WannaBe Chef

Recipes and randomness from Amanda's kitchen.

Goo goo for Gaga August 31, 2010

Filed under: Potato — WannaBe Chef @ 11:28 am

Hello my little monsters!  Last night I made this delicious potato salad.  Details I’m sure you don’t care to know:  I used maybe half of a serrano pepper (holy HOT), and less tarragon.  This was my first experience with fresh tarragon, and I’m not sure I like it very much (it tastes like black licorice).  Once the salad got cold, though, the taste was much more mild.  Oh, and the recipe I had printed out from ages ago said spinach, not arugula.  Enjoy!   

Then it was time for the MONSTER BALL!!!  I had a fabulous time, and it was easily the best concert I’ve ever been to.  If you’re my friend on Facebook, feel free to look at all my other Gaga pics 🙂

Ta-ta for now!


Food and crafts all in one August 27, 2010

Filed under: Bread/Muffins,Holiday,Sweets — WannaBe Chef @ 10:48 am

Hello!  I’m back with another morning post.  Today I have a fun foodie AND crafty project that I did for my sister’s wedding shower.  (See this post for other fun wedding projects I did!)  For part of her gift, I gave her these four “recipe jars” along with a whole box of kitchen stuff – cooling rack, cookie dough scoop, mixing bowl, loaf pan, measuring cup etc.  Of course, everything was done in the wedding colors of purple and green. 

For these Recipe Jars, you will need:

  • (4) 1-quart, smooth Ball jars (found at Hobby Lobby by my mom!)
  • (4) 6-inch round (or square) pieces of fabric 
  • Coordinating ribbon of choice
  • (4) labels for front of jars and (4) coordinating tags to include the recipe instructions
  • (4) recipes of choice!  (mine are below) 

Oreo Muffins 

This was probably the easiest of the jars to make since there aren’t that many ingredients.  I really had to cram those Oreos in the jar though.  In fact, I think I was only able to get 18 or 19 Oreos in there (out of 20 the recipe calls for).

Butter Pecan Bread

I love the way this one looks with the pecans layered in the center and sandwiched between the brown sugar. 

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

I love the way this one looks too.  Keep the layering in mind when making any of these recipes, though.  I actually separated the flour in this jar so the “star” ingredients could be showcased in the middle.  I also love how the cinnamon and spices made a faint line between the flour and sugar layers.  Also keep in mind that the white sugar should always be toward the bottom.  If it were on top of the “loose” ingredients (the pecans and berries), it would just fall through and look messy.

M&M Cookies

This was the recipe that inspired the whole project!  I had this recipe saved from Bakerella for months and finally got to use it.  I ordered the purple M&Ms online (don’t even ask how much I payed for those damn things!), carried them on the plane with me, and made all the jars once I was back in MI.  I did use less choc chips and pecans (they’re under the fabric) than they recipe called for so I could use more of the precious M&M’s.  My only tip for making this jar – CRAM CRAM CRAM those ingedients in the jar after each layer.  I was practically standing on the top of the jar by the time I got to the top, and there are really only a small handful of pecans in there.   

These jars were fun to make, relatively inexpensive, and seemed to be a hit with the bride-to-be.  I think they would be great gifts all around, and you could totally change up the color of the M&Ms to coordinate with the occasion.

More tips:

  1. Next time, I would make the recipe tags and labels a little smaller.  I made them here in MN without having the jars to reference for size, so they came out a little large in comparison.
  2. I would also do something different with the fabric – either secure it to the lid with double sided tape, then tie the ribbon around it… OR put the fabric over the lid (the round, disc part of the lid), then screw the ring cap over the fabric to secure it.  Tying them on the outside with strictly the ribbon didn’t make them very stable, and they slid off easily.  Did all that make sense?? 

Keen-what?? August 25, 2010

Filed under: Side dish — WannaBe Chef @ 7:02 pm

I’m back – twice in one day!  I had to return to share my adventures in QUINOA!  Have you ever had quinoa?  I’ve had it, but surprisingly never purchased or cooked it until now.  Quinoa has a neutral flavor, so it’s a pretty blank canvas.  To me, it’s like the texture of couscous with the chew of brown rice, then it has an added little *pop* when you bite down on it.  It’s very delicious.   

Curried Quinoa
Recipe slightly modified from HERE


  • 1 Tbsp EVOO
  • 1 cup finely chopped veggies – I used carrots, celery, onion, and red peppers
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp turmeric (**see comments down below)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • garlic powder (maybe 1/2 tsp?)
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 3/4 cups water


  1. In a saucepan, saute the veggies in the oil until softened – about 5 minutes
  2. Add the ginger and dry quinoa, cook for 1 minute, stirring continuously
  3. Add the dry spices, cook for another 1 minute, stirring continuously
  4. Stir in the water, bring to a boil then reduce heat
  5. Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes until water is absorbed

As the grains cook, you start to see a fine, white spiral emerge.  I think that’s what makes the quinoa *pop* in your mouth! 

I enjoyed this dish quite a bit.  It’s very hearty and healthy.  Next time, though, I think I’ll use a touch less turmeric as it has a very distinct flavor.  Wayne liked it too, although he had quite the time trying to pronounce “quinoa” haha.  I’m so lucky to have a husband that’s not the least bit picky when it comes to food.  He will eat anything you put in front of him, and often times he’ll dig right in before he even knows what he’s eating (like tonight!).  Alright folks, well I hope you give quinoa a try sometime!  Toodles for now 🙂


Crabby Pants

Filed under: Fish,Salad — WannaBe Chef @ 10:26 am

Am I throwing you all for a loop with my morning posts?  I kinda like it.  Have I ever told you about my love for imitation crab meat?  Haha.  Well, I love it, and I’m going to give you a little lesson about it.  You know how it comes in flakes or sticks?  Well the sticks are no good.  And sometimes you get a batch that’s kind of mushy… also no good.  You want a nice, firm, sweet “crab.”  Yes, I’m a fake crab expert.  I picked up a two-pound, yes TWO pound, package of it the other day.  It was the flake kind, and it was not mushy at all.  It was perfect.  Then I made this crab salad for dinner last night.  It was also quite perfect.  Wanna see?

Crab Salad
Inspired by “Crab and Grilled Corn Salad” from Cooking Light magazine, Sept 2010 issue, p. 92


  • 3 ears of corn, shucked
  • 1 pound imitation crab meat, flake style, chopped
  • veggies, finely chopped – I used red peppers, celery, and green onions
  • Light mayo – approx. 2-3 Tbsp
  • juice from 1 lime
  • salt and pepper
  • hot sauce


  1. Saute the corn in a skillet until slightly charred.  Season with salt and pepper. 
  2. Remove corn from heat and let cool.  In the meantime, combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Add the corn to the crab mixture and stir to combine.  Season with salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste.
  4. Serve crab salad plain, on bread, or in lettuce cups. 

I would have looooved some cilantro in this, but the grocery store was out 😦  Enjoy!


Eggs-cellent August 24, 2010

Filed under: One dish meal — WannaBe Chef @ 7:26 am

Good morning, friends!  So I tried to post this last night, but my stupid computer didn’t want to upload the pics, so I gave up.  Have I ever told you how much I enjoy fritattas and quiches?  If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, I’m sure you’ve seen at least some of the ones I’ve made.  They’re so easy and versatile, making them one of my favorite “go to” dinners when I can’t think of anything else to cook.  This yummy frittata comes to you from the dear Rachael Ray, but of course I modified it slightly.

Cabbage and Potato Frittata
Modified from Everyday with Rachael Ray, Sept 2010 issue, in the Menu Planner insert


  • 10 eggs (I used 8 )
  • 8 slices bacon, chopped (I used turkey bacon of course)
  • 2 baking potatoes, about 10 ounces, peeled and cut into small cubes (I used 1 large potato)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into small cubes (I omitted)
  • 1/4 head cabbage, sliced thin
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • sour cream, for serving
  • 1 scallion, chopped, for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 375 F
  2. Place eggs, salt and pepper in a large bowl and beat to combine.  Set aside.
  3. In a large oven-proof skillet, saute the bacon, potatoes, onions, and carrots on med-high heat until veggies are softened – about 5-7 minutes.  Season with more salt and pepper if desired.  (Note:  If using regular bacon, original recipe states to cook the bacon alone, remove from pan, and crumble for later [to use as a topping].  Then use the bacon grease to saute the veggies in.)
  4. Stir in the cabbage and saute for a minute or 2 until cabbage starts to wilt slightly.
  5. Remove bacon/veggie mixture from pan and set aside.  Spray pan liberally with cooking spray, then return the bacon/veggie mixture to the pan and spread evenly.  (This step is probably not necessary if using regular bacon since there will be enough grease in the pan already.)
  6. Pour egg mixture evenly over bacon/veggies and cook until edges start to set, about 2-3 minutes.  Transfer pan to oven and cook until center is set and edges are golden brown, about 10 minutes.
  7. Loosen edges with a spatula and slide frittata out onto a plate or cutting board.  Cut into wedges and top with sour cream and scallions (and Frank’s!  hehe).


This might be one of my favorite frittatas to date.  The combination of the bacon, potatoes and cabbage totally reminded me of St. Patrick’s Day or something.  Hope you enjoyed the morning version of WannaBe Chef!  Now I’m off to have the leftovers for breakfast 🙂


Shrimpie Enchis August 21, 2010

Filed under: Shrimp — WannaBe Chef @ 6:34 pm

Happy Saturday, lovelies.  Wayne and I have done basically nothing today, and it’s great.  We went to dinner at Wayne’s coworker’s house last night.  We had the most amazing steaks, ratatouille, and potato croquettes.  Fancy!  And Wayne has a new best friend in their 6 year old son hahaha.  Anyway, dinner time rolled around and I threw together this dish based on what I had in the fridge and freezer.  Of course, I didn’t have any enchillada sauce, so I made my own.  These turned out quite well and defintely were a good way to use up the veggies at the bottom of the veggie drawer! 

Shrimp and Veggie Enchilladas


  • 7-8 small, low-carb, whole wheat tortillas
  • Approx. 1/2 pound shrimp
  • Veggies – I had yellow bell peppers, zucchini, and red onions
  • Shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Enchillada sauce, canned or homemade (recipe follows)


  1. Saute veggies until softened, season as desired.  Stir in shrimp and heat through.  Add some cheese and a ladle of enchillada sauce. 
  2. Spoon mixture into tortillas, roll, and place seam side down in a greased baking dish.
  3. Cover finished enchilladas with more sauce, cheese, and salsa (if desired).
  4. Bake at 350 until bubbly and heated through. 

Red Enchillada Sauce
Based on recipe HERE


  • 1 Tbsp EVOO
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 can tomato sauce (15 oz)
  • 2 cups water


  1. Saute garlic in oil for a minute or so
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and let simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes 

**You’ll have a lot of sauce leftover… stick it in the freezer for next time!


Popeye’s favorite side August 19, 2010

Filed under: Side dish,Vegetable — WannaBe Chef @ 6:06 pm

Good evening!  I’m sitting here watching our second set of new neighbors move in.  I’m wondering how a family of four and two large dogs are going to fit into a two-bedroom townhome identical to ours.  Anywho, I had to share a wonderful side dish I made tonight.  The recipe was inspired by one I found in the great pink cookbook pictured in the post below this one.  I love fresh spinach, and combined with smokey bacon, sweet red onions, and tangy vinaigrette… this was a winner.  Wayne loved it too.  He said he could have just eaten that for dinner!  (I made chicken and sweet potatoes too.)  I know I say this a lot, but please make this!  It may not seem like anything special, but trust me on this one – it’s delicious!! 

Wilted Spinach Salad
Inspired by cookbook recipe.  Below is my version.   


  • 4 slices turkey bacon, diced
  • 1/4 of a medium red onion, sliced
  • 1 small package sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (I used half balsamic and half white vinegar)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 5 ounces fresh baby spinach (about 3/4 of a regular sized bag)
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese for topping, optional but recommended!


  1. Saute the bacon and onion until onion is soft and bacon starts to brown.
  2. In the meantime, combine the vinegar, sugar and mustard in a small bowl.
  3. Remove bacon and onion mixture from pan and set aside.
  4. Add the mushrooms to the pan and saute just until they start to break down.  Remove from pan and set aside with the bacon/onion mixture.   
  5. Add the oil to pan, then carefully stir in the vinegar mixture.  Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. 
  6. Add the bacon/onion mixture and mushrooms back to the pan, stirring to coat with the dressing.  Season with salt and pepper if desired.
  7. Add the spinach to the pan.  Toss to coat and let the spinach just start to wilt.
  8. Place salad on plates and top with grated parmesan cheese if desired.  Serve warm.

**Note:  You will have extra dressing left in the bottom of the pan!  I saved it and am super excited about having it tomorrow for lunch.  I recommend you do this too, or you could try halving the dressing ingredients OR increasing the spinach!