Enchilada Boombada

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced into small 1/2-inch pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles
  • 1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 10 large flour tortillas
  • 3 cups Mexican-blend shredded cheese
  • 1 can store-bought enchilada sauce (about 20 oz)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat up a large skillet (or if you have a dutch oven, even better) over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to the pan and let it heat up for about 60 seconds. Add the onion. Sauté until translucent (6-7 minutes) stirring regularly to avoid burning.

Add the diced chicken breasts, green chiles and black beans to the skillet and add a couple pinches of salt and pepper. Cook until the chicken is cooked through (6-7 minutes). Move the filling to a large bowl.

Microwave the tortillas for about 30 seconds if they are coming from the fridge. This helps to keep them from breaking while you roll them.

Create the following assembly line: tortillas, enchilada sauce, chicken mixture, cheese

Spread 2 tablespoons of enchilada sauce on the tortilla. Add 2-3 spoonfuls of chicken mixture. Cover the chicken mixture with cheese. Roll the tortilla up, tightly, and place seam-side down in a large casserole dish. Repeat this process until you have all the enchiladas your little heart desires, but make sure to still have some enchilada sauce available! Also, try not to stuff the enchiladas too full. You want the seam to stay underneath and not unroll when you set it in the casserole dish. Just play around until to find the sweet spot.

Here is the most crucial step…drizzle your remaining enchilada sauce over the top of your enchiladas. You don’t want the tortillas swimming in sauce, but you want to make sure you have a small layer over the top of the entire thing. This helps the tortillas to keep from drying out and hardening. This will keep it moist and super delicious.

Cover the whole thing with as much cheese as you want and bake altogether for 20 minutes. If you feel fancy, sprinkle some fresh cilantro over the whole thing.

You’ve been struck by a smooth-ie criminal


I was in the mood for a delicious, fresh smoothie the other day and this one really hit the spot!  I love smoothies that are thick enough to need a spoon and this one was awesome!

Our blender isn’t working so we used a food processor and the results were great!  Feel free to replace the blueberries with any other frozen berry…it should work out the same.

Frozen banana – about 2 (I freeze bananas that are on the verge of becoming too soft.  Just cut the bananas into smaller chunks and freeze in a Ziploc.)

Frozen blueberries – 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup

1 individual container of yogurt (can be flavored if you want)


Put frozen fruit into blender/food processor and add the yogurt.  Add a splash of milk and start blending.  Add more milk until smoothie becomes desired thickness.

*You may have to stop blending and use a spatula to clean the sides of the blender/food processor.

*Milk substitute such as vanilla almond milk works great in this recipe!

*Small frozen banana chunks left in the smoothie are fine and actually taste delicious.


The Hummus Amongus

This is, without a doubt, the best hummus I have ever had.  It’s extremely easy (if you have a food processor), it makes a good-size portion and it’s inexpensive!

Make sure to follow the given times.  It’s really important to be patient and let everything mix.  This is why it turns out so creamy and delicious!

Thank you to my friend Esther for bringing this recipe to my attention today which inspired this lovely post.

The Best Hummus You’ll Ever Make


There’s no such thing as too many cucumbers…

Man oh man, where has the time gone!?  I apologize for my brief disappearance but some major things have been going on!  The biggest is I’m expecting my first child at the end of October!  Very exciting and overwhelming.  I spent the first three months feeling under the weather and sleepy which left little time for anything else.

So, here I am, 7 months pregnant, and food could not be more important to me right now!  Seemed like a good time to get back to it!  I hope you’ll come along!

My husband and I recently signed up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) here in Chicago and we are loving it!  For those of you interested in straight-from-the-farm produce, I highly recommend seeing if there is one in your area.  Essentially what happens is a box of food is delivered from a local farm to a house close to where we live.  We drive up on Saturday, sign the box out, and take home a beautiful box of fresh, fresh vegetables.  We signed up for 12 weeks and the cost ends up being $35/week (how can you beat that!?)  The only down side is you have to pay for it all at once…but if you can manage it, it is 100% worth it.

So, that past few weeks, we have been receiving an abundance of cucumbers.  I know it sounds terrible..but I am not a huge fan.  So, week after week, these cucumbers are stacking up.  And although every woman over the age of 25 should have a cucumber in the fridge…

tumblr_leu40zzVgM1qznrqt…I’m getting sad watching them grow old.  So, I have decided to turn these beautiful cucumbers into homemade pickles!

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I found a really simple recipe here:


So, I am one day in and will track the progress!  They should be done at about the three-day mark.  I only had pint-sized jars, so I cut the recipe in half.  Here is the summary:

2 cucmbers

1 clove crushed garlic

2 sprigs of fresh dill

1/4 tsp coriander seeds

1/8 tsp mustard seeds

dash of black pepper (as I didn’t have peppercorns)

pinch of red pepper flakes

1 cup of water

1/2 tbsp of sea salt

The process for making these is super easy!  First, cut your cucumbers to whatever size you like.  The smaller the pickle, the faster they will ferment and be ready to eat!  I did mine in spears!  Once cut, put the pickles in the jar.  Pack them tight enough so that they won’t float when the water is added.  Next, add all the spices on top of the cucumbers!

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In a separate bowl, mix the water and salt together until the salt dissolves.  Pour the water over the pickles, leaving about a 1/2 inch to an inch of space to the top of the jar.

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One great tip from the original website was to add some chunk of onion on top of the cucumbers.  This helps to keep all the cucumbers totally submerged, which is very important!  MAKE SURE THE CUCUMBERS ARE COMPLETELY UNDERWATER!  The chunks of onion really do help to push the cucumbers down.

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Put the lid on the jar and set on the counter.  They should be ready in about three days!  I will continue to post the progress and give my feedback on what I hope are some delicious homemade pickles!

Roasted Red Pepper and Zucchini Spicy Soup

I have been making a real effort to not waste food.  About once a week, I try to take inventory on what I have left in my fridge and see if I can throw it all together to make one fabulous, unique cooking experience.  Some weeks are better than others, but a lot of times you can really surprise yourself!

Not only is this recipe great for any leftover vegetables you may have, but it is so simple.  You really only need a few items and about 20 minutes to throw it all together.

Here is what you’ll need:


  • zucchini, sliced – 1
  • red pepper, sliced –
  • onion, sliced (optional) – 1/2
  • lime – 1/2


  • vegetable stock – 48 oz (one box)
  • rice, basmati – 1/2 cup (most other rice will work if you don’t have basmati)
  • sriracha
  • salt and pepper – to taste
  • olive oil

If you don’t have zucchini or red pepper, feel free to substitute other vegetables.  You could also add some sliced mushrooms to the mix or some green onion.  This recipe is really flexible!

The first thing you’ll want to do is start your rice.

Next, preheat the oven to broil.  Lay sliced red pepper on a baking sheet and put it in oven once hot.

While the rice is cooking and the peppers are roasting, put the veggie stock in a large pot.  Head stock over medium high heat.  Once stock is hot, reduce to low to keep warm.  Squeeze 1/2 lime into the stock and add about 1 tbsp of sirarcha.  Add more if you like a little extra heat!  Mix well.

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Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet.  Add zucchini and cook until soft.

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Check on peppers and flip them over.  This will help them to brown on all sides.

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That’s it!!!!!

Wait for the rice to finish cooking.  By this time, the red peppers should be done too.  Chop the red pepper into bite-size pieces.  Add the broth, rice and veggies together and serve!  Add some sliced onion as garnish on top and additional srircha if you like it spicy!

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So simple and so refreshing!  And, 100% vegan!

This recipe should make two servings.  You can easily double the recipe to make more!

Enjoy!  Here’s to easy cooking!

Turmeric Shitake Mushrooms, Tofu and Rice Noodles

Good lord, where have I been!?  It has been a crazy week and I have been MIA, but I’m back in full force!

First, I’d like to note that I cooked vegan all of last week and lost 5 pounds.  So, that’s awesome.

Not only did I lose some weight, but I had some great food throughout the week.  These were some of the best recipes I’ve come across in a while.  I love meals full of lots of veggies.  I have more energy and don’t feel bloated throughout the day.

I also LOVE shitake mushrooms….they are my favorite!  This recipe is full of them.  If you don’t want to spend the money on shitakes (as they can be expensive), just use white button mushrooms.

I also used tofu, however you could easily substitute shredded chicken for a little more protein.

Here is what you need!


  • garlic cloves, minced – 4
  • shitake mushrooms, sliced (stems removed) – 16 oz
  • scallions, sliced (white and green) – 4
  • lime juice – 1 1/2 tsp (2 small limes)
  • spinach leaves – 2 heads


  • turmeric – 1 1/2 tsp
  • dill – 2 tbsp
  • salt – to taste


  • rice noodles – 16 oz
  • rice vinegar – 1 tbsp
  • sesame oil – 2 tbsp
  • olive oil
  • tofu, extra firm – 1 container

For tofu, as usual I seared each side to get it nice and crispy.  Unless I am going to put the tofu in a soup, I usually do my tofu this way.  I think it gives it a nice crunchy outside and only takes about 10 minutes to prepare:

For crispy tofu:

Remove tofu from package and let rest on several paper towels.  This helps to remove some of the moisture.

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Slice tofu into desired thickness…I usually slice into three equal slices.

Heat about 1 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet.  Add slices of tofu to skillet.

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Heat on this side for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown.  Flip over and repeat.

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Once second side is nice and brown, remove from pan and let rest on paper towels.

You can set the tofu aside until the end of the recipe.  Just be sure to dice it before adding.

For the rice noodles:

Soak rice noodles in hot tap water for recommended time (usually about 30 minutes) or until tender.  Once tender, drizzle with rice vinegar.

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For the stir fry:

Make sure you have minced your garlic and sliced your shitakes.

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Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp of sesame oil in a wok, dutch oven or large pot.

Add the turmeric and toast it for about 1 minute.

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Add garlic and shitake mushrooms and cook until mushrooms start to become tender, about 3 minutes.

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Add the green onion.

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Add rice vinegar and lime juice and cook 2 minutes longer.

Add spinach.

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Cook spinach until wilted.

Add diced tofu to wok.

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Stir to combine.

Taste test and add salt and pepper if necessary.

Feel free to add sriracha, chili paste or red chili flakes for a little kick.

Put noodles on a plate and spoon tofu/spinach mixture on top of noodles.


Doesn’t that look so yummy!  It is, trust me!  This should make about 8 servings of food.

Like I said, if you are not interested in the vegan version, feel free to add some shredded chicken in place of the tofu.  I recommend poaching it beforehand and shredding it.  Just add it to the wok at the very end and stir to heat through.

As usual, please message me if you have any questions about this recipe or anything else for that matter!

Here’s to easy cooking!

-The Left Brain Chef

The Veg-tastic Voyage!

So I’ve decided to make some fairly drastic changes my to food over the next 12 weeks.  My husband and I have signed up for a weight loss challenge that lasts 12 weeks…the winning team wins loads of cash and…we like money so….

We have been running regularly training for a 15k, however I have noticed that I have not been losing any weight.  Since the exercise has increased so much, I can only assume that the reason I am leveling off is my diet.

So, in an effort to lose those pounds…I have decide to embark on the vegan journey.  I actually really love this way of cooking and eating and I am 100% up for the challenge.

I know, the word vegan sounds HORRIBLE for most people.  Who can live without meat and cheese!?  Being from Oklahoma, I understand the feeling…if you take away meat and dairy, what else is there.

The answer is…PLENTY!  And I am going to share it with you.

If this still sounds like too much for you…think of it not about eliminating meat and dairy, but increasing your fruits, vegetables and grains.  You will find that these recipes are simple, healthy and very, very filling.

If that STILL sounds like too much, I challenge you to take my vegan dish and add to it.  There is nothing wrong with adding some shredded chicken or ground turkey to any of these recipes…or maybe you just want to add some crumbles of goat cheese.  Whatever works for you, do it!  But if you start with my recipes, you are guaranteed to have a healthy, nutritious meal.

Are you up to join me on the veg-tastic voyage?  Stay tuned for the first recipe, Shitake Mushroom Stir-fry with Rice Noodles!  This can be made with crispy tofu, or chicken if you prefer.  Great flavor and very healthy!


Here’s to easy, healthy cooking!

The Left Brain Chef

Baby It’s Cold Outside!

Ugh, so the weather has been soooo coooold here in Chicago recently.  We took a huge plunge from Fall to Winter in a couple of days and we aren’t looking back!  Cubs are gone, the big coats are out, and Wrigleyville is empty…guys, Winter is here.

Nothing goes better with a cold Winter than hot soup…specifically, beef stew.  I love beef stew so much..it reminds me of cold nights by the fireplace in Oklahoma City with my family.  Nothing says home like stew.

This recipe is very easy and makes a lot of food!  You and your family will get to enjoy the taste of home for several days.

In case you don’t eat meat, I have included some alternatives if you want to do a vegetarian/vegan version.  This recipe would be just as delicious without the beef…just to be sure add more vegetables so the stew stays nice and hearty!

Here’s what you’ll need:


  • carrots, sliced – 6
  • celery, sliced – 6
  • onions, sliced – 2
  • potatoes, diced – 3 pounds
  • garlic, minced – 2 cloves

Note:  If doing vegetarian, be sure to pick up some additional vegetables!  16 ounces of whole mushrooms or 3-4 turnips!  This will help to make the stew nice and hearty.


  • allspice – sprinkle
  • bay leaves – 4
  • paprika – 1 tsp
  • pepper – 1 tsp
  • salt – 2 tsp

Pantry Items

  • beef stock (or veggie if vegetarian) – 4 cups
  • Worcestershire – 2 tbsp
  • sugar – 2 tsp
  • cornstarch – 4 tbsp
  • vegetable or olive oil – 4 tbsp


  • water – 2 1/2 cups

Meat (optional)

  • beef stew meat – 4 pounds

Heat the oil in a large dutch oven.

Add the stew meat.

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Brown all sides, about 5 minutes.

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Add the sliced onion.

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Add all the herbs/spices, Worcestshire sauce, garlic, beef stock and 2 cups of water.

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Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cover for 1 hour.

Add the carrots, celery and potato to the stew.  Bring to a boil once again, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 40 minutes.

Remove from heat when vegetables are tender.

To thicken the stew up, mix the cornstarch and 1/2 cup of water together in a small bowl.  Add this mixture (called a slurry) to the hot stew and stir.  Heat a few minutes until the sauce starts to thicken!


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Week Summary for 10/13

Here the list of all the groceries that are needed for the recipes during the week of October 13th, 2013.  I have also included the link to the recipes below:

Cuban Baked Chicken and Yellow Rice

Greek Pasta Bake

Teriyaki Salmon and Rice Noodles


  • baby spinach – 2 bags
  • cherry tomatoes – 2 pints
  • crimini mushrooms – 16 ounces
  • garlic cloves – 5
  • leek – 2
  • mushrooms – 16 ounces
  • onion – 2
  • red pepper – 1
  • yellow pepper – 1


  • butter – just over 1/2 cup
  • eggs – 3
  • milk – 4 cups
  • parmesan cheese – 1 1/4 cup


  • allspice – 1/2 tsp
  • cinnamon – 1 tbsp
  • cumin – 1/2 tsp
  • nutmeg – sprinkle
  • oregano – 2 tsp
  • pepper
  • salt
  • turmeric – 1/2 tsp

Frozen goods

  • peas 1 1/2 cups
  • sugar snap peas – 2 pounds

Pantry Items

  • flour – 1 cup
  • mirin – 4 tbsp
  • olive oil
  • red wine, dry – 1/2 cup
  • rice – 1 1/2 cups
  • rice noodles – 3 packages
  • soy sauce – 1 cup
  • sugar – 4 tsp
  • tomato paste – 1/4 cup
  • veggie stock – 3 cups
  • tomatoes, whole – 1 can
  • ziti – 1 pound

Meat (optional)

  • ground turkey – 2 pounds
  • salmon – 2 pounds
  • whole chicken – 1

Feel free to leave me your feedback about the recipes or let me know if you have any questions.

Here’s to easy cooking!


Teriyaki Salmon and Rice Noodles

Final recipe for the week!

I cannot emphasize enough how easy this recipe was.  Marinating the salmon gives it so much flavor, then you can use the marinade liquid as sauce for the dish…how much easier can it be!?

You should be able to throw this recipe together in a half hour or so.  You will get 8 servings which is enough to feed a family of four for two nights!

Feel free to use any  mushrooms you like!  You can also add any additional vegetables.  This recipe is very flexible, so make it what you want!

Here is what you’ll need:


  • soy sauce – 1 cup
  • mirin – 4 tbsp
  • sugar – 4 tsp
  • salmon – 2 lbs
  • cherry tomatoes – 1 pint
  • baby spinach – 2 bags
  • crimini mushrooms – 16 ounces
  • rice noodles – 3 packages (8-9 servings worth)
  • olive oil

First step, mix the marinade ingredients together in a large Tupperware.  Add the salmon and marinate at least an hour, recommended overnight.

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Begin to soak your rice noodles at least a half an hour before you plan to eat.

After the salmon has marinated, heat olive oil in a skillet over high heat.

Brown each side of the salmon, about 3-4 minutes each (until golden brown).

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Left Brain Tip:  If you have really thick pieces of salmon, searing the sides may not cook it all the way through.  Feel free to sear it, then back it at 350 for another 10 minutes or so.  You are going to shred the salmon anyway for the recipe, so go ahead and cut it in half to make sure it’s cooked to your level of preferred done-ness.  

Remove salmon from skillet and put on a plate.  Cover the plate in foil.  This will help keep the salmon warm and will help it to cook through.

Heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven.

Add the tomatoes and mushrooms to the oil.

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Cook both until the mushrooms soften and the potatoes begin to blister.  The tomatoes should be easily pobable…feel free to use the back of your spoon or spatula to pop them.  This adds great flavor to the dish.

Add the first bag of spinach.

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Let this wilt down a bit so you have room to add the second bag.

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Once the second bag begins to wilt, add the remaining juices from the marinade.  Let the mixture simmer together for about 5 minutes.

Left Brain Tip:  If you want the marinade juice to thicken up, feel free to add cornstarch.  Just mix about 2 tsp of corn starch with 1/4 cup of water in a separate bowl, then add to the pot.  Sauce should thicken as heated.

Divy up the noodles between 8 servings.  Spoon the mixture over the top of the noodles.  Shred the salmon and put on top of the noodles and veggie.  You should be able to get at least 8 servings.  3-4 ounces of salmon per serving should be plenty!

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So healthy, so yummy, so easy!!!!