Sunday, August 24, 2008

Chicken Fajita Marinade

Over the past two years, I've been trying a variety of marinades for fajitas. Some have been quite good, while others have been disappointing. Below is the recipe that has become my favorite thus far. It is very easy, but the combination of flavors hits me just right. You can modify this as you choose (substituting chipotle peppers for a smoky flavor, using lemon instead of lime and reducing the sugar for fish tacos, etc.). I've used the recipe for chicken and pork, although I suspect it would work for other meats as well.

Chicken Fajita Marinade
Note: I don't have any pictures because I ran out of batteries for the camera.

1/4 cup soy sauce
juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp (or more) cumin
hot pepper flakes to taste

  • Combine ingredients, mixing well
  • Marinate chicken 1-4 hours
I typically then cook the chicken on a grill, and then saute the veggies (onions, peppers, mushrooms, etc.) in an iron skillet.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Well, after three weeks in Texas, I finally have a working stove. I've done lots of grilling, toaster oven cooking, and no-cook eating (i.e., salad and fruit). But, finally, on Tuesday, I was able to cook a proper meal. What did I pick? Something fairly easy that I could adjust for a single serving size (OK, I ended up with 3 servings).

I made albondigas, which, according to my recipe, are meatballs in a garlic-tomato sauce. The recipe is actually for appetizer/tapas-type meatballs, but I ended up making them to put over pasta. Z and I did make these once for appetizers when we had a small party a few years ago, but they also worked very well over pasta. If you should make them for a party, you can make them early and then keep them warm/heat them up in a small crock pot to save last-minute rushing on food prep).

The recipe starts with making the meatballs and pan frying them in a heavy skillet (I used the lovely cast iron one you see below)

Notice how shiny and new the stove looks

The cooking of the meatballs is then finished in the sauce. (eeek! passive voice alert).

While normally, you'd serve them tapas style with toothpicks, I served mine over pasta.

This weekend, a group of us went to a local wine and tapas place that had albondigas on the menu. Theirs had jalepeƱo peppers in them as well, and were served in a marsala sauce, which I found to be a very tasty variation.


1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large bell pepper, finely chopped
Olive oil
2 lbs ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
2/3 cup bread crumbs
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp cilantro

For the sauce:
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 can (33 oz) diced tomatoes
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

  • Cook onion and pepper in olive oil until soft, let cool
  • Combine onions/peppers, ground meat, bread crumbs, salt, nutmeg, & cilantro
  • Make small meatball (1 - 1-1/2 inch diameter)
  • Pan fry in olive oil in a pre-heated skillet. Remove when browned.
  • For the sauce, briefly saute garlic in olive oil
  • Add remaining ingredients, including meatballs and bring to a simmer
  • Simmer for 30-minutes, or until meatballs are done and sauce has thickened.
  • Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

First (home cooked) meal in Lubbock

As most of you know, I have recently moved to Lubbock, Texas. Because my stuff came this weekend, I am now able to cook again. I am still very limited in what I can do, because I have not unpacked all my stuff yet (let alone organized it) and because my stove doesn't work (new one comes on Thursday). But, I was still able to cook today using stuff I packed (grill and toaster oven). Today's recipe is oven-baked sweet potato "fries".

First, the cast of characters... We have a sweet potato (1-2 people per sweet potato, depending on appetite and potato size), kosher salt, cumin, cayenne pepper, olive oil, and black pepper (not pictured). I chose this particular combination of spices because I had unpacked them (I've since unpacked the rest of my spices) and because I sometimes like to combine sweet and spicy.

Basically, I cut the sweet potato into wedges and tossed it with olive oil (enough to coat), a decent amount of kosher salt, about a half teaspoon of cumin and black pepper, and a quarter teaspoon (I think) of cayenne pepper. I then placed them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and baked them at 450° for 25-minutes, turning once. They were not as crispy as fried fries, but were quite good nonetheless. We have made these before (using cinnamon, salt, and honey as flavoring) and baked them at a lower temperature and gotten really soggy fries, so I think the higher temperature was key.

I served these fries with a chicken breast marinated in zesty Italian salad dressing and grilled.

Also, there's a pint of a wheat beer that I got from a local microbrewery that helped complete this summertime feast.

PS - now that Z is no longer in the same state as I am, the quality of my pictures has dramatically decreased. This is a combination of having to use a point and shoot camera instead of the DSLR that she's been teaching us all how to use and not having her awesome photography and processing skills.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Last Supper

So, after the movers took our stuff away from us, we immediately locked the door, hopped in the car, and went to the Taj Mahal.

Now, this is admittedly, a pretty generic name for an Indian restaurant, but we've really grown to like the place. If any place were to be called "our place," this might be it. It is a formal enough restaurant to be suitable for date night (picture candlelight and a bottle of wine - I don't think they have candles, but they definitely have wine :) ), but well under the price of most other formal eating options.

So, last Wednesday (have I been gone a week already!) we started our typical dinner menu with some naan - this time garlic naan. I have no idea how they do it, but I swear this stuff is made of crack! It is flavorful, rich, and delicious!

Now this is where we really get into our routine. Z ordered the coconut chicken...

... and I ordered the chicken tikka.

I say "routine" because this is what we always get. Not that there's anything wrong with that. We've both tried other things on the menu and have always been satisfied. We just like these dishes so much, that nothing else can compare (in our minds at least). I actually like going for their lunch buffet, because then I can try a greater variety of dishes, while still having some of my old standby (or something similar to it) available.

Finally, Z finished the meal with some rice pudding.

please note, this picture was taken with the correct white balance.

So, that's it - the last of my Columbus blogs :(. Hopefully I'll have new dishes prepared here in Lubbock to blog about soon - once I have pots and pans to prepare them in (and a working oven, dishes, silverware, etc.)!

Surly Girl

Now that I have internet back at home, I can try and finish up my end of Columbus posts. Don't expect any new food posts this week, however, as I still don't have my stuff (no pots and pans to cook with) nor does the oven in my new apartment work (which will hopefully be taken care of very soon).

So, the night before the movers came (for the first day), and Z and I were frantically trying to get ready (last-minute packing, sorting out what stays and what goes, etc.), we decided to walk to the Surly Girl Saloon, one of our favorite places to walk - especially for a late dinner. The Surly Girl, and its sister (mother?) Betty's, are both locally owned and operated restaurant/bars in the Short North. Surly Girl has more of a western empowered woman theme, featuring drinks from female-owned wineries/breweries. They also have a great seasonal selection of mixed drinks (e.g., blueberry "lemonade").

We don't have any food pictures, in part because it was relatively dark inside and in part because by the time our food came, all we wanted to do was devour it. We split a plate of nachos (very good). I think Z had the Surly Girl salad and I had the Cajun meatloaf. Betty's meatloaf is better, but Surly Girl's is still quite good. While we didn't have any this time, Surly Girl also has funky cupcakes, like chocolate cayenne, that make for a great dessert.