Category Archives: Dee-lish Dinner

Peaaanut, peaaanut butter. And chicken?

Monday’s word of the day was T-I-R-E-D!

After a post-Super Bowl bedtime of wayyyy too late o’clock followed up with the random early body-clock-alarm-wakeup I was seriously struggling for energy yesterday!

Good thing I had planned on throwing together a crockpot meal to be ready & waiting upon my arrival home 🙂

Gave me plenty of time to relax and get in a rejuvenating yoga session.

Has anyone else tried the Body by Bethanny yoga workout on ExTV?  I absolutely love her first of all, plus am really liking this workout on days where I want some physical activity but not too much, ya know?

Perfect for this particular Monday if you ask me 😀

After yoga was over it was time to serve up some dinner.

Crockpot, sometimes I think we may be soulmates… you make my life so easy on days that just seem to be so hard!

Here’s the recipe, courtesy a A Year of Slow Cooking.

Slow Cooker Peanut Butter Chicken

I kind of doubled the recipe to fill the 6-quart slow cooker I have (did you know you are supposed to make sure your slow cooker is between 1/2 to 2/3 full?)

I also didn’t have any soy sauce on hand, so substituted this wonderful SoyCha sauce instead.

For the sauce:

  • 2/3 cup MaraNatha peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup SoyCha (or soy sauce)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 container chicken broth

For the rest:

  • 2.5 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 red bell peppers, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced

I mixed up the marinade (sans chicken broth) Sunday afternoon before we left for the Super Bowl festivities. 

I also chopped up the red bell peppers and onions so they’d be ready to roll in the morning.

After 9 hours on low, I came home to some pretty awesome kitchen smells!

Once I opened up the slow cooker I removed the chicken & veggies and drained most of the fat from the remaining sauce.

With the combo of peanut butter, chicken thighs and SoyCha sauce there was a bit of oil to remove, no big deal 😛

To serve, I cooked up some spaghetti to serve as well as some simple spinach.

Dinner is served.

Very very rich dish.  A little goes a long way!

But also very flavorful and tasty.  The cumin and lime added a different spin to the “normal” peanut sauce that I’m used to – but in a good way!

The chicken was also fall apart tender and just sunk itself into the spaghetti with each bite.

Good thing we liked this because we’ll be eating it for a few days (close to 3 lbs of chicken, what was I thinking? 😉 )

Does anyone else remember this song (in reference to the post title)?  Guess having a sister 7 years younger means I remember wayyyyy more Barney than any normal person should hahaha.

Here’s to a much more “awake” day today – thank you 8 hours of sleep!!!!

Happy Tuesday all 🙂

Italian Wedding Soup

Superbowl Sundayyyyyyyy is here!

And as Green Bay Packers fans this is setting up to be an exciting one 😛

I’m trying out two fun recipes for the game festivities —-> here’s a sneak peak.

Now let’s just cross our fingers that The Packers pull through or else not even this delicious food is going to make for a very happy boyfriend hahaha.

Well last night we were supposed to have Fanatic Fam over for a belated birthday dinner, however Fanatic Dad got the flu so we thought it best to reschedule 😦

What I didn’t reschedule was the actual dinner itself, and I’m so glad I didn’t because this new to me recipe was well worth the less than an hour of effort!

Super flavor punch for such little time 🙂

Enough time to get us to the movies to see this lil’ romantic comedy:

Loved. It.

But back to dinner, which like I said was a new-to-me recipe.

A recipe I’d like to dub as “how I got The Man to eat spinach.”

He hates cooked leafy greens.  Hates them.  Well hated them I should say… until tonight!  Yep, that’s right.  This recipe got even The Man to dig into some cooked leafy greens and enjoy every bite 😀

Italian Wedding Soup

I followed this recipe, making a few modifications as noted below.

Recipe courtesy of Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice.

Main changes were using more pasta than called for (we like less broth), panko for bread crumb and dried oregano and basil in place of the seasonings noted.

Meatballs

  • 1 pound ground beef (85/15)
  • 1/2 cup Panko
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried basil & 1 tsp dried oregano
  • sea salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste

This Whole Foods ground beef is our favorite, has a really really great flavor.

Mix it all up and get your hands dirtyyyyyyy!

You want the meatballs to be small, this takes patience, trust me 😛

About 1 tablespoon each I would guess.  And it makes about 40 U would say?

The Soup

  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
  • 6 cups organic chicken broth (1.5 containers)
  • 1 cup ditalini
  • 2 cups chopped fresh spinach
  • Parmesan Cheese for serving

Start by prepping all your veggies.

Then saute the carrot and onion in olive oil for a few minutes until they start to get tender.  I’d say about 10, adding some chicken broth if they start to stick.

During the last couple minutes add your garlic and basil too.

Then in goes the broth, which you’ll want to bring to a boil.

Once the soup is boiling, drop in your mini meatballs one at a time (and thank your photographer for a wonderful meatball shot 🙂 )

Then add in your pasta and spinach.

Allow this to boil for about 15 minutes, or until the pasta and meatballs are done that the starch from the pasta has thickened up the soup a bit.

Serve this delicious warm bowl of goodness with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese!

Oh yummmmm.  Yum.  Yum.

Why have I never had Italian wedding soup before?

I was definitely missing out!

This bowl of simple yet amazing flavors seriously warmed me inside and out!  The meatballs had the perfect hint of garlic flavor while the soup was so satisfyingly warm & savory with the chunks of veggies and creamy broth.

I told The Man that I may have to start making this every week.  I liked it that much 😛

He loved it too.  And agreed to eat it that often.  Good thing huh 😉

Like I said, I was a bit apprehensive on how the spinach would go over with this so-called spinach hater (kale, collards, etc. hater) but it was a definite winner. 

This one is a keeper!

Do you have any special ways/recipes to sneak in cooked leafy greens for a picky veggie eater? 

GO PACK GO!!!!!!!!!!

Cheesy, Buttery Eggplant & Clam Casserole

Oh a late night last night at work it was… but at least it’s Friday now!!!

After I got home wayyy later than the norm, I still didn’t have a definitive dinner plan… busy day = no time to think about food = sad Steph 😦

I did, however, have a few ingredients that I knew I wanted to use up in the kitchen so it was time to get creative!

Like I said before, I must think I live during the Great Depression or something with the way I make sure nothing goes to waste 😉

Remember Sunday’s Eggplant Moussaka?  Well there happened to be an overabundance of eggplant that needed using ASAP. 

But I just wasn’t in the mood for your classic combo of eggplant and tomato…

Enter:  canned clams.

Ahhh, I remember when I used to be a bit scared petrified? terrified? of these lil’ suckers… that was until I made this recipe and my whole was life turned upside down.

So here’s the dish I came up with after doing some online research… I’d call it a medley of many recipes all turned into a CookinFanatic style dish!

I’d also call it a tastebud surprise, because I must admit, my expectations were low.  But this dish really came through and surprised me as a total winner! 🙂

Cheesy, Buttery Eggplant & Clam Casserole

If you’re looking for a deliciously different way to use eggplant, seriously consider trying this ya’ll.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the wonderful combination of flavors.

And don’t worry – even though the recipe name uses “buttery”, there is only 2 tblsp in this whole dish and the flavor permeates throughout!

  • 1 eggplant, peeled & cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 onions, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic,chopped
  • 1 can clams, partially drained
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups cubed bread (got an old loaf?)
  • 1/3 block mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 tblsp butter
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

Start with chopping up your eggplant and boiling (in salted water) for about 8 minutes, or until tender.  Drain and set aside.

Next saute the onions in 1 tblsp butter for about 7 minutes, or until tender.  Add the garlic during the last minute or so.  Don’t forget some black pepper too!

Next in go your partially drained clams plus the other 1 tblsp butter.  Cook for another 5 minutes over medium.

At this point get all the other ingredients ready, including chopping the bread and shredding the cheese.

Spread a thin layer of butter in a baking dish (use the stick and rub a thin amount) and layer in the bread cubes.

Then add the cooked eggplant on top.

Next it’s time to assemble the clam “sauce.” 

Stir in the flour and let soak into the clam, onion, garlic, butter mixture.  Then stir in the milk until a thick and gorgeous sauce forms. 

Turn down to medium low if things get too bubbly.

Now the luscious clam sauce gets draped over the bread and eggplant layer, partyyyyy time.

All finished off with a layer of shredded cheese!

Let this sit for 5 minutes so that the sauce will soak through to the bread cubes, then place into a 375F oven for 30 minutes or until the edges start to brown and bubble.

Oh the smell of butter and onions and garlic baking away in your kitchen will just make your mouth water!  Or maybe that’s just me?

Let it cool for a few minutes and then dig in 😛

The bread soaks up all of the wonderful clam juice and luscious creamy sauce while also getting a lovely crisp against the buttered baking dish edges… oh this was such a warm and delicious treat!

Imagine:  the texture of stuffing meets the flavor of these clam stuffed mushrooms then all draped with cheese.  I mean, what’s not to like?

Like I said, expectations on this dish were low… but man oh man, did it excite those tastebuds!

Made this side of sugar snap peas seem a lil’ less exciting if you know what I’m sayin’ 😉

But definitely didn’t make this morning snack of another new Chobani flavor any less exciting!

Mango.

Surprisingly not my favorite fruit ever, but I really enjoyed both the flavor and texture of this new Cho flavor.

There were sweet, soft pieces of mango throughout without too much sweetness.

It wasn’t anything like I expected but I really liked it, more than I thought I would considering my feelings about mango! (feelings about mango? who says that?)

I’d go back for more… of both the eggplant casserole and the mango Chobani… that is all 🙂

TGIF!

3 Ingredient Fix

What’s better than a 5 Ingredient Dinner?!?!

I’ll tell you… a 3 Ingredient Fix! 😛

I took the easy route last night and made one of my go-to favorites…

The simple combination of mac n’ cheese + chicken sausages + frozen veg is one that I’ve been throwing together for years now, and it never fails to dissapoint!

Plus these Lou’s Chicken Sausages really impressed last time around so I was excited to try the Aged Provolone version… which I must say are pretty awesome!

Simply cook these over medium-high in a bit of cooking spray until browned on the outside, then slice thin.

Then prep your macaroni according to directions.

Cook the broccoli in the microwave while the pasta cooks, then give a quick chop.

Add the broccoli and sliced chicken sausages to the finished mac n’ cheese and give a good stir.

Sea salt and black pepper also necessary in my opinion 🙂

Plus an unseen hot sauce topping… hot sauce on mac n’ cheese is just tooooooo good!

To go with this easy meal I prepped up a simple n’ spicy side salad (say that 5 times?! haha)

Fanatic Mom was nice enough to share some of her homemade salsa with us today and I thought it would make such a fun salad topper!

Boy was I right.

Let me tell you, this salsa is no joke.  Spicyyyyyyyy and wonderful 🙂

Overall such a fast n’ easy meal to throw together which was awesome for last night since I had some yoga to tend to and some American Idol to watch.

Priorities people.

But before I go, how about those new Chobani flavors?!?! 

Today I tried the Black Cherry and must say that I really liked it!

It was no where near as sweet as I had anticipated it to be (not sure why I thought that, guess because cherry flavored food is usually really sweet?) and had almost a tangy flavor.  I really really really liked this one 🙂

Doesn’t beat my #1 pineapple love, however I’m pretty confident that it’s tied up at #2 along with raspberry…

Now onto the lemon and mango which I’m so curious about!

Have a great Thursday everyone 🙂  Can you believe this week is almost over already? Wow did it fly by!!!!

Spicy Chicken & Tomato Orecchiette

Last night, after a long & busy day at work, I just couldn’t wait to get home and get in the kitchen for this dinner idea!

So normal, right?

Guess that’s what makes me the CookinFanatic? 😉

Since I didn’t have a workout on the agenda, I poured myself a glass of wine and got started!

Dinner’s inspiration came from two sources: 

(1) The Pioneer Woman’s Linguine w/ Chicken Thighs and (2) Epicurious’ Orecchiette with Rabbit, Tomato and Basil Sauce

Don’t worry, NO rabbits were hurt during this process, that’s’ just not my thing 🙂

What is my thing is a hearty flavorful chicken thigh.  I couldn’t have put it any better than PW:

I’m with ya sister!

Chicken thighs.  Putting the chicken breast to shame in the flavor department since… forever? 😛

So here enters a sort of fusion of the above two recipes, and what I think turned out to be a dish full of flavor.  Perhaps  close to being chicken cacciatore’s long lost twin?  Well, close, but not quite!

Spicy Chicken & Tomato Orecchiette

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 2 large cloves (or 3 small cloves) garlic, chopped
  • 1.25 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chopped small
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tblsp chopped fresh basil (I used the frozen fresh from our garden)
  • 1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes (these had basil/oregano)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • about 10 oz. orecchiette (2/3 of box)
  • sea salt & black pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese to serve

Have you read this article out about the increased amount of BPA in canned tomatoes?  I really need to get back in the habit of using the Pomi boxed version which I adore (only ingredient: tomatoes)!  Next time… 

The beginnings of this dish are your basic sauté of the chopped chicken thighs in 1 tblsp olive oil. 

Be sure to season with salt and pepper too!

Once the chicken has browned a bit, remove from the pan. 

Add the onions and green peppers to the same pan, they will cook in all that wonderful-ness that the chicken left behind.

Cook the veggies until tender, about 8 minutes.

Also add in the garlic towards the end.

Now splash in a healthy pour of white wine (for the pan and for the cook, ya know?!) and let this do it’s thing for another 5 minutes or so.

Add the chicken back to the pan…

Then the tomatoes and water…

Plus the spices…

P.S.  If you use tomatoes that don’t have any seasoning already, I’d increase the amount of oregano and basil in this dish.

Turn this down to medium-low and let simmer away (covered) for 20-30 minutes, until the chicken is done cooking and the flavors have blended. 

While you’re waiting on the sauce, go ahead and boil your pasta according to direction.

I just love this little orecchiette pasta!

Once the pasta is done cooking you are ready to serve up your meal.

Oh the thick, dense pasta with the hearty yet light chicken sauce all topped with some grated Parmesan (which were more like Parm crumbles??) was just glorious!

It had a good hint of spice which was a perfect balance to the rich chicken meat.  We devoured this one!

I would have never thought of putting chicken thighs in a pasta sauce like this but let me tell you friends, it works 🙂

And now I’m off to think about my mid-morning snack already…

Is anyone else as excited as I am about these new Chobani flavors?!?!?!

Black Cherry. Mango. Lemon.  Yes please 😛

Reviews coming soon!

Enjoy your Wednesday everyone.

Have you tried the new Chobani flavors?  Which ones?  Thoughts?

Spicy Stew Sunday

This weekend I did myself a huge favor by making our Monday night meal ahead of time (why don’t I do this more often?!)

I figured that since I was already going to be in the kitchen busy with making the moussaka, I may as well get a head start on the week too!

This also gave me ample time to cook a delicious weeknight slow cooked dish for hours over the stove, all while just giving it the occasional stir.

Planning ahead:  Making life easier since who knows when 🙂

Spicy Beef & Onion Stew over Rice

The base for this beef stew was inspired by the spicy sauce from this egg recipe we had a few nights back, and I must say it turned out to be a total success!

Plus it was super easy, economical and not too hard on the waistline since there’s no added fat aside from the meat 🙂

  • about 1 lb stew meat/cubed beef
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (these had some oregano/basil)
  • 2 chiles de arbol
  • 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup water

Start by adding the crushed tomatoes and chiles de arbol to a medium sized pot, bring to a simmer and letting cook for 10 minutes, covered (unless you want your stove to be splattered in tomatoes, just sayin’ 😉 ).

Using an immersion blender, blend the sauce until the chiles are incorporated and smooth (you could use a regular blender for this as well).

Next add in your diced onion, garlic and beef plus about a cup of H2O. 

Give a stir and bring to a boil.  Turn down to a simmer and cover, partially (you want the liquid to evaporate some), cooking for another 2-3 hours until the beef is fall apart tender and the sauce has reduced and become very thick.

“Quality control” may require numerous tastings during this process.  It may even leave you hoping you have enough left for the meal itself 😉

Stash away in the fridge until the next day when you are ready to eat!

To serve, simply prepare some rice, I used white rice because that’s what we had, and serve the reheated stew on top.

And prepare your tastebuds for a major flavor punch!

I promise I had some brussel sprouts on the side too 😉

The stew developed the deepest, richest flavor over all that cooking time and the beef was just melt in your mouth. 

Sometimes simple flavors are seriously the best.  How many ingredients did this dish have, seriously only a handful?

I know I’m always saying this, but if you haven’t experienced using dried chiles in your kitchen you should really give it a shot.

They add the most amazing flavor without adding an overpowering knock you out spice.

I’m in love 😛

I’ll definitely be making this dish again, loved it.

Time to get going, it’s day 1 of month end close and this week is shaping up to be a pretty busy one!

Have a good one ya’ll.

Do you ever make meals ahead of time in preparation for a busy week?

Moussaka My Way

After celebrating the big 2-9 at a Whole Foods beer dinner followed by a night out on the town with my favorites, this birthday week (obviously?) finished up with an early evening dinner with The Man’s parents last night!

I had the following choices (1) go out to dinner (2) have dinner cooked for me or (3) cook dinner for everyone. 

Obviously my choice was completely not normal but so totally “me” 😛

An old recipe for moussaka unassumingly crossed my path Saturday morning and I just knew that I had to try out my own version of this Greek specialty!

In doing some reading I learned that Greek moussaka (at least the modern version) consists of (1) a layer of eggplant (2) a layer of cooked meat – usually lamb – w/ onion and tomatoes all topped with (3) a creamy béchamel sauce layer.

Triple threat? 😀

Start by slicing the eggplant and sprinkling with a bit of sea salt.  Allow these to sit for about 20 minutes to draw out the moisture before cooking.

Then cook in a very hot pan using olive oil until browned a bit.  I had to do this in batches.

Once the eggplant are done, saute the diced onion in 1 tblsp olive oil for about 5 minutes.  Then add your ground beef and cook until done.  I opted for ground beef vs. lamb, I’m not a big fan of the latter.

The drained tomatoes and garlic go in followed by tomato paste, a few spoonfuls of the reserved tomato liquid (about 4 large spoonfuls), dried oregano, dried thyme, sugar and black pepper.

Then turn down to medium low and let do its thing for about 20 minutes.

At this point you’re ready to make the béchamel – which also has cheese mixed in.  I’m sure there is some technical culinary term for this?

Simply whisk 1/4 cup of the milk plus the flour (over medium heat) until smooth.   Then in goes the rest of the milk followed by the shredded cheese, a little at a time until smooth.  Last add the ricotta, nutmeg and cayanne – whisking until smooth.

Then you’re ready to assemble the moussaka!

Eggplant layer – half of the cooked eggplant.

Meat layer – half of the cooked meat mixture.

Then repeat.

Last layer – cheese sauce aka heaven.

Then baked at 350F for about 45-55 minutes, or until browned on top.

Served up!

With a fresh side salad.

And a warm loaf of fresh bread.

Sunday night dinner at its best!

The moussaka had great flavor, all the spices blended so nicely and the flavors were spot on.  I think The Man’s parents really enjoyed it too – especially after his mom told me she didn’t really like eggplant usually (ooops!) but really enjoyed it in this dish 🙂

Definitely glad that worked out!

Speaking of The Man’s mom, check out this amazing cake she brought over for the birthday dinner.

Per request by moi.

This cake rockssssss!

It has a pineapple layer, a banana pudding layer, a whipped cream layer and the cake portion is super dense and moist.

So. Full. So. Good.

Guess it’s time to snap back into reality and stop eating cake after every meal now that birthday week is over – but wow, was it a good one!! 🙂

Moussaka – CookinFanatic Style

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced 1/2″ thick
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes, drained & liquid reserved
  • 3 tblsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • 3-4 tblsp olive oil, divided

For the cheese sauce:

  • 1 1/4 cup milk (I used 2 percent)
  • 2 tblsp flour
  • 1/2 block mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 container ricotta cheese
  • pinch cayanne pepper
  • pinch fresh nutmeg

Step 1:  Cook eggplant

Salt the sliced eggplant and let sit for 20 minutes.  Then cook in a large pan over medium-high (in batches if necessary) using 1/2 tblsp olive oil, until browned a bit.  Set aside.

Step 2:  Cook meat mixture

Saute onions in 1 tblsp olive oil for about 5 minutes, add ground beef and cook until browned.  Drain any grease if necessary.  Add garlic and drained tomatoes followed by the tomato paste, oregano, thyme, sugar, black pepper and a few spoonfuls of the reserved tomato liquid to make the mixture nice and moist.  Cook over medium low for 20 minutes.

Step 3:  Make cream sauce.

Start by whisking 1/4 cup milk in a hot pan with the flour, until smooth.  Then add the rest of the milk, whisking.  Follow with the shredded cheese, a bit at a time, until melted and smooth.  Lastly, add the nutmeg and cayanne plus the ricotta cheese, stirring until smooth.

Step 4:  Assemble and bake!

Layer half the eggplant on the bottom of a baking dish, top with half of the meat mixture.  Repeat. Top the moussaka with the creamy cheese sauce, pouring over the top.  Bake at 350F for 45-55 minutes, or until browned on the top and set.

Enjoy!