, for serving

1/2 cup sour cream, for serving

1 cup shredded lettuce, for serving

6 to 8 6-inch flour tortillas, for serving

Salsa, for serving

For the pico de gallo, combine the diced tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, cilantro and salt together in a small bowl until they are blended. Cover and chill the bowl.

For the marinade, combine the lime juice, water, vegetable oil, garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, liquid smoke, salt, chili powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper and onion powder together in a large bowl. Place the chicken halves in the marinade and toss the chicken to coat it with the marinade. Cover the bowl and chill, allowing the chicken to marinade for 2 hours.

Pre-heat a grill pan to high heat. Pre-heat a separate large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil and heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the onion slices and saute the onion for about 5 minutes until it is softened. Combine the soy sauce, water and lime juice together in a small bowl and pour the mixture over the onions. Add the black pepper and continue to saute the onions until they are translucent and dark on the edges, about 4 to 5 minutes longer. Salt the onions to taste.

While the onions are sauteing, grill the chicken in the grill pan until the chicken is cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. When the chicken is done, remove it from the grill pan and slice it into thin strips. Add the chicken strips into the pan with the onions and toss the two together. Serve the chicken with the pico de gallo, shredded cheese, guacamole and sour cream arranged on a separate plate on top of a bed of the shredded lettuce. Serve the salsa on the side, if desired. Steam the tortillas in a moist towel in the microwave for about 30 seconds to heat them through and serve them on the side as well.

I also added some yellow, orange and red peppers to the onions and sautéed them together as Chili’s often does, but if you are not a fan of the peppers feel free to leave them out. Also, you could easily substitute beef or shrimp for the chicken if you prefer. The beef can hold up to marinating overnight if you wanted to make it while the shrimp could follow the standard recipe. Also, if you want to get really fancy and serve it all in a sizzling pan like Chili’s does, you could always heat up a separate cast iron skillet or pan in the oven while you are cooking and dump the chicken and onions into it when you are done so you get he nice sizzle to go along with the meal. Overall, I think the flavors of the fajitas were pretty close to what you get in the restaurant. The soy sauce and liquid smoke seem to make a difference in the flavor of the chicken over other fajitas I have made in the past. Other than those two ingredients I didn’t see anything that was different from what I have done before so I think they must be the key to the taste. Sean really enjoyed them and said they tasted great, so you can save yourself a trip to the restaurant and some money and make them cheaper on your own. I would try this one again as a good alternative to the standard way I make fajitas.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on July 15, 2016 in Cooking, Dinner, Eating Out, Poultry

 

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A Mexican Dinner Monday

Time really got a hold of me today and I ended having more work than I thought to do, so today’s post is actually after I have already cooked dinner. Like the meals we have cooked over the last couple of weeks, this one is quick, easy and has a fast clean-up. Sean chose today’s dinner as it is one of his favorites. Today was Chicken Fajitas, Mexican Rice and Guacamole. None of them take long to make, and it’s easily a dinner you can do at the last minute and tastes great.

Chicken Fajitas

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 red, orange, yellow or green peppers, stemmed, seeded and sliced thin

1 onion, halved and sliced thin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

2 to 4 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon Tabasco

10 (6-inch) flour tortillas

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then slice it into 1/2-inch wide strips. Season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add the chicken and cook through, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and toss with the lime juice.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet and return to medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the peppers, onion, chili powder,cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons of water. Cook, scraping up any browned bits, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes (Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of water as needed to prevent the pan from scorching).

Return the chicken with any accumulated juices to the skillet. Stir in the Tabasco and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl.

Stack the tortillas on a microwave-safe plate, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on high for 40 to 60 seconds (or you can warm the tortillas individually in a small skillet, turning after about 15 seconds). Place the chicken mixture, the warm tortillas and any accompaniments on the table and let everyone assemble their own fajitas.

We always have some chopped tomatoes, sour cream, shredded cheese and guacamole to use to add to the fajitas, but you could add whatever you would like to your own. As for the guacamole, I always like to make my own instead of buying the pre-made stuff from the store. It may not last as long (no preservatives) but it tastes much, much better. If you’re planning to make the guacamole the same day you but the avocados, get really soft ones to use. If you are planning your menu a few days ahead, buy harder ones and let them soften on the counter or in a paper bag.

Guacamole

3 Haas avocados, pitted and cut into slices

1 small shallot, minced

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon salt

Mash the avocados to a relatively smooth puree using a fork (I actually use a potato masher) in a medium bowl. Fold the remaining ingredients into the mashed avocados until mixed thoroughly.

The guacamole can be refrigerated, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for up to 24 hours. Make sure that the plastic wrap is touching the surface of the guacamole (I also put the pits in the guacamole if I am refrigerating it. it does seem to help preserve it). Bring to room temperature and season with additional fresh lime juice and salt before serving. I also sometimes throw a few diced cherry tomatoes into the mix for some extra flavor.

The last piece of today’s meal was actually the most time-consuming part of it. The Mexican rice takes about 40 minutes to prepare and cook, so leave yourself some extra time to do this one. I think it’s worth adding to the dish as it brings a nice flavor. Michelle likes to put some of the rice right on her fajitas when she eats them.

Mexican Rice

2 medium tomatoes, cored and quartered

1 onion, quartered, peeled and trimmed

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 cups long grain rice

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 jalapeno chiles, stemmed, seeded and minced (optional)

2 cups chicken broth

1 tablespoon tomato paste

Salt

1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro

Pepper

Lime Wedges (for serving)

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Puree the tomatoes and onion in the food processor until the smooth (You should have 2 cups of puree). Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add the rice and saute, stirring frequently, until light golden, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the garlic, and two-thirds of the minced jalapenos. Cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Stir in the pureed tomato mixture, broth, tomato paste and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Bring to a boil. Cover and bake in the oven until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, 30 to 35 minutes, stirring well after 15 minutes.

Fluff the rice with a fork. Fold in the cilantro and remaining jalapenos. Season with salt and pepper to taste, Serve, passing the lime wedges separately.

It’s not a tough dish at all to make and you’ll likely have some leftovers to use for another meal later in the week. Even the post is late today, it’s still a good menu to try for any weeknight. Have an ice cold beer with it, and you’re all set (or a margarita, if you are so inclined). I will try to post tomorrow’s recipes earlier in the day tomorrow, but it’s a pretty simple one anyway. Tomorrow is also Sean’s choice, and he chose Hamburgers with Fries and a salad. It’s definitely not a tough menu, and even though I won’t be making homemade fries tomorrow (Sean wants tater tots), I will post a recipe for making your own fries if you ever feel like doing it. They taste really good if you have the time to put into them. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email at IguanaFlats@msn.com. Thanks for following along and I’ll see you tomorrow!

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Jennifer Probst

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Laissez Faire

Letting Life Lead

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