WannaBe Chef

Recipes and randomness from Amanda's kitchen.

Checking in December 6, 2011

Filed under: Holiday,Salad — WannaBe Chef @ 11:34 am

Hi!  I haven’t been cooking many new things lately.  Mostly because it’s December, and I’m busy with holiday stuff.  This year is particularly busy for us.  Last year, we drove back, but this year, we’re flying back with Macy.  It should be interesting, to say the least.  The problem is that we can’t haul a bunch of gifts on the plane with us, so I have to ship them to MI ahead of time…. which means I need to buy them, wrap them, and pack them soon so they get there in time.  So yeah, I’m starting to feel the time crunch.

Also, Pinterest has my head swimming with ideas, and all I really want to do is craft, craft,  craft!  Here’s one thing I made… “Holiday Dough!”  I know giving cash is kind of lame, but Wayne’s family likes cash, and this is just part of their gift anyway.  This was super easy, and it makes a cash gift a little more interesting (and makes $20 look like a lot!).

I’ve been working on some other projects but can’t share those until after Christmas 😉  Someday, I also want to share my home made baby food with you.  Macy started eating solids recently, and it’s been fun making new things for her.

I guess that’s all for now.  Just to keep this post food-related, here’s our dinner last night… big salads with (imitation) crab and all the fixings.  We also had biscuits on the side.  Also, may I add that my dear husband planned the whole menu for this week AND did all the grocery shopping on Sunday 🙂


Belated Thanksgiving November 29, 2011

Filed under: Holiday — WannaBe Chef @ 9:43 am

Hello, out there!  We spent our first Thanksgiving here in MN, and I spent my first Thanksgiving ever not at my mom’s house.  Thankfully, my mom was able to come out here for a visit, and we had a nice meal for three (and a quarter!).  I didn’t take many pictures because, well, cooking a whole Thanksgiving meal is a little hectic!  Here’s our appetizer.  I got the idea from Pinterest.  It’s supposed to be antipasto skewers, but I didn’t have long enough skewers, so I just put it all on a platter.  It includes beef summer sausage, turkey pepperoni, mozzarella balls, green olives, tortellini marinated in balsamic dressing, and grape tomatoes.

For the main event, we had our traditional Thanksgiving meal…. turkey breast, mashed potatoes, stuffing, squash, gravy, green beans with buttered almonds, cranberry jelly (yes, the kind from the can!), and rolls.  It was amazingly delicious, of course.  (Please excuse the iPhone pictures too, not the greatest!)

And here’s a pic of little M on her first Thanksgiving…

Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving!


Happy ’11! January 3, 2011

Filed under: Appetizer,Favorites,Holiday — WannaBe Chef @ 8:16 pm

Hi, all!  I’m officially back in MN after a lovely 10 days back home in MI for the holidays.  I was a bad blogger and didn’t take any food pictures, but believe me when I say that plenty of good food was had.  I did take some pics from our fun New Year’s Eve with our friends Ryan, Amanda, and Bree.  We have spent the past 5 NYE’s with them, so we were determined to continue the tradition with our 6th year together.  Here’s what I made:

Caprese Skewers

Easy Peasy – simply skewer grape tomatoes, fresh basil, and fresh mozzarella (the little mozz balls are best, but the store didn’t have them, so I used some little “discs”) onto some fun toothpicks and drizzle with a simple balsamic vinaigrette.  Fresh, light, and soo, so good!

Jalapeno Popper Dip

Recipe from Annie’s Eats.  Seriously, you have to make this.  My picture does nothing to explain how good this was.  It’s the perfect thing to take to a party or get together, or else you might be tempted to eat the whole pan yourself.  I served it with baguette slices, celery, and Fritoes Scoops for dipping.  I liked them all, but of course the baguette slices were the best.  Click the link above for the recipe over on Annie’s Eats, you won’t be disappointed!   

Happy 2011, everyone!


Halloweenie! November 1, 2010

Filed under: Holiday — WannaBe Chef @ 10:17 am

Sorry for the brief hiatus there.  With Wayne being out of town last week, I didn’t do any cooking, and when he got back, a lot of take-out happened, hehe.  Today, I just have some Halloween pics to share.  Sorry if you already saw them on Facebook!

We got about 25 kids, which was surprising because we were expecting a lot more.  I was dumping candy into their bags by the handful though, so we got rid of most of it.

Me and my sweet shirt!

… and sweet socks! 

Hope you all had a great Halloween!


The charger has arrived! October 25, 2010

Filed under: Holiday,Life — WannaBe Chef @ 6:50 pm

Hi kids!  I got my camera battery charger!  Thanks mommmmy.  However, all I have to share with you today is our pumpkins.  Wayne and I carved these last night.  I will say… carving pumpkins is a lot more work than I ever remember.  Of course, as kids, you’re just carving the standard triangle eyes and three-toothed grin.  We got a little more advanced with ours.  My pumpkin-carving tips:  1.)  Buy more than one set of carving tools – so you don’t have to share, AND in case the knives break… which they did in our case  2.) Scrape those walls down from the inside.. it’s difficult to carve and stay accurate with the details on such a thick-walled pumpkin. 



And together now

Not too shabby!  Do you carve pumpkins?  Any plans for Halloween?  I’m kinda sad I will be missing the big annual Halloween party at my mom’s this year.  Check out this post from last year… we had a ton of fun Halloween food 🙂


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?? 

Wayne’s Birthday Re-cap July 13, 2010

Filed under: Holiday,Potato,Side dish — WannaBe Chef @ 3:51 pm

Well it’s finally over… Wayne’s birthday weekend!  haha.  Yesterday was his actual birthday, and we decided to go to an amusement/water park for the day. 

This place was definitely Cedar Point ‘s little brother, but it was fun nonetheless!

Favorite ride of the day… Power Tower!  This place had many rides identical to those at Cedar Point.  Apparently, Cedar Point and ValleyFair are owned by the same company.  <—Just a fun fact for you 🙂

First sugary purchase of the day… an atomic green, highly disturbing, green apple Jolly Rancher slushy.  The picture really does not do it justice in terms of the color.  It was blinding.  I had a couple sips, and yep, spot-on liquid Jolly Rancher.

After riding the rides, we went back to the car to have a little lunch and get our gear for the water park.  I packed sandwiches, carrot sticks, chips, water, and Nutty Bars (*gasp!*). 

I left the camera in the car for the rest of the day, so just imagine your typical, extremely packed water park 🙂  On the way back to the car at the end of the day, we may have purchased some cotton candy to eat on the way home.  Here’s the photographic proof…

Awhile after we got home, it was time for Wayne’s birthday dinner.  He really wanted his grandma’s German Potato Salad, and he even called his Aunt (who lives with grandma) for the recipe.  I made this the day before since he said it tastes better the next day.  Coincidentally, we bought almost everything we needed for this salad at the farmer’s market!  I just had to go out and buy the bacon.   

Grandma Betty’s German Potato Salad


  • 8-9 potatoes, boiled, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cucumbers, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 lb bacon, chopped and cooked until crisp, 2 Tbsp grease reserved (I used 12 oz. turkey bacon which did not yield any measurable grease.)
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • cornstarch + water slurry (I would estimate 1/4 cornstarch + 1/4 cup water)


  1. Soak the onions and cucumbers in a bowl of salt water while the potatoes are boiling and you are preparing the rest of the ingredients.  (I’m not sure what the purpose of this step is… perhaps to take the strong onion flavor away?)
  2. Once the potatoes and bacon are done, combine them in a large bowl and set aside.
  3. In the same pan you cooked the bacon, add the vinegar, water, sugar, and reserved bacon grease.  Bring to a boil, then add some of the cornstarch slurry, using a whisk to mix it quickly and avoid lumps.  Keep adding the slurry until the sauce reaches a consistency just shy of gravy. 
  4. Remove sauce from heat and let cool slightly for a few minutes.  Drain and rinse the cucumbers and onions.
  5. Add the sauce, cucumbers, and onions to the potato/bacon mixture and combine everything gently. 
  6. Season with salt and pepper if desired.  Salad can be served warm or cold. 

As with every year I’ve been with Wayne, he requested his favorite cake… German Chocolate of course!  I usually just make the boxed mix (*another gasp*), but this year I wanted to try a homemade version.  I used the recipe HERE, halved it, and ended up with a 9×9 cake.  This cake was very dense, almost like a brownie actually.  I think that’s because I refrigerated it, though.  We left it out on the counter last night, and Wayne said it tasted MUCH better at room temp today. 

Lastly, here’s the birthday boy… aww, ain’t he cute?  (Please excuse that pile of junk behind him!)  Bonus points if you can find my son in the picture  🙂