Thursday, June 28, 2012

Crazy in the Head

I must be.  At least a little.

It's been roughly 227 million degrees outside, and what do I do?  I entertain.

Monday I had some very old friends over.  Not that they are old, just long time friends.

I made burgers.  One of my guests asked me if this was my secret recipe.  Some secret...salt, pepper and ground sirloin.  I will say that you should buy the best ground beef you can.  That doesn't always have to mean the most expensive.  There's a brew pub near us that offers burgers from ground filet mignon.  That seems a little excessive, not to mention expensive, for a home cook.

On Sunday we are having the speaker and his wife for lunch.  Fajita salads are the menu.  I like this because I can make my salsa and guac on Saturday as well as prep the veggies.  In fact, now that I am writing this out, I can make the marinade on Saturday too.  Woohoo!  First thing Sunday morning I need to get the veggies and the chicken in the marinade. (Not together, mind you, as that would be cross contaminating the veggies with the raw chicken.  I like these people, I don't want to make them ill!)  I love it when a plan comes together.

Here is the fajita recipe.  I will use chicken instead of skirt steak, because even my beef lovin' husband prefers chicken.  Also, as previously mentioned, we'll be eating these as salads.

  • 2 skirt steaks (about 1 1/2 pounds each)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 4 limes)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons minced jalapeƱo pepper
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1. Cut the steak crosswise into 2 to 4 pieces and place in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients; pour over the steak, turning it to coat well. Marinate overnight, covered, in the refrigerator, turning once or twice. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.
2. Preheat the broiler. Remove the steak from the marinade, scrape off any bits and place on a baking sheet. Broil 4 inches from heat source for 3 minutes per side for medium-rare meat. Let rest 10 to 15 minutes. Slice the meat thinly. (For easy eating, the steak strips should be 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick.) To assemble fajitas, click here .

So I mentioned making my salsa and guac.  It's been a long time since I've made salsa.  Here's my plan.  Notice that I'm not sharing a recipe because, well, I don't exactly have one.  My plan is to halve or quarter my grape tomatoes and spin them in my salad spinner.  I've heard that this pulls out the seeds and any excess juice.  I'll let you know how this turns out.

I have Vidalia (sweet) and Spanish onions.  I'll use a combo of the two in my salsa along with jalapeno, cilantro, cumin and chili powder.  I mix salsa into my mashed avocados with a little bit of sour cream.

For desserts for both occasions, I made (will make) Martha Stewart's Key Lime Tart.

  • 9 to 10 graham crackers (each 2 1/2 by 5 inches)
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 4 to 6 limes), or fresh or bottled key-lime juice
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • Pinch salt
  • Slivered lime zest, for garnish (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Process graham crackers and 2 tablespoons sugar in a food processor until fine crumbs form; add butter. Process until combined. Transfer mixture to a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom; pat into bottom and up sides. Place pan on a baking sheet, and bake until crust is fragrant and slightly colored, about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine condensed milk, lime juice, egg yolks, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, and salt; whisk until smooth. Pour mixture into crust (warm or cool is fine), leaving 1/8 inch at the top; return to oven. Bake until filling is set around edge but still slightly loose in center, 20 to 25 minutes.
  3. Cool completely at room temperature; then refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours. Serve, garnished with zest, if desired.
Only change that I make is that I add the zest of 2 limes.  Really, the zest is where all the flavor in any citrus fruit lives.

This concludes my cooking for the week.  Date nights have been sparse.  Crazy work schedule for hubby.

Tonight we'll be having either sammies (roast chicken) or hot dogs.  How 'bout you?

happy cooking!