Oven Fajitas

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One of the things that’s been difficult for me with October Unprocessed is that I tend to pick recipes that are more complicated and time-consuming. I’m not sure why they appeal to me so much, but they’re really just not ideal for busy nights when you’re also juggling a baby. I’ve had to made a conscious effort to find quick, easy dinners that don’t rely on processed ingredients.

This was one of the best dinners so far. I did the prep during nap time so when dinner time came, I just had to toss it with the seasoning and oil and stick it in the oven. I served them with lettuce leaves for wrapping to make it October Unprocessed friendly, but tortillas would be great too.

Oven Fajitas
(from Budget Bytes)
Serves 4

1 Tbsp. chili powder
1/2 Tbsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 Tbsp. corn starch
2 small onions
2 medium green bell peppers
1 medium red bell pepper
1 lb. chicken breasts
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium lime
Tortillas or lettuce leaves for wrapping

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. In a small bown, whisk together the first nine ingredients. Set aside.

Slice the onion, peppers and chicken into strips and place them into a 9×13″ baking dish. Sprinkle the seasoning over everything and then drizzle the oil over everything. Toss to coat evenly.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, stirring halfway through. When done, squeeze juice from half of the lime over everything. Serve on tortillas or lettuce leaves with your favorite toppings.


Balsamic and Herb Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Vegetables

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This is actually a dinner I made last month, but it’s something we’ll be repeating this month since it fits October Unprocessed well.

And by I made, I mean it was a group effort. Our friend, Chris, just took a job in Saudi Arabia (!) so we had him over for dinner as sort of a last hurrah. I started cooking and then Mark took over when I had to feed the baby. Chris pitched in by making the gravy as Mark got the pork cut and plated. You know you have good friends when they have no qualms about jumping in to help in the kitchen! We’re really going to miss having him around.

This is a nice dinner because it’s a one-dish meal. I’m always a fan of fewer dishes! The marinade made for a really flavorful pork tenderloin and we used the last of the green beans out of the garden. I served this with a nice, warm loaf of bread to round out the meal.

Balsamic and Herb Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Vegetables
(from The Other Side of Fifty)
Serves 6

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1 tsp. fresh sage, chopped
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 1/2 lb. pork tenderloin
2 lbs. medium red skinned potatoes, scrubbed, diced into 1/2″ cubes
3/4 lb. green beans, ends trimmed
1/4 cup canola oil
1 heaping TBSP whole wheat flour
1 cup chicken broth

In a large bowl or ziplock bag, combine the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, mustard, garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage, salt and pepper. Add the pork, turn to coat and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. Heat the canola oil to shimmering in an oven-safe pan.

Remove pork and discard marinade. Sear on all sides then transfer to oven and cook until the pork reaches 140F degrees on a meat thermometer. Remove pork from pan and tent on a plate. While the meat cooks, microwave the potatoes on high for 8 minutes, stirring halfway.

Increase the oven temp to 450F degrees. Add potatoes and green beans to the pan and toss to coat in the oil. Roast for an additional 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer the vegetables to a serving platter.

Whisk the flour into the juices remaining in the skillet and cook for 2 minutes over medium heat. Whisk in the chicken broth and continue whisking until smooth and reduced to the desired thickness.

Slice the meat and serve with vegetables and pan gravy.


Taco Stuffed Shells

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This was another freezer meal I prepped before Jake was born. I’ve made it a few times before but never got a bloggable picture before this. If it’s surprising to you that the best picture of this dish came while I was carrying around a baby, it’s surprising to me too.

This is a real people-pleaser meal – a fusion of tacos and pasta, how can you not love it? If you’re looking for a meal to bring to a friend, this is a great one.

For the freezer, I covered and froze after the taco sauce. I bagged the cheese separately and froze that so I’d have one less thing to do on a busy night. Also, the picture shows a half batch – I prefer to freeze in portions that are easier for two people so we’re not drowning in leftovers!

Taco Stuffed Shells
(from Blog Chef)
Serves 4-6

1 lb. ground beef
1 package taco seasoning
4 oz. cream cheese
20-24 large pasta shells
1 cup salsa
1 cup taco sauce
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup Monterey jack cheese, shredded
1 ½ cups tortilla chips, crushed
Green onions, black olives and sour cream, for serving, optional

In a frying pan, brown the ground beef and prepare as taco meat according to directions on the seasoning packet. When finished, stir in cream cheese until melted and combined. Remove from heat and set aside.

While the meat cooks, cook shells according to package directions. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

Pour the salsa into the bottom of a baking dish. Fill each shell with the taco meat mixture and lay on top of salsa. Cover shells with taco sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Uncover and top with cheeses and tortilla chips. Bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Top with green onions, black olives and sour cream, if desired, and serve.


Thai-Spiced, Honey-Glazed Chicken Skewers

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Meat on sticks. There hasn’t been enough of it this summer so I’m trying to remedy that before grilling weather is officially over. (It’s coming. Sigh.)

When I was making the meal plans for the week, I was pleasantly surprised to realize I already had all the ingredients for these skewers on hand, so they went on the menu. It’s simple ingredients, but they pack a big flavor punch here.

I set my chicken up to marinade in the morning, but starting to marinade the night before would be good too. I’d give this a few solid hours in the marinade to pack the biggest punch.

Thai-spiced, Honey-Glazed Chicken Skewers
(from The Iron You)
Serves 4

1 lb. chicken breast, cut into strips
2 tsp. Chinese five-spice
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. lime juice
Sesame seeds, for garnish
Sriracha mayo, for dipping

In a small bowl, whisk together the Chinese five-spice, cayenne, salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the chicken strips and toss until well-coated.

Add the chicken to a ziplock bag. In the same small bowl, whisk together the honey, olive oil and lime juice. Pour over chicken in the bag, seal and turn to coat. Refrigerate and let marinate for several hours.

After marinating, place the chicken on skewers. (If using wooden ones, soak in water for at least a half hour beforehand.)

Preheat a grill to medium and oil the grates. Grill for 8-10 minutes, turning halfway, until cooked through. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Serve with Sriracha mayo for dipping.


Grilled Pizza

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This is, by far, my favorite summer meal. We’ve been making it for years and it’s something we make over and over during grilling weather – mostly because it’s so easy. This pizza takes almost no prep and cooks in about five minutes.

We generally don’t go in with much of a plan when making them – toppings are whatever we happen to have still in the fridge. Ham and pineapple is a favorite, as is kalamata olive and fresh basil. And we like to make them smaller so we can vary the toppings – and each person can top their own.

It’s meals like this that are keeping us sane with a newborn!

Grilled Pizza
(as seen on Eat at Home)
Serves 2-4

 1 lb. pizza dough
Pizza sauce
Shredded mozzarella
Your favorite pizza toppings

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and spray with nonstick spray.

Roll out dough as desired – we like to make four smaller pizzas because they’re easier to work with, 2 medium or 1 large would work too!

Place the dough onto the grill grates and cook for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is solid and has grill marks. Flip, add sauce, cheese and toppings and close the lid of the grill. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until cheese is melted and bottom has grill marks.

Transfer to a cutting board and let sit for a few minutes before cutting.

 


Creamy Taco Mac

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This could also be called “DIY Hamburger Helper” – it’s the same idea, but from scratch. There’s nothing super novel here but it’s quick and good and generally a crowd pleaser.

It also freezes well. I cooked this up before Jacob was born and froze half, casserole-style, for afterwards.

Creamy Taco Mac
(from Annie’s Eats)
Serves 6

1 1/4 lbs. ground turkey
8 oz. rotini pasta
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
4 Tbsp. taco seasoning
3 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. When you drain it, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

In a large skillet, brown the ground turkey and onion together until cooked through. Add the garlic and cook another minute, until fragrant. Add in the diced tomatoes and taco seasoning and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add in the pasta, cream cheese, sour cream, pasta water and stir until the cheese is melted as all is well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer for another 3-5 minutes to reduce the sauce and serve.


Honey Chipotle Chicken Tenders

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Surprise! It’s a chicken recipe! This is the first chicken recipe I’ve blogged since getting pregnant that doesn’t involve bite-sized pieces.

For most of the pregnancy, I couldn’t handle chicken cooked at home unless it was bite-sized. So weird. But, the last month or so of being pregnant, I could finally tolerate chicken strips and breasts again – so I made them in force. Funny enough, even though I made these as strips, they would have been excellent bite-sized, too.

The sauce is spicy-but-sweet and even though these are baked, they taste just as good as a fried boneless wing. They tasted like something we’d order when out for bar munchies. I’m planning to make them again when football watching season is in full swing!

Honey Chipotle Chicken Tenders
(adapted from Creme de la Crumb)
Serves 4

For the chicken strips:
1 lb. boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 eggs
1-2 Tbsp. water
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs

For the sauce:
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. chipotle adobo sauce
1 Tbsp. hot sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
1/3 cup cold water + 2 Tbsp. corn starch

Ranch dressing, for dipping

In a shallow bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and pepper until well combined. Whisk in the eggs and enough water to make the consistency a thick batter.

Dip the chicken into the flour mixture and then into the panko, coating well in each, and place on a lined baking sheet. Bake at 400F degrees for 20 minutes, flipping halfway.

While the chicken cooks, make the sauce: combine all ingredients except the cold water/cornstarch in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Whisk together the water and cornstarch and add to saucepan. Stir until the sauce thickens. Reduce heat to low until ready to use.

After the chicken is done, dip strips into the sauce. Serve with ranch dressing for dipping.


Grilled London Broil with Chimichurri

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We have a lot of parsley in the garden. A lot. This was the first recipe I ran across that used up a chunk of it – and london broil was on sale! – so it went on the menu. Grilled steak is a summertime favorite so this was a nice way to shake up our normal routine without being too different.

We’re also currently over-run with basil and dill – any suggestions on ways to use them up?

Grilled London Broil with Chimichurri
(from Cooking Light)
Serves 2

1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. fresh oregano leaves
1 tsp. sherry vinegar
Pinch of crushed red pepper
1 clove garlic
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 lb. london broil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

In a food processor, combine the parsley, oil, oregano, vinegar, red pepper, garlic and green onion. Process until finely shopped. Rub 1 Tbsp. of the parsley mixture over the steak and let stand for fifteen minutes.

Sprinkle steak with salt and pepper and grill over medium heat, covered, 4 minutes per side or until it is cooked to your liking. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing against the grain.

Serve with remaining parsley mixture.


Grilled Chicken and Zucchini Tortas

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Generally, this is how meal planning goes around here: On Thursday we get the grocery ads for the next week and I sit down and pick meals based on what we have on hand already and what’s going to be on sale. I email the list off to Mark and he either approves it, vetoes things or reminds me of plans I’ve forgotten that would throw off dinner. It’s a good system.

And then there are weeks when things just get busy and fall through the cracks. I realized as we were standing in the grocery store shopping for the week that I’d never bounced the week’s dinners off him – and he was really skeptical of this meal. Luckily, once dinner was on the table, he liked it. We served it along with onion rings and fresh cut-up veggies.

Grilled Chicken and Zucchini Tortas
(from Parade)
Serves 2

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 medium zucchini
1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Hot sauce, to taste
2 cups shredded cabbage
Juice of 1/2 line
2 rolls

Whisk together the garlic, oregano, paprika, oil, salt and pepper until well combined. Quarter the zucchini lengthwise and pound out the chicken to 1/2″ thick. Place zucchini and chicken on separate plates and rub each with the marinade evenly. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise and hot sauce to taste.  Remove half of the mayonnaise mixture to a small bowl and set aside. To the medium bowl, add the cabbage and lime juice and toss until evenly coated. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Grill chicken and zucchini over medium heat for about 10 minutes until chicken is cooked through and zucchini is tender, flipping halfway. Slice the chicken against the grain.

Serve the chicken and zucchini on rolls topped with mayonnaise spread and slaw.


Garlic Beef Enchiladas

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One thing that’s been a bit of a surprise with the new kitchen is that the new freezer is smaller than our old one. I had grand plans to start stocking the freezer with meals for after baby boy is born once the kitchen was back together, but it’s become a project of using up what’s already in there first. One thing I inexplicably have a lot of? Ground beef.

When I polled my friends for their favorite recipes using ground beef, Katie suggested this one. Not only did it use up some of the freezer stock, it’s a freezer-friendly meal itself so I made a small tray to freeze as a post-baby meal. They were delicious, so I’m looking forward to being able to enjoy them again!

Garlic Beef Enchiladas
(from Taste of Home)
Serves 5

For the enchiladas:
1 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. rubbed sage
1 can stewed tomatoes, chopped up
2 cups Colby-Jack cheese, divided
10 flour tortillas

For the sauce:
1/3 cup butter
4-5 cloves garlic, minces
1/2 cup flour
1 can beef broth
1 can tomato sauce
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. rubbed sage
1/2 tsp. salt

In a large skillet, cook the ground beef and onion until the beef is browned and the onion is softened. Stir in flour and seasonings until well combined. Stir in tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes.

While the beef simmers, preheat the oven to 350F degrees and make the sauce: Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant. Stir in flour until blended. Gradually whisk in the broth. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce and seasonings. Heat through and then set aside.

To assemble: Pour 1 1/2 cups on the sauce into the bottom of a 9×13″ baking dish. In each tortilla, place about 1/4 cup of the beef mixture and 1-2 Tbsp. of the cheese. Roll up and place in the baking dish on top of the sauce, seam side down. Pour remaining sauce over the top.

Bake, covered, for 30-35 minutes or until heated through. Remove cover, sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is melted.