Forget pizza. At the Ramage house, fajita night is cause for fanfare. “My boys are 7 and 4, and they love fajita night!” says Andrew Ramage, a culinary instructor with Delaware Technical Community College. Just remember to save time to marinade the chicken.
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground dark chili powder
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 pounds skinless-boneless chicken breasts or skinless-boneless chicken thighs
1 large yellow onion, sliced
2 red or yellow bell peppers, seeded and sliced 1/4 inch
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced 1/4 inch
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
8 corn tortillas
1 tablespoon canola oil
Queso fresco or shredded cheddar for topping
In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, salt, pepper, 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, the ground chili powder, 1/4 cup of olive oil, and half the garlic. Mix well. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the marinade.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper and place it in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag with the marinade. Seal and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, flipping it over from time to time.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons olive oil. When hot, add the onions and cook until they’re soft and light brown (3 to 4 minutes). Stir in the bell peppers and cook another 3 to 4 minutes.
Turn heat to medium and add the remaining garlic and cumin. Add salt to taste and stir until the peppers are nicely seared and soft, roughly 5 to 8 minutes.
Pour in the reserved 2 tablespoons of marinade and stir. Add half the cilantro and stir again. Remove the peppers from the heat and keep warm. (Cover with a lid of foil.)
Wrap the tortillas in foil and warm in a low oven.
Preheat the grill to medium-high. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on the grill. Flip after 4 to 5 minutes and brush any extra marinade over the chicken. Cook until the internal temperature is 165 F when a thermometer is inserted into the thickest part of the chicken.
Transfer to a cutting board and cover with foil. Let the meat rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Cut against the grain of the chicken into quarter- to half-inch strips. Place the sliced chicken on a platter, sprinkle with the remaining cilantro and place the vegetables on the same platter. Serve with the warm tortillas and your choice of cheese.
Rankin used sweet Italian sausage when the children were little. Now they like it spicy. “It’s a quick, easy weeknight meal,” the chef says. “I have added fennel and sweet potato.” Cream, chicken broth and tomato paste are other options.
1 pound Italian sweet or spicy sausage
2 cups washed, chopped kale, ribs removed—or use prewashed kale in a bag
1 large yellow onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 box of your favorite pasta (Rankin uses rigatoni or cavatappi)
Parmesan for serving
Black and red pepper flakes (optional)
Remove sausage from the casing, break into small pieces and start to brown in a Dutch oven for 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook until sausage is thoroughly cooked and the onion is golden. Do not drain the oil from the sausage.
Add garlic and kale. Cover and let the kale soften for 5 minutes.
Boil the pasta in generously salted water to al dente. Save 1/2 cup of the pasta water and drain the rest.
Add the pasta to the sausage and kale mixture. Next, pour in the pasta water, mix and put the lid on the Dutch oven—off the heat—for 5 minutes. Stir again and serve with Parmesan cheese and generous amounts of cracked black pepper or crushed red peppers.
(Serves 12, but most people will have more than 1)
As the new executive chef of the Surf & Turf Steakhouse in Milford, Nina Maddox has a full plate. She copes by putting a fast and fun meal in the hands of her teenage daughter Marlee and friends. This recipe is also great for parties. “Mom will love it because there is little cleanup—at least, that might be my favorite part,” Maddox says.
Your favorite taco accoutrements (diced avocado, salsa, chopped lettuce and tomatoes, black beans, shredded cheese or sour cream)
2 pounds of ground beef or your favorite taco meat
Taco seasoning (see below for recipe or purchase a blend) to taste
12 single-serve bags of Doritos or the tortilla chips of your choice
Prep the taco toppings of your choice and have them ready. Brown the ground meat until cooked and add the taco seasoning
Gently crush the Dorito bags to break up the chips. Open each bag and fold the top down to create a pouch. Spoon about 1/4 cup of meat into the bag and add toppings. Serve with a fork or spoon.
1/4 cup chili powder
2 tablespoons cumin
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic salt
4 teaspoons pepper
4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne or red pepper flakes
Combine and store in an airtight container.
A slow cooker is a godsend for harried parents. By the time they return home, the house is full of tempting aromas and the food is ready to seat. Or they can cook it ahead and reheat.
Personal chef and instructor Kris Etze recommends this recipe because it is reminiscent of German sauerbraten. “The ginger snaps add flavor and thicken the gravy, and there’s minimal prep,” the Lewes resident says.
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
2 14-ounce cans beef broth
12 ginger snap cookies
.08-ounce envelopes brown gravy mix (McCormick low-sodium)
1 4-pound chuck or bottom round roast (the bolar cut is the leanest part)
Combine all ingredients except for the meat in the slow cooker. Stir well. Add the meat and stir well to coat. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or high for 5 hours.