Laurie McNamara’s blog Simply Scratch reminds us that no matter how busy life gets, sometimes we just need to slow down and take the time to cook a proper meal, like these onion and sweet bell pepper topped Steak Fajitas.
One with real, honest, unadulterated ingredients your grandma would recognize. There’s simply nothing like a true homemade meal. Especially one void of preservatives and artificial ingredients yet simple enough to entice all levels of home cooks.
For a few years now, we’ve been turning to Laurie’s blog, Simply Scratch, for solace in the kitchen. Her photography is beautiful and her food styling is seemingly effortless. Her recipes are nourishing and familiar without being too time-consuming or elaborate. She even has several recipes for those with diet allergies and restrictions to appease us all.
Needless to say, when we found out she was publishing her first book, Simply Scratch: 120 Wholesome Homemade Recipes Made Easy we were thrilled, because this girl knows how to cook.
Her Skirt Steak Fajitas recipe at the bottom of this post was one of the first to catch our eye. And here’s why…
“This cookbook was definitely inspired by my two daughters, Haileigh and Malloree,” Laurie says. “When deciding if writing a cookbook was something I was going to embark on, my decision was finally made by wanting to show my girls that if you work hard at something you love, you can absolutely make your dreams come true. But I also draw inspiration from all around me; things I’ve had at restaurants or a friend’s home, remaking family favorites or spying ingredients while strolling through the grocery store or local market. My mind is always plotting out new recipes.”
The “Basics” chapter is Laurie’s favorite part of the book. It features around 40+ recipes, as well as a myriad of kitchen staples (think ketchup, mayonnaise, seasoning blends, condensed soups, etc.) that can be used in other recipes throughout the book.
“I keep that chapter bookmarked because I refer to it all the time,” she says.
“I really struggled with this cookbook at first,” Laurie admits. “Writing, photographing and testing (and re-testing) the recipes during the busy holiday months while maintaining my blog and still making it to my daughter’s volleyball or softball practice was tough. It was several hectic months and trying to keep on top of it all was my biggest challenge for sure. But once I got started and had a game plan set into place, I found my groove.”
“At times it was fun and learning the process was exciting, but there was plenty of self-doubt, frustration and failed recipes to balance it all out,” says Laurie.
“The moment I turned in my first draft of the manuscript was quite a moment for me. I think at the time it had over 53,000 words and coming from someone who doesn’t view herself as a “writer”, this was HUGE.”
And Now, the List of 10 Q’s for Laurie’s A’s
1. Describe your blog in 3 words:
Simple, realistic and delicious.
2. If you could be one blogger other than yourself, who would you be?
Melissa from The FauxMartha — I love her impeccable style, recipes and photography!
3. Which 3 blogs do you follow/are obsessed with/can’t live a day without?
4. What is the one kitchen tool you could never give up?
My garlic press, mincing garlic is not my favorite.
5. What dish are you obsessed with mastering that you just can’t get quite right?
Bread! Rolls and breadsticks are one thing, but a good loaf of bread — I just haven’t been able to master yet.
6. What did you have for dinner last night?
I actually went out on a date with my husband last night. We ate at a local restaurant and I ordered their BBQ Pork Osso Buco. It was slathered with their house-made rum-raisin barbecue sauce on top of polenta and next to braised kale with a creamy Dijon dressing. It was amazing.
7. What’s one secret talent outside of the kitchen nobody knows about you?
I love to do anything artsy. I’ve dabbled in painting and drawing but I’m more of a hardcore doodler than anything.
8. You’re happiest when cooking/eating:
Anything braised! I love making a braised pork shoulder and serving it on either cauliflower mash or cheesy fontina grits.
9. The one secret to your success is?
Staying true to myself. I’ve always listened to and trusted my gut instincts when making decisions. If it feels right, I go for it and so far it hasn’t steered me wrong.
10. What’s next for you? Do you see another cookbook in your future?
Right now I’m doing publicity for my book, but I would love the opportunity to write a second one in the future! I have a billion ideas floating around my head, so fingers are crossed!
Simply Scratch Steak Fajitas
Laurie shares in her book this Steak Fajita recipes was one of her go-to, no-fail recipes in the early years of her marriage. Back then she used frozen, pre-cooked chicken strips and frozen fajita vegetables to get this on the table. Totally acceptable, but not really homemade.
These days, Laurie creates her fajitas from scratch, natch!
These fajitas were absolutely incredible. I’ve never been one to order fajitas at my favorite Mexican joint (I’m more about the chili rellenos and enchiladas) but after tasting these, I am a certified fajita loving convert. At least in my own homemade kitchen.
About the recipe
Steak is the main protein in this homemade version of the popular Mexican dish, but Laurie assures us this recipe is equally as delicious with boneless, skinless chicken breast as well. Her original recipe calls for using skirt steak but skirt steak was a little difficult for me to find so instead I used hanger steak. Flank steak would also make a fine substitution but will cost you more at the register.
The key to this dish’s amazing flavor is the incredibly flavorful and balanced homemade spice blend Laurie shares in her book. It’s combination of spice, salt and heat infuses the meat in just 30 minutes for a surprisingly deep flavor in such a short amount of time. I can’t wait to try the mix with tacos, too.
Seriously, the spice recipe is a keeper.
Freshly sliced peppers and onions are hallmarks of fajitas. Laurie recommends red and orange bell peppers. I of course added a few extra just because I am a huge fan of the veggie component of any dish.
We had leftovers after dinner and my husband put them to work the next morning when he made himself a version of a Machaca burrito. He chopped up the leftovers, scramble them with egg and threw them in a tortilla with some cheddar cheese. Holy crap.
This is the way to leftover!
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment below or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
- For the Homemade Fajita Seasoning Blend
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ taspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- For the Steak Fajitas
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 recipe Fajita seasoning (above)
- ¼ cupplus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped, plus more for serving
- 1½ pounds hanger, skirt or flank steak, halved crosswise
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 sweet onion, halved and sliced vertically
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
- ½ orange bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
- 2 wedges of lime
- 1 avocado, pitted and smashed
- 16 warm flour tortillas
- For the Homemade Fajita Seasoning Blend
- Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
- For the Steak Fajitas
- In a shallow bowl, combine the garlic, fajita seasoning, ¼ cup olive oil, and cilantro. Toss the steak to coat in the marinade, cover and marinade for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-hihg heat. Place the butter, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and onion in the skillet. Season with the salt, stir, and cook until the edges of the onion are deeply golden yet still a bit firm, about 10 minutes. Add the peppers and cook for 5 to 8 minutes more, depending on how done you prefer them. Transfer the onion and peppers to a small dish.
- Working in two batches, sear the steak on both sides for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 to 8 minutes before slicing into thin strips. Return the strips and any juices from the cutting board to the skillet, squeeze in the juice from the lime wedges, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes more. Remove from the heat and tent with aluminum foil to keep warm.
- Serve on warm tortillas. Garnish with smashed avocado that's been mixed with a sprinkle of kosher salt and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Top with Cotija cheese and more cilantro if desired.
- Recipe from Simply Scratch: 120 Wholesome Homemade Recipes Made Easy
Thank you Laurie for being one of our favorite, whole food / comfort food-making foodie crushes!
Visit Laurie and her blog at Simply Scratch.
Purchase her book Simply Scratch: 120 Wholesome Homemade Recipes Made Easy.
As always, thank you for reading and for supporting companies I partner with, which allows me to create more unique content and recipes for you. All opinions are always my own.
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