WannaBe Chef

Recipes and randomness from Amanda's kitchen.

Bittersweet January 31, 2010

Filed under: Chicken,Fruit,Life,One dish meal,Vegetable — WannaBe Chef @ 8:23 pm

That’s how the weekend has been…. a little bittersweet.  I worked this weekend… for the last time at my current job.  As stressful as working weekends are (being the only RD covering the whole hospital!), I would gladly continue doing it if it meant I didn’t have to move!  The buyer of our house also had it inspected this weekend.  Everything went well, which is great, but it just made everything that much more official.  It’s only a matter of time now.  Lastly, we got rid of another large Craig’s-listed item tonight… my old desk and chair that we won’t need in MN.  I love getting rid of things we don’t need, but there’s always a few seconds where I’m like “aww, my [insert item here] is gone!”  We still need to dump the monster beautiful 60″ TV and very fun foosball table that we reeeeally don’t want to haul anywhere… any takers out there??

Anyway!!  Enough Debbie Downer, right?  On the bright side… I have been sticking to my calorie-counting and getting back on the train.  Despite working all weekend, I’ve managed to plan this week’s dinners and get groceries.  Speaking of dinner… tonight’s was inspired by a recipe I found while blog-surfing.  It totally flashed me back to a dinner my mom used to make.  Actually, I’m thinking it’s just about the exact same thing.  Remember this, mom??

Sweet and Sour Chicken
Based on Chicken, Pineapple, and Peppers from So Tasty, So Yummy

1 lb. chicken breast, cubed
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper (any color), chopped (I used red)
1 T garlic, minced
1/2 Tbsp ginger, minced
1/2 Tbsp worchestershire (I accidentally forgot this, but would add 1-2 Tbsp cuz I love it!)
1-2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 cup pineapple chunks, lightly drained (reserve about 3 Tbsp of the liquid and set aside)
1 (14.5 oz) can stewed tomatoes, undrained
approx 1 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp cornstarch

1.  Saute chicken, onion, pepper, garlic, and ginger in large skillet until chicken is cooked
2.  Add worchestershire, soy, pineapple, tomatoes and broth – bring to a boil
3.  Stir the pineapple juice and cornstarch together in a small bowl, then stir it into the pot and bring back to a boil until thickened and a nice sauce forms.  You may need a touch more chicken broth if it gets too thick. 
4.  Serve over brown rice. 

Mmm, almost tropical looking.


Skillets of fiber January 28, 2010

Filed under: Chicken,One dish meal,Pasta,Sweets — WannaBe Chef @ 7:52 pm

Odd title, ay?  (I’m practicing my Minnesota/pseudo Canadian accent).  The skillet part refers to my dinner tonight (yes, another skillet), and the fiber part refers to an amaaaazing new breakfast bar recipe that I’m also going to share.  Two recipes, one post.  Woot woot, no?

Chicken Orzo Skillet
Recipe found in magazine “Taste of Home: Healthy Cooking” on display till Jan 25, 2010
The following is my alterations on the recipe, although I hardly made any changes. 

In a large skillet, brown and cook through:
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
1 small onion, chopped
Italian seasoning – about 1/2 – 1 tsp
Garlic powder, salt and pepper (and/or other desired seasonings)

Stir in:
1 can (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 box (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup water (you may need a little more, depending on how much water you got out of the spinach)

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until orzo is tender and liquid is absorbed.  Stir a couple times and add a little more water if needed.  Top each serving with parmesan cheese. 

Now for the bars.  I found this recipe on one of my favorite blogs:  Peas and Thank You.  Check it out, she has the cutest kids and a great sense of humor!  At work, we’re trying to come up with ideas and recipes for our annual Nutrition Month open house.  I did not hesitate to suggest and then volunteer to “test” this recipe… you know, just to make sure it was OK 😉

No-Bake High-Fiber Breakfast Bars

1/3 cup peanut butter (I used natural PB)
1/3 cup agave nectar, maple syrup, or combo of both (I used all agave)
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup dried apples (I subbed dried cranberries)
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 hemp seeds (I omitted)
1/3 cup ground flaxseeds
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats (I used quick oats)
3/4 tsp cinnamon
2 cups high-fiber cereal twigs (All Bran) 

In a small bowl, combine PB, agave/maple, and applesauce.  Gently heat in microwave, stirring until smooth.  In a larger bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients.  Add wet ingredients to the dry and mix well.  Press into 8×8 pan (sprayed w/non-stick spray) and refrigerate until set.

I cut the batch into 16 squares, and with my few changes, each square contains about 113 calories.  Not too shabby!  These were reeeeally good!!  Everyone at work enjoyed them, too.  I’ll definitely be making these again.  Maybe next time I’ll get crazy and add some nuts or change up the dried fruit.



Homey January 27, 2010

Filed under: Beef,One dish meal — WannaBe Chef @ 8:12 pm

Last night’s post was wordy enough for 2 nights… tonight I give you strictly dinner with just a few words.  This one-pot-wonder was incredibly easy to make, filling, cozy, warm, and homey.  It’s basically all the components of a cabbage roll without all the hassle.  I calculated out the calories while it was simmering, and I couldn’t believe it was only about 340 calories per serving (which is 1/4 of the pot… which is A LOTTT!!)  Score.  I totally dig large volume for little calories.  Wayne even said the words every cook dies to hear… “You should make this more often, I like it.”  :-)!!! 

Cabbage Skillet
Recipe found HERE during a google search on what do w/my leftover cabbage. 

3/4 lb extra lean ground beef (I used 1 pound)
1 medium onion
1 package zesty Italian salad dressing mix
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
8 cups shredded cabbage (I used more like 2-3 cups because that’s all I had)
1 cup water
1 cup dry minute brown rice
I also added some Italian herb seasoning

1.  Brown meat/onion with dressing packet in large skillet (I rec. using a large soup pot.  I had to change pans halfway through because everything wouldn’t fit in my largest skillet). 
2.  Add tomatoes and cabbage, stir to combine.  Simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes until cabbage is tender.
3.  Stir in water and rice, bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes until rice is cooked. 
4.  Top with a little parmesan cheese if desired. 



Preppy January 26, 2010

Filed under: Breakfast,Fruit,Meatless,Oatmeal,Side dish,Vegetable — WannaBe Chef @ 8:49 pm

How many of you immediately just thought of Zack Morris?  Ok, maybe I’m the only one.  So yesterday I got a wake-up call of sorts.  As I may have mentioned a couple times over the past few months, I’ve gained some weight.  Keep in mind, I am still a newlywed.  I won’t make excuses, though.  The reasons are many but basically boil down to:  a) I eat my feelings.  b) I’ve more-or-less quit working out.  It’s not good, I know this.  Sooo, for the millionth time in my life, I’m trying to get back on the train.  Oh, the wake-up call?  Seeing my actual weight at the doctor’s office.  I haven’t weighed myself since before my wedding in April 2009… which is when I was probably the thinnest I’ve ever been.  To say I was shocked is an understatement. 

Soooo…. preppy, you ask?  Yes, preppy.  Well, more like prepping.  I believe that preparation is the key to eating well.  Since list-making is one of my specialties, here’s one:

* Plan your meals every Sunday (or whatever day works for you, obviously)
* Make a grocery list and stick to it!
* Only keep healthy foods in the house, if those chips aren’t in the pantry, you can’t eat them!
* Clean/prep/cut your veggies after you’re done shopping so they’re ready to use
* Pre-portion snacks so they’re readily available.  Take them to work with you.  I usually always have pretzels, almonds, Z-bars, Kashi bars, and/or whole fruit etc. etc. stashed in my desk.  
* DRINK WATER!!!  Have some with you at all times… in the car, next to your bed, at your desk at work..  Drink it when you’re hungry.  Drink it when you don’t think you’re thirsty.  Drink it even if you don’t feel like it.  See how much you can drink by the end of the day.
* If you know you’re going to “splurge” for dinner one night, plan to eat a little less for breakfast and lunch.  It’s all about balance. 
* Eat at least one fruit and/or veggie with each meal (and as snacks, too, if you can!).  They’re filling, nutritious, and you won’t have room to eat junk if you stick to this goal. 

I obviously do not stick to my own rules all the time, or else I wouldn’t be so pudgy right now.  Writing this list helps me remember all the things I know that help me stay balanced.  I’m really really hoping I can stay on track this time for more than a few days… it’s been extra hard for me with all this MN stress happening… but this is unacceptable damnit.  I’ve also decided to count my calories for a week or so just to re-set myself.  I absolutely hate doing this because it’s so tedious, but it needs to be done for a little while.     

OK.  So here’s what I had for dinner tonight:

just-shy of 1 oz. of pepper jack cheese, Morningstar tomato basil burger, small steamed sweet potato, kale chips, and 1T. BBQ, 1 T. ketchup, and grainy mustard for dippage.  Total cals: approx. 371.  

Artsy and colorful. You eat with your eyes first, people!

Side note… this is the first time I’ve had kale.  Kale chips are alllll over blogland, and I’ve been meaning to try them.  I have to say… I was not a fan.  Maybe I got old/bitter/bad greens, but these just tasted chemically or something.  The texture was pretty cool… they just melt in your mouth.  I may be trying them again, but prolly not anytime soon.  I almost threw the rest of the raw kale away, but I decided to boil it and cook it like I saw here on Escape from ObesityJust wash, chop, and boil for about 20-30 minutes.  Then I sauteed 2 slices of turkey bacon and some minced onion… added the cooked kale back in for a few minutes and seasoned with salt and 1/2 tsp olive oil.  WAAAAY better than the chips.  This will be part of my lunch tomorrow, and I’m so excited.

Another thing I preppy prepped?  Pomegranates.  Yummm!  It does take some time to pluck all these gems out of the rind, but it’s worth it. 


Lastly, my breakfast is all prepped and ready to go for the morning… another blogland staple:

Overnight Oats
Equal parts of quick oats, milk, and greek yogurt (I used 1/4 cup of each).  Stir in some sweetener of your choice and maybe some vanilla extract and cinnamon.  Let sit overnight and top with endless variety of items.  On mine is 2 tsp of ground almonds and 1/2 Tbsp of almond butter.  I will also be putting a chopped honeycrisp apple in the bowl in the AM. 

I’m feeling a tad bit exposed writing all this… but I’m hoping the writing will keep me somewhat accountable.  We shall see!  Toodles for now.


Fight the beat. January 24, 2010

Filed under: Appetizer,Beverage,Breakfast,Life,Meatless,Ziggy — WannaBe Chef @ 8:56 pm

It’s Sunday, after 6 PM, and I have finally showered for the day.  I consider that an accomplishment, considering that I may have consumed half a fifth of vodka last night.  No, I’m not lying.  I told you there would be shenanigans.  🙂  Let’s start with the snacks… We had veggies with hummus and pumpkin bread that both escaped from the camera.  Then there was the star of the show…

Summer Corn Dip
from Bakin’ and Eggs blog

1/2 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup light mayo (I used real mayo)
2 cans Mexi-corn, drained
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated (I used a little less than this)
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1/4 cup red and green peppers, finely diced (I used all red peppers)
I also added some green chiles and Frank’s hot sauce

Mix together and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve with corn chips – recommended Fritos Scoops. 

Omgggg this stuff was like crack.  It was really good with the Fritos, but we discovered it was delicious on celery too.  There wasn’t a drop of this left after the night was over.   

We ventured out to dinner and had amazing martinis and giant salads.  Family video was the next stop for a movie we never ended up watching, followed by liquor shopping.  We came back to mi casa and got our drink and ridiculousness on.
My favorite roommates from freshman year.  We take this same picture every “reunion.”  Looove these biotches!! 
Kelsey and I drank a lotttttt of these, while Lori and Erin enjoyed some wine.
We fought the beat….

fist-pumped like WHOA…

and taught ourselves the Soulja Boy dance.

Now watch me you...

crank dat soulja boooy.

As the night progressed, the drinks started looking more like this…

Vodka with a splash of cranberry

and Lori and Erin started to look more like this…

Wine buzz

Kelsey and I continued to be completely ridiculous.  The night (or should I say morning) ended with us on the floor with my SONNN…

Love him

The morning began with a massive headache and the feeling you get after getting off a really long boat ride.  After some H2O and Advil, I was able to pull breakfast together.  Not gonna lie, I was excited for this one (although my stomach… not so much).

Overnight French Toast
from Beantown Baker blog who got it from somewhere else!

2 T butter, softened
12 – 3/4″ thick slices of bread
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 T maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

1/4 – 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 – 1 1/2 cups maple syrup
Berries, Nuts, Whipped Cream, etc for topping as desired

Spread softened butter in a thick coating over a large rimmed (about 1″ sides) heavy baking sheet. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar, add maple syrup, vanilla extract, and salt and whisk together. Add milk and continue whisking until well combined. Lay out bread slices on baking sheet. Pour milk mixture over the bread. Turn each slice, coating both sides. Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake French toast for approximately 10 minutes and then flip each slice of bread. Bake another 5-10 minutes, flipping again if necessary until both sides are golden brown and crisped.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with warmed maple syrup and other toppings as desired.

Some changes I made:  I used skim milk, sourdough bread, and omitted the butter (I just sprayed the pan w/cooking spray instead).  I also added some cinnamon and cooked it longer than 20 minutes (not sure how long, I just cooked it till it was brown!) 

This was the perfect breakfast for having company (not to mention the perfect hangover food).  All I had to do was throw it in the oven and whip up some turkey bacon to have along side.  Hoooly crap this was soooo easy and tasted freaking amazing. 

Buttery, sugary, bacony, berrylicious plate of heaven.

I had an awesome time with my girls this weekend.  I really needed a night like this.  I’m so thankful we have all kept in touch and will continue to have our reunions.  In fact, Minnesota visits have already been discussed.  🙂


Friday January 22, 2010

Filed under: Favorites,Life,Meatless,Salad,Sandwiches,Soup — WannaBe Chef @ 8:55 pm

Today was interesting.  I had the day off and planned on lazing around, going to the store, and maybe doing a little clothes shopping.  Well, after last night’s drama, I found out we had a house showing scheduled for 10:00 this morning.  Thanks for the great notice, realtor from hell.  Uuughh.  So I got up earlier than I wanted to, cleaned up the house, put everything in it’s perfect little place, turned every light in the damn house on, packed up poor Zigmund and headed out to sit in some parking lots.  I had a quick, unpictured breakfast at home then got my caffeine fix at the classy Golden Arches…

Plain coffee + 1 cream + 3 Splenda + SON in his favorite spot, happy to be out of the car.

This pic was obviously taken in the house after I finally returned from over an hour of sitting in a parking lot / driving around / waiting for the randoms to vacate my house.  This pic was also taken after I discovered that said-randoms had declined to remove their wet, dirty shoes before walking through my entire house… of which approximately 50% contains very light-colored carpet.  Who.does.that???? 

Ugggh.  Next up was lunch….

Sandwich thin w/light beef bologna (yes, bologna!!), sprouts, lettuce, hummus and grainy mustard; leftover fries; clementine

After a delicious lunch, consumed just shy of NOON (yeah it was early, and I was hungry, ok?), I headed out to the store.  Three of my bestie former college roomies slash bridemaids are coming to visit tomorrow (I am soooo excited!), and I had to get some foodie stuff for us to snack on.  I found this ridiculous “weight loss” bar and had to try it…

That's a little Bob and Kim of As The World Turns in the background.

Yeah… so you’re supposed to drink 8 oz. of water and eat this $2 bar 30 minutes before each meal, and it’s supposed to “fill you up” so you eat less of the meal.  Yeeeeah, OK, I’m thinking it would just contribute an extra 150 calories to my meal.   The ingredients weren’t bad, actually. The majority of it was puffed wheat, there was no high fructose corn syrup or anything shady, and the bar was quite large.  The texture was a little off (think stale/chewy rice krispy treat) but it wasn’t terrible.


After some quality couch time, it was time for dinner… two of my favorite quickies.  Morningstar pizza burger salad with Annie’s honey mustard and a bowl of corn chipotle bisque. 

Dessert may have looked like this… x 2.  Whole grain Wasa crackers w/crunchy almond butter and low-sugar jammie jam. 

The night is still young… there may be a vodka/cranberry in my near future.  And of course, stay tuned for the shenanigans (spelling help, anyone?) that are sure to occur tomorrow.  We are such a wild bunch, let me tell ya….


My 100th post January 21, 2010

Filed under: Fish,Salad,Sandwiches,Side dish,Vegetable — WannaBe Chef @ 9:21 pm

Unfortunately I have nothing exciting to post for this monumental blog event.  All I have to offer today is mega frustration with realtors and potential buyers.  Why must everyone be SO. DAMN. SHADY. ??  Aaanyway… dinners the past few nights have been pretty ordinary…

Beer Battered Fish Tacos
from Eating Well website

I used pollock instead of tilapia and followed the batter recipe.  It was pretty messy cooking the fish (too close to deep frying for me) and it fell apart easily.  I skipped the avocado and topped ours with cabbage, salsa, tomatoes, and a sauce made of greek yogurt+cucumbers+salt/pepper+cumin.  Overall, very tasty. 

Tonight’s dinner was quite delicious.  On the plate:  Tuna with miracle whip, chipotle peppers, pickles, and onions on a sandwich thin; salad with alfalfa sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cukes, tomatoes, cheese, and Annie’s honey mustard; sweet potato fries with ketchup.  The fries were totally the star of the show, and I’m diggin’ the fry shape waaay more than the traditional round cheetah.