Easy Weeknight Beef Fajita

 

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No matter how well you think you planned for the week ahead, don’t you have those days when all that so-called planning amounts to nothing? Yesterday was one of those days for me! 6:40pm and no idea what to serve for dinner! Hmph, not a good feeling.

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As usual, I first do a mental inventory of what ingredients I had on hand that could be quickly transformed into a meal that the family will enjoy. Yes, I had chicken in the freezer, but I didn’t have the patience to deal with the defrosting process! Ahhh…..then I reached for the shaved beef. Really, I don’t think they are not all that bad for you! Their fat content is significantly lower than a typical burger and they are so versatile.

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You could transform this super thinly sliced meat into a cheesy Philly steak sandwich, spicy fajitas or a stir fry with Asian veggies. But this time around, I gravitated towards a spicy fajita with the typical toppings – a simple avocado/tomato relish, shredded lettuce and purple cabbage (yes, yes, purple cabbage is one of my obsessions now a days, so I throw them fresh into whatever I can!), salsa, sour cream and …..no cheese (ran out of cheese! :-O).

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With minimal preparation and immense amount of flavor and well-balanced nutrition, this weeknight dinner ended up being a big success. So, what not to love about it! C’on, give it a try – I promise you will appreciate the ease of it all!

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Easy Weeknight Beef Fajita

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients
1 lb package shaved beef
1 packet low-sodium fajita seasoning (or make your own)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 small red pepper, sliced into long, thin strips
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 avocado
1 plum tomato
1 green onion
1 tablespoon lemon juice
pinch of salt
1/2 cup thinly sliced romaine
1/2 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
8 small flour or corn tortillas, warmed
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced, optional
Bottle salsa, optional
Sour cream, optional

Preparation
1. Begin by preparing the avocado-tomato salad. Peel and dice the avocado. Combine with diced tomato and thinly sliced green onion. Toss with the lemon juice and set aside.
2. Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over high heat and cook the beef till cooked through. Sprinkle the taco seasoning over the meat and continue cooking for additional two minutes. Remove the beef onto a serving platter and keep warm.
3. Wipe down the pan and add the remaining oil. Reduce heat to medium-high and stir fry the red peppers till lightly browned. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and transfer onto the beef.
4. Warm the tortillas in the microwave (30 seconds) or in a warm skillet. Serve immediately with the meat and all desired toppings.

 

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Minty Avocado Brownie

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It’s March! And that usually is characterized by GREEN!

From Facebook posts, it is quite clear people are already enjoying their minty Shamrock shakes! So, when the thought for brownies came about, I wanted to combine chocolate and mint, but in a healthier unison! Avocados anyone?

 

20140303_143058[1] In many ways, I guess a good ripe avocado is nature’s butter! Or creamy milk substitute (gosh, can’t wait to try an avocado ice cream or froyo!). Since I had a perfectly ripe fruit tempting me to transform it into something even more divine than its natural indulgent self, I figured I would try out an avocado brownie recipe that I saw at http://www.kirantarun.com. So, that’s what I did! Avocados have a lot of the good fat – but they do pack some serious calories if you eat too much. This recipe that serves 8 uses one large avocado, so not bad. The only cholesterol that is in this recipe comes from a single egg used.

Also, I replaced wheat flour with all purpose flour and ground flax. The end result was a very moist, soft, “choco-minty” brownie that prompted calls for seconds! Next time, I would like to add some chopped nuts (pistachios sound good) to add a bit of textural element. All in all, I think you will not be disappointed in this recipe. In fact you will probably have this as your go-to recipe when you run out of mint-chocolate chip ice cream! This is one of those recipes that definitely needs to find a place in the “guilt free indulgence” category!

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Minty Avocado Brownie

  • Servings: 8
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Ingredients
1 large ripe avocado
1/2 cup minus 2 heaping tablespoons all purpose flour
2 heaping tablespoons ground flax
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 heaping tablespoons Dutch process cocoa
1 egg, very lightly beaten
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon warm water
1/2 teaspoon mint extract
2 tablespoons chocolate chips, optional
2 tablespoons chopped nuts, optional

Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Mash avocado until quite smooth in a medium bowl.
3. To this, add lightly beaten egg, mint extract and espresso mixture.
4. In a separate bowl, mix well the dry ingredients except chocolate chips and nuts.
5. Gently fold in the dry ingredients into the avocado mixture.
6. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if used.
7. Scoop batter into a small loaf pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Level with a knife or back of spoon.
8. Bake for about 25 minutes, till center tests done (toothpick test).
9. Cool in refrigerator and cut into eight squares, about 2″ wide.

Mafalde in Creamy Avocado Sauce

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If you are reading this, that means we share something in common – a love for avocados! Love as in anything with avocado in it – salads, smoothies, guacamole, desserts and whatever else.
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Going back to my childhood years, the only way I remember eating these velvety smooth fruits is in the form of an Avocado Fool – a sweetened and chilled concoction of mashed avocado, sugar and milk (or just condensed milk). Even now, I can recollect admiring the huge smooth green fruits (like the Florida type) hanging from trees waiting for someone to transform them into a Fool, the only way I think anyone there knew how to enjoy them! Fast forward to the present time and gosh only imagination is the limit!

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I love creamy pastas but cringe at the thought of consuming more than a day’s worth of fat in just a single meal. Needless to say, it is one of my kids’ favorites. Knowing that they don’t get treated to the full-fat version at home, they try their luck at restaurants and honestly, I feel like it is some sort of a dietary “abuse” every time I reluctantly allow them to order a creamy pasta dish. Now, being an aficionado of creamy sauces like alfredo, I look for ways to lighten up the recipes by substituting low fat milk for cream, less butter etc. Then I came across the idea for an avocado-based sauce at http://sweetlifebake.com. The original recipe calls for 2 ripe avocados for 4 servings but I found that just 1 worked perfectly.

Mafalde in Creamy Avocado Sauce

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients
1/2 pkg of 16oz Mafalde* pasta or any other pasta of your choice
1 Hass avocado
1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup of chopped onions
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 cup of cilantro leaves
1 large Roma tomato, chopped
Salt to taste

Preparation
1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of pasta water.
2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet and sauté onions and garlic till lightly browned.
3. Transfer cooked onion and garlic to a blender.
4. Wipe the pan and add remaining tablespoon of oil.
5. Add chopped tomato to the pan the cook just until soft. Reduce heat to very low while making the sauce.
6. Scoop out pulp from the avocado and place in blender with the juice from 1/2 lemon, cilantro leaves and salt.
7. Start blending, incorporating just enough pasta liquid to make a thick sauce of desired consistency.
8. Transfer the pasta back to the pan with the tomato. Increase heat to medium.
9. Add the avocado sauce and gently stir to warm through.
7. Serve with extra sprinkling of cilantro and chopped tomato if desired.

* Mafalde pasta resembles a thinner version of lasagna pasta. It can be found in stores that carry a good variety of international ingredients. It can easily be substituted with other pasta of your choice.