Tag Archives: onion

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!


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 🙂



#1 of 2011

 Tonight’s dinner ranks as #1 dinner of 2011 thus far.

Yep, #1.

And it took me by total surprise!

Seriously, from the looks of it you would never believe it either… but boy oh boy, looks can be deceiving!  Trust me, you’ll see.

In an attempt to clean out the goods we have in our kitchen, I came up with yet another 5 ingredient recipe.

Albeit a little less conventional than the coconut curry chicken from this weekend, if that even makes sense?

Leftover from Christmas Eve dinner was a lonely can of sauerkraut…

What to do, what to do?

Well, I decided to throw together this blend of flavors and see how it turned out!

  • (1) 1 onion, sliced thin
  • (2) 1 lb. boneless pork ribs
  • (3) 1 apple, thinly sliced & chopped
  • (4) 1 can Bavarian style sauerkraut, drained
  • (5) 1 bottle Yuengling Lager
  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tblsp sugar
  • sea salt & black pepper to taste

Sometimes you just have to go for it and hope for the best 😛

I had never cooked with boneless pork ribs before a few weeks ago, but I’ll tell you that they are a great cut of meat for cooking low and slow and also very economical even from Whole Foods.

Good food on a budget 🙂

Sliced onion.

Boneless pork ribs, chopped into 1″ cubes.

Cooked over medium high heat in 1 tblsp olive oil for about 10 minutes or until the onions turn glossy & golden.

Season with sea salt & black pepper too.

In goes the apple, unpeeled and sliced into thin & small pieces.

Then the can of sauerkraut – drained.

This is actually Bavarian style sauerkraut which has been seasoned with caraway seeds and (yikes!) corn syrup.  Ooops 😉

Can’t win ’em all.  And can’t say this doesn’t taste good!

If you don’t have Bavarian style sauerkraut then you’ll need to add more sugar plus caraway seeds to this dish.

Then a bottle of beer.  Lager to be exact.  Plus the sugar.

Drunken ‘kraut.

Those words just sing to me.

Perhaps it’s the Polish in me 😛

After a good stir, cover and let simmer over low for another hour and a half.  Stir every half hour or so to make sure the liquid doesn’t get too low.

It may seem like a long time, but if you throw this on the stove right after work it will be the easiest thing ever.  And who doesn’t have time for a few minutes of stirring?

After the time is up you will have a pretty colorless pot of food.  Don’t let that deter you however, please don’t at all.

In such a short period of time the pork becomes fall apart tender, I’m talking no knife required.

Perhaps it’s the acidity of the sauerkraut or maybe the apple, or perhaps even the beer, but something(s) worked it’s magic – hey, I’m no scientist 😉

The flavor of this dish was spot on – not like anything I’ve ever tasted but SO very delicious.

Served atop some cheesy mashed potatoes I had stashed in the freezer (these were actually leftover pierogi filling from this adventure, I mean, do I think I’m living during the Great Depression? I swear I don’t throw anything away haha).

Yum. Yum. Yum.

The cheesy potatoes soaked up all the glorious beer infused sauce – I can’t even explain how good this was!

And with temperatures well below freezing here in Virginia (not for long though!) this meal definitely warmed me up from the inside out.

Like I said, we’re not talking pretty, colorful food here (hey, a garden salad on the side will fix that real quick!) but we are talking major MAJOR flavor.

Tangy onions & ‘kraut, sweet sugar & apples, fall apart tender pork plus a light hint of beer.  Oh-em-gee.

I may or may not have called Fanatic Mom while I was eating it to tell her how surprised I was with this dish and talked about it for 5 minutes straight, why does she put up with me? – she can attest to that.

And by the way, I’ve already decided that this will be the dinner to celebrate my belated birthday when my Uncle comes in town (if you’re reading Uncle Donnie, here’s a sneak peak!)…

I have problems – who plans meals 2 weeks in advance?


Oh yea, what birthday?

This girl’s last birthday in her 20’s falls the day after tomorrow *gasp* can’t even believe it! 

And Fanatic Dad’s birthday is tomorrow 🙂

We have a lil’ something up our sleeves to celebrate later this week too — so stay tuned!

Okay I better stop talking/thinking about/eating this ‘kraut dish and go watch The Bachelor already, have a great night!

Exceeding Expectations

Tonight the plan was for an Italian inspired meal!

After two nights of Mexican meals, we were feeling a need for a lil’ location change 😉

Plus, I’d had these in the cabinet for way too long…

I bought them a few weeks ago, but have been scared to use them ever since. 

Yea, I said it, scared.

Canned clams don’t get the best rap in case you’re wondering. 

And with a preconceived notion that these were going to be slimy, tough and fishy — I’m not even sure why I bought them?

But tonight I got brave…

And let’s just say that bravery paid off!!! 😀

Lemon Butter Pasta w/ Clams

A canned clam’s best friends:  onion, garlic, fresh parsley and lemon.

A bit of butter and olive oil.

A quick pan sauce comes together.

Would you believe me if I told you that all this dish needed was 1 tblsp of each?!   Well it’s true.  Proof that you don’t need alot of fat to make a tasty meal 🙂

The smell of butter and onion and garlic will never cease to amaze me.

It’s just that good.

A touch of clam juice and white wine also pulled this sauce together, what doesn’t wine make better? 😉

Ever have some smaller portions of leftover pasta on hand?


Yea, I used them both.  Made for some fun & different textures!

I’m in love with these cheese bits that you can pick up for dirt cheap at Whole Foods…

Anyone else?

This Parmesan was so flavorful, I think it’s time to splurge for the full block 😉 

Marketing genius…

Freshly shaved atop the lemony buttery sweet clam pasta.

This dish exceeded every expectation (or lack thereof) that I had.

The butter & olive oil was cut perfectly by the fresh lemon and parsley and the clams were perfectly tender and not fishy in the least!

This recipe is most definitely going into the rotation for easy, flavorful go-to meals.

We demolished the entire pan. 

Yummmmm!  😛

Lemon Butter Pasta w/ Clams

  • 1 tblsp butter
  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can clams, drained & clam juice reserved (will need 1/4 cup)
  • 1/8 cup white wine
  • fresh parsley, chopped (about 2 tblsp)
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • black pepper
  • pasta – about 1/2 package
  • freshly grated Parmesan

Melt the butter & olive oil in a saucepan.  Add the onion and cook over medium heat until translucent.  Add the garlic towards the end and cook for another minute or two. 

Add in the reserved clam juice, white wine, lemon juice, parsley, clams and black pepper.  Cover and let heat through for about 5 minutes (told you it was fast!)

Meanwhile, boil the pasta according to directions.  Using a pasta spoon, remove from boiling water and add to saucepan w/ claim sauce.  The extra pasta water will help to create more liquid for the sauce.

Top with grated Parm and prepare your tastebuds for excitement!

Enjoy 😀

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!

    Eggs. Gone Tomato?

    After seeing this recipe idea around the tv & internet “foodie” world for some time now, I was really excited to finally give it a try!

    Healthy, economical and delicious… don’t mind if I do! 🙂

    Eggs in Tomato Sauce

    First up, the sauce.  Tomatoes, garlic and onion.  The trifecta  (?) of perfection in my eyes 😉

    I’ve been using boxed tomatoes whenever possible these days after continuing to read articles on the increased relationship between canned tomatoes & BPA due to their acidity… but with all that’s out there who even knows what to believe these days sometimes?!

    Anywho, this boxed version is much better than any type I’ve had in a can before – so now I think I’m mostly won over by taste.  Either way, win win situation me thinks 🙂

    And plus, look at the ingredients.  Doesn’t get much simpler than that 😉

    I gave the onion a fine chop and added to a hot pan with 1 tblsp olive oil. 

    Let this saute until golden then add in the finely minced garlic for another minute or two.  At this point dump in your tomatoes and bring up to a boil.

    Add in some herbs and spices of your choice too – I went with the classic dried oregano, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes (bam!)

    Once it’s come to a boil, turn down the heat to a low simmer and cover.  Ya’ll all know that I’m a firm believer that dishes such as this really get better when left to “mingle” for a little while.

    Plus once you cover it you can forget about it for a little while and get on with your life, chores, workouts, relaxation — whatever floats your boat!

    After about an hour was up it was time to get crackin’ <—- pun intended 😉

    Into the tomato sauce went four eggs, which I cracked ahead of time into a small bowl (one at a time) and laid into little indentations I made in the sauce pan.

    Cover until cooked to your liking, these went about 5 minutes over medium heat.

    To serve, toast up some delicious crusty sliced Italian bread in the oven…

    Then layer the egg mixture on top, scooping out each egg individually for each slice of bread!

    We topped with some shredded cheese & basil as well 🙂


    This was everything I hoped this dish would be!  So simple.  So flavorful.  So gooooooood.

    Plus not to bad on the eyes either, what a gorgeous presentation this dish makes 🙂

    So there you have it, for mere pennies dollars and a small commitment of time, this fancy egg dish is a great way to put a spin on your normal dinner routine!

    Eggs in Tomato Sauce

    Serves 2

    • 4 organic, cage free eggs
    • 1 box tomatoes
    • 1 onion, finely chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    • 1 tblsp olive oil
    • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
    • 2 tsp dried oregano
    • salt & pepper to taste
    • 4 slices crusty sliced bread

    Saute chopped onion in olive oil for about 5 minutes over medium to med-high heat until golden.  Add chopped garlic for another minute or two before dumping in tomatoes.  Stir in seasonings and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a low simmer and cover, cooking as long as you like/have time for.

    Crack each egg one at a time into a small bowl, adding to the tomato sauce mixture (make small indentations in the pan for this).  Cover and cook until eggs are done to your liking.

    Toast up bread and serve egg/tomato mixture on top.  Serve w/ fresh basil and grated cheese if you like!

    Giveaway time!

    Before we go any further, let’s get down to business & guess what it’s time for?! 😀

    Yep, a giveaway!!!

    We all know how much I adore Tropical Traditions coconut oil.  I have used this stuff for so much and can’t even describe how wonderful this product is!

    Well, Tropical Traditions was kind enough to send me another product to try out in the spirit of my lurve for all things coconut.

    Wait, you’re saying that coconut (my #1 lurve) + peanut butter (my runner up lurve) all mixed together —>  I obviously declined 😉

    HA. RIGHT.

    That would be insanity in my book 😛

    This stuff is bomb.  Yea, I took it there (the 1990’s that is haha). 

    • 2 ingredients – organic peanuts & organic coconut, that’s it!!!
    • no fillers, no binders, no sweeteners, no preservatives

    I’ve spread it on almond crackers & put it in oats so far, but there are bazillion ways you could use this jar o’ lurve for sure!  Ummm for instance this Sweet Potato Coconut Peanut Butter soup 😉 cha-ching!

    So without further ado, I present to you:  Tropical Traditions Coconut Peanut Butter GIVEAWAY!

    “Alright alright already, so how do I enter?” you are asking… right?  

    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 Peanut Butter http://wp.me/pC3u2-1O1  @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.
    5. Bonus Entry 4:  Visit Tropical Traditions recipe website and let me know what recipe you would love to try by leaving a comment below.

    I’ll use the random number generator to pick a winner after 5pm on Friday, March 12!!!

    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.

    Okay, how about we get to some stir-fryin’ tonight?! 😀

    On the menu:  BEEF & BROCCOLI!

    • small steak for stir frying (this one was local)
    • onion, sliced thick
    • frozen broccoli florets
    • Simply Asia stir-fry sauce
    • 1 cup brown rice (cook per directions)
    • 2 tsp coconut oil (unpictured)

    Just stir-fry up the sliced onion & frozen broccoli in 1 tsp of this guy

    Until they get that gorgy “stir-fry” color 😉  And since I have an electric wok, I made sure not to go above 350F (coconut oil doesn’t fare well any higher!)

    Then remove from the wok and set aside. 

    Slice up the meat into somewhat thin, diagonal pieces.  TIP:  Put your meat in the freezer for about an hour to make slicing perfectly a breeze!  Works like a charm!

    Stir-fry in 1 tsp coconut oil unti cooked, this happens fast so watch out! 😛


    Then pile all the friends together including the sauce

    And serve it on up over some brown rice!

    Loved it 🙂  This stir-fry sauce is fabulous, seriously one of my standbys (as if you haven’t noticed haha)

    Well guess I better hit the road… they are breezing through the American Idol singers faster than I ate through that bag of coconut creme hershey kisses 😉

    Have a fabulous night and see you for another mid-week celebration!

    A lil’ game of charades in the kitchen

    Hello bloggies 🙂  How are ya this evening?

    I’m doing actually doing pretty alright over here, considering!

    And I have to tell you that I was so excited about my dinner tonight – I know this will not be exciting to most, however after 3 days of no solid foods this was like a gourmet meal haha 😉

    Mac n’ Cheese saves the day!  OMG that simple dish has never tasted soooooo good 😉

    Ahhh what a nice change from fruit smoothies & coconut ice cream & potatoes!  Don’t get me wrong, I love all these things, but there’s only so much a person can take 😛

    So onto some more food fun, how about a lil’ pizza action?!  Mr. Sits on the Couch has gotta eat something, right?

    Bacon & Caramalized Onion Stuffed Crust Pizza

    I had picked up some Trader Joe’s refrigerated pizza dough the other day since this is something I’ve been meaning to try.  The first time around though the Man was just going to have to be my taste tester! 🙂

    • Trader Joe’s pizza dough
    • Tomato sauce
    • Mozzarella cheese
    • 3 strips Bacon
    • 1/2 Onion, sliced
    • 1 clove garlic
    • Dried oregano
    • Black pepper

    Find a handsome hunk to help you with this, so much easier that way 😉

    Roll out the dough.

    Make a stuffed crust by sprinkling some cheese around the edges and folding over all purty like.

    Transfer to a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray – then it’s time for the toppings!

    Tomato sauce:  1 can tomato sauce, 1 clove chopped garlic, sprinkling of dried oregano & black pepper.  1 minute in the microwave to blend the flavors and voila!

    Caramalized Onions:  Saute up some sliced onions in a lil’ olive oil until they start to turn a light brown color.

    Oven Baked Bacon:  A quick 12 minutes or so at 375F and there you have it

    Assembly time!



    A quick bake in the oven and dinner was dunzo!

    I wish you friends could have seen the amusing game of charades that went on while we tackled this pizza making together… I’m going on almost 3 full days without speaking & getting veryyyy creative with how to express myself hahaha.  But I really think that not speaking it making me recovery that much better 🙂

    Oh yes, and in my surgery induced haze I totally forget about some good news I got Friday!  If all continues to go well with healing, I only have to take 2 weeks off exercise!  Those words were like sweet magic to my ears 😉 considering it originally was supposed to be 3.

    Alright, time to go watch some tv and probably take nap #3 of the day. 

    I’ll see you tomorrow for another Monday and I hope that all of you wonderful friends enjoy the rest of your night!

    Only 3 more days to enter the Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil giveaway (click me!)  – keep ’em coming! 🙂