I’m Throwing a Backyard Party

Greek Fajitas

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I absolutely love eating my dinner in a tortilla. I’ll eat anything in there. Anything at all. A few examples:

  1. tacos (duh)
  2. quesadillas (duh)
  3. BBQ chicken quesadilla (ok)
  4. peanut butter quesadilla (woah)
  5. Egg burrito (yep)
  6. and the best….Pizzadilla (wow! idea courtesy of my BIL circa 2005)

So we’ve decided to move our Greek chicken pitas out of the pita and into the fajita. A Greek version of our favorite Mexican dinner. My only regret is that we didn’t think of this sooner, and the only thing I’m lying about is that dollop of Tzatziki shown in that photo. I use like 75 dollops.

Recipe

Chicken Marinade

  • ~2 lbs boneless/skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup Greek vinaigrette (your favorite store bought)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 2 small lemons)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano (optional)

Tzatziki Sauce

  • 1 container plain yogurt (about 5 oz)
  • 1 container 2% Greek yogurt (~7 oz)
  • 1/2 cup seeded & chopped cucumber
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • ~1 clove garlic (more or less to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Fajitas

  • 2 small yellow/white onions (to caramelize)
  • Feta cheese (for topping)
  • 1/2 chopped cucumber (for topping)
  • 4-8 of your favorite tortillas

Mix the marinade ingredients in a Ziploc bag. Add the chicken and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, up to 8.  Mix all tzatziki ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to use.

To caramelize the onion, slice thin, combine into a pan with a drizzle of olive oil and touch of salt, and cook down for about 20 minutes.

Grill the chicken (about 5-6 min/side for thicker cuts, 3 min/side for cutlets); let stand for a few minutes and then slice pieces about 1/4 in thick.

Assemble fajitas on your tortillas with caramelized onion, chicken, and top with chopped cucumber and fresh feta. Serve with sauce.

 

 

 

Sweet Potato Skins

sweet-potato-skins

Remember when potato skins were a real novelty? If you grew up in small town Wisconsin I bet you do. I feel like potato skins were reserved for restaurant chains like TGI Fridays and California Pizza Kitchen. God, when I was a kid I would have killed to have one of those restaurants near us. The only reason I knew they existed was because I got to travel to exotic far away places like Appleton for gymnastics sometimes. (if you’re not from Wisconsin, Appleton is about 90 miles away from where I grew up; they had a mall with a Disney store and a real food court).

Anyway, I loved potato skins but I could only get them when I got to travel outside the county. Oh my, how our perspectives change. How fantastic that back then life didn’t get any better than potato skins and the Disney store.

These are really a lot different than Friday’s potato skins, obviously. For one, I don’t like to fry things. So these are baked (at a high temperature to give them some crispiness).  I also used sweet potatoes, because honestly my babies love them and I was going for a two-for-one meal here. I decided to keep the toppings traditional – bacon and cheese – and let me tell you, the flavor combo of sweet and savory is a real winner.

Recipe

  • 3 large sweet potatoes
  • ~ 3/4 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar + jack)
  • ~1/4 cup cooked & crumbled bacon
  • Canola oil
  • S&P

Start by baking the potatoes. Ours were HUGE (come on, Central Market, what kind of steroids are these guys on??). So they took about an hour in a 350 degree oven. Let them cool, then cut them in half lengthwise. Scoop out most of the middle, about 1/4-1/2 inch remaining around the skin. Reserve this for whatever your heart desires.

Increase oven temp to 425.  Place a wire rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet, place the potato skins on there skin side up, and brush them with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt.  Roast until slightly crisp, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven, flip over, add cheese and bacon to each, and put them back in the oven for a few more minutes (about 5) until the cheese is melted.

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Do you remember your first fajita experience? I do. I was in Arizona for a training camp with my gymnastics team. Our beloved coach, Jodi, spent the weeks leading up to it raving about Chili’s and our plans to eat there while in Scottsdale. Being from small town Wisconsin and growing up on standard comfort food, the idea of a restaurant that served Mexican like Chili’s seemed so exotic and exciting to me. And sure enough, it was. The fajitas came out on a sizzling skillet. They had flavored lemonade. Chips and salsa. Queso. Brownie sundae (again served on a skillet). Honestly it is one of the most vivid memories burned into my brain and was truly the start of a long and intense love affair with Mexican food. PS- it’s worth noting that our gymnastics team did not follow the rigid diet guidelines of those you hear about in the Olympics. I could also tell you about the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet we had at the hotel, but I’ll save it for another time.


So now that my husband and I are home bound more often now, we’ve gotten in a pretty consistent habit of carrying out fajitas on Friday night. We love them. Actually last week we discussed if we should consider doing some sort of fajita crawl to figure out our favorite. But until we get around to doing that, we also decided it would be a lot easier to make our own fajitas than to pick them up every weekend in Friday traffic.

You guys, I didn’t take this task lightly and we take fajitas very seriously. My husband has a very discerning/picky/annoying palate. We loved them so much I honestly have to say we will be opting for these going forward. Plus – EASY. Plus- HEALTHY (except when you wash them down with a DQ Dilly Bar after).

Recipe

Marinade

  • 1.5 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 1 large)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher/coarse salt
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped (or 1/2 teaspoon jarred minced)

 Fixins’

  • 3 bell peppers (I used one red, yellow, and green)
  • 1 large sweet/yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt
  • Thin flour or corn tortillas
  • Sour cream
  • Shredded cheese (Cheddar or Monterey Jack are good)

Start by marinating the chicken – at least 2 hours but hopefully 4-8. Whisk together lime juice, oil, Worcestershire, chili powder, cumin, onion powder, salt, and garlic. Pour into a large Ziploc bag and add chicken. Refrigerate. 


When ready to cook, heat the grill to medium-high.  Slice the peppers and onions into thin strips.  Toss with olive oil and salt. I cooked ours in a cast iron skillet on the grill, but feel free to use a grill pan or aluminum foil.  Grill until veggies are very tender and cooked down, about 30 minutes. Our chicken breasts were on the thick side, so they required about 5-6 minutes per side. Typically chicken is about 3-5 per side. Slice the chicken breasts, and build fajitas with peppers, sour cream, and cheese of course.

pasta-salad-with-feta-and-sun-dried
This is an absolutely delicious and easy pasta salad. My mom used to
make it all the time, and I’ve never forgotten it. Actually it got me through
the summer of 2003 when I was living on campus in a fraternity house. It goes
well with keg beer.
Recipe

  • 1 package pasta (I like tortellini or
    orecchiette)
  • 1 jar sun dried tomatoes, julienne cut, drained
  • 1 package crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 ½ cups zesty Italian dressing
  • 1-2 tablespoons freshly chopped herbs (optional)
Cook the pasta, drain. Mix with dressing and tomatoes, and
let cool for a bit.  Add plenty of S&P to taste.  Mix in the feta and chopped herbs (I used oregano), and
refrigerate until ready to serve.

Sangria

sangria
We leave for Spain tomorrow! I am excited about the Spanish ham, paella, manchego, and of course, SANGRIA. I thought I would leave you with a recipe to get myself in the Spanish spirit and hopefully brighten up your weekend.
Recipe
  • 1 bottle of your favorite red wine (I used a Pinot Noir)
  • 3/4 cup Bacardi
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 lime, sliced
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 1 apple, sliced
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup pineapple
Mix all ingredients in a pitcher of your choice, and chill for at least an hour to let the flavors marinate. Serve over ice with as little or as much fruit in there as you want. Drink responsibly.
Ha.