WannaBe Chef

Recipes and randomness from Amanda's kitchen.

No lilies allowed April 30, 2011

Filed under: Beef,Chicken,Mexican-inspired — WannaBe Chef @ 6:34 pm

Hi, kids.  It’s been an eventful past couple days.  No, I didn’t go into labor or anything haha.  Remember my anniversary flowers?  Well, in case you didn’t notice, they contained stargazer lilies which happen to be toxic to cats.  We kept the flowers waaaay up high anytime we weren’t downstairs so Ziggy wouldn’t get into them.  Apparently, they started dying and a couple petals fell off onto the floor.  I’m sure you can see where this story is going.  We noticed Zig’s chin and chest were bright yellow and figured out that he ate some of the fuzzy stamen thingys and and an unknown amount of the petals.  After googling, totally freaking out, and calling the emergency animal clinic…. we had to take him in.  He was acting just fine, but the consequences were just something we couldn’t risk…. can you say kidney failure and death within just a couple days???  Uuugh, so after an overnight at the emergency clinic, a full day at the regular vet, and way too much money to even mention, he’s back home and seems to be just fine.  Not a fun experience for a hormonal pregnant woman who happens to consider her cat her first child. 


Anyway, I do have some easy dinners to share.  I planned a lot of last week’s meals around the fact that I wanted to get our freezer stash started.  Both of these meals were easy, versatile, delicious, and freezer-worthy. 

Taco Cornbread Bake
Adapted from recipe >>>HERE<<<

**Makes two 8×8″ pans 


  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 packets taco seasoning (you could probably get away with just one)
  • 1/2 large jar salsa
  • Shredded sharp cheddar cheese (however much you want!)
  • 2 boxes Jiffy cornbread muffin mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk (you will need 2/3 cup according to muffin directions, but I always add a little more so it doesn’t dry out)


  • In a large skillet, saute the beef until cooked through.  Add about 1/2 cup water, the taco seasoning, beans, corn, and salsa.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. 
  • While meat mixture is simmering, make the cornbread according to the box directions for muffins.
  • Spray an 8×8″ baking dish with cooking spray.  If making two batches, line another 8×8″ baking dish with foil, and spray the foil with cooking spray. 
  • Pour half the meat mixture into each dish.  Top with cheese, then carefully spread half the cornbread batter over each dish.
  • Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes until cornbread is browned and set. 
  • I baked the one for the freezer (the one in foil) for just 10 minutes.  Then I let it cool to room temp and placed the whole pan in the freezer until frozen solid.  Next, I took the frozen “block” out of the dish, wrapped in another layer of foil, and placed in a freezer bag.  When I want to bake it, I can just plop it back into the same baking dish, let it thaw, and bake. 


 Chicken and Rice Burritoes

**Makes 7-8 large burritoes


  • 3 chicken breasts, thawed
  • Jarred jalapenos, 1 chicken boullion cube, garlic salt for poaching liquid (or you could cook the chicken however you wanted)
  • 1 1/2 cups instant brown rice
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 large jar salsa
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • Shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 7-8 large whole wheat, low-carb tortillas


  1. Place chicken in a high-sided skillet and cover with water.  Add desired seasonings.  I used jalapenos, some of the jalapeno juice, a chicken boullion cube, and garlic salt.  Cover the pan and boil the chicken until cooked through.  Remove to a cutting board and shred or chop chicken into bite size pieces.  Discard the poaching liquid. 
  2. While the chicken is cooking, make the rice according to the package directions.
  3. Dump the chopped chicken and rice back into the large skillet.  Stir in the salsa and cilantro.  Feel free to add anything else that sounds good – corn, beans, jalapenos, whatever. 
  4. Let the chicken and rice mixture heat through.  Assemble burritoes with chicken/rice mixture and cheese.  Add sour cream or other desired toppings. 
  5. If freezing the leftovers – let the chicken/rice mixture cool.  Assemble burritoes, roll, and wrap in plastic wrap then a layer of foil.  Place burritoes in a freezer bag and shove in freezer for later.  When ready to eat, wrap in paper towel and pop in the microwave.

Double Duty April 27, 2011

Filed under: Breakfast — WannaBe Chef @ 11:41 am

We had another one of my favorites for dinner last night… breakfast!  I’m starting to build up a little stash of freezer meals for after the baby is born, so I decided to make a big ole batch of pancakes… some for dinner and some for the freezer. 

Those are all double stacks!

Whole Wheat Choc Chip Pancakes
Recipe from Macaroni and Cheesecake

I doubled the recipe and followed it exactly, with the exception of using the old substitute-for-buttermilk trick.  These pancakes were thick, fluffy and very filling.  I made some with mini choc chips and left the others plain. 

As for our dinner, I had one big pancake topped with bananas, chia seeds, and syrup.  The eggs were equally delicious because they were scrambled with Trader Joe’s Chile Feta, mmm!


Salt Sauce April 26, 2011

Filed under: Asian-inspired,Chicken,Products — WannaBe Chef @ 2:25 pm

So I bought this bottle of sauce at Trader Joe’s in hopes of recreating a Thai steak wrap I had at a restaurant not long ago.  Well, it wasn’t the right sauce, so I decided to just use it in a stir-fry of sorts.

Then I turned the bottle around and took a peek at the nutrition label….

Do you SEE the sodium content?!  Holy crap!  My slightly swollen ankles screamed in protest, but I used the sauce anyway.  It tasted good, but I didn’t use as much as I would have liked.  Lesson learned:  look at label before buying, duh. 

The finished meal-in-a-bowl contained:  brown rice, chicken, stir-fry veggies, “salt sauce,” peanuts, and lots of fresh cilantro.  Definitely tasty but did require copious amounts of water during the night!


Easter Treats April 25, 2011

Filed under: Potato,Side dish,Sweets — WannaBe Chef @ 10:02 am

Happy day-after-Easter, friends!  It’s hard to believe this was our second Easter here in MN.  Hopefully we will be back in MI by next Easter.  Anywho, the weather finally decided to cooperate, and it was really nice yesterday.  After a relaxed day of cleaning, Skyping with the family, and having an iced (decaf!) coffee from the only place that was open, I made a nice Easter dinner for two. 

The menu included:

  • Smoked, glazed ham for Wayne (Glaze = my mom’s recipe: brown sugar, mustard, and pineapple juice)
  • Glazed chicken breast w/pineapple for me
  • Cheesy hashbrown casserole  (I halved the recipe, used more cheese, and omitted the cereal topping.)
  • Green beans
  • Deviled eggs
  • Raspberry swirl cheesecake  (I doubled the crust and used raspberry yogurt and jam instead of strawberry.)

Those are my anniversary flowers! 🙂


Simple Stroganoff April 22, 2011

Filed under: Beef,Pasta — WannaBe Chef @ 9:47 am

Happy Friday!  Wayne requested beef stroganoff this week, which is one of his typical requests.  It just so happened that I had this easy recipe saved in my stash, so I decided to give it a try.  It was sooo easy to make, and using hamburger instead of steak saved a lot of time (and money!).  We both loved it. 

Simple Hamburger Stroganoff
Slightly adapted from this recipe


  • 8-10 ounces medium-wide egg noodles (a little over half of the bag)
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 package fresh sliced mushrooms
  • 1 packet dry brown gravy mix
  • 1 pkg (8 oz) light cream cheese
  • 1 cup (8 oz) light sour cream
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup skim milk


  1. Cook the noodles according to package directions, drain and set aside.
  2. Cook the hamburger and mushrooms together in a large skillet until meat is done and liquid has mostly evaporated.
  3. Stir in the cream cheese and gravy mix.  Work in the cream cheese until fully incorporated – it will take a minute or so.
  4. Stir in the sour cream, mushroom soup, and milk.  Mix to combine and bring temp back up to a simmer.
  5. Add the pasta and stir to combine. 

Yummmy April 20, 2011

Filed under: Side dish,Turkey — WannaBe Chef @ 1:56 pm

Good afternoon, sweeties.  So I am officially 32 weeks pregnant today.  Holy.  Crap.  I have been thinking about making some freezer meals to have on hand for after the big event.  Last night, I made the first contribution to the stash…. mini meatloaves.  They’re easy, they freeze well, and all we have to do is throw them into the oven and whip up a quick side dish. 

I used THIS RECIPE, and doubled it… sort of.  I ended up using two pounds of lean ground turkey.  I forgot to add the rosemary, but I think they turned out just fine.  I also divided the meat into six individual loaves instead of eight so we could have slightly larger portions.  We ate two of them for dinner, then I wrapped the others in foil, put them in a freezer bag, and shoved them in the freezer! 

For a quick side, I made a sweet potato black bean hash.  It couldn’t be more simple:

Sweet Potato Black Bean Hash


  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced small
  • 1/2 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 medium red onion, chopped
  • Olive oil, salt and pepper


  1. Heat some olive oil in a skillet over med-high heat.  Add the potatoes and onion and cover the pan so the potatoes can steam a little and cook through.  Stir occasionally.
  2. Once potatoes are tender, remove the lid and let potatoes/onions brown.  Stir in the black beans and let them heat through.  Season with salt and pepper.     

Happy anny to me! April 18, 2011

Filed under: Beef,Salad — WannaBe Chef @ 8:42 am

Good morning!  Today is our 2-year wedding anniversary.  We’re going out to dinner tonight, and they better have good dessert!  It feels kind of weird not to be making dinner at home, but I’ll get over it 😉  I wanted to share last night’s dinner with you.  It was very, very tasty.

Jalapeno Cheddar Ranch Burgers
A WannaBe Chef original


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 packet dry ranch dip mix
  • a couple dashes worchestershire sauce
  • about 2 Tbsp finely minced jalapenos (the ones in the jar, not fresh)
  • a chunk of sharp cheddar cheese, cut into teeny tiny cubes


  1. Mix all ingredients together and form into 4 patties
  2. Cook on stovetop or grill until desired degree of doneness is reached
  3. Serve on buns with favorite toppers

Cucumber Pineapple Salad
Recipe from Mayo Clinic

I followed the recipe exactly.  I did add some toasted walnuts in addition to the sesame seeds.  I really liked this salad, but it was quite vinegar-y.  Next time, I would add some olive oil to the dressing to balance it out a little.  I think the nuts and sesame seeds were a definite must to provide a little fat and “meatiness” to the salad.  Feta would also be a good addition.