WannaBe Chef

Recipes and randomness from Amanda's kitchen.

Yaaaay! October 29, 2009

Filed under: Fish,Products,Side dish,Vegetable — WannaBe Chef @ 7:17 pm

I get excited about food… really excited… hehe.  So, in the world of “healthy” blogs, these Larabars are a true staple of the everyday diet.  I’ve been drooling over them for weeks now, so much so that I ordered a whole box from their website.  Guess what I found by the front door when I got home from work?!  Sixteen fantastic, completely all-natural bars of goodness.  Seriously, they have the shortest ingredient lists I’ve ever seen.  For example, the cashew cookie is made of just dates and cashews; the peanut butter & jelly is only dates, peanuts, unsweetened cherries, salt.  Craaaazy yummy people.  Go the site to see all the other flavors. 

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Yes, I took them out of the box and lined them up on my counter...

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And then I had to exercise some SERIOUS self-control by eating only half of one before dinner...

 After carefully repacking my Larabars in the box and putting them out of sight, I made a lovely dinner…
* Baked BBQ salmon
* Brown rice with chipotle peppers and lime
* Sweet potato cheetahs!

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This plate is screaming for a green veggie...

I’ve oven-roasted sweet potatoes a million times, but I’ve never heard of them being called “cheetahs.”  Again, I came across these in a bunch of blogs lately and couldn’t stop thinking about ’em.  I’ve also seen sliced zuchinni cooked in the same way.  All you do is slice your veggie into thin-ish “chips” and line up on a foil-lined baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Then spray more cooking spray on top of the chips and season as desired (I used salt, pepper and garlic powder).  Roast at 425 until they start to brown, then switch to broil and cook until the cheetah spots develop.  These are SO freakin’ good, I can’t even explain.  Serve with a little ketchup, and you’re basically eating french fries 🙂

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I swear those burnt edges are strangely reminiscent of campfire marshmallows...

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Mmmm, spot-alicious!

 

Easy eats October 28, 2009

Filed under: Turkey — WannaBe Chef @ 6:37 pm

To continue with the “use leftovers” theme… I bring you tonight’s dinner… an old stand-by that I’ve made a million times.  Mmm Mmm! 

Turkey Enchilladas
I throw these together with what I have on hand, so here’s my attempt at writing a “recipe” for them.

1/2 pound cooked ground turkey mixed with corn and black beans (found in my freezer!)
1 small can red enchillada sauce
Shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 small, soft taco size flour tortillas
Salsa

– Combine turkey mixture, about 1/4 of the enchillada sauce, about 1/2 cup salsa and a handfull of cheese in a bowl.  Microwave for a couple minutes to heat through.
– Fill tortillas one by one with a little of the mixture, roll, and place in a greased pan seam side down. 
– Pour the remainder of the enchillada sauce over the rolled tortillas, top with more cheese and salsa.
– Bake at 350 until bubbly – about 20 minutes

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Yes, I'm totally holding the pan on the window sill to take advantage of the quickly-disappearing natural light...

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Hmm those pan-roasted green beans look a little funky...

 

 

Changes? October 27, 2009

Filed under: Chicken,Pasta,Products,Side dish,Ziggy — WannaBe Chef @ 7:58 pm

I’ve deemed this week “use what we already have week” as far as dinners go.  While practical, this does not make for very pretty or blogworthy meals.  Last night I made chipotle tuna sandwiches and baked beans with turkey bacon… using up quite a bit of leftovers.  Tonight I made whole wheat spaghetti and diced chicken tossed with leftover cilantro pesto and spaghetti sauce.  I also roasted a butterCUP squash last night and finished that up.  Strange combination, I know, but it was pretty tasty!

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Another reason I’ve been MIA the past few days is probably due to my latest obsession, which is reading a whole new genre of healthy/vegetarian/vegan/food diary-ish blogs.  To be honest, I’ve sort of fallen prey to that whole “letting yourself go” thing.  It’s been 6 months since I got married, and yeeeahh… pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to fit in my wedding dress anymore!  Yikes.  So anyway, these blogs have at least inspired me to try some new things and think about organic/raw/”clean” eating in a different way.  I’ve been thinking about it so much, actually, that I took the opportunity this past weekend to buy all this glorious stuff:

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In the mix: 
*Whole grain Wasa crackers (vessel for countless toppings and spreads)
*Lindt dark chocolate bar with a touch of sea salt (umm, YUM)
*Falafel mix
*Bluberry fruit leathers
*Oat bran
*Steel cut oats
*Pitted dates
*True Lemon packets
*Hummus (honestly, not the greatest brand here)
*My absolute favorite Naturally More peanut butter that I’ve been eating for a few years now.  It’s ridiculously more healthy than standard PBs.  I’ve officially converted about 5 or 6 people.  Click the link and read about it. 
*Lastly, you will see the best thing I’ve eaten in a long time and can’t believe I’ve lived without for 26 years… ALMOND BUTTER.  Expensive, but freaking awesome.  Holy crap.   
*Oh, and this Strawberry Greek yogurt that got left out (14 grams of protein in this sucker!)

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So, I’m not sure which direction this blog will be going in.  Instead of strictly recipes, it might be a little of this and little of that for awhile!  And just for a little more randomness… I give you another picture of my furry son.  This is where we found him last night.

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Almost Friday… October 22, 2009

Filed under: Chicken,Sandwiches — WannaBe Chef @ 6:39 pm

Tonight’s dinner brought to you by random, previously-mentioned magazine “Cuisine at Home”…

Southwestern Chicken Panini
My own version based on said recipe.  FYI: This makes much more pesto than you’ll need for 2 sandwiches, and I also had some mayo leftover. 

For the cilantro pesto:
2 cups cilantro leaves and stems (or about 1 bunch)
2 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
juice of 1/2 lime
salt
2 Tbsp olive oil

–  Put all ingredients except olive oil into food processor and pulse until minced
–  While machine is running, stream in the oil until a paste forms
–  This can be made ahead of time and frozen 🙂

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Gloriously green pesto

For the chipotle mayonnaise:
Stir together –
1/4 cup mayonnaise (Yes, I used the real thing, and you should too)
2 Tbsp chipotle chile pepper in adobe, minced

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Spicy, smooth mayo

For the sandwich:
4 slices bread (I just used standard whole wheat)
1 large chicken breast, sliced into thin strips, sauteed and seasoned as desired
2 slices cheese (Wayne had “bacon cheese” and I just had American)

To assemble:
–  Heat up your panini grill, or George Foreman like I used
–  Spread mayo on both slices of bread
–  Spread pesto on top of mayo, but just on one slice of the bread
–  Place piece of cheese on top of the other slice
–  Layer chicken on top of cheese and put sandwich together
–  Place on grill sprayed with cooking spray and cook until browned and crunchy

The chicken is hiding under all the cheese, mayo and pesto goodness!

The chicken is hiding under all the cheese, mayo and pesto goodness!

The verdict:  Oh my… these were just as good as I hoped they’d be.  What an awesome combination of flavors.  And who doesn’t love a hot, crunchy, oozy sandwich??

 

Done! October 21, 2009

Filed under: Meatless,Pasta — WannaBe Chef @ 7:03 pm

Ok, so I didn’t get selected for the jury today, but daaaang the process sure was nerve-wracking (racking..?).  I’m glad it’s over!  Here was tonight’s tasty dinner…

Stovetop Whole Wheat Macaroni and Cheese
From Whole Foods

8 ounces dry whole wheat elbow macaroni
1 cup nonfat milk
2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon dry mustard (I used a generous squirt of plain yellow mustard)
Cayenne to taste (optional)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, whisk together milk, flour, mustard and cayenne in a large saucepan until completely blended (BEFORE you turn on the heat!) then cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add cheeses and stir gently until melted, then add drained pasta to sauce. Season with salt and pepper, stir well and serve hot.

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The verdict:  I read the reviews on the original recipe, and I’ll be honest – I didn’t have very high expectations of this mac & cheese.  It doesn’t use any butter or a traditional white sauce base, and a lot of the reviewers said the sauce was clumpy.  I, on the other hand, was pleasantly surprised to end up with a smooth, creamy sauce.  I think the key is making sure you completely blend the ingredients with a whisk before you put it over the heat, otherwise the flour would lump immediately.  I loved the kick of the cayenne and mustard in the background, and of course the whole wheaty-ness of it makes me happy 🙂  Jeez, who knew a mac & cheese review could be so long??

 

The last supper… October 20, 2009

Filed under: Beef,Bread/Muffins — WannaBe Chef @ 7:23 pm

before I have to report to jury duty tomorrow…uugghh!!!  Anyway, I found this recipe in a little magazine I got from co-worker Erin.  It’s called “Cuisine at Home.”  I’ll be hitting it up later this week for some awesome paninis, too!

French Onion Salisbury Steak
Modified slightly from above magazine

For the steak:
1 pound lean ground beef
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
2 Tbsp green onion, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp flour

For the sauce:
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups onions, sliced
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp flour
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp tomato paste (I used tomato sauce because I had some leftover, but I’d recommend sticking with the paste)
2 cups beef broth
1/4 cup dry red wine (I omitted)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme

1.  Combine all steak indredients except flour and divide into 3 oval-shaped patties.  Dredge the patties in the flour.
2.  Heat the oil in a large skillet and add the patties to the pan.  Saute 3 minutes on each side or until browned (not necessarily cooked through).  Remove from pan and set aside.
3.  Add a little more oil to the pan and then add the onions and sugar.  Saute 5 minutes or until softened and lightly browned.  Stir in garlic and tomato paste, sauteeing for 1 minute until paste starts to brown.  Sprinkle te 1 tsp of flour over mixture, cook another 1 minute. 
4.  Stir in the broth, salt and thyme.  Add the meat back to the pan and bring sauce to a boil.  Reduce to simmer, cover, and cook about 10 minutes until meat is cooked through and sauce thickens slightly. 
5.  Serve steaks and sauce over cheese toasts and garnish with parsley and parmesan cheese. 

Cheese Toasts
Modified from same magazine

3 leftover hamburger buns (or French bread slices like the original calls for)
2 Tbsp butter or margarine
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
pinch of cayenne pepper or paprika

1.  Place bun halves on baking sheet.  Preheat oven to 400.
2.  Combine remaining ingredients and spread evenly over bread
3.  Bake until bubbly and brown, or about 10-15 minutes

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Mmm, see the cheese oozing out from the bread?

The verdict:  I need to come up with some more original reviews here…but  all I can say is that these were really good!  The only slight issue I had was the sauce not thickening (it’s pretty much French onion soup).  I think subbing tomato sauce for tomato paste contributed to this somewhat.  I did end up adding a little cornstarch slurry and boiling it for awhile to reduce the sauce a bit.  Also, the steaks kind of puffed up instead of staying flat ovals, but of course that didn’t affect the taste.  I loved the cheese toasts and how they soaked up all the sauce!

 

Frank, Joe, and Ziggy October 19, 2009

Filed under: Chicken,Sandwiches,Ziggy — WannaBe Chef @ 7:25 pm

Wayne and I love anything with Frank’s hot sauce.  We have a bottle (the giant one) in our fridge at any given time.  I saw this recipe on a re-run of 30 Minute Meals not long ago and knew I had to make it.  As annoying as Rachael Ray can be sometimes (sorry to any diehards out there!), she really does have some good recipes and ideas.  In fact, I recently subscribed to her magazine.  Anyway… on with it!

Sloppy Buffalo Joes
From Rachael Ray 

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground chicken or turkey breast (I used 1 pound chicken)
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped or grated
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (I used 1 Tbsp)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (I used 1 Tbsp)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup hot sauce (recommended: Frank’s Red Hot) (I used 2 Tbsp and the heat was perfect for us)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce (I used 1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup chicken stock (I used 1/2 cup)
  • 8 good quality burger rolls, split and toasted
  • 1 cup blue cheese crumbles
  • 2 large dill pickles, chopped

Heat a large skillet with extra-virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. Add meat and break it up with wooden spoon, cook 5 to 6 minutes. Add in carrots, celery, onions and garlic, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, cook 7 to 8 minutes more. In a bowl combine the vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire, hot sauce, tomato sauce and stock. Pour into the pan and stir to combine. Simmer a few minutes more. Pile sloppy Buffalo filling onto buns and top with blue cheese and chopped pickles.

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The verdict:  These were really yummy!  Or should I say, YUMMO!  Quick note about blue (bleu?) cheese… I’ve never cared for it.  I try to like it, and I want to like it… but I could only tolerate a couple crumbles on my sandwich.  Someday, maybe! 

Now, because I can’t resist showing off my crazy cat

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who sits like a squirrel...

politely surfs the net...

politely surfs the net...

and enjoys a nice nap with Daddy!

and enjoys a nice nap with Daddy!