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!!!!

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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!

Birthday at Balliceaux

Last night was my official birthday celebration!!

Two of my besties from college made it in for the occassion along with my Richmond besties and my favorite foodie ever 🙂

We all met up at a restaurant in The Fan (by my old house) called Balliceaux

I’d really been looking forward to trying this place and was definitely not disappointed!

I did miss my DSLR though 😉

The menu had some phenomenal choices and it was hard to choose an entree, but the Grilled Vegetable Lasagna ended up winning out.

Fresh house made pasta/ eggplant/ mushroom/ zucchini/ roasted garlic pomodoro.

 

Served with a bed of greens on top, so creative and a great addition of flavor.

‘Twas delicious!

The Man chose the Sesame-Potato crusted Catfish.

Served with spicy grilled sweet potatoes and honey glazed broccoli rabe.  

Even though I really enjoyed my lasagna, I must say that this dish was amazingggggg.  The fish was cooked perfectly and had such a nice crust, the sweet potatoes were divine (and the broccoli rabe was even cleared off his plate).

Wow I’d go back just for this dish!!

To finish things off The Man and I shared a four-layer cake that was the size of my head haha.

Moist & delicious.

Balliceaux was definitely the perfect place to spend some quality time with great friends, such an awesome night! 😀

Oh, and as if the company and the food wasn’t enough, check out these super fun gifts that I was lucky enough to receive too.

(My friends know me too well).

Mexican inspired measuring cups – how freaking outta control cute are these?!?!?!?!

Laura just knows 😉

And this amazingly scented candle which is currently making my kitchen smell like the freshness of spring!

Love it Brittany 🙂

Well I better get back to the kitchen, I’ve got lots of fun things going on in there today including a fun new dinner I’m trying out for tonight (The Man’s parents are coming over!) and dinner prep for tomorrow night…

Can’t wait to share both of these dishes with you guys too! 😀

See you soon!

Italian Chicken Sausage & Cannellini Bean Stew

For some reason on Friday’s I never have a clue what we are having for dinner ahead of time?

I usually only focus on planning Mon-Thurs and just leave the weekend’s food up in the air, I guess I like it better that way! 

Maybe we go out, maybe not?  Maybe it’s a fast dinner, maybe not?

It’s always an adventure either way 😀

As of around 4pm yesterday I was still clueless as to what dinner was going to be… But after a walk through Whole Foods and a random craving for a warm thick stew, I decided on a veggie and chicken sausage medley.

Want to know an easy way to get a certain someone to eat lotsa veggies and even rave about it? 

Make this stew.  Promises.

Italian Chicken Sausage & Cannellini Bean Stew

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 package Italian chicken sausages, chopped
  • 2 red potatoes, peeled & chopped
  • 1 cup orecchiette
  • 4 cups water
  • sea salt & black pepper to taste
  • dried oregano (about 1 tblsp)
  • dried basil (about 1 tblsp)
  • red pepper flakes (about 1 tsp)
  • 1 tblsp olive oil

My ears almost fell off my head when The Man said this was “the best soup (stew) he’s ever had” without me even asking.  A dish full of beans AND veggies, really?  I think someone is finally learning or else I’ve mastered the art of this “hide the beans” & veggies thang 😉

And as if I didn’t believe him, he then proceeded to have 3 bowls.  Who am I to talk though, I had 2.  And a half.

Then immediately fell into a soup coma…

Start by cooking the onion, carrot and zucchini in 1 tblsp olive oil for about 7 minutes until the veggies start to get tender.  Season with salt & pepper.

Add beans, tomatoes, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes.  Bring to a boil.

Then in go the chopped chicken sausages, check out all that flavor in these Lou’s Famous Mild Italian Chicken Sausages!

Not to mention they are all natural (free of nitrates, preservatives and antibiotics) and currently buy one get one free at Whole Foods, score 🙂

In fact, this whole pot of soup came it at under $7 (not counting spices & cheese topping).  Using mainly organic, natural ingredients.  And made about 5 servings!  Who says healthy good food can’t be economical 😀

Let this simmer, covered, until the veggies are tender (stir occasionally).  I think this was about 45 minutes but I lost track of time while hanging out with The Man over some Friday night cocktails?!  <— see, minimal attention required to this dish 😉

Once the veggies are tender add in the diced potatoes, turn up to a boil and cook until close to tender.  This felt like it took forever (I was so hungry!) but in reality I’m thinking about 20-25 minutes.

Then in goes the pasta, cooking according to direction.

Check out the finished product!

What you end up with is a super thick n’ creamy stew without using any fat – who doesn’t love that?!?!

By adding the beans early on, they break down and become super creamy over the cooking time, who knew?!

And you guys all know how The Man “hates beans” right… uh huh.  Favorite stew ever, he didn’t even know they were there 😛

The flavor of the chicken sausages blended into the stew and all the veggie goodness over the longer cooking time –  and oh it was so good! 

Add the melted Monteray Jack on top and it’s just sets things over the edge, oh please don’t skip that step!

Warm, luscious, creamy, comforting, healthy vegetable stew.  What more could you ask for?

This may take a little time to cook (probably an hour and a half total) but I promise you that the end result is so totally worth it.  Plus during that hour and a half all you really  have to do is add food and stir and drink wine… not too much to ask right 😛

Well I’m off to find more of the leftover soup clean up the house and run some errands.  Tonight is celebration night and we have some friends coming into town to join the party – hooray!  Plus I get to see this fabulous lady 😀

Good thing I started my yoga with a relaxing yoga session with The Traveling Yoga Sisters, since I have a feeling tonight’s gonna get a bit crazy 😉

How do you get creative to get a non-veggie-lover in your life to eat their veg?  Any new ideas much welcomed!

HAPPY SATURDAY FRIENDS 🙂

Spicy Tomatoes & Eggs

Where did this week go already?  Not that I’m complaining or anything… but woah TGIF! 😛

Oh and it’s about 98% official you guys, remember the super exciting news that I had but couldn’t let loose quite yet (??), well by February 14th that is going to change!

I can’t wait to share this with you friends, it is one of the most exciting things that’s happened in my life and I just want to be able to finally share it 😀

Well let’s move onto the food portion of this show, shall we?

Enter:  Obsession.

Oaxaca al Gusto: An Infinite Gastronomy (The William and Bettye Nowlin Series in Art, History, and Culture of the Western Hemisphere)

Yep, it’ssssss backkkkkk!

I’ll give you guys the recap of dinner but not going to be able to share the recipes since they aren’t published online 😦

Gotta do the right thing though ya know!

Egg and Masa “Omelet” (torta de huevo con masa)

Can you really go wrong with these ingredients?

Made into a torta on the stovetop!

The perfect accompaniment to this spicy fresh egg dish…

Shoemaker’s Eggs (Huevos zapateros)

A sauce is made using tomatoes, dried chile de arbol, sea salt and epazote, an herb common in Mexican cuisine.

This was my first time using epazote in the kitchen, I really liked the flavor it added.  It was unique and unlike anything I’d ever had.

I also read that it can be toxic in large quantities, after we ate.  So of course was paranoid that I killed us both for a good portion of the night.

The Man must seriously question his life sometimes haha 😛

And don’t worry, the 1/4 tsp I used was perfectly fine after all!

I also got to use my new toy 🙂

Score!

I just love the flavor these dried chiles added to the tomato sauce, the perfect kick of spice that is a punch to the tastebuds but then doesn’t linger around.  Perfect 🙂

The eggs were cooked in the sauce until set and voila

Served together they were a match made in heaven!  The egg omelet was so delicious, the flavors of the masa, onion and jalapeno each really shined through. 

Dipped in the spicy tomato sauce with the creamy eggs, my mouth was sayin’ Olé!!! 😉

What a fun and different dinner idea, right?  Plus super economical I might add!

It reminded of a version of this Italian egg & tomato dish that we had a few months back which we also really enjoyed. 

Just reminds me that I need to make dishes like this more often!

Are you adventurous with trying new ingredients in the kitchen? What’s the “weirdest” ingredient you’ve used and ended up loving?!

HAPPY FRIDAY ALL 😛