Monday, September 30, 2013

Peanut Butter Wishes and Chocolate Dreams

Hey guys!!  Have you ever gotten in the mood to get in the kitchen and create something amazing?  I mean like, AH-MAZING?  You know it is out of your culinary knowledge and you think your ability but you decide to go for it anyway?  Well that is what I did with this cake.  I wanted to make my husband his dream cake, just because he is, ya know, so DREAMY!! I took to YouTube for some ideas, and found only one cake that I thought to myself would be something I could experiment with.  More the method, than the actual flavors and colors.

My Geo, is a peanut butter and chocolate loving man!  I have been spending so much time away I just wanted make him something special.  I mean after all, food is love, right?  I wanted to make this so far over the top it was almost ridiculous.  There is some explaining to do, so let me get to it.  This is NOT hard, not even a little, but there are some specific things you need to do! 

OH!  Did I mention this cake has a surprise in the middle?!?!

Once again I used a box cake mix, do what you want, but the star of the show for me was not the actual cake.  You will need an angel food cake pan, 9 inch cake pan and an 8 inch cake pan.  (2-9's will work but it make it difficult to work with once you have cut the cake to fit)

For the CAKE you will need:
2 chocolate cake mixes (or a double recipe of your favorite "from scratch" recipe
1, 9 inch round cake pan
1, 8 inch round cake pan
1 angel food cake pan (approx. 9 inches at the base)

Preheat your oven and prepare cake mixes per box directions.   Line cake pans with parchment and spray with non stick spray.  Divide the batter so that about 1/4 goes in each round cake pan and 1/2 goes into the angel food cake pan.  The round layers will go on the top and bottom of the angel food cake and don't need to be the normal thickness.  Once this is done, bake according to the box directions.  A few minutes less for the round cakes and up to 15-20 min longer for the angel food cake because it is obviously thicker.  When they can be poked with a toothpick that comes out clean, they are done.  Let cool COMPLETELY!!

While they are baking, prepare your frosting and filling:

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup Reese's Pieces
1-1 1/2 cups mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups or Regular size cut into quarters.

2 cups creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup butter (softened)
4 cups confectioners sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla
3-5 tbsp. milk (depends on the consistency you want, may need even more or less)

In a bowl with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer combine 2 cups peanut butter, butter, confectioners sugar, and vanilla.  Beat until smooth.  Begin adding milk until you achieve the desired consistency for your liking.  Beat for 2 minutes on high when you have achieved that consistency and set aside.

When cakes have cooled, on a cake plate or cake board, place your 9 inch cake.  Spread a thin layer of plain peanut butter on top.  Now, add your angel food cake pan layer, largest side down so it is evenly placed on top of the 9 inch layer.  Spread a layer of peanut butter on top. 

Fill the hole with the Reese's pieces and peanut butter cups you have for the filling.  Fill to the top!  Now place the 8 inch cake on top.  (NOTE, if you use a 9 inch cake, it will need trimmed which makes icing a little trickier but not impossible by any means)

Frost the entire cake with your frosting.  Make sure you have enough left to do any decorating with a piping bag that you want to do.

I also poured ganache over the top of my cake for added decoration and interest.  Here is my recipe for Ganache.

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
Reese's Pieces Candy
Peanut Butter Cream Frosting

Use these as you wish.  Decorate to your hearts content!!  When you cut your cake, it will be like a piñata!  Candy will spill out from the center like this....

Complete joy and love in every bite!!

Your "brownie points for this wife" Chefwannabe

Friday, September 27, 2013

Halloween Jello WORM Shots

I have an aversion to jello.  I don't know why.  Oh wait, yes I do, it is the texture.  That slimy, wiggly, jiggly, gelatinous goo, kind of consistency.  There is something jello reminds me of, especially grape or red or any variance of the two, but I am going to spare you the mental image.  You are welcome.  However, I have this inner battle when it comes to jello shots.  I mean HELLO, isn't it obvious? 

I also have an aversion to worms.  Slimy, nasty, dirty, wiggly, bleh.  I have "chicken skin" just thinking about them.  Oh, that is what I call "goosebumps"   As a matter of fact, I got out of the shower this morning, then took the dogs out, and stepped on one, enough to feel it wiggle between my toes, I screamed, called the dogs in, and re showered.  I can STILL feel that wiggling between my toes.  And the smell of worms.  GAH!  This is from a self admitted "indoor girl". 

The first jello shots I ever had, were amazing.  Since then I have experimented with so many combinations of flavors.  Things like rum with lime jello, strawberry jello and whipped vodka, the possibilities are endless.  Let's face it, who doesn't love a jello shot?  Who doesn't double take at the thought of partaking, especially when they look like real, slimy, jiggly worms?!?! 

1 small package jello any flavor (use whatever color you like) I used Cherry
2 envelopes of unflavored gelatin (usually 4 come to a box)
Food coloring to intensify or grossify the color of jello you are using
1 cup vodka (omit this if making non alcoholic) I used Cake Vodka
1 cup boiling water (2 cups if omitting the vodka)
2 tbsp heavy cream or half and half (optional bit it gives a more real look)
bendy straws, yes they need to be bendy, so sayeth ME! (I got 25 out of this, but could have probably gotten a bit more.)
1 tsp flavoring to match your jello.  (I find the flavor weakens when adding all the unflavored gelatin, but this is not required)

Prepare your straws by pulling all of the bendy parts out.  You want them to mark the jello so it looks segmented like a real worm.   Rubber band them together and with the bendy part closest to the bottom, place in a glass or tall container as small around as possible to make your straws fit as snug as possible.  Set aside.  In a large glass measuring cup or medium bowl, combine boiling water and jello, mix until the jello is completely dissolved.  Add in alcohol, food coloring, flavoring, and mix.   Pour mixture over the straws until there is about 1 inch in the bottom of the glass.  Freeze for 20-30 minutes until set.  This will prevent all of the jello in its liquid form from running out the straws and just filling the glass when you add it all.  Make sure your gelatin has cooled, if it is hot, it will melt the "seal" you have made on the bottom!!  Now pour the rest of the jello over the straws and refrigerate at least 4 hours to set.  When you go to remove the "worms" just run the straw under warm water for about 2-3 seconds.  Dry it off with a towel and pinch the end and push the worm out!  Wa-laaa!  GROSS!!

 If you end up with someone else's costume, or are hurling vodka worms, don't blame me.  Take 2 aspirin and call me in the morning.

Your "go eat WORMS" Chefwannabe

PS.  This would be a fun project with kids in general.  OMITTING the alcohol obviously.  Worms aren't just for Halloween!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Salted Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls Smackdown!

So, one of my readers, Jenn, challenged me to some kinda of smack down.  Here is how it started...

Jenn made my Not Your Mom's Cinnamon Rolls, and loved them but was looking for a substitute for the milk for her child's health issues.  I suggested apple juice.   Hmm, now THAT put an idea in my head and I told her about it.  She said she was considering playing around with that idea as well and we both decided to make our own version!  I am going to share her recipe at the bottom and I already see something I am going to incorporate into MY recipe!  Thanks Jenn, it was fun!!

I have to make hers and she is going to make mine, we will get to that at some point!  As it turns out, we both did nearly the same thing without knowing it!  My husband thought of my twist, so let me thank him for that, because I know he is reading and after all, it was HIS idea! 

These are to die for.  No, I know I say that a lot, I mean DUH, what I am a supposed to say?  My food blows?!  HA!

You will be following my recipe for the above mentioned cinnamon rolls, and we are going to add a twist.  Are you ready?  I am!

For the Cinnamon Roll Dough you will need:
1 pkg dry active yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup water at 110-115 degrees
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4-4 1/2 cups flour

In a measuring cup place hot water and 1 tsp sugar.  Put a thermometer in it and if it is to hot, wait for it to cool to 110-115 degrees.  I know some people say they always kill the yeast so better to have it to hot and have to wait for it to cool a bit.  I do it like this and just wait for it to get to the temp I want!  When it gets to the correct temperature add in your packet of yeast, give it a tiny stir and remove thermometer.  Let sit 3-4 minutes.  It should get foamy on the top!
Now in a bowl or stand mixer  (using your dough hook) add in the egg, milk, melted butter, sugar and salt.  Mix until combined.  Now add in the yeast mixture, flour, cinnamon, and vanilla.  I might have slipped and added extra vanilla too!  I always do, you know that! HA!
Now once you get it all combined, by hand or machine, either knead it for 3-4 minutes until smooth, or let it go in the stand mixer the same amount of time, or until smooth. 
Turn the dough out into a buttered, or sprayed with non stick cooking spray, or oiled bowl.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and sit in a warm, draft free place.  Sometimes I turn the oven on to preheat for baking and set the bowl on the stove top.  This could take an hour, or it could take 3 hours.  The warmer the area, the faster it will happen.  It should about double in size!
When it is doubled in size, take it out of the bowl unto a floured surface.  Roll the dough out into a rectangle shape.  It should be about...hmmm.....14-16 by about 10-12.  Never thought about it, just always did it!  What comes next is the filling and here is what you will need for that....
For the Caramel Apple Filling you will need:
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup VERY soft butter (can melt and use a pastry brush as well)
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 can apple pie filling (drain a little bit of the loose liquid off and leave chunks of apple in tact, you want this to have been refrigerated and cold)
Spread the butter over the dough, make sure to get it covered everywhere!  Sprinkle brown sugar evenly, then spread the apple pie filling on top, and then the cinnamon. 
Get your oven preheated to 350 degrees.
Starting at the bottom start rolling the dough, go from the bottom and work your way across so it is eventually all rolled up.  When you get to the end, pinch the seam together.  Now you could get up to about 14-16 out of this, but I get 12.  I like tall, substantial rolls.  So using a serrated knife, gently cut it in half and then go from there.  However many you want out of the roll, make it happen!  If you cut them thinner and get 14-16, make sure to take 5 minutes or so off of your bake time!
When they are cut, put them into a generously buttered 9x13 pan.  I fit 12 perfectly.  Get them situated and then cover them with a clean dish towel and let raise again, for approximately  1 hr.  If you have your oven on, and use my trick, it won't take that long. 
Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove them from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.

For the Topping you will need:
1 cup caramel topping
1 recipe of cream cheese icing (can be found in above mentioned cinnamon roll recipe)
Course salt

After rolls have cooled, ice with cream cheese frosting.  Drizzle liberally with caramel topping and give each roll a tiny sprinking of salt on top!  Serve and lose yourself in the decadence!!

Your "my cinnamon roll life will never be the same" Chefwannabe

Here is Jenn's version!  I love the idea of cooking your own apples, WHICH I considered, but I was concerned they might not soften enough, I don't know, obviously they will when you cook them and then bake them and they are in small chunks.  So maybe I was lazy.  So what?!? ;)
These looks DIVINE and I am so glad you were able to change this up to meet dietary needs of you and your son!!  Thanks for inviting me to come up with this recipe with you!!

Caramel Praline Apple Sweet Rolls

1 Tbsp yeast
1 cup warmed apple juice (I used Martinellie’s unfiltered apple juice)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg plus 2 egg yolks
½ tsp salt
½ cup butter, melted
4 – 4 ½ cups flour
In a microwave safe bowl, warm apple juice to 110⁰. Mix sugar into warmed juice, then add yeast and mix gently. Set juice/ yeast mix aside.
In a large mixing bowl, mix 3 ½ cups flour, salt, eggs, vanilla and melted butter. Once the juice/yeast mix starts to get all foamy on top, add to flour mixture. Stir around until well incorporated. Add more flour, ½ cup at a time until a nice dough forms and starts to clean the sides. Turn out on to a smooth floured surface. Add in flour as need to make the dough not sticky, but don’t add more than needed. Knead dough until it becomes smooth and springy. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rise for 1 ½ to 2 hours or until doubled in size.

While dough is rising, make the apple filling.

5 medium granny smith apples, peeled and rough chopped
6 Tablespoons butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
Good squeeze fresh lemon juice
2-4 Tbs softened butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Place first 6 filling ingredients into a medium saucepan. Cook on medium high, stirring occasionally. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes, and then reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 20 minutes, or until apples are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Drain apples, reserving the liquid. Let apples come to room temperature.

Once dough has doubled, dump on to lightly floured smooth surface and roll to approximately 12” X 16” rectangle. The dough should be about 1/2” thick. Gently spread with softened butter. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon, then evenly spread the cooked apples. Carefully and tightly roll the long part of the dough and pinch the edges closed. Here I kind of smash and smush the dough log around to even it out and make sure it is the same length and thickness all along the roll, you want a nice even log. Then divide the log into the number of rolls you want. I cut 12 rolls, but I made them nice and thick. You could probably get 16+ with smaller rolls. Place all the cut rolls into the pan so the cinnamon/apple mixture is facing upwards. Cover and set aside while preparing the praline sauce.

Praline Sauce:
1 cup reserved apple liquid
1 cup brown sugar
¾ cup butter
1/3 cup heavy cream (I used all natural vanilla coffee creamer)
2 tsp vanilla
Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add vanilla. (It may splatter) Pour over resting rolls in pan. Recover pan and let rise for 1 hour. Place in preheated 350⁰ oven and cook for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned.

When rolls are removed from oven to cool, start making the frosting.

4 oz. cream cheese, room temp
2 Tbs butter, room temp
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cup powdered sugar
½ cup VERY good vanilla ice cream
Beat cream cheese and butter on medium until smooth and creamy. Add in remaining ingredients and mix until smooth. Once cinnamon rolls have cooled to warm, spread or pipe frosting evenly over them and serve.


Monday, September 23, 2013

Dad's Favorite Corn Pancakes

I think the title says it all.  I posted on Facebook I was going to post a recipe that made me yack.  Some of you wondered why I would do that.  Let me tell ya, about a man named Walt...

My dad.  For as long as I can remember, my dad has been the backbone of our family.  The quiet, hard working, do what has to be done, kind of backbone.  He never needed praise, he only wanted to provide for his children, and be paid with hugs and kisses.  Sometimes, my dad, who signed himself into the military at 16, to ease the burden of mouths to feed for his parents, worked 4 or 5 jobs at once.  No, I am not kidding.  Ask him if he would ever change it.  He would tell you no.  Then he would tell you he would only change being able to spend more time with us.  When he would come home for dinner, after he would eat, his one luxury was watching MASH.  While he watched MASH however, I was sitting on the sofa behind him, putting curlers in his hair, barrettes, ribbons, maybe even some makeup.  Whatever it took to make us happy, he did.  He has never been afraid of hard work, he taught us all to be the same.  He loves us with passion, and he disciplined with passion.  He always made it clear he wasn't there to be our friend, he was our dad, and that was that!   Remember the days of having so much respect for your parents, you would never do anything wrong, just for fear of making THEM look bad or disappointing them??  Thanks dad, for everything, but mostly for being our dad.  I love you!

I have been spending a lot of time at my parents the last few months.  We had a conversation one night about all the things my mom used to cook that my dad hated.  He never said anything of course because, he ate what there was to eat.  My mom used to make biscuits with everything.  Recently he told her how much hated them, and always did!  However, she made this one thing for him that I hated!  I think a lot of my siblings disliked it as well, can't really remember.  We were having a bit of a celebration while I was there last week, and so I surprised him and made him his favorite pancakes.  He told me his mother used to make these for him as well.  I have never seen anyone eat it besides him, EVER in my life.  I guess you kind of  get a "twofer" with this one.  Omit the corn and you have the best pancake recipe ever! 

I have NEVER been able to make pancakes, until this recipe I found at my moms.  Not only were they perfect the taste was incredible.  I used only half of the batter for corn pancakes, and put vanilla in the other half and made regular for myself.  O. M. G. 

Give my dads a favorite a try, tell me what you think!  I know how it sounds, but, hey, anything for dad!

2 cups flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups milk
2 eggs beaten
4 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 can corn (drained)

Combine all ingredients until smooth.  Make sure to use nonstick spray or butter in your pan or on your griddle.  Using a 1/3 cup measure, make your pancakes on medium heat.  When they start to bubble they are ready to flip and the second side just takes about 30 seconds!  Serve with butter and syrup!!

If you omit the corn and add, 1 tbsp. vanilla, you will have AMAZING pancakes!  The batter should be a bit runny, that is the secret is to light and fluffy pancakes! 

I hope you enjoy these!  We used to have them for dinner, fairly often.  Likely because they were cheap for a family 10-12 to make!  We were also, a big breakfast for dinner family!

Your "my dad is the REAL Santa but shhh don't tell anyone" Chefwannabe

Friday, September 20, 2013

Wienerspaetzle Soup

Clever name huh?  I know.

You know what time of year it is, don't you?  Cooler weather, FINALLY.  Leaves falling off the tree.  Chilly breezes at night, rain and clouds.  You are right, it is SOUP season!  Some people call it fall or autumn, I call it soup.  Soup weather, soup season, soup, soup, soup.  I especially like soup with noodles.  TONS of noodles.  BUT, have you ever had leftover soup and the noodles soak up all the broth and get mushy and overcooked and, oh what a pot of gross it becomes.  Well, I found something that won't do that. 

OK, my 4 year old great niece is laying here by me.  The rest of the Husker fans are in the living room, we choose NO Husker game.  So I just said to her, "What do you have to say about soup Leyana"   Here is what she has to say, "Chicken noodle soup, chicken noodle soup, chicken noodle soup with a soda on the side".

I love spaetzle.  I am seriously like....addicted!  Have you ever used it in place of noodles in soup?  I wanted to combine Wienerschnitzle and Spaetzle into a soup, but you can use them as noodles in any soup!  They never get mushy, never bloat.  They freeze and store beautifully!  Give this soup a try, it is so good, nice texture and flavor.  Make sure to salt and pepper to your taste!!

4 cups beef broth/stock
4 cups chicken broth/stock
1 lb pork, cut into strips or chunks.
1 large carrot, chopped
1 batch of Spaetzle
1/2 cup of parsley (minced fine or just ripped)
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, bring beef and chicken stock to a boil, add in carrots and pork.   Let simmer, covered for 15 minutes.  Prepare spaetzle dough and after the soup has cooked 15 minutes, make your spaetzle right into the pot.  Gently stir, and when all spaetzle is made, let cook for 5 minutes covered.  Add parsley just before serving. 


Your "soup-izing everything"

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Touchdown Corn Salsa

I live in the Cornhusker State.  I moved away, and returned in recent years, and it is still a state where the word "corn" must be the most used word among its residents.  Cornhuskers, (though we won't discuss them right now), cornfields, corn trucks, corn pickers, popcorn, corncorncorncorncorn!

It was only natural, in light of it being football season, that I made a game day snack that contained corn, right?  You know, you make all that game food and just make an entire, day long meal out of them?  Do you all do that too?  We are a picky loving' family, we just would rather "picky" to the Philadelphia Eagles!  Yes I admitted it, a Nebraskan who isn't a huge Husker fan.  You all know I am going to have to into hiding now, right? 

Anyway, this is a fairly healthy dish for me.  I mean, this is no diet blog for sure, but I also love healthy things too!  Yes I DO!  Mind you, I ate this salsa between the beans.  I don't groove on beans, not even in this salsa.  The flavor is great, and though I did not use cilantro, I think it might be a tasty addition if you groove on it.  Such a split world when it comes to cilantro eaters and cilantro free'ers!   How do you exactly spell that, really?  I like my way, so it is staying.   Enjoy this for game day, your next FIESTA, or just for healthy snacking anytime!  This makes a fairly large batch.  OK, it makes a huge batch. 

1 large tomato, diced (approx 1 1/2 cups)
1 15 oz can black beans (rinsed and drained)
1/2 small jalapeno FINELY diced (more or less to suit your tastes)
1/2 cup onion
1 16oz bag of frozen corn
1 TBSP minced garlic
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil (or oil of your choice)
1/2 tsp hot sauce (optional)
2 tbsp. cilantro (optional)

Combine all ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.  The longer it sits, the better.  Stir occasionally if you like while it is chilling!  Serve with chips and you have a TOUCHDOWN!

Your "GO BIG RED" Chefwannabe

Monday, September 16, 2013

Old Fashioned Scotcharoos

Let me introduce you to a childhood favorite!   However, I have a love hate relationship with the MEMORIES these little sweet treats bring up! 

Let me explain....

Growing up Catholic, but not attending a Catholic school, we had to attend CCD every Wednesday after school.  I swear at 3..err 29, I still get butterflies on Wednesdays!  I would get off the school bus at the high school, and walk to St. Mary's Catholic School, a school in fact where I would later teach music!  Anyway, Sr. Michaeline was my teacher for several years.  (oh yea me)  Our parents had to take turns sending treats.  I always asked my mom to make scotcharoos.  Well, the LAST time I ever took them, in the 3rd grade, I was SO excited.  My mom had let me cut different shapes with cookie cutters.  I had decided exactly what shape each classmate would get.  I got to CCD, and the helper was there and told me to go ahead and hand each friend the ones I made for them.  She said I could "show everyone what shape they were getting".  So as I proudly trotted around that classroom the STAR shaped one changed my life forever.  I had a complete Mary Catherine Gallagher moment.  I proudly held it in the air, and as I put it down, Sister Michaeline walked in and gave me the look of DEATH.  I got nervous because she was not a nice woman by far and I was afraid the giggles and fun would upset her.  I went to put it down and knocked over the cup of red koolaid over with one of the points of the star.  Uh-huh.  Did I mention it was the last time I took them?  She handed the rest out to who she wanted to have them and made me stand in front of the class and tell them I was clumsy and made them all stand in a circle around me while I scrubbed it off the floor.  Nice lady, eh?  

Do you need a tissue?!?! HA HA!!

I have one thing to say to Sister Michaeline..........BLESS YOU.

So now, I share with you, one of my very favorite childhood treats, complete with that "Catholic School" smell!

Oh yea, if you thought for a minute these are healthy, click off now.  In fact if you are diabetic, take your meds before you even read.  K?  K.

1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
6 cups rice krispies

Combine syrup and sugar in a saucepan.  Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until it boils.  Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter.  Add rice krispies when it is all combined.  Pour into a buttered 9x13 pan and press into the pan evenly and firmly. 

1 pkg milk chocolate chips
1 pkg butterscotch chips

Melt in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time.  When all chips are melted and you have stirred to combine completely spread over the top of the scotcharoos evenly. 

Refrigerate until the topping is hardened!  Cut into squares, or any shape, EXCEPT stars!

Your "I swear I am not scarred for life" Chefwannabe

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

The winner of the T-fal and giveaway is.................
(tongue roll style drum roll please.......................)
Blessie you have 48 hours to contact me or a new winner will be selected!

I am so thankful to each of you for entering.  I hope that you will stick around, and continue following me, here, or any of my social media sites! 
I love giving you all things, to show you my appreciation for laughing with me, "lifing" with me, sharing your lives and families with me and COOKING WITH ME!
Enjoy a beautiful weekend!
Your "giddy" Chefwannabe

Friday, September 13, 2013

Spaghetti Corn

DISCLAIMER: Yes, this uses Velveeta a "cheese product".  A LOT of it.  No this does not qualify as a healthy recipe.   You can try this with regular cheddar cheese, but I can't guarantee the outcome of your dish.

Spaghetti corn.  OHHHHH, spaghetti corn.  I love this side dish.  In fact, I think part of why I love it so much is that it holds fond memories of my friend Leann, and her family who I thought and still think the world of.  Great people, kind people, generous people.....what a blessing to anyone who entered their home!

The first time I had this at the Rasmussen house, I had come over because I was mad at my mom!!  I am sure it was a very good reason....THEN!   It was dinner time, and they had just finished up.  Leann, your mom was sure I hadn't eaten anything so she made me a plate and insisted I eat.  I looked at this orange mountain of I wasn't sure what and thought, "OMG, how do I nicely irp right here"?  I thanked Linda (Leann's mom) and thought, "just swallow and drink, swallow and drink, do NOT breath from your nose, just throw it down the hatch".  I would have never done anything to be unappreciative of Linda, she is so kind, and I just adored her.  I just put my big girl panties on and did it. 


While I was taking my first bite of the "unknown", Leann's dad cracked some ridiculous joke.  NOT uncommon.  I started to laugh and accidentally CHEWED the "unknown".  I didn't mind it so much, so I took another bite.  I purposely tried to taste it and wouldn't you know, I LOVED it!  I loved it so much I had to ask her to heat up more.  No shame in my game folks, if it is good, EAT it!  Anyway, thus came my love of this delish dish.  This situation has happened to me on several occasions as a young person.  Through this "forced to be respectful" method, I love brussel sprouts, tomatoes AND asparagus!  Three of my favorite foods to this day!

Years have passed, I was out of touch for a long time with Leann, and got back in touch over Facebook.  Sadly, Leann's dad has passed away, but her mom is still a spaghetti corn makin' mama!  I for some reason was thinking about it awhile back and emailed Leann for the recipe.  She said they still make it on holidays, and she still loves it!  That was just confirmation I HAD to make it and share it with you!!

The original recipe calls for canned corn.  All l had was 10 ounce bag of frozen corn.  I let it thaw and used it, it worked perfectly. 

1 can creamed corn
1 10oz bag of frozen corn that has been allowed to thaw
1/2 of a large brick of Velveeta.  (yes you read it right, cube it up)
1 cup broken spaghetti
1/2 stick of butter

Preheat your oven to 350.  In a small casserole dish, combine all ingredients. 

Bake for 1 hour.  Make sure to stir all ingredients a couple of times during baking to ensure the pasta gets fully cooked and all ingredients are combined. 

Remove and enjoy.  This is very rich, very delicious and a perfect side dish for any meal!  It is easy, and cheesy, who could ask for more?!

I don't think we try new things enough.  Give foods you think you don't like, a chance!  Your taste buds are always changing, and being close minded never looks good on anyone, ever!

Your "try something you think you don't like at least once this week" Chefwannabe

Thursday, September 12, 2013

How to Clean Your Silver. Amazingly effective and easy!

So as most you know I have been spending a lot of time with my parents.   The last time I was there, my mom and I cleaned out her buffet.  We came across her almost completely black silver tea service.  She expressed that she might take it somewhere to have it professionally cleaned and put it back out because she loves it.  I laughed at the thought of the poor sucker who had to manage to clean that things up. 

Well, she had to go out of town for a few hours, so I turned to you all for advice on how to clean this thing up.  I thought if I could make a dent at least I could clean it every time I was there until it was clean.  One of you posted an ehow link and I went with it.  I wish I had a before photo because here is the after......

Next time I am there, I am going to do this again, just to make sure things are really clean.  This was incredible and though it isn't food, it qualifies as the "and my life" part!  My mom almost DIED when she saw it.  She was sure I took it somewhere while she was gone.  Perfect 10 strikes again!

Here is how this works.  They say you can put it right in boiling water, but 2 of my pieces were to big so you can do it how I did it, or do it all in the pot of boiling water if your silver pieces fit.

Clean your sink well.  In the bottom of the sink, lay a piece of aluminum foil, shiny side UP.  Please your pieces on top of it.  (when I did the tray I put the foil shiny side down on top so it was in contact with the area needing cleaned) Get it?

In a LARGE pot, boil water.  Boil enough to cover what you are doing as best you can.  Add in 1 tbsp. baking soda, and 1 tbsp. salt.  Pour it over the pieces and let sit for 5 minutes.  (less if less tarnished).  drain the water or lift it out of the water and with a soft rag start rubbing it.  You barely need to rub it at all.  In fact, I  put that tray under hot running water and the black just rinsed away!  It was SO cool!

If your pieces are small enough, lay the bottom of your pot with foil, add water, baking soda and salt and bring to a boil, slide in your smaller pieces, turn off the burner and wait.  Remove and wipe clean. 

I hope this is helpful for anyone who needs silver cleaned.  It is an recipe, I just wanted to share it, as being completely effective and almost miraculous!!!

Your "addicted to cleaning silver" Chefwannabe

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Strawberry Short Cake Cookies

Good Evening friends........

It is COOKIE time.  I am on a cookie kick.  I was on a cupcake kick, and I pray my next kick, will be going to the gym, but that is another entire blog.

My sister makes these awesome Strawberry Shortcake Cookies.  She gets the dough from some big name cookie company, which I am sure you can guess.  They are bomb,  no matter how you slice it.  I just prefer less "junk" if I can help it at all and so I decided to try my own.   Besides, I LOVED Strawberry Shortcake, as a child.  As in...the cartoon.  I wanted to BE Strawberry Shortcake.  Oh, the days when nobody thought you were delusional, or needed meds,  when you wanted to grow up to be cartoon characters!

I used a sugar cookie recipe that I fancied up.  It is as simple as that.  I like soft cookies.  These are soft, yet chewy, perfection in my opinion.   I prefer this, so, if you don't, remember this is all about me. HA!  Really though,  if you like a crunchy, crispy cookie, this isn't your ride.  I sprinkled the top of mine with pink sugar, but something just occurred to me.  WHY, didn't I use red?  WHY do I always associate strawberries with pink?   I do that all the time.  So use pink, red, plain white, whatever tickles your funny bone.  (by the way "funny bone" is not what I originally typed).  I think that is about it.  These are a delicious cookies and I hope you enjoy them!

1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup butter (softened)
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
3 1/3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup dried strawberries  (not hard and crunchy dried, but dehydrated!)
1 cup white chocolate chips (or more, you know you will add more)
sugar (optional)

Preheat your oven to 375.  In a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together sugar and butter.  When it is light and fluffy add in vanilla, egg and baking soda.  Combine thoroughly.  Add in flour and mix until just combined.  Stir in strawberries and white chocolate chips.

On a lightly greased baking sheet, scoop your cookies, flatten them slightly, and sprinkle with sugar (optional)  Bake for 10-13 minutes.  Let cool 5 minutes on your cookie sheet and then transfer to cooking rack.  Repeat until all cookies are baked.

Your "reminds me of my childhood and strawberry shortcake" Chefwannabe

Monday, September 9, 2013

Wedding Cake Bites

Yes, you TO can have wedding cake without having to get dressed up, get a wife, get a husband, pay for an open bar, or an expensive dress!

Everyone (OK most people I know) are wedding cake fanatics.  I asked you all on Facebook what flavor immediately came to your mind when I said, "wedding cake".  You had lots of cool responses for sure!  When I think of wedding cake I think of white cake, with almond flavor.  Pretty old school eh?  But for some reason that is what comes to me first.

I could have easily gotten these flavors with a cake mix.  But instead...........  I did it from SCRATCH!  Love that, dontcha?  I do bake from scratch, sometimes, so be nice!   I wanted the true wedding cake experience in one bite.  So tweaking some flavors, I think I accomplished what in MY mind is a bite of wedding cake heaven, WITHOUT having to buy a gift.  Just sayin'...

I made mini cupcakes, thus, ya know, the "bite" part.  You are welcome to make regular size cupcakes.   This recipe yields approx. 5-6 dozen mini cupcakes.

Wedding Cake:
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/4 cup milk

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  In a small bowl combine, flour, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.  In a larger bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer combine, shortening, eggs, sugar, almond extract and milk.  Mix until completely combined.  Add in flour mixture and mix just until flour is incorporated.  Line a mini cupcake pan and fill 3/4 of the way full.  bake 13-15 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes and remove from pan. 

Almond Wedding Cake Icing:
1 cup shortening
4 cups powdered sugar (confectioners, icing)
1 tsp almond extract
4 tbsp. milk

Combine all ingredients until smooth and creamy!  Ice your cupcakes by piping or spreading on with a knife.  Garnish with sprinkles or colored sugar or leave plain!

I hope you love these as much as we do!  It makes a ton, so be prepared to share!
Your "eats wedding cake in pajamas" Chefwannabe

Saturday, September 7, 2013

T-fal Review and....GIVEAWAY! (CLOSED)

OH YOU GUYS...............!! 

I know I have been throwing "T-fal" around like crazy lately, but it is with good reason.

I was sent a beautiful 12 piece set with "Thermo-Spot".  What that means is, in middle of the sauté pans, is a red dot with writing and circles.  When your pan is at the optimum temperature and ready for your ingredients it turns completely solid red.  I love this for sautéing, nobody wants their veggies sitting in oil so long they won't brown up or sauté nicely.  Another thing I love about the sauté` pans are of course they are nonstick and the handles don't get hot.  All of the pots in the set are oven safe to 450 degrees F.  I tested it and they did beautifully.  Just REMEMBER, the handles are HOT when you get them out of the oven.  I know, it might be obvious to you, but if you are in a hurry and you just are thinking, "oh, they don't get hot" and BAM, you need a skin graft.  Know what I mean? 

My Spaghetti Frittata, fresh from the oven in my T-fal 10.5 inch Sauté Pan!

There is another HUGE perk to these pots and pans, and that is, they are marked with measurements on the inside!  WOOHOO!  Seriously, no more measuring or guessing.  It is right on the pot, and easy to fill your pots to the desired measurement.  I also appreciate the glass lids.  I have the attention span of  worm and I love watching my food cook. 

I also tested this in the dishwasher.  I am leary of ever putting my cookware (and knives) in the dishwasher.  I sucked it up and went for it, for the sake of testing every claim these pots have.  It turned out just fine.  I have to say, I won't do it on a regular basis, I just can't, I CAN'T but, in a hurried moment I will know they are going to be just fine.  When you hand wash the nonstick pans, the food just slides out.  It makes me all tingly.  Even the nonstick clean easily. 

I am completely satisfied, and even impressed with these pots.  With the 12 piece set you get:

-5.5 Qt Covered Dutch Oven
-3.2 Qt Covered Sauce Pan
-2.2 Qt Covered Sauce Pan
-1.1 Qt Covered Sauce Pan
-8 in. Saute Pan
-10.5 in. Saute Pan
2 Stainless Tools (large spoon and spatula)

This set retails for an average of about 100.00 depending on where you buy it.  I not only think it is a quality product for the price, I think if you don't get your hands on it, you are nuts!  Oh and by the way, mine have black handles, some have red.  I am not sure what you will get if you win the giveaway. 

Now for the part you have been waiting for!!!

I get to give away one set to one of you!  ACCKK!!  You are REQUIRED to have signed up for a free profile at Cookingplanit.  Your membership will be verified.  So don't forget or  you can't win! 

You can STILL enter the remaining giveaways!  Hurry!!!  Check them out here!

The Cooking Planit and T-fal 2013 Giveaway
Start End Flight 1 Flight 2
8/19/13 8/25/13 Baby Boomster Mrs. Schwartz's Kitchen
8/20/13 8/26/13 CopyKat Recipes Daily Dish Recipes
8/21/13 8/27/13 Lisa Cooking LarksCountryHeart
8/22/13 8/28/13 ME Redone Hot Eats and Cool Reads
8/23/13 8/29/13 Mother Would Know The Two Bite Club
8/24/13 8/30/13 Sophistishe Citron Limette
8/25/13 8/31/13 Kitchen Concoctions Cupcakes and Kale Chips
8/26/13 9/1/13 I Can Cook That Leave a Happy Plate
8/27/13 9/2/13 Peaches & Cake i love my disorganized life
8/28/13 9/3/13 Diddles & Dumplings Yates Yummies
8/29/13 9/4/13 Basil Momma Cooking With Libby
8/30/13 9/5/13 Persnickety Plates Creole Contessa
8/31/13 9/6/13 Ancestral Chef Bite Sized Blog
9/1/13 9/7/13 The Staten Island Family Mamal Diane
9/2/13 9/8/13 Food Fash Recipes For My Boys
9/3/13 9/9/13 The Wicked Noodle Hungry Little Girl
9/4/13 9/10/13 Unorganized Mommy of 3 The Tasty Fork
9/5/13 9/11/13 Yi Reservation Dixie Chik Cooks
9/6/13 9/12/13 Chicago Foodie Sisters The Fountain Avenue Kitchen
9/7/13 9/13/13 Cooking from a SAHM FoodThoughtsOfaChefWannabe
9/8/13 9/14/13 Bobbi's Kozy Kitchen Rants from My Crazy Kitchen
9/9/13 9/15/13 What Jew Wanna Eat Sumptuous Spoonfuls
9/10/13 9/16/13 The Mama Report Busy Mom of Two
9/11/13 9/17/13 Culicurious Huppie Mama
9/12/13 9/18/13 Three Diets. One Dinner. Spice's Bites

Friday, September 6, 2013

One Pot Beefy Rice

Yes, I DID say 4 ingredient.  This is going to be every busy parents dream dish.  Ok, well "dream dish" might be a little dramatic but it will satisfy your hungriest little

I worked at a daycare in high school.  We used to make this a lot, but we just added ground beef to a pre boxed rice mix.  I loved it.  It was sodium laden goodness.  However in my older and wiser years, I dropped the box mix and did it all with my own ingredients, ok MOSTLY.  You simply do everything in one pot.  You can add other things you like, onions, carrots, celery garlic, any veggies you want really, maybe even diced tomatoes.  However, today I am sharing it in its simplest form which is my favorite.  If you do veggies, just cook them with the hamburger as you brown it!

I hope you give it a try.  It is a great meal for picky eaters I find.  If you have all the ingredients on hand you can have supper in 15 minutes.  Dead serious, maybe even less.  I do not count salt, pepper or seasonings as ingredients by the way, just in case you wondered! 

1 lb ground beef
1 envelope onion soup mix
3 cups instant rice (uncooked)
3 cups good beef broth (I like low sodium)
1 tbsp. parsley (optional)
1 tbsp. onion powder (optional)
1 tbsp. garlic powder

In a large pot, add in ground beef and any veggies you choose, IF you choose.  Pepper and lightly salt the beef to taste.  If you use a high fat content hamburger, drain the grease at this point, but do NOT rinse.  If you use lean ground beef, just leave it.  Add in the beef broth, onion soup mix, onion powder and parsley.  Bring to a boil, add the rice, cover and remove from heat.  Wait 5-7 minutes and fluff with a fork.  Enjoy!

Your "done before ya know it" Chefwannabe

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Banana Split Cupcakes

Can you believe I have NEVER, in my life, ordered a "Banana Split"?  Seriously!  Never. 

As a kid, we all got the same thing, a small cone.  Money was tight, and we would fight over any discrepancy so, my dad went ordered us small cones, across the board!  There is a story in my family from before I was born.  Apparently my dad and mom got all the kids an ice cream cone, which happened back then, about one time a summer.  Remember I am the youngest, (aka Perfect 10) of 10 kids!   When the kids in the back seat started arguing about someone having a taller cone, my dad pulled over, grabbed every single ice cream cone, INCLUDING my moms and threw them all out the window.  Not a word was spoken, which for my dad, is worse than ANYTHING.   My mom is still ticked off to this day!! HAHA!  He wouldn't tolerate greediness of any kind, at any age, especially when ice cream was such a rare treat.  Anyway, so even when I was little, it was sort of the same, but by the time I came along I probably got to pick my own flavor!  Secondly, I don't like fruit.  I just couldn't imagine the ruination of perfectly good ice cream and hot fudge sauce, with all that.......FRUIT! 

These cupcakes however, perfection.  A little bit of a dense-ish banana cupcake, pineapple frosting, sprinkles, chocolate and a cherry.  I mean, get outta here.  The pineapple flavor is very subtle.  You can choose to add some crushed pineapple that is VERY well drained or just use the juice. (hubs wants actual pineapple added next time) No matter what, these look like you labored hours in the kitchen and the reality is, they are so quick and easy.  This recipe makes 12 cupcakes and the frosting will perfectly frost all 12!  It is cupcake season, birthdays, school treats, school bake sales, parties, you name it.  These will be a hit no matter WHO you serve them too!

Here we go! Cake recipe first!

Banana Cupcakes
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup mashed bananas
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.  Fill 12 liners in a cupcake pan with the mixture.  Bake 13-15 minutes, remove from oven and let cool in the pan.

NOTE: This is a dense cake, amazingly flavorful but a bit dense.  If you want a fluffier cupcake, use a cake mix and banana extract.  I would personally, go with my version :)

Pineapple Frosting
1/2 cup softened butter
3 tbsp. pineapple juice
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup marshmallow fluff
(optional) 1/3 cup crushed pineapple

Mix all ingredients.  I piped mine on but feel free to use a knife or however you frost cupcakes!

Maraschino Cherries (blotted off on paper towels so the juice doesn't run)
Sprinkles of your choice
1/2 cup chocolate chips or melts (melted)

When the cupcakes cool, then frost.  Add sprinkles while icing is still fresh and make sure to top with a cherry at this time!  Let sit in the fridge or on the counter for 1 hour then drizzle with chocolate! 


Your "no fruit in my splits please" Chefwannabe

Monday, September 2, 2013

Roasted Red Pepper Marinara

Hello beautiful friends!  I am in a good mood, can you tell?  If I tell you why, you won't believe it.  I have just made the most amazing marinara, EVER.  Yes, I said EVER.  Just look at this beautiful goodness!

This may look like your everyday, run of the mill sauce, but trust me, it isn't!  I was watching a blogger friend who also has a YouTube channel.  Her name is Heather, of "Mishmawshandotherthings", and you can find her at her blog, or here at her youtube channel.  I was inspired by her homemade marinara.  I took her method, and some of her ingredients and added a few things of my own.  This recipe looked fantastic and roasting the veggies before cooking them is fantastic.  What flavor!!!!  I have to thank her for being an inspiration for this recipe.  I hope you go join up with her, she is a good lady, a real mom, with real kids, and she cooks real food.  GOOD food.

I am planning on making a large batch or multiple batches of this sauce to can or freeze.  I am adding no meat, (as Heather did), and can see using this for a soup base, lasagna, for stuffed peppers, cabbage rolls, gravy, I mean the list goes on and on!  Oh it was ROCK over meatloaf!  When you want to add meat, you treat it as you would any other sauce, dare I say "jarred".  Add your browned meat, meatballs, sausages, whatever you want.  This is a versatile baby and I think you will love it!

10-15 tomatoes (cut out the core and cut in half)
4 cloves of garlic (peeled)
1/2 onion (cut into chunks)
1/2 red bell pepper
olive oil
5-7 leaves of basil (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350.  Prepare all of your ingredients.  When you have them ready to roast, put them on your sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil and salt liberally. 

Roast for 1 hour.  Remove and let cool for 5 minutes.

Put all roasted goodness into your blender.  Blend on high until smooth.  If you do not have a powerful blender you can strain it through a fine mesh strainer, mine left a FEW pieces of skin but I left them.  If I had blended longer they likely would have been completely pulverized!  I added about 5 large basil leaves to mine before I blended as well!

Add back into your saucepan and add sugar to taste.  I added 2 tbsp.  I also added salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. 

This is absolutely the most delicious marinara I have ever made or tasted I think.  As you can see I simply added it to some plain spaghetti and just enjoyed the goodness!  Crisp, clean, fresh and homemade goodness.  You may never by jarred sauce again, I know I won't, not even in an emergency!

Your "garden goodness and homemade happiness"Chefwannabe