Monthly Archives: October 2010

Turning us into chili peppers, one meal at a time!

What better than a comforting bowl of stew on a cool fall night…

Apparently that’s been a theme here lately!

And last night’s dinner, another recipe from my beloved Oaxaca al Gusto, did not disappoint 🙂

Perfect too since The Man and I decided to stay in and watch scary movies in lieu of dressing up and going out… we felt kind of guilty about it at first but it definitely ended up being the perfect choice for us.  With all that has been going on lately it was just what we needed!

Asado de res (Beef Stew)

Here’s what I started with:

Onion, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes, scotch bonnet pepper, Mexican oregano, cloves, olive oil.

Simply add the onion and garlic to a pot with some olive oil for about 5 minutes.  Then in goes the beef.  I chose a local grass-fed stew meat from the farmer’s market.

Season with salt, pepper, oregano and cloves.  Cover and let cook over medium until beef it browned, about 10 minutes.

Then add the tomatoes, potatoes, scotch bonnet (which I toasted like this) and some water.

Cover and let cook over medium-low for another hour or two.  I let it go two since we had the time, gotta love cooking on the weekends 😀

To serve with the stew I took a stab at some homemade tortillas.

They may look pretty but I definitely have some work to do on these, the texture was just not quite right.  I think I need a tortilla press (hello Christmas present ideas ehh hmmm 😉 )

Tortilla Fail.

Beef Stew WIN.

Served with some fresh steamed broccoli, which the farmer at the market advised soaking in salt water prior to cooking because there could be “critters” in there…  hmmmm don’t know how I feel about that 😉

No critters here.  Phew.

But back to the stew, which had the perfect amount of heat.  Love these scotch bonnets, they have not only a spiciness but also great flavor.  The meat and potatoes were fall apart tender.   Plus the Mexican oregano and cloves gave the stew a flavor like I have never tasted…

Upon further research I learned that Mexican oregano is in fact stronger than your familiar Mediterranean oregano.  It also carries notes of citrus and mild licorice, which could explain it.  I loved it!

I also had another kitchen adventure yesterday prepping for the upcoming week, here’s a little hint 😉

I have a problem.

I promised The Man that I’d try to work in some more “traditional” fall meals soon… this Mexican obsession may turn us into chili peppers at this rate if not! 😛

Beef Stew (Mexican Style)

If you’re looking for a twist on the traditional beef stew, I highly recommend trying this recipe.  I made a few minor changes to the original Diana Kennedy recipe:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. stew meat
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • 7 red potatoes, sliced thick
  • 1 heaping tsp Mexican oregano
  • 3 cloves, crushed
  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 cup water

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil, about 5 minutes.  Add meat and spices, cook until browned, about 10 minutes.  Add tomatoes, potatoes and water – cover and cook for another hour or two, stirring occasionally.  Add in additional water as necessary depending on what consistency you like.

I’m sure this would work great in the crockpot as well.  I’d  probably brown the meat before adding and reduce the amount of water a bit.

How is it Sunday already? 😛


It’s Fridayyyy!

Ahhhh it’s finally Friday!!!! 😀

And after a full week of work busy-ness and evenings full of activities, I was very excited about having nothing on the agenda for tonight… anyone else ever feel like that?

Well, except for a relaxing night in with some good food, tasty wine, a movie and a hot date 😉

Why hello Lucy Dog, haha, don’t mind if you do.

Pajamas in the kitchen?!?!

Sure thing… anything flies around here on the weekend! 😛

Okay on to the dinner mission:  his (Italian) & hers (Mexican) dinner salads.

Start with the “salad base”

Romaine, tomato, onion, salt & pepper

Then add the protein

Italian chicken was seasoned w/ dried oregano, basil, salt and pepper.

Mexican chicken w/ mesquite seasoning and pepper.

Then cooked stovetop until done.

Plus the cheese


I am having a serious love affair with this queso fresco, I’m not even kidding.

Throw on some homemade croutons if ya like!

I stash bread in the freezer if we don’t use it in time, perfect for situations like this.  One slice of baguette cubed then drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with dried oregano, basil and black pepper.  Into a 375F oven for 8 minutes or so until crisp.

Now get ready to assemble!


Romaine, tomatoes, onion, Italian chicken, queso fresco, homemade croutons and a dressing made of these:

White balsamic vinegar + olive oil = magnificent!

If you’ve never tried white balsamic vinegar before I highly recommend it 🙂  It’s one of our favorite ways to dress a salad, the flavor is spot on.


Romaine, tomatoes, onion, mesquite chicken, queso fresco, corn & salsa.

Both salads got rave reviews from the diners! 😉 

Such a fresh, healthy way to start the weekend too…. not to mention minimal dishes to wash which is great right now considering our dishwasher decided to break?!?!

Anywho, that’s another story now isn’t it…. 😛

So I’ll leave you with this:

Can I even tell you how excited I am about this?!?!  I’m thinking tamales… asap 😉

Stay tuned!  Tomorrow we have a trip to the last seasonal farmer’s market and the Mexican grocer (I’m serious about these tamales!)

Comfort Food at its Finest

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup.

Made with homemade chicken stock.

And fresh pumpkin pasta from the Farmer’s Market.

What could make a stormy, dreary and tornado filled (??) Wednesday night any better?

The Man was so excited about this dinner that he even played the role of sous chef.  No complaints here 🙂

1.  Homemade chicken stock.


I make this in big batches on the weekend when I have the time.  Canned/boxed stock just doesn’t compare – although a quality brand is good is you’re in a pinch.  I have a full stash of this in my freezer after Sunday night’s stock-making adventure.  Life is good 😉

2.  Chicken thighs. 

The flavor of chicken thighs is preferable in a soup like this, for me at least.  Adds such a rich flavor.  But who am I, use whatever chicken you like 😛

I simply poached the chicken in the stock for about 10 minutes until done, then shredded w/ 2 forks.  These Whole Foods chicken thighs were on the bone, which meant they were super moist & flavorful.

3. Gather up your veggies and give them a chop – we went for small pieces for faster cooking time.

Here we have onion, celery, carrot and garlic plus sea salt and black pepper.

Add the veggies to the pot with a few spoonfuls of the stock.

Salt and pepper too.

4.  Back in go the chicken stock and shredded chicken

Cover and let simmer over medium-low for 40 minutes, or until the veggies are tender.

5.  During the last 5 minutes, add in the fresh pasta.

This was pumpkin pasta that I picked up at the Farmer’s Market and it was just perfect in this soup.


Slurp it up and enjoy.

This soup will cure any Wednesday-night blues… trust me 😛

What’s your go-to comfort food for a stormy, dreary night?

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

  • approximately 5 cups chicken stock (see recipe below)
  • chicken, I used 4 small chicken thighs w/ bone
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • pasta, I used a long, fresh pumpkin pasta
  • salt
  • black pepper

1.  If your stock is frozen, heat up to liquid.  Add in the chicken and simmer about 10 minutes until done.  Remove chicken from pot, shred using the 2-fork method.  Also remove stock and set aside.

2.  Chop veggies and add to the pot w/ a few spoonfuls of the chicken stock plus some salt/pepper.  Let these cook over medium for about 5 minutes until they begin to soften.

3.  Add the chicken stock and shredded chicken into the pot and stir, cover and turn down to medium-low for about 40 minutes.  You want it to stay at a low simmer this whole time so the veggies will get really tender.  Add some water if you need additional liquid.

4.  Now add in the pasta, which takes only 2-3 minutes to cook if it’s fresh.  If you’re using dried pasta just go by the directions on the box – or pre-cook it in a seperate pot then add.

5.  Serve with some additional fresh cracked black pepper on top.  Enjoy!

Homemade Chicken Stock

NOTE:  You can really throw any flavors you want into this, it’s so versatile.  This is my go-to version and works really well.  Also, when I cook up a whole chicken I take the remaining bones and place them in the freezer.  This will keep for quite some time until you are ready to make your stock!

  • bones from a cooked chicken
  • 2 onions, peeled & quartered
  • 3 stalks celery, cut into large pieces
  • 2 carrots, cut into large pieces
  • fresh thyme
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • water to cover

Place all of the ingredients into a large stock pot, make sure there is enough water in there to cover the chicken.  Bring to a rolling boil then turn down to a simmer and cover.  Let this go on the stove for about 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes or so. 

Once the stock is done, I like to use ice cube trays to freeze into convenient go-to portions.  So easy!  Just make sure you tell your significant other or roomates that there’s chicken stock in the ice cube trays, otherwise they may be in for a surprise when they have their next cold beverage 😉

What’s your style?

Hello everyone!  Hope you’re having a great day here, we’ve made it to the middle of the week!

Always cheers for that 😉

Last night I attended my first jewelry party and spent the night looking at pretty necklaces, sipping on vino and gobbling up some delicious P.F. Changs with a bunch of great ladies.

So no recipe this afternoon, such a bummer right?

Instead, how about a peak at a typical Fanatic Whole Foods lunch adventure… I’m warning you, it’s a lil’ crazy?!

I think I have about 75% of the cold food bar loaded into this little box.  Not even kidding.

I’m curious to know, what’s your salad bar style?  A little sample bite of everything loaded up like me, or just a few select items instead?

See you soon – tonight’s “experiment night” in the Fanatic kitchen (meaning I have no recipe in mind but lots of ingredients that need using!) so you know it’ll be interesting to say the least 😛

Stay tuned!

Gettin’ Spicy, Entomatadas Style!

Last night’s dinner was a recipe from my favorite new cookbook, one that I’ve already raved about before 🙂

This dish was unique and oh so flavorful, nothing like “conventional Mexican” you think of at a restaurant around our parts of town.

It was one of the best meals we’ve had at home, so different from anything to ever grace our table.

The Man raved.  As did I. 

So let’s get to it, shall we?


According to Diana Kennedy, this literally means tortillas bathed in a tomato sauce.

Sign me up.  Effective immediately 😉

Note that I did not follow the recipe to a tee, partially because I did not have all of the exact ingredients it called for and partially because I tried to lighten it up slightly.

First you need to make the spicy tomato sauce:

  • chopped tomatoes (3/4 box)
  • onion, sliced thin
  • garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 scotch bonnet pepper, toasted
  • 1 tblsp olive oil

The recipe called for chiles de agua, or jalapenos, neither of which I had.  But I did have this fabulous scotch bonnet, which lent the perfect amount of heat and such great toasty spicy flavor – the kind of heat that lasts only for a minute but doesn’t linger for hours.  Adore these 🙂

I toasted it in a scorchin’ hot pan for a few minutes to bring out the flavor.  Then only used half, this lil’ guy packs some serious punch! 😛

 It also called for epazote, which I’ve never seen nor used.  I’ve read that it’s an “acquired taste” so you know that I’m curious though… maybe next time?

Next, cook the onions in olive oil over medium heat until translucent.  Add in the garlic towards the end, you don’t want it to burn. 

Take these off the heat and proceed with making the sauce.  Pull out your trusty blender and combine the onions, garlic, toasted pepper and tomatoes.

Whizz around until a puree forms (to avoid any blender explosion mishaps I let the onions/garlic cool for a few before doing this).

Amazing color.  Amazing flavor.  Ah this was SO GOOD!

Alright now you’re ready to get to the tortillas, I used flour although technically I should have used corn.  Oh well, it’s what I had stashed away in the freezer!

Dunk the tortilla in the sauce.

The recipe calls for “frying” the tortilla for a few minutes in some oil, go ahead and try that if you’d like but I skipped this step (shame on me) for the sake of making this dish a bit on the lighter side.

Slather it around a bit, covering both sides.

Then fold this bad boy in half, then in half again (I spooned some sauce onto the top of the tortilla before doing this so it had a thick “filling”)

Here’s your finished product!

How pretty are these?  I mean seriously.

The suggested serving was with some sliced onion and queso frescoHave you ever had queso fresco before?

I’m sure I have, however I’ve never used it in cooking at home.  That’s about to change.  This cheese rocks!

It’s has a creamy consistency and a very mild flavor – I’d say kind of like a hybrid between feta & ricotta maybe?  But who am I… 

Either way, it worked perfectly to balance the heat of the spicy tomato sauce.

So. Good.

This dish tasted like nothing I’ve ever had before.  The texture was spot on with the tomato soaked tortillas and the spicy sauce with the tangy onions and the creamy cheese was seriously like heaven. 

If you have the time, I highly suggest cooking up some shrimp to go with this dish.  They match perfectly with the tomato sauce & cheese – we ended up taking bites with both the shrimp & entomatada on the fork and it was awesome 🙂

Simply coated with chili powder, cumin and black pepper then cooked in some olive oil until done.

Of course the meal wouldn’t be complete without our greens too!

Salad for two.

What a perfect Monday night Mexican feast.

This dish has left me yearning to try more authentic recipes from Oaxaca al Gusto… guess you know what you’ll be seeing in the near future 😉 


Spicy Garlic Spinach w/ White Beans & Rice

After a wonderful weekend spent up north eating all that NYC and New Jersey had to offer, last night called for what I like to deem a “detox” meal.

In other words, a light (and in this case, meatless) meal with some much needed veggies was in order! 😉

Spicy Garlic Spinach w/ White Beans & Rice


This meal came together in a matter of minutes, another huge bonus after being out of town all weekend and craving some major relaxation time on le couch!

All you need is this (plus a few unpictured pantry staples):

And then it’s as easy as…




How’s that for speedy? 😛

I really enjoyed this simple flavorful dish, the red pepper flakes gave the perfect kick of spicy to the tangy garlic & onions.  What a great staple “go-to” meal this would be!

Here’s the recipe:

Spicy Garlic Spinach w/ White Beans & Rice

  • 1 bunch fresh spinach
  • 1 can Northern beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • sea salt (to taste)
  • black pepper (to taste)
  • red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 1/2 tblsp olive oil
  • cooked brown rice to serve
  • grated Pecorino Romano to top (optional)

    Begin by cooking the onions in olive oil over medium for about 5 minutes, or until softened (but not browned).  Add in the canned beans, garlic, salt and pepper, give a stir for about another minute or two.

    Then layer the spinach on top with the red pepper flakes plus a spoonful or two of water.  Allow to cook until the spinach is slightly wilted and tender – this doesn’t take very long.

    That’s it, you’re done!  Now just serve over some brown rice* and voila! – dinner is served 😀

    *When cooking brown rice during the week (which can take up to 45 minutes) I always make sure to prepare some extra servings, then place them into freezer-safe ziploc bags in the freezer for easy use later on.  This trick saves me tons of time during the busy work week schedule!*

    Edited to add:  I totally forgot that I sprinkled some grated Pecorino Romano to the top of the dish before serving – if cheese is your thing than try that too!

    City Girl

    I’m backkkkkkk!!!

    This weekend was a fabulous one spent just a few states north of VA 🙂

    Remember last year’s visit to see my college bestie Kerri (she’s on the left)…?


    Well this year another visit was in order… especially considering Kerri  is expecting her first little girl this February!

    So you know that a visit to see that cute lil’ baby bump and spend some time together was definitely in order 😀

    We missed you Stine and Laura!

    Kerri and her hubby live in the cutest lakeside community just outside New York, so this trip we decided to take a day trek into the big city! 

    Waking up Saturday morning to some gorgeous views…

    How could this not make you happy?!

    But the peaceful lakeside sights didn’t last long as we made our way into the hustle & bustle of the city!

    First stop:  Times Square

    Heyyyy, look who I found!!!  Yep, The Man was along for the ride 😉  He’s NEVER been into NYC, and he’s FROM New York, can you believe that?

    So of course we had to do the quick tourist stop, everyone must see Times Square at least once (right?)

    After the stop in that busy spot, we headed down to South Street Seaport to relax a bit, definitely one of my favorite parts of the city!

    I think The Man really liked it too!

    After walking around for a while we had worked up quite the appetite…  so we settled in at Heartland Brewery for some “appies” and drinks (well, not for the momma-to-be obviously!)

    Do I spot pumpkin ale on the menu?!?!  Don’t mind if I do! 😛

    And a bloody mary for him, woah there grabby!

    This pumpkin ale pretty much rocked my socks off, we decided it was by far the best pumpkin ale we’ve tried this season.

    Of course we had to indulge in some “snacks” too 😛


    Nachos w/ chili on the side plus buffalo chicken spring rolls.


    After a great day in the city we headed home to do a little relaxing and also get ourselves ready for an Italian feast! 

    Destination:  Fratello Brick Oven Pizza 

    This fabulous restaurant was in the cutest town of Warwick, NY and it did not disappoint.

    Mommy and Daddy to be!

    After all the bagels, pizza (penne a la vodka pizza – really, seriously?! heaven), nachos, buffalo chicken and ice cream in my life over the past 24 hours I was in need of some veggies. 

    And after spotting this on the menu…

    I knew just what I was ordering!

    Wow.  Just wow.

    How fabulous does that look, I mean seriously?!

    And it tasted even better.  Loved this dish.  With a 12 oz. glass of wine side salad alongside this was the perfect meal.

    The Man ordered the homemade deep dish lasagna… 


    and it got rave reviews!

    Why is Italian food up north just so much better than in Virginia?  *Le sigh*

    So after all the fun, we made our way back to Virginia today just in time for me to whip up a “rebound meal” for dinner tonight… but that’ll just have to wait until tomorrow since this post is already mega-long! 😉

    Overall, the weekend gets 5 stars (outta 5, of course!) 

    A huge thank you to Kerri and her hubby for having us and to the Daddy-to-be for giving The Man one to many pink tequila shots  hahaha

    And you thought I was kidding…

    Night ya’ll!

    Do you usually indulge when you’re in a city that’s known for its fabulous food?  Or do you stick to your normal eating habits?

    To each their own of course, but on a short trip like this I made sure to give all the fabulous foods a try, knowing that I would get back on track once I got home.  

    And now it feels good to start the week off right with a healthy, veggie-ful “rebound dinner” tonight.  Time to go eat! 😛