WannaBe Chef

Recipes and randomness from Amanda's kitchen.

I gave in February 28, 2011

Filed under: Beef — WannaBe Chef @ 12:13 pm

Every Sunday when I’m desperately trying to come up with the menu for the week, I ask Wayne if there’s anything that he wants for dinner.  Nine times out of ten, he says “Cabbage Rolls.”  Uuughh!  I’ve only made them once or twice before, and I just remember them taking forever.  Well, I finally gave in and decided to make the dang cabbage rolls last night.  They’re easy to make… it’s just that there’s a lot of steps and time involved.  I will admit, though, that I’m so glad I gave in because these were REALLY good!  (Despite the horrible, unappetizing picture below!)

I used >>>THIS RECIPE<<< as an outline.  Based on the reviews, I decided to double the sauce and bake them instead of put them in the crockpot.  I also added a few extra ingredients for flavor.  I love, love, loved the tangy, sweet sauce.  You could also add some hot sauce or red pepper flakes if you wanted some heat, but we just put hot sauce (and parm) on top.   

Cabbage Rolls


  • 12-14 cabbage leaves
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp worchestershire sauce


  • Boil the whole head of cabbage for awhile until the leaves are tender and separate easily.  I had to take off the outer few then return the head to the boiling water for awhile to get the inner leaves off. 
  • While the cabbage is boiling, cook the rice and let cool.
  • Combine the rice, beef, onions, milk, egg, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and 1 tsp worchestershire sauce in a bowl. 
  • Combine the sauce ingredients (tomato sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice, and 1 Tbsp worchestershire) in a separate bowl. 
  • Place 1/4 cup of the meat mixture into each cabbage leaf and roll.  Line up rolls in a greased 9×13 baking dish.  I ended up with 13 rolls. 
  • Pour sauce evenly over rolls.  Cover pan with foil and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. 

Hodge Podge February 23, 2011

Filed under: Asian-inspired,Chicken,Salad — WannaBe Chef @ 8:02 pm

Good evening!  So I have like four things backed up on my camera at this point.  Here are two really good dinners I made last week…

Kung Pao Chicken
Recipe from Cooking Light magazine, December 2010


  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil (I used less)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound chicken thighs, diced (I used breasts)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp brown sugar (I used closer to 1 Tbsp)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh, minced ginger (I used powdered ginger)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup snow peas
  • 2 Tbsp chopped peanuts


  1. Heat oil in a large skillet.  Add onion and saute until softened.  Add garlic, saute 30 sec, stir constantly.  Add chicken, saute until cooked through.
  2. Combine the water, soy sauce, cornstarch, brown sugar, ginger, and red pepper flakes in a bowl, whisk to combine.  Add mixture to pan and bring to a boil.
  3. Add bell pepper and peas to pan, cook for 2 minutes or until veggies are crisp tender and sauce thickens.  Sprinkle with peanuts. 

Greek Salad with Seasoned Naan
Recipe from Martha Stewart cookbook Great Food Fast


  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 1/2 cups feta cheese
  • 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted
  • I also added banana peppers and chicken that I marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, rosemary, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper for an hour. 


  • Combine oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl – whisk to combine.
  • Toss dressing with the rest of the ingredients.

Seasoned Naan

Get some wheat naan, pita bread or lavash at the store.  Brush it with a mixture of:  1 Tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp red wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp lemon zest, 1 garlic clove, 1 tsp dried oregano, and salt/pepper.  Bake at 400 for a few minutes until heated and slightly browned. 


OMG, this salad was simply amazing.  I’ve been craving sour things lately, so the vinegar and lemon and salty feta was just perfect.  I even got some fancy olives from the deli.   Mmmm!!


Just a taste February 21, 2011

Filed under: Chicken,Soup — WannaBe Chef @ 7:40 pm

Hello, friends.  I have about three other dinners backed up on my camera, but I only felt like sharing one tonight 🙂  As you know, I love soup.  I would love to make it once a week, but I’m afraid Wayne wouldn’t go for that (although he really, really liked this recipe!).  This soup combined some of my very favorite things:  cilantro, avocados, and lime.   Too bad I couldn’t have a nice, cold margarita on the side!

Green Chili Chicken and Lime Soup 

I played around with the quantities of some of the ingredients because I didn’t want to end up with tons of leftovers.  I used 1.5 cartons of broth, 1 can of chilies, and probably less rice. 

This soup was light, yet hearty enough for dinner thanks to the chicken and rice.  The toppings made it extra delicious too.


Belated V-day goodies February 16, 2011

Filed under: Pasta,Shrimp,Sweets — WannaBe Chef @ 11:45 am

Hello, loves!  Just wanted to share our yummy Valentine’s dinner and dessert.  I sort of have to thank my friend Ashley for this one.  As I was desperately trying to come up with a menu for the week, she texted me, asking if I had a recipe for a chipotle pasta sauce.  I didn’t, but I went off on a Google search to find some ideas for her.  Well of course, the more I looked, the more I wanted some chipotle pasta!  This shrimp pasta was very tasty, and I wish I had taken the time to take a better picture because it was 100 times better than it looks! 

Shrimp Pasta with Creamy Chipotle Sauce

I followed the recipe pretty much exactly.  I highly recommend adding lots of parmesan cheese to the sauce to give it more flavor and also to help thicken it.  Also, start with one chipotle and add more after tasting.  Ours was just a tad on the too-spicy side, so I wish I would have added just a little less chipotle. 

I also made dessert.  Even though it was from a mix, I still managed to dirty about three cookie sheets and a bunch of other stuff.  Baking is such a pain!


Car seat hell! February 11, 2011

Filed under: Chicken,Pasta — WannaBe Chef @ 10:39 am

Hi, loves.  Sorry for the small dry spell there.  Dinners have been less than photogenic lately.  Can you picture scrambled eggs mixed with potatoes and toppped with copious amounts of mustard?  Yeah, that was my crazy pregnant-lady dinner the other night.  I’ve also been completely immersed and overwhelmed in research and decision-making about baby “stuff.”  The latest items have been the car seat and stroller… by far the most overwhelming items to make any sense of.  Anyway, I won’t bore you with the details.  Just know that I’m in car seat (and stroller) hell right now!  I did take a break last night to make this tasty dinner.  Seriously, even though the ridiculously high oven temp set off my smoke detector, this meal really hit the spot!

Lighter Chicken Parmesan

I followed the recipe exactly.  I saved some of the bread crumb/parm mixture because I knew there would be a lot leftover, and I didn’t want to waste it.  It was really good on top of the spaghetti!  I also didn’t have any eggs, so I improvised and used milk in the dredging process instead.  The chicken came out nice and crispy, and all those seasonings from the flour mixture really come through.  I can’t wait to have leftovers for lunch today!


Chili two ways February 8, 2011

Filed under: One dish meal,Soup,Turkey — WannaBe Chef @ 10:24 am

I haven’t been much of a chili fan since before being pregnant.  This is probably because I had to make Wayne and his friend a pot of chili way back early in the pregnancy, and it was all I could do to not vomit into the pot while I was making it.  Then the smell was in the apartment for what seemed like weeks afterwards.  Well, here I am almost 22 weeks along, and I finally decided that chili would be tolerable again. 

Turkey Black Bean Chili
Based on recipe >>>HERE<<<


  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • splash of olive oil for sauteeing
  • 1-2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 (15 oz) cans black beans, lightly drained
  • 2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp dry basil
  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper


  1. In a large soup pot, saute the turkey, onions and garlic in some olive oil until turkey is done. 
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Simmer for 60 minutes or more.

This was soooo yummy!  Even better with some Frank’s, cheese, and cornbread.  Oh yeah, and how could I forget the chili cheese fries we had the next day?!  Amaaaazing. 


SuperBowl, ShmooperBowl… February 6, 2011

Filed under: Beef,Pasta — WannaBe Chef @ 8:05 pm

I don’t get the hype of the Super Bowl.  I’ve never been a football fan… not even close, so I guess it’s just another game to me.  However, I always try to ask Wayne if he wants me to make anything special to eat.  Well, this year, without hesitation, he said “Sweet and Sour Meatballs”…. and “Macaroni and Cheese.”  Pretty random, but that’s what he wanted.  I picked out two recipes from cooks.com the other day and saved them.  Much to my frustration, when I went to retrieve them today, the site was down, so I had to find two new recipes.  Luckily, they both worked out beautifully. 

Sweet and Sour Meatballs
Recipe >>>HERE<<<  I only used 1/3 cup brown sugar.  I also used less pineapple and green peppers.  If we had these with rice, I would have probably used the whole amount.  Also, remember to whisk the sauce continuously because it thickens suddenly and quickly. 

I made my own meatballs:


  • 1 1/4 pounds ground beef (I went with regular instead of lean because I find that lean ground beef can make for a tough meatball.)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • heaping 1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • splash of olive oil and salt


  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mix well with hands.
  2. Form into meatballs – ours were probably 1 – 1.5″ across.
  3. Place into a deep skillet that’s been heating up with some olive oil.  Let brown on one side, then turn them a couple times until browned on most sides and cooked almost all the way through.
  4. Remove from pan and place on paper towel lined plate, set aside while you make the sauce. 

Alton Brown’s Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Recipe from >>>HERE<<<

I have to say, I felt kind of guilty while I was making this.  There’s a lot of cheese, a lot of butter, and a lot of starch in this puppy.  I have this thing where I literally feel greasy when I’m making something greasy.  So besides wanting to take a shower after making this, it was heavenly.  It also was a little time consuming, but worth it.

I did make a couple small adjustments to the recipe:

  • I used about 2 tsp regular yellow mustard because I didn’t have mustard powder.  I also added it later in the process instead of with the flour/butter.
  • I used 2 Tbsp butter instead of 3 Tbsp for the bread crumb topping.
  • I used skim milk. 
  • I added some Frank’s and lots of pepper to the sauce because it seemed a little bland. 
  • I managed to fit the whole batch into an 8×8″ glass baking dish.  I did put the dish on a foil-lined baking sheet in case it bubbled over, but it didn’t.
  • Another FYI:  It will seem like there’s waaay too much sauce to pasta when you combine them.  It will also seem like it’s still too thin and gooey when you take it out of the oven.  However, it will set up once it cools a little bit, trust me!  All that butter and cheese just needs to re-congeal :-p (is that a word??)