WannaBe Chef

Recipes and randomness from Amanda's kitchen.

Goodies from the garden August 31, 2009

Filed under: Beef,Meatless,Side dish,Vegetable — WannaBe Chef @ 8:28 pm

Along with the peanut butter cake, my mom brought us a ton of stuff from my grandpa’s garden on Saturday… tomatoes, potatoes, green peppers, jalapenos, carrots, and cucumbers!
Needless to say, the week’s meals had be altered a little bit in order to use all this stuff.  When I saw this entry on The Way the Cookie Crumbles, I knew it would be a good way to make a dent in all those tomatoes and potatoes.

Potato Tomato Tart
I didn’t have the recipe printed, so I just made it based on what I remembered.  

I also made this meatloaf, using part of a garden onion.  I’ve never followed a recipe to make meatloaf… I usually just throw some things together like my mom always did.  But this recipe intrigued me because it had stuffing mix and Worchestershire in it… and who doesn’t like that??

Busy-Day Turkey Loaf
     The Kellogg’s Cookbook 

1 cup stuffing mix
1/2 cup milk
2 egg whites
1/4 cup finely diced onion
2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1 pound lean ground turkey (I used beef)
salt and pepper
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp Dijon mustard

– Combine stuffing mix with milk in small bowl and set aside 5 minutes until soft
– Preheat oven to 350
– Line loaf pan with foil and lightly spray with cooking spray
– Add egg whites, onion, and Worchestershire to the stuffing mix and stir to combine
– Add mixture to the turkey with salt and pepper
– Put into pan, packing down
– Make 4 diagnonal lines across top of meat with sharp knife
– Mix the remaining ingredients together and pour over meatloaf
– Bake for about 45 minutes or until cooked through and browned



How have I never eaten… August 30, 2009

Filed under: Meatless,Vegetable — WannaBe Chef @ 7:41 pm

eggplant??  I think I’ve always been intimidated by it, or thought it looked gross, or heard horror stories about the weird texture.  Well, I bought 2 small eggplants at my work farmer’s market.  Honestly?  Because they were just so cute (and cheap!).  They’ve been sitting in my fruit bowl for 3 days now, and they were starting to look a little wrinkly.  The pressure was on, I had to use them tonight or else I’d have to trash them.  And trashing them, to me, would mean defeat!  So I set off on a google search for a recipe.  I figured eggplant parmesan was a good place to start for an eggplant virgin like me.

Eggplant Parmesan
– Very loosely based on this recipe

Adjustments I made:  Of course, I only had 2 small-ish eggplants.  I also didn’t do any measuring.  I just used this recipe for the list of ingredients, and more importantly, the reviews.  They provided information crucial to making this dish better.  For example, the whole salting/sweating thing… which I never would have known to do otherwise.  I also cooked the eggplant slices for longer than 5 minutes on each side, as one of the reviewers did.

This wasn’t the easiest or most pretty dish to photograph, since it’s basically a big mess of sauce and cheese.  I almost didn’t post a pic… almost… 🙂


The verdict:  This dish was a little time consuming, but I was busy doing other things while it baked.  I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did.  The texture of the eggplant was neither spongy or mushy.  It was just… good!  Even more surprising, Wayne liked it… a lot!  And not one word was said about its meatlessness!!


In honor of Dad. August 29, 2009

Filed under: Beef,Bread/Muffins,Favorites,Shrimp,Sweets — WannaBe Chef @ 8:24 pm

Tomorrow will be the 8 year “anniversary” of my dad’s passing.  It’s crazy to think it’s been a whole 8 years… but at the same time, it seems like just yesterday.  It’s a strange contradiction.  My dad enjoyed eating good food.  And by good food, I mean meat, potatoes, Coke, M&Ms, and popcorn (swimming in butter!).  With a dietitian for a daughter, he would definitely be eating a little healthier now if he were still here!!

When I was younger, it was always a special treat when Sunday morning came and dad would say “Get around, we’re going to Red Lobster!”  If you knew my dad at all, you knew he was always early for everything.  If memory serves correctly, Red Lobster opened at 11… and by golly, we were gonna be there by 10:45… waiting at the door!  Gotta beat the crowd!  

The four of us were all big fans of the shrimp scampi, Caesar salad, and baked potatoes with the crunchy garlic-salted tops.  But the most fabulous part of lunch at Red Lobster was the garlic cheddar biscuits.  We always ended up with a second basket.  We made it home, with bellies full, before most people even thought about having lunch. 

Today I wanted to make a meal in honor of my dad.  I asked my mom what she thought dad’s favorite meal was.  After we tossed around a few ideas, we decided a Red Lobster re-make would be the best. 

Dad’s Red Lobster Re-Make
The Menu:
* New York Strip Steak
* Shrimp Scampi
* Garlic Baked Potatoes
* Garlic Cheddar Biscuits
* Caesar Salad
* Peanut Butter Cake














“Red Lobster” Biscuits
recipe from here

2 cups Bisquick baking mix
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I used a little more)
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 tsp garlic powder
I also added some garlic salt and finely chopped parsley

– Mix biscuit mix with cheese, stir in milk
– Spoon onto ungreased baking sheet
– Bake at 425 for 8-10 minutes
– Melt the butter and combine with garlic powder, garlic salt, and parsley
– Brush butter mixture on biscuits (liberally!) immediately after they come out of the oven



Shrimp Scampi
– Source unknown, pretty much my own combination of various recipes

1 lb raw, peeled, deveined shrimp
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1-2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup parsley, minced

– Combine all ingredients and let marinate for about 20-30 minutes. 
– Cook in skillet until shrimp are pink and cooked through. 


Peanut Butter Cake

Luckily for me, mom brought dessert today (because we all know how much I love baking…).  Unfortunately, I can’t share the recipe.  It comes from my dad’s side of the family and my mom had to do some begging to get it herself!  This cake was definitely one of my dad’s favorites (along with grandma’s chocolate mayonnaise cake!).  We ate this cake a lot growing up, so it definitely takes me back!  The cake is so moist and has a delicate peanut butter flavor, while the frosting is like a thick, rich peanut butter fudge. 






 As for the rest of the meal.. the steaks were simply brushed with canola oil, seasoned with pepper, Lawry’s salt, and a steak blend, then broiled.  The potatoes were sprayed with Pam and seasoned with garlic salt, then baked.  The caesar salad was just one of the bagged mixes that had the croutons, parm, and dressing included. 

This meal was awesome, if I do say so myself!  It really was quite similar to Red Lobster… especially the biscuits!  I know that dad would have enjoyed it, but even more, I think he would have been pretty impressed with his daughter’s cooking skills!


C.L.L. ~ 5/5/55 – 8/30/01 ~ Forever Missed


Summer on a plate August 28, 2009

Filed under: Meatless,Pasta — WannaBe Chef @ 9:31 pm

It’s Friday and I have random food items that must be used.  I have corn on the cob from the farmer’s market and beautiful heirloom tomatoes from my coworker, Erin.  So I decided we would be having another meatless dinner (sorry, Wayne!).  The pasta salad was my own creation, and I have to say, it turned out pretty well!

Tomato Basil Pasta Salad
My own creation… I apologize for the lack of an actual recipe here. 

You will need:
Pasta – I used ditalini, not quite a whole pound.  Orzo would be good too.
Tomatoes, diced – heirloom if you can get ’em!
Fresh basil, minced
Feta cheese, crumbled
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar 
Salt and pepper

What to do:
Cook the pasta and drain.  Combine with tomatoes, basil, and cheese.  In a separate bowl, make a simple balsamic vinegarette.  I didn’t measure anything but would estimate it was 1 part vinegar to 2 parts oil.  Pour the vinegar into the bowl first, then stream the oil in slowly while whisking.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour over the pasta and toss to combine. 


The verdict:  I’m lucky there were any tomatoes left for the salad, since I kept “sampling” as I cut them.  These things were so ridiculously good, and each variety had a flavor all its own.  Combined with all the other ingredients… perfect!!  Oh, and the corn was amazing too 😉


B squared August 27, 2009

Filed under: Beef — WannaBe Chef @ 7:47 pm

This dinner was meant for last night… however, a LOT of drama with Wayne and his ankle happened.  We ended up eating disgusting, lukewarm pizza from the hospital cafeteria just before we learned about the blood clot in Wayne’s calf.  It was a baaad night and continues to be a bad day!  On a good note, we got the pouring leak in our bathroom fixed.  And I got some goodies at my workplace’s farmer’s market today!  So here is tonight’s dinner… from the Pillsbury book again, sorry! 

Beef with Broccoli
Pillsbury’s Money Saving Meals

2 cups uncooked instant brown rice
1 3/4 cup water
1 cup beef broth
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh grated gingerroot
1 lb boneless beef round or tip steak, thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
1/2 lb fresh broccoli florets, cut into bite-size pieces

– Cook rice in water per package directions
– Meanwhile, mix broth, soy sauce, cornstarch, sugar in small bowl
– Heat oil in large skillet.  Add beef, onion, ginger and season with salt and pepper.  Cook 2-4 minutes until beef browns.  Remove mixture from skillet, keep warm.
– Add broth mixture and broccoli to skillet.  Heat to boiling then reduce heat.  Cook 5-10 minutes until broccoli tender.  Return meat to skillet, cook until hot. 
– Serve over rice

The verdict:  I think this was a good base recipe for beef and broccoli, but it needed something.  More ginger, more sugar, more seasoning… I don’t know… something to kick it up a little!  Satisfying but not spectacular.


2 for 1 August 25, 2009

Filed under: Meatless,Sweets — WannaBe Chef @ 7:05 pm

We’ll start with dessert first.  Last night I made this cake for 3 of my coworkers whose birthdays are this month.  The recipe was a “recommendation” from another coworker 😉


Tres Leche Cake
Recipe from here

This is definitely not a diet-friendly dessert, but everyone seemed to enjoy it!  I personally felt like maybe it was just a tad too moist… and if I make it again, I wouldn’t pour all the liquid over it. 









 Now, onto dinner… another recipe from the Pillsbury book.  Make sure you read the comments at the end of this one!

Impossibly Easy Chiles Rellenos Pie
Pillsbury’s Money Saving Meals

2 cans (4 ounce each) whole green chiles
1 1/2 cups shredded mexican cheese blend
3 eggs
3/4 cup baking mix (I used Jiffy Baking Mix)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup salsa

– Heat oven to 400.  Spray 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray.  Slit chiles lengthwise, remove seeds.  Arrange chiles in single layer on bottom and up sides of pan.  Sprinkle 1 cup of cheese over chiles.
– Beat eggs with whisk in medium bowl.  Add baking mix, milk, and garlic powder, beat until well blended.  Pour over cheese.
– Bake 25-30 minutes or until knife inserted into center comes out clean.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.  Serve with salsa and sour cream.


Some Notes!!  So, the store didn’t have whole chiles.  I bought 2 cans of diced chiles instead.  Apparently I got a can of hot jalapenos by accident.  I figured it would be fine mixed with the mild chiles… well… it was basically not edible it was so hot!!!  Wayne got it down because to him, the hotter, the better.  I had to drown it in sour cream and pick out as many peppers as possible.  SO… don’t make the same mistake I did!  I still think it’s a good recipe though and will probably be trying it again some time, with the correct ingredients!


My nose is still running… August 24, 2009

Filed under: Chicken — WannaBe Chef @ 7:10 pm

Well, I did it again… waited until the last day to do everything around here.  After the complete and utter torture that was mowing the lawn, I did some laundry and cleaning, then spent almost 2 hours getting groceries.  I came home, put everything away, baked a cake (more on that tomorrow!), and made dinner.  I’m pooped.  So this recipe came from one of those cute little books you impulse-buy while you’re waiting in line at the store.  This book is packed full of easy and cheap recipes… you’ll definitely be seeing more from it in the near future.

Buffalo Chicken Casserole
from Pillsbury’s Money Saving Meals with 74 Recipe Cards

1/2 cup uncooked regular long-grain white rice (I used 1 cup of uncooked instant rice)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
2 medium stalks celery, thinly sliced (1 cup)
1 can (14.5 oz) stewed tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup buffalo wing sauce (of course I used Frank’s)
1/4 cup blue cheese dressing (I used ranch)
I also used a little crumbled feta on top

-Cook rice as directed on package
-Heat oven to 350
-Heat oil in large skillet, add chicken and celery.  Cook 5-7 minutes until chicken is cooked.
-Stir in tomatoes and hot sauce
-Spray 8 inch casserole dish with cooking spray
-Spoon cooked rice into dish
-Spread chicken mixture over rice (do not stir)
-Bake 25-30 minutes or until hot in the center
-Drizzle dressing over top (I drizzled dressing over individual serving along with some feta)


















The verdict:  Kind of looks like a pile of slop, but it tasted pretty good.  You may have figured this from the title… but this stuff was HOT.  Wayne enjoyed the mouth-scortching.

Just some notes– the celery was still crunchy, so next time I would slice it extra thin.  I also might undercook the rice slightly, since it was a little on the soft side after it cooked in the oven in the liquid (maybe that’s why the recipe doesn’t call for instant rice, ha).