Monday, December 30, 2013

Sweet Garlic Chicken Drumsticks

Did you get stuck with the drumsticks as a kid?  WHY do people just ASSUME kids want or will eat, drumsticks?  My mom makes the best fried chicken this side of the continental divide and every dang time, when I was little I got served up a drumstick.  Please tell me this wasn't just at my house when I was a kid.  Tell me the rest of the children of the world got shafted of a choice and just got drumsticks too!?


Well, as luck would have it, in my older, young age, I love them.  I love white meat, I love dark meat, and now, I actually WANT drumsticks.  I have kind of been on a kick of trying to bring you recipes with affordable ingredients.   Chicken drumsticks are ALWAYS on sale at my food store and I thought I would grab some and make something delicious.  I can't help that it involves garlic, that is just something weaved into my genetic code.   My husband loves "sweet" with meat, which is not one of my favorite flavor combinations.  However, as I was taking these babies out to thaw, I was reminded of a wing recipe my sister Anne (#5) used to make, or made for me a couple of times, SO long ago.   So without asking her, because I know she will never remember, I thought to myself, "self, you can just do what you think she did".  And I did.  And it is awesome.

This is a great weeknight meal, quick and easy, and budget friendly.  A one dish pony, that is sure to please, because even when you think you don't have a choice, you find yourself choosing drumsticks!

Sweet Garlic Drumsticks:
12 drumsticks (use more or less and either double the recipe for sauce or keep it the same even if you use less)
1/2 cup vegetable oil (divided)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp. honey
1/4 tsp black pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 

In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup of your vegetable oil.  Salt and pepper your drumsticks well, and in batches, brown them in your skillet, on all sides.  You aren't cooking them through, you are just creating a nice brown crust.  When they are browned, place into a casserole dish that is large enough to hold the amount of chicken you are using. Set aside. 

In a small bowl combine remaining vegetable oil (1/4 cup), brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic, honey and black pepper.  Whisk until completely combined and pour over chicken sparingly.  Using a pastry brush, brush each piece of chicken with sauce you drizzled, and then pour over more of the sauce.  Leave a small amount in the bowl if desired to brush over chicken when it is removed from the oven.  Not necessary but an option.  Bake for 35-45 minutes, make sure you have a safe internal temp of 165 degrees F.

Enjoy this easy, but delish chicken dish!  

Your "finger lickin' chicken lovin" Chefwannabe

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Garlic Monkey Bread

OK, admit it.  You have had an occasional moment of feeling like you were sick of the same old way you made something and after a bit of thought, decided to try something new.  In the end it was either amazing, or it sucked so bad, you had to throw it away.  Right?  You remember it well, don't you? 


I had one of those moments the other day.  It involved bread for a huge pot of spaghetti.  I just, I just....couldn't do regular garlic bread.  My sister does this thing with mayo on garlic bread and the thought of heating up mayo and then consuming it almost makes me erp, so that was NOT an option.  I had to come up with something new.  So I did it. Oh yes, I did, I did it, I dared mess with monkey bread.  And trust me on this one, you are going to be so glad I did.  It turned out so perfect, that even I, still can't quite believe its delight.   Have I verbally patted myself on the back enough?  HA! 

So to my "Monkey Bread Queen" sister, Patty, instead me saluting you sista........it is time you get up and salute ME!  I took your monkey bread, I MONKEYED with it.  (hardy har har, I know).  So take that one, Martha Monkey Bread Stewart!

When you make this bread, use the cheapest, little biscuits you can find.  That is what I used.  I mean you could use the big ol' Grandes but, why?  Trust me when I tell you this in Unhealthy enough, it doesn't need help.  Serve this alone with dinner, or serve it with a bowl of marinara for dipping for a party! 

Garlic Monkey Bread:
3 cans small refrigerator biscuits
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup butter, melted  (zip it)
2-3 cloves of garlic, grated (I used 4, because I don't believe in to much garlic)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.  Make sure you biscuits are cold when you start, or you get to spend time pulling apart, warmish globbed together dough and it isn't fun.   So let's start with something else.  In a medium bowl combine, parm cheese, garlic, olive oil, and salt.  Use a fork and just combine all ingredients.  Set aside.  Using a pastry brush or paper towel, brush your bundt pan with some melted butter.  Not all of it, just dip in and butter it well.  You could also spray with some nonstick spray, or both, I mean, let's pull out all the stops here! 

Now take your biscuits and cut each biscuit into 4 pieces and throw it in the Parmesan cheese mixture.   Continue until half the biscuits are cut up.  Toss biscuits in the Parmesan cheese mixture and then spread evenly in the buttered/sprayed bundt pan.  Drizzle over HALF of the melted butter.  Repeat with the second container and a half of biscuits, and then drizzle over the second half of melted butter. 

 
Bake for 25-35 minutes.  It will be golden and beautiful and the smell will make you need a bib.  Seriously!  Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, and then you can turn it out on to a plate or platter!
 
Enjoy my friends!
 
Your "garlic is my blood supply" Chefwannabe
 
 


Friday, December 20, 2013

Chocolate Peppermint Fudge Bars

Can you believe it is the week before Christmas already?  WHY does this always sneak up on us?  I mean, we know it is coming, same time, same month, same place, every year, yet we catch ourselves never ready!! 


Since I got to see my kids and have an early Christmas, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, my gifts are bought, wrapped, opened and hopefully being enjoyed!  All I have left is a few things for my husband and time to do some fun baking, and soaking up my favorite Christmas movies all week! 

As promised, I have another easy, no bake, Christmas recipe for you.  I love chocolate and peppermint together, so I figured I could make something using both, AND white chocolate fudge.  Seriously?!  Totally serious.  Now get this made, so you can get that shopping finished, those gifts wrapped, and take a minute with a hot cup of your favorite beverage in front of your tree to remember the true meaning of Christmas, and who and what is REALLY important this Christmas season!

Wishing you the best Christmas of your LIFE!

Chocolate Crust:
9 ounces chocolate crackers, made into crumbs (teddy grahams or the equivalent)
1/2 cup melted butter

Line an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish with a piece of parchment for easy removal of dessert when finished!

Place chocolate crackers into your food processor or in a Ziploc bag and make crumbs out of those babies.  Next add in melted butter, to either the processor or right into the bag.  Process until combined or mash around in the bag until combined.  Either way will work perfectly.  Dump into prepared baking dish and press crust firmly and evenly into the bottom.  Set aside.

White Chocolate Fudge:
12 ounces white chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup mini marshmallows
1/2 to 1 whole bag of Andes Peppermint Baking Chips

In a saucepan, SLOWLY melt together white chocolate chips and condensed milk.  (you may recognize this as my easy fudge recipe only using white chips).  When all ingredients are melty and combined and smooth, stir in marshmallows and pour over cookie crust.  Gently make sure it is spread over the entire pan.  Sprinkle over your peppermint chips until the entire top is covered.  I went a bit overboard on mine.  So be it, peppermint on my friends.....peppermint ON!

Refrigerate for at LEAST 2 hours, overnight would rock.  Using parchment that you let hang over the edges, lift out of the pan and cut!  I cut small pieces, it is rich AND thick.  When not serving keep refrigerated. 

Enjoy this delish holiday treat.   It is one of my very favorites now!
 
Your "peppermint on top basically makes it toothpaste so this is GOOD for you" Chefwannabe

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Snowballs!

I promised to pull out the stops and still get you some easy Christmas (or just winter in general) treats and I WILL!!   I love that nearly all of the recipes I am getting to you this year, are kid friendly.  GET YOUR KIDS in the kitchen, they will love it and you will find they will be more likely to eat what they think they don't like if you let them help cook or fix it!  I know it isn't hard to get them to eat treats, but in general, I found it to be VERY true!  Some of my best Christmas memories are those spent baking with my mom and sisters.

 
I would say I am into snow this year.  But I'm not.  I would say I am into balls this year, but, that...isn't appropriate.  ANYWAY.   That being said, I am not sure where the idea of these came from other than I wanted to make something that looked like a snow ball.  I made some white chocolate covered Valentine Rice Krispy treats last year but they were a bit different.  I went with the traditional rice krispy treats and fancied up the aftermath, so to speak!

I used white chocolate chips but use the melts if you so choose or almond bark.  No biggie there.  For after the chocolate dipping I went with coconut, snowflake sprinkles, fancy flaked sugar, white edible pearls, and I think that is it.  You know I was just in NJ so I picked up some fabulous sprinkles at the Amish Market.  Only to come home and find 9 HUGE bottles of Christmas sprinkles in the big bowl of sprinkles.  Oops.  (teehee)  I hoard sprinkles, apparently. 

Like I said, these are easy, and they will look great on your UNBROWN cookie trays!

6 cups Rice Krispy's
10 ounces mini marshmallows (or regular size)
4 tbsp. butter
18 ounces white chocolate
white sprinkles of choice (and/or shredded coconut)

In a large pot, add in marshmallows and butter.  Stir on LOW until melted and combined.  Add in rice Krispy cereal and mix until ALL combined.  Let sit 10 minutes.  Using a cookie scoop or a spoon, roll into individual balls.  I got approx. 32 out of my mix, but it will depend on how big or small you want your snowballs to be!  When you have rolled them, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment and refrigerate at least 1 hour, I did mine overnight.  You want them nice and set! 

Dipping and Decorating:
Melt your white chocolate 15 seconds at a time in the microwave.  I use a pint size ball jar for mine, I find it easy to dip in and out quickly!  Stir between each 15 seconds and add a few drops of vegetable oil if your chocolate needs thinned out a bit for easier dipping.  Get your sprinkles, coconut, sugar, whatever you want to use, ready for dipping.   I just used 4 bowls and put one kind in each one.   Using a toothpick or skewer, stab your balls, (omg that sounded horrible but I am leaving it) one at a time, dip in white chocolate, and then GENTLY top on your jar to get ALL excess chocolate off.  Then roll in your sprinkles or coconut or sugar of choice!  Place on your cookie sheet, pull out the skewer and move on.  When you are finished, refrigerate again for 1 hour to set. 

I LOVE these little snowballs.  I love using different finishing sprinkles, and items to give them all a different texture and I love that you expect them to be cake pops and they aren't!  If snowballs could be an elegant Christmas treat, these would be your snowballs!

Your "sneaky rice krispy treat lovin" Chefwannabe
 
PS.  How cute would 3 of these look in a little favor bag for winter party favors?!?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Egg Nog Cupcakes

Ahh!  Hello my friends!  Long time, no see!  As many of you know, I have been home in New Jersey for the past 3 weeks.  My father in law became ill very suddenly, and passed away 3 weeks later.  We spent a lot of much needed time with my mother in law, children, granddaughter, brother, and all of our family and friends.  I popped online a few times but, this is my first new post in awhile.  I had a couple extra done so I spread those out while I was away.


Anyway, I am obviously finding it hard to jump right into the Christmas season.  Normally I would have jumped in a month ago, but I think I can pull out some delicious  easy, Christmas cheer for you all!  It might not be as much as normal, but I got home at 7pm on Wed night and spent all day yesterday and so far today, in the kitchen. 

I see that Facebook is having another temper tantrum and while I was blessed to never have the issues other bloggers did with their fan pages, I am having it now.  Hardly anyone is seeing my posts, and very few new fans, as of late.  Please make sure to spread the word about Foodthoughtsofachefwannabe and make sure to follow me here directly, twitter, instagram, Pinterest, or whatever social media you groove on!

That being said, many of you may not have seen my request to discuss, "Egg Nog".  People either love it or hate it, and I am not such a fan myself.  My husband on the other hand, is ridiculously in love.  I wanted to make him a special treat, and in the end, I LOVED them too.  I wanted to make it into a cupcake.  For the record, I just shopped at my first "The Christmas Tree Shoppe" in Jersey, where I bought no less than 15 new cupcake liner designs.  What that means for you is to be expecting some amazing, OVER the top, RIDICULOUSLY amazing cupcakes.  HA! 

The egg nog flavor is light and creamy, and the frosting.......get outta here, it is creamy perfection!  The recipe couldn't be easier, the cake is fluffy and light and the icing is perfection!

I hope you enjoy these, even make them into minis, you won't be sorry, trust me.

For the cupcakes you will need:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground or grated nutmeg
1 heaping cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup egg nog

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.  In your stand mixer or in a bowl with a hand mixer, add in butter, salt, baking powder, nutmeg and sugar. Cream together until completely combined and add both eggs, ONE at a time! Now add in the flour and egg nog alternately.  Some flour and mix, egg nog and mix, I think you are supposed to end with flour but truth be told, I didn't, and I don't pay attention to that stuff that I am sure means something really important but never seems to make a difference to me.  Get it all combined, just make sure not to over mix.

Line cupcake pans with liners.  This will make 24 cupcakes. Fill evenly and back for 15-18 minutes.  Remove and let cool completely!

Creamy Egg Nog Icing
1/2 cup butter softened
4 ozs. cream cheese, softened
4=5 cups powdered sugar (aka confectioners, or icing)
1/4 cup egg nog
nutmeg for dusting

Combine all ingredients and mix.  If you are using a stand mixer, once the ingredients are combined, whip on high for 2-3 minutes.  If you are using a hand mixer, whip until creamy and smooth. 

Ice cupcakes using a piping bag, or a knife and dust LIGHTLY with nutmeg.

Like I mentioned, make these into minis or one big cake.  I can't see how you could possibly go wrong.  Light fluffy egg noggy cake and creamy egg nog heaven on top!  ENJOY!!

Your "putting the MERRY in Christmas" Chefwannabe







Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Jalapeno Pepper Corn Dip

Good evening my fellow chefwannabes!  Hoping this finds you all happy and doing well!! 


Who doesn't need dip recipes?  EASY dip recipes?  Fast dip recipes?  Tis' the season for parties and celebrations and get togethers!  This dip is so easy, it tastes almost like a jalapeno popper!  I think you could easily serve it with a small loaf of toasted bread.  I know that I appreciate being able to take something to a party or have someone else bring something that is hot and can just stay in a slow cooker and keep warm. 

I know in my family the "pickys" are one of the best parts of the holiday season!  We are pickers, and a day of all picky food instead of a meal was always a huge treat for us!  It was for my son as well.  His dream come true, and as a matter fact, likely my husbands as well!  I have a couple of chip and dip eating fools on my hands! 

I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!! Remember, nobody said this was healthy, so just relax and soak up the goodness!

You will need:
2 cans of corn, drained
2 bricks cream cheese (8 oz each)
1 cup butter
1/2 cup diced jalapenos

I made this in my small crock pot!  Throw all ingredients in your crock pot.  (or in a medium pan) Heat until cream cheese and butter are melted, stir often until that happens.  Keep on low, or warm and serve with tortilla chips or any chips of your choice!!


Again, I put mine in my crock pot and that way it stays warm all day or for an entire game!!

Enjoy this easy, crowd pleasing dip!

Your "sometimes I'm corny" Chefwannabe

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Homemade Breakfast Sausage

Breakfast sausage........


Am I the only one with such a dilemma with it?  I mean, unless you can buy it fresh made somewhere local, it is either in those fat little tubes, or packaged bulk.  Usually to salty, to spicy, or to something.  Greasy, AWAYS so greasy!!

I have seen people make homemade sausage with anything from onions, to raisins, to apples, to maple syrup.  While I get that everyone has different tastes, the thought of any of things in my sausage makes my knees wobbly.  I like plain seasoned sausage, nothing additional, just seasonings.  I am one of the rare people you will find that cringes at the thought of syrup of any kind on my sausage. Never have I been a fan of sweet and meat together. 

Anyway, I decided to give it a shot.  I bought a ridiculous amount of ground pork recently from my butcher because, well, frankly, it was to cheap not too.  I wanted to do something fun with some of it and this was it.  Homemade breakfast sausage on Thanksgiving or Christmas morning! A couple of fried eggs over medium, and a piece of English Muffin Bread! Breakfast of champions!  Breakfast has always been my favorite meal of the day.  I could eat it morning, noon and night!  (along with chicken noodle soup)

You could probably change up the ground pork to turkey or chicken.  That call is on you.  I suggest pork because that is what I tested the recipe with.  So get on your apron, and wash your hands, you have to down and dirty with this one!

You will need:
1 lb ground pork
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp parsley
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp ground sage
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Mix all ingredients until well combined.  Use your hands, it works best!  Make sure all spices are incorporated, nobody wants to bit into a big pocket of spices!
I got 5 large patties out of mine, but just make yours the size you see fit and fry 2-3 minutes on each side!

Enjoy this mild, yet so full of flavor sausage!

Your "wakey wakey" Chefwannabe

Thursday, November 21, 2013

No Bake Haystack Cookies

Hello friends.  I hope you are all well!  By the time I give you this post, I will be in New Jersey, and I will have waved at everyone in the states on the way!  Did you see me?  Feel my presence? HA!


I am bringing you these very easy cookies.  My mom used to make them, I think everyone makes them BUT, mine are somewhat of a "minimalist" version.  These are called HAYSTACKS, what are the peanuts and marshmallows doing in a haystack?  Exactly!  Is it like farm animal poo, or did huge hail fall on the haystacks?  What is it?!  I don't need 'em.  In fact, I don't like them in my haystacks.  So you can add those things into yours if you like, but mine, I will take a REAL haystack looking sweet treat any day!
These have 3 ingredients, I mean, start to finish MIGHT be 10 minutes.  You can let them sit at room temp to "set" or stick them in the fridge for a bit.  These will be great for Thanksgiving, you know that whole haystack thing.  I wonder if they sat on haystacks while they ate the first Thanksgiving meal? 

Anyway, here you go!

You will need:
1- 11 oz. bag of Butterscotch Chips
1 cup creamy peanut butter (or chunky I guess)
2 cups Chinese noodles (the hard ones!)

In a microwave safe bowl, melt together peanut butter and butterscotch chips.  Melt 1 minute at a time, and stir.  When mixture is smooth, add in noodles and mix until all combines.  Using a tablespoon, drop in piles on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet.  You should get approx. 24 cookies.  Let them set at room temp or in the fridge until hardened. 

Enjoy another easy, but delicious recipe!

Your "just the hay please" Chefwannabe








Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Stuffed Mushrooms

If you all only KNEW the amount of times I have failed at stuffed mushrooms.  Seriously, I have.  In fact I have made at least 3 versions for you all, that turned out so sucky that I wouldn't even feed them to my husband let alone share them with you!  You name it, I have tried stuffing a mushroom with it. 
 
 
My husband told a coworker of my plight.  She said she made hers this way and we should try it.  Well, the heavens opened up and the angels sang.  They were delicious!  I made only a few additions and changes. You do have to like Stove Top stuffing to enjoy this, but, you can use any of the flavors you choose. 
 
Here is what you will need to get started.  I bet you have most of it already on hand!
 
1 box Stove Top Stuffing (whatever flavor you prefer, I used pork)
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1 tsp minced or grated garlic
mushroom stems, finely chopped
20-24 button mushrooms
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Use a damp towel and wipe off all mushrooms, and then remove the stems.  KEEP THEM.  Give the stems a fine chop and set aside.  Prepare the stuffing as directed.  Kind of.  Melt the butter that is called for in a medium put.  When it is melted add garlic, onions and mushroom stems.  Saute for 2 minutes and then add in water, and continue as directed.  Turn mushroom caps bottoms up in a baking dish.  When stuffing is slightly cooled, start filling your mushrooms.  Make sure to get the stuffing down in the mushroom and mount it on top as well!  Do this to all mushrooms!  Sprinkle the top lightly with grated Parmesan and bake for 15-20 minutes. 

These make a great appetizer, OR side dish.  Hope you love em'!

Your "remember mushroom head haircuts?" Chefwannabe

Monday, November 11, 2013

Cornbread Stuffing

This is a complete experimental recipe gone RIGHT. 
 
It started like this.  My sister made a TON of cornbread muffins for a dinner she helped serve.  She had anticipated serving 100 apparently, and only served 25.  Oh my gosh the amount of muffins she had leftover, was hilarious.  Anyway she called me and asked if I could do anything with them.  I thought to myself, "self, you have never even attempted cornbread stuffing, this is the perfect opportunity".  I said, YES, and so this muffin makeover began!
 
 
When I tell you it was an experiment, it really was.  I wanted to go with my instinct and see how close I could hit it on the head.  When I say "it" I mean, MY perception of what cornbread stuffing should be.  I used only half of the muffins, so I could tweak a new batch if needed.  Let's just say, those muffins got used on a second batch alright, just like the first!
 
The ONLY thing I would do different, is make sure I had plenty of turkey gravy for the top!!!
 
The mixture, prebaked, is going to be very soupy, that is OK, that is perfect!  Just go with it and be rewarded with a bowl of  warm, flavorful stuffing!  I think this will get added to my Thanksgiving table!

4 cups crumbled cornbread
3 cups chicken stock
2 eggs
1/2 to 1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 carrot, grated
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl combine ALL ingredients well.  The mixture will be fairly soupy.  Pour into a greased 9x9 baking dish and bake for 50-60 minutes until firm to the touch.  If you oven temp is off, or you use a little different sized baking dish, this time will vary.  When your cornbread is firm, it is done.  If you use a 9x13, I would suggest about 40-45 minutes of baking.  This is just dressing, you will know when it is ready.  The smell is INCREDIBLE, almost as good as the end result!

Hope you enjoy, this Thanksgiving or anytime!

Your "stuffing addict" Chefwannabe

Friday, November 8, 2013

Just For 2 - Chicken Taco Soup

3 INGREDIENTS!  Seriously!  I KNOW!

Ok guys, I have one more amazing recipe using Dei Fratelli products!  I got some fantastic salsa and when I thought about what I wanted to do with it, I thought, "SOUP".  I usually DO think soup to be honest.  I love soup.  You all know this but sometimes I just need to say it, loud and proud!


I had started this "Just for 2" series a few months back.  I have neglected it, but at the same time, was kind of waiting for the right idea to come along.  Since I am a soup freak, I thought it would only be right to have a soup be the next recipe in the serious.  This is a 3 ingredient recipe as I previously mentioned.  Budge friendly AND easy.  I know my parents who are "empty nesters" love having meals just for the two of them.  My mom has forgotten what it is like to cook for two, and they forget about leftovers, and end up throwing things out.  This should be a great solution!

This can easily be doubled or tripled for a larger batch.  Just double or triple the ingredients! HA!

You will need:
2-3 cups cubed (small cubes) chicken (cooked or uncooked, you can cook it in the soup or cook it before)
1-2 cups chicken stock
16 oz jar of Dei Fratelli Black Bean w/Corn Salsa
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium combine all 3 ingredients. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes (longer if you use large chunks of chicken).  Top with sour cream and some shredded cheese and you have a great light lunch or supper, OR starter!  Don't neglect these items, as they just increase the goodness when stirred into the soup!

Didn't I tell you it was easy?  And talk about healthy!  Ok, minus the sour cream and cheese but c'mon!

Your "it aint easy bein' easy" Chefwannabe


PS,  You COULD bring this soup to a boil, add 1/4 cup rice and enjoy it that way too!




Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Creme Brulee Cheesecake

Evenin' friends!  I can't wait to share this dessert with you.  It is SO good.  The contrast in texture, and the flavor, are something you won't soon be able to be without for to long!


I am so picky about my cheesecake.  There are two things my cheesecake must have.  First is, it must be creamy, not dry, not so dense you will choke on it going down, and second, the perfect crust to cheesecake ratio.  Seriously, I am so hell bent on those things, I rarely find a cheesecake I love.  UNLESS, I make it myself. 

See that the cheesecake isn't so tall?  That is because it would completely jack up my ratio.  To much cheesecake for the crust.  Can't have it.  The Nilla wafers for the crust, just drive the beautiful vanilla flavor home.  I could not be happier with how this baby turned out.  I don't care for lemon juice in my cheesecake.  I used sour cream, for the tang, but the creaminess too.  Just get in your kitchen, and make it.  I am making myself drool just explaining it, and there is none left.  That is right, NONE left.  I hope you enjoy the sweet, tangy, creaminess, along with the crunch of the top.  OMG, just those words ALONE get me excited!  I seriously just thought that the only way to make cheesecake better was to finish the top like crème brulee and to taste like cream brulee.  Mission accomplished on both. 

For the crust you will need:
40 Nilla Wafers
5 tbsp melted butter

In your food processor or with a rolling pin, process or roll over the cookies (in a Ziploc)) until you have fine crumbs.  Add in melted butter and process until combined or mash your bag until all the butter is incorporated into the cookies.  Press into the bottom of a LIGHTLY greased 9 inch spring form pan.  Set aside.

For the filling you will need:
2 8oz bricks of cream cheese (at room temperature)
2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream

Using a large bowl and a hand mixer, or your stand mixer OR food processor, combine all ingredients very well.  Pour into pan with crust and even out.  Now take a large sheet of foil, and lay it flat on the counter.  Put your pan in the center and fold the foil up all around the pan.  This will prevent any water from your water bath seeping into the pie.


Now place the spring form pan into a larger backing sheet or roaster.  Fill the roaster halfway up with boiling water.  DO NOT get water into your pie!  Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.  Remove pie, the middle will be a TINY bit jiggly.  Let cool at room temperature COMPLETELY.  This is NOT optional.  Then refrigerate for 4-5 hours, but overnight is best.  The longer the better.

Garnish:
1/4 - 1/2 cup brown sugar

Sprinkle over the top in layers.  Using a torch or the broil setting on your oven, melt sugar.  I left a bit of it unmelted which made for a beautiful little crunch.  If you broil it, do NOT leave it for even a second.  When it started to bubble or browns to your liking, remove and let cool. 

I hope you give this pie a try.  We LOVED it and let's be honest, what's not to love?!

Your "gimme a torch" Chefwannabe

Monday, November 4, 2013

Spaghetti And Meatball Soup featuring Dei Fratelli

Hello friends!!  I am thrilled to share this recipe with you for 2 reasons.  I have had a years long love with Dei Fratelli Products AND it is my entry into their "Ripened Recipe" Contest! 


It isn't often that I get asked to share products with you, that I already love.  I mean seriously, I have been using them for years.  This makes it all more exciting for me.  When I started venturing through their website, I found out many things I didn't know.  Their tomato sauces, juices, and soups,  are all natural, and gluten free.  They also offer low sodium and no salt products.  Dei Fratelli has a new line of products called, "Dei Fratelli Truly".  These tomato products are packaged in a light puree, and they are preserved within 10 hours of being harvested.  They are packaged in a BPA-Free carton.  How awesome IS that?!

I could go on and on, I just can't say enough good things about the quality and flavor.  The truth is, you have to try it for yourself, and let me, AND Dei Fratelli know how you love them!

This Spaghetti and Meatball Soup, is something I have wanted to make for years.  No, I mean, literally, years.  Why is it, sometimes, the easiest of tasks we put off the longest?  Well when my products arrived from Dei Fratelli and I heard of this contest, I HAD to make it.  It was like a sign from above!  It turned out amazing, and let me just tell you how good a stringy, melty, grilled cheese would taste dunked into this tomato-ee goodness!

Thanks for taking time to let me tell you about one of my favorite products AND share my new recipe with you!  This will be a home run at your house, I promise!

Mini Meatballs:
1lb ground beef (I use very lean)
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. grated onion
1 tsp. garlic powder

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients.  Using a small scoop or just eyeballing it, make small meatballs.  I got about 44 meatballs from my mixture.  When you get them all rolled, place on a plate and set aside. 

In a large pot, add in 3 tbsp. olive oil and heat on medium heat.  Add in meatballs a few at a time to brown them up.  You don't need to cook them all the way through, though they are so small they may do that anyway.  When they are browned up on all sides, remove to a paper towel lined plate.  Do this until all meatballs are done.  Using the SAME pot, (get all the good flavor up off the bottom from the meatballs!) combine the following ingredients for the sauce:

Dei Fratelli Marinara -24 oz
Dei Fratelli Gluten Free Tomato Soup - 10.75 oz
Dei Fratelli Petite Diced Tomatoes - 14.5 oz
4 cups water
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. sugar
8 oz. dried spaghetti (broken in half)

Combine all ingredients and bring to a simmer.  Add in meatballs and let simmer for 10 minutes.  Stir gently, occasionally.  (At this point, you can decide if you love the thickness of the soup and if you want it thinner, just add bit more water until it is your desired consistency.)  After 15 minutes, add in 8 ounces of spaghetti that has been broken in half.   Cook per the suggested cooking time on the pasta package.  Serve with some crusty garlic bread or don't forget that melty, gooey,  grilled cheese sandwich for dunking!

This soup will freeze beautifully.  You can thaw it out in the fridge overnight, OR just pop it in a pot  and warm it up, on low.  You can add more water if you choose, depending on the thickness you prefer. 

Enjoy this recipe!  I LOVED Dei Fratelli products, long before this!  I enjoy knowing I am using quality products, mace from locally grown tomatoes, in the food I make for my family.  Give them a try and make sure to get your recipe entered in their "Ripened Recipe Contest"!

 
 
Your "keep your fingers crossed for me to win" Chefwannabe
 
 

 I am in no way compensated for a favorable review on any product.  I review each product honestly, and informitavely for you, to the best of my ability.  I strive to give my readers all of the information I can, so that you can make an informed decision on the products you choose to buy and use in your recipes. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Chicken Kiev Pasta

Oh, this dish. 


What havoc this created for my husband and I.  I mean seriously, it was sort of ridiculous.  Our conversation when something like this:

Me: I want to make Chicken Kiev into a pasta dish.
Geo: Cool, but, it would just be buttered noodles with some herbs. 
Me: It needs breadcrumbs though.  And it will have to be a wee bit saucy, with some light buttery sauce, because it needs to not be just dry pasta after I bake it.
Geo: Christine, chicken kiev has no sauce.
Me: I KNOW.  But this is a "version" and so it is going to be a little different"
Geo: it is different, you are adding pasta
Me: AND I am adding a little sauciness, because I want a little sauce
Geo: Well then it isn't chicken kiev, it is chicken kiev with PASTA.

DING DING DING!!  So that is how "Chicken Keiv Pasta" was born.  Isn't it nice to know the long scientific process that goes into naming and coming up with a dish? OH the process!  Anyway, we got to laughing, and well, that is how most of our conversations end.  I suppose that is a good thing, right? 

I have had a lot of requests for pasta dishes.  Easy and quick pasta dishes.  They seem to please the masses and many can be made ahead.  I was even told on many occasions the semi homemade thing didn't bother the requesters.  Anyway, I made a few this week.  I love chicken kiev and who doesn't love pasta and chicken and butter, right?  I made it the first time though the flavor was incredible I felt that most people would consider it to "dry".  So I incorporated a little bit of a light sauce for it.  This is just my version, done with pasta.  I hope you enjoy it and please always feel free to email me requests, or post them on Facebook or tweet them to me!  Let me know if you try this one, it is one of my favorites to be honest! It isn't over saucy, or seem very saucy at all.  It delivers incredible flavor and comfort and after all, food IS love!

Now onward my friends!

1 lb. cavatappi or other short cut pasta
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup milk (you can add up to 1 cup depending on your preference)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (can add another 1/2 cup if you up your milk!)
2 cups shredded or chopped chicken
1 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp parsley
1/2 tsp oregano
2 tsp chives
1 cup breadcrumbs
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  In a large pot of salted water, cook pasta according to package directions and drain.  Leave in drainer and using the same pot, add in butter, milk, cheese, chicken, chicken stock, parsley, oregano, and chives.  Heat until cheese is melted.  Stir constantly so it doesn't stick or burn.  Add pasta in and stir to combine adding salt and pepper to taste.  Pour into a buttered casserole dish and sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil and bake for 25-30 minutes, until breadcrumbs are golden brown. 

I hope you enjoy this easy, and quick pasta dish.  Make extra, minus the breadcrumbs and freeze a pan too!  This isn't a super saucy, or cheesy dish, so don't think you did something wrong when you can't really SEE a ton of sauce!

Your "pasta is my addiction" Chefwannabe

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Lumpia

What do you know about lumpia?  I never knew much about it, other than anyone who ate it raved how good it was.  It wasn't until some friends made it that I realized what it was.  It was AWESOME!
My husband also has a Filipino co-worker who makes them for him on occasion and he just RAVES over them.  Funny, NONE ever seem to get home to his adoring, WIFE, but that's OK but his adoring WIFE now knows how to make her OWN!  Pffft!


From what I gather from some of my readers, my version is a pretty plain Jane variety.  I actually look forward to experimenting more with them next time but I wanted to get a good, generic version down, well.  I hope that you give these and try, and even experiment with them.  You can make the mixture and wrap them with the meat raw and then it cooks when they are fried.  This kind of makes me cringe  on a "just in case" basis, so I cook my meat first.  I believe from what I have seen you want them very thin, no matter which way you do them, but that being said, I am sure there is plenty of time for the meat to cook if you choose to do it raw.  (fingers crossed)

I also am advised after you roll up your lumpia, you can freeze them in an airtight container and just take some out when you want them and they will last up to a month.  Anyone else ever tried this?  Let me know in the comments or let me know if you have a great filling combination!  I would LOVE to learn more!

UPDATE: They are perfect frozen and just taking a few out when you want them.  I have now been blessed to have 2 different batches of of lumpia from Lacretia (my husbands coworker) and oh my goodness.  Perfection.  Also, in my photo, it appears I used egg roll wrappers on accident.  You should use spring roll wrappers.  Although I swear I did, but they don't look like it, and well, anyway, get up with the lumpia making!

What you will need:
1 lb ground pork
1 carrot finely grated
2 green onions sliced fine
1-2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp garlic powder
1 pkg spring roll wrappers

Combine all ingredients in a large skillet.  Brown/cook until pork is completely done and all ingredients are soft and well combined.  Let cool!

 
After mixture has cooled, it is time to get making your lumpia.  You can either use the shells whole, for your lumpia, or as I did, and cut them in half diagonally and wrap them that way.  I prefer that method, and it is the one I see most used.   Add a tablespoon (approximately) of your filling, like I did below.  Roll 1/2 roll, and then pull the sides in, and continue to wrap.  Using 1 beaten egg to seal the end.  It may seem that you don't need to, but just do it, the grief it causes if you don't is annoying!  Do this until all lumpia are wrapped!  Please on a platter and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to fry them!


To Fry:
Add oil to a medium saucepan.  You need about 2 inches of oil.  Heat to 350 degrees.  Your lumpia filling is already cooked so all you need to do is heat the inside and fry the shell.  Add about 4 at a time, and watch closely, they won't take long, when they are golden brown they are ready!  Make sure to place on a platter with paper towels to drain the grease!

Dip these bad babies in some sweet chili sauce and kids...........you got a HIT on your hands!

Your "lumpia lovin'" Chefwannabe

Monday, October 28, 2013

Hearty Ham and Bean Soup

Haven't we discussed this before?  Me, enjoying cooking things I don't care to eat?   Is anyone else that way?  I love cooking everything even if I don't always feel like I would put it in my mouth for love nor money!  I love this way this smells cooking, just LOVE it.  I don't do beans, we all know this from Chefwannabe secret #3044 or something.  Maybe I am odd.  But I don't think I can be the only one!
 
 
This is a dish that was an old standby growing up.  If we had ham, which was afforded only on holidays, my mom never threw the ham bone out.  She always made a huge pot of ham and bean soup.  Yuck!   My mom was never big on lots of seasoning, and this is one dish, I agree with her on.  Basics my friends, just the basics.  Let the ham and chicken stock do the work.  My mom of course used all water, but I decided to add that little extra element of flavor by trading out half with chicken stock.  I tasted the broth, and it was awesome!
 
Some of you are wondering if you can do this with canned beans, and the answer is yes.  You can.  But if you have the time, do dried.  Do not salt your soup, your ham and stock should take care of that.  Let anyone who wants to raise their blood pressure a couple of hundred points add their own!  (btw that comment comes from a salt fanatic working hard to not use AS much)  Anyway if you use canned beans, you don't need to cook it as long, just long enough to infuse beautiful ham flavor into them.  I would say an hour, on a low simmer. 

Enjoy this dish friends!  Good old home cookin'!
 
2 cups dried white northern beans
1 lb ham bone or ham hocks
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 small onion diced fine
1 small carrot grated
1 cup dice ham (optional)

The night before.....

In a large bowl, add in dried beans.  Add water, until they are covered plus about 3 inches.  DO NOT SALT.  Let sit overnight. 

After a long rest......

In a large pot, add in onions, carrot, ham bone, beans, water, ham (if using) and stock.  Give a good stir and simmer for 2 hours, or until beans are tender, stirring every 30 minutes or so.  The more you stir, the thicker your soup will be. Roughing up the beans will smoosh them and allow the soup to thicken more. Simmer with the lid off the last 30 minutes.  I served up a bowl that was more soupy and then thickened up the rest!

Slow Cooker Method:
Add all ingredients to slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.  You will have a more soup like consistency so using an immersion blender, blend your soup slightly.  You can do this by adding about 1/3 of your soup into a food processor or blender and adding it back in as well!

Your "me no likey beans" Chefwannabe

Friday, October 25, 2013

Stick to your Ribs, Not Your Thighs Potato Soup!

You have spoken!  You wanted my healthier, vegetable-ier, meatier version of potato soup.  This one is delish and I am really excited to share it.  Like what I named it?  It is true, it is "stick to your ribs" hearty, but it won't stick to your thighs!  Or your butt!  Or your gut!  Or your bat wings!  WOOHOO!


You know how I love soup and soup season is upon us!  WOOHOO!  My husband is equally as thrilled.  NOT.  He always says, "soup isn't a MEAL".  Any of you have husbands or wives like this?   Chili is a meal, but any other soup is SOUP.  Chili is not soup.  Really?  I adore my husband but this soup logic has got to be dealt with if I am gonna keep him around another 13 years! HA! 

This one pot, with prep included, probably 30 minutes tops.  You could easily prep this if you do make ahead meal prep bags.  I used to do this on Sunday evenings.  Prep for the week.  For this soup, I would chop the carrots, celery, onion and ham and put it all in a bag with the butter and olive oil added as well.  I would put into a very small snack baggie, my salt, pepper, rosemary and parsley.  Then all I would have to do on meal night, is peel and dice some potatoes, get out my chicken stock and now you have about a 15-20 minute meal.  Remember to check your potatoes, depending on how big or small you dice them, you will need to decrease or increase your simmer time by a couple of minutes!

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp butter
1 cup diced ham
3 medium potatoes (peeled and diced smallish)
1 large carrot, diced
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp garlic, mined
1 tsp rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
4-5 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1/2 cup Wondra flour
1 tbsp. parsley

In a medium pot, add oil and butter.  When melted add in ham, potatoes, carrot, celery, and onion. Saute for 2-3 minutes, add in garlic, rosemary and salt and pepper to taste.  Stir to combine for 1 minutes.  Add in chicken stalk, and milk.  Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.  Now there are 2 endings to this story.  If you want a thicker soup, add in Wondra while whisking, it will thicken your soup just enough to make it feel like you are eating a creamy, amazing, sinful soup.  Stir in parsley and serve.  OR... Stir soup and add in parsley and serve!

No matter how you eat it, please enjoy it!  I always love to see photos of recipes of mine you have tried!  Make sure to tweet them, instagram them or post them on my Facebook!  Make sure to hashtag them with #thechefwannabeinme ! 

Your "happiness is not adding to my thunderthighs" Chefwannabe




Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Zeppole

Good evening friends!  Hoping this finds you all enjoying a beautiful day!  I was recently going through the recipes I have shared with you and when I realized I hadn't shared this one, it was a MUST do.  My poor husband, was so upset I was making these for him....again!


Zeppole are the equivalent of like......an American "donut hole".  They are fried balls of dough, which in my life,  is pizza dough!  You can buy pizza dough or you can use my recipe, which I have deemed the best ever.  Click here for that recipe. 

These are very simple.  After you fry them you can toss them in powdered sugar, regular sugar, cinnamon sugar, etc.  The options are limitless.  I filled half of mine  on this batch with pastry cream!  You can find that recipe here.  You could also use vanilla instant pudding or whipped cream to fill these.  I don't usually fill mine but I was hungry for this version, thus doing half.  Let's get started on these quick and easy zeppole!

1 ball of pizza dough (or more if you are making a TON)
vegetable/canola oil
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon

Prepare a cooking sheet or large platter, by lining it with paper towels.  In a medium bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon.  Set aside.   Get 4 inches of oil into a pot.  Bring up to 350 degrees F.  While that is heating up, using a pizza cutter for ease, cut the flattened out dough ball into strips.  Then cut small pieces from those strips, like this.   Don't cut them TO big, they will blow up in size when you fry them!


Take each piece and just quickly roll into a ball.  This is optional but I always do it.  Do this with the entire ball of dough.  When the oil is ready, drop in a few at at time.  They won't take long, and when they are golden brown they are ready!



 Remove and place on paper towel lined platter.  Take them and immediately toss them in your cinnamon sugar mixture.  Toss to coat and transfer to a serving platter.

Let cool for 5 minutes before filling, IF you are filling them.  Otherwise, dive in, these are best when they are still warm!

Enjoy your zeppole, I know we did!

Your "is there such a thing as a bad version of a donut?" Chefwannabe

PS.  Confession.  I didn't use all my pastry cream, so I used it to dip some of the regular zeppole in.  Yes, I did.  I am not proud, but I do not regret it. LOL

Monday, October 21, 2013

Mexican Spaghetti

My husband said to me the other day, "You know, they keep making taco this and taco that, but I have never seen anyone do spaghetti that way".  I said, "you mean taco spaghetti with like sour cream and warm wilted lettuce, oh YUM".   He explained he meant like a "Mexican spaghetti".  So I listened to the man, and as I listened I was working out in my head how I would make this if I were to write the recipe.  However, he seemed to have an exact idea, and it was just what I was thinking.  So, either we have been married to long, or we are simply two halves to one whole.  Aww.....!


I have Cody's Favorite Enchilada Casserole, which is fantastic.  Just ask Cody :)  But this is different. No toppings, and such, just a few mixed up ingredients, that work beautifully together.  I loved this so much more than I thought I would, which is SO exciting.  You parents ,or grandparents with busy kids, needing kind of a quick, make ahead, freeze ahead, dish, need to check this one out for sure.  It is easy, you probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry and it takes as long as it does to cook spaghetti and melt some cheese.  You can't go wrong.

Here is what you will need:
1 lb spaghetti, cooked and drained
1 lb ground beef
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 can chili with NO beans
1 10oz. can of Ro-Tel
2 cups tomato sauce
2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Cook and drain pasta, put back into the pot, then set aside.  Preheat oven to 350.  In a deep skillet, brown hamburger.  When it is halfway done, add taco seasoning.  If you need to drain off grease, do that when the hamburger is all browned up.  Add in chili, ro-tel, and tomato sauce.  Mix until all combined.  Add it to the pot of already cooked pasta and mix completely.  Pour into a casserole dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and then sprinkle the top LIBERALLY with cheese.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until cheese is melted and it is heated all the way through!

Add a salad and some tortilla chips and call it dinner!  Didn't I tell you this was easy?!

Your "does this qualify as fusion cooking" Chefwannabe

Giving Thanks For Giving!

Happy Fall my friends!  The leaves are changing, the weather is changing, we might even be putting on some extra fluff to keep us warm this winter, but I have a contest, that will keep you hearts warm, in thanksgiving and gratitude. 


I have once again teamed up with Cookingplanit and a number of fabulous bloggers to bring you the opportunity to give back, to someone who has done something beautiful for you, your community, or your family.  I saw this quote once that said, "Thanksgiving, not what we say about our blessings, but how we USE them that is the true measure of our Thanksgiving".  I don't know about you, but I know so many unsung hero's.  Some will never be publicly thanked, and the reality is, they probably don't want to be.  I was blessed enough to grow up with one.  My dad.  Can I tell you a quick story about my most unforgettable memory of him and his giving? 

We grew up with little money.  With 10 children and a wife, my dad sometimes held 5 or 6 jobs at a time to HOPEFULLY make ends meet.  My dad was notorious for never having a winter coat.  His "babies" as he always called us, needed the coats and shoes, not him.  One Christmas when I was about 5 or 6, all of the big kids put their money together and we bought my dad his first winter coat.  He opened it on Christmas Eve, just before midnight mass, and he wore it to church. It was red, and he looked so handsome in it, I remember thinking that people might think he was rich because he had a winter coat.  We woke up on Christmas morning, to the gifts Santa had brought and shortly after my dad was going to be leaving to take photos for an insurance policy.  It was a town about 20 miles away.  I often went with him to take photos.  I loved spending time with my dad and admittedly I would get a small glass bottle of coke from the old "filling station", Van's, on the edge of town when he got gas.  As we were preparing to leave, my mom told my dad the car had no gas, or was very low.  I recall her telling him she had 10.00 and it had to last the entire week.  So we bundled up, dad in his brand new red coat, and me in my first pair of "Velcro sneakers" and headed to take photos.  My dad stopped and used 5.00 for gas in the car, keeping the other 5.00 for whatever else, gas, milk, bread, we may need that week.  Halfway to our destination, we came upon fire trucks, ambulances, and a freezing family, wrapped in blankets, watching their home, burn to the ground.  My dad pulled over, and got out of the car, telling me stay inside and keep warm.  Without hearing a single thing, I saw my dad take a husband and wife in his arms, speak to them both, and take the mans blanket off of him.  He wrapped that blanket around the small children, and took off his brand new red coat, putting on the man.  He took out that 5.00 bill, and put it in the coat pocket, shook hands, and came back to the car.  In my child brain, I thought, "OH NO!  What is he DOING?  What if mom finds out he gave away his last 5.00 and what will my brothers and sisters say when he comes home without his BRAND NEW COAT"?  He got in the car, and said, "No matter how little, we think we have, someone else has less.  It is our job, to take care of each other, and treat others the way we want to be treated".  Off we went, to finish business.  When we got home, I remember him telling my mom and siblings what he did.  I recall, him hugging us, and nobody being angry, because THIS, is what my dad is all about.  This is how we were raised.  THIS is why he sat us all in the backseat of a car, every chance he got, while he delivered food from the food pantry to those who were in need, so he could be the example, we weren't just told to live this way, we were shown it.  Meanwhile, we probably didn't have much food on our own table.  This to me, is the epitome of giving, never expecting anything in return.  My dad didn't know the name of the people, and they didn't know him, but what does that matter?  They were a blessing to each other, and 35 years later, it is as vivid in my mind as it it happened an hour ago. 

Thank you for letting me share my story with you!  Now we want to hear YOUR stories.  The stories of someone who helped you in a very special way.  Giving thanks by sharing your story and giving them the chance to win something very cool for their good works.  Here is how this will work!

In 300 words or less
-Recognize an individual who is making a difference in the lives of others or your community.
-Share how they are donating their time, energy or love on helping others without necessarily thinking of themselves.
-Give details on how they are working to improve lives of others.

If your inspiring person wins, they will win a $250 gift card to help them celebrate Thanksgiving.  And you will win $100 as our way of saying, "Thank You"!

So warm up your pens, and warm up the hearts of all of us this Thanksgiving!

You may enter on Facebook by clicking the "Giving Thanks" tab, or on Cookinplanit's blog.  5 winners will win gift cards and one lucky winner will get to have $1,000 donated to a charity of their choice!

Enter between Oct 18-November 1, 2013!  Hurry, do not hesitate to share your story of  thanksgiving!