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!

In with a fizzle

Happy 2018!

I’ve been blogging about food for a decade now, but this is the first time my platform has been my own. If you’re a follower of my work the past few years, the format is going to be mostly the same. If you’re new here, my blogging habits are a weekly adventure in a common theme for a year.

In the past I’ve done pies, breads, casseroles, and soups and salads. This year I’m taking Mom’s advice, and I’m going to start doing a year using a common kitchen item. Starting with my underutilized sheet pan. (Still taking suggestions for 2019.)

The point of the exercise, aside from enjoying good food and filling my body with nutrients, is to show the versatility of the cookware already lurking in most kitchens.

I thought I’d start off with something easy — peanut brittle — and managed to bungle it both times. Alas.

Peanut brittle ingredients

It made me think some about failure, which I might address in a future blog post. But for now, it’s best to just quote the man from Indiana, John Mellencamp: “What is there to be afraid of? The worst thing that can happen is you fail. So what? I failed at a lot of things. My first record was horrible.”

I feel the same way about cooking, and in particular about this week’s failure. If I had given up making candy the first time I failed at it, I would have stopped trying in about 7th grade, when I determinedly failed to make taffy. And I’ve totally successfully made peanut brittle before; it just didn’t work out that way this time.

This picture, while not great, shows not-quite-right peanut brittle. You can see bending of the candy rather than the brittleness implied in the name.

Impatience and inattention have been my downfalls, but you know what, I’ve got a whole year to keep succeeding at sheet pan recipes. Or getting up off the mat and trying again.

In the meantime, here’s what I should have done with peanut brittle and actually listened to Betty Crocker’s sage advice:

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ t. baking soda
  • 1 t. water
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 ½ c. sugar
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 c. light corn syrup
  • 3 T. butter
  • 1 lb. shelled unroasted peanuts

Directions:  

Heat oven to 200 degrees, and butter 2 sheet pans measuring 15 ½ x 12 inches (or so) and keep them warm in the oven.

Mix together the baking soda, 1 teaspoon water, and vanilla in a small bowl. Set aside.

Mix together sugar (1st attempt mistake, leaving out the sugar!), 1 cup water and the corn syrup in a 3-quart saucepan (or so). Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, to 240 degrees on a candy thermometer (2nd attempt mistake, it wouldn’t budge from 225 degrees, so I tossed in next ingredients anyway!).

Once at 240 degrees, stir in the butter and peanuts. Cook, stirring constantly, to 300 degrees. Immediately remove from heat and quickly stir in the baking soda mixture until light and foamy.

Quickly pour about half the candy mixture onto each sheet pan and spread until about ¼ inch thick. Cool for at least one hour; then break into pieces, and enjoy!