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I absolutely love summertime eating.  I have been praying for an Indian Summer here in Portland so I can continue to barbeque and eat all the yummy fruit and veggies that are in season this time of year.  My prayers have been answered as it will be in the 80’s all week!  For Labor Day weekend I had some friends over and we enjoyed the good weather and this amazing mexican style barbeque I threw together.

(I love these centerpieces I put together… here is my inspiration for such stylish table settings)

The following recipes are some of my favorites, and I am so excited to share them with you.  They are easy and great for large and small crowds alike.  I have included a main course, a yummy side and refreshing dessert.  The perfect trifecta of deliciousness! I love the use of citrus in everything and each one of the recipes includes either zest or juice, which adds brightness to the flavor of each dish.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.


Chicken and Steak Fajita Tacos

Fresh Salsa

Black Bean and Corn Salad

Homemade Strawberry Sorbet

Chicken and Steak Fajitas


  •             1/2 cup orange juice
  •             1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  •             2 large limes, zested and juiced
  •             1/4 cup agave nectar or 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  •             3 cloves garlic, minced
  •             1 tablespoon dried oregano
  •             1 tablespoon chili powder
  •             1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
  •             2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts
  •             2 large boneless and skinless chicken thighs
  •             1 (12 to 16-ounce) skirt or flank steak
  •             Serving suggestion: corn or flour tortillas, warmed.


In a small bowl, combine the orange juice, olive oil, lime juice, lime zest, agave nectar (or brown sugar, if using), garlic, oregano, chili powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon-size resealable bag. Add the chicken breasts, chicken thighs and steak and refrigerate for 4 hours, turning the meat occasionally. Put a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Remove the meat from the bag and season with salt. Reserve the marinade.

Grill the chicken breasts for 6 to 8 minutes on each side and the chicken thighs for 8 to 10 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Grill the steak for 5 to 6 minutes each side for medium-well. Allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Meanwhile, put the marinade in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat (in order to kill any bacteria). Boil for 5 minutes until slightly thickened. Slice the meat into 1/4-inch thick pieces and put into serving bowls. Pour the cooked marinade over the meat and toss until coated. Serve the meat in warm tortillas.

Spicy Tomato Salsa


  •          4 medium tomatoes, halved
  •          1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  •          1 garlic clove, crushed
  •          3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  •          2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  •          1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  •          Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  •          Serving suggestion: tortilla chips


Put the tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, olive oil, orange juice, and red pepper flakes in a food processor. Pulse until the ingredients are combined but still chunky. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to a small bowl and serve with tortilla chips.

Black Bean, Corn and Tomato Salad


  •             3 tablespoons olive oil
  •             1 onion, diced
  •             1 tablespoon kosher salt
  •             2 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  •             1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  •              2 cups of fresh or frozen and thawed corn kernels
  •             1 dried bay leaf
  •             3/4 cup chicken broth
  •             2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  •             2 tomatoes, chopped
  •             6 ounces jicama, peeled and chopped (about 1 cup)
  •             1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves


  •              2 tablespoons lemon juice
  •             2 tablespoons lime juice
  •             3 tablespoons agave nectar or 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  •             2 tablespoons lemon zest
  •             2 tablespoons lime zest
  •             1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  •             Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Salad: In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, salt, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper, if using. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes until soft. Add the corn kernels and bay leaf. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the broth and black beans. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and jicama and stir until warmed through, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat.

Dressing: In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, lime juice, agave nectar (or maple syrup, if using), lemon zest, and lime zest. Whisk in the olive oil until the mixture is smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Remove the bay leaf and put the salad in a serving bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve warm or at room temperature.

Strawberry Sorbet

  • 6 C. fresh strawberries, hulled
  • 2 C. sugar
  • 1 1/2 C. strained fresh orange juice
  • 3/4 C. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 C. Grand Marnier or other orange flavored liqueur

In a bowl combine the strawberries, sugar orange juice and lemon juice, and let stand at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours. Put the mixture through a food mill or a sieve, or puree it in an electric blender. Stir in the Grand Marnier and pour the mixture into two large cube ice trays with cube form insert removed.  Freeze until about 1 inch of the mixture is frozen on all sides of the trays. Remove the mixture and beat until mushy. Return the mixture and freeze until firm. For a more delicate mixture, beat the mixture twice freezing slightly in between. You may also freeze it in an ice cream freezer.



Recipes courtesy: Giada De Laurentiis and James Beard