WannaBe Chef

Recipes and randomness from Amanda's kitchen.

Dreaming of pasta December 22, 2010

Filed under: Pasta,Side dish — WannaBe Chef @ 7:52 pm

I used to go camping quite a bit with my family when I was younger.  We had a nice little pop-up camper, you know, it wasn’t a tent, but it was just rustic enough to still be considered “roughin’ it.”  We had lots of fun, and of course, there was always tons of food.  My “aunt” Adeline always made this really simple, but really tasty pasta salad.  I think we may have called it the “Kids’ Salad”??  Something like that, well because, it had kid-friendly things in it. 

So yeah, my messed-up, pregnant mind actually woke up the other night thinking about this salad.  I was in some sort of Ranch dressing fog and actually almost woke Wayne up to tell him how much I wanted this salad.  Obviously, I went straight to the store and got the whole four ingredients and made some today.  It was everything I dreamed of (literally)! 

Adeline’s Pickle Pasta Salad


  • Elbow macaroni – the regular white kind
  • Chopped dill pickles
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Ranch dressing – the real, full-fat kind, mhmm that’s right…


  • Cook and drain pasta
  • Mix with pickles, cheese and Ranch
  • Chill for a couple hours
  • You may need to add more Ranch before serving since the pasta absorbs a lot of it

Adeline, I know you’re out there!  Please correct me if I missed anything here, but this is how I remember it 🙂


Sunday comfort October 10, 2010

Filed under: Beef,Side dish,Vegetable — WannaBe Chef @ 6:33 pm

Happy Sunday, little bugs!  It’s been a pretty normal Sunday around here – well except for the fact that we’re on day 3 with the air conditioning back on!  It’s been in the 80s here, which is a little strange for October.  Anywho, tonight’s dinner was very Sunday-like.  You know – kinda heavy, very warm, and very “homey.”  Wayne actually picked out the steak recipe from one of my cookbooks (after I whined profusely about not knowing what to make), and I’ve been wanting to make the corn souffle for probably over a year now. 

Skirt Steak with Poblano Sauce
From Great Food Fast: From the Kitchens of Martha Stewart Living, pg 134


  • 1 1/2 pounds skirt steak (I used 1 pound)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 2 poblano peppers, roasted, thinly sliced
  • juice from 1/2 lime


  1. To roast the peppers – place whole peppers on a baking sheet and broil until charred, turning peppers frequently.  Place peppers in a glass bowl and immediately cover with plastic wrap.  Let peppers steam for about 10 minutes.  Remove skin, stem, and seeds under running water.  Set aside.
  2. Rub the steak with oil, salt and pepper.  Cook on grill or under broiler until desired degree of doneness is reached. 
  3. While steak is cooking, make the sauce.  Saute the onion and garlic in some oil until softened, golden, and fragrant.  Add the sliced peppers, tomatoes, lime juice and a splash of water.  Let sauce simmer and reduce.
  4. Let steak rest for a few minutes, then slice against the grain.  Serve with the poblano sauce. 

Corn Souffle
I’ve had this recipe printed on a scrap of paper forever, and I have no clue where it came from.  I feel like it’s something Paula Deen would make, you know, because it has two of her favorite things in it – BUTTER and sour cream.  However, I know it’s from someone’s blog out there.  I halved the original recipe, so that’s what I’m sharing with you here.


  • 1/3 stick butter, melted (see notes below!)
  • 4 oz. light sour cream
  • 1 small can (8ish oz) corn
  • 1 small can (8ish oz) creamed corn
  • 1/2 box Jiffy corn muffin mix
  • salt, pepper, and a little garlic powder


  1. Mix all ingredients together, pour into a greased 8×8 baking dish
  2. Bake at 350 for about 45-60 minutes or until golden brown and a knife comes out clean when poked into the center.


This meal was deeeelicious!  The corn souffle was definitely decadent, and next time I would not add so much butter.  I think it would be fine with just a tablespoon or so.  Enjoy!


Farewell… again September 15, 2010

Filed under: Shrimp,Side dish — WannaBe Chef @ 8:01 pm

Just popping on real quick to say bye bye!  Wayne, Ziggy, and I will be heading out super early tomorrow and won’t be back for about 10 days.  I’m bringing my computer with me but making no promises to blog, sorry!  Hopefully this boring dinner holds you over for awhile haha…

  • Cold shrimpies and cocktail sauce
  • Quinoa cooked in chicken broth with carrots, onions, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese

See you all on the flip side!!


Keen-what?? August 25, 2010

Filed under: Side dish — WannaBe Chef @ 7:02 pm

I’m back – twice in one day!  I had to return to share my adventures in QUINOA!  Have you ever had quinoa?  I’ve had it, but surprisingly never purchased or cooked it until now.  Quinoa has a neutral flavor, so it’s a pretty blank canvas.  To me, it’s like the texture of couscous with the chew of brown rice, then it has an added little *pop* when you bite down on it.  It’s very delicious.   

Curried Quinoa
Recipe slightly modified from HERE


  • 1 Tbsp EVOO
  • 1 cup finely chopped veggies – I used carrots, celery, onion, and red peppers
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp turmeric (**see comments down below)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • garlic powder (maybe 1/2 tsp?)
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 3/4 cups water


  1. In a saucepan, saute the veggies in the oil until softened – about 5 minutes
  2. Add the ginger and dry quinoa, cook for 1 minute, stirring continuously
  3. Add the dry spices, cook for another 1 minute, stirring continuously
  4. Stir in the water, bring to a boil then reduce heat
  5. Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes until water is absorbed

As the grains cook, you start to see a fine, white spiral emerge.  I think that’s what makes the quinoa *pop* in your mouth! 

I enjoyed this dish quite a bit.  It’s very hearty and healthy.  Next time, though, I think I’ll use a touch less turmeric as it has a very distinct flavor.  Wayne liked it too, although he had quite the time trying to pronounce “quinoa” haha.  I’m so lucky to have a husband that’s not the least bit picky when it comes to food.  He will eat anything you put in front of him, and often times he’ll dig right in before he even knows what he’s eating (like tonight!).  Alright folks, well I hope you give quinoa a try sometime!  Toodles for now 🙂


Popeye’s favorite side August 19, 2010

Filed under: Side dish,Vegetable — WannaBe Chef @ 6:06 pm

Good evening!  I’m sitting here watching our second set of new neighbors move in.  I’m wondering how a family of four and two large dogs are going to fit into a two-bedroom townhome identical to ours.  Anywho, I had to share a wonderful side dish I made tonight.  The recipe was inspired by one I found in the great pink cookbook pictured in the post below this one.  I love fresh spinach, and combined with smokey bacon, sweet red onions, and tangy vinaigrette… this was a winner.  Wayne loved it too.  He said he could have just eaten that for dinner!  (I made chicken and sweet potatoes too.)  I know I say this a lot, but please make this!  It may not seem like anything special, but trust me on this one – it’s delicious!! 

Wilted Spinach Salad
Inspired by cookbook recipe.  Below is my version.   


  • 4 slices turkey bacon, diced
  • 1/4 of a medium red onion, sliced
  • 1 small package sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (I used half balsamic and half white vinegar)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 5 ounces fresh baby spinach (about 3/4 of a regular sized bag)
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese for topping, optional but recommended!


  1. Saute the bacon and onion until onion is soft and bacon starts to brown.
  2. In the meantime, combine the vinegar, sugar and mustard in a small bowl.
  3. Remove bacon and onion mixture from pan and set aside.
  4. Add the mushrooms to the pan and saute just until they start to break down.  Remove from pan and set aside with the bacon/onion mixture.   
  5. Add the oil to pan, then carefully stir in the vinegar mixture.  Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. 
  6. Add the bacon/onion mixture and mushrooms back to the pan, stirring to coat with the dressing.  Season with salt and pepper if desired.
  7. Add the spinach to the pan.  Toss to coat and let the spinach just start to wilt.
  8. Place salad on plates and top with grated parmesan cheese if desired.  Serve warm.

**Note:  You will have extra dressing left in the bottom of the pan!  I saved it and am super excited about having it tomorrow for lunch.  I recommend you do this too, or you could try halving the dressing ingredients OR increasing the spinach!


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  🙂


I’m a sucker for… July 6, 2010

Filed under: Side dish — WannaBe Chef @ 5:59 pm

Iced Passion Tea… 

and Succotash!

Corn and Black Bean Succotash


  • 4 ears corn on the cob, kernels cut off
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed well
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • handful fresh cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper


  1. Saute the onion in a little oil or cooking spray until softened
  2. Add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds or so
  3. Add the corn and a little water (2-3 Tbsps), cook for about 5 minutes
  4. Stir in the beans and tomatoes, cook until heated through
  5. Stir in the cilantro and lime juice, season with salt pepper

Dress nightmares and purple tulle June 29, 2010

Filed under: Life,Meatless,Side dish,Vegetable — WannaBe Chef @ 7:36 pm

Hola, bloglettes!  Sorry for leaving you post-less yesterday.  I was much too mentally exhausted from trying on at least 30 dresses in hopes of finding something to wear to:  1 bachelorette party, 2 wedding rehearsals, 1 wedding, and 1 wedding shower.  Shoot me now.  I don’t see why it’s so difficult to find a couple affordable, summery, appropriate dresses for a tall girl.  Not being a “junior” anymore, but also not being 50 years old left me with few options.  Aaaanyway… good news is that after many purchases and returns, I finally have the outfit lineup set.  Now only if my skin wasn’t see-through and I had some cute shoes…. The errands continued today, and I got a lot accomplished (including groceries, finally) woooot!  That’s where the purple tulle comes in.  I’m not gonna say anymore, though, on the 0.05% chance my sister actually reads my blog.  Unlike yesterday, I did manage to snap a couple pics of my food today.

Breakfast was comprised of the few groceries I had in the house… 2 over-easy eggs and 2 pieces of toast.  I doused the eggies in Frank’s after I took the pic since the red stuff can look a little disturbing at times.

Lunch was thrown together veeery quickly once I got home… I was on the verge of hangry.  Monster salad contains:  Romaine, pea-less sugar snap pea pods, turkey, Sabra Classic hummus, Cholula (my first time having this, yum!), and a little light Ranch. 

Din din was this delicious, pre-seasoned salmon… with a pop-up timer?!  Has anyone out there ever seen a salmon fillet with a pop-up timer?!

I also whipped up these little gems…

These were beyond fantastic.  Here’s what I did:

  1. Sautee veggies and seasonings of choice – I used mushrooms, broccoli, roasted red peppers, and onions seasoned with S&P.
  2. Cut a baguette into slices on a severe angle to get the most surface area.  Line up on a baking sheet covered in foil.
  3. Spread each slice of bread with a little real mayo and minced garlic.
  4. Top with the sauteed veggies and some cheese – I used feta and mozzarella.
  5. Broil for a couple minutes until cheese browns. 

Here’s the recipe I used as my outline… I pretty much used all the same ingredients but changed up the method a little.

Mayo might sound strange (it did to me at least), but it was definitely the clutch ingredient and paired beautifully with the garlic, veggies and cheese.  These were so easy to make, and I can think of a ton of different combinations that would be equally as yummy!  


  • Are you tan?  Have you ever had a spray tan or “mystic” tan? 
  • Do you enjoy wearing dresses?
  • What’s your favorite hot sauce? 

Burgers with a side May 23, 2010

Filed under: Side dish,Turkey — WannaBe Chef @ 6:17 pm

Hello, my pretties.  How was everyone’s weekend?  I tell ya what, it’s freakin’ hotttt up in here!  I think it’s around 90 today.  Thank goodness for central air.  Anywho, I’m going to start with the side dish I made last night to go along with our salmon burgers <— didn’t make those, they came in a box ;-).  This succotash is extremely simple to make, and I just love all the textures and flavors together. 

inspired by Ruby Tuesday’s succotash

2 slices extra-lean turkey bacon, chopped
1/3 of a medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup frozen, shelled edamame
1 cup canned corn
salt and pepper

-Start the bacon in a skillet coated in cooking spray
-Add the edamame, corn and red pepper; season with salt and pepper
-Saute until heated through (add 1-2 Tbsp water to speed up the process if desired) 

Now we’ll fast forward to tonight’s dinner… burgers!  I had some corn leftover from the succotash, and a whole lotta chipotle peppers in the freezer, so this recipe worked out perfectly. 

Chipotle-Corn Turkey Burgers
Modified from Everyday with Rachael Ray, June/July 2010 issue

1 pound lean ground turkey
1/2 – 3/4 cup canned corn
1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo, finely chopped
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro, plus whole leaves for topping
salt and pepper
4 Arnold’s Sandwich Thins, tomato slices, Miracle Whip Light for topping

-Combine the turkey, chipotle, chopped cilantro, salt (about 1/2 tsp) and pepper in a large bowl
-Shape meat into 4 patties and place on a baking sheet lined with foil and non-stick spray
-Bake burgers at 425 for approx 8-10 per side (time may vary… sorry, I didn’t keep good track of how long mine took!).  Or you could cook these on an outdoor grill. 
-Place burger and toppings on sandwich thin and enjoy!


Picnic at the lake May 21, 2010

Filed under: Chicken,Pasta,Side dish,Vegetable — WannaBe Chef @ 6:45 pm

Wayne and I recently found one of the “10,000 lakes” here in MN and decided to have a little picnic at the park tonight.  Since we can’t have a grill at our townhouse, we are reeeally missing our once-a-week grilled dinner (we used to have “Chicken Sunday” at our house).  I marinated some chicken and whipped up some simple sides today.  I didn’t use any recipes for the stuff, so just remember, measurements are approximate!

Grilled Chicken
Marinate desired number of chicken breasts in a mixture of teriyaki sauce, garlic and ginger for at least 6-8 hours (overnight is good too!).  Cook on the grill and enjoy! 

Le Grill Master

We made lots of extra 🙂

Tangy Pasta Salad 
(makes 2-3 servings – we finished the whole bowl)

4-5 ounces dry pasta (I used rotini)
1-2 Tbsp finely minced onion
1/4 cup Miracle Whip Light
1-2 tsp mustard
2-3 Tbsp juice from a jar of yellow peppers / pepperoncinis
salt, pepper to taste
few dashes of McCormick Salad Seasoning

-Cook the pasta, rinse under cold water
-Mix the pasta with all the other ingredients
-Garnish with a few yellow peppers and a sprinkle of paprika, if desired

Cucumber Tomato Salad
(makes 3-4 servings)

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
3/4 of a large seedless cucumber, chopped in pieces similar in size to the tomatoes
2-3 Tbsp (or so) chopped onion, similar in size to the other veggies
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
squirt of dijon mustard
tiny bit of minced garlic
salt and pepper
1 tsp agave nectar or honey
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

-Combine tomatoes, cucumbers, onion and feta in a medium bowl
-Combine remainder of ingredients in a small bowl, whisking in the oil last
-Combine dressing with veggies just prior to serving

…and some grapes 🙂