WannaBe Chef

Recipes and randomness from Amanda's kitchen.

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.


Two recipes you must try April 15, 2011

Filed under: Beef,Chicken,Favorites — WannaBe Chef @ 8:27 am

Happy Friday!  Apparently we have reverted back to winter here in MN.  It’s windy, rainy, and barely breaking the 40 degree mark.  They’re even throwing that evil word “snow” around for this weekend.  Blaaahh.  Anywho, I have two delicious, winter-appropriate dinners to share. 

This was the first time I’ve ever made calzones, and they were easy and really tasty.  I used pre-made whole wheat pizza crust from Trader Joe’s, and they turned out crunchy and hearty.  We dipped them in light ranch dressing and had celery sticks on the side. 

Buffalo Chicken Calzones
Adapted slightly from this recipe


  • 1 pound whole wheat pizza dough, at room temp
  • 1 large chicken breast, diced small
  • olive oil, salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp hot sauce (I used Frank’s and probably more than 1 Tbsp)
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste mixed with about 2-3 Tbsp water to thin down (I didn’t have any tomato sauce)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3-4 green onions, sliced
  • Garlic salt
  • Ranch dressing for dipping


  1. Saute chicken in small skillet with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Remove from pan and set aside.
  2. In same pan, melt butter, then stir in the tomato paste/water and hot sauce.  Mix to combine.  Remove from heat and return chicken to pan, coating chicken with sauce. 
  3. Roll out pizza dough according to package directions.  I made two calzones – one larger for Wayne, and one smaller for me, but you could definitely make four smaller ones. 
  4. Put a little cheese on the bottom, then distribute the chicken, then top with more cheese and green onions.  Fold dough over, pinching edges to seal. 
  5. Cut a few vents in the top of the dough.  Spray or brush olive oil on top of dough and season with a little garlic salt.
  6. Bake at 450 for about 10-12 minutes or until dough is set and slightly browned.
  7. Serve with ranch dressing and celery sticks if desired.   

Cheesy Hash Brown Chili
Recipe from Rachael Ray

I followed the recipe exactly, although I did add some hot sauce to the chili.  Honestly, this one surprised me because as I was making it, I was thinking it was going to be bland and boring.  It turned out really well, though.  I think the key is simmering the chili for at least 20 minutes to get all the flavors combined, then letting it bake until it’s really bubbling and browned on top.  Patience is key, as this is not a “30-Minute Meal!”  This recipe was super easy, cheap, and hearty.  I think it would probably freeze well too.  Rachael never disappoints!


Pregnancy update for anyone who’s interested!  Everything is going well, and I’m feeling good.  Wayne and I are about halfway through our 7-week birth/parenting class.  I’m not sure how useful it’s been so far, but all the practice breathing and relaxation techniques have been entertaining so far.  It’s kind of hard to pretend you’re having a contraction when you have no idea what a contraction feels like haha. 

Here’s my latest “bump pic.”  I’m just over 31 weeks pregnant already!  It’s getting scarily (is that a word?) close, and I can’t believe I’m going to be someone’s MOTHER in two months!! 


Steak and chicken March 28, 2011

Filed under: Beef,Chicken,Pasta,Side dish — WannaBe Chef @ 9:51 am

Hi, all!  I’ve got two hearty, meaty meals for you today.  I’m still working on the iron thing, so I’ve been trying to eat meat at least once a day (along with lots of non-meat sources of iron, too).  I have a feeling my iron will still be low at my next appointment, but I reeeally don’t want to have to take iron supplements.  If you don’t know why, I would suggest googling “side effects of iron supplements,” because the reason is totally TMI for a food blog 😉   Onto the food…

Steak and Warm Tortellini Salad

For the steak:  I had two “bottom sirloin steaks” (I think?) that I marinated in a mixture of worchestershire sauce, chipotle hot sauce, olive oil, and grill seasoning.  I let them marinate for the day – around 5-6 hours.  I seasoned them with salt and pepper, then broiled them in the oven.

For the salad:  First, make a quick balsamic vinaigrette in a large bowl.  I don’t measure, but here’s what I do:  whisk together one part vinegar with a squirt of dijon mustard, a squirt of honey, salt and pepper; stream in one part of olive oil and whisk until well combined.  Set aside.   

Cook some frozen cheese tortellini according to the package directions.  Drain and return it to the pot.  Stir in 2 or 3 large handfuls of fresh spinach and let it wilt slightly.  Pour the pasta/spinach into the bowl with the vinaigrette, toss to combine.  Serve salad warm and top with parmesan cheese if desired. 

Hawaiian Chicken
Recipe from Macaroni and Cheesecake


1 cup crushed pineapple
1 tbsp. honey
juice of 1/2 lime
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/8-1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. cilantro
2 large chicken breasts, cut in half or 4 smaller chicken breasts


In a medium sized bowl mix together pineapple and all other ingredients except the chicken until combined. Place chicken in the bowl to marinate and refrigerate until ready to use. We marinated for 1 hour, but if you have less time it would be just fine.

After marinating, place chicken & marinade in a large skillet, sprayed with cooking spray. Cook over medium heat for approximately 20 minutes until chicken is cooked through and marinade has reduced just slightly. Serve chicken topped with cooked marinade & garnish with cilantro.


This was really flavorful and tasty!  I will say, though, it was quite salty (even after using the low-sodium soy sauce).  Next time, I would definitely leave out the extra 1/4 tsp of salt and maybe even reduce the amount of soy sauce a little.  Otherwise, I would highly recommend this recipe!


Sloppy March 17, 2011

Filed under: Beef,One dish meal,Sandwiches — WannaBe Chef @ 9:38 am

Happy St. Patty’s Day, loves!  Unfortunately, I don’t have anything fun and green to share.  I’m busy today packing and getting ready to go HOME for my baby shower this weekend!  Woohoo!  We’re only going for the weekend, so it will be a quick trip.  Anywho, just wanted to share out latest dinner.  I haven’t had sloppy joes in forever, and after finding out my iron levels are low, apparently beef is just what I need to be eating at this point…

Sloppy Joes

There’s no recipe for this, I just throw some stuff into the pan like my mom used to. 


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • finely chopped onion
  • finely chopped red bell pepper
  • garlic powder
  • salt and pepper


  • ketchup
  • yellow mustard
  • BBQ sauce
  • worchestershire sauce

Top sandwiches with:

  • chopped raw onion
  • pickles
  • more ketchup and mustard if desired

Boiled March 15, 2011

Filed under: Beef — WannaBe Chef @ 11:29 am

In honor of St. Patty’s Day coming up, I decided to make my first corned beef and cabbage on Sunday.  I don’t recall ever having it before, and I certainly have never made it before, but I’ve always wanted to try it.  It sounded easy enough… just put it all in a pot and boil it for a long time.  I did find a very simple recipe though, and it turned out really tasty!

Corned Beef and Cabbage

I pretty much followed the recipe and timing it called for.  I did end up taking out the potatoes and carrots before adding the cabbage because the potatoes and carrots cooked really quickly.  The meat had a great flavor, but it was a little more fatty than what we’re used to.  We had our “boiled dinner” with vinegar and mustard on top.  Yummmmy!


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. 

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??)