Monday, September 26, 2011

Bell Pepper and Steak Fajitas

As of late, the general business of life has transformed our weekly menu line-up into something quite mundane.  Last week I asked myself, what could be quick and delicious and a nice departure from the typical meals I'd been preparing.  Then I thought - "der, fajitas".  Fajitas are a great weeknight meal because you really only need one pan, there's minimal preparation and since you use thin slices of meat, it cooks fairly quickly.  If you don't already rely on fajitas to fill a spot in your weekly line up, consider shaking it up with this easy meal.

2 bell peppers, sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 clove garlic minced or pressed
1 tomato, chopped (optional)
1/4 - 1/3 lb. steak, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp coriander
1 Tbsp paprika
Dash chili powder (or to taste)
Serves 2 to 3
Cover the bottom of a large skillet lightly with extra-virgin olive oil and warm over medium to medium-high heat.  Add veggies, sprinkle with salt and stir to coat.  Cook veggies until just tender, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.  Add garlic and allow to rest on top of the veggie mixture.

Push the veggies to the side and add the sliced steak.  Cook until meat is browned on all sides.  Add 1/3 cup of water and the spice mixture and stir all ingredients together.  Simmer the mixture until the meat is cooked through and the sauce is thickened.

Depending on how hungry you and/or your clan is... serve solo, on top of chopped lettuce or in a low-carb tortilla (along side a salad to make sure you're filled up).  Top with chopped tomatoes if desired.
If you're in the Tear Down Phase, don't use the tomatoes.  If you're in phase 1 you may want a little more steak for 2 people.  In Phase 3, serve over lettuce and don't overdo the meat.


  • MEAT: I used a beef loin flank.  I don't know if your families are as picky as Max, but he wasn't enthralled with this meat.  I'm definitely not an expert on cooking meat, but I find its really hard to dazzle Max unless I prepare a really great cut of beef (or just use ground).  If you have a picky partner or little ones, you might try a better cut of meat, marinating beforehand to tenderize a bit or just substituting chicken.  
  • SEASONING:  If you prefer, you can use a packaged taco or fajita seasoning mix.  Make sure to check the sugar content.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

PASTA! I thought I'd never see you again...

After a few horrible interfaces with shiratake noodles - those weird tofu pasta wannabes that make me think I'm biting into little fingers - I thought my life with pasta was done.  But, I finally followed through and ordered some FiberGourmet pasta - as recommended by Gundry himself in his book.  This pasta is loaded with fiber, so doesn't have the same affect on your system that regular pasta does.  The best part - it tastes like the real thing.  You can buy a case (6 boxes) on the FiberGourmet website or you might get lucky and find it in some specialty grocery shops (for any of you in the Los Angeles area, Erewhon carries it).
Be aware though - it still is pasta and has a bunch of carbohydrates, so think of this as a treat rather than a weekday staple.  And, as always, watch your portion sizes.  Allow yourself about a cup of cooked pasta and supplement your meal with a salad or other veggies.

On our inaugural trip with this pasta, I decided to make a homemade pesto.  I served the pasta with a few halved cherry tomatoes and topped it with a slice of delicious burrata cheese.
The basic pesto recipe is below (courtesy of Giada de Laurentiis), but when it comes to pesto, you can be very creative.  You can really use whatever herbs or nuts you like.  

I used a mix of basil, parsley and oregano from the lovely, little "herb barrels" that my wonderful husband planted and I used a mix of nuts that I had on hand with hazelnuts, pistachios and macadamias. If you prefer, you can omit the nuts all together.  You can also play with additional flavors and ingredients - asparagus, avocado, sun dried tomato, squash, etc. 

Basic Basil Pesto Recipe
2 cups packed, fresh basil
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts*
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (approximately)
1/2 cup fresh, grated parmesan

Put all of the ingredients except the evoo and cheese in a food processor and whirl until finely chopped.  Slowly add in the oil until the mixture is combined and smooth.  Stir in the cheese by hand.  *To toast the nuts, spread out on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for a few minutes until you can smell them roasting and they get a little golden.

Enjoy bringing a little pasta
back into your life!