Monthly Archives: June 2010

Italian Stuffed Squash

Special shout out to my fellow Richmonders, check out Man vs. Food tonight at 9pm on the Travel Channel where Adam visits 3 local restaurants in our area!!!

So after work I treated myself to a trip to Tom Leonards to pick up a few fresh essentials… and Tom himself started up a convo with me and shucked some fresh corn for me to taste too!  Local, from King William county, and really good!

I also chatted Tom up about where many of their items come from, so awesome to find out how local & wholesome his products are, love that place.

But enough about my shopping obsession, how about some dinner?

Which tonight was based around this beauty from the farmer’s market:

Love these squash!  They are a bigger than 8-ball squash and I think are called Ronde de Nice?

Either way, perfect for stuffing!

The ingredients:

  • 2 round squashies
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • sliced black olives (not shown)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tblsp bread crumb
  • fresh basil
  • fresh parsley
  • fresh Parm
  • olive oil
  • S&P

Start by hollowing out the squashies using a melon baller (cut the top off first).

Put the squash into boiling water, covered, for 5-7 minutes to soften up and make the baking process quicker.

Prepare the filling by giving the onion a saute in olive oil, adding the squash insides after 3-4 minutes.  Season w/ S&P and let cook another 5 minutes.  Then add the tomato, olives and fresh herbs for another 3-4 minutes until combined.

In go the bread crumb and some freshly grated Parm to finish.

Then stuff your squashies!  Add an extra layer of cheese on the bottom if ya want, The Man loves extra cheese too 🙂

Put in a 350F oven for 20-30 minutes until tender & done!

Check out the slice-age on this bad boy!!!  So freaking good.

And guess who raved about yet another vegetarian dish… oh yea, that would be Mr. Man himself 😛

Win!  This was fabulous.

To go alongside I picked up some andouille sausage while at Tom Leonards, which I knew would be a good addition to the baked beans for The Man while I kept mine veg style.

I just topped the sausage with some baked beans (to which I added some fresh diced onion) and put in the oven for a few.  Same with mine, sans sausage.

His & Hers bb (baked beans)!

Love how you can really “kick baked beans up another notch” and make them truly delicious.

The Man seriously raved about this dinner the whole time we were eating, which surprised me a bit but I couldn’t have agreed more!

If you haven’t tried stuffing squash I highly recommend it.  It’s also a great way to get those who don’t always prefer squash to really appreciate & actually love it 😉

Alright well gotta run but before I do, just a reminder to enter my Coconut Chips giveaway!!!


Coco-Chippy Giveaway!

Well I’m sure that ya’ll are familiar with my love (okay, obsession) for Tropical Traditions products 🙂

From their gold label virgin coconut oil to their organic coconut peanut butter and even their coconut lotion, this company has some seriously awesome goods!

Well guess what, I’ve been trying out another one of these fabulous products over the past few days and must say that I am lovin’ it!  So you know that means I have to share it with you friends 😀

Know what this is?

Coconut Chips!!

Now we all know my love for coconut is a bit, shall we say, outta control 😉 so when I got the opportunity to try these beauties  you know I was all for it!

Tropical Traditions coconut chips are made from organic coconuts, contain NO additives or preservatives and are not sweetened.

Unlike most coconut on the market, their coconut is NOT treated with sulfites to keep it white either.

A+ in my book.

So how have I been eating my coconut chips?  Well aside from a handful here and there, I’ve been adding them to my oatmeal every morning and love the flavor + texture that they add to my usual breakfast.

Peachy Coco-Chippy oats, some stirred in and some on top.  Perfection.

They are great for a snack, great in cooking and I imagine would be fabulous in baked goods too!

So guess what friends… you know what this means…. it’sssssss


Coconut Chips - 1 gallon pail

Yes, that’s right, the friends at TropTraditions are offering the chance for one of you to win your own organic coconut chips and all you have to do to enter is one or all of the following:

  1. Go visit my friends over at Tropical Traditions & sign up for their newsletter, then leave me a comment below telling me you’ve done so and you’re in!  Could it get any easier, seriously? (note:  you must do this in order to enter any bonus entries below )
  2. Bonus Entry 1:  Follow Tropical Traditions (@troptraditions) on Twitter, leaving me a comment below saying you’ve done so.
  3. Bonus Entry 2:  Spread the word on twitter by copying & pasting the following, leaving me a comment below saying you’ve done so:  “Enter to win FREE  Organic Coconut Chips from @Cookinfanatic1 @TropTraditions #giveaway”
  4. Bonus Entry 3:  Post a link back to this giveaway on your blog, leaving me a comment below saying you’ve done so.

I’ll use the random number generator to pick a winner on Monday, July 5!

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

Not your traditional eggplant dinner

Remember that ol’ recipe binder I mentioned yesterday… ?

Which I also happened to write about way back when last year!

Ummm so I can’t believe I’ve been inadvertently hiding it from myself (??) for the past who knows how long hahaha?!

Anywho, upon a flip through this treasure I came across a few recipes that I had set aside to try.

One being:  Southeast Asian Style Eggplant

As much as I love Italian-based eggplant dishes (read: tomatoes & cheese) sometimes it’s fun to venture outside the box and try something new!

Plus with the recent farmer’s market eggplant purchase, I just knew that this was going to be the one…

They say when you know, you know, right? 😉

Inspired by this recipe from the Vegetable Genius, here were the ingredients I used:

  • 1 eggplant, sliced into 1/2″ thick, 2″ long (about) pieces
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 tbslp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 poblano pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tblsp soy sauce
  • 2 spoonfuls brown sugar
  • juice of 1 lime
  • S&P

Start with a saute of the onion & eggplant in olive oil.  Add some S&P too, of course 😉

After about 10 minutes over medium heat (and once the onion & eggplant start to get tender & cooked) add in the garlic and poblano for another 2-3 minutes or so.

While this cooks, mix together the water, rice vinegar, brown sugar and lime juice.  Once the sugar dissolves, add the sauce to the veg and turn the heat down to med-low while you go about your business… or wait for your man to come home, whatev 😉

Add in the fresh mint at the very end, giving it another 5 minutes or so to cook.

If you want, serve over some sort of rice or pasta.

I chose angel hair pasta because I didn’t have the time or patience to cook brown rice tonight to be honest 😛

And guess what, the pasta was legit with this dish, no lie.

A side salad rounded out the meal, our favorite!

I absolutely adored this eggplant dish, the sauce had the perfect blend of sweetness & sourness and the fresh mint added such a dimension to the meal.

Add some more hot peppers (poblano, jalapeno, etc) if you want some more heat & aren’t a wuss like me 😉

I just wrote to mini-Fanatic that I would be making this dish for her asap, she’s a fellow veggie lovah as well.  So good!

And I must say that I was a lil’ apprehensive on how this vegetarian dinner with a mix of different flavors was going to go over with The Man…

Guess what?  He had serving round 1 AND round 2!  He loved it.

And we both agreed that it paired beautifully w/ the thin & simple angel hair pasta 😀

This recipe is a keeper!

I need to visit my recipe binder more often, take that internet.

Do you have a recipe book/binder where you keep track of your favorite recipes, your notes and/or recipes you want to try?

And p.s. while you’re at it, try out The Vegetable Genius’ Portabello Parmesan if you want some seriously great flavor… I made this for The Man ‘way back when’ and it was a hit… guess I see another summer dish coming soon! 😛

Have a happy Tuesday!

A Twist on a Classic

Hi-dee-ho neighbors 😛

Well most of yesterday was spent at The Man’s parent’s house laying by the pool with these goobers…

Senior & Junior

And yes, they definitely are sitting on chairs IN the pool.  I don’t ask questions anymore…

We got home just in time to get a fabulous Sunday night meal on the table too.

A version of stuffed peppers that is a twist on a classic, adapted from this recipe.

Fun fact:  I used to make this recipe for The Man in our old row house when we first started dating and I was in my cooking “younger years!”

It wasn’t until the other day when I ‘rediscovered’ my recipe binder and remembered how fabulous these are and decided they must be made again.  Asap.

  • 1/2 lb. grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tsp fresh ginger, chopped
  • 2-3 tblsp tomato paste
  • water (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2-3 tblsp soy sauce
  • S&P and olive oil
  • cooked brown rice (about 1.5 cups)
  • 3 green pepper
  • fresh Parm

The addition of the soy sauce + ginger really gives this dish a special touch… it’s my favorite stuffed pepper recipe by far!

Start by sauteing the ground beef and onion in about 1 tblsp olive oil.  Season w/ salt & pepper.  Add your garlic & ginger once the beef & onions are almost cooked (don’t want to burn ’em!)

Once the beef mixture is cooked, add in the tomato paste, water, soy sauce, and cooked brown rice (I had pre-cooked this a couple weeks back and froze it for easy use).

This was my first time making these with the rice, as I wanted to bulk up the filling to fill 3 peppers worth.  This recipe is fabulous with our without it though!

The mixture should be slightly liquidy, which will cook off as you continue to simmer on med-low for a few minutes.

The last step is to add in some freshly grated Parm, as much as you like.  Here’s the almost-finished product!

Hollow out your local farmer’s market green peppers (ahhh the smell of these… delightful) and make room for the filling 🙂

Into a 325F oven for 30 minute they go.  Towards the end of baking time it’s probably best to add some additional grated Parm too, you know, for good measure 😉


To serve alongside this dish I whipped up what is quickly becoming one of our favorite summer salads:

Tomato, Cucumber, Basil Salad

  • 2 Hanover tomatoes, chopped
  • handful yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cucumbers, chopped
  • handful fresh basil, chopped
  • Sharp white cheddar cheese, cubed
  • balsamic vinegar (3-4 tblsp?)
  • olive oil (1 tsp)
  • S&P

This salad didn’t contain just any ol’ cucumber though, check this bad boy out.

I think this is a Japanese cucumber based on the bumpy skin and long length?  Either way, it was deelish!

Perfect way to end the weekend… now if only the weekend could just last longer 😛

Enjoy your Monday friends!

What’s Your ‘Perfect Summer Day’?

Today started off with an early trip to the farmer’s market, where the fresh vegetables and fruit have started to overflow the stands.

I am in heaven…

But more on these later.

It was followed with a fit into the ol’ Speedo and a 750 meter swim outside.  Glorious.

A quick change into the 2 piece and a few hours spent poolside.  Intermittent rain shower included.  Nothing a quick run for cover couldn’t remedy 😉

Then shopping with Mom, did I mention that she’s my favorite shopping buddy ever?

Well, she is.

A few stops included the purchase of some new summer dresses, some road-side Hanover tomatoes and a trip to our new favorite wine & beer store ever.

Once Upon A Vine, a wine & beer lover’s dream.

It’s in what looks like an old 7-11.  Don’t judge.

They’ve been nationally recognized for their selection.  If you live in Richmond, go there, now.  It may change your life.

Speaking of things that may change your life, tonight’s dinner was outta control.

Did I mention how much I love summer eats? 😛

Oh yes, that would be zucchini ‘pasta’ with fresh garlic/tomato/basil ‘sauce’.

This exceeded every expectation I had for this dish when thinking it up in my head.

Farmer’s market finds at their finest.

We have:

  • 1 zucchini, sliced thin w/ mandolin
  • 1 Hanover tomato, chopped
  • 1 yellow tomato, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • fresh basil
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper

The zucchini had a meet up with the mandolin, and thus, the ‘pasta’ was born.

The tomatoes were chopped, I threw in some of the yellow cherry tomatoes too.

These are a close second to my beloved Hanover tomato.  If you’re from the greater Richmond area, you know what I’m talkin’ about.

Hanover county produces some of the best tomatoes known to man, seriously.  They say it’s in the soil…

“They” are right.

A simple quick saute of the garlic in olive oil for a minute or two, followed by the tomatoes for another minute two, finished with the basil… don’t forget the S&P.

Fresh, rip tomatoes without S&P is a crime in my book, but that’s just my personal opinion 😉

I gave the zucchini pasta a 2 minute visit to the microwave to soften it up and then served.

Like I said before, life changing.

Fresh summer meals just speak to me.  I can’t get enough of them.

I could eat this everyday, the garlic tang paired with the sweetest of the tomatoes and the fresh basil was far beyond what I had imagined.

I think the quick cook of each of these items really brought their flavors together, or something like that 😉

Oh but of course there was more.

Fresh corn from the farmer’s market.  Nothing like it.

The Man had never had super-fresh corn before (another crime in my book!)

He couldn’t believe the way this tasted.  He ate the whole cob in one bite.  You think I’m kidding.

Then reached over and tried to eat mine.  Homie don’t play that.  Step off.

A veggie burger topped w/ ketchup & mustard finished off the meal.


Now we are lounging around, enjoying the sunny skies even though it’s well after 8pm.  Ahhhh summer, why can’t you last forever?

What’s your ‘perfect summer day’?

Step Over Pasta, There’s a New Kid in Town!

Hello Friday Eve, nice to meet you 😛

So after seeing this recipe for Cheesy Marinara Veggie Stacks on Courtney’s blog I knew I had to make some sort of version of this delicious dish this week in our dinner rotation!

Thanks for the fabulous recipe idea Courtney 🙂

What I came up with was a vegetable-take on a classic noodle lasagna, and what better use for those fresh veggies from the Farm to Family bus than this?!

  • 1 eggplant, sliced into 1/2″ slices
  • 1 summer squash, sliced into 1/2″ slices
  • 1 green pepper, chopped large
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 28oz. can crushed tomatoes (mine were seasoned w/ basil)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • freshly grated Parm
  • fresh basil
  • dried oregano
  • S&P
  • cooking spray/olive oil

This recipe had a few steps, but nothing too crazy that couldn’t get done while finishing up some post-work stuff around the house!

First up, bake the sliced eggplant at 350F for about 20-25 minutes.  Before placing it in the oven spray a foil lined baking sheet with cooking spray, then sprinkle the eggplant with dried oregano, S&P and another quick spray of cooking spray.

While this is baking, go water your garden and admire the 2 more red juicy tomatoes almost ready for pickin’ 😉 *so excited!*

Next, add the sliced summer squash to a pan w/ cooking spray over medium heat, season with S&P and dried oregano.  Cook until browned up a bit on both sides.

Also saute the onion & green pepper in 1 tsp olive oil until tender, adding the garlic towards the very end.

Lastly, prepare your cheesy filling by mixing 1 cup ricotta cheese, few sprinkles freshly grated Parm and a handful of roughly chopped fresh basil (plus some fresh black pepper!).

Now you are ready to assemble!

Get your can of delicious basil crushed tomatoes opened up and start layering…

Crushed tomatoes then eggplant slices (half of them).

Summer squashies.

Green pepper/onion/garlic mixture.

Ricotta/Parm blend.

Another layer of eggplant and more tomatoes to finish and a sprinkle of Parm for good measure 😉

Then into a 375F oven for 30 minutes or until bubbly and hot!

All served up 🙂

Step over pasta, there’s a new kid in town!

This dish was bursting with freshness & flavor, not to mention the richness that a small amount of ricotta adds to this dish… The Man even loved it (vegetarian, no pasta and he’s Italian… ’nuff said!) and requested leftovers for lunch tomorrow before even halfway done with the meal 😀

Sooooooooo good!

Ahhh and to top it all off it’s Thursday night, which means Fridayyyyy is just around the corner.  I’ll take it!

Have a great night everyone 🙂

An Eggy Kinda Night

Hey hey hey!  How are ya’ll this fine summer evening? 😀

I must say things are pretty good around here, and I’m so glad you loved the fresh veggies from the Farm to Family bus yesterday too (they were delicious!)

If you’re in the Richmond area I highly recommend checking the bus out, or the new store they opened just east of the city as well (I haven’t made it yet but want to soon!)

So after a much needed post-work YogaWorks Body Slim today I knew it was a good night for an easy dinner!

And what’s easier than a quick BFD??

On the menu, his and hers omelets made with these sauteed beauties!

  • 1 package sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tblsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • S&P

Just saute the onion and mushrooms in the olive oil until tender, adding some water as necessary.  Add in the fresh thyme and S&P towards the end and set veggies aside.

Next make up your omelets, 2 eggs and cheese of choice each!

The Man’s omelet consisted of said mushrooms and eggs plus some of our favorite NY natural white cheddar (still workin’ on my omelet skillz… 😉 )

Served with some classic cinnamon sugar toast, it’s his fave 😛

My omelet consisted of the same, except swap in some cream cheese for the filling (yes, I have no shame when it comes to the cream of cheese, I love it in eggs too!)

Served with a fresh Hanover tomato, basil, balsamic vinegar, S&P salad (one of my favorite summer dishes EVER when tomatoes are gettin’ good!) and some Italian beans.

Perfect way to end our Wednesday, maximum taste for minimum effort 🙂

And with that, I’m off!  We have a movie to finish watching and some relaxing to do… it’s nice to get back to a sense of normalcy this week and I’m soaking it up (creature of habit much?)

I have some fun reviews/giveaways on the horizon here shortly too… so stay tuned!

Have a fabulous night everyone, and just remember, tomorrow is already Thursday whoop whoop!