A Son of the South Goes South of the Border: Fajitas

 You may think this is strange but I’ve discovered that my love language is cooking. What I mean is that one of the ways that I show my family I love them is through cooking. I love it – and I especially love it when my wife and sons really, really enjoy what I’ve cooked. That is not to say that I’m a great cook – but I want to be and I am trying to learn. What makes this all the more enjoyable is that cooking isn’t so much about me (although I benefit) but about my family.

Last night I stumbled across a new dish that was amazing. One of the best parts is that it combined a marinade that Sherry created a few weeks back with something I did. Perhaps even more importantly it helped to get my youngest son to eat veggies (something he does not care for). So – I thought I’d share – first because I was thrilled with the results and because of that I want to offer it.

Sherry’s Simple Marinade:

A few weeks back Sherry experimented a bit and came up with a very simple marinade – which is amazing on beef and chicken. We’ve tried it on both – grilled the meat – and it has been awesome.

In a large zip lock back “dump,” as Sherry put it, Italian Seasoning, Olive Oil, and Soy Sauce. Then put in either beef or chicken. Zip that bad boy up – shake it around and then place it in the fridge for a few hours. That’s it. I promise you will not be disappointed.

Fajitas

Ingredients:

  1. Strip Steak – (or Chicken): it is important to get good quality meat, well marbled.
  2. Sherry’s Simple Marinade
  3. Red Pepper
  4. Yellow Pepper
  5. Orange Pepper
  6. Garlic (one clove)
  7. Onion (1/2)
  8. Fresh Basil
  9. Salted Butter
  10. Worchester Sauce (thick and thin if you’ve got them)
  11. Sea Salt
  12. Crushed Black Pepper

Grill your Steak:

I love to grill – so I recommend grilling the marinated strip steak (or chicken). Since this is a thin cut of meat be sure to keep an eye on it. Don’t overcook – you do not want this meat to be dry (but you do want to make sure you cook it thoroughly – 165 degrees). I actually cooked my steak the day before and took it from the grill and immediately put it in an airtight container and placed it in the fridge for 24 hours.

Prep the Steak (chicken) Veggies & Stuff

  • Cut up the peppers into smallish – thin strips.
  • I cut ½ an onion – I like mine sort of small so they will cook up better
  • Chop up the garlic clove
  • Cut up the fresh basil very fine
  • Cut the steak into long strips – not too thin

Cook it up:

In a large skillet – over medium heat – melt salted butter (I like the flavor butter adds. Yes I know Olive Oil is healthier but we are going for love here). After the butter has melted toss in the veggies, garlic, basil, salt & pepper. Toss that around for a while – let those flavors mingle. Add a little of the Worchester sauce (thick if you’ve got it). When those things have cooked up add the steak (or chicken). Add a little more Worchester sauce if you want. Make sure that you mix the meat into the other ingredients. Cover it for a while and let it sit on low heat.

Serve it up:

Warm up some tortillas. Place rice and beans in the middle of the tortilla and add a little cheese – then add the fajita mix on top. Top it with sour cream if you have a mind to – or a bit of hot sauce or salsa. Serve it up to your family for an awesome meal!

Resources:

The Jacked Up Grill – http://jackedupgrill.blogspot.com/

The Flavor Bible – http://www.becomingachef.com/flavor_bible.php

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A Really, Really Great Burger!

Ever had the craving for a great burger? Now there are a ton of burger places dotting every town and city – but don’t go there to get a great burger. You’ll be disappointed. In fact, we as a family don’t go to those places at all – ever. We’ve declared them the evil empire. I think it is a terrible thing to serve bad food – bad for you – tastes bad – which means they are probably not doing good in the world…

Okay – I’m off my soap box. I just think that food and coffee should be made with great care. They are also things that, if they are made well – full of good ingredients and flavor – they are to be savored and perhaps something which we should actually be able to “give thanks for.” There is something to be said about being able to sit down and eat a meal and not in a hurry.

Okay – that being said – I’ve got this great burger recipe. It’ll take some time to prep but it is awesome. We love it. They are not meant to be small burgers. They are meant to be big. They are meant to be made for a room full of folks. This recipe is not original with me – although I’ve tweaked it and made it my own in lots of ways. I hope you enjoy it!

Mark’s Triple B’s Burgers

I usually make these for six people – adjust the recipe accordingly. I can’t take all the credit for this recipe – I saw the apple slaw somewhere. The burger is something that I’ve picked up from different places and tweaked after getting feedback from different folks.

 For burgers

1.5 lbs of lean ground lamb

1.5 lbs of lean ground beef

2-3 Portabella Mushrooms

½ Sweet Onion

½ Fresh Garlic Clove –

Whole grain mustard- a tad

Worcestershire  – just a dash

Horseradish – just a tad

Black pepper

Feta Cheese – slices if possible

Small amount of olive oil

Buns

For slaw

1 granny smith green apple

2 stalks celery

1 ½ teaspoon Apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon Mayo

¼ Teaspoon Sugar

1-Teaspoon Whole Grain Mustard

1-Teaspoon Olive Oil

Slaw Prep:

Cut celery into matchsticks – slivers.

Cut apples into matchsticks – leave skin on apple

Mix other ingredients together and then add celery and apple matchsticks.

Season to taste – you may have to add this and that to get it just right.

Refrigerate –until you are ready to apply to the burger.

Burger prep

  • Early prep:
    • Place mushrooms, garlic and onions in a food processor (separately if you so desire).
    • Once the mushrooms, garlic and onions are cut fine – but not overly – place in a skillet with just a tad bit of olive oil. You may not even need the olive oil. Sauté the ingredients until they have cooked well with each other. They might appear a bit gray – but they should smell amazing. Take these off the heat and allow them to cool. After they’ve cooled add in the mustard, horseradish, and Worcestershire (just a bit).
    • This is a good time to prepare the slaw and enjoy a nice glass of wine or cold beer.
    • Once these have cooled combine this with the lamb and the beef. Mix those thoroughly. Once this is done it is time to make the patties. I do not make small burgers – I like my guests to leave full – fat and happy.
    • I like to cook my slow on the grill – searing both sides for about 3 minutes each – and then just let them slow cook on low heat. This is a good time to enjoy another glass of wine – or – a cold beer.
    • When the burgers have cooked to your liking – I’m a medium well guy myself (170degrees is preferred thermo reading) – place them on the bun. Put a slice of feta cheese on top and top that with the slaw – top that with the bun – combine that with another glass of wine or beer and you’ve got yourself an amazing burger.


Meals

Believe me this sandwich at Carl's in St. Louis is amazing!

There are times when I can’t help but say, as a good friend of mine is very apt to say, “Thanks be to God!” I have to confess, however, I usually say that when I come across really great food. Today I was sitting at a table with pastors from different parts of the US. We sat down in a little place in St. Louis – devouring Hot Pastrami sandwiches. Believe me, if you like Hot Pastrami sandwiches you’ll love the ones at Carl’s in St. Louis. To borrow from my southern heritage – “they’d make a puppy pull a freight train.” They are that good.

What stood out in my mind, even as I enjoyed bite after bite, is how right it was for us, as pastors to enjoy this meal together. The Christian life is marked by meals (Biblically Jesus broke bread with all sorts of folk and Christian folk are known for potlucks). What makes our sharing all the more appropriate is that we had spent the morning discussing the Lord’s Supper – the meal that Jesus gave to His people the night that He was betrayed – and the meal that Christians ought to be most known. There is something about a meal and The Meal in the Christian life and imagination which is ever so important.

What makes the Lord’s Supper so amazing is that it holds within itself what Mark Dalbey calls the full picture  – at the same time it plays a part of the gospel centered or focused worship. The Lord’s Supper itself possess something else – a trifecta so to speak. It not only points back (not just to when Christ instituted it but further to Passover), it deals with the present (because those who partake of the meal are in the present – aware of their present need and grateful for what Christ has done for them), and it also deals with the future (the hope in Christ’s second coming). In that way the meal points to another meal – the feast – the banquet – the grand celebration when God’s Kingdom is fully restored.

I sat among these men this morning listening as many of them shared their questions as well as their struggles with the meal. Each of them, I am sure, wants nothing more than the meal to do all that Jesus intended for that meal to do for His people. What stood out to me is how long between meals so many of Christians go between meals. Some out of concern for the meal becoming “rote” or “to ordinary.” Some men shared concerns over the elements – wine or juice. All along the words of institution kept rolling through my mind. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim Christ’s death until He comes.”

That I think is what makes the meal significant, whole. It really isn’t the mode. It really isn’t in the elements themselves (wine or juice). It isn’t in who distributes. The meal is significant, for lots of reasons I suppose, but mostly, I believe, because through it we remember Christ’s death until He comes. What is it that we are to remember about His death? What He has done for us by His death and resurrection. How could we ever grow tired of remember that? How could that ever become rote or ordinary?

There is something significant about meals in the life and imagination of the Christian – especially the Lord’s Supper and one day the Supper of the Lamb and the Banquet. Thanks be to God!