Fajita Night

I love Mexican food for many reasons. First, of course, is for the taste.

The fresh crisp vegetables, the creamy avocado, the spices. Such great textural and flavor combinations. Cool sour cream against the heat of a chili. Soft tortillas and crunch peppers.

The second reason to love Mexican is how fast you can get dinner on the table when you do a Mexican night.

We make tacos a lot. Tons of variations, too.

But I haven’t made fajitas in a while.

You can buy a kit at the store, but you can just as easily make your own. The kit doesn’t save you much time any way – it really just puts the spice packet and the tortillas in the same box.

I made chicken fajitas, but you can use any kind of meat you want, or you can go vegetarian with it. Maybe add some black beans for the protein. Or tofu. If you’re feeling daring.

So you will need

  • chicken breast
  • 3 peppers (any color, I used green because they were cheapest), diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • vegetable oil
  • taco or fajita seasoning (it’s in a packet- it’s premixed with all those great flavors)
  • toppings as desired (I made my avocado yogurt dip and then added some shredded cabbage and cheese)

Preheat the oven to 400.

Place the chicken breasts on a foil lined baking dish. You want something with sides so the oil and spices won’t drip when you take the pan out (yes, I’ve made a mess of my stove before).

Drizzle some vegetable and some of the seasoning mix over the chicken. Add more if you want more spice and less for less. Totally up to you.

Pop the chicken in the oven and let cook until the juices run clear. You can also cut it open and check the coloring since we’re just going to shred the chicken later.

While the chicken bakes, add some vegetable oil and the diced peppers and onion to a pan.


Sprinkle over more of the seasoning mix. Stir and let cook until the veggies are soft.


When the juices are clear and the pinkness is cooked out of the chicken, remove from the oven and slice it up into bite size pieces.


Add the shredded chicken to the pot of veggies, stir and let the mixture cook together. For a bit of extra flavor, pour the oil collected in the pan from the chicken into the pot. It adds some more fat and juice to the dish, which is on the light side.


Last, but not least, assemble the fajita. Some avocado yogurt sauce, followed by shredded cabbage, then by the veggie and chicken mix and topped with cheese.


That’s the third great thing about Mexican night. It’s assemble your own meal. It’s like those R.L Stine Choose Your Own Adventure Goosebumps books!

Except, you know, you won’t meet a mad scientist or a flesh-eating zombie if you make the wrong turn.

Chicken with Tomato and Fennel, Stuffed Mushrooms

This is a one pot meal.

Okay a one pot and one cookie sheet meal, but we’re going to cover that with foil, so no clean up there.

A one-pot-to-clean-up meal.

For this recipe you will need:

  • a container of white button mushrooms, washed
  • bread crumbs
  • olive oil
  • parmesan cheese
  • one fennel bulb
  • two tomatoes
  • two chicken breasts
  • white wine
  • salt and pepper to taste

Most of the recipes on here are for two but can easily be doubled or tripled as needed.

You don’t have to make the mushrooms with the chicken, but I bought two containers of mushrooms over the weekend when I really needed one, and so have some spare mushrooms laying around.

Let’s start with the mushrooms, because once they’re assembled and thrown into the oven, we’ll make the chicken and our timing will be so spot on that we’ll be turning the burner off on the chicken and pulling the mushroom out of the oven and putting everything on the table piping hot at the same time.

Note: this has never happened, but I tend to cook things that are forgiving when (every night) this doesn’t happen.

OK, mushrooms. Preheat the oven to 400.

Assembly line is the best way to go in a small kitchen.


Cleaned mushrooms, bowl, foil-lined cookie sheet (or pizza pan- whatever you have). Twist the stems from the caps so you have a mushroom cap turned bowl. Caps go on the baking sheet, cup side up, and stems go in the bowl.

Ready? Go!

Okay, when you have all the caps lined up on the sheet, get ready to get your hands dirty.


My mom pulls out a cutting board and chops up all of the mushroom stems, but I just don’t have the space for that. (I do. I have my over the sink cutting board. But after a hard day at work, mushing up the stems with your hands is so much more satisfying). Before you dig in to mash them up, be sure you have bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and olive oil handy. I’ve forgotten this step before. It results in bits of mushroom on cabinet pulls and refrigerator handles.

Break up the stems into small pieces. You don’t have to go crazy, just break them up. Add some bread crumbs and some olive oil to get a wet sand consistency. There’s no real measurements here. It’s just by feel. Not too dry, not too wet. Like the perfect sandcastle building sand. Stir in some parmesan cheese. (you can leave the cheese out, or you can switch up the type. I’ve used feta, provolone diced up, or mozzarella. Use what you like, just don’t use too much. You just want a subtle little bit of cheesiness to break up the mushroom woodiness).

Using your hands or a spoon (I always go for hands), mound the mixture into the mushroom caps.


These are ready to go into a 400 degree oven for fifteen to twenty minutes.

I’m going to throw the bowl in the sink and move the cookie sheet to the side for now. I’ll put it in the oven when I put the chicken in the pan and cross my fingers everything gets done at the same time.

Two chicken breasts, washed and patted dry come out of the fridge along with two tomatoes and the fennel. I keep ingredients in the fridge or cabinet until I’m ready for them to be used to save space.

Chop up the fennel and tomatoes. I go for a fairly chunky chop because I like big pieces of each ingredient on the form. Up to you, though. As big or as a small as you like. If you’re in a pinch, you can replace the fresh tomatoes with a can of diced too. You can even mix it up with a can of diced tomatoes with basil or with garlic or with whatever. These aren’t recipes to follow precisely. Heck, I don’t even give you precise measurements! These are just ideas and what’s bubbling in my kitchen.

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Drizzle some olive oil in your pan. You can use a frying pan that’s a little deeper if you want. Or a wide bottom pot on the shallow side. I use this aluminum one for like everything. Toss in the fennel and tomatoes and cook over medium heat. You want the fennel to start to soften and the juices from the tomatoes to start to run in the pan. Add a splash of white wine (You can leave out, of course).

While this is simmering, put the mushrooms in the oven. Season your chicken with salt and pepper and place in the pan, nesting in the tomatoes and fennel.

Cook through, flipping to cook both sides. About twenty minutes.

If you find the chicken isn’t cooking through in the center, don’t hesitate to throw it in the oven with the mushrooms. I do this sometimes when I have to do a million things and don’t have the time to babysit the chicken on the stove. This is why I go to this aluminum pot- it’s oven-safe.

The chicken is cooked through when the juices run clear. The tomatoes and oil and wine will make a wonderfully acidic and tangy sauce for the chicken that’s balanced by the anise fennel.

The mushrooms add a nice richness, a nice pop of almost butteryness and fattyness as a juxtaposition against the freshness of the chicken.

Add a side salad and a glass of wine and you’re in business. Crusty Italian bread to sop up the juices for those of you not counting carbs is also recommended.

One piece of chicken per person, fennel and tomatoes scooped on top.


Mushrooms on a plate in the center of the table for popping. A crisp romaine salad on the side.

The pot goes into the sink. The foil lining the sheet gets tossed.

And the day slips away in a haze of red wine.