Fajitas with Spanish Rice

We had a Fajita night this week and here’s what I made.  Steak, peppers and onions cooked stovetop on the griddle with a side of Spanish Rice.  I served it all with gluten free corn tortillas, salsa and sliced fresh mango.

Fajitas are traditionally cooked and served in a cast iron pan like this one.  They make a great presentation, coming to the table with a sizzle.  But – if you don’t have one, or if like me you can’t lift cast iron pans anymore, it’s perfectly fine to use a nonstick griddle or skillet to cook this fun meal.

I mixed up my own seasoning blend for this recipe.  I always have a large collection of individual spices on hand, so I can blend together just enough for a specific meal with nothing wasted.  Another benefit is that I can adjust the flavors to my liking.  More heat?  Add more chipotle.  Don’t like cumin?  Just leave it out.  You get the idea.

Mr. Cucina LOVES bell peppers, and spicy food in general.  He gave me an A+ for this meal!  I loved the Spanish rice.  Considering I make rice several times a week, this was a nice change from my usual preparation.

4 servings

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Ingredients:

Seasoning:

  • 1 tsp. crushed chipotle chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt

Fajitas:

  • 3/4 lb. sirloin, skirt steak or flank steak, sliced thin
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, sliced thin
  • 1/2 medium red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 lime, half juiced and half for serving
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • gluten free tortillas for serving
  • salsa, for serving (this one is Mr. Cucina’s favorite)
  • fresh mango, for serving (optional, my favorite!)

Preparation:

Combine the spices and mix well.

Add the sliced peppers and onions to a medium bowl with 1 tbsp. olive oil and 1 tsp. of the spice blend.

In a separate bowl, toss the beef strips with 1 tbsp. olive oil and 1 tsp. of the spice blend.

Heat a griddle or large nonstick skillet and warm the tortillas, about 30 seconds per side.  Remove to a plate and keep warm.

Add the peppers and onions to the griddle and cook to crisp tender, stirring occasionally.

Push the veggies to the back of the griddle and add the meat.  Cook quickly about 1 minute per side.

Toss with the peppers and onions and squeeze the juice from 1/2 lime over the top.  Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with the tortillas, lime wedges, rice and salsa.

Spanish Rice Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup long grain white rice
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 2 tbsp. minced bell pepper
  • 2 tbsp. tomato sauce
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. fajita seasoning (from above)

Preparation:

In a small saucepan, combine olive oil, onion and bell pepper and cook over medium low heat until the onions are translucent.  Stir in the rice, tomato sauce and chicken broth.  Cover and cook 15 minutes.  Garnish with cilantro.

Notes ♪♫ Truth be told, I was not a fan of the store-bought gluten free tortillas.  Next time I will make them myself, but that’s another blog post!  Sometimes you need a shortcut, right?  And this dinner was a success in every other way. 🙂

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

It’s time to spice up your life with a bowl of Chicken Tortilla Soup!  The inspiration for this recipe came from a local restaurant but unfortunately, I cannot order it anymore as all their soups contain gluten.  That makes me sad, because most of the ingredients in Chicken Tortilla Soup are naturally gluten free. 

I made mine with big chunks of chicken, beans and veggies.  I love the heat from garlic, jalapeno, chili flakes and cumin (could this soup cure the common cold?).  If you don’t already have Chipotle chili and cumin in your spice rack it’s time for a run to the grocery store! 

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The soup is thick and hearty on its own, no flour is needed.  It needs no adornment other than a sprinkle of gluten free tortilla strips, if you can’t find them locally order here!    

Ingredients: 

  • 2 chicken leg quarters 
  • Salt and pepper, to taste 
  • Olive oil 
  • water to cover
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • 1 onion, diced 
  • 2 carrots, sliced 
  • heaping tbsp. minced garlic
  • heaping tbsp. minced jalapeno
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste 
  • 14 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes 
  • 1/2 tsp. Chipotle chili 
  • 1/2 tsp. Cumin 
  • 1/2 tsp. Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic granules
  • 1/2 tsp. onion granules 
  • salt, to taste 
  • 1 cup canned black beans 
  • 1 cup frozen or canned corn 
  • Gluten free tortilla strips 

Preparation: 

Heat a deep skillet over medium low, add a little olive oil and brown the chicken on both sides.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add bay leaves and water to cover.  Simmer for 90 minutes on low. 

Transfer the chicken to a plate and remove meat from the bones.  Refrigerate meat until the soup is ready.  Reserve the liquid.

In a clean stock pot, add 1 tbsp. olive oil with the onions and carrots, and cook for 2-3 minutes over low heat.  Add the garlic and jalapeno and cook for 30 seconds.  Make a spot in the center of the pan and add the tomato paste.

Toast for 2 minutes, then strain the reserved chicken broth into the pot.  Add the fire roasted tomatoes, and all of the seasoning. 

Cover and simmer 1 hour, then add the black beans and corn.  Simmer 30 minutes longer.  Taste and add salt if needed. 

Stir in the reserved chicken, heat through and serve.

Garnish each bowl with tortilla strips.

Notes: ♪♫ I love soup season!  I could eat soup every day and I have a great selection of soups and stews on the blog that will keep you warm through the winter months.  All gluten free and delicious!  Check out all my Gluten Free Soups, Stews and Chowders here!

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Gluten Free Corn Cakes

Are you tired of the usual rice and potato sides?  When you’re gluten free, it can really get monotonous.  So tonight I thought I’d try something different.  Popular in the South, I had (can you believe) never had corn cakes before.  I just made a small batch for the two of us to taste, and wow, we both loved them.  Corn Cakes would be a fun and easy side for a BBQ dinner or potluck.  You can easily double or triple the recipe, and add more or less spice to suit your family’s taste.  Making them gluten free was easy, just by swapping out the flours.

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4 Servings

Ingredients:

Preparation:

Whisk together the flour, corn meal, salt, baking powder and seasoning.  In another bowl, whisk the egg, milk and oil.

I took my corn kernels out to defrost about 30 minutes earlier.  Stir them into the egg mixture to finish thawing while you heat your griddle or skillet.

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet.  You will have about 1 of cup batter.

When I first made this recipe, I used a large nonstick skillet.  Today I made them on my new waffle maker because I wanted to try out the pancake plates.  I preheated it to 350° and brushed with butter.  I ladled the batter into the 4 pancake cups, about 1/4 cup each.

Cook them for about 4 minutes, until the bottoms are set and you can see a few bubbles in the batter.

Carefully turn them over with a spatula and cook 3-4 minutes longer.

Check the center with a toothpick, if it comes out dry they are done.  Serve hot or at room temperature.

This is a fun side that goes with so many things, from your favorite BBQ fare to a casual steak dinner.

Notes: ♪♫  I used this Mexican Spice Blend to kick up the flavor of my corn cakes.  Made with Chipotle Chile, cumin, onion powder and oregano, it is a salt free blend with some heat!  Since the recipe already has salt and baking powder, I didn’t want to add more sodium.  If salt isn’t an issue for you, you can sub your favorite gluten free seasoned salt and make it as mild or spicy as you like!

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Gluten Free Tex-Mex Chicken Thighs

I’m really loving this Tex-Mex style chicken.  Made with just a few pantry staples, it’s so easy to put together!  Slow cooked on low heat, the chicken came out tender and juicy.  The homemade Mexican spice blend gives the dish it’s bold flavor, and you can as much or as little as you like.

4 Servings

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Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 tsp. Mexican spice blend (use more or less to taste)
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 3/4 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup canned fire roasted diced tomatoes with their juice
  • 1 cup cooked white rice, for serving
  • fresh chives or cilantro for garnish

Preparation:

Brush the chicken thighs with olive oil and sprinkle seasoning on both sides.  Coat an oven safe skillet, braising pan or Dutch oven with cooking spray and arrange the thighs in a single layer.

Pour the tomatoes over the chicken and sprinkle more seasoning.  Cover and bake for 45 minutes at 300º.

Turn the chicken over, add the beans and corn, cover and bake for an additional 45 minutes.

This casual dinner comes to the table right in the pan.  Garnish with chives or cilantro.

I made a side of white rice to go with the meal.  To serve, divide the rice into 4 plates.  Top each with one chicken thigh and spoon the corn and beans over the chicken along with extra pan juices.

Notes ♪♫ Always check canned and frozen vegetables for gluten containing ingredients or possible cross contamination.  Feel free to use a prepared Taco seasoning mix, as there are many great brands out there that are gluten free.  I opted make my own to control the sodium content.

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Favorite Mexican Grilled Chicken

Favorite Mexican Grilled Chicken

We haven’t been out to dinner much lately.  Even with restrictions lifted I’m still leery of crowded venues, and for now we are sticking to places with outdoor dining.  There is a local Mexican restaurant that I’m especially missing.  Not dedicated gluten free but they always made sure that I had a safe basic meal of grilled chicken, rice and veggies.  With such easily available ingredients it was high time that I recreated this favorite at home.

Grilled chicken is a no brainer.  So what makes it Mexican?  To me that flavor profile starts with Chipotle Chile, cumin, onion, oregano, cilantro and lime…  The entire meal echos these flavors.  Get my Mexican Spice Blend here.

2 Servings

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Ingredients:

  • 14 oz. boneless chicken breast
  • Zucchini and summer squash, diced
  • 1/4 cup sweet corn
  • 2 tbsp. shallots, minced
  • Olive oil
  • Mexican seasoning
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Fresh cilantro, for garnish

Preparation:

Butterfly the chicken breast by slicing through the center horizontally, cutting almost to the other side and opening it up like a heart.  Place between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and pound to an even ½” thickness.

Brush the chicken with olive oil and season with Chipotle seasoning.  Let it stand at room temperature for 15 minutes, then heat a grill pan with olive oil on medium low, and add the chicken.

Cook 5 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165º.  Squeeze lime juice over the chicken and transfer to a serving dish.  Garnish with fresh cilantro and keep warm.

Add the zucchini, summer squash, corn and shallots to a hot skillet coated with olive oil, sprinkle with seasoning and a squeeze of lime juice.  Cook just a few minutes until crisp tender.

Serve with Cilantro Lime Rice, and Tomatillo Sauce (salsa verde) for dipping.

Thanks for visiting today and be sure and check all my Cinco de Mayo recipes!

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Cilantro Lime Rice

I love this easy Cilantro Lime Rice that you can enjoy at home with all your Mexican favorites.  A restaurant classic, making it at home means no chance of cross contact with gluten!

Just about everyone will love this mild flavored rice and it pairs nicely with spicier foods.  The ingredients are naturally gluten free and it’s ready in 20 minutes.

4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup white rice
  • 1-1/4 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup frozen corn, defrosted
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
The Lazy Gastronome

Preparation:

Cook 1/2 cup of white rice in 1 cup water, with salt and butter, 15 minutes.  Stir in an additional 1/4 cup of water along with the corn, half of the cilantro and the lime juice, cook 5 minutes longer.

Finish with the rest of the cilantro and a slice of lime.

Here I’ve paired it with a simple meal of grilled chicken and veggies.  Absolutely delicious!

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Gluten Free Eggplant Tortilla Casserole

This easy casserole dish is great for a family dinner.  If you are invited to a party or cookout and need to bring a gluten free dish, this would be a great choice.  Using canned beans and tomatoes makes it easy to put together.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced (about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced (1-1/2 cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • canola oil
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cans (10 oz.) diced tomatoes with mild green chiles
  • 1/2 tsp. Mexican Spice Blend or more to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, gruyere)
  • 4 gluten free corn tortillas, cut into eighths
  • cooking spray

Preparation:

Peel and dice the eggplant.  Add 3 tbsp. canola oil to a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, add the eggplant cubes and toss to coat.  Cook the eggplant until it is browned on all sides.  The eggplant absorbs oil like a sponge, so add more if needed.

Season with salt and set aside to cool.

Next, add a little more oil to the skillet and cook the onions until lightly browned.  Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds more.

Add the tomatoes with their juice and the drained beans.  Top with chopped cilantro and season to taste with Mexican Spice Blend, I used 1/2 tsp.

Toss well to combine and continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated.

To assemble the casserole, coat a 9″ x 9″ baking dish with cooking spray.  Line the baking dish with half of the tortillas.

Spoon half of the tomato mixture and eggplant cubes over the tortillas and top with 1/4 cup of cheese.

Repeat with another layer of tortillas.

Top with the remaining tomatoes and eggplant and 1/4 cup cheese.

Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes at 375º.  After 30 minutes remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

My husband just loved this dish!  It would be a nice accompaniment to a Cinco de Mayo dinner.  You could also serve it as an appetizer with tortilla chips.  This makes quite a few servings, and leftovers can be frozen.

Notes: ♪♫ I used Mission brand Yellow Corn Tortillas in this recipe, they are certified gluten free.  The spice mix is my own, a blend of chipotle chile flakes, oregano, onion granules and cumin.  if you are using a purchased blend, always check for gluten containing ingredients.

 

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Easy Mexican Spice Blend

Whisk together an easy Mexican spice blend for all your Cinco de Mayo recipes.  I prefer to purchase single spices for my pantry to create my own mixes.  It is both easy and economical.

This is a spicy blend!  You can use more or less as desired to suit your palate.  I do like it spicy, but of course it depends on who you are cooking for.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp. crushed Chipotle Chile
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. onion granules
  • 1 tsp. cumin

Preparation:

Measure the ingredients then grind in a coffee grinder or use a mortar and pestle.  Store in an airtight container.

Notes: ♪♫  Single spices are much more likely to be gluten free, while some purchased blends may contain gluten.  To be certain, always check labels and if necessary contact the manufacturer.

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Tomatillo Sauce – Salsa Verde

I remember the first time I ever had Tomatillo Sauce.  Now, let’s just say I am an Italian girl, so please forgive my first thought – what the heck is a tomatillo?  Also known as Salsa Verde or Green Salsa, I started ordering it with my favorite Mexican chicken dinner and found I really liked it.

Then one day in the produce section I spotted the tomatillos.  Aha!  So that’s what they look like!  Not very impressive with their dry wrinkled husks, but I was curious enough to try making a small batch of Tomatillo Sauce at home.  This is a mild sauce, so if you want something spicier you will need to add jalapeno or hot pepper flakes.  For great flavor, be sure to use fresh cilantro and use both the leaves and stems.

Recipe makes about 1/2 cup and can be doubled or tripled if using as a dip.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tomatillos (about 4 oz.)
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro, leaves and stems
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. Mexican Spice Blend or more to taste
  • juice of 1/2 small lime (about 1 tbsp.)

Preparation:

Peel and wash the tomatillos, then cut in half.

Place the tomatillos with the next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a small sauce pan.  Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes on low heat.

The tomatillos will cook down until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Cool slightly, then transfer to a blender or small electric chopper.  Add the lime juice and spice, then puree the ingredients until smooth.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

This sauce is delicious brushed on grilled chicken, veggies or any savory food.  You can also serve it with chips as a salsa.

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