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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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Step Up your Pulled Pork Leftovers with Pulled Pork and Pineapple Tacos

Pulled pork is one of those great meals to serve when you know you are having a crowd over for dinner, but it can also be great for a weeknight meal for the family and then give you plenty of leftovers to do something with. You certainly have your options when it comes to making the pulled pork itself. You can make it in the oven, smoke your own on the grill or smoker if you have one or even make it in the slow cooker to save you some time, energy and prevent the kitchen from overheating in the summer months. However you decide to make it, once you have the leftovers you may get a little tired of having pulled pork sandwiches or pulled pork over rice. Sure you can always whip up a batch of pulled pork nachos, but I decided to take some of what I had leftover and make use of this recipe from Kelsey Nixon of the Cooking Channel. While her recipe calls for the use of leftover shredded pork, I liked the way it worked with the pulled pork instead and decided to use it that way.

Pulled Pork and Pineapple Nachos

1 1/2 pounds of cooked pulled pork (in the oven or the slow cooker)

Corn or four tortillas, warmed

2 cups fresh pineapple, cut into a 1/2-inch dice

Fresh cilantro sprigs, for garnish

Shredded red cabbage or coleslaw, for garnish

Pickled red onions, for garnish

Guacamole, for garnish

Sour cream, for garnish

Shredded Mexican cheese, for garnish

In a large saucepan, warm the pulled pork over medium heat until it is re-heated through. Warm the tortillas individually in a medium skillet set over high heat for 30 seconds to 1 minute or take a stack and wrap them in plastic wrap and heat them in the microwave for 1 minute until warmed through. Top the warmed tortillas with some of the pulled pork and the fresh diced pineapple. Add the other garnishes that you like, such as guacamole, sour cream, cilantro, coleslaw or shredded cabbage, shredded cheese or pickled red onions and serve. Let each person make their own tacos as they like it best.

This can’t get much easier and is a great use of your leftovers. The pineapple and pork go together really well and you get such great flavor from the spices of the pulled pork. I even added some of the black bean salad with mango I had made the day before to the dish for some extra freshness and bite and it really worked well. You could try this with any type of pork you may have leftover, such as tenderloin or chops and just cut them into thin strips and re-heat them lightly with some spice and you can have great tacos from that.

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 August 13, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, Fruit, Leftovers, Pork, Uncategorized

 

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Fiesta Week Part 1 – Chorizo Tacos

I decided to make a bunch of Mexican dishes yesterday as kind of an early Cinco de Mayo kind of meal for Sunday since we were having some guests over. I made three different kinds of tacos, some re-fried beans, vegetable slaw, guacamole, salsa, confetti corn, pickled onions and radishes, southwestern egg rolls, avocado dip and more, so there were lots of things to choose from, some of which I have made before and posted here and some new things. Unfortunately, I got so caught up in all of the cooking that I forgot to take pictures of a lot of it, so I hope to take some pictures of some of the leftover items tomorrow. The only thing I did not have anything left of was the chorizo tacos, which seemed to be quite a favorite. I had bought the chorizo at Adam’s Farms since they make their own, but you could also make your own as well at home if you have all the ingredients or a favorite recipe you like to use. I saw a bunch of different recipes, but this one from Williams-Sonoma struck me as the best one of the bunch, so I used this one.

Chorizo Tacos

8 ounces (1 cup) Mexican chorizo sausage

3 medium potatoes

Salt, to taste

2 medium poblano chiles or red bell peppers

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

Guacamole (homemade or store-bought)

Salsa (homemade or store-bought)

Flour or corn tortillas

With a small knife, slice down the side of the chorizo casings. Remove the chorizo from the casing and discard the casing. In a large skillet set over medium heat, add the chorizo. Cook, stirring regularly to break up the clumps, about 4 minutes, until the chorizo is cooked through. If there is a lot of rendered fat, discard some of the excess and remove the chorizo to a bowl. Set the pan aside for later use.

Peel the potatoes and cut them in half, and then dice the halves. In a medium bowl, add the potatoes and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and toss the potatoes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and microwave them on high for 4 to 5 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.

Roast the chiles or bell peppers by placing them directly over a gas flame (don’t use a pan), or 4 inches below the broiler in the oven, turning the peppers occasionally with tongs until they are evenly blackened all over. Place the peppers in a plastic bag and allow them to cool. Peel off and discard the blackened skin of the peppers. Pull out the stems from the peppers and the seed pods and discard them. Tear open the peppers and rinse off the seeds and bits of black skin. Cut the peppers into 1/4-inch pieces.

In the empty skillet, add the vegetable oil to a bit of the rendered chorizo fat set over medium heat. Add the sliced onion and cook, stirring regularly, until the onions are translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring regularly, until the potatoes are browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the  chile peppers and the chorizo and cook for 3 or three minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste the mixture and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Warm the tortillas and scoop the chorizo filling into a serving bowl. Set the bowl on the table with the warm tortillas, guacamole, salsa, hot sauce and any other accompaniments that you like.

Everyone really loved the chorizo tacos. They had just the right amount of spice and adding the potatoes to the mix really added something great as far as taste and texture to the mix. This mix would be great without the tortilla as a main dish with some rice or even as a breakfast with some eggs. You could even omit the chorizo altogether and just have the potatoes, onions and peppers if you wanted a vegetarian taco mix instead. I wish I had taken a picture of it as they were really good. Next time I make them I will post a picture of them for sure.

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

 

 

 

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Beat the Heat with Grilled Chicken Tacos

After taking a few days off to do some fun family things, it’s back to blogging and back to the recipes. Thankfully the stifling heat we have been experiencing here in New York seems to have eased a bit the last couple of days, giving me a chance to do some cooking again and get some recipes ready to post. I still have a couple from last week that I made when it was really hot, including this easy recipe for grilled chicken tacos. This one is kind of a combination of recipes I got from America’s Test Kitchen and Bon Appetit, using the best of both them to make an easy meal that you can do on the grill or indoors.

Grilled Chicken Tacos

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

1/2 tablespoon ground cumin

1 medium onion, sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 corn tortillas, warmed (for serving)

2 avocados, sliced (for serving)

Sliced radishes (for serving)

Homemade Tomato Salsa

Whisk together the lime juice, cilantro, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, cumin, vegetable oil, salt and pepper in a bowl until well combined. Toss the onion, garlic and chicken thighs until all are well coated. Prepare your grill for medium-high heat. Grill the onions and the chicken thighs until they are cooked through and lightly charred, about 4 minutes per side.

Let the chicken rest for about minutes before slicing. Serve the chicken and onions with the warmed corn tortillas, avocados, sliced radishes, the homemade salsa and some extra cilantro along with lime wedges and sour cream, allowing each person to build their own tacos how they like it.

The great thing about this meal is that it can take you no time at all to put it all together. You might actually spend more time getting the grill going then you will with actual preparation and cooking. In our house, there are rarely any leftovers when we make tacos or quesadillas. I served this alongside some black beans and rice that I made and the homemade salsa goes very well with this meal. You can also make some guacamole instead of just slicing the avocados if you prefer to have it that way.

That’s all there is for today. Just a very quick and simple recipe that is great for a summertime meal. Check back next time to see some other recipes that I have made recently, including a roast chicken and vegetables from Chef Marc Murphy. a roast beef recipe. some burgers with onion strings from Cook’s Country and more. I do have a few other recipes I’ll be trying out this week as well that I may get on here, so keep checking back. Until next time, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on July 23, 2013 in Cooking, Dinner, Grilling, Poultry, Rice, Side Dishes

 

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Cinco de Mayo Feast

I wanted to make something for Cinco de Mayo today that was different for me at least without it taking me hours in the kitchen or having something that is smothered in cheese (I am not a fan of all things cheesy). I looked around this past week and saw some great recipes in a few places and decided to give them a try. The bulk of them came from America’s Test Kitchen, including this one for Mexican Pulled Pork, or Carnitas.

Mexican Pulled Pork (Carnitas)

1 (3 1/2 to 4-pound) boneless pork butt, fat cap trimmed to 1/8 inch thick, cut into 2-inch chunks

Salt and ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 small onion, peeled and halved

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 tablespoons juice from 1 lime

2 cups water

1 medium orange, halved

Tortillas

Lime wedges

Minced red onion

Fresh cilantro leaves

Thinly sliced radishes

Sour cream

Guacamole (recipe to follow)

Salsa

Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 300 degrees. Combine the pork, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, cumin, onion, bay leaves, oregano, lime juice and water in a large Dutch oven. The liquid should just barely cover the meat. Juice the orange into a medium bowl and remove any seeds. You should have about 1/3 a cup of juice. Add the juice and the spent orange halves to the pot. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven; cook until the meat is soft and falls apart when prodded with a fork, about 2 hours, flipping pieces of meat once during the cooking process.

Remove the pot from the oven and turn the oven to broil. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork to a bowl; remove the orange halves, onion, and bay leaves from the cooking liquid and discard. Do not skim the fat from the liquid. Place the pot over high heat and simmer the liquid, stirring frequently, until thick and syrupy. A heat-safe spatula should leave a wide trail when dragged through the glaze. The process should take 8 to 12 minutes. You should have about 1 cup of reduced liquid when done.

Using two forks, pull each piece of pork in half. Fold in the reduced liquid; season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread the pork in an even layer on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet or on a broiler pan. The meat should cover almost the entire surface of the pan. Place the baking sheet on the lower-middle rack and broil until the top of the meat is well browned but not charred and the edges are slightly crisp, about 5 to 8 minutes. Using a wide metal spatula, flip the pieces of meat and continue to broil until the top is well browned and edges are slightly crisp, about 5 to 8 minutes longer. Serve immediately with warm tortillas and any garnishes that you like.

All 3 of us loved this pork. These tacos were easily some of the best I had made. The pork just melted in your mouth and was cooked perfectly. You could easily use this pork in other ways for other Mexican meals if you wanted, such as burritos, enchiladas or tamales, but I think they worked great as a taco myself. We did have some good leftovers which I am looking forward to having for lunch this week.

As a good side dish to go along with this, I decided to make a Cuban-Style Black Beans and Rice (Moros y Cristianos). I thought it would make a nice accompaniment to the pork and I got the recipe from America’s Test Kitchen as well.

Cuban-Style Black Beans and Rice (Moros y Cristianos)

Salt

1 cup dried black beans, rinsed and picked over

2 cups chicken broth

2 cups water

2 large green peppers, halved and seeded

1 large onion, halved at the equator and peeled, root end left intact

1 head garlic, 5 medium cloves removed and minced, remaining head halved at the equator with skin left intact

2 bay leaves

1 1/2 cups long grain white rice

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 ounces lean salt pork, cut into 1/4 inch dice

1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano leaves

4 teaspoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 medium scallions, sliced thin

1 lime, cut into 8 wedges

Dissolve 1 1/2 tablespoons salt in 2 quarts of cold water in a large bowl. Add the beans and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. Drain and rinse well.

In a large Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid, stir together the drained beans, broth, water, 1 pepper half, 1 onion half (with root end), halved garlic head, bay leaves and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the beans are just soft, about 30 to 40 minutes. Using tongs, remove discard the pepper, onion, garlic and bay leaves. Drain the beans in a colander set over a large bowl, reserving 2 1/2 cups of the bean cooking liquid. If you don’t have enough bean cooking liquid left, add some water to equal 2 1/2 cups. Do not wash out the Dutch oven.

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the rice in a large fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until the water runs clear, about 1 1/2 minutes. Shake the strainer vigorously to remove all excess water; set the rice aside. Cut the remaining peppers and onion into 2-inch pieces and process them in a food processor until broken into rough 1/4-inch pieces, about eight 1-second pulses, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary; set the vegetables aside.

In the now-empty Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of oil and the salt pork over medium-low heat; cook, stirring frequently until lightly browned and rendered, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add the remaining oil, chopped peppers and onion, oregano, and cumin. Increase the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, about 10 to 15 minutes longer. Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the rice and stir to coat, about 30 seconds.

Stir in the beans, reserved bean cooking liquid, vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Cover and transfer to the oven. Bake until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 30 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Serve, passing the scallions and lime wedges separately.

A few things about this recipe. First, I did not use salt pork. I had bacon on hand, so that is what I used. If you are using bacon, you only need to cook it for about 4 to 8 minutes instead of the 15 to 20 for the salt pork. If you want a more vegetarian version of the recipe, eliminate the pork altogether and use water instead of the chicken broth. You could also add a little tomato paste when cooking the vegetables for some more body and flavor. Lastly, although a traditional sofrito calls for green peppers, green peppers upset my stomach and Michelle’s, so I went for red pepper instead. I actual like the flavor better and the color of the final product. This recipe makes a lot of rice and could easily feed 8 people, so you may want to cut it down to half if you have a smaller table to feed. Overall, I thought it was a very nice side dish and I could use the leftovers with a wide variety of other dishes.

I also made the fresh salsa that I usually make, which is America’s Test Kitchen as well if you want to check it out. I also made the guacamole I had made in the past as well if you want to see that recipe. The entire meal turned out great and we had a very relaxing late lunch/early dinner for the day.

I do have several other recipes to share for this week, including the dessert I made for tonight of a Mango-Pineapple Fruit Salad. I also have recipes this week for chicken, crab cakes, griddle cakes and a few others since I didn’t get to share any this past week. Check back and see if you like anything you see. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!010 007 008 009

 

 

 
 

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Nachos For Obama! A Celebration Of Our President’s Favorite Junk Food. | Food Republic

Nachos For Obama! A Celebration Of Our President’s Favorite Junk Food. | Food Republic.

Okay, politics aside from all of this, everyone, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, heck even space aliens love nachos. I have made my own in several different variations over the years and it gives you a chance to experiment and put whatever you like on nacho chips. Here are some great recipes from Food Republic to cover some basic nacho ideas, including how to make your how homemade tortilla chips (which I have tried and they are much better than store bought, by the way). Check it out and see if you like them!

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2012 in Appetizers, Cooking Websites, Snacks

 

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Sizzling Steak Fajitas

I had picked up a skirt steak this week and wanted an easy dinner for tonight, and you can’t get much easier than this fajita recipe. We love fajitas in our house and make them with all kinds of filling, like chicken (most often) shrimp, an occasionally beef. This recipe, from America’s Test Kitchen, is perfect for a weeknight meal since it only takes about 30 minutes to prepare and cook everything and you can use ingredients that a lot of people already have in the house.

Steak Fajitas

1 1 1/2 pound flank steak

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 peppers (red, yellow or green, your choice) stemmed, seeded and sliced very thin

1 onion, sliced very thin

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon hot sauce

1/2 teaspoon cumin

Flour tortillas

Pat the steak dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown the steak on the first side, about 5 minutes.

Flip the steak over and continue to cook to the desired doneness, 3 to 6 minutes. Transfer the steak to a large plate and drizzle with the lime juice. Tent the steak with foil and let it rest for about 10 minutes.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet and return it to medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the peppers, onion, water, chili powder, hot sauce, cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook, scraping up any browned bits, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer everything to a serving bowl.

Stack the tortillas on a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Heat the tortillas in a microwave until soft and hot, about 2 minutes (You can also heat the tortillas individually in a hot skillet, flipping each one after about 20 seconds to heat the second side).

Slice the steak very thinly across the grain. Arrange the beef on a platter and serve with the warm tortillas, vegetables and any sides you like and let everyone make their own fajitas as they like.

I usually serve fajitas with some diced tomato or homemade salsa, guacamole, sour cream, shredded cheese and shredded lettuce. This way, everyone can add what they like best onto their own fajitas. Sometimes I also serve this with Mexican rice or rice and beans.

That’s dinner for tonight. I have a whole chicken to make tomorrow but I am not quite sure what recipe I want to use yet. I think it really depends on the weather and if it’s too humid to use the oven. I may opt to use the grill tomorrow night instead. We’ll have to see how it goes. Until then, enjoy your evening and enjoy your meal!

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2012 in Beef, Cooking, Dinner

 

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Jennifer Probst

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