- 1 cup water
- [3/4] cup lime juice, juice from 3 medium limes
- [1/3] cup olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed (so you can remove them easier)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 3 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
- 1 pound flank steak, cut in thin strips
- 1 pound white mushrooms, sliced
- 2 onions, sliced
- 3 sweet peppers, sliced
- 2 jalapeno peppers, seeds and ribs removed, sliced
I did not want to cook on Sunday night. It was going to be my first night in one week where I didn’t have to run anywhere or do anything. I had a hot date with my couch recliner and I couldn’t be more excited. Manatee had long accepted that he was the third wheel on nights like this and knew better than to interfere with me and sitting with my feet up.
Unwilling to give in to takeout, I decided that the next best thing would be some high quality beef fajitas from a reputable butcher where I could trust that the mix was not saturated in chemicals and made four days ago. I set off to Sentry Metcalfe’s determined to get in and out as quickly as possible and not be tempted by samples or luxury purchases (I’m still smarting from a $7 bag of chips I bought at Whole Foods a few weeks ago, oops).
Before making it back to the meat counter, I had one important stop: a bag or five of local spinach. Have you read this article? Organic spinach recalls terrify me. We go through way too much spinach on a daily basis to not be affected.
At Metcalfe’s, I checked the usual places and could not find anything remotely local. After asking a salesperson, I found out that spinach was not in season right now. Oops. That’s what I get for living in Wisconsin I guess. But don’t they grow spinach in hoop houses? Am I imagining this phenomenon?
After much deliberation, I decided to go with loose leaf bulk spinach. Undaunted, I ventured back to the meat counter. As I scanned the cuts of meat, I saw nothing that resembled fajita mix. After talking with the butcher, I found out that Metcalfe’s didn’t make fajita mix. He agreed to cut up some flank steak for me and suggested a pre-made marinade. While he worked on that, I stocked up on veggies for the fajitas: peppers, onions, and mushrooms (these I was able to find local, who knew?). Then I set off for the marinade.
I don’t spend a ton of time in the aisles at grocery stores and when I do, it’s usually an easy in and out. I run in to grab raw nuts, corn tortillas, canned tomatoes, and the like. On Sunday, I became THAT person. You know the one, slowly walking down the aisle, scanning every single bottle on the shelf, and angering dozens of people who are trying to make forward progress through the store. After reluctantly giving up on the prescribed aisle, I moved on (amidst cheers from my fellow shoppers) and tried thinking outside the box. I looked in the spice aisle, ethnic aisle, slowly scanning items and torturing other shoppers as I tried to read every bottle on the shelf.
I asked for help and we back-tracked together. A lonely band of two slowly scanning aisles and infuriating innocent Sunday shoppers. No fajita marinades in sight.
You would think that I would have given up much earlier or realized that I could, in fact, make my own marinade. Or perhaps remember that I have a food blog and I could feature this recipe in a post or recollect that I just finished a cookbook all about making processed items from scratch. You would think that, but no, I was hellbent on buying something in a jar.
I eyed the raw ingredients in my cart.
I did one more lap at a snail’s pace, certain that a jar would leap out at me or another shelf would magically appear.
I finally gave up. It is then I remembered the blog, the book, and our regular clean eating lifestyle. A lifestyle that celebrates homemade, not premade. A lifestyle that I had spent the last half hour trying to escape.
I bit my lip trying to imagine my pantry and what I had at home, racked my brain trying to think what could be in a marinade. Lime juice? Something spicy? And how long would it have to seep in the flavors? I did the fish tacos at room temperature, would that work for this?
After a quick search on the i-phone, I found a basic recipe and confirmed that I had all the ingredients necessary. After grabbing a bag of tortilla chips (with only 3 ingredients listed!) and bean dip (no chemicals!), I was ready to face cooking.
The marinade came together in a flash. I poured it over the beef and mushrooms, and then set to work on cutting up the peppers and onions. Ten minutes later, the flavors were mingling and I changed into my evening wear and had a brief rendezvous with my hot date who welcomed me with open arms.
When Manatee and I were ready to eat, I tore myself away from the couch and into the kitchen. The mix cooked up in just a little over five minutes. The meat had enough spice to make me sweat, but not enough to stop me. The vegetables were crisp tender and bright. The mushrooms gave a heartiness to the meal that you just can’t find in deli-made versions.
There was no question in my mind that this was way better than anything I could have bought.
Spicy Steak Fajitas: Take One
Modified from allrecipes.com recipe for beef fajitas
1 cup water
[3/4] cup lime juice, juice from 3 medium limes
[1/3] cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed (so you can remove them easier)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 teaspoons cayenne pepper
3 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1 pound flank steak, cut in thin strips
1 pound white mushrooms, sliced
2 onions, sliced
3 sweet peppers, sliced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeds and ribs removed, sliced
1. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together ingredients for the marinade.
2. Place steak, mushrooms, onions, and peppers in a baking dish. Pour marinade over and toss to combine. Let marinate for 30-45 minutes, at room temperature.
3. Heat a large skillet or electric skillet to medium-high heat. Wait until the pan is hot before adding the fajita mix and excess marinade.
4. Cook for 5-7 minutes until meat is cooked through and vegetables are crisp-tender.
5. Serve with corn tortillas, Greek yogurt, avocado, diced tomatoes and lettuce.
To make it Paelo, serve with lettuce, avocado, and diced tomatoes.
I was totally reluctant to make these on my own, but I have to admit that I will never go back to premade fajitas again.
All of that internal struggle, it was just 20 minutes of hands-on preparation. I wasted way more than that when I was pacing the grocery store aisles.
Given how much better these tasted: how the vegetables were so much more crisp, the meat was more tender, and the fact that you can customize what goes into the mix, it’s just not worth buying premade.
I will say that these were really spicy. As in, I-was-sweating-and-had-to-take-deep-breaths-between-bites kind of spicy. You would think I would be avoiding this in my pregnancy, but it’s the opposite. I get heartburn when I eat a banana (no joke) so why not eat something that merits some heart burn? And ironically, this did not give me heartburn. If that amount of spice does not appeal to you, omit the jalapeno peppers and reduce the cayenne pepper by at least a half, if not more.
I’m happy that we didn’t use all of the meat that the butcher gave us. We still have a pound of sliced flank steak in our freezer and I’m looking forward to making these again with a few changes. Next time, I want to sub some red wine or beer for the water to give it more flavor. I also may reduce the amount of liquids or not add all of it to the pan. It also wouldn’t hurt to do this in two batches. I felt like this batch was more steamed than sauteed. While it was still really good, I think it could be better.
Two questions for you today: what are some of your favorite premade go-to dinners?
What do you think of the new format with the ingredients listed in a sidebar? It’s something new with this template that I haven’t tried before. I would love to hear your thoughts.