Tag Archives: ground beef

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.



A Wonderful Reward!

So glad to hear how many of ya’ll enjoy a delicious pierogi too! 

How about a lil’ chili making tonight?  Alrighttttt 😀

So while the pierogi making madness was going on yesterday, Fanatic Mom and I managed to get a great pot of chili going mid-afternoon just in time for it to have hours to cook & get all sorts of delicious for a family dinner.

This recipe definitely tops my list of ground beef chilis that I’ve made thus far… which I think I say every time, but that’s good, improvement makes me happy!

Starting with ground beef, onions and garlic.

Followed by kidney beans, tomatoes, tomato paste and a guallijo chile.

Spice selection included Mexican oregano (love! and yes, it’s different from “regular oregano” and I highly recommend trying it if you haven’t before 🙂 ), cumin, chile powder and black pepper.

There was also some beer in the mix, lager to be exact, which I think went perfectly!

The chili simmered for close to 4 hours while we finished up our pierogi making adventure, an occasional stir and large spoonful “sample” was of course necessary throughout that time as well 😛

To go with our chili there was some necessary cornbread.

Bob’s Red Mill products never disappoint, at least in my experience.

This cornbread was a hit!  Mini-fanatic takes all the credit for this one too, she did a great job 🙂

There was also a side salad to round out the meal.  Gotta have those vegetables!

The dressing included a new favorite of mine.

You may remember the cherry swiss pizzettes from last Sunday’s family dinner?  Well these cherry preserves were perfect in mixing up a sweet n’ tangy vinaigrette with some balsamic and olive oil 🙂

This dressing would also go perfectly with a salad topped with bleu cheese & dried cranberries me thinks.

We served the chili “buffet style” and everyone got to pick their fixin’s!

Diced onion, shredded cheddar, hot sauce (unpic) and Greek yogurt to top!

If you’ve never tried plain Chobani in place of sour cream then you’re definitely missing out… just sayin’ 😉

The flavors of this chili had so much time to really develop over the lengthy cooking period, and develop they did! 

It was a hit, deliciously warm & comforting, everything a chili should be 😀

Cornbread on the side and now we’re talkin’!


Such a wonderful reward after a full day in the kitchen.

Plus I definitely find chili to be a great choice for entertaining on a laid-back Sunday!

What’s your favorite go-to dish for casual entertaining?

“The Latest” Chili

  • about 1.5lbs ground beef (I used 85/15 from Whole Foods)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 small/medium cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cans kidney beans, drained & rinsed
  • 2 large cans (28oz. each) diced tomatoes
  • 1 tblsp tomato paste
  • 1-2 guallijo chiles, seeds removed
  • 2 tsp. Mexican oregano
  • 2 tsp. chile powder
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • black pepper
  • 1/3 can Lager (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 1 tblsp olive oil

Cook the onion in olive oil for about 5 minutes, add ground beef and continue cooking until almost browned.  Add garlic.  Using a spoon, remove any extra grease that has cooked off during the browning process.

Using a blender, combine 1 can of the tomatoes with the guallijo chile and blend until smooth.  Add this to a large pot along with the other can of tomatoes, drained beans, tomato paste and ground beef mixture. 

Add in seasonings according to your taste.  Always best to start with less and then add more later if you want.  I started with 1 tsp. of each and then adjusted a couple hours into cooking.  The flavor will change as it sits & cooks, Mini-fanatic couldn’t believe how much the flavor changed from hour 1 to hour 3 of cooking – but it happens!

Bring to a boil then turn down to medium-low and cover.  Let the chili simmer for as long as you have, more time = more flavor.

Serve with toppings of your choice 🙂

Italian Spin on a Comfort Classic!

Pizza Pot Pie.

Inspired by the lovely Jessica @ How Sweet Eats

Her recipes make my mouth water.  Like every day.

I made my version in one large baking dish, using ground beef in lieu of chicken.

Here goes!

Pizza Pot Pie

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef (great way to stretch it!)
  • 1 package sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tblsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 jar tomato basil pasta sauce
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • black pepper to taste
  • refrigerated pizza dough (I used Trader Joe’s)

This easily makes 4-5 generous servings.

You’ll need two pans to start, one for the veggie mixture and one for the meat.

Pan 1:  Saute the onions and green peppers in 1/2 tblsp olive oil for about 5 minutes.  

Then add in your mushrooms, cooking for another 15 minutes.  Give the mixture some black pepper as well.

Pan 2:  While the veggies are cooking, cook the ground beef until browned over medium heat in the other 1/2 tblsp of olive oil.  Add in your garlic once the beef is almost cooked through.

Now combine the beef & veggie mixures in the larger pan. 

Stir in the pasta sauce.

Then the ricotta.

 And into a baking dish this goes!

With a layer of shredded cheese on top.

Followed by the uncooked pizza dough, shaped to fit the top of the casserole dish.

Perhaps a kitchen helper will come to your assistance for this part? 😉

The Man is my designated pizza dough roller.  I don’t know why or when this started, but it’s just the way it is in this house 🙂

Place the pot pie into a 350F oven for 30-35 minutes, or until crust is firm to the touch. 

You may have some overflow issues if you try to stuff too much into a smaller baking dish, but whatever 😛

The cheese layer on this was outta control ooey gooey!

This meal began like this:  “Oh my, this is SO good”

Followed by silence.

Followed by more rave reviews.

Followed by more silence and some grunts signifying the acceptable limit of fullness had been surpassed haha.

I’ll take that as a win 😉

I served it with a simple side salad and we were good to go.

This recipe gets 5 stars.  Seriously so comforting and so good!

Much like last night’s one dish dinner… hey, I see a theme here?!?!

And speaking of last night’s Green Chile Chicken Casserole featuring our favorite Chobani, thanks SO much for all the positive feedback!!

If you end up trying the recipe please let me know how you like it 🙂

I’m off to enjoy some rest & relaxation tonight, I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather so hoping to bounce back soon.  Enjoy your Tuesday night everyone!

A Go-To

What’s your easy weeknight “go-to” meal?

Lately for us it’s been pasta.  Tonight it was ziti with meat sauce.  I think I’ve finally gotten the ‘recipe’ down pat.  This did NOT disappoint 🙂

Pasta del giorno


Saucey goodness.

The trick?  Prepare right after you get home from work.  Then sit back and relax, watch a movie and allow this to simmer for a good hour or two.  Trust me, it’s worth the wait.

Serve together.

With some fresh mozzarella cheese of too, obviously.

And your favorite salad

Romaine, sliced pear & dried cranberries.

Spaghetti:  making Thursday nights delicious since the days of the Roman Empire?

Ziti w/ Meat Sauce

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
  • 3/4lb local ground beef (I used 85/15)
  • 1 jar 365 brand marinara sauce
  • fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

Begin by heating the olive oil in a saucepan.  Add the onion and green pepper.  Cook until tender but not browned.  Add in the ground beef and brown.  In goes the garlic too towards the end.  Give the mixture some salt & pepper as well.  Pour in the marinara and add the basil, cover and turn down to a simmer.  Stir every 30 minutes or so until you’re ready to eat.

Boil pasta.  Shred cheese.



His & Hers Dinners

Hey hey hey!

Well I’m backkkkk, and just spent some time in the kitchen since my ‘cooking soul’ felt like it was dyingggggg…. revived!  Well, in that sense at least 😉

Tonight was a his & hers dinner kinda night, since “he” prefers meattttt and since “she” can swallow or eat hot, solid foods quite yet…. yea yea yea.

HIS:  Homemade tacos!

From the tortilla to the guac (I was feelin’ ambitious, it had been a while 🙂 )

HERS:  ????

For the sake of not making this the longest.post.ever. how abouts I highlight The Man’s dinner tonight, then meet ya back here tomorrow for some more about mine 🙂  Kapeesh?


Who ever knew that making tortillas from scratch is seriously so easy for such a “sounds intimidating” ordeal!

Just knead the dough until incorporated, roll into a ball and divide into 8 equal pieces.

I would also recommend warming up the coconut oil (put in small container, run warm water over it) so that it is easier to mix into the dough evenly.  Coconut oil, at room temp, is in a solid state.


Then take each piece, roll into a ball and flatten into whatever thickness suits you.  Layer using some towels to avoid stickage and let ’em rest for 30 minutes or so, covered.

Then get a skillet nice n’ hot (about medium-high) and drop the tortillas on to cook, 1 by 1.  They need about 1 minute on each side, or until the golden spots appear!

Voila… bet you can’t guess how badly I wanted to taste these fresh and warm off the stove, I was seriously contemplating if the pain of swallowing this carby treat was worth it hahaha.  So I compromised with myself, definitely did the chew and spit, so ‘Hollywood’, no? 😛

I am ridiculous.


  • 1 avocado
  • 1 roma tomato, diced
  • few spoonfuls chopped onion
  • salt

Wished we had a lime, but alas we did not, as I am deathly afraid of this citrus fruit’s pain potential to my throat right now.  Who am I kidding, I couldn’t even eat the tomatoes, stupid tonsils 😉


  • 1/2lb natural ground beef
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 chipotle in adobo (not 1 can, unless you really hate your tongue)
  • chili powder
  • S&P
  • salsa

First saute up the onions for a few, then add the garlic and the ground beef and cook until browned.  Then add the chipotle, chili powder, S&P and a spoonful of salsa to finish it off.  Did I mention I hate taco seasoning packets?  Bleh….

Let’s review the final product, shall we?

I want one.  Now.  Too bad Steph, not this time….  The Man sure did enjoy though!  So mission accomplished 🙂

And I’ll be back tomorrow to let you in on what I made for “Her” part of the dinner. 

Hint:  A lil’ loaner gift from fanatic Mom was involved!

Booyah – that thing is suuuu-weeeeet!!!  Is it too early to put it on the Christmas list?  Just sayin…

Alright, we’re off to rent a movie and get some ice cream, it’s a low key kinda night here following nicely in this week’s footsteps haha. 

Happy Friday friends, have a wonderful night 🙂