Friday Recipe Exchange: Fajita Bar

peppers and onions frying

I’ve spent the day prepping the lemon cucumbers languishing in my refrigerator. I made some refrigerator dill pickles, some Jalapeno-Cucumber RelishCucumber Salsa and of finally, Tomato-Cucumber Salad.  I had a LOT of cucumbers.

Tonight’s menu is part of my Kid’s Menu series. Quick and easy, and everyone can help themselves.

On the board:

Fajita Bar

  • ½ lb. steak, thinly sliced
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
  • fajita seasoning (recipe here)
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 4-8 flour tortillas
  • 4 oz. shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh salsa (see recipe here)
  • 1 avocado, sliced (or guacamole)
  • sliced black olives

Wrap tortillas in foil and warm in the oven until ready to serve (170-200°F).

fajita dinner plate

Toss chicken and steak with fajita seasoning. Heat 1 tbsp oil in skillet, add peppers and onions, sauté for 2-3 minutes, move to one side, add more oil if needed and then add meat, cooking and stirring until cooked through (about 5 minutes for steak, 10 minutes for chicken).  Add more fajita seasoning if desired.

Serve with tortillas, salsa, avocado, olives

Tossed Salad w/Salsa Dressing

  • ½ head Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • ½ head Iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • 1 to 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 can (8 oz) sweet corn, drained
  • 15 oz black beans, drained
  • 1 cup Ranch dressing
  • 1 cup fresh salsa
  • Tortilla chips

Dressing:  Mix salsa, ranch together.

Toss lettuces, tomatoes, corn and black beans.  Add dressing and garnish with crushed tortilla chips.

This menu and recipes are featured in my cookbook: What’s 4 Dinner Solutions Cookbooks: Summer into Fall


What’s on your menu this weekend? I’m tidying up the backyard before the leaves start to fall, then heading over to the fall Art Walk downtown.

My friends just gave me a huacatay plant so I can make my own, authentic Aji Verde sauce like our local Peruvian restaurant serves. I’ll need to track down some Aji Amarillo Paste, but that shouldn’t be too difficult around here. What are some exotic dishes you’ve tried to replicate? 

Hit the comments and share your favorite recipes or what you’re cooking this week.


How To Ruin A Turkey Sandwich/More Respite Open Thread

So, this image showed up in my messages:


I’m just hoping this isn’t a Betty Cracker creation already featured here that in my semester-starting-addled brain I somehow forgot.

Anyway: here’s a chance to talk about anything to do w. abuse of or abusive foodstuffs — or anything else that whets your appetite.

Friday Recipe Exchange: Pasta w/Marinated Vegetable and Bruschetta

JeffreyW has his own take on Bruschetta here and here

I’m not ready to jump into fall just yet. My garden is slowing down, but my tomatoes are still flourishing. I’ve been turning my bounty into frozen packets of fire-roasted tomatoes to be used for soups and sauces when the weather cools a bit. As I put this together on Thursday, the temp outside was 80 degrees at 9 pm. Summer isn’t heading to the exits anytime soon.

Every Thursday in the What’s 4 Dinner Solutions Cookbook, there is a travelogue of sorts. Menus with flavors from all over the world. In the summer, it’s various regions of the states and the fresh produce available.  Tonight, it’s a New England Farmers’ Market kinda night

On the board:

Pasta w/ Marinated Vegetables (recipe below)
Tomato & Olive Oil Bruschetta (recipe here)

Pasta w/Marinated Vegetables

  • 10 oz Rotini pasta
  • 1 tray ice cubes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small eggplant, peeled & chopped
  • 4 mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 zucchini, sliced
  • 10 to12 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 6 oz jar marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1 red onion, sliced in rings
  • 2 oz black olives
  • 8 oz Italian or Caesar dressing (more if needed)
  • 2 oz grated parmesan

serving bowl

In saucepan, cook pasta according to package directions, drain, rinse in cold water and toss with ice cubes. Set aside and let cubes melt.

While pasta is cooking, in skillet, heat oil and sauté eggplant, mushrooms and zucchini.

Remove and cool in the refrigerator while preparing remaining vegetables.

In bowl, toss remaining vegetables with dressing.

Remove any un-melted ice cubes from pasta, and toss with all vegetables once they are cold.

Add cheese, more dressing if needed, and serve.

As always, omit or substitute anything you don’t like. This one is especially easy to adapt to your flavor palate.


What’s on your menu this weekend? Earlier this week Alain posted his great instructions for roasting chiles and he mentioned having a vacuum sealer. That’s on my wishlist – anyone have any suggestions?

Okay, hit the comments with your recipe shares!


Roasting, Cleaning and Freezing Chiles: Pueblo Hots


In late summer, a wonderful smell begins in Southern Colorado and New Mexico. Soon enough, parking lots everywhere are filled with folks selling fresh chiles and roasting them in rotating “barrels” over propane jets. The smell of the copious smoke clouds that puff up is incredible: a smoky, vegetal, clinging stench with lots of bitter and char. The popping and crackling of the skins and seeds, the hiss of the steam from blasts of water, and the roar of the propane are the sounds of the season.

A few weeks ago, I drove to Colorado and returned with a small bag of fresh Pueblo Hots. There are different types of chiles and they are grown in different areas. Like all agricultural products, the soil, sun, wind, and water have a strong effect on flavor and texture. The most famous chiles – from New Mexico – are primarily Hatch, which is where they are grown. I’ve also has Socorro chiles, and they were also divine.  In Southern Colorado, Pueblo is well-known for farms and for great chiles, the Pueblo chile. It’s a different chile than the New Mexico chiles, and has a slightly different flavor, a bit more bitter. They aren’t as long as the New Mexico chiles, and they have the more classic “chile” shape used in advertising and such.

Needless to say, they’re all good, but I’m especially stoked to have some true-blue Pueblo Hots. (Hots as compared to Very Hots or Mediums – I need my ass to be a non-burning issue, so I didn’t go crazy!)

Chiles prefer hot, dry days and cool nights. In a normal year, there would be heaps of Pueblo chiles, but there were just a couple of baskets. When I was rung up at the farm store, they advised me to come early in September because the harvest was the worst ever and they would run out very early. The cause of all of this – too much rain! It’s raining multiple times a week and many fields aren’t getting enough chance to dry out and it’s causing mildew and other moisture-related issues they normally don’t worry about. This is yet another example of climate change seeming beneficial at first glance, but proving to be a change that threatens agriculture. In this case, extra rain in an arid environment that depends on irrigation for crops means that best practices, infrastructure, and localized plant stock are threatened.

Ok, enough background, let’s get cooking!

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Garden Fresh

Oh, boy, recipes two weeks in a row, we might be starting something here.

I spent the afternoon taking care of some fresh veggies that had been sitting on my counter all week. I love this time of year, when the garden provides harvest every morning. But it is difficult to keep up. Today I fire-roasted tomatoes, pureed and froze for soups and sauces this winter. I also did refrigerator jalapeno pickles to use up a few of the many jalapenos.

JeffreyW does some amazing recipes with his peppers, here are two: Candied Jalapenos (here) and Hot ‘n Sweet (here)

Tonight’s menu takes advantage of all the garden-fresh ingredients available now.  I really like this one because it’s a quick skillet taste treat that elevates a weeknight meal.

On the board tonight:

Skillet Lasagna (recipe below)
Patty Squash Sauté (recipe here)
Italian Bread

Skillet Lasagna

  • 6 oz Mafalda (mini-lasagna noodles) or bowtie pasta
  • 1 lb lean ground beef****
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • ½ green pepper chopped
  • 1 tsp basil, crushed
  • 1 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce (or 1 lb fresh tomatoes, chopped or pureed)
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 4 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves, chopped
  • 4 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 oz grated parmesan


In saucepan, cook pasta according to package directions, cooking to al dente (slightly chewy), drain well.  Meanwhile, in skillet brown beef, onion & pepper. Add spices, garlic, carrot and sauté for 1 minute.  Add sauce, paste, stirring well into meat mixture.  Add pasta, stirring gently to mix.

Mix together ricotta and spinach, spoon evenly into the mixture (do not stir in, you want to create little cheese balls), top with mozzarella, cover and let simmer on low until mozzarella is completely melted.

Serve with parmesan.

Just a note, this menu and recipes are from my Summer into Fall Cookbook.

That’s if for this week. If I get a chance to upload the roasted tomato photos this weekend, I’ll post them here. What’s on your plate this weekend?

Hit to comments to share your recipes.

Otherwise, open thread.

****ETA: Thanks to Ohio Mom for reminding me I was going to say, you can easily omit the beef. I have substituted zucchini and or mushrooms and left the meat out entirely. It’s a great vegetarian dish.