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Dinner for Two – Fajitas!

12 Apr

So it’s been a dramatic few days. Time for a break!! JJiraffe started a great recipe swapping project – cooking with capote. I’m a little late to the party due to all the drama, and you’ll forgive me for not posting pics, right? Good. Here we go!

I love to cook. Love love love it. My cooking is usually divided into two categories: Dinner for two and dinner for four.

Dinner for two is cooked when I know that we won’t be eating at home the next night, and that leftovers would go to waste. Usually it something special, like Gnocchi with shrimp, or salmon over pasta. It’s also usually a bit indulgent.

Dinner for four, I also call my practice dinners. The kind of stuff I know I’ll be making for the future mini-shmersons: Chicken fingers, Lasagna, meatballs, that kind of stuff. Things that we usually eat for two nights in a row.

Tonight was a dinner for two night since we have a wedding tomorrow. And tonight – it was tex-mex!

Let me elaborate: There are very few things I miss about living in the states. Mostly my friends, The Arclight and the Grove in LA, South Street in Philadelphia, Disneyland, Vegas, and – the food. Well, at least the food that you can’t really get in Israel.

My old roommate AK’s grilled cheese sandwiches – nobody makes them like she does (when she came for my wedding she was forced into grilled cheese servitude).

Proper chinese food. Don’t know why – but there’s not one single decent chinese place in the entire country. Thai? Sure. Japanese? Definitely. But you want some kung pao chicken? You’re out of luck.

Ranch Dressing. Yes. There is no ranch dressing here. Or – at least it’s really hard to find. Same with Bleu Cheese dressing. Us Israelis like our salads with olive oil and lemon. But I don’t. I loves me some hidden valley.

Up until recently it was also very hard to find a good cheddar cheese around here, which is strange, since our milk products are generally awesome. But the cheddar here was always a bit too mild for my taste. They finally started making a brand here that is sharp enough a few months back.

And finally? Tex-mex. It’s funny, I hate uncooked tomatoes, so I’m not one for guac or salsa. But man -I love fajitas. I love tacos. I love refried beans, nachos. Oh – and shrimp tacos specifically. Love those!

I didn’t think I would get to enjoy good tex-mex until the next time I went to the states, but at this year’s oscar party I decided to try to make it on my own, and since then – I’m hooked! It’s not perfect – but it’s darn well close enough!

Since the oscars, about once every two weeks, I make us fajitas – complete with all the “fixins” including refried beans and tomato-free guacamole – something that squish and I invented while prepping for the oscar party which, as it turns out, I love! I never touched guac before because of the tomatoes. Now I’m addicted and I make it all the time.

So, without further ado, I give you my recipes for refried beans, tomato-free guac, and chicken and zucchini Fajitas! (look for shrimp and beef variations at the bottom).

Warning – I don’t do measurements. I usually “eye” it. So I’m kind of guessing on some of these amounts – but that’s part of the fun – play around with it and see what works for you.

Let’s start with the guac!

Mo and Squish’s 5 minute tomato-free guac

What you’ll need:

2 large ripe avocados

1 small red onion

Juice of half a lemon or one small lime

tobasco sauce

Salt and Pepper

Optional: 1 small Jalapeno, fresh cilantro (I hate cilantro so I always skip that)

Tools:

1 medium sized bowl

A fork and a knife

A cutting board.

Instructions:

Dice the red onion as fine as you can get it. Same with the Jalapeno, seeds removed. Set them both aside.

Halve the avocados and scoop their contents into a bowl. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon or one small lime. Add a dash of salt.

Mash the avocado with a fork while stirring in the lemon. Once it’s the consistency you like (I like mine just a tiny bit on the chunky side) stir in the onion and the jalapeno. Add a dash of tobasco and stir again.

At this point give it a taste. Add more salt and some pepper if needed, and if it’s not spicy enough for your taste, feel free to add a couple more splashes of tobasco. I suggest you let it sit in the fridge for a few hours before partaking to really let the flavors meld. Just remember – it gets spicier once it sits for a while!

Of course, if you insist on tomatoes, you can always add one, finely chopped, into the mix. Your call.

Mo’s Mega-Easy Refried Beans

What you’ll need:

1 package of dried black or red beans OR 2 cans of either – make sure if you’re using the canned stuff, that it’s just straight up beans, no added sauces.

If you’re using the dried stuff, rinse out the beans, pre-soak if you want, but I usually don’t feel the need. Just chuck them in a pot and cover completely with water. Bring to a boil, and then down to a simmer. Check in every ten minutes or so and add water as needed. DO NOT ADD SALT – THE BEANS WILL NOT SOFTEN. The beans should be ready in about 2 hours.

Or save yourself the headache and use the canned beans, they’re just as good.

You’ll also need:

One red onion, chopped

Canola Oil (or if you’re feeling sinful, bacon fat or lard. I use canola).

Salt and Pepper to taste.

Tools:

1 large Skillet

1 potato masher

1 spoon

Cover the bottom of the pan with the oil (I’ve actually never tried this recipe with bacon fat, though I’ve heard it’s awesome. It’s just not so much with the heart healthy).

Saute the onions until they’re clear. Add the beans, and mash them as they’re frying in the oil. If they start getting a bit dry in texture, add a little bit of hot water to moisten them up.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Easy-peasy!!

I know – almost too easy right? I was really surprised when I first saw this recipe. Turns out it’s really all you need and it comes out really yummy!

Mo’s not-so-famous yet yummy chicken fajitas for two (feel free to multiply if there are more people)

What you’ll need:

1 large whole chicken breast

4 small (or 2 large) zucchini

1 medium white onion

For the Marinade:

1 small Jalapeno, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic – crushed

Juice of half a lemon or one small lime

about 2 tsp ground cumin

Salt and Pepper to taste.

A dash or two of tobasco sauce – depending on how spicy you like it.

Olive oil – I think about a quarter of a cup should be enough to cover it.

Tools:

One Steak Pan or Plancha (or anything that resembles a grill but can be used on a stove top)

Tongs

Large Ziplock Bag

Knife

Cutting board

(duh on the last two – I know!)

Peel and slice the onion into half rings. Separate them.

Clean and thinly slice the zucchini

Place onion, zucchini, and chicken into the ziploc bag.

Mix the marinade, and pour it into the bag. Zip up so there is no air left in the bag. Shake well to make sure marinade spreads evenly. Let sit for at least half an hour – or up to two hours in the fridge (that gives the best results!).

heat up the steak pan/grill thingy, whatever. Really heat it up. when the stuff hits it, it should sizzle.

pour contents of ziplock bag onto the pan, spread out evenly.

Now – here’s the trick: Don’t be afraid to get this stuff scorched! The reason I keep the chicken breast whole is so that it will get burned on both sides. Not charcoal guys – but nice and Grill-like.

I can’t really give you a cooking time on this, you’re just gonna have to eye it. keep an eye on the veggies and make sure to flip them often. The chicken should be flipped only once, especially if you want those nice grill marks on it.

Once all is cooked, cut the chicken into strips. You can do that ahead of time, but cutting it after the fact makes the meat much juicier.

Serve with flour tortillas. refried beans, guac, shredded lettuce, grated sharp cheddar, salsa or chopped tomatoes, and sour cream.

Yum!

Shrimp variation:

Add a shot of tequila to the marinade. You can replace the zucchini with or add some corn (fresh, canned or frozen). Shrimp cook quickly, so add them a few minutes after the veggies.

Beef Variation:

Marinade the same as the chicken. Add half a can of beer if you’re feeling courageous.

Replace Zucchini with red and green peppers. Do not marinade the veggies at all, and marinade the beef for at least two hours.

Cook the beef first, until it’s done to your liking. While the meat is resting, scorch the onions and the peppers in the juices left in the pan by the meat and the marinade.

I’m sure there are several people of hispanic descent who may find these recipes sacrilegious.

I find them sacrilicious!

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5 Responses to “Dinner for Two – Fajitas!”

  1. bodegabliss April 12, 2011 at 02:27 #

    I HATE CILANTRO, TOO!

    I didn’t even read the rest of the post because I felt so compelled to tell you that. No shocker there!

    Okay, I’ll finish reading now…

    • Marie April 12, 2011 at 04:48 #

      AND I DON’T LIKE RAW TOMATOES, EITHER!

      Ok, that was fun. I used to make fajitas in France/Wales all the time. They are seriously the easiest Mexican thing to make without the proper spices/sauces/cheeses for Mexican food.

  2. jjiraffe April 12, 2011 at 03:20 #

    OMG – you are making me drool!!! I LOVE fajitas and have always wanted to make refried beans from scratch, so I’ll be trying your version ASAP!!

    Fascinating to hear what’s available in Israel and what’s not. I’m sorry to hear about the lack of Chinese food. And ranch dressing. When I lived in London, I missed Mexican food a lot. There were no good places. And Coke tasted totally gross.

  3. slcurwin April 13, 2011 at 01:21 #

    Wow, I feel horrible that you have no ranch or blue cheese dressing! that’s pretty much the only ones I use. There is no way those will ship well..

    I missed you. I’m kinda back now. Just need to get back in the habbit of reading post every day.

  4. Amb April 17, 2011 at 03:44 #

    First off, I’m hoping I put my info in the right boxes.. because they’re staggered from the field names but I can count and so I should be okay. 😀

    Secondly! I never eat guac with tomatoes in it. I hate it. Your recipe sounds yummy and if I may recommend something, try adding cream cheese to it. I don’t know what it is, but it adds this really great texture to it. Almost as though it makes the avocado heavier? I don’t know. It’s freakin fantastic though. I love me some mexican food. Keep sharing recipes 😀

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