WannaBe Chef

Recipes and randomness from Amanda's kitchen.

Our first visitors: Part 1 June 21, 2010

Filed under: Breakfast,Oatmeal,Shrimp — WannaBe Chef @ 11:19 am

Hello loves!!  It’s so nice to be back after totally unplugging from my computer all weekend.  Along with catching you up on my fun weekend, I have a LOT of blog reading to do!  So anyway, after much deliberation about how to write these posts, I finally just decided to take the predictable route and go day by day.  First up is Thursday night and Friday.  My mom and aunt arrived at my second home the airport around 5:30 PM on Thursday.  Poor auntie was sick from the evil plane snack/turbulence/unknown sources, but after a trip to the restroom and some rest, we were off.  The weather was totally sketchy, but we made it back to the apartment before the rain/wind/tornado warnings and creepy highlighter-yellow skies hit.  I had dinner all ready to go:  Shrimp Taco Salad bar.

On the bar:

  • Crushed tortilla chips
  • Fresh salsa
  • Avocado
  • Tomatoes
  • Romaine
  • Sour cream thinned with water
  • Lime wedges
  • Cilantro
  • Corn
  • Sharp cheddar cheese
  • Black beans
  • Peeled, deveined, pre-cooked, tail-less shrimp heated through with:
    olive oil, lime juice, chipotle in adobo, syrup, cumin, and minced garlic
  • Homemade Spicy Lime Vinaigrette (I made 2 batches)

This salad was a big hit!  I love doing food bars for company.  That way, everyone can have exactly what they want.  I love bars so much, that I planned one for breakfast on Friday morning.  Thursday night, I made everyone an Oatmeal Pancake consisting of: 1/3 cup quick oats, 3/4 tsp baking powder, lots of cinnamon, pinch salt, splash vanilla, and 1/3 cup liquid egg whites.  After those sat overnight, I cooked ’em up and everyone topped their pancake with whatever they wanted.

On the breakfast bar:

  • Bananas
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Light syrup
  • Sugar-free syrup
  • Toasted pecan pieces
  • Sunbutter
  • Naturally More PB

I forgot to take pics of the finished pancakes, but I’m sure you’ve seen enough of them on the blog!  This bar was another huge hit.  My mom has been patiently waiting to try an oatmeal pancake, and I think this one exceeded expectations!  After breakfast, mom, auntie and I went to the mall (not the mall, but a smaller one) and did some shopping and roaming.  Wayne had to stay back and get some work done.  The pancakes held us over for a LONG time, so all we had for lunch was RED MANGO!!!  Yuuummmmm.  I had Madagascar vanilla fro yo with raspberries, mangoes, and my first ever mochi.  Loved them!  They tasted like soft, chewy marshmallows. 

After our little shopping trip, we picked Wayne up and headed out to an early dinner at Axel’s Bonfire.  I had a refreshing glass of Riesling and the woodfire baked Taco pizza.  My mom had the BBQ Chicken pizza, and we exchanged a piece.  Mine was very good, but I think I liked hers better!  Wayne got their special rotisserie chicken and shared a bite… it was AMAZING.  My aunt had a mango chicken sandwich which she liked a lot.  Overall, a great meal… love this restaurant! 

After dinner, we all went to see Toy Story 3 in 3-D.  It was hilarious, adorable, and full of adult humor.  We all loved it, and I highly recommend seeing it!  🙂 

Whew!  Well, that’s it for Thursday and Friday!  Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 🙂


Experiments June 10, 2010

Filed under: Breakfast,Fish,Oatmeal — WannaBe Chef @ 6:48 pm

Bonjour, my dears.  I had some very tasty treats today, so let’s chat…

Breakfast:  So I think I found a way to make my beloved oatmeal pancakes even better.  Yes, you read that right.  Last night while I was lying in bed going insane trying to fall asleep, it came to me.  OAT BRAN.  Yes, I bring you the oat bran pancake.

Oat Bran Pancake
makes 1 serving

  • 1/3 cup oat bran
  • 1/3 cup liquid egg whites
  • 1 banana, halved
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • lots of cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • splash vanilla
  1. Smash half of the banana in a bowl
  2. Add the oat bran and other dry ingredients
  3. Stir in the vanilla and egg whites, and combine everything well
  4. Let mixture sit for about 2-3 minutes to let it thicken a little
  5. Cook pancake till golden brown on both sides
  6. Top with the other half of the banana, 1/8 cup light syrup, and 1/2 Tbsp PB

WOW.  That’s all I can say.  This thing was HUGE and puffed up more than my usual oatmeal pancake.  I could barely finish it!  This whole plate, toppings included, has about 330 calories which is the perfect amount to keep my full for 4+ hours.  (FYI:  the pancake base (oats+egg white+seasonings) has 140 calories, so you can make it as high or low-cal as you want.)  YUUMMMM.  Wanna see the fluffy inside?   

Lunch:  Big ole salad with just romaine, strawberries, feta and raspberry vinaigrette.  On the side is half of a flat out wrap filled with deli chicken, miracle whip light, tomatoes, and fresh basil. 

Dinner:  I like to call dinner an experiment.  I’m not quite sure what to call it, but it was very loosely based on this recipe.  I sort of just remembered the basic ingredients and threw this together.  It turned out pretty well!

Baked Salmon over Veggies and Orzo Broth  <—longest name ever
measurements and times are approximate, as usual! 
Makes 2 servings 

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup dry orzo
  • 1 small package sliced, white mushrooms
  • 1 small zucchini, chopped in large-ish pieces
  • 1-2 jarred roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 5-6 small green onions, sliced
  • handful fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • seasonings to taste:  Worchestershire sauce, hot sauce, salt/pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and parmesan cheese
  1. Season the salmon with salt, pepper and garlic powder – bake at 400 to desired doneness
  2. Bring the broth to a boil in a high-sided skillet, add the orzo.  Let the orzo boil for a few minutes, then add the zucchini, mushrooms, and red peppers.
  3. Let the veggie/orzo mixture boil/simmer until veggies are tender and orzo is al dente.
  4. Stir in the green onions and basil.
  5. I added some more broth at this point to make it more “soup-like.” 
  6. Add seasonings, tasting and adjusting along the way.
  7. Pour “soup” into two bowls, top with a little parm and the cooked salmon.  Flake the salmon into the soup as you eat.  Yum!

That’s all for today, friends!  I’m excited for that 2% pineapple Chobani later!  Hehe. 

Let’s try some questions:

  • Do you like to follow recipes or “create” meals and see what happens?
  • Do you like feta cheese?  I loooove, love, love it, but some people I know absolutely hate it.
  • Ever tried an oatmeal pancake?  In case you haven’t noticed, I could probably eat them every day for the rest of my life 🙂

Taking one for the team June 9, 2010

Filed under: Breakfast,Chicken,Meatless — WannaBe Chef @ 6:16 pm

Let’s talk leftovers.  I usually don’t mind eating leftovers, but only once… unless it’s something really good like pizza or cake of course.  And as “unpicky” as Wayne is, he is not a fan of leftovers at all.  Back in MI when I only lived about an hour from my mom, I used to freeze the leftover portion or two of our weekly meals and give them all to her about once a month.  She lives alone and doesn’t like to cook for just herself, so this little system worked out well.  Plus, she got to try all the creations she saw on the bloggy.  She actually coined the term “MMOWs” for the meals – Manda’s Meals on Wheels.  Cute, right?  So anyway, MMOWs have unfortunately stopped due to the 11 hour distance between us now.  This means I’m stuck with leftovers.  Ugh.  I’ve put a few meals in the freezer, but I’m afraid that once they’re in there, they don’t come back out.  So I built in a day of “freezer leftovers” into this week’s dinner plan.  Or I may have been really uninspired at coming up with something new… 

Using up leftovers actually came into play with all my meals today.  Breakfast was… do I really need to say it?  An oatmeal pancake!!  Today I added 1/2 smashed banana to the batter and sliced the other half on top.  I would have preferred strawberries, but the bananas are ripening really fast and need to be used up! 

Lunch was one of THREE huge leftover portions of Speedy Tamale Pie.  Uuughh, this was not at all what I wanted, but it had to be done.  I loaded it up with salsa and sour cream, which made it a LOT better.  Still not my ideal lunch, but it worked.  Not sure about those other two containers in the fridge, though…

Yes, I reheated it in the plastic container... I live on the edge.

Dinner was straight from the freezer.  Remember this chicken and rice from 4-10-10??  Yeah, I forgot it was even in the freezer.  Wayne was the lucky one and got the leftover enchiladas, which reheated very well.  I did not have high expectations for my chicken, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it was still very moist and flavorful.  I doctored it up with more salsa and nearly a whole bag of raw sugar snap peas <– latest obsession.         

What’s your take on leftovers?  Do you take one for the team and eat them to avoid throwing food away, even if it’s not what you really want?  Or even if you didn’t really like it the first time around?


WannaBe Vegetarian June 3, 2010

Filed under: Breakfast,Meatless,Vegetable — WannaBe Chef @ 6:33 pm

Just another veggie filled day here in sunny ‘sota.  I could definitely be a vegetarian… about 80% of the time I’d say.  If it weren’t for my highly carnivorous husband, however, I would up that percentage to 90 or 95.  I just don’t think I could live without the occasional chicken breast or *gasp* steak.  After some experimenting, though, I have really learned to love tofu.  More on that in a little bit.  Let’s start from the beginning…  (p.s. I do NOT post everything I eat, just so you know!)

Breakfast:  1/2 cup egg whites scrambled with 1/2 ounce light chive & onion cream cheese and topped with Frank’s, slice of toast w/margarine, and strawberries.  I dunno what it is, but I just can’t stomach eggs like I used to.  I barely got these down, and there’s no way I can eat eggs without toast or some kind of bread.  We’ll be going back with the oatmeal pancake tomorrow 🙂

Lunch:  Told you I was making more cucumber salad today!  Same thing as yesterday, except I put it on top of a ginormous amount of romaine that needed to be used up.  I also doubled the dressing ingredients.  The pic does not do it justice… this salad was HUGE.  It literally took about 30 minutes to eat and my jaw was starting to get sore from chewing!

Have I ever showed you all a picture of my beloved fruit bars?  I am OBSESSED with these.  They’re from Target.  Tastes like 20 compacted fruit roll-ups.  Only 65 calories.  This is by far the best flavor, in my opinion.  I just bought 2 more boxes today. 

This one was seriously lacking on the yogurt drizzle...

Dinner:  Now, let’s talk tofu.  As I was saying, I have learned to really love it.  At first, I was not liking the spongy texture.  All the vegetarian/vegans out there will laugh, but I never knew you were supposed to press tofu before using it!!  Needless to say, this little process has greatly improved the texture, as it gets a majority of the liquid out. 

So anyway, I sliced a block of extra-firm tofu into 9 slices, sandwiched them in a clean kitchen towel, and put a bunch of heavy pans on top and let it sit for about 30 minutes or so.  Then I layed them in a shallow pan and poured a marinade of chicken broth (ha, so much for being vegetarian!), soy sauce, rice vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and ginger over it.  I let it marinate all day (about 7-8 hours), flipping each slice about halfway through.  Then I cut the slices into cubes and simply cooked them in a saute pan with 1/2 tsp oil until golden brown.   

The veggies (1 zucchini, 1 summer squash, 1/2 package mushrooms, 1/3 red pepper, 3 green onions – I ate half of the pan) were cooked in 2 tsp oil in a hot saute pan.  I let the squashes cook for awhile first, then added the mushrooms, peppers and onions.  The key is to make sure the oil gets hot first and cook everything at a high temp, otherwise it steams and never browns.  I also added salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a splash of the tofu marinade at the end. 

This may look like a humble little plate of veggies and tofu.  Even I was fooled at first, expecting it to be pretty mediocre.  It was SOOOO GOOD though.  The tofu is still a little bit soft when it’s heated, but when paired with the still-crisp veggies, it was amaaaze.  And of course, the marinade made all the difference!  There’s a lot leftover, too 🙂


Everything I ate May 26, 2010

Filed under: Breakfast,Chicken,Oatmeal — WannaBe Chef @ 7:23 pm

Today I bring you the latest edition of “Everything I Ate Today!”  Shall we get started? 

*Breakfast*  Another oatmeal pancake.  This time I added 1 tsp chia seeds to the “batter,” but I forgot a very important ingredient, the baking powder!  This made for a very dense, rubbery pancake.  It was still edible… barely! 

Topped with 1 banana, cinnamon, and 2 Tbsp light syrup

A little while later, I had some Archer Farms S’mores flavored coffee with Splenda.  As much as I try to like flavored coffees, I just don’t.  And s’mores are like one of my top favorite things. 

*Lunch*  Leftover falafel patty, tzatziki and roasted broccoli with strawberries on the side.  That whole bowl was only THREE steroid induced strawberries!

I was still hungry, so I had the last of a package of turkey pepperoni and a little bit of deli chicken for some protein. 

*Snackage*  A Luna Protein Bar – Chocolate Cherry Almond.  These are pretty good, but not nearly as good as the cookie dough flavor. 

*Dinner*  Couldn’t get here fast enough.  I am especially hungry today.  I’ve had this packet of stir-fry seasoning for longer than I’d like to mention, so I finally decided to use it up tonight. 

In my stir-fry went:

  • 2 large chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1 medium green pepper
  • 1 small yellow pepper
  • 1 (8 oz) package sliced mushrooms
  • 1/3 of a large onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup edamame
  • the sauce packet which I mixed with soy sauce, sugar, and water per the package
  • brown rice

Normally I like a little something red or orange in my stir-fry, but no carrots or red peppers were in my fridge today.  I also don’t care for green peppers (But I like red, yellow, and orange though!), so I gave Wayne most of those.  The stir-fry had good flavor but there wasn’t much heat, which was surprising since it was called “szechwan”! 

Of course I will be having a night time snack, or two, or three.  I have issues with eating at night, and instead of fighting it, I try to make sure I have a nice amount of calories left so I can have a few snacks without feeling too bad.  I will edit this post later or in the morning to show you what I have.  And just because this post is called “Everything I ate,” technically I had my gummy vitamins, a calcium chew, and a taste of hummus that all escaped the camera!  Ta ta for now 😉

*Edited to add – Snacks!*


  • 1 cup frozen cherries
  • 5-6 frozen banana slices
  • 1 Tbsp Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp maca powder
  • dash of salt, splash of vanilla
  • water

100 calorie bag of kettle corn – I eat this almost every night because I get the most bang for my buck calorie-wise! 

Half of an Arnold’s Sandwich Thin with Sabra Supremely Spicy hummus <— really is HOT!


Mango alert! May 20, 2010

Filed under: Breakfast,Fruit,Meatless,Oatmeal — WannaBe Chef @ 6:51 pm

I’ve been seeing these new (to me) pancakes floating around the ‘sphere lately, specifically on Kath’s, Jenna’s, and Kailey’s blogs, so I whipped one up this morning.  It was definitely hearty, chewy, dense and a nice twist on the traditional pancake!  Mine was just a teeny touch on the dry side, but that’s probably because I didn’t add the mashed banana that most of the above recipes call for.  Next time, I’ll probably add a splash of milk to thin it out a little bit.

Oatmeal Pancake
makes one serving

Combine in a bowl and chill overnight:
1/3 cup quick oats
2 egg whites
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
pinch nutmeg

In the morning, the mixture will be very thick – add a splash of milk if desired.  Spread “batter” on a hot skillet that’s been coated in cooking spray.  Cook till golden brown on both sides.  Top as desired (Mine has PB, banana, and light syrup!)

Dinner was a delectable, summer-like quesadilla.  I got this idea from a random magazine clipping somewhere along the way.  The flavor combination of the sweet mango, creamy/spicy cheese and fresh cilantro was amaaazeRebecca, are you out there?  There’s MANGOES in these!  🙂 

Mango Quesadillas

2 ripe mangoes, roughly chopped
6-8 small, whole wheat tortillas
6-8 slices reduced-fat pepper jack cheese (or shredded if you prefer!)
handful of cilantro, chopped

-Tear up a slice of cheese and distibute evenly over a tortilla.  Follow with cilantro, then mango pieces.  Top with more cheese if desired, then another tortilla.
-Cook on a hot skillet coated in cooking spray (or a little canola oil) until browned.  Flip quesadilla carefully and brown the other side.  Make sure the cheese is all melty inside!
-Remove from pan and let sit for a minute or two.  Cut into wedges and serve.    

I had a little bit of mango leftover, so I mixed it with some Garden Fresh salsa (seriously the BEST salsa in the world, and it’s made in MI too!!) and more cilantro.  I found some blue corn flax chips waaaay in the back of the cupboard and had a little after-dinner snack.  YUMMMM, must make huge vat of this salsa!


You can never go wrong… May 19, 2010

Filed under: Breakfast — WannaBe Chef @ 6:15 pm

with breakfast for dinner.  Really, why don’t I made breakfast for dinner at least once a week?  It’s so easy, so delicious, and you most likely have all the components in your fridge and cupboard already.  I inhaled this in literally 5 minutes or less.  It was a sweet-and-savory-lover’s dream dinner 🙂

On the plate:

*2 slices extra-lean turkey bacon
*1 over easy egg
*1 sliced banana
*1 slice french toast (recipe below!) with light syrup

Amanda’s French Toast
You will need:
4 slices whole wheat bread
2 whole eggs
1/4 cup milk (I used 1% in this batch)
pinch nutmeg
cinnamon, as much or as little as desired

-Mix eggs, milk and spices in a shallow dish
-Dredge each slice of bread in egg mixture and place directly on a hot skillet
-Cook on both sides, top with syrup or other desired toppings