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 🙂


2 for 1 November 9, 2011

Filed under: Mexican-inspired,Salad — WannaBe Chef @ 10:14 am

Somehow I got one dinner behind in my posts, so today I’m just going to post two in one.  First up is another tasty salad.  It’s pretty much like the “Best Salad Ever,” with a few changes.  This one had shrimp, apples, tomatoes, cucumbers, feta, buttered almonds (lots of them!), and a bottled balsamic vinaigrette which was not as good as homemade… it was too vinegary.

That brings us to last night’s dinner.  I’m going to apologize up front about the terrible pictures.  Macy was super fussy, so getting a photo at all was a small miracle.  I had leftover puff pastry from when I made chicken and apple pot pie, so I went to the puff pastry website and found a recipe for taco pockets.

After working with puff pastry twice now, I’ve decided I could take it or leave it.  The first time, it never baked all the way through.  This time, the rolling out process and the flour everywhere was just too close to being a baking experience; a little too fussy for a week night dinner.  Maybe not having a rolling pin played a part in that, too, haha.  To make it a little easier, I ended up cutting the whole sheet of pastry into four squares first, then rolling each square out individually.  Despite the fuss-factor of making these, they turned out really well.  The pastry baked all the way through this time, and the taco filling was a great pairing with the crispy, light pastry.

My attempt at trying to get a view of the filling = FAIL.

Taco Pockets

I followed the recipe exactly, except that I only made half of it… so I used just one sheet of pastry dough, and that made four large pockets.


Best salad ever October 26, 2011

Filed under: Salad — WannaBe Chef @ 10:05 am

Mmmmm, this salad was soooo good!  The picture is terrible, but trust me, this is a must-make.  The combination of sweet/salty, soft/crunchy, and warm/cold was just amazing.  I also recommend making lots of the buttered almonds.  They were the best part 🙂

Harvest Apple and Spinach Salad

Modified from Annie’s Eats  <—–Click here if you want an actual recipe.  I just threw our salads together and made a quick balsamic vinaigrette instead of the dressing Annie made.  I’m sure you could find any number of recipes for balsamic vinaigrette, but I just made some with balsamic vinegar, honey, dijon mustard, extra-virgin olive oil and sesame seeds.  I also added some chicken to make a heartier salad.

Salad Ingredients:

  • Spinach
  • Romaine lettuce (I like the added crunch.)
  • Feta cheese
  • Honeycrisp apple, chopped
  • Slivered almonds + butter + sugar
  • Chicken breast, diced and sauteed with seasonings
  • Balsamic vinaigrette


  1. Combine the almonds with about 1 Tbsp of butter in a small skillet.  Cook until golden brown, stirring frequently.  Add some sugar, a couple teaspoons, and stir to combine.  I also added a pinch of salt.  Remove from skillet and set aside.
  2. Saute the chicken in the same pan with some olive oil and desired seasonings.  I used salt, pepper, garlic powder, and grill seasoning.
  3. Assemble salads, top with balsamic vinaigrette or desired dressing.

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.


Hodge Podge February 23, 2011

Filed under: Asian-inspired,Chicken,Salad — WannaBe Chef @ 8:02 pm

Good evening!  So I have like four things backed up on my camera at this point.  Here are two really good dinners I made last week…

Kung Pao Chicken
Recipe from Cooking Light magazine, December 2010


  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil (I used less)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound chicken thighs, diced (I used breasts)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp brown sugar (I used closer to 1 Tbsp)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh, minced ginger (I used powdered ginger)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup snow peas
  • 2 Tbsp chopped peanuts


  1. Heat oil in a large skillet.  Add onion and saute until softened.  Add garlic, saute 30 sec, stir constantly.  Add chicken, saute until cooked through.
  2. Combine the water, soy sauce, cornstarch, brown sugar, ginger, and red pepper flakes in a bowl, whisk to combine.  Add mixture to pan and bring to a boil.
  3. Add bell pepper and peas to pan, cook for 2 minutes or until veggies are crisp tender and sauce thickens.  Sprinkle with peanuts. 

Greek Salad with Seasoned Naan
Recipe from Martha Stewart cookbook Great Food Fast


  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 1/2 cups feta cheese
  • 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted
  • I also added banana peppers and chicken that I marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, rosemary, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper for an hour. 


  • Combine oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl – whisk to combine.
  • Toss dressing with the rest of the ingredients.

Seasoned Naan

Get some wheat naan, pita bread or lavash at the store.  Brush it with a mixture of:  1 Tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp red wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp lemon zest, 1 garlic clove, 1 tsp dried oregano, and salt/pepper.  Bake at 400 for a few minutes until heated and slightly browned. 


OMG, this salad was simply amazing.  I’ve been craving sour things lately, so the vinegar and lemon and salty feta was just perfect.  I even got some fancy olives from the deli.   Mmmm!!


Chicken, two ways January 6, 2011

Filed under: Chicken,Salad — WannaBe Chef @ 9:26 pm

When I meal plan for the week, I try not to have the same meat or the same genre (like Mexican) or two meatless nights back to back.  Well, it just so happened that we had chicken last night and tonight for dinner.  This was because I had to use up the veggies that went with it.  Oh well, we survived.

I was really obsessed with the Caprese skewers from New Year’s, so I made it again… only in a bowl.  It was equally as amazing.  The chicken breast was simply dredged in eggs/Frank’s and Panko bread crumbs, seared in olive oil, then finished in the oven. 

This would be a buffalo chicken salad… it contained:

  • Chicken breast that was marinated in Frank’s all day, then tossed in Panko bread crumbs and sauteed
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Tomatoes
  • Red onions
  • Feta cheese
  • Ranch dressing
  • Garlic bread on the side

Yes, it tasted as good as it looks!


I’m back. January 4, 2011

Filed under: Salad — WannaBe Chef @ 7:38 pm

And by that, I mean, the usually-healthy eater slash food-enthusiast in me is BACK!  I’m finally interested in food again.  I finally want salads and fruit and oatmeal and real food again.  It’s nice to be happy with what I’m eating again, and knowing that it’s feeding another little someone is pretty cool 😉  Hopefully that’ll mean more blogging, too.  So here’s what we had for dinner last night…

Teriyaki salmon, baked sweet potatoes, and that really, really amazing warm spinach salad from awhile back.  That’s all I got for now.  Maybe I’ll take pics of my whole day tomorrow like I used to!