Fajita Seasoning

Fajita Seasoning 1

Having this seasoning mix on hand makes dinner easy breezy!  (lemon squeezy??) Make a double batch and you can keep it for months in a cool, dry spot.  Use it on vegetables, fish or meat alike, these flavours go so well together and make dinner quick and simple.

  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

How easy is this? just toss it all into a bowl and thoroughly mix.  Do yourself a favour and make lots.

Fajita Seasoning

Just looking at this, you can tell it’s tasty, right??

This works with anything your imagination can come up with …. salad dressing or vegetable dip or seafood bake …. you let me know if you come up with more!

 

For fajitas:

  • protein (or not to make it vegetarian)
  • onions
  • peppers

 

To make fajitas, simply generously sprinkle slivered chicken (or any meat, seafood of your choice) and toss in fry pan until just cooked through.

Cook sliced peppers and onions separately so they don’t overcook.

Serve with:

  • lime crema (sounds fancy, but it’s just a squeeze of lime juice with sour cream and a bit of salt)
  • salsa
  • avocado
  • lime wedges
  • chopped cilantro
  • toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • tortillas

You can so easily turn this into what is crazy popular right now,  power bowls!  Just serve with cooked quinoa or grain of your choice.

Turn it into a sheet pan dinner, also featured everywhere right now, just generously sprinkle everything with the seasoning and toss it into a hot oven (?400?).

Yes, you are welcome, you didn’t know dinner could be so quick, easy, healthy and delicious, did you???

 

Taco Seasoning Mix

Taco Seasoning 1

How pretty is this colourful group of seasoning?

Ever noticed how many ingredients you can’t spell or pronounce on those premade taco seasoning packs??  Stop the madness with this mixture.  A little bit of flour makes the ground meat have a wee bit of a saucy texture.  Don’t stop at ground meat for goodness sake (pun? word play?)..  Sprinkle this over vegetables and roast them up – drizzle with a little lime crema and you’ve got an amazingly tasty dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne powder (use less if you aren’t keen on the heat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano

Mix all this up in a small bowl, and then have it on hand to season meat or vegetables.  You’ll be so glad you took a few minutes to get this ready.

Taco Seasoning 2

To use this for ground meat tacos, brown your meat in a fry pan, then add 2 tbsp mixture for each pound of ground meat and add about 2 tbsp water, stir and cook just until meat is cooked through.

If you want to leave the flour out altogether that is just great, that makes it even more versatile:

Salad Vinaigrette:  1 tbsp mix to 2 tbsp lime juice and 7 tbsp olive oil.

Vegetable (or chip!) Dip: 1 tbsp (or to taste) with 1/4 cup each plain yogurt and good mayonnaise.

Grilled Shrimp:   Sprinkle a generous amount over shrimp before grilling.

Taco Seasoning 3

I like to mix up 3 x this recipe and just keep it on hand.  Try it, you’ll do the same thing!

Braised Lamb Shanks

The fall days just make me think of hearty, wholesome meals and this lamb shank is the best way to celebrate staying indoors and getting cozy.  The added bonus is that your house will smell dreamy while they slowly roast.

Lamb shank 5

  • 4 lamb shanks
  • salt & pepper
  • all purpose flour
  • olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 3 celery ribs, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 cups red wine (make sure you use good wine, something you want to sip while the lamb is roasting)
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 ancho chiles, rehydrated in hot water for 20 minutes
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 14 ounce tin of good canned tomatoes

Garnish:  1 minced garlic clove, 1 small diced chili, and a small handful of parsley, all chopped and mixed.

Season lamb shanks with salt and pepper, then dust with flour.

Preheat oven to 300

Heat oil in braising pan, large enough to hold all 4 shanks in one layer.  Brown shanks all over, taking care not to overcrowd the pan.  You may have to do this in stages.

Remove shanks to keep warm while you reheat the pan, add a bit more oil and saute the onions, carrots & celery until they have softened.

Lamb shank 1

Deglaze the pan with red wine, stirring to get all the bits of goodness off the bottom.  Add beef stock, garlic cloves, ancho chili (stem and seeds removed), rosemary, paprika and tomatoes.  Stir well and nestle the lamb shanks back into the mixture.  Cover tightly and put in the oven.

Lamb shank 2

Relax with that wine …… enjoy the aromas coming out of the kitchen ….

This recipe is so forgiving – if you have more time roast at a lower temperature, if you are short, move the temperature up to 350 or 375 and shorten your cooking time.

Check for doneness and as soon as cooked through remove the lamb shanks from the braising liquid and set aside.

Lamb shank 3

The lamb is cooked, but not yet falling off the bone tender, and that is what you are looking for.

Lamb shank 4

At this point, if you want a clear stock, strain the solids off.  If you don’t mind a more rustic stock use your immersion blender or standard blender (if using a standard blender BE SURE to leave the lid off or some place for steam to escape … trust me on this).

Nestle those lamb shanks back into the liquid and continue to roast until the meat literally falls off the bone.

When ready to serve, sprinkle the garnish over top and prepare to enjoy the feast.

 

 

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie 2

See the sauce bubbling out the side?  That’s what you are looking for.  Crust is golden, now just try and wait while it sets up a bit …. no judgement if you can’t!  I promise it is delicious.

Fall ….. it just makes me want to bake, and roast, and toast.  This chicken pot pie recipe is a staple around here.  You can make it as easy as “pie” by purchasing pre-made pastry shells or make your own – either way, this pie is flaky, tender and bursting with bites of chicken and vegetable goodness.  Serve with a tossed salad and dinner is ready.

Preheat oven to 400

  • 2 pastry shells
  • 2 cups cooked chicken (use leftovers or a rotisserie chicken for simplicity)
  • olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • diced vegetables – your choice and about 2 cups worth of:
  • sweet peppers
  • celery
  • carrots
  • peas (not in my house, neither of us like cooked peas)
  • zucchini
  • corn
  • green beans
  • a generous handful of herbs, I like thyme, basil, oregano and parsley
  • salt and pepper

Brush one pie shell with beaten egg white, sprinkle with sea salt and bake at 400 for 8-10 minutes, just until starting to turn golden brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

pie shell

I find if you pre-bake the bottom crust, brushed with beaten egg white, the pastry stays flaky.  Sprinkle a little sea salt on for that extra bit of crunch.  I think you can see here that my bottom crust was in the freezer, thank you Tenderflake pastry!

In saucepan heat olive oil, then stir in onion.  Stir until just translucent and add in the garlic clove.  If celery is one of your chosen vegetables, add it now too.  Allow to saute for a few minutes until just starting to become tender.  Add the flour and create a thick paste, letting the flour cook for a minute in order to remove that “floury” taste.  Gradually stir in the chicken stock, just a bit at a time until it is all incorporated and your sauce is starting to thicken.  Stir in the rest of your vegetables, taste and season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Pour the chicken & vegetable mixture into the prebaked pie shell, and cover with the 2nd pastry shell.  If you’ve purchased pre made pastry, just squish and squiggle it around a bit and play with the edges, nobody will ever know you didn’t make it!

chicken pot pie

The top crust was a pastry shell I had in the freezer, probably leftover from an apple pie day!

TIP:  If you are vegetarian, or just feel like a vegetarian meal, this is so easy to do!  Just omit the chicken and use a LOT more veg.  Instead of chicken stock use a vegetable stock.  Your results will be ever so delicious …. you’re welcome!

Sprinkle the top with a bit more salt and pepper, some Italian herbs and either paprika or a bit of dried roasted red pepper.  (yes, we do our own dried seasonings with the surplus of vegetables in the field)

Put the whole pie in the oven (I’ve learned to have a foil dripping sheet below it…..) and cook for 15 minutes at 400, then lower the oven to 350 and cook for about 40-50 minutes, until you see the sauce bubbling out the side and the pie looks golden brown.

If your pie is looking golden brown, but not yet bubbling out the sides, loosely lay a sheet of tin foil over the pie until you see that bubbling action.

Make sure you let it sit for 15-20 minutes after it comes out of the oven, that allows it to set a bit.  Not that it tastes any less wonderful if it is running all over your plate ……..

chicken pot pie 3

See what I mean?  We couldn’t wait the 15 minutes, but it was delicious.  By the time we came back for seconds it had set up and made nice even slices.  Amazing either way!

Massaman Curry

I’ve had a bit of a love for Penang curry lately, but tonight Massaman won the battle.  In no way is this totally authentic, since I wasn’t planning to put either carrots or potatoes in and those are both always found in Massaman curry.  Served with Sticky Thai chicken wings and jasmine rice this made a fantastic dinner, quick and easy but oh so tasty.

Massaman Curry

Tonight this was a vegetarian dish with cauliflower, broccoli and bok choy but you could easily add a protein if you like.  In Thai lessons we learned to add thinly sliced meat and then NOT stir it until it is cooked through.

Thai chicken curries are so simple to make, and come together very quickly.

Get everything ready first and when its time to cook it will happen before you know it!

  • 1/2 cup onion, roughly chopped (in Thailand, every cooking class I took had us cutting 1/2 an onion into 6 pieces)
  • 1 large garlic clove, sliced
  • 1 tbsp each minced ginger and lemongrass
  • 2 tbsp Massaman curry paste
  • 1 can coconut milk (don’t use the lite version)
  • 3-4 cups assorted vegetables, in bite size pieces

Mix together and set aside: 2 tbsp each fresh lime juice, fish sauce and brown sugar

Heat peanut oil in saucepan until shimmering and add onion pieces, stir until slightly softened and add garlic, ginger, lemongrass and curry paste.  Saute to bring out the flavours in the curry and aromatics.  Add coconut milk and stir well.  Add vegetables and cook just until crisp tender.  Stir in the lime juice, fish sauce and brown sugar.

Thai food should have a great balance of sweet, spicy, salty & tangy.  If this doesn’t yet, keep making adjustments until it does!

 

Tonkatsu Sauce

Who knew tonkatsu sauce was so easy to make?  We were lucky enough to get some Japanese chow mein from the Japanese bazaar, and it seemed a perfect time to cook up a pork cutlet with tonkatsu sauce.

Pork cutlet with Tonkatsu

Japanese chow mein is such a treat, I love the way it tastes crunchy with the lightest of seasonings.  It goes so well with many dishes.  Tonight we served it alongside the pork cutlet with tonkatsu and bok choy with peppers and lemon tahini sauce.

  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tsp hot chili oil

Whisk together and adjust to your liking.  Traditionalists will use 1 tsp sugar instead of the chili oil but we really like the additional bite of heat.

 

Lemon Tahini Bok Choy & Peppers

Lemon Tahini Bok Choy & Peppers

This is a vegan recipe!  I know, maybe not that big a deal to some people but I’m sort of a carnivore.  This is so delicious it can be served alongside pretty much any dish you enjoy.  Truthfully, my carnivorous tendencies are changing, albeit slowly.  My mind set is still that I think of what meat or protein I want to cook, then I work the rest of the meal around that.  However …. I’ve noticed that ever so slowly, my meat or protein is shrinking.  Tonight I served this veg dish along with pork cutlet and tonkatsu sauce.  A 3 ounce pork cutlet served both my husband and I, without either of us feeling like anything was missing …. changes are coming and we are right on board.

SAUCE – serves about 4

  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil (plus extra for cooking)
  • 2 tbsp tahini paste
  • 1 lemon, juiced (start with 2 tbsp)
  • 1/4 tsp chili flakes
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • bok choy, onion, red pepper
  • toasted sesame seeds for garnish

To make sauce, whisk together all ingredients until smooth, taste and adjust seasonings.  It is hard to correct if you have used to much lemon, so start with 2 tbsp and if you like it “lemony”, add a bit more.

Lemon Tahini Bok Choy

Wash veg thoroughly, (those bok choy have a tendency to hide grit).

Heat fry or sauce pan, add onion, and saute lightly, add bok choy and peppers, drizzle with a bit of extra sesame oil.  Cook for 4-6 minutes, just until crisp tender.

Remove from heat and drizzle sauce over top, then sprinkle with sesame seeds.