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Friday, September 19, 2014

Steak Fajitas

I have had a thin sirloin steak I got on sale in the freezer for way to long. So I figured I would use that and marinade it and make some steak fajitas for dinner. My husband has a thing with textures and does not like his tortillas soft and frankly I prefer a little crunch; hence I crisp them in a bit of regular vegetable oil before assembly.
The great thing is this can be a go to weeknight meal when you want to change things up a bit. Make the marinade, prep the veggies and marinate the steak and the vegetables separately. You can marinate overnight and have them ready to go when you get home from work.
  • 1 1/2 lb. sirloin steak
  • 3 bell peppers - any color (I used red and green from our garden.)
  • 1 large vidalia onion - slice in half moons
  • Mexican cheese blend shredded cheese
  • large tortillas
  • vegetable oil (for a crispy shell which is optional)
  • sour cream (optional)
For the marinade:
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup lime juice (from fresh limes or in a bottle is okay)
  • 3 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 5 garlic cloves - finely diced
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • big pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  1. Toss all of the marinade ingredients in a bowl and whisk together until fully incorporated.
  2. Place your steak on a cutting board and stab it many times with a long kitchen fork.
  3. Put the steak in a glass container large enough and pour some of the marinade over the steak, reserving the rest for the vegetables to marinate in. Marinate for two hours or overnight.
  4. De-seed and de-vein your peppers and cut into strips. Cut the onion in half then in moon slices. Place the vegetables in the marinade and toss.
  5. When you are ready to start the steak you can either grill it or pan fry it. Make sure the steak is medium to medium rare as it goes in the oven to help melt the cheese. When the steak is done and rested, cut into strips against the grain of the meat.
  6. Saute the vegetables in a deep skillet after removing them from the marinade. Cook the vegetables to El-dente or softer if you like.
  7. I pan fried our tortillas in just a little bit of oil in a cast iron skillet to give them texture. It only takes 30-40 seconds per side. Remove from the oil and rest on paper towels to absorb extra oil. Or do them soft if that is your preference.
  8. Assemble the tortillas with the beef and vegetables topped with cheese.
  9. Place under the broiler to melt the cheese being careful not to burn the tortillas. You can do this on a foil lined baking sheet. If the tortillas are getting too dark on the edges, fold up the edges of the foil over the outer edges of the tortilla.

There you have it. A different and tasty weeknight meal. Getting any or all of the ingredients on sale as I did makes this dinner not all that costly. This is the type of dinner your kids will enjoy as well. Serve with a few dollops of sour cream for additional flavor.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Curried Cauliflower and Cheddar Soup

With temperatures dropping quickly here in my home state of Connecticut, my mind is on soup. Home made, creamy and bursting with flavor this Curried Cauliflower and Cheddar Soup is one you will be proud to serve your family or guests.
The fact I have a beautiful head of orange cauliflower I purchased on sale and it's been in my refrigerator just waiting to be used, along with the colder temperatures was part of my inspiration for making this soup. The other factor came from my daughters partner who sent me a photograph of her roasted curry cauliflower she made for dinner just a couple of days ago which I can't wait to try.
You can elect to puree the soup until smooth but I chose to not puree it all, leaving the soup with some texture.
When you begin the soup be sure that you do salt the vegetables (mirepoix) so they sweat down rather than brown. This recipe is easy and comes together fairly quickly. As the soup is simmering you can smell the curry but there is just enough in there so that it becomes a warm background flavor in the soup. The combination of the half and half and cheese make it creamy and ever so delicious.
This recipe will feed 4-6 depending on the size bowls you use. If you are having dinner guests, serve it as a first course in your tea cups from your china ware that you only use on holidays! Actually jazz up your dinner table by serving it that way for your family. They'll think they are dining in a five star restaurant.
  • 1 head orange cauliflower - broken into florets
  • 1/2 large onion - small dice (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 large stalk celery - small dice (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 large carrot - peeled and sliced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese - grated
  • 1/2 cup half and half or heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • salt to taste
  • white pepper (or black) to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  1. Start out by removing the outer leaves and the heavy stem of the cauliflower and breaking it down into florets. Leave some florets larger.
  2. Dice your onion. Using a peeler take off the heavy ribs of the celery before dicing. Peel and dice or slice your carrot.
  3. Shred your cheese and keep it in a bowl covered with plastic in the refrigerator.
  4. In a stock pot over medium heat, heat up the oil. Turn the heat down to medium low and add in the onion, celery and carrots. Season with the salt and pepper. Cook and stir until softened. About 5 minutes.
  5. To the pot add the all of the cauliflower, water and broth and curry powder. Bring the heat up to high.
  6. Bring this to almost a boil and cook over medium heat for about 35 minutes. Test the cauliflower to see if it is tender.
  7. When the cauliflower is tender, puree part of the soup so that you leave some texture to it using a hand held blender or a kitchen blender or food processor - what ever works for you.
  8. Add in the half and half or cream, stir and taste for seasonings. If you are satisfied with the seasonings, pull the cheese out of the refrigerator and add it to the soup, stirring until the cheese is fully incorporated.
  9. Serve in a bread bowl or regular soup bowl or as suggested above in tea cups from your china ware.
I am so pleased with the recipe and how all of the flavors blend together and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. The recipe cost approximately $5.77 to make as I got the cheese and cauliflower on sale.

You can make this vegetarian by replacing the chicken broth with vegetable broth - easy transition.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Chicken Stroganoff

What a wonderful cold weather meal this makes. It is a hearty and filling dish brimming with flavor. Chicken stroganoff encompasses all the richness of the traditional beef stroganoff. Sour cream is the back drop of the sauce and the dry sherry lends another dimension to the overall taste. Along with the deep meaty taste of the crimini mushroom this is a winner of a weeknight dinner. You won't be disappointed with this dinner and neither will your family.
Chicken stroganoff is the less expensive alternate to beef and the recipe yields four nice portions. It cost me approximately $9.15 to make the complete dish for just $2.28 per person.
Another nice thing is this dish comes together from start to finish in an hour. Less time if you do some of the prep work the night before or in the morning before you leave work.
  • 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts - cut into bite sized pieces.
  • 10 oz. pkg. crimini mushrooms - sliced
  • 1 medium sized sweet onion - small dice
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 2 tbsp. Wondra Flour - for thickening the sauce and 3-4 tbsp. water
  • 2 tbsp. butter plus 1 tsp. olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Broad Egg Noodles - cook to manufacturer's suggestion
  1. After washing and cutting up the chicken sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
  2. In a deep skillet over medium high heat, melt the butter and olive oil.  Add in the chicken pieces and coat with the butter and olive oil.  Sear the chicken so it browns just a bit, turning over as you go. Do this in batches and be careful not to over crowd the pan. You want to brown the chicken quickly but if you add too much chicken it may steam versus browning. Do in batches and transfer to a plate or bowl.
  3. After the chicken is seared add the diced onion and turn the heat down to medium low and cook until the onion has softened. Takes about 2 minutes.
  4. Next, add the sliced mushrooms to the pan and turn the heat up to medium high and cook until the mushrooms become slightly golden brown.
  5. De-glaze the pan with the dry sherry and allow that to cook and reduce by half.
  6. Add the chicken pieces and the broth to the pan.  Cook on very low heat for about 30 minutes and taste the broth for any adjustment for salt and pepper.
  7. With a slotted spoon remove all the chicken and mushrooms you can to a waiting bowl.
  8. The sour cream goes in next - keep whisking until fully incorporated. Bring the mixture up to a boil.
  9. Then add in the Wondra flour mixture and whisk away until the sauce is thickened.  Add more Wondra flour as necessary to obtain the thickness you want to achieve.
  10. Serve over egg noodles for traditional Stroganoff, or as an alternative you could serve this in some kind of bread bowl. Have a side vegetable and you are all set for dinner!