Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fajitas with homemade salsa and guac

My house smells like a Mexican restaurant right now. And I like it.

Being born and bred in Southern California, in an area where "wedos" were in the minority, I am physically required to consume food of Mexican origin at least 3 times a month or my big toes shrivel and my left rotary cuff twitches. My husband has the same condition regarding pizza.

In case you are lost right now, "wedo" (or the feminine "weda") is a derogatory term us white folk were called. It's okay. I've accepted the fact that I am white. I no longer try to wear deep brown lipstick. And I've burned all pictures of that phase.

As for my toes shriveling and my rotary cuff twitching, it's personal. You don't want to hear any more.

Back to my Tex-Mex, spicy food addiction.

I love NY. Mostly. But it does have it's flaws. For one thing, a church pot luck in my region consists of pasta, sausage and peppers, more pasta, greens, pasta salad and something half of you will not recognize and shouldn't bother with anyway: tomato pie. Tomato pie is a local favorite, and is basically a pizza that the cook got tired half way through making and called it quits before adding pepperoni or final baking. Sounds bad, right? It is.

As any good California girl knows, a church pot lunch SHOULD contain carne asada, chili quillas, and sub sandwiches. (Hey, every pot luck, regardless of ethnic preferences, should have subs!)

So in the interest of my toes and shoulders, I make dinners containing tortillas, chili powder, and cilantro often.

I love cilantro. LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE it. If marrying herbs were legal, I'd marry cilantro. I might date basil, because it's pretty good too. But definitely would make it official with cilantro.

Tonight's menu:

Steak fajitas with homemade salsa and guacamole.

Steak, lettuce, peppers, onion, salsa & fresh cilantro on flour tortilla = party in my tum tum

Early in the day... btw, starting dinner early in the dinner is pretty much always a good idea. Make sure the meat is defrosted, marinate it, chop veggies, pre-cook what you can, etc. Makes that stressful time between 4:30 and 5:30 pm, when the kids are up from naps and grouchy, the hubby is just coming home (and wants a glass of cold water and a smooth from his honey), the baby is hungry.... all that chaos! Makes that much more manageable if dinner is already off to a good start.

Anyway, early in the day, I put a chuck steak (about an inch thick... of course flank steak or any better cut of meat would be awesome, but I just used what I had) into a plastic bag with the following:

2 Tbs. lemon juice
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. crushed cherry pepper (that jarred stuff I love so much and elaborated on here)

I totally just made that little marinade up... anything with some sort of acid (lemon juice or vinegar of any kind, even Italian dressing from a bottle) along with the flavors of your desire with do the trick. I might try cumin, soy sauce, or just a pre-mixed Mexican spice blend.

With the meat getting happy in the fridge, I made salsa using this SUPER EASY recipe. I had all but given up on homemade salsa. Because NY's other major flaw is that tomatoes here are not that great. And they're not that cheap. So when buying tomatoes you're taking a gamble: when you cut into it, will it be red all the way through, or that nasty white mealy business? It's a gamble I've lost too many times. In the list of things I miss about California, after family and the weather, is fruit stands. We would buy the biggest, juiciest, reddest tomatoes from some dude selling produce from under a tent on the side of the road. They were so yummy, you could shake on some salt and eat it like you would an apple. Anyway, the recipe I used today calls for canned tomatoes, and as sad as it is to say this, canned worked much better than fresh in my salsa today.

I set some salsa aside and mixed into 2 mashed avocados and called it guacamole. I don't know if that is actually how you make guac, but it works for me.

Those both are best when refrigerated a while to mix and mingle and let all the ingredients get to know each other better.

Then, all that's left to do is cook the meat, caramelize some onions and peppers, and serve with tortillas, lettuce, cheese, salsa and quac. Sour cream? Yes that too. Spanish rice? Absolutely. Corn? Hey, good idea! Olives? Well, all right, if you want to go ahead but I'm not.

I cooked my chuck steak in a skillet. A grill would have been wonderful, but sadly, we don't own one. Booooooo. I think next time I have a cheaper cut of meat and want to make this, I'll slow cook it and shred it. But pan searing about 5 minutes on each side, then slicing worked pretty well tonight. When the meat was removed from the pan and covered with foil, I threw the onions and peppers in. When they were done to my satisfaction, I sliced the meat and set it on top on the cooked veggies.

The Right Way (ie. Kayte's Way) he he he
Then you set it all the table and let everyone make their own, to their own liking. A handy tip I think I learned from my sister in law, Tara, is to warm the flour tortillas in up in a microwave. First wrap them up in a damp paper towel and zap 'em for 15 seconds. So easy.

Seth's magic mix - steak, lettuce, nacho cheese, salsa
Maddie's "Purist" Fajita- Just meat and hot sauce

So there you have it: everything you never cared to know about what we had for dinner tonight. ☺


Jamiee said...

I so agree on marrying Cilantro :D YUMMY!~~ An yes we wedas love our tex-mex food as well... Kayte if you have a flat pan like u make pancakes on or even a griddle .. you can warm your tortillas up that way .. taste better then nuking them! (Also corn are a yummy choice) I make what you made but I let it slow cook and put it on hoagies with either pepper jack for Corey and Ary or provolone and have "steak sammies" Seth be a happy camper with that!

Jamiee said...

Sounds yummy and yes I marry clintro as well.. we wedas love our tex-mex I grill my tortillas on a griddle and it taste better then nuking them :D I do mine this way and making steak sammies with provolone or pepper jack slice cheese :D

Beth said...

That salsa looks delicious! I grew to love Mexican food in Chicago. Not much here, though :(