Garlic Lime Chicken Fajitas

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I’ve been a little quiet lately and with good reason – a brand-new job in PR. For as much as I’m loving where I’ve landed professionally, the neophyte chef in me is missing the greater amount of time I used to have for culinary exploration.

As I figure out how to make sure my budding talents in the kitchen don’t drop off, I think I’ll be turning more and more to recipes designed for the busy woman on the go. Which is why I loved trying out another one of McCormick’s Recipe Inspirations – garlic lime chicken fajitas.

Using the pre-measured packet of ingredients, I savored the aroma as I mixed together garlic, onion, cumin, black pepper, oregano and cilantro. In addition to being quick and easy – from prep to eat in less than 30 minutes – what I loved about this recipe is how much of the Mexican-style sauce I had left over. It makes about 8 servings, so if you’re cooking solo, you can get more than a few meals out of it. Though the sauce works best on chicken, it adds a nice kick to veal and pork chops too.

I have a feeling I'll be exploring McCormick's entire product line as I navigate the new time constraints on my culinary passion.

Turkey Burger Redux

Sunday, September 4, 2011

One of the best things about being a neophyte chef is reaching a point where you feel comfortable experimenting -- and are pleasantly surprised by the results. That’s exactly what happened when I recently combined two of my favorite go-to staples for easy meals, turkey burgers and Paul Newman’s Own Bombolina tomato sauce.

It’s no secret that turkey burgers often lack the succulent, rich flavor of their beef counterparts. I’ve managed to give them a boost in the past with shredded mozzarella cheese and sautéed onions, but this time I wanted to try something different.

So I mixed a few tablespoons of Newman’s sauce into a ground turkey patty, thinking as I did that it looked like a version of healthy meatloaf. Sure enough, after five minutes on my trusty T-Fal grill, I had a flavorful burger. Yum-ola!

Mexican Pork Chops

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I’ m a big fan of Mexican food, so I couldn’t wait to try a recipe for Mexican-style chicken from Glamour Magazine ’s 100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know cookbook.

Of course, the dish calls for ground cumin, so I took great delight in purchasing this heavenly seasoning for the first time. I also opted to make a few modifications – substituting jalapeno pepper with the milder green bell variety, and omitting ¼ cup of dry white wine (1/2 cup of a chicken stock provided more than enough liquid).

I got so caught up in seasonings and sauce that I’m embarrassed to say I forgot to pick up a key component of the recipe – namely, a chicken breast! Thankfully, I had a pork chop on hand in the freezer.

While defrosting the chop, I savored the rich aroma enveloping my kitchen – sautéed onion, pepper, cumin and oregano. Delicioso.

About an hour later, I had a most flavorful entrée. One that managed not to suffer from the absence of toppings (avocado, sour cream) that, along with the chicken, I also forgot to buy. So I guess you could call my version of this Mexican-lite. No matter -- still heavy with delight!

Here’s the recipe:

Mashed Cauliflower

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Since embarking on my culinary journey six months ago, I’ve neglected one important area – side dishes. A recent conversation with galpal and more experienced cook Natalie had me wanting to change that, and to give mashed cauliflower a try.

As someone who loves mashed potatoes, I was especially excited to whip up this healthier alternative, especially when a recipe online seemed to confirm what Natalie had said about it being relatively easy. Unfortunately, this neophyte chef was almost defeated.

Having never really cooked cauliflower before, it seemed to take forever to soften in the pot. When I finally transferred it to a large bowl, I thought pureeing would be the fun part thanks to my brand-new Cuisinart hand blender/mixer. Though it definitely pureed perfectly, I struggled to get the hang of how to use this kitchen tool. After several minutes, I gave up, settling for a partly mashed mixture that wasn’t quite worth the hour-plus investment of time.

I think I’ll be sticking to entrees for the time being.

Rosemary Roasted Chicken And Potatoes

Sunday, August 14, 2011

One of my favorite things about being a neophyte chef is the element of surprise. So I was especially delighted to stumble upon McCormick’s Recipe Inspirations collection during a recent trip to the supermarket.

Each packet includes pre-measured spices and herbs and a recipe card. I opted for the rosemary roasted chicken with potatoes, excited to try something that might spice up the chicken breast rut I feared I had fallen into. And much as I love cookbooks and measuring ingredients, this was one of those nights when I was craving a homecooked meal that didn’t require too much thought.

So, in a big bowl, I happily mixed together two chicken breast and baby potatoes with the packet of paprika, garlic, rosemary and black pepper. The rich aroma of rosemary quickly excited my senses and, about 40 minutes after cooking the chicken and potatoes in the oven, voila! A delicious meal made with shortcuts that didn’t scrimp on taste.

My thanks to McCormick’s for ensuring that a touch of laziness on my part had no effect on cooking something memorable. I can’t wait to try out some of their other inspirations…apple and sage pork chops, here I come!

Butter Chicken Wrap

Sunday, August 7, 2011

As I mentioned last week, I managed to get a second meal out of my heavenly minute steak with seasoned butter.

After refrigerating the leftover mustard butter, I decided to use it in a chicken wrap for lunch. I sautéed and diced a chicken breast, spreading it and a handful of crisp spinach leaves onto a whole wheat soft tortilla.

Unfortunately when I took a bite of my creation, I was more than a little disappointed. The butter definitely packed more of a wallop when paired with steak, and it tasted like a certain something was missing but I didn’t know what.

That’s the thing about being a neophyte chef – not every culinary gamble pays off. Still, you learn from each misstep and the adventure continues.

Up next…a surprise discovery at the supermarket yields one of my best dishes yet!

Minute Steak With Seasoned Butter

Sunday, July 31, 2011

I have a neophyte chef confession to make -- I am a little daunted by the idea of making steak. Or at least I was until recently, when I finally decided to take the red meat plunge.

A combination of insecurity and falling into something of a chicken rut conspired to delay this little milestone. Which only made it that much sweeter when I stumbled upon minute steak in Gristede's -- and then found this easy peasy recipe for preparing it with mustard butter.

Within just 20 minutes, I had whipped up the seasoned butter and cooked my little steak to medium rare perfection. Any anxiety about not being able to get it just right melted as the flavorful, meaty taste hit my mouth.

What's better than a yummy, quick-to-make entree? Getting a second meal out of it too. Up my first steak inspired lunch leftovers!

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