WannaBe Chef

Recipes and randomness from Amanda's kitchen.

Spicy Chicken Rigatoni February 2, 2012

Filed under: Chicken,Pasta — WannaBe Chef @ 11:40 am

If you like pasta, you will love this dish!  It uses pre-made pasta sauce, but add some extra spices and a little simmer time and you have a gourmet tasting week night meal!  The next day, I added some sauteed zucchini and roasted tomatoes to the leftovers, and it was equally delicious.

Spicy Chicken Rigatoni
Adapted slightly to make less quantity… I didn’t really measure anything, so my measurements are approximate as usual 🙂


  • 1-2 Tbsp EVOO
  • 3/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste (I didn’t end up using any pepper)
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 chicken breast, sliced
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup low-fat alfredo sauce
  • 1/2 pound rigatoni noodles


  1. Cook noodles according to package directions.
  2. While noodles are cooking, heat oil in a high-sided skillet.  Add the red pepper flakes, garlic, and a little salt to the oil and let saute just until garlic starts to brown slightly and pepper flakes release their flavor.  Add the chicken and cook about 3/4 of the way through.
  3. Stir in the marinara and alfredo sauces.  Reduce heat and let sauce simmer / gently bubble until slightly thickened and chicken is cooked through.  You might need to cover the pan halfway with the lid to avoid spattering.
  4. Stir in the cooked pasta, toss to coat, and serve.  Top with parmesan cheese if desired.

Roasted Tomato Basil Pesto January 4, 2012

Filed under: Meatless,Pasta — WannaBe Chef @ 12:07 pm

Hi, folks!  I’ve got a good one to share today.   As you know, I love roasted veggies.  Roasting concentrates the flavors, brings out the natural sugars, and gives them a nice brown crisp.  The base of last night’s pesto is roasted tomatoes, or maybe they should be called “candied tomatoes.”  I really enjoyed this vegan twist on pesto, and I highly recommend making this!

Roasted Tomato Basil Pesto
Copied and pasted directly from Oh She Glows


  • 9 large roma tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup almonds, toasted
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup tightly packed basil + more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil + more for drizzling on tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Your desired amount of cooked Pasta

1. Preheat oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment. Place sliced tomatoes on the sheet and drizzle with oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for about 1 hour and 10 mins at 400F. Watch closely during the last 15 minutes of roasting.

2. Reduce oven heat to 325F and toast almonds for 8-10 minutes. Add 1/3 cup into food processor and process until finely chopped. I left mine a bit chunky for texture. Remove and set aside.

3. With processor turned on, add 2 garlic cloves and let it whirl around until finely chopped. Now add in the basil and process until finely chopped.

4. Add in the oil, optional nutritional yeast, and 1.5 cups of roasted tomatoes (you will have tomatoes left over). Process until smooth. Pulse in 1/3 cup toasted almonds. Season generously with salt and pepper. I think I used about 1/2 tsp salt or a bit more.

5. Pour your desired amount of pesto over the cooked pasta and mix well. Chop the remaining roasted tomatoes and stir into pasta. Chop remaining almonds and Chiffonade the basil.


Lasagna Roll-ups November 2, 2011

Filed under: Pasta — WannaBe Chef @ 11:35 am

This is gonna be a quicky…. last night, I somehow managed to make these lasagna roll-ups.  I say “somehow managed” because I had to assemble these while wearing my child in a carrier because she absolutely refuses to sleep… at night or during the day.  Woot.  Anyway, these roll-ups were definitely tasty and flavorful!  I am not a ricotta fan, so I really liked how this version of lasagna used blended up cottage cheese.  I used the recipe more as a guideline since I couldn’t really reference it on the computer screen while said baby was strapped to me.

Lasagna Roll-Ups
Modified from Dashing Dish


  • 8 lasagna noodles (use the ones with the ridges so the filling and sauce sticks better)
  • a little more than 1/2 pound ground turkey, crumbled and cooked
  • 1/2 box frozen chopped spinach, well drained
  • 1 1/2 cups low-fat cottage cheese, blended until almost smooth
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 – 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 – 3/4 tsp italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper
  • about 3/4 jar spaghetti sauce
  • mozzarella cheese for topping


  1. Cook lasagna noodles per package directions
  2. Combine cottage cheese, parm, turkey, spinach, and seasonings in a bowl
  3. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray and pour some spaghetti sauce in the bottom of the pan
  4. Spread some filling onto each noodle and roll up, place the rolls seam-side down in casserole dish
  5. Top with more sauce and a sprinkle of parm
  6. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for about 30-40 minutes.  Remove foil, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and return to oven until cheese is melted.  Use broiler to get the cheese browned, if desired.



Nothing to do with Cinco de Mayo May 5, 2011

Filed under: Mexican-inspired,Pasta — WannaBe Chef @ 9:40 am

I don’t have anything fun to share for Cinco de Mayo.  Actually, it’s my dad’s birthday, so I never really remember that it’s “Cinco de Mayo.”  He would have been 56 today, and I’m sure he would be enjoying a tasty peanut butter or chocolate mayonnaise cake if he was still here!

Anyway, dinners have been very boring this week.  Wayne was out schmoozing business associates for dinner, so I was on my own a couple nights.  We also had our last of seven baby classes last night, so dinner was another quick one.  This was one of my bachelorette dinners.  I suppose it could be a Cinco de Mayo omelet of sorts.  It had two eggs with sauteed spinach and cheese inside, and it was topped with cilantro, salsa and avocado.  Soooo good.  

This was our quick pre-class dinner last night.  It was basically a dump-stuff-into-a-pot meal, and the picture is horrible, but it tasted really good. 

Kitchen Sink Couscous
makes 2-3 large servings


  • 3/4 cup dry whole wheat couscous
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 chicken breast, diced and cooked with desired seasonings
  • 1 box raisins
  • ~1/2 cup toasted walnuts
  • ~1/2 cup TJs Chile Feta cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • honey


  1. Cook couscous according to package directions.
  2. Stir in some olive oil to loosen it up, then add the other ingredients.  I just drizzled some honey and lemon juice on top of my serving to balance out the really spicy chile feta.  I liked this dish served just warm or even at room temp. 



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. 

Tex Mex Mac & Cheese April 17, 2011

Filed under: Meatless,Mexican-inspired,Pasta — WannaBe Chef @ 5:56 pm

Hi, kids.  Just dropping by to share a delicious twist on your standard macaroni and cheese.  This recipe was very easy and versatile since you could add any number of mexican-inspired ingredients.

Tex-Mex Mac & Cheese
Slightly adapted from recipe >>>HERE<<<

  • I used more than 1 cup dry pasta, probably about 1 1/2 – 2 cups
  • I added a chunk of butter and started with a traditional roux rather than just adding the milk right to the dry flour 
  • I used way more cheese (regular sharp cheddar) than 1/2 cup 😉

This stuff was really good… kind of like tacos meets mac & cheese.  I really liked the texture and heartiness provided by the black beans, and I would highly recommend the salsa on top for some spice.


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!