WannaBe Chef

Recipes and randomness from Amanda's kitchen.

Exercise and a first from the hubby June 7, 2010

Filed under: Life,Meatless — WannaBe Chef @ 6:59 pm

Hello, my peeps!  I’m back with a semi-normal post.  Get ready for a little wordiness here.  First, I’d like to talk a little bit about working out.  If you’ve been reading my blog for very long, you may have noticed that I never talk about working out.  Well, as much as I’d like to say I workout and just don’t talk about it, I can’t!  I have a love/hate relationship with exercise, and by that I mean it’s mostly hate.  I never played sports growing up and had never seen the inside of a gym until college.  Since then, I’ve gone in and out of exercise phases.  I workout consistently for a few months, usually “for” some event like spring break, a vacation or wedding, then I get bored and take a “break.”  Also, I have a definite “all or nothing” personality, which isn’t really a good thing when it comes to working out.  I feel like if I don’t workout 5-6 days a week like a crazy person, then what’s the point?  Surely taking a walk twice a week isn’t going to do anything, so why do it at all??  Yeeeeaah, I know, I know.  So, I’ve been on a “break” from any consistent exercise for quite awhile now.  With the exception of a handful of elliptical sessions and walks, I haven’t done much since just after my wedding in April ’09!!!!!!!  Aaahh, did I really just write that?  While I have put on a few pounds since my wedding, I don’t consider it a huge deal since I was at my lowest weight ever for my wedding, which lastest about 2 minutes, I’m sure.  So anyway, while I would like to lose 5-10 pounds (the same damn 5-10 pounds I’ve gained/lost a hundred times…), I’m more bothered by all the squish and flab.  Our apartment complex has a fitness center, but it’s a pretty sad little place, and the thought of doing the same old elliptical routine day after day makes me cringe.  So, last week I blew up my exercise ball, unrolled my yoga mat, and dug out my hand weights and seriously old Core Secrets dvd.  I also bought Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred dvd.  The first day I tried the Shred, I couldn’t even make it halfway through Level One.  For the next two days, I had serious issues with walking thanks to the lovely “squat presses” that I barely even did!  I quickly realized how out of shape I am.  And thanks to my years of “phoning it in at the gym,” as Jillian would say, I am definitely NOT used to strength training.  Today, I sucked it up and made it though Level One, sort of…  It definitely feels kind of good to be sore again, and I’m hoping to keep it up and eventually make it all the way through Level One without taking any breaks.  I debated on whether or not to post about this because it kind of makes me accountable…. eeekk!  ANYWAY, since this is a food blog, I should probably give you a little something to munch on… 

Speedy Tamale Pie
Based on recipe found HERE with topping taken from recipe HERE

Bean mixture:
2 cans pinto beans, rinsed/drained
1 zucchini, chopped
1 small can green chilis
1 can corn (use 1 cup here and remainder in topping)
1 cup frozen edamame
1 cup salsa
2 tsp chili powder
salt, hot sauce to taste
shredded cheddar cheese and light sour cream for topping, optional

3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup fat-free milk
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp Splenda (or regular sugar)
1 egg white
salt, chili powder
remainder of corn from above

  • Combine bean mixture ingredients in a large saute pan and let boil/simmer for about 10 minutes
  • Pour bean mixture into a baking dish coated with cooking spray
  • Spread topping mixture evenly over bean mixture
  • Bake at 400 F for about 20-30 minutes or until bubbly around the edges
  • Top with cheese and cook another couple minutes until melted, if desired
  • Top individual serving with sour cream and hot sauce if desired

Ok, so here’s the deal with this dinner… I’ve said before that Wayne is not picky and will eat or try just about anything I make.  Even if he doesn’t “like” it that much, he will usually still say something like “It was OK.”  Well, tonight was a first.  After he finished his whole plate, he let out a sound similar to “Eeeeuugghhh!!”  That would have been plenty to get his point across, but he continued to say that it didn’t have any flavor and that he didn’t want me to pack him a lunch tomorrow if this stuff was in it!!!!  I was shocked.  Sheeeesh!  I will admit, it may have been a little bland, but it wasn’t that bad!  If you make this, I would suggest pumping up the seasonings and maybe using just one can of pinto beans, as they overpowered the dish using two cans.  Also, I skipped the canned tomatoes because I thought the salsa was enough, but you might wanna use them for the extra moisture.  Not that I really expect you to make this after Wayne’s glowing review lol!


Wordless Weekend June 5, 2010

Filed under: Life,Meatless — WannaBe Chef @ 7:01 pm


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 🙂


Fruits and veggies galore June 2, 2010

Filed under: Favorites,Fruit,Meatless,Vegetable — WannaBe Chef @ 7:42 pm

Just another day of eats for you!  Breakfast was another oatmeal pancake, so I spared you yet another pic, even though this one had strawberries on it! 

Lunch was a big veggie plate.  The cucumber salad was seriously to die for.  Everything in it was super fresh and it really, really hit the spot.  I can’t wait to make more tomorrow!  Oh, and I also had some red peppers and hummus.   

Cucumber Salad

  • 1/3 of a big seedless cucumber
  • 1 medium prefectly ripe on-the-vine tomato
  • a few slices of sweet onion
  • 1/2 ounce crumbled feta
  • good drizzle of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • drizzle of agave nectar to cut the vinegar
  • salt and pepper

A little while later, I had an unpictured Archer Farm’s fruit bar and this bowl of fruit.  Fruit quota?  Done and done.  

Nectarines, strawberries and chia seeds, oh my!

Dinner was a baked sweet potato (1 hour 15 min at 375) topped with leftover Channa Masala, sour cream and cilantro.  On the side is literally half of one of those giant bags of spinach I bought yesterday, sauteed in 1 tsp olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, then topped with a squirt of lemon juice. 

Speaking of 2 bags of spinach, here’s a random question… do you guys know what BOGO means??  I used it a few times in my post yesterday, and someone mentioned to me that they didn’t know what it was.  It means “Buy One, Get One” if you don’t already know 🙂 

Wow, so I ate a lot of fruits and veggies today.  But that’s what happens when you have a fridge full of them and you’re the only one here to eat it all!  Alright, bloggies, gotta back to watching So You Think You Can Dance!


All about ME! June 1, 2010

Filed under: Chicken,Meatless,One dish meal,Salad — WannaBe Chef @ 6:30 pm

Did I get your attention with my conceited title?  Hehe.  Fortunately, this post will not be all about me.  You can thank me later.  What I’m referring to is my excitement about cooking for only myself for the next 6 days while Wayne is away.  That means meal planning and grocery shopping was all about me today!  Wooo.  Let’s start from the beginning, though.  After getting up at 4:30 AM and returning home from the airport just shy of 6 AM, I was starving to death by 6:30. 

Breakfast was yet another oatmeal pancake.  Getting sick of seeing these yet??

1/3 cup quick oats, 1/4 cup egg whites, 1/2 tsp baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt. Topped with PB and light syrup.

I sat around for a little bit and decided to get my groceries around 7:45 AM.  Woot woot for 24-hour Cub Foods.  I was prepared with a detailed list, a few coupons, and a tad bit of excitement about filling the cart with stuff for me, mE, ME!!!!  muahahaha.  I emerged with all the stuff you see here… for a total of $37!  Cheapest grocery trip everrrrr.


Let’s list everything, shall we?  Humor me for a second 🙂

  • Mushrooms
  • 1 zucchini and 1 summer squash
  • Seedless cucumber
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 2 huge bags of spinach (they were BOGO)
  • 2 boxes of strawberries (BOGO again!)
  • 1 jalapeno
  • Deli chicken (coupon!)
  • Feta cheese
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • Ground coriander
  • Turmeric
  • Garam masala
  • 2 cans chickpeas
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • Extra-firm tofu
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tubs of hummus (BOGO strikes again)

Lunch:  I swear I was hungry for lunch by 9:30, but I held out till about 11:30 for this beast of a salad.  This picture doesn’t even come close to showing how massive this salad was.  Contents:  Romaine, spinach, red peppers, green onions, light ranch, and leftover Inside Out Buffalo Chicken Wing (which was really one huge chicken breast since I didn’t cut mine in half like the recipe says!)

This puppy kept me full for hourssss, thank goodness.  Now let’s get to dinner.  I have been wanting to make this for awhile now.  I don’t have much experience with Indian food, and I’ve always been a little hesitant for some reason.  However, something about Jenna’s post sucked me in, and I vowed to make this dish someday.  I’m pretty sure Wayne would eat this, but he definitely wouldn’t consider it a meal, so now was the perfect time to experiment.  I was literally thinking about it last night while I tried to fall asleep….!

Channa Masala
Recipe from Eat, Live, Run

The only changes I made: 

  • I used 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil instead of the butter (Sorry, Jenna!!)
  • I used only 1/8 tsp cayenne because my jalapeno was huge… perfect heat level for me!

Otherwise, I followed the recipe and lovely step-by-step instructions exactly. 

All I can say is LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.  I’ve never had turmeric, garam masala, or coriander before, so I kinda cringed a little when I dumped in all those spices.  All was good though, and the flavors really worked together well.  I especially loved the addition of the lemon juice at the end.  It really brightened it up and brought a fresh taste to the party!  Yummm, lots of leftovers to enjoy too! 


Green dinner May 25, 2010

Filed under: Meatless,Sandwiches — WannaBe Chef @ 6:38 pm

Remember my yellow dinner and orange dinner from ages ago?  I don’t do these monochromatic dinners on purpose, either.  Anyway, I don’t have much to show you today, my apologies.  Do you think it’s worse to post something just for the sake of posting OR not posting anything at all? 


All I have for you today is my somewhat pathetic little dinner.  I planned to make falafel pitas, using up a mix I’ve had in the cupboard for awhile.  However, when we got groceries on Sunday, the pita bread looked like crap and expired the next day.  So I made falfafel “burgers” instead and put them on sandwich thins.  Another glitch:  I went to make a quick tzatziki sauce and noticed my plain Greek yogurt expired on 5/22.  Eh, I figured it was just a couple days, but when I tasted it, there was an odd aftertaste.  Into the garbage disposal it went, and I used low-fat sour cream instead which worked just fine.  On the side is simple roasted broccoli topped with parmesan herb seasoning.

There's a TONN more tzatziki under that lettuce and cilantro!

In case you’re interested, my batch of tzatziki contained approx: 8 Tbsp light sour cream, 3 inch chunk of chopped seedless cucumber, handful of chopped cilantro, salt, pepper, and cumin.

That’s all for now, folks.  Perhaps a more exciting post will come tomorrow!


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!


Seis de Mayo May 6, 2010

Filed under: Meatless,Potato — WannaBe Chef @ 7:10 pm

It seems I’m a day late on the Cinco de Mayo-esque cuisine.  In my defense, I felt it would be unfair to enjoy such a yummy dinner without Wayne, so I waited till he got back from FL to make it!  It wasn’t intentional, but lunch ended up having a lot of Mexican flavors too.  After we got back from the airport, I threw together a frozen burrito with all the fixings for Wayne and this lovely burrito bowl for myself using up a bunch of leftovers.  So, so very good!   

1/2 baked sweet potato, 1/2 cup seasoned black beans, salsa, light sour cream, and some guac (1/4 avocado+lime juice+1/4 tomato+cilantro+S&P)

Dinner was a healthier version of chiles rellenos.  I’ve had the recipe saved from Cate’s World Kitchen for awhile now and finally decided to make it.  Click the link for the recipe, as I don’t want to type it all out!  The process is a little involved, but definitely very easy and well worth it!  I really loved all the veggies inside, the egg/cheese flavor combination, and the adorable single servings!  I wanted to share a couple pics I snapped while I was making these…

Muffin tins, lined with the roasted poblanos...

filled with the egg/veggie mixture, then topped with pepperjack...

followed by a dollop of whipped eggs and all baked up!

I served them alongside rice, refried beans and salsa for a true Mexican restaurant experience.  Such a great meal… can’t wait for leftovers tomorrow!


Been meaning to… May 5, 2010

Filed under: Breakfast,Meatless,Products,Salad,Vegetable — WannaBe Chef @ 7:23 pm

Howdy bloggers, blogettes, and er’one else.  Today was another food-filled day.  Let’s giddy-up, shall we? 

Breakfast was something different.  I got some Flat-Out wraps, which I’ve been meaning to try, and decided on a breakfast wrap this morning.  Inside the wrap is 1 whole egg + 1/4 cup egg whites sauteed with spinach, 1/4 cup refried beans, 1/2 slice American cheese, and Frank’s.  This was really tasty and kept me full for a long time.   

Lunch was a big ole garbage salad.  On zee plate is romaine, baby spinach, fat-free feta (the last of it, thank goodness!), 1/2 of an on-the-vine tomato, 1/2 an avocado with Frank’s, 1 carrot, 2 Tbsp delicious hummus, 2 sweet peppers, all dressed in balsamic vinegar.  Yuh-um. 

Snack time was a wonderous new find at the store… Raspberry Chobani!  I’ve never had this flavor before… it was soooo good.  Favorite flavor so far.  I didn’t even have to put anything crunchy in it to combat the “gag texture!”  I also found the pomegranate flavor that I’ll probably eat tomorrow 🙂

Dinner was something else that I’ve been meaning to try for a long time now… artichokes!  I’ve never had a “real” artichoke before and haven’t even had the canned artichoke hearts outside of spinach dip.  Something about dipping the cute little leaves into a yummy dipping sauce has always intrigued me.  Since Wayne is gone, I figured this was a good time to experiment.  Of course I did my research before trying to attack these monsters.  I took bits and pieces of the recipes HERE and HERE, along with some how-to videos on You Tube, and came up with these babies. 

I prepped, then simmered them in about 2 inches of water, covered, for about 30 minutes until tender.  I let them cool a little bit then ate them with my dipping sauce.  I just threw the sauce together based on the ingredients from the two recipes above.  Mine contained light mayo, Worchestershire, lemon juice, dijon mustard and Frank’s.  It was tart and yummy.

That is the creepy, furry, pokey thing that’s above the heart.  Yeah, you definitely don’t want to eat that!  Or try to get it off with your fingers… use a spoon!

And that would be the delectable artichoke heart.  It takes a lot of work to get to it, but it’s worth it!  Yummy.  As fun as these were, they kept me full for about 30 minutes.  More food was had, and I will continue to snack I’m sure.   

The aftermath. Ain't it pretty?

On another note, I just wanted to mention that today would have been my dad’s 55th birthday, and he was born 5-5-55.  Pretty crazy, right?  Happy Birthday, Dad, I miss you!

Alright lads, that’s all for today!  I’m off to get a snack and watch Julie and Julia!


Shorty May 4, 2010

Filed under: Meatless — WannaBe Chef @ 8:13 pm

Today’s breakfast and lunch were clones of yesterday’s meals.  I bet you can guess which ones!  So, tonight I bring you a very simple dinner and very short post. 

This was based on the recipe “Couscous with Swiss Chard, Raisins and Feta” in Everyday with Rachael Ray, May 2010 issue.  I used the recipe as an outline and subbed for some ingredients I already had.

Grains with Spinach, Cranberries, and Feta
Makes one large serving

1/2 cup Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains mix (or Israeli couscous)
1 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup feta cheese
1/6 cup dried cranberries
1 clove garlic
2-3 handfuls baby spinach
salt and pepper

-Cook the grains in the vegetable broth according to package directions
-While the grains are cooking, saute the spinach, garlic, salt and pepper in a small skillet
-Stir the cranberries into the cooked grains
-Put grain mixture in a bowl, then top with sauteed spinach and feta.  Enjoy!