WannaBe Chef

Recipes and randomness from Amanda's kitchen.

Life changing April 29, 2010

Filed under: Favorites,Vegetable — WannaBe Chef @ 6:12 pm

I’m talking about fries, folks.  Not your regular, deep-fried potato fries, though.  I’m talking about parsnip fries.  Have you ever had parsnips?  I hadn’t until I made these.  When Angela, over on Oh She Glows, said “These fries will change your life,”  I knew I had to try them.  I’ll be the first to admit, I was like… parsnips…?  coated in nut butter????  Hmm, was I really going to be this adventurous?  Yes, yes I was… and it was well beyond worth it!

Nut Butter Crusted Parsnip Fries
Recipe found at Oh She Glows… click link for original recipe source and Angela’s awesome pictures and step by step instructions!

3 medium parsnips (or 2 medium sweet potatoes) peeled and cut into thin, fry shapes
1 Tbsp almond butter (I used TJs raw, crunchy unsalted)
2 Tbsp chunky peanut butter (I used Naturally More, naturally! 😉 )
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

– Mix the nut butters, olive oil and salt in a medium bowl
– Add the fries and toss with your hands to coat evenly
– Line fries up on a parchment paper lined baking sheet (I used foil coated in cooking spray)
– Bake at 400 for 30-50 minutes until crisp.  I let mine go just shy of 30 minutes, then flipped them because they were getting a little dark on the bottom.  Then I moved them to the top shelf (while my salmon cooked) for another 10 minutes or so. 

The first word that came to mind when I ate these was rich.  I mean, that makes sense, right?  Peanut butter is a rich food.  However, while being rich and savory, though, there was still a very slight sweetness and beautiful texture from the parsnip.  And the crunch factor from the coating was simply amaaaazing.  The nut butter got all crumbly and crispy and roasty.  I really can’t say enough about these fries.  Like Angela said in her post, I never in my life would have imagined using nut butter on fries!!  Whoever came up with this one deserves an award or something.  Ok, I will stop gushing now so you can go make these!  


The sigh factor April 28, 2010

Filed under: Beef,Beverage,Fruit,Products,Sweets — WannaBe Chef @ 6:41 pm

I decided to skip breakfast and lunch today… well, skip taking pics, not skip eating.  Both meals were pretty boring and leftover-ish, so I figured I would spare you.  Instead, I thought I’d share some snacks, like this delicious bowl of raspberries and lite Cool Whip…

and this skim Chai tea latte from the coffee shop down the street.

And I also thought I’d share an odd story.  So a few weeks ago, after seeing these stupid candies on some Food Network show, I decided to order some on a whim (or perhaps out of boredom?).  Well, after two tries with two different credit cards, the stupid website kept giving me errors and I gave up.  I never got any emails confirming my purchase, and my bank accounts were not charged, so I figured that was that.  Well, to my surprise, I received a package today and it contained the Sinfully Delicious candies.  Hmmm.  Well… I didn’t really want them anymore, and then when I opened the box, I discovered I had been shorted by two “sampler” boxes and one of the boxes I did get looked like it had been around the block a few times.  Grrreat.  And did I get charged twice??  Uggh.  So I called the place, and the lady was nice, so I didn’t demand a refund.  I will be getting my “replacements” shipped out soon.  Woot woot… yeah, I’m a doormat. 

I don’t know what I was thinking… believing that a tablet of compressed, artificially colored powder would taste like a 500 calorie dessert… yeahhhh… they are not very good.  Despite the wide array of “flavors,” they all have a similar chemical, plastic, fake taste going on…

The adorable packaging sucked me in, damnit!

This was the most appetizing part, though… thanks Mr. Mannitol!

Let’s get on with dinner, shall we?  Tonight, I made something I rarely make… a big ole hunk of meat.  Cooking steaks, roasts, chops, etc etc has always been intimidating to me… not to mention trying to pick it out at the store (can you say deer-in-the-headlights?).  It always ends up tough, dry, and/or flavorless.  It’s not like chicken where you can just cook it to death and then douse it in BBQ sauce.  You actually have to pay attention and hope you catch it somewhere between rare and shoe leather.  So anyway, I saw this very simple recipe in my latest Cooking Light and thought I’d give it a whirl.

Grilled Balsamic Skirt Steak
modified from Cooking Light May 2010 issue, pg 108

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp Worchestershire sauce (didn’t have any, I used teriyaki instead)
2 tsp brown sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound skirt steak, trimmed and cut into four pieces (I used 3/4 lb of flank steak instead)
salt and pepper

– Place first four ingredients into a large ziplock bag.  Add steak, turn to coat.  Marinate at room temp for 25 minutes, turning once.  Remove steak and place on a baking sheet lined with a rack.  Season steaks with salt and pepper.  Discard the marinade.  I let my steaks marinate for about an hour and 15 minutes since I was using flank steak, which is a little tougher than skirt steak.
– Broil steak (or use grill pan) on each side until desired degree of doneness is reached.
– Remove steak from oven and put on a plate, cover tightly with foil and let rest for 5 minutes (essential step here, otherwise the juices will run out of the meat). 
– Cut steak diagonally, against the grain in thin slices.  Serve immediately.

Served with spuds/onions and green beans/feta.

I undercooked the steak, thinking that it would cook a little more as it rested under the foil.  Well, it was still a touch too rare after I cut it, so I zapped it in the microwave for about 1 minute and it came out perfect.  I was expecting the worst when I took my first bite, but instead I was greeted with one of the most tender and flavorful pieces of beef I’ve ever tasted!!  It was so good, I never wanted it to end… so good that I closed my eyes and let out a long *sigh* with each bite!


Veggie Quota April 27, 2010

Filed under: Beef,Breakfast,Salad,Vegetable — WannaBe Chef @ 7:21 pm

Are you a fruit or veggie person?  I’m definitely more a veggie person.  Don’t get my wrong, I love my honeycrisp apples, fresh berries, and pineapple… but you’ll find me eating veggies way more often.  A day rarely passes without some sort of veg crossing my lips, while sometimes I stop and think “when’s the last time I had any fruit??”  As you may have noticed, my fruit consumption usually happens at breakfast and that’s about it.  Today I went the egg/veg route, though, and continued the rest of the day with a lotttt of roughage.   

Breakfast:  1/2 cup Egg Whites w/Spinach, fat-free Feta, and Salsa;  English Muffin w/ Margarine on the side.  For some reason, this didn’t really sit well and I didn’t even finish the eggs.  Sometimes, eggs have a nauseating effect on me… today was one of those mornings.  Shoulda had oat bran!   

Lunch:  Ok, so this salad was a strange combination… Romaine, Spinach, Pickles, Tomatoes, Carrots, Raspberries (fruit sighting!), Parmesan, and Lite Raspberry Vinaigrette.  On the side is leftover Teriyaki Sloppy Joes.  The joes were fantastic and the salad was just OK.  The weirdness came from the parm combined with everything, not the pickles and raspberries like I thought it would be! 

Needless to say, I was starving come afternoon.  Snackage:  Carrots with Almond Butter (awesome combination, btw!), Plain Extra Firm Tofu (not cheese!), and a rare Diet Coke. 

Dinner:  Big ole bed of spaghetti squash (cooked according to wonderful instructions over on Escape from Obesity), a teeeeny 1 oz of wheat pasta, spaghetti sauce, sauteed lean beef + rando veggies, and parm.  Wow, this was really filling and tasty.  I’ve never cooked a spaghetti squash before, and I must say it was super easy and yummy.  I’ll be eating the leftovers for the next 3 days, I’m sure.   

So, are you a fruit or veggie person?  Or both?  Maybe I’ll have some fruit for my snack later, cuz I’m definitely veggied out for the day!


The mantel April 26, 2010

Filed under: Beef,Breakfast,Meatless,Oatmeal,One dish meal,Products,Salad,Sandwiches,Soup — WannaBe Chef @ 7:25 pm

I don’t really have a theme for today’s post (Do I ever?).  Sometimes I wonder how other bloggies come up with such creative stories and themes to show what they’re eating, when I feel like my posts are just strings of pictures.  Anyway, I did notice a slight theme with today’s pics: most of them were taken on my mantel – a spot located at the perfect height and conveniently positioned right in front of a window. 

Breakfast was an old friend that I’ve welcomed back with open arms – oat bran!  It’s usually not my fave because of what I call the “gag texture” (aka it’s so smooth and thick, it makes me wanna gag… other culprits are pudding, yogurt, bananas…).  However, I found myself craving it over the weekend, and making it on the stove top instead of the microwave makes a WORLD of difference.

In the bowl:  1/3 cup oat bran cooked in 2/3 cup water, spoonful of chia seeds and 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder stirred in at the end, topped with 1 Tbsp AB and raspberries.  Don’t you love my adorable bowl (hand thrown from Becker’s, remember Mom?) and baby spoon?? 

This might be one of my favorite pics!

I can usually get over the “gag texture” by simply adding something else with an opposite texture…. enter, probably my new favorite nut butter… Naturally More ALMOND!!!  Shockingly, I discovered another place that sells Naturally More beside Walmart… and they also had the almond… which I’ve never seen anywhere.  OMG, it’s SOOOO good.  It’s very crunchy with whole flax seeds and almond bits, very thick, and had no oil separation.  Paired with the creamy oat bran and tart raspberries?  New fave breakfast. 

Lunch was leftover potato leek soup (which, I must say, DID taste better cold!) topped with sour cream and Frank’s alongside a BAGEL thin (!!) with hummus, lettuce and tomato. 

Wanna see my latest online fun purchase?  Reusable straws!  I looove straws and figured I should stop throwing so many away.  Plus, these are so cute and fun.  I can’t wait to use them for smoothies.  I have them in blue, pink, orange, and green 🙂

Dinner was yet another Rachael recipe.  I know, I know, I need to dust off my other cookbooks or something.  These sloppy joes were a really nice twist on the classic.  I thoroughly enjoyed them 🙂 

Teriyaki Sloppy Joes
Modified from Everyday with Rachael Ray, May 2010 issue, pg 117

Olive oil for sauteeing
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 carrot, shredded
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
(I also added half a zucchini, finely chopped)
1 pound ground pork (I used lean ground beef)
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
2 Tbsp oyster sauce (couldn’t find any – I used 1 Tbsp hoisin sauce instead)
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 pound swiss chard, thinly sliced (I omitted)
4 burger buns

– Saute onions, garlic, carrot, zucchini in a little oil until soft
– Add meat into center of pan, break up and cook through
– In a small bowl, whisk together the teriyaki sauce, oyster sauce, cornstarch and 1/2 cup water
– Pour teriyaki mixture into skillet and cook, stirring, until thickened – about 1-2 minutes
– Recipe then includes sauteed swiss chard which goes on the sandwiches, I just served them plain since the greens I bought were MOLDY on the inside!!

I had my sammie with a side salad containing romaine, tomatoes, pickles, fat free feta, and some new-to-me Annie’s dressing.  Mmmm, the dressing was delicious and a perfect compliment to the joes! 

Do you like buying fun dishes or silverware to spice up your eats?  I’ve recently found a new hobby doing just that.


Fun April 25, 2010

Filed under: Life,Meatless,One dish meal,Potato,Products,Soup,Sweets,Vegetable — WannaBe Chef @ 7:00 pm

Hello, lovepies.  A couple fun things have happened since we last “talked.”  Let’s share… and see how many times I can say “fun”…

1.  I was pleasantly surprised to see one of my food pics shown over on Chocolate Covered Katie in a pizzert shout-out post.  How fun!  My blog has never seen as much as action as it did yesterday from her linking to me! 

2.  I won another bloggie giveaway!  I can hardly believe my luck.  This time I won some really fun, reusable gift wrap over on Danica’s Daily.  Yaaay!   

3.  Wayne and I wandered over to the next town to the mall.  He got his hair cut, I found some shoes for my sissy’s wedding, and best of all, we went to RED MANGO!!!!!!!!  I’m pretty sure I need to go there every.day.of.my.life now.  Not only is the frozen yogurt low calorie, nonfat, and all natural, it’s freaking delicious, tart and creamy… omgggg.  Wayne’s is on the left: cocoa yogurt with yogurt chips, mango and raspberries.  Mine is on the right: Madagascar vanilla yogurt with coconut, blueberries and raspberries.  Mine was not bigger than Wayne’s, either, it’s just the camera angle!  🙂  Sooooo goooood. 

Later on, after our mall fun, we wanted to go out for dinner.  We usually eat out once a week, sometimes twice, usually on Friday or Saturday.  We didn’t know where to go, so after some googling, Wayne found an awesome place called Axel’s Bonfire in a nearby town.  Mom, Erin, anyone who wants to visit… we’re taking you here, it’s grrr-eat!  Unfortunately, no pics were taken (I’m still chicken and won’t take pics in public unless the situation is right… aka no one is around!).  I had the Summer Spa Salad and added seared Ahi tuna.  I also had a glass of Reisling.  Wayne had beer and the Jalapeno Popper Pizza – cooked in their famous woodburning stove.  Then we may have shared a giant, warm chocolate chip cookie topped with ice cream (against my better judgement!!).  Very good dinner, indeed. 

Tonight, I made a light dinner, for obvious reasons.  I just got my latest Rachael Ray mag, so that’s where the recipe came from.

Potato Leek Soup
Slightly modified, from Everyday with Rachael Ray, May 2010 issue, pg 74

1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
5 leeks, white parts only, chopped (I used 3 leeks, make sure you wash ’em REALLY good)
1/2 pound zucchini, sliced (about 1 medium zucchini)
2 tsp Salt (I used 1 tsp and also added pepper and garlic powder)
5 cups water (I used 2.5 cups water and 2.5 cups chicken stock)
Reduced fat sour cream or Greek yogurt
Chives (I used parsley)

– Add the potatoes, leeks, zucchini, water and seasonings to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer until veggies are tender (about 20-30 minutes).  Let cool slightly.
– Blend soup with immersion blender or with regular blender (in batches).  Refrigerate until chilled.  Serve with sour cream or yogurt and chives.  (We actually ate the soup hot).

This was just about the easiest soup I’ve ever made.  It was a little bland, so I jazzed it up with Frank’s and some homemade croutons (not pictured, sorry!).  I’m really surprised the recipe only called for salt and no other seasonings and water instead of broth.  Hmm, maybe it tastes different cold.  Anyway, this soup was very light and pretty tasty, but nothing spectacular.  Toodles for now!


Yah, mon April 23, 2010

Filed under: Chicken — WannaBe Chef @ 5:33 pm

Please indulge me one more time in re-living the past.  This week, last year, Wayne and I were on our honeymoon in Montego Bay, Jamaica.  Needless to say, it was an ahh-mazing, relaxing, sunny, food-and-drink-filled week of fun. 

I really miss that tan...

In honor of the tremendous amounts of buffets and face-stuffing that went on, I decided to make some Jamaican Jerk Chicken tonight.  I googled my way to this fiery recipe.  There are quite a few ingredients, but luckily I just needed to buy the nutmeg, allspice, and veggies.  I only hope that, now, any future blender-concoctions don’t come out tasting like habaneros and spices…

Doesn’t that look good?  Well, looks can be deceiving.  I’m gonna be honest and say I was quite disappointed with this chicken.  I made a few changes to the recipe and broiled it instead of grilling it (thanks to the “no grill ordinance” here in the beautiful state of MN), but I don’t think those changes would have messed it up much.  I mean, it was edible, but all I could taste was the lime juice and black pepper.  All the other lovely spices were barely detectable, and I think marinating it overnight (after reading the review about marinating “the longer, the better”) in all that lime juice made it really tough and dry.  Oh well, I guess there’s no substitute for the real thing!


I won! April 22, 2010

Filed under: Beverage,Breakfast,Meatless,Products,Salad,Sandwiches,Vegetable — WannaBe Chef @ 6:16 pm

First let me start out by saying that I actually won something today!  With all this time on my hands, I’ve been reading a lotttt of blogs and sometimes entering the contests I find.  Well, it turns out I won one of them today!  Pretty soon, I will be enjoying some Nature’s Path goodies, courtesy of a contest over on Hangry Pants.  I’ve never tried any of their products, but I’m constantly seeing them on blogs, so I’m excited!  🙂


Ok, so let’s get on with today’s eats.  Breakfast was a toasted wheat English muffin topped with Trader Joe’s PB, a perfectly ripe pear, and cinnamon.  This might be my new favorite breakfast.  PB, pears, and cinnamon have always been my favorite oatmeal toppings, and they sure didn’t disappoint on an English muffin either.


Lunch was a salad fit for a first-grader.  It was quite random and contained romaine, spinach, carrots, red onion, cheddar, a lite beef hot dog, and lite ranch.  I was a little skeptical, but it tasted soooo good.  How can you go wrong with hot dogs, cheese, and ranch??  For lunch dessert, I had a chocolate Oikos with a little All-Bran for crunch.  Did you notice my adorable new baby spoon?


After some digesting and soap-watching, I went out for a walk with my iPod.  It was quite nice.  After I got back, I found out I won the bloggie contest (woo!) and then whipped up another Chocolate Cherry Bomb.  This time, I still halved the original recipe but I used only 1/4 of a frozen banana, a little less water, and left out the flax meal and sweetener.  It turned out soooo yummy.  I love the tartness of the cherries with the chocolate.  I think I might be addicted to these. 


Dinner was for one tonight since Wayne had a business dinner.  Sometimes I like cooking for just myself… I can have whatever I want, I often get to use up food that needs to be used up, and I don’t have to hear any whining if there’s no meat involved!  I roasted the last of a bag of baby carrots and some red onion (I’ve been sawing away at the same damn onion since the Chicken Marsala!) with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  I had them with an Amy’s burger on half a tortilla with Greek Olive hummus, spinach and BBQ.  Looove these burgers.