WannaBe Chef

Recipes and randomness from Amanda's kitchen.

Brrrr! September 30, 2009

Filed under: Side dish,Vegetable — WannaBe Chef @ 7:28 pm

I love fall and all, but daang it’s gonna take a minute to get used to the chill in the air again.  The house was a frosty 63 degrees when I got home.  On top of that, making tonight’s dinner just about froze my hands off… making hamburger patties and grating ice cold zucchinis, brrrr!!  It was worth it, though.  This meal was easy and quick.  For the burgers, I combined 1 pound lean ground beef with hamburger seasoning and worchestershire sauce and cooked them on the stovetop.  Mmmm, they turned out really well.  

I saw the Sauteed Shredded Zucchini on Annie’s Eats who got it from another blog.  I printed it out and everything but then couldn’t find it anywhere… OR remember which blog I found it on.  So, I made it by memory, then found it afterwards…figures!  I followed the recipe pretty closely… I did use green onions instead of shallots, though.  It turned out well… what a good way to use up zucchini! 



How did I not lose a finger? September 29, 2009

Filed under: Meatless,Soup — WannaBe Chef @ 9:38 pm

I got this recipe from co-worker Erin who found it HERE.  I must say, peeling the squash was quite hellish and took foreverrrrr.  I tried cutting it into chunks and microwaving it for a couple minutes, but it didn’t make much of a difference.  If I were to make this again, I would try using butternut squash instead of acorn because it has smoother surface that might be easier to peel. 

Squash Stew
* Slightly modified from recipe above

2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 Tbsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp chili powder
3-4 cloves garlic, minced (I used about 3 fork fulls of jarred, minced garlic)
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 medium acorn squash, peeled and diced
1 can pinto beans, undrained
1 cup water
salt and pepper

– Sautee onions in some olive oil in a large pot for a few minutes
– Add the cinnamon and chili powder, sautee another 2 minutes or so
– Mix in the garlic and cumin then add the lemon juice and tomatoes, mixing thoroughly
– Stir in the squash, beans, and water.  Season with salt and pepper. 
– Let simmer, covered, until squash is tender, stirring occasionally.  I cut the squash pretty small, so it didn’t take an hour to cook like the original recipe. 
– The finished stew should had a thick, stewy texture
– Serve with warm pitas, bread and butter, or rolls


The verdict:  I read a lot of the reviews about this stew on the original recipe, and many of them said it was too spicy with all the chili powder.  I totally disagree… I thought it was a little too cinnamon-y and actually could have used a bit more heat.  It was a nice, hearty stew and definitely had an interesting combination of flavors.    


My Baking Itch September 28, 2009

Filed under: Sweets — WannaBe Chef @ 7:14 pm

So ever since fall has arrived, I’ve had the itch to bake.  This is a little strange for me because normally I do not like to bake.  Why, you ask?  Number one, there’s way too much required measuring involved.  Two, there are a lot of bowls, spoons and cups that get dirty.  Three, I’m way too impatient to let the finished product “cool,” for the butter to soften, or for the toothpick to come out clean.  And four, the last thing I need is a whole pan/batch of sweets sitting around!  SO, when Wayne mentioned it was his co-worker’s birthday, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to bake something yummy.  I saw this recipe over on Beantown Baker and thought I would give it a try!  Click link for recipe… I followed it exactly except that I used much less frosting on top.  I cut ’em up and put them on my festive leaf plate. 



The verdict:  Hooooly crap these were good!  Very dense and rich, mmmm!  And yes, I had to sample just one before sending them off.  Hopefully Wayne’s co-workers liked them, too!


I Heart Fall September 27, 2009

Filed under: Chicken,Crockpot — WannaBe Chef @ 7:22 pm

I wish the weather could be like this all year long.  Just warm enough to leave the windows open but cool enough to wear jeans and my beloved hoodies.  The leaves are just starting to change colors.  Our driveway is full of acorns and chipmunks collecting them, which Ziggy has thoroughly enjoyed watching.  And all I wanna do is cook, and oddly enough, bake.  We’ll get to the baking later, though.  I thought today would be a great day to haul out the crockpot.  Seemed like a good idea, but then I remembered the love-hate relationship we have.  The stupid thing cooks in half the time (or less) than it should.  I could never leave something in there for 7-8 hours like a lot of recipes say.  I put frozen chicken breasts in it at 11 AM today, on low, and they were done by 3 PM…. uughh! 

Saucy Orange-Barbeque Chicken
Adapted from Pillsbury’s Money Saving Meals

3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or bone-in thighs as the original recipe calls for)
3/4 cup chili sauce
1/4 cup orange marmalade
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp spicy brown mustard
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp Worchestershire sauce

– Place frozen chicken breasts in crockpot, season w/salt and pepper, cook until almost done… time depends on the crockpot!
– Drain excess liquid from crockpot 
– Combine sauce ingredients in small sauce pan, heat through
– Pour sauce over chicken, cook in crockpot 10-15 more minutes


The verdict:  As you might expect, my chicken was a bit dry, but the sauce was quite yummy.  It was a nice balance and sweet and heat.  I think it would have worked just as well in the oven too.  Stay tuned for my baking adventure that I’ll write about tomorrow!


3 days worth! September 26, 2009

Filed under: Beef,Bread/Muffins,Fish,Side dish — WannaBe Chef @ 8:16 pm

This will be a bit of a catch-up post.  The other night I made a nice meal that’s not really blogworthy, but I can never resist posting more pictures!  There were no recipes involved but it was pretty good.  Following the previous two nights of meatless meals, Wayne was requesting a big hunk of meat.  This was just some top round I cooked with onions.  I boiled some potatoes and rutabagas, mashed them together, and topped with a brown gravy mix.  Not the most gourmet meal, but it did the job!


The next night, I made one of my favorites.  This Cashew Chicken from a few weeks back.  I remembered why it’s a favorite 🙂 

Today has been a great fall Saturday.  Wayne got the green light from the doc yesterday to start walking in regular shoes (instead of the monster air boot he’s been wearing for the past month!).  He’s been hobbling around and even vacuumed today!  It’s been awhile since I’ve had any help around here, so that was nice.  Then we made a short trip to the orchard because I needed some honeycrisp apples.  We also got some pumpkin butter which I’m looking forward to having on my bagel with cream cheese in the morning!  I know this is a ridiculous picture to post, but come on, they’re like the best apples ever! 


Tonight’s dinner was a bit of a mish-mash of things.  I had some salmon in the freezer and leftover carrots in the fridge.  And of course I still have a mountain of jalapenos, so I found a corn muffin recipe that incorporated them.  It turned out to be a pretty great meal! 

Corn and Jalapeno Muffins
*Recipe can be found HERE
I followed the recipe exactly except that I baked them for 17 minutes instead of 20 because I can’t stand dry corn muffins!  They turned out perfectly.   




Honey Mustard Balsamic Salmon
* My own creation.  As always, measurements are approximate!

4 portions of salmon
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp brown mustard
1 Tbsp honey
Salt and pepper

– Place salmon on foil-lined baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray
– Combine remaining ingredients in small bowl, brush mixture over salmon
– Roast salmon at 400-425 until fish flakes with fork

Roasted Carrots
Simply toss sliced carrots with olive oil, salt and pepper (or whatever seasonings you want).  Roast on foil-lined baking sheet at 400-425 until softened and slightly browned.  I could seriously eat a whole pan of these things!  



Oh potatoes… September 23, 2009

Filed under: Favorites,Soup — WannaBe Chef @ 8:31 pm

If I had a “Favorites” category, this potato soup would be in it.  In fact, I just might create such a category because “Soup” just doesn’t do it justice.  This soup was so good that Wayne had three bowls of it.  It had just the right amount of cheesiness, creaminess, heat and texture.  Alright, enough talking… here’s the recipe.

Spicy Hot Potato Soup
*Adapted from a recipe I found here

3 slices turkey bacon
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup carrots, chopped (or about 2 large carrots)
1 cup onions, chopped
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced (I used  1 1/2 peppers but easily could have used more) 
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cumin
5 cups potatoes, peeled and diced (or about 3 large potatoes)
1 carton fat-free chicken broth (32 oz I believe…)
1/2 – 1 tsp salt
1/3 cup flour
2 1/2 cups skim milk
4 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4 green onions, chopped, white and green parts

– In large pot, cook bacon with a little oil until crisp.  Transfer to paper towel and set aside.
– Add carrots, peppers, onion, garlic and cumin to pan and sautee until golden brown and slightly soft.  You may need a little more oil.
– Add potatoes, broth and salt.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover pot, and simmer until potatoes are tender (I cut my potatoes quite small, so it didn’t take long to cook).
– In separate bowl, whisk the milk and flour together until smooth.  Slowly stir mixture into soup.  Cook over medium heat until soup thickens, stirring occasionally, about 8-12 minutes.
– Remove pot from heat and stir in cheese until melted.
– Ladle soup into bowls and top with reserved, crumbled bacon and green onions.



It’s been a minute… September 22, 2009

Filed under: Meatless,Pasta — WannaBe Chef @ 8:35 pm

Yeah yeah yeah, so I haven’t blogged in a few days.  This is due to a combination of being out of town all weekend which then threw off my grocery getting/menu making which then didn’t even matter because our internet has been down.  Also, Wayne and Ziggy continue to have slow, complicated recoveries which is really quite discouraging… but we’re dealing.  SO, here I am, cookin’ some dinner.  Once again, my mom brought a harvest of goodies from my grandpa’s garden, so this week’s meals revolve around using them!


What you don’t see are all the cute little cherry tomatoes she brought.  I figured I needed to use these up first since they were on the verge of heading you-know-where.  Coworker Erin came through with another new recipe that she made sound irresistible.  The best thing about it was that it contained a fresh tomato sauce.  I was sold. 

Eggplant Parm Ravioli
Another Rachael Ray recipe, can be found here

The only things I did differently:  I used just one medium eggplant and wonton wrappers instead of eggroll wrappers.  If you do this, obviously you’ll need much less filling in each wrapper (about 1 tsp).  Don’t overfill them or else they’ll fall apart in the water.  Also, I didn’t boil them for 4 minutes, I would say more like 2 minutes.  Last tip:  salt the filling and sauce liberally.  My first batch was a little bland, but the second batch was much better after more salt. 


Raviolis, ready to go in the boiling water.


Close up of cooked ravioli, mmmm.


The verdict:  Rachael sure knows how to dirty a lot of pans and dishes, but it’s usually worth it.  These little things were pretty tasty.  I’ve never made ravioli before, but it was pretty easy and I’m looking forward to making different fillings.