Keepin’ it simple with steak fajitas

In an effort to keep building up my confidence, I found another nearly impossible-to-fail, easy-peasy sheet pan recipe. This week, it’s steak fajitas.

Aside from the ease, it was also a rare treat in this household. I almost never eat beef anymore (I know, blasphemy in Iowa … but fear not, I love pork), so I wasn’t even sure how easy it would be to find flank steak, or even how to cut it if I did find it.

I forgot my fancy compiling of ingredients, but you can see almost all of them here, steak, a variety of peppers, onion, garlic, chili powder. I’ll do better next time.

Thankfully, the local co-op had a nice big slab that allowed me to make this meal with another night of leftovers, and I have a wonderful sweetie who researches things so I accidentally learn things like to cut against the grain with flank steak.

And I have to say, it was quite delightful to bring beef back into my world. If I’m honest, it’d have been nice to do a lime-based marinade ahead of time if I’d thought of it (maybe next time!), but for ease, this can’t be beat.

There’s about five ingredients involved in baking, not counting the staples oil and salt. Frankly, the hardest part was cutting the beef, and all those peppers.

While I got the recipe from the unlikely source of Williams Sonoma, a fancy cookware store, I may just have to add it to my list of places to scour when I’m short on recipes.

Steak fajitas, fresh out of the oven.

In the meantime, here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lb. flank steak, cut into half-inch slices
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced (or 2 medium)
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 T. canola oil
  • 1.5 T. chili powder
  • 1-2 t. salt (I don’t measure, just add a couple of pinchfuls)
  • 6 to 8 flour tortillas
  • Guacamole, for serving(optional)
  • Sour cream, for serving (optional)
  • Hot sauce, for serving (optional)

Directions

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together the steak, peppers, onion, garlic, oil, chili powder and salt until coated. Spread the steak and vegetables on a nonstick sheet pan (I used aluminum foil for easier cleanup on an aging pan). Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the steak is cooked through.

If desired, in the last five minutes, wrap the tortillas in aluminum foil and bake in oven so it’s nice and warm to serve with the fajita mix. Then, assemble the fajitas as you desire, and enjoy!

Impossible to fail pasta dinner

After last week’s miserable failure (twice!), I was looking for something a wee bit easier this week, so I turned to the New York Times Cooking page and found a spicy roasted broccoli pasta recipe.

It was perfect for our little family. My sweetie loves broccoli (which I like fine), and I love carbs and cheese (which he likes fine), and this dinner has plenty of all of that. Plus, it’s hearty for these cold Iowa winter nights, and it’s none too difficult to boot.

Broccoli pasta ingredients

But what really helped make this such a gem was that I completely fiddled with the recipe to make things easier on myself, and it turned out just fine. It was impossible to fail!

It was hard to judge the what the recipe meant when it called for “2 ½ lbs. broccoli, cut into bite-size florets.” Did that mean 2 ½ lbs. of broccoli, and then cut the florets from that? Did it mean I should have 2 ½ lbs. of just florets? If I didn’t have enough florets, could I skim the rough edges from the stem and chop that too? It turns out, who knows and who cares? It worked fine.

I bought two bundles of fresh broccoli (about seven pieces in total), because I couldn’t find a scale at the store and figured that *had* to be enough. Well, when I cut the florets, at home I learned with my scale I only had 1 ½ lbs. of florets. I added some pared stems, but didn’t want to overwhelm it with them so I added enough to get to nearly 2 lbs. And, it turned out, I’m sure it would have been fine either way, just depending on how much you like broccoli.

Then, I totally changed the amounts of ricotta and pasta, because I didn’t want to be left with scant-ish amounts of both. So, extra pasta and extra cheese, it all fit on the baking sheet and turned out fine.

It’s one of those great recipes where you can kind of bend it to your tastes. If you want more broccoli to carb ratio, go for it; if you love cheese, toss on a little more.

All in all, it is well worth the (limited effort) to make.

Nom nom noms. I’m hungry just looking at it again.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches of broccoli, cut into bite-size florets and some stem if desired (or whatever)
  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil (I estimated), plus at least as much for drizzle
  • 1 T. cumin seeds, optional (more than it called for but I love cumin)
  • ¾ t. kosher salt (again, I estimated)
  • ½ t. red pepper flakes (I’m sure I used more)
  • 16 oz. tube shaped or shell pasta (more than it called for but I wanted to use the whole box)
  • ⅓ c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • ⅓ c. panko bread crumbs
  • Zest from one lemon
  • ½ t. ground black pepper (I didn’t measure)
  • 15 oz. whole milk ricotta cheese (more than it called for but I wanted to use the whole tub)
  • Fresh lemon juice, optional (hey, I already zested the lemon, may as well use the juice)

Directions

Heat oven to 425 degrees. On a 15 ½ x 12 inch sheet pan (or so) toss together the cut broccoli, the oil, the salt, red pepper flakes, and cumin, if using. Roast until tender and browned, 18 to 25 minutes, and tossing while halfway through. Remove from oven, set aside, and turn the oven up to broil.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of (salted) water to boil, and cook the pasta according to package instructions and then drain. Separately, in a small bowl, mix together the Parmesan, panko, lemon zest, and salt and black pepper.

Toss the pasta together with the broccoli, and then dollop with the ricotta. Sprinkle with the Parmesan mix, top with salt and black pepper, and drizzle with (a good amount of) oil. Broil the mixture until golden, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Sprinkle with lemon juice, if desired, and enjoy!