Wednesday, October 30, 2013


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 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


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 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!




Friday, October 18, 2013

Dirt Cake

Good afternoon friends.  My husband has been asking me to make this for so long I feel terrible.  I don't even remember how long it has been but I can tell you it has been months, if not a year or better.  I love this dessert, and I love my husband so I am not sure what took so long. 

I can remember the first time I had this.  I was a kid, and I was THRILLED with the whole concept of eating worms from dirt.  OMG, what does that say about my developmental health?  Well, anyway, I have made it several times throughout my adult life, a few times in a sand bucket from the toy section, using the shovel as the spoon to serve.  I have done it in a flower pot and used a clean new trowel to serve it.  You can really do a million things with this, so I encourage you to be creative, it is so fun.  AND delicious!  By the way, I used more Oreo's than I ever have on this recipe I won't be going back to using less anytime soon. 

2 pkgs. Oreo cookies
1 pkg. cream cheese (8 oz.)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
3 cups milk
1 -12 oz.tub Cool Whip
2 -3 1/2 oz. pkg. instant vanilla
1/2 tsp. vanilla
gummy worms

First of all find a container.  Traditionally you can do this in a CLEAN sand bucket with a shovel (toy section) or a clean flower pot.  I did mine in my Pampered Chef Trifle bowl, you can even do it in a plain bowl, just pick your vessel my friends, pick your vessel!

Now, let's start with the Oreos!  In a food processor or in a Ziploc with an instrument of mass destruction, get ALL of the Oreos into crumbs, FINE crumbs and set aside.  Mix butter, cream cheese and sugar and vanilla together with your electric mixer or stand mixer (using whisk attachment).  Then add in milk, and pudding.  Whip for 2-3 minutes, until blended and fluffy.  Now add in your whipped cream, beat into mixture.  Decide how many layers you think you want and take some cookie crumbs and layer than into the bottom of your container.  Then, layer on some pudding mixture.  Rinse and repeat, ending with the cookie crumbs to simulate the DIRT!  As you're layering the ingredients, place several gummy worms and /or critters in the "soil".  Chill in refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours before serving

I am sure you have had this before, or you WISH you had it before, but now, you CAN have it.  ANYTIME you want it!  This made my hubby happier than a worm in dirt!

Your "dirt makes for a happy hubby" Chefwannabe

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Marshjellow Pinwheels

So I asked you all on FB when jello was a side and when it is dessert.  I tell ya, I just don't know.  You all probably know by now my disdain for the texture of jello.  But, this has possibly changed me.  Possibly.

It was funny to hear your stories of jello.  Because I mean seriously, who knew the world felt so strongly one way or another about it.  My mom and her shredded cabbage and carrots IN jello, ACK.  I sadly know she is not alone, many of you posted memories of that particular dish.  If you can call it that!  I always would eat my jello plain, nothing in it and I always wanted whipped cream on it.  I guess that makes it certifiably, "dessert".  I found this recipe and had to give it a try because generally, things like this don't turn out nicely for me.  As you can see it did, and it was SO unbelievably easy.  I would serve this for a meal with some whipped cream because I actually enjoyed this!  You can use any flavor of jello you want but might I strongly suggest apricot, like I used?  So delicious!

You will need:

1- 3 oz. box of Jello (flavor is your choice)
1/2 cup water
1 cup mini marshmallows

In a glass 8x8 dish, spray lightly with cooking spray and then use a paper towel to spread it around and thin it out.  Set aside.

In a bowl add in jello powder and 1/2 water.  Microwave for 30 seconds and then whisk.  Make sure all jello powder is dissolved.  Micro another 20 seconds if you need to, but you should be OK with 30.  Now add in your marshmallows and stir them around until they are coated.  Microwave another 30 seconds.  Stir marshmallows (or whisk) until they are all combined.  If they aren't all melted microwave in 20 second increments to get them all melted and combined with the jello.  Pour mixture into your greased dish and refrigerate at least 1 hour.  You will see the marshmallows in an act of extreme magic, separate from the jello to form 2 layers.  When your mixture is set, run a knife around the perimeter and picking up one small corner and working your way across, start rolling the jello.  You an easily lift it out and place on a serving tray.  I cut these with a thread, get it underneath the roll and cross your threads and pull to cut.  You could also use a very sharp knife.

These are fun and could be made to fit color themes or holidays! 
Your "getting friendly with jello" Chefwannabe

Monday, October 14, 2013

Gross Bloody Bandaids!

Gross, huh?  I know!  I told you I LOVE gross stuff!  I wasn't really kidding.  I am most people's idea of a nightmare dinner guest.  You wouldn't believe the conversations I can have while consuming food!!

These aren't so "OH HALLOWEEN" as they are "OMG HOW GROSS" which to me, is also SO Halloween-y!  I, in fact am delivering some of these sprinkled on a plate of cream puffs for my parents doctors office as a "thank you".    Fun idea, right?  I thought so. 

I, in fact, was trying to think of ways I could add dried up scabs, maybe some pus, oozing infectious discharge or something to these.  My husband was so skeeved out at the simple concept of a bloody band aid he nearly turned green when I made him try one.  They are an easy assembly kind of treat, no baking, and your kids will LOVE the grossness of it all, so get them in the kitchen with you!!

Bloody Band Aids
Graham Crackers (split in half)
Graham Cracker Sticks
1 cup white chocolate melts or chips
1 tsp vegetable oil (to thin melts if needed)
Red gel food coloring

Melt your white chocolate in a small Ziploc baggie, add in veg oil if you need it thinned out a little bit.  This is a great 2 person job, one person spreads on the white square in the middle, and one adds the blood!  Let harden and bam, easy, fun, and very disturbing Halloween treats!  I promise nobody else is going to be bringing bloody band aids to your Halloween parties!

Enjoy these!  Be disturbed, and possibly even get sick to your stomach at the thought, because all those things mean I was a success!!!

Your "Josie grossy" Chefwannabe

Friday, October 11, 2013

Candy Corn Fudge

Confession.  I don't like candy corn.  I know I can't be the only one.  Now, there are a few "candy corn" flavored (or allegedly flavored) things I love.  Like Candy Corn M&M's.  However, I think they taste more like cotton candy, MAJOR bonus.   I do like the Caramel Apple candy corn, once a year.  (like how I capitalize the first letter of all the names I like?).   Anyway, let me know if you are a candy corn fan or not.   I usually get a stomachache just looking at the bag of them!

This fudge is a major cheat.  It is majorly sweet and it is fairly tasty in small doses.  I mean if you are a sugar fiend, then it is good in huge doses as well.  I love the layered colors like a candy corn.  You know, NOT liking them but still getting to eat a visually comparable Halloween sweet treat.  Did that make ANY sense at all? 

I saw this recipe on YouTube. (  The truth is, I muffed up the recipe, but it worked out fabulous and I can't imagine their way being near as good.  So let us begin this VERY easy, VERY sugar laden, VERY bad, but oh so good treat!

2 -12ounce bags of white chocolate chips
1 container of vanilla frosting
orange food color
yellow food color
8x8 or 9x9 baking dish lined with parchment paper and sprayed with nonstick spray

In a small bowl add in 1 1/3 cups of white chips, melt 30 seconds at a time in the microwave.  When completely melted, add in 1/3 of the container of icing.  This doesn't need to be precise, just eyeball it!  Mix until combined and add in food coloring.  Yellow first.  Get the yellow you like and spread into the bottom of your baking dish.  Refrigerate about 10 minutes between layers.  Repeat using orange food color and then the last layer using no food color since you want it white.   Let chill in the fridge for about 2 hours before serving.  Use the parchment to remove the entire pan of fudge.  Place on cutting board and cut into small squares. 

This is a very simple treat that everyone will enjoy.  Change these colors up for your favorite team, or any holiday!  Add something to top if you desire, sprinkles, candy corns, the possibilities are endless. 

Your "I will never master real fudge so I continue to make fake fudge" Chefwannabe

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Monster Hand Garlic Bread Sticks

I just giggle when I look at my monsters beautiful hand.  I mean, a hand I can eat?  A hand that holds a bowl of marinara?  What is not to love about it?!  Maybe his hand isn't gorgeous, but he is a monster, his hand is supposed to scary and crusty!  (and garlicky, and dippy)

You all know I love Halloween.  I have been making every single thing I come up with in my mind.  I haven't gone balls, oh wait, that isn't an appropriate expression is it?  I have gone full steam ahead and some of my creations turned out rather, odd.  Like this first version of this recipe.....

Go ahead, you can laugh, I sure am!  This was rather, interesting to say the least.  This hand tasted amazing however and I will make Mr. Six Fingers again sometime, hopefully he has done something about his edema by then!
Halloween, to me, is a time to just have fun, be gross, eat food made into weird stuff and scare the crap out of anyone you know, who doesn't have a heart condition.  We love dressing up and having fun, plain and simple.
This is easy and would be a fun addition to any party table, or dinner table, the kids will love ripping his fingers off and dipping them in "blood"!!
You will need:
Pizza Crust (you can buy it, or make it.  The size doesn't matter it will just affect how large your end result it
Marinara Sauce
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp salt
2 tsp garlic powder
olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 small oven safe bowl
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick spray.  Manipulate your dough into the shape of an arm and hand.  Remember he is a monster, his imperfections make him good and creepy!  Now under the hand, carefully place the bowl, like this......
Now, drizzle with olive oil, and use a pastry brush to evenly coat the hand and arm.  Bake for 10-15 minutes.  You will just need to keep an eye on it because it depends on the thickness of your monsters hand!
When it is perfectly browned and done, remove from the oven and let cool COMPLETELY.  Do NOT remove the bowl until it is completely cooled.  Now, turn your oven to broil. 
When it is cooled, carefully flip the hand over, remove the bowl and wash it well.  Drizzle this side of the monsters hand/arm LIGHTLY with olive oil (this will be the original bottom side), combine Italian seasoning, garlic powder and salt and sprinkle all over.  Lastly, sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese and place into the oven for 2 minutes (approx.) just until the top is golden brown. 
Place the bowl back in his hand, (it should fit perfectly!) and fill with marinara and enjoy!  I sliced it into bread sticks like this....
Each of the fingers can be another one, etc.
Enjoy this fun and delicious Halloween or anytime treat!!
Your "don't get to handsy" Chefwannabe

Monday, October 7, 2013

Grecian Orange Cake

You all know by know I have been spending a lot of time at my mom and dads house.  AKA my "ancestoral home".  HAHA!  So we have spent a lot of time talking about old recipes, going through old cookbooks and when my mom had her "lightbulb" moment about this cake, I thought she was going to drop on her bad knees, risking a visit from the ambulance to beg me to make it.  I finally did!  Now she REALLY owes me cookies.  This cake was often made by her and/or her best friend Sharon who is our second mom.  Their family has 9 kids, ours has 10.  We were quite a group! 

I can't wait to share this delightful beauty with you.  It is a cake from days gone by for my mom and siblings, but I, never have eaten it.  My mom is sure I did, but never that I recall.  When I brought this cake up to my some of my siblings I got responses like, "OHHHHH, I LOVED that cake" and "Mom and Sharon used to make this cake", and simple "yuuummmmmmmm"!  I decided I must get the recipe and try it.  News flash, NOBODY has the recipe anymore.  What?  How could something that is evidently so amazing, be lost?!  I found the recipe on and both "moms" agreed it was the recipe they made.  Here are these 2 crazy amazing ladies at my moms 75th birthday party!

So in honor of my mom and the woman who treated us like her own I present to you, Grecian Orange Cake!  I love you both!

You will need:
Yellow Cake Mix
4 eggs
1 pkg instant lemon pudding
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup water

1/2 cup orange juice concentrate
2 cups powdered sugar (confectioners, icing)
2 tbsp. melted butter

Combine all ingredients  for the glaze and set aside. 

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  Combine cake mix, lemon pudding, oil and water.  Whisk or mix untl completely combined and smooth.  Spray or grease a bundt cake pan and pur batter into it.  Level your batter and bake for 45 minutes.  Immediately after you remove it from the oven, leaving it in the pan, poke holes with a skewer.  DO NOT poke them all the way to the bottom, maybe 3/4 of the way down.  Pour half of the glaze mixture over the top.  Let sit for 15 minutes.  Remove onto a plate or cake stand or platter, Let sit another 5-10 minutes.  Pour the rest of the glaze over the top and dig in!

Hoping this recipe brings you as much happiness as it does the Smith and Novosad families!

Your "memoriiieesss, like the corners of my mind" Chefwannabe

Friday, October 4, 2013

Bag O' Bones

Good Evening!

Have you had enough Halloween yet?  I haven't!  But this one, this one is easy, cute, and will please everyone!  Except the very difficult to please, they may find something wrong with them.  These are really just an assembly treat.  Perfect for school, the office, or just for home!  Sweet and salty strikes again!  I found this idea on google, maybe pinterest, not Facebook for sure, but I had to give it a try and see if they turned out as cute as they appeared or if the photos I saw were heavily edited to perfection!

Verdict?  Cute as EVER!  These would be perfect to do with your kids, they can do the assembly and you could do the dipping. 

These bones remind me of a haunted house we went to when we lived in NJ.  It was definitely an adult kind of scary place.  When we arrived and got the instructions and rules, we were told nobody was allowed to touch us.  We were with our dear friends Chip and Jami.  Well, during the first house, (there were like 4) some "dead man" jumped out at my husband.  My husband is tall and not a small man, the kid literally hit his head on my husbands chest and fell to the ground.  HA!  After he got up he asked my husband if he could "mess with me" to which my husband replied, "ABSOLUTELY".  Nice guy eh?  I was terrified as it was, and I could feel something in my hair.  When I turned around, the dead looking guy had some kind of BONE in his hand and was sticking it in my hair.  From that moment on, my husband never looked at me the same.  The profanity that came from my mouth, still hangs in a cloud over "Creamy Acres".  I spewed words I didn't know I knew, I was TERRIFIED.  Looking back, we laugh so hard, but at the time I was terrified, mortified, and my mouth should have been washed out with bubbles.  Perhaps by the "bubble man".  Right Jami?  Anyway, it was the best haunted house experience EVER, and I have never topped it.  One day we will, Horins!!  Miss you guys!  Maybe you had to be there, but in that moment of being so scared, you tend to lose control.....however, as long as it isn't your bladder, we are good.

Here we go.  The amounts of what you need are up to you.  I believe with 1 bag of white chocolate chips I got about 50-60 bones!  You will have PLENTY of the other ingredients for however many you want, the dipping chocolate is what you will need to plan for.

White Chocolate Chips
Pretzel Sticks (small)
Mini Marshmallows
Parchment lined baking sheet.

Take a pretzel stick and poke a marshmallow on to each end.  Make sure it is on good.  Repeat until you have the amount you need.  To melt your chocolate easily, microwave 30 seconds at a time until it is melted. If you want to thin it out a bit, add a cap full of veg oil to the chocolate and combine.  Do this until it is a workable consistency for you.  Some of you might not need any.  I used 1 1/2 tbsp.

Dip the bones in, and I used tongs to remove them.  Let them drain well.   Place on parchment lined paper and when you are all done, refrigerate for 30 minutes to harden.  You can also double dip these for a stronger white color.  I dipped them only one time, the next time I made them I double dipped.  Double dip friends, I give you permission and in fact encourage it in this case!

I hope you have fun eating bones for dessert!!!  Never did bones taste so good!

Your "bone crusher" Chefwannabe
PS.  How fun would these be for kids studying dinosaurs or bones in the body?!?  Again, not just a Halloween treat!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Chicken and Rice Casserole

I think I have an admission to make.  An apology maybe, perhaps, just to be forgiven.  I think.....I........actually...........MIGHT.........LIKE..............SOOOOOMMMMMEEEE......(coughs, chokes and feels lightheaded)...............CASSEROLES.  (gasps for a breath).  I know, I know, I have been hating on them for so long.  Granted I still think they look like a dogs dinner, I think there are SOME that can be done very appealing to the eye AND tummy. 

I know busy moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.....need easy recipes, quick recipes.  Kids are so involved in so much these days!  I get where a casserole will do that.  So many times they are a one pan or one pot meal.  I actually enjoy this myself, more and more. 

Aren't these recipes about a dime a dozen?  I know, I know.  I figured you wouldn't mind then if I shared mine, or rather my moms.  She has been making this recipe since the beginning of time.  She always used bone IN chicken but in the name of quick and easy and so forth, I went with boneless skinless breasts.  You could use boneless thighs as well or use bone in, but, I am just saying, I like this particular recipe better, bone OUT. 

I only added one thing to my moms recipe, and that is I added peas.  I liked it.  I really liked it.  Just make sure they are frozen ones!  You are getting my moms original here, which does include 2 cans of cream soup.  Go with it, or don't, but I ain't messin' THAT much with moms recipe!  I even baked it in her old 9x13 from when I was a kid, I LOVE this pan!

You will need:
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into big strips or pieces
1 cup instant rice (uncooked)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 empty soup can of milk
2 tbsp. melted butter
3/4 cup peas  (could also use 1 cup very small broccoli florets) BOTH are optional
salt and pepper
dried parsley, because my mom always did!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter or spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.  In a large bowl combine, rice, both soups, milk, butter, salt, pepper, and peas.   Mix until completely combined.  Add in peas, salt and pepper and mix again.  Pour into prepared casserole dish or 9x13 pan.  Lay in a single layer, your cut up chicken pieces. .   Sprinkle some dried parsley over the entire thing Bake for 45-60 minutes.  Chicken should be done and rice tender.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving. 

You don't have to add the peas (or broccoli) at all.  My mom never did, I just wanted to give it a try this time. 

Enjoy this family favorite from days gone by!!

Your "my name is Chris and I like casseroles" Chefwannabe