The Family Dinner Fiesta That Almost Wasn’t

December 18, 2007

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As I’ve mentioned a couple of times, I’m in the middle of final exams. While I’m moving into the home-strech now, last week was pretty busy. Because of that (and as I’ve also mentioned), our kitchen was a little under-utilized last week. One exception, though: family dinner. I really didn’t want to cancel on my sister, who comes over once a week for dinner. But I also couldn’t bear the thought of planning a menu, grocery shopping and prepping. Frankly, the Uniform Commercial Code had ruined my appetite.

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So, we set a tentative night for family dinner (Tuesday) and all agreed that we’d play it by ear. By Tuesday afternoon, I still hadn’t made a call. While I would’ve gladly swapped text books for cookbooks and traded in my computer for a cutting board, I didn’t think I could afford the time away from studying. We were this close to pulling the plug. There would always be plenty of time for family dinners in 2008, right?

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But, it was Ali to the rescue! My sister saved the family dinner by planning the menu (fajitas and fixins) and doing the shopping. She even braved Whole Foods for me (no fewer than five phone calls were exchanged for additional guidance). Then she hauled all the groceries over to our place on the bus (after waiting in the rain at the bus stop). When she got here (after toweling off—it was really raining), she unloaded the groceries and started chopping veggies and chicken (yes, mom, Ali was slicing and dicing raw chicken). By the time I finished studying and Kevin got home from work, dinner was well under way.

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By the time we sat down to eat—with our tortillas bulging with spicy, smoky peppers and chicken, salsa and guacamole—all thoughts of good faith purchasers for value and the fiduciary duties had disapppeared. It was a family dinner fiesta! And it was just the re-charge I needed.

There’s nothing novel, fancy or complicated about these recipes. In fact, I’m sure mine resemble many of yours. But there’s something wonderful about a meal that involves recipes you know by heart and that you can put together with your eyes closed. And something completely nourishing about sharing them with people you love.

Salsa

2 to 3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. This salsa can be made in advance (I’d say up to four to six hours) and the flavor only improves if you do so.

Guacamole

2 Haas avocados, pitted, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons red onion, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup Roma tomato, finely chopped
salt, to taste

Combine the first six ingredients in a large bowl (avocado through lime juice). Using a potato masher, mash the ingredients to a chunky consistency. Stir in tomatoes. Season with salt.

Chicken Fajitas

For fajita filling:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, trimmed and sliced into strips
1 green bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 red onion, sliced into strips
1 jalapeno, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
dash of cayenne
dash of ground coriander
1/4 cup tequila
1/4 cup fresh lime juice

For serving:
tortillas
sour cream
shredded cheddar
lime wedges
salsa (see above)
guacamole (see above)

Combine all the fajita filling ingredients in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag and seal. Shake to coat the peppers, onions and chicken with the seasonings. Refrigerate for about 30 mintues.

Heat a well-seasoned grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill the marinated fajita mixture until the chicken is cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes. Serve with warm tortillas and all the fixings.

2 Responses to “The Family Dinner Fiesta That Almost Wasn’t”

  1. Gena Says:

    Just wanted to tell you that I made this tonight for my own family dinner. I am telling you Kristin, you’re making a better woman out of me (and if not better, at least more domestic!).

    Thanks!

    xoxo

  2. ourkitchensink Says:

    Gena: Yay! Hope you liked it. You’ll have to give me a full run down tomorrow …


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