Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Quick and Delicious Company Food-The Procedure
With out-of-town guests, like we had over Labor Day weekend, it can be kind of tricky to figure out what to serve everyone because you want to be visiting with your guests rather than messing around in the kitchen and you still have to accommodate everyone's preferences. When we have company, I often make Mexican food because everyone I know likes it and it's easy to adjust for different diets (like vegetarian, dairy-free, and low carb). If we're going to be out all day, I always make fajitas because I can do the prep work ahead of time and have dinner on the table in literally 15 minutes, even with people traipsing in and out of the kitchen. (I'm one of those weird few people who don't like an audience when I'm cooking.) This is the method I use to make sure getting dinner on the table is super speedy, following this recipe.
The day before my company arrives, I slice all my peppers, onions, and meat and put them in separate containers in my fridge. Sometimes I make the spice mixture up ahead of time, but usually I don't bother because I've made this recipe so many times that I just eyeball them rather than measure. If you are a more nervous cook, I'd measure them out ahead of time. If desired, make guacamole. (Or use store bought guacamole or don't serve it.) Then put salsa, guacamole and sour cream in serving bowls so they're ready for the table. Grate cheese for refried beans.
Now, when it's time for dinner, first, start heating your vegetable oil in your largest skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium high or high heat. While that's heating, pull your pre-sliced meat and veggies out of the fridge, get your spices, and grab a can of refried beans out of the pantry.
By now your pan should be hot, so throw the onions in the pan. While they're cooking, open your can of beans and spoon them into a bowl. Put the beans in the microwave for a minute or two, depending on your microwave.
While they are heating, remove your onions from the pan and place on a serving dish. Put the bell peppers in the pan to begin cooking. While the bell peppers are cooking, open a can or two of corn and begin heating the corn on the stove in a small pot. Then take the peppers out of the pan and add them to the serving dish with the onions.
Add more oil to the pan, if necessary and then throw in your chicken strips. Add your spices on top of the chicken. Stir the corn. Get your beans out of the microwave and stir. Sprinkle grated cheese on top of the beans and microwave for another minute to melt the cheese and ensure the beans are thoroughly heated.
Stir your chicken. Take the corn off the heat and spoon it into a serving dish. Add the onions and peppers to the chicken and stir.
Inevitably, someone is offering to help you by now. Let them get the sour cream, salsa, and guacamole out of the fridge and ask them to put it on the table. Then ask them to put the refried beans and corn on the table. While they're doing this, you are microwaving the tortillas. If you don't have helpers, turn off the heat on your stove, keeping the fajita fixings in the skillet and put everything else on the table while your tortillas are warming in the microwave. All that's left to do now is put the fajita mixture back in the serving dish and carry the fajitas and tortillas to the table. Dinner is served.
With a quick cooking meal like this and a plan to execute it, it really does only take 15 minutes. That works for me when I'm having company.