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Family-Flexible Fajitas

So far this summer, we’ve had two occasions to get most of us together as a family.  Somehow, it seems that each time (actually, even the time I went away to visit a sibling in May this also happened), I ended up in the kitchen making my requested, family-favorite guacamole and pico de gallo recipe.  This is usually paired with our Family Flexible Fajitas, as it’s about one of the few dishes on which we can all agree to feed the crowd gathered for dinner.
Guacamole
You know how it is:  one person doesn’t eat meat, another can’t have dairy, the kids don’t like to do anything but pick at their plates, it’s the day of the week where someone else only eats red food, someone is on a diet, etc., etc.  It really is enough to make one’s head spin, and it sometimes gets to the point where even the local Chinese take-away can’t satisfy everyone.  In that case, we turn to this meal to try to accommodate everyone’s tastes and dietary situations.  It’s relatively quick and easy to make, and the components can be put together by different members of the family working at separate stations in the kitchen.

Pico de Gallo

The other great part about this recipe is just how colorful it is, as the first photo shows.  The produce alone was enough to make the woman behind me on line at my parents’ suburban supermarket comment that I must be making something wonderful with all those gorgeous items.  As we eat with our eyes first, this is also a way to introduce some different textures and flavors to the children, although not all of them will go along with this, as everyone knows.  Sometimes, however, cousin-see, cousin-do actually gets them on board with new tastes and food.  Nothing like family peer-pressure to encourage even the fussiest ones to open up their palates!

Family-Flexible Fajitas

Prep time: about one hour (can prepare the Pico de Gallo in advance)
Serving size:  at least 4 adults and a few children, depending upon their appetites, but easily expanded

Ingredients:

Sautéed Peppers and Onions (recipe below)

Chicken in Coriander and Lime Juice (recipe below)

Tortillas (flour works best)

Cheese (cheddar, Monterey Jack or your favorite Mexican mix)

Sour Cream
Scallions, chopped
Pico de Gallo (see link for recipe)
Guacamole (see link for recipe)
Assembly:

The key to getting this on everyone’s plates is to set up the dishes in stations, so that everyone can create the dish he/she wants to eat and so that parents can supervise what their kids are having.  Although this recipe is written for fajitas, the same ingredients can also be used to create quesadillas, with the tortillas being heated in a pan.  This will just add a bit more time to the process of getting everyone to the table to eat as a family, but the cut-up triangles might be more appealing to your little ones.

My recommendation is to start the pico de gallo first, so that the flavors have time to meld together.  You can make it anywhere from the morning of the meal where you’d like to serve it to a hour or so ahead of time.  Once you’ve made the pico and the guacamole and set some aside for serving with the meal, let everyone dive in with tortilla chips to help themselves to it as an appetizer.

Sautéed Peppers and Onions

Prep time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:
1 large onion (yellow or white)
1 Tbsp canola oil
1/4 tsp salt
1 pinch black pepper
1 large red pepper
1 large yellow pepper
1 orange pepper (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano

Assembly:
Cut the onion in half and then slice each half thinly to create half-circles.  Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat for 30 seconds.  Add the onions and stir to coat the onions in the oil.  Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes, until the onions are soft.  Don’t let them burn or get too dark.

While the onions are cooking, cut open the peppers and remove the seeds and the core.  Slice the peppers into lengthways strips about 1/8-inch long.  You want to keep everything more or less the same size so that they cook evenly.  When the onions have cooked for 10 minutes, add the peppers to the skillet.

Toss the peppers so that they are on the bottom of the skillet and the onions are on the top (as much as you are able).  Cook the peppers and onions for 8-10 minutes, turning them occasionally, until the peppers become soft but do not brown.  Sprinkle the additional salt and pepper and add the oregano to the mixture in the skillet.  Stir to incorporate thoroughly.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Chicken in Coriander and Lime Juice

Prep time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. chicken breast meat, cut into 2-3 inch strips
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 lime, juiced

Assembly:
Heat canola oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Add minced garlic cloves and let cook for 30 seconds until you can smell the perfume of the garlic, but do not let it turn brown.  Put the chicken into the pan and stir to coat in the oil.  Let it cook for 8-10 minutes, turning over the pieces so that each side cooks.

Sprinkle the salt, pepper, and coriander over the chicken and then pour in the lime juice.  Stir everything to incorporate it and let it cook for 5 minutes more so that the seasonings get into the meat.  Serve warm.

Kitchen Witch Tips:
I come from a family where leftovers can be a prized commodity.  In fact, the second time when I was at home and made this dish, I was making lunch of leftovers when my father came into the kitchen a bit hang-dog looking for them, although he lost a bit of interest as there wasn’t any chicken from the night before.  This is survival of the fittest, fajita style.

Huevos Rancheros – a great use for leftovers!

I ended up making two brunch-style dishes from the remains of that meal: one an open-faced quesadilla topped with an over-easy egg and the other more of a breakfast burrito with the egg cooked omelette-style and wrapped up with all the peppers, onions, and cheese.  The left over pico and guacamole went well with them, too.

Buon appetito!