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Fajita’s . . . Exactly The Same As Giada’s, But Way, Way Different

So Wifey has upped the blog ante put me her into her mommy blog. So that means that her friends are perusing my blog.  As long as she doesn’t bring me into the mommy wars battles, we’ll be doing fine (those things make a 4th and goal stand look like tea and crumpets with your rich auntie).  That being said, it’s time for one of my favorite styles of food: Mexican, or at least Americanized Mexican.  My choice?  Fajitas.

I never really knew how to make fajitas or what type of spice would go good on them.  So I checked over at the good ole’ Food Network site and looked up fajitas.  Not much came up to my liking.  I was about ready to give up (I had tried other sites as well) when I found Giada’s Fajita Marinade.  It had what I like (and what was in the fridge/pantry).  Orange Juice?  Good.  Lime Juice? Very good.  Garlic?  A necessity.   A very good start.  Now being the experimenter I am, I couldn’t just make it the way Giada did.  That wouldn’t be very creative now, would it?  So I changed it up a little.  (For the original recipe, see the link above).  Here goes:

1 cup Orange Juice

1/3 cup Lime Juice

1/2 cup Olive Oil

6-8 Cloves Garlic (depending on how close you want to be with that special someone)

3 tbs Ancho Chile Powder

2 tbs Dried Oregeno

1 tbs Dried Minced Onion (1 small onion, finely chopped)

1 tbs Dried Parsley (you can substitute dried or fresh cilantro if you like, I don’t like cilantro)

2 Lemons

1.5 – 2 lbs Flank Steak

3 Boneless ChickenBreasts

3 Bell Peppers (I use 2 red and 1 green, but use what ever you like)

1Large Onion

1/2 Tomato

Butter or Olive Oil for sauteing veggies

Tortillas (warmed)

Shredded Cheese

Sour Cream

Taco or Hot Sauce

Finely chop garlic and any fresh herbs (and small onion if using for marinade) and set aside.  I use my mini food processor to do the business, love it.  In a large bowl, add the orange juice, lime juice, oregano, parsley, minced onion, garlic and, chile powder.  Stir well.  Slowly, while whisking the marinade, add the olive oil.  If you don’t whisk while slowly pouring or pour too fast, the oil and juice won’t emulsify (the oil will rise to the top and won’t mix).  When the oil has been whisked in and emulsified, place the steak and chicken in a seal-able container and pour the marinade over.  Seal and store in the fridge for 3-4 hours.

When ready to cook, heat your grill and slice the large onion and peppers.  Slice the tomato into 6 wedges and thinly slice the lemon as well.  Grill the meat as you would any other flank steak and chicken breast.  Let the meat stand for 5-10 minutes before slicing.  That will allow the juices to keep within the meat.  Take your marinade and bring to a boil for 5 minutes (to kill any bacteria).  Be careful, the marinade will bubble over if you don’t turn it down.

In a large fry pan, heat oil/butter over medium heat and saute the onions until slightly transparent.  Add the peppers and sliced lemon to the pan and cook till aldente, about 4 minutes.  Add the tomato wedges and the marinade and reduce for 2-4 minutes, allowing the veggies to absorb some of the marinade.

Slice the steak thinly and the chicken a little thicker than the steak.  Cut the other lemon in half and squeeze the lemon over the meat.   Top the fajita with the cheese, sour cream and/or taco sauce and enjoy.

The sweetness of the orange juice mixes with the other flavors very well.  The lemon juice adds a great summery feel to the meal (that and I love cooking with lemon).  You can always marinade just chicken or steak too.  A nice drink pairing would be Bell’s Oberon Ale or Sam Adams Summer Ale, a margarita, or Mexican Coke (no not that Mexican Coke, this stuff).  My History of Mexico prof would shake his head at me calling this Mexican food.  Then again, I did get an A in the class.  We won’t say what Wifey got.


Michigan Burgers

Well, I guess I have been neglecting my site.  It’s been a crazy summer so far and I’m not in the habit of posting.  So here goes.  I guess my better half has been telling people about something I came up with about a year ago: Michigan Burgers.  They are a Michigan twist on the common burger.  When people think of Michigan, they think cars.  No, I’m not putting motor oil in the burger (might give a nice, earthy flavor . . . I keed, I keed), but something else Northern Michigan is known for: cherries.  They blend well with the meat and feta cheese I put in them.  The feta gives a great flavor without completely melting away.  The salt from the feta meshes well with sweetness of the dried cherries and gives a nice balance of flavors.  I also add some spices and Worcestershire sauce.


1.5 lbs of ground beef (I like sirloin or round, but any will do)

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/4 cup crumbled bacon

10 dried cherries roughly chopped

2 tbs of Worcestershire sauce

1.5 tsp garlic powder

1.5 tsp of onion powder

1/2 tsp paprica

3 dashes of celery salt

salt and pepper to taste

Add the ingredients together in a mixing bowl and mesh.  Form 6 1/4 pound patties (thin but not paper thin, 1/2 inch or so).  Turn the grill on high and close to heat.  After the grill has heated, place the patties on the grill, cover and turn the heat down to medium.  Let cook for 3-5 minutes (cooking times vary from grill to grill) and flip.  Cover again for 3-5 and measure the temp.  For medium rare, take off the grill at 130-140 degrees internal temp.  Let sit for a couple of minutes before you place the meat on a bun (this allows the juices to stay in the meat).  Any bun will do (sesame, onion roll, wheat).  I garnish the burger with lettuce, tomato, onion, provolone cheese, mayo and, believe it or not, Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce.  No, really, it’s good.  The sweetness of the BBQ sauce compliments the creamy tang of the mayo.  For those not brave enough for that tasty treat, (i.e. my family), I have made a sauce to put on it.  Mix 1/3 cup sour cream with 2 tbs of mayo, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1 tbs of lemon juice and celery salt to taste (1/2 tsp). Experiment with spices to find the flavor you like.  You can also use the traditional ketchup, mustard, and mayo if you choose

Any traditional burger side, like fries, will work, but I like fruit with it as well.  A great dessert with this is grilled pineapple.  Just take sliced pineapple rings and grill them on medium until you get the grill marks (about 4 minutes) and flip. Be careful, the sugars in the pineapple will burn easy so watch closely.  For a wine pairing, try lighter red like a nice Chianti. Old Peninsula Cellars Cabernet Franc would be excellent as well, but I have only found that at the winery in Traverse City so it’s a little hard to come by.   This meal also screams for a tasty summer beer.  If you want a good summer brew from Michigan, try a Bell’s Oberon Ale with the Michigan Burgers.  If you can’t find Oberon where you live, Sam Adams Summer Ale is a very good substitute.  The citrus of those  beers tastes so good on a hot summer day with the cherries in meal.  Enjoy!

Rockin’ the Risotto . . . Almond Style

Well, here goes.  My first true food update.  Last Friday (July 2nd), we did our weekly grocery shopping.  Low and behold, when I went to buy meat, the only steak they had was ribeye.  Apparently, everyone had beat me to the strip steaks for their 4th of July BBQ’s.  I’ve never actually grilled a ribeye steak before, but there’s always a first for everything.  Anyway, when we went to make dinner tonight, I had a hankering for some risotto to go with those ribeyes.  Since the lovely and talented other half likes that dish, she was all for it.  I was in an experimenting mood, so I decided to make a change to the normal recipe, a sweet almond flavor.  I did so by adding a 1/4 cup of Amaretto (Disaranno if you must know).  The recipe as follows:

1 cup basmatti rice

2 turns of olive oil (about 2 tbs)

2 tbs of butter

1/2 cup dry white wine (Sauvigon Blanc)

1/4 cup Amaretto

1 small white onion

3 cloves garlic

32 oz of chicken broth

Hot tap water if needed

In a small saucepan, heat the chicken broth under low heat.  It makes the absorption of the liquid much faster.  In a medium saucepan, heat (medium) your two turns of olive oil and butter until butter is melted.  Saute the onions until partially transparent (about 4 minutes) and then add the garlic and saute for another 4 minutes.  Add the rice and cook for about 2 minutes.  The oil and butter will soak into the rice giving it a shiny appearance.  After 2 minutes, add the wine, amaretto and 1/2 cup of chicken broth.

Allow the mixture to come to a slow boil and turn down to medium low (3 on my stove).  Stir often until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid.   Add a cup of chicken broth and repeat.  After the third addition of liquid is reduced and absorbed, taste the rice.  If it’s nice and soft, it’s ready.  Usually it takes me 4 additions to make it the way I like it.  It you run out of broth, add the hot water instead.  If you add too much broth, the taste of the broth will overpower everything else.

I paired the risotto with the ribeye and grilled asparagus.  The amaretto gave a nice sweet flavor that blended well with the wine and rice.  The bitterness of the asparagus balanced the sweetness of the risotto.  We had a Marquis Phillips 2008 Shiraz I picked up at Costco for around $10.  Very good wine for the price.  Nice pepper spice on front and back of the tongue with a cranberry/vanilla/chocolate middle.  I highly recommend it!