Chicken Fajitas with Homemade Flour Tortillas

It’s Monday (BOOO!!!). My least favourite day of the week.  I don’t mean to make this post a whiny one, but I can’t help but be grumpy on Mondays.  I always wake up extra tired and I avoid all conversation until I get at least one cup of coffee in.  Luckily, thanks to my current career choice as an administrative assistant, I rarely have to commit to any type of conversation before 10 a.m. on a Monday morning, and based on the reactions of my co-workers, I’m sure they don’t care either way.  My job has it’s ups and downs.  Sometimes it’s hard for me to like my job (when it’s so slow that I feel I have to create work for myself….it’s brutal and super boring), but other times I love my job (when it’s so busy that I barely have time to sit for lunch), either way, it’s a pretty good place to work and I get to work alongside a bunch of really great people.  Another great part about my job is that I get to be a part of my office’s social committee, meaning I get to plan a lot of really great events, such as the Friday afternoon beer tasting with our local brewery Stack Brewing.  It was tones of fun and we got to try four of their wonderful (and preservative free) beer.  As an organizer, I got to take home one full unopened beer, which given their large bottles was the equivalent of almost three beers, as well as any opened beers (I picked up an almost full bottle of a very dark been that I thought my boyfriend would really like).

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Ken and I spent most of our weekend at home.  I’ve been increasingly finding myself huddled up on my couch as the colder weather is starting to set in.  It was a rainy, gloomy weekend so I pretty well hibernated.  Weekends are often when I will make any new recipes, and despite my hibernation, I did attempt one new real food recipe that I would like to share.  Chicken Fajitas with Homemade Flour Tortillas.  I got the fajita recipe from Pamela Salzman and the Flour Tortilla Recipe from 100 Days of Real Food.  I was VERY happy with how everything turned out, and was pretty proud of my self for successfully making flour tortillas with only 3 ingredients (it was easy-ish, getting the tortilla shape was the biggest challenge, and some of my tortillas were…well let’s just say there were other shapes aside from circles).

The first step was to make the marinade for the Chicken:

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup unrefined, cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro (optional)
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into small chunks

Mix all ingredients together in a non-reactive container (like glass).  Add chicken, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.  Since I’m barbecue-less, I opted to cook my chicken in a skillet.  Cooke the chicken for a few minutes on each side on medium heat, then cover to ensure the chicken cooks through.  I let the chicken cook on medium for about eight minutes.

Once the chicken was done, I placed it in the over at about 200F degrees to keep it warm.  Then, I moved on to the Flour Tortillas.

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Homemade Flour Tortillas

Ingredients:

  • 2½ cups whole-wheat flour
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup warm water (heat in the microwave for 1 min)

Instructions:

  1. In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer set with a dough hook, pour in the flour, oil and salt. Beat until crumbly, about 3 to 5 minutes, scraping the sides as needed.
  2. With the mixer running, gradually add the warm water and continue mixing until the dough is smooth, about 3 minutes.
  3. Take out the dough and divide it into 12 equal sized pieces. You can do this by making the dough into a big log shape that is about 8 – 10 inches long. Then cut it in the middle and then  each of those pieces in the middle and so on until you have 12 pieces.  I found this part difficult as the dough was really sticky.  So I added a lot of flour on my counter and hands in order to divide the dough.
  4. Using the palms of your hand roll each piece into a round ball and flatten it out on a baking tray or board. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for at least 15 minutes or up to one hour.
  5. Heat a skillet over med-high heat. The pan should be fairly hot before you begin cooking the tortillas.
  6. On a lightly floured board or counter top, use a rolling pin to turn each ball into a 8 to 10 inch flat circle (measure against your recipe if printed on a 8.5X11 sheet of paper). Be careful not to use more than a teaspoon or two of flour when rolling out each ball into a tortilla because too much excess flour will burn in the pan.  I don’t think I actually ever got any of my balls of dough this big. they were still a little sticky and I wasn’t able to roll them out this big, but I averaged about 6 inches.
  7. Grease the pan with a touch of oil and then carefully transfer each tortilla, one at a time, to the pan and cook until puffy and slightly brown, about 30 to 45 seconds per side.  Use very little oil as it will be absorbed into the tortilla.  Set aside on a plate to cool slightly. Eat within an hour, refrigerate or freeze

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While the tortillas were sitting for their 15 minutes, I sauteed some sliced red peppers, onion, mushrooms, and jalapenos in a skillet with a little bit of oil.  I also made some homemade guacamole by crushing up an avocado and adding some lime juice and fresh cilantro into a bowl.  Along with the Sauteed veggies and guacamole, I served the Fajitas with fresh spinach, some hot sauce, and then topped it off with shredded cheese.

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The fajitas were amazing.  I think Ken and I will be doing this once a week for sure.  It doesn’t take much time and the result is extremely satisfying. I’m actually pretty proud of myself for making the flour tortillas.  They tasted really really really good and only about a half hour of my time from start to finish.  So, try it! It’s fantastic! Happy Baking.

Kelsey Bakes takes a Pledge to Eat Real Food

photo 1 (3)I am in love with this new blog that I found – 100 Days of Real Food.  And when I say I’m in love, I really mean it, I’m totally in love with everything about this blog.  Before I get started, please note that I currently have a batch of Skinny Peanut Butter Chocolate Swirl Brownies cooling on my counter.  In saying that, I will point out that these are Skinny….with natural ingredients (for the most part), but we’ll cover that in tomorrow’s post.  So what’s eating real food you might ask? This means cutting out highly processed or refined foods.  Okay, so I don’t think I’ll be able to cut out EVERYTHING. It’s been a struggle to eliminate Splenda from my morning coffee and tea, but I’ve done it.  The hardest part is cutting out my diet coke…I only have one a day…but after this case is gone (only a few left, promise!) I will also be eliminating all artificial sweeteners and sugars.  I will avoid anything from a jar, can, or box, and if I have to go that route, I will try to stick with the organic option.  It’s a work in progress, I know.  But I am slowly getting there.  Today I spent some time at the grocery store and I’m REALLY happy with what I found in the organic section.  This post will have two recipes – and each recipe has 100% real food (I think? Still new to this..) – nothing highly process or refined.  They all taste amazing, and I really need to share.  The recipes I’m sharing today include: Chicken Marsala with Fettuccine Alfredo and Penne with a Spicy Red Sauce and a side of Meatballs. So. Flipping. Good.photo 1 (3)

I’ll start with tonight’s dinner and work my way back.  So tonight we had homemade meatballs served with whole wheat organic penne and topped with a spicy red pasta sauce.  I so wanted to make my own sauce, but the recipe I had would have taken a bit too long, and since I started cooking around six, I wanted to eat before my bedtime.  So I searched the organic section for an organic pasta sauce.  The sauce I found has no added sugar and all natural ingredients.  You can find more info about the sauce here. What I like about this sauce is how little ingredients there are: tomatoes, onions, EVOO, salt, basil and pepper.  I think the rule of thumb is usually five ingredient or less is best, but I’m okay with the sixth ingredient being pepper, no harm in that right?  I first sauteed some red pepper flakes on medium heat in oil, then added about a cup of coarsely chopped spinach.  Once the spinach was wilted and well coated with the oil, I added the jar of organic pasta sauce to the skillet. I let the sauce simmer while I cooked the meatballs.  Once the meatballs we done I added 4 cups of whole wheat organic penne noodles and mixed until the noodles were well coated with the sauce.

I was a little skeptical before making the meatballs, mainly because I had never heard of adding carrots to a meatball. That’s strange to me.  But this journey is all about trying new things for me, so I photo 2 (3)decided to take a chance and make them and I am so glad that I did.  No part of me was disappointed. You can find the full recipe here. The recipe yielded twelve 2 oz meatballs, and I imagine substituting the beef for turkey would also be an option.  I have never made meatballs before, and I’m happy that these were so easy to create.  One thing i had a hard time finding was whole wheat bread crumbs.  I definitely had no time to make my own, and I could seem to find them anywhere in the grocery store.  I did some googling and found that rice bread crumbs work just fine, and they are dairy and gluten free which is always a plus.  They did not compromise the taste of the ball.  One thing I did find is that because I don’t own a food processor (surprising, I know), I had a hard time getting the carrots small enough.  I grated them, and then chopped them into finer pieces, but I sure did miss a few, and that resulted in a slight crunch when biting into my meat balls of awesomeness.  This didn’t bother me in the slightest but next time I think I’ll pick up a food processor to do the job.  I finished off the dish by covering the meatballs with the sauce, and then topping everything off with some shaved fresh Parmesan.  I’ve developed a serious appreciation for grating Parmesan… there’s something satisfying about doing it yourself.  It takes FOREVER though, which is why I really need one of those little grater things, you know, where you put the cheese in a little container of sorts and then just turn a handle and it does the grating for you? Ya I REALLY need one of those. Like badly.

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Whole Wheat Penne and Meatballs

Makes 12 meatballs (2 oz. each), approximately 100 calories per meatball (if using extra lean ground beef)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ⅓ cup whole-wheat bread crumbs
  • ⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup carrot bits (you can grind them in a food processor, grate then dice them, or mince them)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Crushed red pepper, to taste

Cooking Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl (I used my hands for this part)
  3. Generously grease a baking sheet with olive oil.  And I mean generously, these things will stick if you don’t)
  4. Roll the beef mixture into 2 oz. meatballs. Place them in rows onto the greased baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 9 – 11 minutes or until brown all the way through.
  6. Serve meatballs on top of cooked noodles and warm pasta sauce. Garnish with extra Parmesan cheese if desired.

Pretty simple. And all real food.  Which is exciting.  An not bad calorically either, as long as you’re using extra lean ground beef (95% lean meat) your calories stay relatively low.  Onward to my next pasta dish, which I made last Friday night.  It was really REALLY good.  I am a sucker for Chicken Marsala, photo 2 (5)but I’ve found that every time I order it in a restaurant, it’s heavily breaded, or there’s too much sauce and mushrooms, or it just doesn’t taste right.  So a few months back I decided to make my own and it turned out fantastic.  I adapted the recipe from Allrecipes.com.  The only big change I had to make, was choosing all organic veggies, and using whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour.  Another change I made was the cook time.  I like my chicken tender. Melt in your mouth tender.  So I cooked in on low for much longer than the recommended 10 minutes, more like 20 minutes, and the result is fantastic.  This chicken tastes like it’s been slow cooked, that’s how tender it is.  The increased cook time gives the sauce a chance to seep into the meat, making this Chicken Marsala much better than anything I’ve ever ordered at a restaurant.  I served it with Fettuccine Alfredo, a recipe I got from 100 Days of Real Food.  You can find it here.

Chicken Marsala with Fettuccine Alfredo

Ingredients

Serves 4, approximately 286 calories per serving.

  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup Marsala wine

Cooking Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, garlic salt, pepper, and oregano.
  2. Dredge chicken in the mixture to lightly coat.*
  3. Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry the chicken in the skillet for 2 minutes, or until lightly browned on one side. Turn chicken over, and add mushrooms. Cook about 2 minutes, until other side of chicken is lightly browned. Stir mushrooms so that they cook evenly.
  4. Pour Marsala wine over the chicken. Cover skillet, and reduce heat to low; simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on how you like your chicken, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.

*Note: I always tenderize my chicken when making this recipe.  I find it cooks much better.  Place chicken breast in zip-lock bags and tenderize with a meat tenderizer until approximately 1/2 an inch thick.

For the Alfredo Sauce, you will need only three ingredients: butter, heavy whipping cream, and Parmesan cheese (finely grated).  Melt 2 tbsp. butter andphoto 1 (2) 2/3 cup of the heavy cream in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Once the cream and butter start to chicken (after a few minutes) add 4 cups of cooked Fettuccine noodles to the sauce.  Turn heat to medium low and add an additional 1/3 cup of the heavy cream and 2/3 cup of Parmesan.  Serve immediately.  Garnish with Parmesan cheese and sautéed vegetables if desired.  I sautéed mushrooms, onions, and spinach to top off the meal, with my Marsala Chicken on the side of course.  The Alfredo sauce and cup of cooked noodles will run you about 442 calories.

So, fantastic recipes and ALL REAL FOOD. Very exciting.  You want to know what else is exciting?  My peanut butter and chocolate swirl SKINNY brownies, that I will be posting about tomorrow.  They are amazing and I cannot wait to share the recipe.  Get this – incredibly simple. Took 10 minutes to prep and 25 to bake.  Perfect if you’re short on time and are they ever fudgy.  Happy Baking!