Chicago, Eat, Entertaining, Travel

In Fajita The Moment

As winter hangs on for a little too long for our Chicagoan taste, some girl friends and I got together for dinner-in that would warm us up. I hosted and decided to go with homemade fajitas after I took inventory of my fridge and found chicken, bell peppers, avocados, and tomatoes ready to use. I did a quick search and was immediately drawn to The Pioneer Woman’s homemade fajita rub (almost a marinade, but less saucy) and she’s one of my favorite Food Network chefs, especially after we pronounced our common fashion sense when we met for the first time last summer at the BlogHer 2013 conference. I thought about buying pre-made fajita seasoning, but I noticed the high salt content and many of the ingredients were spices and sauces I had at home, so this was also a cost-effective option. I never would have thought to put cumin in fajita seasoning!

While her recipe included beef, I went with chicken and improvised a little bit, but I would say it worked! My version had some Rebecca twists to it.

  1. I didn’t have Worcestershire sauce handy, and hers called for sugar, but my Trader Joe’s TJ’s BBQ Sauce had molasses (for sweetness) and some other tomato-based, meaty-intentioned flavors in it, and I used a few tablespoons of soy sauce, included in Worchestershire.
  2. I skipped the sugar and used less salt since soy sauce is a salt and flavoring component. (Now I’m talking like Food Network chef judges – watch an episode of Chopped and you’ll hear “component” often.)
  3. I also substituted red pepper flakes for chipotle pepper flakes I have in my pantry, which added some smokiness.
  4. I used cayenne pepper instead of chili powder, which gave the meat and veggies a comforting and noticeable heat throughout.
  5. And, I have to say, Trader Joe’s (Trader Jose’s) combination corn & wheat tortillas are just the perfect thickness and taste very authentic and fresh – I love the soft chewiness that firmed up when heated on the grill pan for a few minutes on each side.

Check out my version of the homemade chicken fajita rub/marinade below.

Just like The Pioneer Woman, I marinated the veggies in a separate dish with half of the marinade. The end result was a fully-flavorful meal.

Homemade Chicken fajita marinade, adding cumin
chopped up fresh bell peppers for homemade fajita recipe night

Trader Jose's corn & wheat tortillas for fajita night


homemade chicken fajita marinade with peppers and guacamole


homemade chicken fajita marinade recipe


homemade chicken fajita rub recipe and guacamole


homemade chicken fajita marinade recipe


Homemade Chicken Fajita Marinade (adapted from The Pioneer Woman‘s Beef Fajita recipe)

  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons of soy sauce (instead of Worcestershire)
  • 4 Tablespoons of TJ’s Bold & Smokey Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce (instead of molasses)
  • 1/3 cup Lime Juice, Fresh Squeezed
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon cayenne pepper (instead of Chili powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle pepper flakes (instead of red pepper flakes)
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper


In a dish, mix together the ingredients above until combined. Pour half of the marinade into a separate dish. In one dish, place the chicken breasts, pounded to be flat and cook evenly, turning it over to coat. In the second dish, place all the veggies, turning to coat. Cover the dishes with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Prepare tortillas, guacamole, and other fixings you like.

Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat and drizzle in some oil. Add the veggies and cook them for a few minutes, until they’re cooked but still slightly firm and have nice black/brown pieces. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Heat the same same skillet (or a grill pan if you have it) over high heat and drizzle some oil. Cook the meat for about 2 minutes per side until medium rare. Remove and allow to rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes.

Use the heated grill pan to lightly char the tortillas.

Slice the meat right before serving and serve with all the fixings.


Looking for an easy homemade margarita recipe to go with your homemade chicken fajita fiesta? Try this healthier version with less sugar and natural ingredients from The Kitchn! I made this a few weeks before fajita night since some friends got together and I wanted to avoid using the syrupy store-bought mix bottle. It took a little bit longer, but was worth it with health benefits and natural flavors that come through in each sip. I prefer simple, authentic margaritas with only a few ingredients. I should have used a bit more salt, but the fresh lime juice, simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water brought to a boil on the stove, then cooled), and tequila combined to make a bright, light cocktail, just what I was going for. A few of us added in some jalapeño discs for an extra kick.

homemade margaritas



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