Monthly Archives: April 2010

Muy Delicioso!

To me there is nothing better than waking up on a Sunday morning and making something delicious in the kitchen, something that during the week would not be possible…

With the house still quiet and only the sounds & smells of the kitchen around me, it is a sort of peaceful moment in time that I cherish.

This morning did not fall short…

After attending the Cinco de Mayo themed cooking class at Whole Foods last week there was a sauce that I just couldn’t get out of my mind & I knew after our trip to the Latino market yesterday that I had to make it and I had to make it now!

Ancho Chile Sauce

  • 3 tomatillos
  • 3 oz. ancho chiles
  • 2 onions
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • approx. 3 cups veg stock
  • 1 tblsp agave

Have you ever worked with tomatillos before?  This was a first for me!

These lil’ guys are a staple in Mexican cuisine and are not to be confused with an unripe green tomato.  They are covered with a paper-like husk and impart a tart flavor and beautiful green color to many Mexican sauces.

I started by coating the tomatillos with about 1 tblsp olive oil, placing them on a foil lined baking pan and roasting at 425F for about 20 minutes…

Next I removed the skins from the onions & garlic, coated them with another 1 tblsp olive oil and slow roasted these at 350F for about 45 minutes.  Note that I wrapped each individually in foil to create a “packet”

The end product was a roasted batch of wonderful!

While all this roasting was going on, I prepped the ancho chiles, which are actually dried poblanos.  This was also an ingredient that I have never worked with in the kitchen, so fun!

First just prep up the chiles by slicing off the stems & scraping out the seeds, unless you like your mouth to be on fire I guess? 😛

Then bring a few cups of veg stock to a boil (or you can use chicken stock or even beer!), turn off the heat and drop in the dried chiles, covering the pot to trap in the heat.

Once they soak for a little while (maybe an hour?) they plump right up and are ready to use 🙂

At this point it was time to get out one of my favorite kitchen tools and get to blending!

Just add all the roasted ingredients to the ancho chile mixture and blend away… I transferred to a taller pot to avoid splattering the walls/myself/etc with the red sauce 😉

GIVEAWAY REMINDER!  You have until 5pm tomorrow to enter to win your very own Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender!

After blending the ingredients I decided a touch of agave would just finish this sauce off, check out the final product…


After that kitchen adventure we had a full day of cleaning the house, watching Food Inc. (loved it, reaffirms all my reasons for shopping/eating how I do) and pounding out a 6 Round Slim Down routine on ExTV 😛

Once dinner time rolled around things were ready to roll!

I took these Whole Foods chicken breasts…

… and covered with the ancho chile sauce before placing them into a 350F oven for about 30 minutes to cook through.

Layer of sauce on bottom, chicken, layer of sauce on top.

Then shredded up the chicken, adding more sauce as needed to create a luscious chicken filling for the corn tortillas.

Speaking of, check out these beauties from the Latino market!

Stone ground corn, water & lime.  That’s it.  The smell of these in the oven was so authentic, so fabulous ahhh so good!

To complete the tacos I sauteed up some onions & peppers in a lil’ olive oil, adding some fresh cilantro at the end…

Served with shredded cheese and salsa, here was the dinner setup!

To go with I made a mixture of corn, peppers & onions, salsa for our veg… plus some fresh chives for good measure 🙂

All served up this one was one delicious meal!  I loved the sauce and have mucho leftovers stored away for future use 😛

Muy Delicioso!

Quick lil’ hint about fresh herbs too friends, if you pick too much from your garden or want to keep store bought fresh, just loosely wrap in a wet paper towel and add some water (about 1/2″) to a cup/mug and store on the counter…

… these mint leaves have been here for 7 days.  I kid you not, and they look fabulous!

Alright well I better get outta here, time to rest up before another Monday at work and a trip to the dentist for a filling (as if Mondays couldn’t get any better haha) 😉

Lata friends!


Eating Local

Good morning friends!

Well I got a glorious 9 hours of sleep which never happens so I am a happy camper this morning 😀

Too bad it’s raining, but that’s okay because it fits in perfectly with my morning plans in the kitchen, but more to come on that later 😉

After rounding out our grocery shopping yesterday, The Man finally came home from work and we had a lovely local dinner & watched Avatar from the comforts of home.  I’m in love with that movie, and it looks amazing in blue ray!

Speaking of things I love, check out what I found at Whole Foods today?!?!?

Remember my trip up north with my JMU girls and our visit to the Warwick Winery in New York? 


Oh yes, we had this there, and I loved it!  I was so excited to find it at a store here in Richmond, this will be purchased again oh yes 😛

For dinner I decided to use one of my purchases from the Farmer’s Market today…

Grass fed ground beef from a family owned & operated farm about an hour south of where we live.  Doing our best to support local products and also ensure that we are eating meat that we can feel good about.

To make the burgers I used the following ingredients:

  • 1/2 package (1/2lb) ground beef
  • 1/4 onion, chopped small
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tblsp fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp San-J soy sauce (the best!)
  • 2 tblsp oats (unpictured)
  • fresh black pepper
  • cheddar to melt on top

Make the patties by mixing together all ingredients (except cheese) and forming into flat patties.  This made 3.

Then heat up a skilled over medium-high heat, spray with cooking spray, and get the burgers cookin’!

Flip after they brown on one side, continue to cook over medium-high heat for another minute or 2.  Turn heat down a bit, cover and let completely cook through.

Served with melted cheese and some ketchup & mustard.  These burgers are so flavorful they don’t need much extra 🙂

So delicious!  Who says burgers have to go on the grill to taste good?

To go with we had some side salads

  • mixed greens
  • fresh herbs:  basil, parsley, lemon basil (loving this in my salads!)
  • tomato
  • cucumber
  • onion
  • black olives
  • black pepper

And let’s not forget dessert, which included a purchase from earlier in the day as well!

Candy Valley gourment cake pops!


Holy yum this was good!  The Man and I both agreed that this was some of the moistest and most flavorful cake we have ever had.  I adored this cake pop, good think we still have one more in our ration 😉

Well my friends, I have some fun things planned on this rainy day agenda…

One including some purchases from yesterday indeed!

A lil’ recipe we learned at the Whole Foods cooking demo 🙂

In fact, I saw chef Jessee yesterday at Whole Foods and he gave me all the tricks to make sure this recipe turns out nicely… fingers crossed!

Time to get cookin’

And maybe exercisin’, it’s about that time 😛

Have a great day!  And remember, this is the last day to enter my Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender giveaway!

A night out & morning market adventures!

Hello everyone! 

Well I have been having a blast since I saw you last, not gonna lie that this weekend has really stepped up it’s game and I’m lovin’ it 😀

Last night after a quick dinner at home that included this beauty…

… we met up with friends over at a bar down the street called Bar Louie.  I had a glass of Sauv Blanc and The Man a Blue Moon fresh w/ orange slices (summer love!)



What can I say, homegirl likes her wine 😉

After cocktails we headed over to The Funny Bone Comedy Club to see Charlie Murphy!  Yes, that would be brother to Eddie Murphy!  Pretty cool, no?

Upon waiting in line to get in I spotted this…

… which I thought sounded pretty darn deelish.  But more to come on that in a second 😉 

We also got the munchies and splurged on some coconut shrimp

I do not lie when I say that these are in the top of all coconut shrimp I’ve ever had.  You know how the coconut flavor can get lost sometimes in this dish normally?  Nope, not in this case.  Sweet and pronounced coconut dipped into a sweet & sour chutney makes for pure heaven.  Trust.

The show was pretty good, some of the humor wasn’t exactly up my alley but overall it was a good show!

We got home pretty late but that didn’t stop me from picking up Fanatic Mom early (9am?) this morning and hitting up the first farmer’s market!  Even though it was raining, I was determined to get there 😛




I ended up picking up some grass fed local ground beef, natural cheddar cheese, gourmet cake pops, a tomato plant and this fabulous soy candle 🙂

Red Currant & Goji Berry – amazing 🙂

I can’t wait until the fresh produce really ramps up!  The offerings today were spring standbys, a few strawberries, greens and herbs.

After that adventure Mom and I were ready for more, so we made a trip to a new-to-us Latino Market! This one was fabulous and had so much fun stuff.

Every Goya (love) product known to man, fresh veggies & fruits, dried whole fishies?! 😛


Lotsa dried chiles…

And whole dried shrimpies too…?

I walked away with some great finds!

  • ancho chiles
  • tomatillos
  • Goya cilantro cooking base
  • fresh corn tortillas
  • mango nectar

I think I have some great ideas for our Cinco de Mayo party next weekend!! 

Plus I’m giving the ancho chile/roasted tomatillo sauce a whirl tomorrow that we learned at the Whole Foods cooking demo and if it turns out well it’s goin’ on the menu!

A quick trip to the Indian grocery was also in order, hey why not? 😉

  • coconut chutney (the mint was so good & my boss recommended this one too!)
  • ataulfo mango (only the most succulent fruit on Earth, for real)
  • pitted dates
  • flat bread (amazing stuff)

Busy morning!  But so. much. fun. 🙂

And now it looks like the rain is clearing out for a while so I’m off to do whatever it is I feel like!  Maybe a workout (that shouldn’t be a “maybe” haha ah well)…  love the weekend 😉

See you back for a cooking adventure with some of the fabulous market finds!

What’s your favorite type of cuisine to experiment with cooking at home?? 

P.S. Don’t forget that you have until Monday to enter my Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender giveaway :P

Charlie Murphy

Friday has made it’s arrival, I can’t believe how fast this week went by!  love 😛

Next week I’ll be moving over to the new office for a few days, starting to walk through new job responsibilities, which made this week so crazy hectic trying to get things wrapped up…

I decided to take a lunch break out today since the weather is so nice.  My friend Tammy and I walked down to Southern Railway Deli to grab some salads to go, love this Friday treat!

Mixed greens, shrimp, feta, tomato, cucumber, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, green peas, slivered almonds

And now we’re about halfway through the day before the weekend is here!

I’m pretty excited because tonight The Man and I are going to see Charlie Murphy at the Funny Bone with a big group of friends!  It’s a special engagement so I think it’ll be pretty darn good 😀

Oh yea, and did I tell you that our friend Brittany, who’s coming with us tonight, just won Miss Virginia United States 2010?!  How awesome is that?  She is super nice and I couldn’t be happier for her!

I’m also pumped for the first farmer’s market of the season! Fanatic Mom and I are headed over there in the morning (it could be a late night tonight, so probably not toooooo early 😉 ) and I can’t wait to see what they have.

Probably some of the last of the summer veggies! I met the "bee keeper" ;)

September 2009

A lil’ side note on Meal Planning 101, I will tell ya’ll that the weeks that I go to the Farmer’s Market I usually wait to see what’s fresh there and then base my menu around those purchases (I usually have an idea of what I will find based on the seasons), filling in the “gaps” with items in the pantry and grocery store purchases in a method similar to my usual weekly process….

Since we like to eat local & fresh, this is definitely a method that works very well for us 🙂

Alright well I’m off to conquer the day, or whatever “they” say…

See everyone for the weekend!!

P.S. Don’t forget that you have until Monday to enter my Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender giveaway 😛

Indian Lentil Sweet Potato Adventure

Hey everyone! 

I’m so glad that ya’ll are loving the CSN Stores Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender giveaway 😀  Remember, you have until Monday to enter to win one of your very own!

Well if you remember from my Meal Planning 101 post, tonight’s dinner plan (which was switched with Wednesday) was for an Indian Chicken dish… did I mention that I like to pick a night during the week where I know I’ll have time to “experiment” in the kitchen and create a unique recipe of my own?

Yep, usually Thursdays too (it’s my “end of the week treat” if you will) and tonight was one of those nights! 🙂

Although I kinda changed the plans a bit, call me spontaneous?

I decided to do totally seperate his & her’s dinners since I was really in the mood to experiment with an Indian inspired lentil dish

And homeboy don’t do lentils….

So said homeboy got breakfast for dinner, but we’ll get to that in a second alright 😉

First up, Cookinfanatic gets creative on some Indian inspired foods!


  • 1.5 cups lentils (1 c. brown and 1/2
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled & chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/2 tblsp virgin coconut oil

First I cooked up the onion in the coconut oil for about 5 minutes, adding the garlic towards the very end.  Then went in all of the spices listed above and the ginger for about 2 minutes, get ready to be in smell heaven!

I stirred in the lentils (which I had rinsed/sorted) and water and brought to a boil, reduced and cooked for about 20  minutes.  Then I added the potatoes were and the cooking continued for about 30-40 minutes until the potato was tender and the lentils were done!


To serve, I topped with this fabulous mint chutney that was purchased during our trip to the Indian grocery

THIS WAS AMAZING!!!  First of all, if you kind find this mint chutney I highly suggest you buy 190 boxes of it, asap. Bc I will be once my stash runs out 😉  Secondly, I adored the lentil/sweet potato combo with all the complex spices goin’ on… fabuloussssssssssss 😀

To go with my main dish I made a fresh garden salad, incorporating some fresh herbs from our garden!

  • romaine
  • tomato
  • carrot (using a peeler I made swirls!)
  • cucumber
  • fresh parsley, basil & lemon basil
  • black pepper
  • raspberry vinaigrette

I adored everything about this meal, and I’m so pumped that I have leftovers out the wazoo for this weekend! 😛

The Man had his own lil’ feast, breakfast style.

Scrambled Eggs w/ Mushrooms, Onions, Garlic, Swiss Cheese & Fresh Chives

Plus some bacon for good measure 😉

I sauteed up an onion in 1 tblsp butter, adding the mushrooms about 5 minutes in and cooking until they were tender.  The garlic was added about 1 minute before these were done.

Added in 3 eggs and some S&P, finishing off with fresh chives from the garden and voila!

Waffles w/ Nutella and Syrup

And guess what, everyone was a happy camper! 😀

Now it’s time for some educational television (righttt) and the realization that it’s already Friday?!?!  Booyah!  What a week, I can’t believe how fast it flew… no complaints here 😉

Have a great night friends!

Giveaway Time, Okay!

I think we all know how much I adore my Cuisinart hand stick blender (or my mom’s that I’ve been “borrowing” for a few months now 😉 ) …  And speaking of, did you know that CSN stores offer a variety of products to furnish your kitchen, everything from home bars and counter stools to cookware, flatware and drinkware including this fabulous Cuisinart smart stick hand blender as well?!

This kitchen tool seriously saved the dayweek  month when I was so sick with tonsilitis and when I got my tonsils removed.  But it also has found a happy place in my kitchen helping me with all sorts of fun recipes! 

From “nurse me back to health” Tropical Smoothies

To impromptu filling for Sweet Potato & Coconut Wrappers

Even mashing up the ingredients for Pizza Bean Burgers

To “right in the crockpot” Potato Soup

And not to forget Sweet Potato, Coconut and Peanut Butter Mash!

This kitchen tool is one that I find so useful for so many things and one that I adore!

And did you know that it has been rated the “best basic hand blender” too?

Well guess what, the fabulous folks over at CSN have offered to give one of you readers your very own Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender CSB-76!!

Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender in White - CSB-76

Well truly they offered to either (1) let me try one of their fabulous products myself so fanatic mom coulda got her blender back haha or (2) let me give one away to ya’ll…  I’ll send mad momma to you friends for that one 😉 jk!

So here’s the deal, for your chance to win your very own Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender you can do any or all of the following (each one = an entry):

  1. Leave me a comment with what you think your favorite way to use this kitchen tool would be.
  2. Tweet up the giveaway “Check out @cookinfanatic1 giveaway for your chance to win your own Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender!” and leave me a comment below telling me you’ve done so.
  3. Mention this giveaway on your blog and leave me a comment below with a link back to the post.

I’ll randomly select the winner on Monday, April 26 (entries due by 5pm) 😀

Oh, and what’s that you say, what’s for dinner tonight?

Well in the spirit of this gloomy, rainy day I decided that we’d be best suited to have our Chicken Noodle Soup & sammich meal tonight, which if you remember from Meal Planning 101 was actually scheduled for Thursday night…

But see friends, even with planning you can still be flexible! 😀

Fanatic Mom got this soup mix for me a while back and I was excited to give it a whirl…

Gotta redeem myself for still holding her Cuisinart blender hostage, no? 😛


Pretty easy eh?  I followed it kinda, using 1 tblsp butter for flavor and only 32oz. of chicken broth (plus 2 small chicken breasts, chopped and cooked in said butter first…)

Mom has been raving about this soup for a while now, and I know why!  This mix was FABULOUS! And not full of sodium like so many soups are… I will definitely buy this again, we LOVED it 🙂

Me to The Man:  “That soup was seriously so good esp for a package mix”

The Man to Me: “That is the understatement of the yearrrrrr. We should buy this again, and have it like, every week.”

First of all, what’s all this “we” business, I’d love to see him grocery shopping 😛 (love you boo!) and secondly, we have only Fanatic Mom to thank for this awesome gift and meal!

To go with our soup I made some grilled cheeses, his and her style!

For him:  Bacon Swiss Grilled cheese (w/a lil’ smear of butter for good measure 😉 )


For her:  Roasted red pepper & fresh basil grilled swiss cheese w/ spicy apple cinnamon ginger mustard

Loved the pops of flavor with this combo, tangy mustard with sweet basil plus ooey gooey cheese was heavenly!

This dinner definitely hit the spot after my post work exercise session, which included:


Well everyone, I better scadaddle (did I just say that?), time for some tv and relaxation… this week has been outta control busy and homegirl needs it 😉

See you back tomorrow!

Cinco de Mayo Cooking Class!

Last night I was lucky enough to attend our local Whole Foods for a cooking class with Fanatic Momma, Brittany and Rebekah!

The theme was Cinco de Mayo, which I was quite excited about since we all know my love for Mexican cuisine 😀

We started off with a fun lil’ “beer cocktail” made from Pacifico beer, fresh lime juice & salt…

Once you add the salt, it turns into a science experiment!

I really liked this cocktail idea, kind of like putting a lime in your beer, but the flavor more pronounced & without all the lime pieces involved.  The Pacifico was nice too, I think I may see a Cinco de Mayo party drink idea in our near future 😉

After tasting this lovely beverage it was time to get cooking!

Chef Jesse started off with a tilapia ceviche which was made simply with tilapia, lime juice & salt. 

Are you familar with ceviche?  It is a dish comprised of raw seafood that is marinated in a citrus based sauce, which essentially “cooks” the fish when left to sit for a few hours.  The dish is native to Peru and pretty darn delicious! Also, you can make it with so many types of fish/seafood including tuna, grouper, snapper and scallops to name a few 🙂

Jesse made up a lovely mango-jicama salsa to mix with the ceviche and served it all with tortilla chips, so good!

The salsa contained onion, lime juice, jalapeno, jicama, cilantro, mango, garlic, tomatoes and salt.  Such a fresh combo of flavors!

Next we learned how to make an ancho chili sauce out of dried poblano peppers (aka ancho chiles)

I always see these at the store but seriously would not know what to do with them if I bought them… until now!

I took notes bc this sauce was fabulous and could be used anywhere from a taco topper to a sauce for grilled meats.

The dried peppers were rehydrated in some hot veggie broth until they were pliable.  Then the roasted tomatillo, garlic, onions plus some salt were added before blending with an immersion blender (my favorite, and you may just have a chance to WIN your very own realllllly soon :P)

I am really looking forward to working with these in my own kitchen along with tomatillos, loved them both!

Next up was some fresh guacamole, which was so good that I tried my hardest to have Jesse say he would make for our Cinco de Mayo party 😛  Offer’s still out chef… !

Avocado, onion, tomato, jalapeno or serrano, fresh cilantro, lime juice, garlic & salt. Perfection.

To finish things off Jesse made some flank steak tacos, which were outta this world. 

They were served with guac, cabbage, the ancho sauce above and a fabulous sour cream sauce (thin out sour cream with fresh lime juice & spice it up with chili powder/oregano/salt or whatever you like – the idea of which I love and would probably be phenomenal w/ Greek yogurt as well!)

The steak was marinated in a mix of lime juice, chili powder, roasted onion, roasted garlic, roasted jalapeno, salt, oregan, olive oil and cilantro.  The smell of which was intoxicating!

To end things on a sweet note we had churros, which were dangerously delicious even for this non-doughnut lovah 😛

So all in all I would say the night was a total win! 

The recipes were fabulous, the food delicious and I had a blast with my mom & my bloggie buddies 🙂

See ya tonight friends and as I said above, stay tuned for an awesome giveaway coming your way soon!