Monday, February 25, 2013

Citrus Baked Chicken Fajitas

Hola friends!

I haven't cooked in a week, and it's made me feel not myself!  My husband was out of town last week so I took advantage of the time by spending some quality time with a few friends.  I missed my hubby and am glad he made it back from a successful trip, but it was good catching up, maybe a little gossiping, over food and drink with my girl friends :)

So today I finally got around to trying a recipe I've had up my sleeve for a few days.  I found the method on budget bytes, a blog I faithfully follow.  I followed the method used and made my own fajita recipe.

These fajitas are baked in the oven, so it's a wonderful one dish meal.  Who doesn't love that?  I threw everything into a baking dish and let it do its thing in the oven while I vegged out.  Most people probably decide to be productive during this time, but not me!  I plopped myself on the couch with a cup of chai, a blanket, and the remote.

Citrus is a great complement to chicken, so I figured it would work well for chicken fajitas.  And I figured right!  It added an amazing flavor to the chicken and vegetables which made these fajitas dynamite! yeah. dynamite.  Another great thing about this recipe is that you can make quite a bit at a time, which is exactly what I did.  I now have lunch for the rest of the week!

Shazad LOVED these and he's a beef fajitas kind of guy!  Next time, I'll try this method out on beef or shrimp.

These were enjoyed topped with some fresh spicy guacamole and a sprinkle of sea salt wrapped in fresh made whole wheat tortillas, with a side of organic refried black beans.

Citrus Baked Chicken Fajitas:
*You can scale this recipe down, I made this much so I could have leftovers for lunch.

3 chicken breasts, halved and sliced into strips
1 tbs sea salt
1/2 tbs black pepper
1/2 tbs garlic powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp corn starch
1 tbs oil (I used olive)
1/2 lime
1/2 large orange

Combine all of the ingredients, including the juices of the citrus, and let sit for about 30 min.

Preheat oven to 400.  Start chopping and slicing your veggies!

1 large red bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 onion sliced thickly
5 large mushrooms, sliced
1 can diced tomatoes with peppers (Ro-tel), drained slightly
Jalapeño, sliced thickly (use to your liking)
Sprinkle of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and chili powder
Drizzle olive oil
1 tbs salted butter, or unsalted

Combine veggies (sans tomatoes and cilantro) in an oven safe baking dish, toss with spices and oil.  Add chicken and add the can of tomatoes on top.  Pop in the oven for 25 minutes.  Then add butter and squeeze in the other half of the lime and orange, and stir.  Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes.  Sprinkle with cilantro.

Use your favorite tortillas and top with whatever condiments you wish!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Not So Perfect Circles

As I write this post, I am in bed watching Paranormal Activity 4.  Yes, I have watched the three before this one. Guilty pleasure I guess.  No judge-y

So glad the week is half over, it's been one of those really long, kind of a suck, weeks.  They happen and I just have to giddy up and go!

Tonight I made black bean and chicken tacos in the slow cooker with handmade tortillas and a side of cumin and coriander roasted green beans.  Yum, yum, yum.  The slow cooker is such a life saver!  I dumped everything in this morning and the chicken was ready to shred when I got home.  All I had to do was make the tortillas and roast the green beans.

Making homemade tortillas have always been a little daunting for me, but I really did not feel like stopping by the store on the way home to get the pre-packaged ones.  I figured since I have the ingredients I need in my pantry, why not use what I have and make tortillas from scratch?  I know exactly what goes into them and they're lard free, so to me that makes them more healthy :).  After my batch today, I will never go back to store bought tortillas.  They may not have been shaped like perfect circles, but they turned out soft, chewy, and fresh tasting.  Shazad thought they looked like butterflies.  Absolutely delicious butterfly shaped tortillas.  I'll be using the leftover tortillas tomorrow to whip up breakfast tacos for our morning!

 Slow Cooker Black Bean and Chicken Tacos:

2 whole chicken breasts, frozen are fine
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 small onion, quartered and sliced thinly
1/2 green bell pepper, diced roughly
1 can tomatoes with chilies (spice level, your choice)
1 tbs minced garlic
Juice of 1 lime
Dash of hot sauce
Sea Salt

Throw everything into the slow cooker and give a little stir. Put on low heat for 8-10 hours.  Shred and keep on low so the yummy goodness gets all up in that chicken!

Handmade Tortillas:

3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup olive or canola oil
1 cup hot water

Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder.  Drizzle in oil and mix with your fingers until dough is crumbly.  Add hot water, combine and knead for 5-8 minutes on a floured surface until a nice smooth soft ball forms.  I used my trusty kitchen-aid mixer.  I added a little bit of flour at a time to keep the dough from sticking and making a nice ball.

Put the dough back into the mixing bowl, or keep in the mixer and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rest for at least 30 minutes.

Make golf size portions from the dough.  Lightly flour your area, flatten the ball, and roll away!  Don't worry if you don't turn out pretty cirlces.  I think they give the tortillas unique-ness if they're shaped funky

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat and throw on your first tortilla.  Once bubbles form, flip.  Let it do it's thing on the other side, and then flip again.  If they char, then you've cooked them properly.  Move on to the next.

Keep on a warm plate or cover with a clean dish cloth to keep tortillas warm.

Roasted Green Beans with Cumin and Coriander:

1/2 lb green beans, rinsed and trimmed
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 400.  Toss together green beans with olive oil, cumin, coriander, and salt.  Throw them on to a foil lined baking pan and put in the oven to roast for 15 minutes.

Build your tacos on your fresh tortillas with whatever you like!  I whipped up some pico, topped with a little light sour cream and shredded cheese. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Best Lasagna Ever

Meal planning.  What does that mean anyway? I barely even plan for the next day, much less what I plan to eat every day.  But man, oh man, does it save time and money!  I have been doing this for a few weeks now (part of the whole 2013 resolution movement) and as much as I love to go grocery shopping, it's great not having to go to the store multiple times during the week after work to pick up a few ingredients and leave with an entire basket and bird crap on my car. 

It works great when I make a list on Sunday mornings of what meals I want to make for the week, usually 3-4, and then go through my pantry and fridge to see what I need to restock.  I make one big trip to HEB and other stores, get everything I need, and get a kiss from my husband for saving him money and keeping our bellies full! 

Granted, I have times where I realize I missed a key ingredient (I suck at making thorough lists) and have to make a quick stop at the store or veer away from my actual meal plans.  But this is a work in progress and I am definitely doing a lot better than I used to!  When the HEB greeter knows who you are and knowing EXACTLY where everything is on each aisle, some by aisle numbers, makes you realize how frequent a customer you really are. Yeast?  Top shelf towards the end of aisle 9.  Nutella?  Very top shelf above the peanut butter. Pomegranate molasses?  International aisle, bottom shelf.  Ask me anything.

So here are my meals I plan to make this week!

Tuesday:  Lasagna
Wednesday:  Chicken and black bean tacos
Thursday:  Seafood Rice

Here is the recipe for tonight's meal, lasagna.  It was delicious, creamy, and so filling!  Let's begin first with the best marinara ever in life.  I will never ever go back to ready made sauce.

Lasagna Recipe:


2 tbs. olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 tbs. minced garlic
1/2 tbs. red pepper flakes
1-28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (San Marzano are the best)
1-6 oz. can tomato paste
3 tbs. sugar
1 tbs. italian seasoning
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup water

Rest of the lasagna:

1 tbs. olive oil
1 lb. ground meat (I used ground beef, but you can use turkey or chicken)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. italian seasoning
1/4 cup cooking white wine
2 cups shredded mozarella
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
8 oz. low fat (neufchatel) cream cheese, softened
9 lasagna noodles, cooked before al-dente stage (they will cook more in the oven)

Heat oil over medium heat, add onion, garlic and red pepper flakes.  Cook until the onions and garlic begin browning.  The more color on the onions and garlic, the deeper the flavor of the sauce.

Add the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste.  Stir until smooth.

Add sugar, italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and water.  Stir and reduce heat to the lowest setting.  Cover, and let simmer for at least 30 minutes.

As the sauce is cooking, begin making your meat mixture, boiling your noodles, and preheat the oven to 375.

Heat oil over medium, add your meat of choice, salt, pepper, and italian seasoning.  Brown the meat.  Once browned, turn the heat up to high to burn off any water.  Add wine, heat on high until the wine has evaporated.

Reserve 1/2 cup of mozarella cheese and then in a separate bowl, combine the 3 cheeses.  It will be goopy, so it may be easier to combine with a fork or your fingers ;)

Take out your large baking dish and let's begin the layering process!

bottom layer: 1 cup of sauce
1st layer: 3 noodles, drops of cheese mixture, half of the beef mixture, ladle on some sauce.
2nd layer:  Same as first layer, finishing off the rest of the beef mixture
3rd layer: drops of cheese mixture, rest of the sauce, top with reserved shredded cheese

Pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes until noodles are cooked through and the dish is bubbly.  Let rest for 5 minutes after taking out of the oven and then serve!  Garnish with parsley.

Enjoy! Enjoy!