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Friday, July 1, 2011

It Was Fajita Night

I absolutely LOVE to eat fajitas. More likely than not if I am at a restaurant that serves them I will order them. The sound they make, the sizzle, on the cast iron pan as it is brought out to me just makes me drool. Sadly however in my house until today I was the only one who liked them. So I never made them at home.

This week I craved chicken fajitas. I don't know why, but I had to have them. If I could have afforded to go out to a mexican place and order them I would have. Instead on one of my rare excursions to the supermarket I saw my chance and took it. I was in the mexican aisle and there is was calling out my name, Ortega Fajita mix.

I tried to walk away but it was so loud that I stopped and backed up. I looked at the innocent packet on the shelf. It was not anything that my family should run screaming from. It has been a long time since we last had them at home, possibly even years. Before I knew what was happening my arm was reaching towards the packet and I grabbed it. I boldly put in in the cart and knew that we were going to have fajita's this week.

When I got home I announced that there would be fajita's on the menu this week and I needed chicken. Three out of the four members of this family prefer dark meat so I declared that boneless skinless chicken thighs needed to be purchased. I had a pepper and onion all ready. These are what are the usual fajita toppings. I was drooling at the prospect of this much loved meal.

More grocery shopping was done by my soon to be ex and of course he forgot to buy the chicken. The one thing I asked for. I think I heard the fajita mix cry a little. How was I going to make chicken fajitas without chicken? Luckily I had a few stashed dollars and I took the children to the store and bought the meat I needed.

As we walked through produce my son saw a portabella mushroom and was instantly drawn to it. He begged me to buy it. I have a rule, if my children beg for something from produce I buy it. I encourage them to want to try new food and want them to want to eat more fruits and vegetables. I guess I have to apply that to fungus, because it too is in produce. So into the cart it went and I said I was going to cut it up and put it in the fajita.

Then my daughter saw yellow zucchini. The color of it was the brightest yellow I have ever seen yellow squash. Are yellow squash and yellow zucchini the same thing? They sure look the same. Because her brother got to pick an item to put in the fajitas she wanted to pick the zucchini to put in them. I could do that so I added it as well. I am lucky she picked zucchini instead of something less appetizing like cow liver.

It was on the way home that they finally asked me what a fajita was and I explained that it was like a taco with cooked vegetables and usually made with sliced chicken or steak. Then as the words left my mouth I thought to myself, "What have you done, you know they don't like tacos!!!" As if on cue the complaining began and my son started to freak out.

Because he has asperger's he is very sensitive to taste, he prefers bland food. He wanted nothing to do with spicy mexican food! He already knew that he would hate it and the tears started to flow. I made a deal with them. If I could make the fajita's less spicy would they eat at least 1/2 of a fajita? To my amazement they agreed.

We got home and they went to a friends house to play. I could cook in peace and they wouldn't see that onions and peppers were being added. I cut that mushroom in thin slices. The zucchini was cut in strips that resembled spaghetti noodles. (Which by the way is something I add to spaghetti when we have it and they never know that they are eating extra vegetables.) The house was smelling wonderful.

I caramelized the onions and added the green pepper. Once it was soft in went the rest of the ingredients. There was about twice as many ingredients than the mix instructions called for. To thin out the sauce, and hopefully muted the flavors a bit, I used 1/2 cup of water instead if 1/3. Then as if on cue the children came home, dinner time had arrived.

As promised I only gave each one 1/2 of a fajita and I made mac and cheese as a side dish. Then to my amazement, even though he protested and claimed that he hated it, he ate every single bite. My husband, who hates fajitas, had seconds and took some to work for his break. My daughter, who insisted on having sour cream on hers decided that she didn't like the sour cream. She finally ate hers once I scraped the offending topping off.

Victory was mine. My favorite meal is now in our dinner rotation. The only downside to this meal was that even with all the extra ingredients there were no leftovers. Next time I will have to make more, and there will be a next fajita night!

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