When I first began to cook, when it became more than just mixing up a boxed cake mix when I was bored or overloading on cookie recipes near the holidays, I was mostly driven to surprise my mother with dinner. A few trusty dishes developed, but they were nothing too extraordinary. Sauteed chicken and onions tossed into jarred marinara sauce over spaghetti. Thin slices of chicken cooked with peppers and onions and sprinkled with McCormick’s fajita seasoning. I remember feeling especially revolutionary on the day I decided to add a squeeze of lime juice. Simple as these dishes may be, they were still delicious, and remain as quick and easy standbys for when my creativity runs out (or when I can exercise prudence and restrain myself from running to the grocery store for more ingredients).
A few things have changed–corn tortillas instead of flour, my own spice mix instead of prepackaged–but much has stayed the same. A minimum 2-to-1 ratio of onions to peppers (I think restaurants’ tendency toward extra peppers is what prompted me to make my own in the first place. Onions are the best part!), served up with guac, sour cream, and pico de gallo. This comfort food is easy and tasty to toss together fast. If you are more prepared than I am, you can set the chicken to marinade in the morning, giving it a full day to soak up those flavors. If you are really proactive, chop and toss the pico de gallo together, too. The longer it sits, the better the flavors meld. If you are more like me, don’t worry about it. Just give the chicken and the pico at least 30 minutes to mingle!
We used thick corn tortillas that we found at our international market. I piled mine up, but M preferred a more deconstructed method. The tortillas made these fajitas a bit more of a knife-and-fork kind of meal, but they were still delicious! Also, if you’ve noticed a drastic improvement in photo quality (if you haven’t, I’d be highly surprised) you can thank M. He has been lending me his photography skills and his iPhone 5 camera! I love the quality of these photos, compared to my grainy snaps. The iPhone (camera-wise) definitely kicks my Droid Incredible’s butt. Next on the list after paying for rent, a cruise, and my student loans…a new phone? Haha, maybe this summer!
Serves: 4 | Prep: 20 min (total) | Rest time: 30 min+ | Cook time: 15-20 minutes
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or 3-4 thighs)
- Juice of 2 limes
- Zest of 1 lime
- 1/4 c. chicken broth (optional)
- 3 Tbsp oil, divided
- 2 tsp. garlic, minced
- 1 tsp ancho chili powder*
- 1 tsp cumin powder*
- 1/2 tsp onion powder*
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper*
- 1/2 tsp paprika*
- Salt & pepper
- 2 med. onion, sliced
- 1 large bell pepper (any color) sliced
*Or use 1 1/2-2 Tbsp of a prepared/packaged fajita seasoning mix
- 1 batch prepared guacamole (recipe below)
- 1 batch prepared pico de gallo (recipe below)
- Sour cream
- Corn tortillas
Mix the lime juice, 2 tablespoons of oil, garlic, a pinch of lime zest, and dry spices to make a paste. If you would like a more liquid marinade, add the 1/4 cup of chicken broth. Spread paste over all surfaces of chicken, or dip chicken to cover in the marinating liquid. Place chicken and marinade (paste or liquid) in a ziploc. Press out the air and seal tightly. Allow to marinade for at least 30 minutes, up to several hours.
Heat half of remaining tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Remove chicken from marinade, season with salt and pepper, and place in hot skillet. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the pan-side is nicely browned. Flip, cover, and cook for 3-4 minutes more until cooked through and evenly colored. Remove chicken from skillet. Add remaining oil and add sliced vegetables. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and a pinch of lime zest. Cook until slightly softened, with onion beginning to turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Slice the chicken thinly. Turn heat up to high, add chicken back into skillet, and stir constantly for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Serve with corn tortillas, sour cream, pico de gallo, and guacamole.
Pico de Gallo
Serves: 4-8 | Prep time: 10 min | Rest time: 30 min+
- 2 plum tomatos, diced and seeded
- 1 sm. onion, diced
- 1 jalapeño, finely diced
- 2 tsp. garlic, minced
- Juice of one lime
- 1 Tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
- Salt & pepper
Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Allow to rest for at least 30 minutes, up to several hours.
Serves: 4-8 | Prep: 10 min
- 2 avocados, diced
- 1 sm. onion, finely chopped
- 1 plum tomato, diced
- 1/2 jalapeño, minced
- 1 tsp garlic, minced
- Juice and zest of one lime
- Salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste (usually a generous pinch of each)