Monday, May 8, 2017

Sweet and Tangy Macaroni Salad

Don't freak out.  You aren't imagining it.  It is me.  Four months later, I have come back to life.  You guys, SO much has been going on, I know I keep saying that but in all seriousness, it is one thing after another, it doesn't even seem real.  On a happy note, we are moved into the new digs and loving it!

I have been busy cooking all the old favorites.  Just making it homey and comforting while we settled in.  I have a full stocked pantry and my my husband noticing my abundance of dried macaroni I guess, had macaroni salad on his mind.  Notice the pasta in the photo, there are 2 kinds.  Hey, I always tell you we keep it real around here and I only had 1 of each kind so I did two kinds!  You can match your pasta or use what you have on hand.  This makes a huge batch, it really does.  He asked for specifics and you may or may not recognize much of this recipe as being my Donna's Secret Recipe Potato Salad, recipe.  He asked that I add a few things and so I gave in after probably what is now months of him asking and made it.  It turned out delish and I wanted to share it with you.

Some of these flavors may have you questioning my ability to make good food, but trust me, it just works.  Don't take my word for it, George will tell you!  Shall we?

Remember this is a big batch and this pasta will suck up everything, so trust me!

2 lbs short cut pasta
30 oz jar of Hellmann's
3 T yellow mustard
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 cup carrots (shredded or grated into strips and then cut like I did)
1 dozen eggs, hard boiled
1 to 1 1/2 cups finely chopped dill pickles  (don't cheat and try to use dill pickle relish!)
salt and pepper to taste

Mix mayo, mustard, sugar, milk and salt and pepper in a bowl.  Whisk until smooth and creamy.  I suggest having your eggs hard boiled and peeled and cut ahead of time, same with your pickles and carrots as well.  It will work best to mix the dressing in a bowl that is large enough to hold your entire batch of macaroni salad.  Prepare the pasta last and cook until al dente.  Use the lowest cook time suggested (10-12 minutes, go with 10).  Drain and pour directly into the sauce.  Add in eggs, carrots, and pickles and stir to combine.  Refrigerate at LEAST 6 hours before serving, overnight would be even better. 

It is so good to be back!  Look out for more new recipes, and join me on FB, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube!

If you enjoy this recipe, you may also like:
Blue Cheese Potato Salad
Almost Aversa's Macaroni Salad
Crabby Macaroni Salad
My Mom's Macaroni Salad 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Blueberry Cheesecake Stuffed French Toast

Hello chefwannabe readers!  Thank you for stopping by!  Make sure to join the website, sign up for email notifications when I put out a new recipe and join me on all of my social media!!

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My new YouTube channel is much adieu about life, and some cooking videos.  I will get more into the cooking video aspect as soon as I get some equipment that makes it easier!  I would love to have you on any or all and make sure to visit, subscribe, follow, join, and comment!

Ok, just haven't put all that info in a post lately so now, about this Blueberry Cheesecake Stuffed French Toast!  YES!  It IS awesome!

Hubby had made a request, and much to my surprise, what I made was completely different than what he was requesting but we both decided it was so good, (as did my daughter in law) that I wanted to share it with you.  This would be an awesome breakfast, brunch or even dessert dish!  It is easy and can be baked, refrigerated and eaten cold or reheated!

Here is what you will need!

12 (ish) slices of Texas Toast (the fresh stuff, no garlic toast, no frozen, fresh, or you can use a loaf of bread  you slice very thick.

For the FILLING you will need:
12 oz. cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

5 eggs
2 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter or grease a 9x13 baking pan.  Take a knife and make a slit in the side of your bread about halfway through.  It is easier if your bread is cold or even frozen!  Do this to all of your slices.  Put aside and prepare the cheesecake filling.

Add on FILLING ingredients together and with a hand mixer, mix until combined.  You can leave out a few of the blueberries to fold in whole, or just add them all in the mixture.  Divide between all the slices of bread and fill up the pocket you created.

Now prepare the CUSTARD.  Again, combine all ingredients and beat until combined, and frothy.  Pour over your pan of stuffed french toast evenly.  It won't come above the bread probably.  No worries, just pour over and it will be fine!

Let sit just a couple of minutes and bake for 35-45 minutes.  Let cook for 10 minutes!

I sprinkled mine with some powdered sugar and served!  You get a cheesecakey side and a bread pudding side and the tops are a little crisp like french toast.  (DROOL)


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Italian Cherry Almond Cookies

ACK!  The holidays are almost here!  Are you ready?  Shopping done?  House cleaned? Tree up?  Christmas cards sent?  Guest bedrooms cleaned? BAKING done?

I have done a couple days worth of baking.  My daughter in law and I did a major baking session yesterday.  This year, seeing as it has been a hard year, I just remade some of my favorites, all of which can be found here on the website.

Chocolate Peppermint Candy Cane Cookies
Vanilla Snicker Doodles
Elf Hats

We also made some Rolo's melted in pretzels, peanut butter blossoms, for that I use the ol' Betty Crocker standby recipe, and tweak it just a bit!  We also made these Italian Cherry Almond Cookies my husband requested this year!

I am not going to spend to much time with chitter chatter, time is growing short, and you must make these.  Like...MUST.  Let me assure you (or warn you) this recipe makes a TON!

Here we go!

1 cup shortening
4 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
3 tsp almond extract
3 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk
5 tsp baking soda
red food coloring
16 oz maraschino cherries (drained and roughly chopped)
1 cup chopped almonds
2 lbs all purpose flour

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. 

In a large bowl or bowl of your stand mixer add in shortening, eggs and sugar.  Mix until smooth.  Add in extracts, half of your milk, baking powder and your desired amount of red food coloring  I chose for mine to be just a nice pink color.   Mix again until combined.  Now mix in your cherries, and your nuts.  Start adding your flour just until combined for each addition.  Mine took all 2 lbs, yours may not.  You want a nice soft dough.

Roll your cookies into balls, and place on a parchment lines cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Remove to a cooking rack after 5 minutes of cooling on the cookie sheet.

IDEA!  You can use some of the maraschino cherry juice, add some powdered sugar, and a little butter and make a drizzle for these cookies as well.  I did not do that but last night, while laying in bed, I thought it would have been cool!  Let me know if you do it and post your photos on FB or Instagram and tag @ftchefwannabe.

Wishing you a blessed, happy, peace filled holiday season my dear friends!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Chicken Vegetable Soup

Tis the season for sniffles, allergies and colds!  WOOHOOO!

Actually I am not excited for sickness, for me or anyone of you, but IF it happens, I have the soup for you! 

This happy accident (long ago) soup is delicious.  I am a soup fanatic, and personally can NOT have to many soup recipes on hand.  Soup is always my first choice, year round actually.  I hope you enjoy this one as much as I do!  Shouldn't be to hard to remember the recipe, eh?!

1 T. olive oil
1 lb ground chicken
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 small bell pepper chopped
1 cup fresh green beans chopped (use canned if needed)
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
1 T. minced garlic
1  14.5  oz. diced tomatoes (add juice, more flavor!)
1 T. dehydrated onion (feel free to grate 1T fresh into the pot)
1 T. dried parsley
1 T. Italian Seasoning
5 cups chicken stock
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

In a large pot, add in olive oil and ground chicken.  Cook chicken until it is halfway done and then add in carrots, celery, bell pepper, green beans, frozen peas and corn.

Stir until completely combined, then add in garlic and let cook for a couple of minutes stirring constantly.  Now add in the tomatoes, onion, parsley, Italian seasoning, and chicken stock.  I use low sodium chicken stock so I add in 1 tsp salt to start, you may need more, I did.  Also add in pepper.  Cover and simmer on medium for 20 minutes.

I think this soup is perfect for those sniffly days!  Add in some red pepper flakes, or a little hot sauce and feel the nose run, and run, and run!  It is perfect for healthy eaters and full of vitamin goodness!  I make this soup and keep it in the fridge, and eat on it for lunches or a snack.  Why not?!


Monday, December 5, 2016


Good evening friends!  I know it is a busy time of year for everyone!  I hope you are taking time to enjoy it, taking in the laughter, the conversation and the good food!

This is an old family favorite.  We always called in cavatini, not sure why, we just did.  Give me enough time and it will come back to me but as of now, it is what it is.....cavatini!  We make this with mushrooms, without them, it is not cavatini!  We also must have the radiatore pasta  You just use any short cut pasta and you will be fine!

Don't slaughter me over the canned mushrooms, they are actually my husbands favorite and some people have VERY strong opinions about them for sure! Feel free to use fresh, no biggie, your cavatini, your decision!  The red pepper flakes are a must, this is spicy, and sweet, and has beefy mushrooms and ground beef, it is so hearty and ABOVE NOT skimp on the massive amount of cheese, I won't be able to forgive myself for failing you, if you do!

16 oz pasta, cooked and drained (we MUST use radiatore)
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
2, 7 oz cans of mushrooms or (16 oz fresh, sliced mushrooms)
1 lb hamburger (lean)
1  10.75 oz can tomato soup
1 16 oz jar pasta sauce
2 T sugar
1 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Get your pasta cooked according to package directions and drained.  Preheat your oven to 375 while it is groovin'.

Drain your pasta and add in your butter and olive oil.  Let it begin to sizzle and add in your drained mushrooms.  Saute for a couple of minutes and then remove with a slotted spoon into a bowl.  Set aside.

Add in your hamburger and cook until browned.  Toss in your tomato soup and pasta sauce, and RINSE that pasta sauce jar, you need that bit of extra liquid anyway!  Dump it into the pot and stir.  Now for the red pepper flakes, I use usually 1.5 tsp, but start with one, or even half.  Toss them in and stir to combine and heat those babies up!  Add in your sugar, salt and pepper to taste.  Add your mushrooms and pasta in and stir until completely combined.

Pour into a buttered 9x13 casserole and smooth out the top.   Let it rain cheese and in the oven you go!  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Serve bubbling hot! (with crusty bread)


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Pumpkin Cream Pie

Ahh, the week before Thanksgiving, some of us are scrambling to finish our menus and some of us had our menus done a month ago.  Darn you organized people!

This will be our first major holiday without my mom, so we are going to enjoy it, most of my family will be here and I plan to make a couple of dishes that my mom always made.  It is going to be fun, maybe a bit sad, definitely food filled and undoubtedly a day of memory making!

I had asked you the other day what kind of pies you would like to see in "MILE HIGH" form.  The usual suspects appeared, chocolate, coconut, etc.  I asked because I was dreaming about this mile high pumpkin cream pie.  While I admit, pumpkin pie is NOT my favorite thing about Thanksgiving, I do eat a piece.  It is practically unAmerican not to.  I put on twice as much whipped cream as their is pie and enjoy every bite.  I thought to myself, "self.....why can't you put the cream with the pumpkin, almost like the lime and the coconut and cut out the middle man"?  What makes MY mile high pies, mile high?  The filling, AND the slightly sweetened, hint of vanilla fresh whipped cream.  I don't care much for meringue on a pie, in fact, to be honest, I don't care for pie in general.  If a pie goes in the oven, I almost never would eat it.  If it has to be chilled, or contains the words, "French" and "Silk", I will wrestle small children to get a piece.  Pie has just never been my "thing".  I suppose I can blame it on the fact that I dislike fruit tremendously and almost all pies are fruit filled.  BINGO!

So while this may not technically be MILE HIGH, if you double the filling, it can be.  And I would be thrilled if you did that, or double the whipped cream, mount that stuff up so high you can like the top while standing!  Go ahead, DO IT!!

With that said, get this made, put it in your freezer, and take it out Thanksgiving morning.  Done.  Ahead.  YES!

40 Nilla Wafers
10 graham cracker squares
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup) melted
4 T white granulated sugar

Get our your food processor, toss in everything except your butter.  and pulverize!  You want almost a sand consistency.  Add in the butter and let it go until the mixture is that of wet sand and will stick together if you squeeze some in your hand.

Press into a deep(ish) 9 inch pie plate.  Using a measuring cup or a flat bottom drinking glass, press it into the bottom and side.  Refrigerate for 39 min to 1 hr.

1, 16oz (approx) can of PURE PUMPKIN (not Pumpkin Pie Filling)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 oz. softened cream cheese
2. 3.4 oz boxes of instant vanilla pudding
1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

In your standing mixer add in pumpkin, cinnamon, powdered sugar, vanilla and softened cream cheese.  Mix until combined.  Add in instant vanilla pudding and heavy whipping cream and whip on high until it becomes thickened and creamy.  (It will set up more in the fridge, but whip it long enough please, probably a good 3-4 minutes at least)  Pour into your crust and refrigerate 2 hours before topping with fresh whipped cream!\

Sweetened Whipping Cream:
2 cups heavy cream
3-4 T powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Whip all ingredients until stiff peaks form.  Spread or pipe on to the pie.  Refrigerate until time to serve or freeze for 1 hour, and wrap well to stay frozen until the morning before serving!


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Fried Snicker Bites

Evenin' ya'll!

Hoping this finds you all well, and with fully tummies!   I am slowly but surely working my way back into the kitchen.  Isn't it ironic that I chose a time full of sweet treats?  Yea, well, I can't help what my mind wants!

I was inspired to make these after hearing a friend back east eating a dougnut with a Snickers in the middle!  I thought these would be easy, quick and freakin' awesome.

In case you wondered....I was right on all 3 counts.  Serve these warm, or room temp.  Please try one while they are still warm though.  You need to.  It should literally be on your bucket list!

Here we go!

1 can of refrigerator crescent rolls
12-20 Snicker Minis.  (depending on the amount of rolls, you will need 2 per roll)
1/4 cup melted chocolate chips (for garnish, option)
vegetable oil

Get about 2 inches of vegetable (or your oil of choice) in a medium pot.  While it is coming up to temperature (350 degrees F) let's get going on the rest.

Remove your crescent rolls from the container.  Separate them out.  Unwrap double the amount of Snicker bites as you have rolls as you will cut the rolls in half.  Now take your rolls, cut into 2 pieces, a bit more on the pointed end, and put a Snicker bite onto each one.  Pick it up and cover in the dough, roll in your hands until the ball is showing no chocolate and completely sealed, repeat with all of the ingredients.

When your oil is up to temperature, fry about 4 at a time.  It will literally take 30-60 seconds.  I like to keep mine moving around with my spider while they fry.  This helps them brown equally on all sides.

Remove to a paper towel lined dish and get on with the next bath!

This recipe is easily double, tripled or quadrupled.  I drizzled mine with a bit of melted chocolate, and some peanuts, but feel free to hit them with some powdered sugar and call it a day!