Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Weeknight Fajitas

I love fajitas, but it is something that I've never cooked...before this week! If you know me well and you read this blog, you know that I love my America's Test Kitchen cookbook. I have never made a bad recipe out of the cookbook and I love their photos and details on recipes, different procedures, and the best products on the grocery store shelves.

The recipe below is very easy and tasty. I am convinced that anyone can make this recipe!! Next time I am going to make it with shrimp instead of flank steak. Speaking of flank steak, I was under the impression this was one of the cheapest cuts of beef you can buy. Not in my case this past weekend; I found it to be a quite expensive cut of beef! For that price, I'd rather have shrimp.

For the shrimp variation, I plan to cook the shrimp in the skillet first and then place on a plate (top with lime juice) while I cook the veggies. I'll add the shrimp back in the skillet to warm up when the veggies are finishing. If you would prefer to keep the shrimp and veggies separate, just cook the shrimp in a different skillet. Start cooking the shrimp a minute or two after you start the veggies and the meal will be ready at the same time. I will use 1.5-2 lbs of shrimp.

Courtesy of America's Test Kitchen.

- 1.5 lb. flank steak, fat trimmed if any
- Salt and pepper
- 2 TBS fresh lime juice
- 2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and sliced thin
- 1 red onion, halved and sliced thin
- 2 TBS water
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp Tabasco (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 6-inch flour tortillas

Pat the steak dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper.  Heat 1 TBS of the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown the steak on the first side, about 5 minutes. Flip the steak over and continue to cook to the desired doneness, 3 to 6 minutes (I would say closer to 6 minutes for medium). Transfer to a large plate and drizzle with the lime juice. Tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the remaining 1 TBS oil to the skillet and return to medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the bell peppers, onion, water, chili powder, Tabasco, cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, scraping up any browned bits, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Stack the tortillas on a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Heat in the microwave until soft and hot, 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Slice the steak very thin across the grain. Arrange the beef on a platter and serve with warm tortillas, vegetables, and any desired accompaniments. Let everyone assemble their own fajitas at the table. Serve with cheese, avocado, sour cream, and anything else you love on a fajita!

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Cold Pasta Salad for Hot Days

This past weekend was unseasonably warm in Northeast Wisconsin. Driving around on Sunday, my car temperature gauge read 92 degrees outside. That is crazy for anywhere; especially Green Bay in May!

When it gets hot, I crave cold pasta salads. I found a variation of the pasta salad below on www.allrecipes.com. It is quick, easy, and cools you off!

Artichoke Pasta Salad
- 1 lb. elbow macaroni
- 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
- 3/4 cup sliced black olives
- 1 - 6.5 oz jar of marinated artichokes hearts - UNDRAINED
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Sprinkle of parsley
- Feta Cheese

Cook macaroni according to the box directions. Rinse with cold water. Place in a bowl with tomatoes, black olives, artichoke hearts and juice. Mix together and add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle in parsley. Top with feta cheese. NOTE: This would also be great with some cooked shrimp.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Chaotic Life

Yes, that's right. I've had a chaotic life for the past 1.5 months. I cannot believe it has been since mid-March that I posted. So sorry fellow readers!! I figured I better post something on here just in case they cancel blogs because people haven't posted in awhile!

And what happened to blogspot - ahhhhh, the entire back end of the website has now changed to blogger...time to get used to a new platform!

Well, as I mentioned, life has been busy! As you may (or may not know) my coworker Martha left on December 1st and came back in mid April for a sabbatical with her family. I am so happy that she is back after living in New Zealand for several months. While I am happy she is back, I'm sure she would prefer to be living her adventure in New Zealand. Work was so incredibly busy at the end of March and all of April that there are days that I am not sure if they actually existed. I kind of feel that way about January and February as well. Did those months exist this year? But, as busy as I was, it was a experience to be able to work with non-profits and handle the granting side of our organization. I cannot complain about the experience at all because I feel like I have so much knowledge about our community and all the good that we do on a daily basis that I didn't have before.

Now that Martha is back, my job will - once again - be evolving. I have not yet been here for two years and I am going on my third transition.
1. My first transition happened when I first started working here...because I had not worked in almost 1.5 years. I was hired part-time to do communications and public relations.
2. When Martha made the decision to take a sabbatical, I had the opportunity to continue my work, add on her work, and have a full time job, which was wonderful.
3. Now I will continue doing communications and public relations, but I get to add on donor education and engagement. I am SUPER excited about this new addition and I am having fun researching what we should do for donor relations. It is so important to make sure that we are here for our donors, answering their questions, and connecting them with the causes that matter. After all, our mission is that we inspire and encourage charitable giving in Northeastern Wisconsin by connecting people who care with solutions that strengthen our community.

There is never a dull day in this job and 99% of the time, I am excited to get up and come to work to see what is in store that day. If you know me, you know I don't like to be bored at work...I am never bored here, which is a great thing!

I promise, I won't go almost two months without another blog post! As for my recipe and cooking posts...don't hold your breath! I've been too busy to cook fun new meals, so it's been a lot of spaghetti and whatever Pete wants to cook :)