Grilled Chicken Fajitas…

First off, I want to thank you all for the birthday wishes! I feel like my readers and my food blogging buddies are my real life friends- it means so much to be able to share my special day with all of you! I had a fantastic birthday; my sweet hubby treated me like a queen and I loved every minute of it (you gotta take advantage of it whenever it comes around, girls!)! And the piece of chocolate cake that was as big as my head (seriously!) that I had at dinner was the cherry on top of a great day!

Now on to the good stuff- fajitas! Sometimes I feel like the only Tex-Mex I ever fix anymore is fajitas; but we just love them so much it’s hard to stray away from them! Normally when I make fajitas, I use steak and cook them in a large skillet with beer, salsa and a few other “secret” ingredients- they’re pretty hard to beat, if I do say so myself! However, when we go out to our favorite Mexican restaurant, Joe T. Garcia’s, I always, without fail, order their chicken fajitas. They’re slightly sweet, spicy and amazingly tender and juicy. So when I saw this recipe for grilled chicken fajitas that called for brown sugar, I knew I had to try them! The finished product was excellent and we really enjoyed them- they weren’t quite as good as Joe T’s, but hey, no one could EVER live up to Joe T’s standards! I suggest you give these chicken fajitas a try next time you’ve got a hankering for good Tex-Mex; you won’t be disappointed!

Grilled Chicken Fajitas
-The Way the Cookie Crumbles, originally from Cooks Illustrated

1/3 cup juice from 2 to 3 limes
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
table salt and ground black pepper
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds) pounded to 1/2-inch thickness
1 large red onion, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds (do not separate rings)
1 large red bell pepper, quartered, stemmed, and seeded
1 large yellow bell pepper, quartered, stemmed, and seeded
8-12 (6-inch) flour tortillas

In a medium bowl, whisk together the lime juice, 4 tablespoons oil, garlic, Worcestershire, brown sugar, jalapeno, cilantro, 1 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Reserve 1/4 cup marinade in a small bowl; set aside. Add another teaspoon salt to the remaining marinade. Place the chicken in the marinade; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 15-30 minutes. Brush both sides of the onion rounds and the peppers with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and season with salt and pepper.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and place it smooth side down on the grill over medium-high heat; discard the remaining marinade. Place the onion rounds and peppers (skin side down) on the cooler side of the grill. Cook the chicken until it’s well browned, 4 to 5 minutes; using tongs, flip the chicken and continue grilling until it’s no longer pink when cut into with a paring knife or an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers about 160 degrees, 4 to 5 minutes longer.

Separate the onions into rings and place them in a medium bowl; slice the bell peppers lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips and place them in the bowl with the onions. Add 2 tablespoons reserved unused marinade to the vegetables and toss well to combine. Slice the chicken into 1/4-inch strips and toss with the remaining 2 tablespoons reserved marinade in another bowl; arrange the chicken and vegetables on a large platter and serve with warm tortillas. Serve with rice, refried beans, sour cream, grated cheese, salsa and additional cilantro if desired.

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Lime Ponzu Chicken Burritos…

What exactly is “Ponzu”, do you ask? Well, to quote the good people of Kikkoman, “Ponzu (or citrus seasoned soy sauce and dressing) is the latest Japanese flavor to reach the American supermarket shelves. It has the perfect balance of salty, tangy and sweet to enhance a wide variety of foods.That’s what it is. And they sent me some to try. I just can’t say no to free stuff. Or food. Especially free food. When Foodbuzz asked me to try the newest Kikkoman product- Lime Ponzu – of course I was more than willing. I’m really glad I did, too- this stuff is wonderful! It’s basically just a really flavorful soy sauce, and it goes GREAT on chicken. I can’t wait to try it on shrimp, either! One of the suggestions they made was trying the Ponzu on Tex-Mex. Wait, wha?? However, they didn’t lead me astray – these burritos were delish! The Ponzu adds so much delicious flavor to the chicken. We really, really enjoyed them!

Yum.

Lime Ponzu Chicken Burritos

1/2 pound boneless chicken breasts
3 tablespoons Kikkoman Lime Ponzu
1 cup white rice
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
salsa
chopped fresh cilantro
shredded lettuce
shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream
large, burrito-sized tortillas

Place the chicken and Ponzu in the crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours (or on high for 3-4 hours). After cooking, shred chicken (be sure not to throw out any of the leftover cooking liquids- just mix it in with the shredded chicken) and keep warm in the crockpot.
Cook rice according to directions on the package. Cook beans over medium-low heat until heated through.

To assemble:
Place 2 or 3 tablespoons of the shredded chicken on the tortilla, top with rice, beans, cheese, lettuce, salsa, sour cream and cilantro (and anything else you want!) and fold into a burrito.  Be prepared for a big, fat, messy, drippy burrito – Freebirds Style! Oh yeah!

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I realize that lately, I’ve made quite a few recipes that I claim to be “the best ever”. I guess I’ve just been really lucky with my choice of recipes here lately…what can I say? Apparently I have great taste! ;-) And here’s another one to add to that “Best Ever” category; the Homesick Texan’s Salsa Verde Sour Cream Enchiladas…these are pure gold, my friends. Pure. Gold. I have to be honest, when it comes to sour cream enchiladas, I’m not a big fan. They just always seem really bland to me, and I almost never order them at restaurants. But when I spotted these on The Novice Chef, something about them was just reaching out to me…“make me, Amy; make me!”. Thank the good Lord I did; after just one bite, hubby and I both deemed these the BEST enchiladas we’ve EVER had. That’s a pretty serious statement, y’all. Tex-Mex isn’t something we take lightly down here…it’s serious stuff. But these are seriously good enchiladas. I will most assuredly be making these over, and over, and over again.

Salsa Verde Sour Cream Enchiladas
-seen on The Novice Chef, originally from the Homesick Texan

4 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (I cooked mine in the crackpot for about 5 hours)
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 Jalapeno, seeded, minced
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups sour cream (I used reduced-fat and it was still insanely good)
16 oz jar Medium Salsa Verde
1 & 1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
12 flour tortillas, small fajita size
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack
1/2 medium onion, diced

Preheat the oven to 350. Melt butter over medium-high heat. Saute onions and Jalapenos until soft and then add the garlic, cooking for 1 minute. Stir in the flour and let cook 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the chicken broth until smooth and let cook until bubbly. Stir in the sour cream, salsa, cumin, cayenne, salt, pepper, garlic powder and cilantro until the sauce is smooth. Remove from heat.

Spray/grease a 9×13 baking dish. Add 1 cup of sauce to the bottom of the pan. Add chicken and cheese to the center of each tortilla and roll, placing seam-side down in the dish. Pour the sauce over the enchiladas, top with leftover cheese, and bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until top is brown and bubbling.

Yields: 12-15 enchiladas

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Baked Chicken Empanadas…

I know, I know – more Mexican food. But hey, we can’t get enough of the stuff, ok? Back when we had my family over for the Super Bowl, my Nana brought these chicken empanadas and MAN, where they good! Not too spicy, full of flavor, and the best part – they’re baked instead of fried so you can feel better about eating a lot! ;-) Luckily, I had made some homemade guacamole – they were perfect together! We all loved these- they got gobbled up pretty fast! Luckily, I managed to save a couple for my lunch the next day, and the good news is, these re-heat perfectly. I’ll definitely be making these again! SO glad Nana decided to bring these over! Give ‘em a try – they’ll be perfect for your next “Mexican Feast”!

Chicken Empanadas
-Paula Deen

3 cups chopped, cooked chicken
1 (8-ounce) package shredded Colby and Monterey Jack cheese blend
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie crusts
Water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Lightly grease a baking sheet. In a large bowl, combine the chicken and next 7 ingredients. Unroll 1 piecrust onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 15-inch circle. Cut out rounds, using a 3-inch cookie cutter. Re-roll dough as needed. Repeat procedure with remaining piecrusts, making 12 to 15 circles total. Arrange 1 round on a clean, flat surface. Lightly brush the edges of crust with water. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of chicken mixture in the center of the round. Fold the dough over the filling, pressing the edges with a fork to seal. Repeat with the remaining rounds and chicken mixture. (Up to this point, the recipe can be made ahead and frozen for up to 1 month). Arrange empanadas on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.

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The Best Darn Tacos….

Oh man. Oh man, OH MAN! If you love tacos, or Tex-Mex, or…food; then you’re going to love these pulled pork tacos! Look no further, because here is the best darn taco I ever put in my pie-hole. Seriously! I’ve never been much on pork…it doesn’t do a whole lot for me, honestly. So naturally, I was a little unsure about these…but I’m so glad I didn’t wimp out and skip them – BOY, would I have missed out! Ok, ok, I’ll stop being dramatic – onto the facts. These seriously, couldn’t be easier to make – just throw everything in a dutch oven, let it cook for an hour and 45 minutes and you’re done! I made these Saturday night for our “Mexican Night” (which you can read about in the post below. Don’t miss out on the homemade salsa and guacamole, my friends!), and hubby and I had ourselves a GRAND time! I mean come on – pulled pork tacos, homemade salsa, guacamole and margaritas (Big Gulp, please!)? It just doesn’t get any better than that! Try these. Try them today. Then send me your hearty thanks for introducing you to the new love of your life. You’re welcome.

Pulled Pork Tacos
-adapted from The Neelys

1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pork loin (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into big chunks
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon honey
dash liquid smoke
1 orange, halved and juiced
1 lime, halved and juiced
1 package corn tortillas, warmed

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Mix the oregano, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper together in a small bowl.
Season the cubed pork chunks with the spice mixture and put into a large Dutch oven. Add the onion, garlic, chicken stock, the tomato paste, honey, liquid smoke, orange and lime juice, and the juiced orange and lime halves. Stir together with a wooden spoon. Put the pot on medium heat and bring the mixture to a simmer. Transfer to the oven and cook, covered, until the pork is tender and easily shreds, about 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Remove the meat from the Dutch oven to a cutting board. Set the Dutch oven over medium heat and reduce the liquid until it becomes slightly syrupy, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, shred the meat and add to a bowl. Drizzle the reduced cooking liquid into the pork and toss. Serve with tortillas.
*Garnish with shredded cheese, sour cream, lettuce, and cilantro

Don’t even think about serving these without some homemade salsa and guacamole! Scroll down a ways to get some great recipes! :-)

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Hubby’s Salsa and My Guacamole…

We have “Mexican Night” at our house quite frequently. Pretty much anytime I see a commercial for a Mexican restaurant, or if someone is making Mexican food on the Food Network, or maybe the wind blows a certain way…I announce we’ll be having Mexican food for dinner. This happens A LOT. And my hubby loves it; simply because he gets a chance to make his (of course, I offer advice from time to time) homemade salsa. We’ve gotten to the point where we wouldn’t dare eat salsa out of a jar because we’re so spoiled to the homemade stuff. And with it being so darn simple to throw together, that’s an ok thing! We like to change it up a lot, but for the most part, it pretty much stays the same. Addictive, not-too-spicy and it gets better the longer it sits….perfect salsa!

Joel’s Salsa

1 can diced tomatoes
1 Jalapeno or Serrano chile, seeded and roughly chopped
1 handful chopped cilantro (however much you prefer- we like lots!)
juice of 1 or 2 limes, depending on how juicy they are
half an onion, roughly chopped
1 small garlic clove, roughly chopped
salt to taste (start with a teaspoon and go from there)
Tony Chacherie’s Cajun Seasoning, to taste (just a little)
1/2 teaspoon Cumin

Put all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until everything is well mixed. Taste for seasoning and add extra seasoning or lime juice as needed. Refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours; overnight is best.

*This tastes fantastic with a couple of Chipotle Chilis in Adobo thrown in instead of the fresh Jalapeno – it adds a great smokey flavor!


Now for my personal favorite – the Guacamole! I could seriously sit down and eat an entire bowl of this stuff all by myself…heck, sometimes I do! There’s just something about the creamy, chunky, salty, tanginess that gets me super excited…this girl loves her guac, ok? To be perfectly honest, most of the time, I make my guacamole by throwing in a few spoonfuls of jarred Chipotle salsa, lime juice and garlic salt (don’t judge me, you guacamole snobs!) and it’s perfectly, wonderfully delicious. This time, however, hubby and I wanted to make the real deal. Fresh tomatoes, garlic, onion, lime juice…the whole works. There’s a restaurant we go to with my parents a lot that makes excellent homemade guacamole and this really reminded me of it. It was gooooood.

Amy’s Guacamole

2 ripe avocados, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tomato, diced
1 clove garlic, grated (I don’t want to bite into a big chunk of garlic or onion…I grate it on my microplane!)
1/4 an onion, grated
juice of 1-2 limes, depending on how juicy they are
handful of cilantro, finely chopped
salt to taste

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl; slightly mash the avocado to make it creamier. Taste for seasoning and add more salt as needed. Serve immediately.
*A drop or two of olive oil will make it extra-creamy!

With all this salsa and guacamole around, make sure you’ve got plenty of chips! The super-thin kind are our absolute favorites!

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Thick, Cheesy, Spicy…

We’re expected to get some snow and ice tomorrow, apparently. I don’t know what it is about me, but everytime I hear that there’s snow or bad weather in the forecast, I automatically think “soup”. I guess a lot of people do, really. In my opinion, really bad weather calls for really good soup. In this case, Mexican Soup.  It’s one of those convenient “throw it all in” types. I saw this recipe in the newspaper recently and knew it would be just delicious. Sure enough….it really was!

Mexican Soup

1 cup water
1 cup instant rice
1 10-ounce can Rotel tomatoes
1 14-ounce can chili beans
1 14-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 14-ounce can chicken broth
1 package fajita seasoning
2 cups cooked chopped chicken
Bunch of cilantro, chopped
Shredded Mexican cheese blend, for garnish

Heat water in a large pot over stove and add rice. Turn down heat to low while preparing other ingredients.
Add all other ingredients except cheese and heat thoroughly. Ladle into bowls and top with shredded cheese and more cilantro, if desired.

*I boiled my chicken (I used 3 breasts) for about 30-45 minutes, until the meat was extremely tender; then used the cooking liquid instead of the water called for in the recipe. I also added a few tablespoons of Velveeta cheese for extra cheesiness.

This was a really good, thick, cheesy soup – and super easy, to boot! We really, really enjoyed it and thought it seemed to get even better the next day! If you’ve got bad weather in your forecast, or maybe you just need something comforting, give this soup a try – you won’t be disappointed!

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I Love Josh.

Ok, these are really terrible, horrible, no good, very bad pictures BUT I just had to post this recipe because it’s just that good. I’ve had it saved for several months now, but for some reason just now got around to making it. Let me just say that I have now made these twice within a week. They’re that good. Freaking awesome, in fact. The recipe is Josh’s Famous Burritos – a recipe found in the New York Times a while back. Go to the store tomorrow and buy some steak – you need to make these. As soon as possible.

You’ll notice that these don’t really look like burritos – more like fajitas, in fact. This recipe needs the giant sized tortillas, but all I had on hand was the regular sized, so it didn’t quite fold like it should’ve…oh well- it still tasted the same. It’s really important to cook the meat at least an hour so it can get nice and tender and the liquid can cook down. The first time I made these (that’s when the pictures were taken too) was definitely the best batch – I made them again tonight (for my parents, in fact) and they weren’t quite as good as the first time – still freaking awesome, though. This famous Josh knows what he’s doing, I’ll say that.  I made just a few changes to the original recipe – it’s one of those recipes that can be easily adjusted to your tastes; you can add or take away anything you want. I added a little of my favorite liquid steak seasoning to add a little extra flavor. I cut the recipe in half and had just enough for 4 people.

Josh’s Famous Burritos
-NY Times

2 pounds skirt steak
2 pounds hanger steak (if hanger is not available, substitute additional skirt steak)
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder, or as needed
3 tablespoons mild taco sauce
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 yellow onions, diced
2 yellow peppers, diced (I omitted)
4 medium jalapeños, with seeds, diced
6 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, chopped, 1 tablespoon sauce reserved
1 package Wick Fowler’s 2-Alarm Chili Kit (I just used chili powder and cumin)
1 1/2 bottles Dos Equis Amber beer
1/2 cup prepared salsa, more for serving
flour tortillas, for serving
1 cup (lightly packed) chopped cilantro leaves, for serving
2 cups four-cheese shredded Mexican blend, for serving
2 cans refried beans, heated, for serving
1 box Spanish rice pilaf, prepared according to instructions on box, but made with 2 tablespoons salsa along with spice packet, for serving.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat both sides of steaks with garlic powder and taco sauce. Place in a roasting pan and roast for 10 minutes. Turn steaks, sprinkle again with garlic powder, and roast for another 10 minutes. Cut meat into 1-inch slices and set aside.
Place oil in a very large skillet (14 inches or larger) over medium-high heat. Add onions, peppers and jalapeños. Sauté for 1 minute, and add chipotle chilies and sliced steak. Add all packets from Wick Fowler kit except masa and onion-and-garlic packets. Stir to coat well. Add beer, 1/2 cup water, reserved adobo sauce and 1/2 cup salsa.
Cook uncovered at a lively simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated and sauce has thickened and coats meat, about 1 hour. Serve buffet style, allowing guests to assemble burritos in tortillas, filling them as desired with meat, cilantro, shredded cheese, salsa, refried beans and rice. For a classic burrito, fill tortillas, roll, then fold ends underneath.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

Again, please forgive the terrible pictures – I just couldn’t keep this recipe from you, though! Do yourself a favor and make these burritos this week!

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Mighty Fine Eatin’…

What’s for dinner this weekend?  Need a good meal idea? Here’s all you’re gonna need: chicken, barbeque sauce, onions, cheese and tortillas. Have this stuff in your fridge? Good – now, do your husband (or wife…there might a few fellas reading) a big favor and make the following recipe.

Texas Chicken Quesadillas. Miiiiiiighty tasty, in my opinion. Honestly, I don’t really know what makes these “Texan” – I guess the BBQ sauce; everybody knows we Texans slather it on everything we eat…right?? Um, no, not really. But whatever – let’s just go with it for now. This recipe has been really making the rounds in the food blogosphere – and every single foodie that’s made it has just raved about it. So I thought it was about time for me to give it a whirl. I’ll just come right out and say it – these are delicious. Melt in your mouth, cheesy, gooey, spicy, sweet…DELICIOUS. I don’t even like onions, but their so nice and carmelized, they take on a new, sweet flavor that I really dig…..really, really. And drizzled with a little homemade ranch dressing, these babies are pretty hard to beat! So, if you had any doubts about your Friday or Saturday night dinner – doubt no more. Make these quesadillas. Your hard-workin’ man (or lady) will thank you – trust me.


Texas Chicken Quesadillas
-Allrecipes.com

2 TBSP of oil
1-1/2 onions sliced into rings
1 TBSP honey
2 chicken breasts, diced
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
1 Cup shredded Mexican cheese
8 ten inch flour tortillas

Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a pan over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until they begin to caramelize. Mix in the honey and stir until it is golden brown. Remove and set aside. Place the remaining oil in the pan and add the chicken. Cook through over a medium high heat. Stir in the BBQ sauce to evenly coat the chicken. Place the chicken, onions and cheese onto a tortilla, top with the other tortilla and cook in your quesadilla maker about 5 minutes. Alternatively, you can cook them in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. ENJOY!

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Another Quick Casserole…

Here’s yet another winner from Renea over at Sweet, Savory, Southern- I think this is something like the fourth or fifth recipe of hers that I’ve made and loved. This time around, it’s her Mexican Casserole – we had it last night with homemade guacamole and raspberry margaritas…a very pleasant meal, indeed! The recipe made enough for us to have it again tonight – yippee!!

Mexican Casserole
-Sweet, Savory, Southern

1 lb lean ground turkey (I used really lean ground beef)
1/2 an onion, diced (As always, I used onion powder)
1/2 cup corn kernels (canned or frozen) *I also added a can of black beans
1 bag Mintute rice
1 packet taco seasoning (or make your own with chili powder, cumin, salt, garlic powder and paprika)
10 oz can diced tomatoes with chilies
14 oz can enchilada sauce (small can)
shredded mexican cheese
6- 8″ tortillas

Preheat oven to 375. Begin by sauteing the onion in a little olive oil until it begins to soften, about 4-5 minutes. Add the ground meat to the pan. While the meat is browning, cook the rice according to the package directions and set aside. Once the meat is browned, drain any fat or liquid from the pan. Add the corn kernels, taco seasoning and 3/4 cup water. Stir to combine. Add the rice and stir. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. Add 1/2 the can of enchilada sauce to the bottom of the pan. Next, make a layer with two tortillas. They should overlap a little. Add a layer of the meat mixture and then 1/2 the can of diced tomatoes with chilies. Add a thin layer of shredded cheese. Add two more tortillas and repeat the layers, ending with a layer of tortillas. Top with the additional enchilada sauce and cheese. Cover the pan with foil and bake for about 25 minutes. Remove the foil and allow to cook an additional 5-10 minutes. Let sit 5-10 minutes before serving.

YUMMY! Like I said earlier, this goes great with some homemade guacamole and a big ‘ol pitcher of margaritas (just don’t take the plastic pour spout-thingie off your tequila bottle…because then the cap wouldn’t fit back on and you’d have to duct tape it so it would stay on. Makes no sense to you? Yeah, me neither, but somehow it happened….) Enjoy!

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