Transitioning from Summer Night to School Night Meals
By Karen Schulz
Some people thrive on change, while others find transitions to be tricky and uncomfortable. The end of summer and the start of a new school year is perhaps the most significant transition of the year. It amazes me how at this time of year, I am always a little on edge, a little more fragile and a little more irritable, no matter how hard I try to not to be. I mean, I know it is coming, I have been through it 50 times, so why is it still such an emotional adventure?
I credit it to the freedom factor that I equate to summer. I love long sunny days, flip-flops, no homework, not worrying about bedtime, and simple summer cooking. Summer cooking is fresh, healthy, takes up little to no time, and dishes are delicious thanks to the seasonal ingredients bursting with flavor.
While I cannot stop time, summer will end, I do have an antidote that helps me make a smooth transition. These chicken and steak fajita recipes enable me to hang on to my summer vibe in the kitchen via super easy prep, outdoor grilling and farmers market or garden produce. Because there is so little prep, dinner is on the table in no time, which is always helpful as you adjust to the hectic new fall schedule.
The chicken fajitas are definitely a fajita hack and I learned it from my Dallas-born, Texas through and through friend. She is an incredible cook of all things southwestern and when you are in a pinch for time, this is a no-brainer. All you need is Ken’s Caesar Dressing. Yup, that’s it. Put skinless boneless chicken breasts in 1 large sized zip-lock bag and 2 peppers, 1 red, 1 green halved the long way, and 1 sliced red onion in another. Add plenty of Ken’s, seal the bag, squish it around, and let sit for 20 minutes minimum. Grill everything, slice everything, and build your fajita.
The Steak fajitas are a bit more authentic and I acquired this recipe from a recipe chain letter. While it has a few more steps, it still falls into the super-easy category and is delicious. I serve both with Spanish rice, and black beans. My co-worker, who is the fabulous chef at Watson’s Catering, shared with me one of his secrets to delicious black beans. Sauté diced red onion, red and green peppers, and garlic in a medium saucepan before adding a can of black beans. Season with cumin, cilantro, and maybe some cayenne or chili pepper if you want a little kick. I love them and both elevate any fajita dinner.
Summer may be over, but just keep on grilling and enjoying the harvest from your gardens to hang on to that summer feeling a little longer.
1½ lbs. skirt or flank steak
Juice from 1 lime
1T. olive oil
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
1t. kosher salt
½ t. fresh ground pepper
1 small hot chili pepper, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
½ t. ground cumin
1 red pepper, seeded and halved
1 green pepper, seeded and halved
1 red onion, ¼” slices
8 flour or corn tortillas
2 avocados, chopped
1 plum tomato, chopped
Chopped red onion
Mix lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, salt, pepper, chili pepper, garlic, and cumin in large zip-lock bag. Add steak, peppers, and onion. Marinate 20-30 minutes.
Grill steak on high heat about 4 minutes per side. Carve steak and peppers into thin strips. Build fajita and add desired toppings.