Cinco de Mayo

This, my friends, is liquid gold. Pure liquid gold.

Fresh squeezed lime juice

One post-preschool-drop-off morning last week, I spent the better part of two hours driving around west Houston scouting the price of limes. Grocery stores roll their weekly prices on Wednesdays and with our annual Tequila & Taquitos Bash approaching, I needed to find the most affordable source for limes.

My first stop?

The price of limes

NOPE. I’ve never paid more than .20/lime. Ever. And in recent months, I’ve actually been completely spoiled with .10 limes.

Although I did watch in complete wonder (horror? envy?) as a woman loaded 10 limes into a bag without so much as batting a (totally fake) eyelash and moved on. As in, $6.90. For 10 limes.

Fresh squeezed lime juice

I needed 230 limes. As in ~$160. In just limes. So not gonna happen.

The rest of my stops were met with only slightly less budget-breaking prices: .44-.45. And then I rolled into my last stop, found .25 limes, and began the tedious process of digging through the bins looking for The Perfect Lime.

The Perfect Lime
Not only are limes expensive these days thanks to the basic economic principle of supply, demand, and entprenurial drug-cartel hijacking, they also aren’t very good quality. More than 75% of that bin was full of hard, under-ripe limes.

Hard under-ripe limes do not a good margarita make. Or a good anything else.

Fresh squeezed lime juice

I look for smooth limes that give quite a bit when you squeeze them – because those softer, squishier limes? They’re ripe. Full of easy-to-extract lime juice. Full of easy-to-extract future margarita. Totally worth the [gulp] .25 each.

I also prefer the rounder limes – my juicer sometimes balks at the more football-shaped limes. And when I’m going to juice 230 limes over the course of 4 days, I prefer fewer problems and interruptions.

So you’ve hoarded limes for LimeMageddon. Now you are ready to juice and freeze.

The Perfect Lime Juicer
It’s any appliance that plugs into a wall and makes juicing 230 limes go as quick and as painless as possible. We have a 5-year-old Breville Citrus Press. (Sigh. I really do miss the DINK days.) It’s insanely heavy duty and has seen literally thousands of citrus halves over the years, from tiny key limes to the gigantigrapefruit from the RGV… and even pomegranates! Pull lever, count to 3, discard peel. Repeat. 229 more times.

And when the very sad day comes and the Breville isn’t repairable for less than $25, we’ll buy the Applica Citrus Juicer.

The Perfect Lime Margarita
Just say no to the neon green mix from a the bottle. Just say no to pre-bottled, pasteurized lime juice. Just say no – and give major side eye – to cutting your perfect lime margarita with lemon juice. (No, it’s not the same.) (Yes, everyone will be able to tell.)

If you want to drink the perfect margarita, you have to go fresh. Lime juice, water, sugar/sweetener, tequila, orange liqueur and maybe a rim of salt. That’s it. No preservatives, no food coloring, no fakesies anything.

Homemade Margarita Mix Recipe

Make your own homemade margarita mix.

Homemade Margarita Mix Recipe

Ditch the sugar in favor of a “I can’t believe this is only 118 calories” Skinny Margarita.

Blue Margarita Recipe

Two words: Margarita Popsicles.

Blue Margarita Recipe

Or tackle any one of the 24 other margarita recipes we’ve whipped up.

The Perfect Lime Juice Storage
Any freezer food-storage option will do, but if you’re going to be measuring your liquid gold lime juice stash in quarts (or gallons!), I cannot recommend these 32 oz storage containers enough. Food safe, secure seal, and they hold 3.5 cups of lime juice (with headroom for freezing). I have 6 of them in my freezer right now – that’s 21 cups – with 75 limes left to juice.

To use the lime juice, I put the frozen container in a sink of water deep enough to come up 3/4 the side of the container and let it thaw. I use what I need and if I won’t be using 3.5 cups of lime juice in the next few days (it happens… sometimes), I simply refreeze the juice.

Now you’re ready to hit the market and sort through the windfall of Lime Suckage to get the most margarita for your buck. So ladies and gentleman, start your hoarding!

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Tequila Lime Chicken Fajitas

It’s grilling season. Kind of.

And by kind of, I mean there are currently icicles hanging off the new grill. The new grill I bought specifically to make these fajitas.

Tequila Lime Chicken Fajitas

Of course there are icicles. Because this is Texas and Spring Break is 3 days away and the Bluebonnets and Paints are already peeking out along 71 near LaGrange. So it’s time to nuke everyone’s happiness with garden-crushing temperatures and “Thundersleet.”

So I guess that makes them Thundercicles™.

They can take our beautifully deceptive spring weather, but they can’t take our tequila. Unless it’s after 9pm or Sunday and then there’s no place open to buy tequila.

(Tequila. It makes the intolerable aspects of Texas slightly more tolerable.) (™)

Tequila Lime Chicken Fajitas

Chicken breasts are marinated in, essentially, a margarita. Then they’re grilled to charred perfection and served wrapped in fluffy tortilas with grilled vegetables, pico de gallo, and avocado. And washed down with a pitcher of margaritas.

Happy Another Texas Spring Break Spent in a Sweater!

Tequila-Lime Chicken Fajitas

Juicy chicken fajitas marinated in tequila and lime.

Ingredients

  • For the marinade:
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 1/2 oz (3 Tbsp) tequila
  • 1 tsp of chile powder
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 lb chicken breasts, pounded to even thickness
  • For serving
  • Olive oil
  • 1 lime, cut in half
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, cut into 1/3-inch rounds
  • 2 green bell peppers, cut into 1/3-inch slices
  • Small flour tortillas
  • Pico de gallo
  • Sliced avocado

Instructions

  1. Place the marinade ingredients into a gallon freezer bag and squeeze to mix.
  2. Add the chicken, seal, turn to coat, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (Longer is better.)
  3. Oil grates and heat grill to medium-high.
  4. Drizzle onion rounds, bell pepper slices, and cut ends of the lime with olive oil and place on the grill (if your grates are very large, grill on folded-to-double-thickness foil with slats cut through it).
  5. Add the chicken and cook for 6-7 minutes and then flip everything (veggies included) and cook for 6-7 minutes more until veggies are nicely charred and juices run clear from the chicken.
  6. Let chicken rest 10 minutes before slicing.
  7. Serve chicken on tortillas, topped with grilled veggies, pico, avocado, and a squeeze of grilled lime.

Notes

Yields: 8 fajitas

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 1 hour 35 minutes

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Pineapple-Marinated Beef Fajitas

This is what I look forward to most, living in southeast Texas. Not fajitas, but this time of year. (Although, let’s be honest – has any culture produced a more amazing, fascinating cuisine that even gets close to TexMex?)

It’s open-windows during the day, almost-cool-enough-to-consider-a-light-cardigan over a tank top at night.
These next few weeks? They’re why we put up with 6 months of soul-sucking heat and oppressive humidity.

We don’t get acres of beautiful trees ablaze with oranges and reds and golds. Actually, it would be a lot easier to sum up “fall in Texas” with a single red leaf on a small-tree-sized weed behind the back fence.

IMG_5132

That’s it, y’all :)

And you can easily identify those Texans who have been counting down the days for a break from the convection oven weather – they’re the ones who went full-on boots, jeans, scarves, and puffy jackets at preschool drop-off last week at 68 degrees. And returned for preschool pick-up in shorts & flip flops.

Those Texans, minus the puffy jackets, they look a lot… EXACTLY… like me :)

We’re the ones crowding the patios for dinner under the lights with a pitcher of margaritas and platters of sizzling fajitas at the table right next to the overkill patio heater. The ones with the pool heater on because the water is already to cold to swim without it.

It’s all the best parts of spring, only there’s football being played somewhere nearby, 5 nights a week. And beautiful weather calls for beautiful food.

Pineapple Marinated Beef Fajitas

These fajitas are the perfect example of how we’ve had a hard time this “fall” getting into heavier, comfort foods. We’re still hanging on a little bit longer before free-falling off the cliff into the creamy casserole canyon. But I have to admit – it’s not that far off. King Ranch Chicken, here we come!

Pineapple-Marinated Beef Fajitas

Juicy flank steak tenderized with a fresh pineapple marinade.

Ingredients

  • For the marinade:
  • 1/2-inch thick slice of fresh pineapple, core removed*
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • Generous pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 lb flank steak (or your favorite cut for fajitas)
  • For serving
  • Diced pineapple
  • 6-8 tortillas
  • Cilantro
  • Sliced fresh jalapeno
  • Diced red onion
  • Cilantro
  • Plain yogurt or sour cream
  • * If you're using canned pineapple, go with 2 slices and the juice from the can.

Instructions

  1. Place the flank steak in a large zipper bag.
  2. Place the marinade ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
  3. Pour over the flank steak, seal the bag, and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes only - do not marinate it longer than 30 minutes. Pineapple is an ultra-tenderizer and it will turn your meat into mush if left in contact too long.
  4. While the steak is marinating, chop the rest of the toppings and prepare any sides.
  5. Heat your grill or grill pan to high.
  6. Cook the flank steak ~4 minutes on each side for medium (~5-6 for medium well).
  7. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing against the grain, holding your knife at an angle when cutting.
  8. Serve in warmed tortillas, topped with red onion, pineapple, jalapeno, cilantro, and a dollop of yogurt/sour cream.

Notes

Yields: 6-8 fajitas

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 1 hour

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Black & White Tacos

There’s bar food. And then there’s post-bar food. Those tacos, those fell into the latter category.

After college, I predictably kept the safety-net low-paying, entry-level job as a drone at SkyNet that I used to pay my some of my way through school to work for a bunch of people who undervalued me only slightly more than I undervalued myself. I was quiet, reserved. I did what I was told, showed up when I was supposed to, and somehow managed to fill out a weekly to-do list with the fluffiest of fluff – always leaving off the biggest accomplishment of the week. Smothering another section of my soul.

Black & White Tacos

I missed the smell of old books and desperation while cramming in the library before a Histology or Virology exam. I missed the crazy, passionate look in Professor Ds eyes as she lectured on the physiology of the nasal passages of dessert mice and urinary tracts of frogs. (And really, how awesome is a person who can get excited over frog kidneys?)

I missed the quiet. I missed dreaming about the future, what I was going to be when I “grew up.” Being an adult sucked. And the second the clock on my very-closely-monitored-as-if-I-were-a-criminal PC clicked over to 5:00pm, I was running out the door to the half of an apartment I shared with the anti-Shawnda in a transitional area of town that was half pouring-distance-to-great-night-life and half lock-yourself-in-after-dark.

You had to prioritize.

Black & White Tacos

Anti-Shawnda & I had tons in common: we both could afford only half of the rent and we both drove Dodge Rams. (And sweet Jesus, are Texas boys seriously weak when it comes to the whole girls-who-drive-trucks thing.) (And we totally knew it.)

Most weekends, she felt it was her mission in life to liberate me from the spinster-in-training delivery Star pizza and a game of Madden to bounce between douchey clubs full of douchey poeple, all vying for the chance to pour another round at the drop-dead-gorgeous brunette, and by association, the blonde bored-as-hell-and-kinda-bitchy-and-angry-at-the-world friend (as many a wingman would describe) next to her. Rule #1: Guys who didn’t want to – or worse, couldn’t - talk football with a girl didn’t get to talk about anything else with the girl.

More than once I went to the bathroom with the intention of hopping into a cab cab to drive me back home after making a pitstop at Chacho’s.

Black & White Tacos

Now that was truly worthy of putting on pants and eyeliner after 8pm. Chacho’s was where the real party was. A few texts and a cab ride later, a few fellow spinsters-in-training and I would converge to celebrate escaping another wingman who had no respect for personal space with tortillas so fluffy and thick, you’d be hard-pressed to pass them off as tortillas.

Call ‘em what you want, but they served as the perfect vehicle to The Black & White: a burrito loaded with black beans, white cheese, sour cream, and then the predictable burrito white noise of shredded lettuce and tomatoes.

You ordered it as a half or you had them cut a whole one to split with a spinster-in-training. Like the Texas Teas at the Marquis II, you didn’t tackle a whole one by yourself and remember enough about it to be able to brag the next day. But those Tuesday half-price teas are a story for another day.

Today the story is a decently fulfilled, happy-with-life, still-LOVES-to-talk-football, non-spinster blonde whipping up a more manageable version of the black & white for her husband and daughter.

Black & White Tacos

Black beans, Monterrey jack cheese, and sour cream (or Greek yogurt) make for a fantastic meatless taco worthy of reminiscing about the old days.

Ingredients

  • Black beans (you can used rinsed canned beans or use these leftovers)
  • Flour tortillas
  • Grated Monterrey Jack cheese
  • Sour Cream (I use 2% Total Fage Yogurt)
  • Pico de gallo
  • Lime wedges
  • Sliced jalapenos

Instructions

  1. Top warmed tortillas with 1/4 cup of black beans, a generous pinch of cheese, pico, sliced jalapenos.
  2. Squeeze a lime wedge over top before dolloping yogurt/sour cream and rolling.
  3. Happily reminisce about the old days.*
  4. *Your experience may vary.

Notes

Yields: Servings vary

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride, Inspired by Chacho's

Estimated time: 20 minutes

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