Thursday, December 14, 2017

Cherry Mash Bars

Another good evening to you all!

Tonight, I am sharing what was a staple in our house as kids at the holidays.  Cherry Mash Bars.  Admittedly I was never a HUGE fan of these, my mom loved them and I believe my sister Peg was a lover as well.  These were supposed to be a take from the "Bing" Candy bars we had here.  Did anyone else have Bing Candy Bars? 

These are no bake, simple, quick and add beautiful color and flavor to your cookie trays!  I added some food coloring so my red layer on the bottom was red, not pink.  I like vibrant color, not faded!  You can choose to do this or not, no difference to me, I won't even ever know!  Seriously!

I hope you enjoy the video, and the recipe.  Let me know if you have had these, or if you try them! You are always welcome to post photos on my Instagram or Facebook and tag me!  I love seeing your interpretation of my recipes!

Oh, by the way, I found that cherry chips were SLIGHTLY less easy to find than regular chips.  Don't just assume your grocery store has them!  (like I did)!

1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup evaporated milk
2 T butter
1 heaping cup of cherry chips
1 cup mini marshmallows
red food coloring (optional)
1 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup marshmallows
1 cup peanuts

Line an 8x8 or 9x9 square pan with parchment paper.

In a saucepan, heat the sugar, milk and butter until boiling.  Let boil, stirring constantly for 2 minutes.  Add in cherry chips and marshmallows.  Stir until melted and combined.  Add in red food coloring (optional) and stir. Pour into your lined pan and refrigerate until you are ready for the next step.

In a microwaveable bowl, melt chocolate chips in 30 second increments so you do not burn them.  When melted add in marshmallows and stur until mostly melted.  Stir in peanuts and then spread carefully over the top of your cherry layer.  Smooth out and refrigerate for at least 1 hour until set and cooled.

Cut into squares and serve!


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Russian Tea Cake Christmas Cookies

Christmas is coming!  Christmas is coming!  I am unusually excited.  Perhaps it is the new home, maybe it is my deeper faith, or perhaps, it is that I am excited to be back in the swing of life after a hard 18 months. I think I can attribute it to being the happiest, and most content I have ever been in my life.  I have a gracious heart, especially about all of you.

I am late out of the gate but I will be posting as many recipes as I can before Christmas Eve!  I work best under pressure!  I will be filming some of my recipes, as many as I can as well, so make sure you hit up my YouTube Channel and subscribe!  Here is the link: FoodThoughtsOfaChefWannabe YouTube Channel!  If you haven't hit the FOLLOW on this website, I would love for you to do that as well.  I love having you all in my life, everywhere!  You see, and learn, and experience different parts of me on my different social media outlets.  Not sure why, but, it seems to be that way!  I am weird, like so weird, but I am fun!  I mean at least I think I am! HA!

Now, on to the recipe.  These were a staple Christmas cookie as a kid.  My mom never skipped over making these.  I wasn't a huge fan of them as a child.  But, I think, these are more appealing to grown ups.  I love them now.  I of course changed mine up, just a little updating on my moms recipe, but hers were awesome as well.  As you can see in the video, I can't keep anything the same size.  I think you should get 2 doz out of this recipe, but I made a few of mine for the jolly green giant so I didn't get quite as many.

Please feel free to change the type of nuts you use to what you have on hand or love.  I wanted to just go with hazelnuts because I love them, I had some some and it was definitely the right choice.  What if you did almonds, with a WEE bit of almond extract?  Ohhhhhh!

1/2 cup softened butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup finely ground hazelnuts
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract (maybe a heaping tsp)
pinch of salt
1 cup extra powdered sugar for dipping

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. 

Combine butter and powdered sugar until combined.  Add in nuts, and let it mix until completely combined.  Add in a pinch of salt, your vanilla extract and again, mix until combined.  Add in flour and mix just until it is all incorporated.  Your mixture will appear to be dry and crumbly, but I promise it will stick together!  

Using a cookie scoop, scoop out your cookies, dump into your hand and roll into a ball.  The warmth of your hands will melt that butter enough to make them roll nicely.  Do this will all of them, place on your parchment lined cookie sheet and then bake for 10 minutes!  Let cool completely and then roll in your additional powdered sugar!  Place on a platter and waaa-laaaa, time to enjoy!

PS Did I mention to just double this recipe from the start?!  DO!
PSS These will be perfect for your #nobrowncookietray Christmas cookie trays!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Grandma Gert's Creamy Chicken Rice

OK, so not MY Grandma Gert, but my cousin's Grandma Gert!

Growing up without grandparents.  Or rather, growing up with grandparents on the other side of the country and the other set of grandparents deceased, it seemed we were always picking up other "grandma and grandpa" figures in our lives.  My mom's parents had passed before many of us were born and my dad's father the same.  His parents lived back in Philly and I do recall speaking to my grandmother once, though I couldn't understand her, (she spoke Italian) I remember telling her Hello, and that I loved her. I felt like the only kid on the planet with no grandparents!

This recipe comes from one such woman.  She was my Aunt Virginia's mother.  A week or so ago on social media, my cousin Deidre had posted a photo to her sister and said she was making "Grandma Gert's Chicken and Rice".  They all were excited and it looked fabulous so I asked her for the recipe.  She sent it right to me ad I decided to make it that next night.

I am going to give you the recipe straight from Gert!   This lasted about 3 days for us.  I served it with a big salad because it is so rich.  Don't skimp on anything!  This will feed an army!

I hope you give this a try!  If you do, post a photo, tag me on social media, let me hear what you think!

Until next time....

If you like this recipe, you might also enjoy...

Chicken and Rice Casserole
Cheesy Chicken Gnocchi
Mexican Rice

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Blueberry Cheesecake Cookies

Hello my dear friends!  How long has it been?  TOO  long!

I am glad to be back with you, after all, it IS the most wonderful time of the year!  Right?  I am ready for holiday cheer, holiday feelings, holiday food, and everything else!  I truly find it odd, how busy things have been yet, at the beginning of such a busy time, I get to make time to share some cookies with you!

If you have been following me awhile you know I have a "Just Say NO To Brown Cookie Trays" campaign.  Well, maybe not a campaign but, I feel strongly about it.  You know the ones, don't act like you have never received them!  Hard cookies, difficult to differentiate one "flavor" from another, and not even sure what is in them.  Yes, those cookie trays.  I actually came up with these cookies, because I sell Scentsy as well.  This Blueberry Cheesecake Scent Bar came out and I was like, "oh maaaaan, I need to make that edible"!  I did!  This recipe was adapted from Get In My Belly.

This recipe makes between 18-24 cookies.  I will without a doubt double it when I make it again.  This will be on my cookie trays, and I hope they will be on yours!  My grandson helped me with these today, and he also is in the YouTube video that will accompany it!

Here is what you will need:

1/4 cup softened cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flower
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cornstarch
pinch of salt
frozen or fresh blueberries

white chocolate
vegetable oil

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Using a stand or hand mixer, combine cream cheese and butter.  When it is combined add in sugar and again, mix until all ingredients are combined.  Add egg, vanilla flour, baking soda, and cornstarch.  Mix until ingredients are just combined.

Refrigerate your dough for 1 hr.  I did 30 minutes and it worked fine but if you double the batch, go for 1 hr.  You can chill it up to overnight if you like.

Place balls of dough or use a cookie scoop.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Dough will spread, but if for some reason yours does not, just give it a little smoosh with your hand.  I used frozen blueberries I had let sit out for 10 minutes, but fresh will be awesome as well!  Place 4 or 5 blueberries on the top of each cookie, slightly pressing them in.  Let sit for 15 minutes.

You can enjoy as is, or you can drizzle with some melted white chocolate.  Use about 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips, melt in 30 second increments in the microwave.  Add a cap full of vegetable oil to it to make it a bit more liquid and drizzle-able!  Drizzle and let the chocolate set before serving!

I hope you enjoy these little heavenly cookies!  I think using strawberries, raspberries, etc would be awesome as well!!


Monday, October 9, 2017

Hasselback Caprese Chicken

Welcome back!  Time is flying, fall is falling and the garden produce is beginning to get to tired and worn out and cold to make anything more!  Bummer!  I picked the last of my basil, the last of my tomatoes, and decided to close the season with a bang!  This is a dish I have seen around here and there, but I wanted to make it my own way.  I wanted to add some seasonings, and better yet, I wanted to lay them on a bed of creamy, silky, alfredo-like sauce!

This came together in about 15-20 minutes, and another 45 in the oven.  I served it with a side of spaghetti that was lightly buttered, added some parsley, and a drizzle of this awesome sauce!

I gave you kind of an approximation of ingredients.  I wrote it for 4 servings, but for the tomato and basil and cheese it will depend on how thick you cut your slices, AND how many slits you put in the chicken.  See what I am sayin'?

Let's get started!

Cream Sauce:
2 T butter
2 T flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup chicken stock (up to 3/4 depending on how thick or thin you want your sauce)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Melt your butter in a medium saucepan.  Add in your flour and whisk to combine for 1-2 minutes.  Add in milk and chicken stock.  Whisk until slightly thickened and then add in cheese.  Again, whisk until cheese is melted and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Now, pour this mixture into a 9x13 baking dish.  Also, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F!

Now for the chicken prep you will need:

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2=3 large tomatoes
2-8oz balls of mozzarella cheese
20 leaves of fresh basil
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic salt
salt and pepper to taste

Slice your cheese and tomatoes into half moons.  Now take your chicken and slice across it.  Don't go all the way through, just about 3/4 of the way.  Do that to tall of the chicken breasts.  Using your Italian seasoning, and garlic salt, season them up all over.

 You can stuff these however you like.  Where you cut, you will stuff with tomato or mozz cheese. I used a basil leaf in each one, alternating mozz and tomato slices.  When you finish one, carefully place it in the 9x13 pan of cream sauce.  Do this until all chicken is done.

Lightly salt and pepper when all done and place into the oven.  You will need to start checking for doneness at about 35 minutes.  I used large breasts (teehee) and mine took upwards of 45-50 minutes.  Use your thermometers!

Enjoy this with a side of pasta, a salad, some nice crusty bread, the possibilities are endless and delicious!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Pizza Joes

Hey all!  Does it feel like fall yet?  Some days it does, some days it doesn't.  I wanted to put all of my fall decor out earlier but frankly, it seemed to risky.  I did finally put it up and now I feel more like fall on the inside, but remembered, I should have put up my Halloween!  So I traded it out today, and will redo the fall decor for November.  This isn't something your momma teaches you, this is real life people.  You only get one chance. #takerisks

Now, I don't know about you, but my husband and I are NOT fans of the sloppy Joe.  o this is my take on them, but twisted up a bit so we like them!  A fun lunch or dinner that your family will love.  Super easy and quick too!

1 lb lean ground beef
1 10oz can/jar mushrooms
1 T Homemade Pizza Seasoning
2 tsp. granulated sugar
1 cup pizza sauce
salt and pepper to taste
Hamburger buns
Shredded Italian Blend Cheese (or cheese of your choice)

In a skillet, brown your ground beef.  If your ground beef isn't super lean, drain the grease when it is completely browned.  Put back in your skillet and add in your mushrooms.  Let them cook a minute longer and then add in pizza seasoning, sugar, pizza sauce,  and salt and pepper to taste.  Combine completely and let sit on a low temp while you prepare your rolls.

Set your oven on broil.  Line your sheet pan with foil for easier cleanup!  Place your rolls, bottom up on the pan.  Place in the oven.  WATCH them CLOSELY.  If you follow me on FB you saw the "remains" of my rolls!  I always burn bread, it is just part of my DNA, and frankly, I just can't.  I can't.
When they are lightly golden, spoon your mixture on to the roll, top with plenty of cheese and stick back under your broiler for about 30-40 seconds.  Dead serious, just don't test me on this one.  Remove, put the tops on and serve!

Please feel free to add onion, bell peppers, mini pepperoni, whatever you want.  This was just a twist on traditional sloppy joes that neither of us are a fan of!

Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Earthquake Cake

Happy Fall Ya'll!!!  If you have been around awhile you know I use any chance I get to say "ya'll"!  OK, admittedly, it is on a sign I have hanging up on my patio so it might not have been an original thought.  In fact, that will be a common theme in this recipe post!

I am not the creator/inventor/developer/goddess of this recipe.  I do believe it has been around quite some time.  I wanted to give it a try.  In researching this recipe, I found about as many versions as there are people who make it.  Just wait until I share another version I found!  Seriously!  I think this could be a rather interesting, and tasty journey!

It is called earthquake cake because of the cracks that form in the top while baking.  But, can I be honest?  Lots that I saw photos of, had no cracks.  The truth is, I don't really think it matters much.  What matters is getting a piece on a plate and wrapping your lips around that fork and throwin' it back!  This cake needs no icing.  It is so decadent, and rich.  SORT of, kinda, maybe a tiny bit reminiscent of a German chocolate cake at the bottom! 

I think you should also have a glass of wine.  I think I am going to start ending all of my blog posts with that.  "Should be consumed with wine".  What do you think?

Here it is!  Check out the video too!  Make sure to.... Crap, let me find my manners.  I would LOVE if you would subscribe to my YT channel!  Thumbs ups, comments, sharing the videos, all help me grow!

Let's do it!

1 box German chocolate cake mix
1 cup water
1/2 cup oil
3 eggs
(or the measurements listed on your box)
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips (another 1/4 cup for later) If you want to use semi sweet or dark chocolate that is fine.
1 8 oz block of cream cheese
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar (confections sugar, icing sugar)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 9x13 pan with nonstick spray and sprinkle the coconut and 1 cup chocolate chips in the bottom, set aside.

In a bowl, prepare the German chocolate cake mix according to package directions.   Pour evenly over the top of the coconut and chocolate chips.  Set aside

In a small saucepan melt the cream cheese and butter.  When it is melted, remove and pour into a large bowl (or use a large saucepan) and add in your powdered sugar.  Whisk or mix to combine.  Dollop this mixture all over the top of the chocolate cake mix.  Use a knife to swirl it with the chocolate cake mix.  No need to go cray=zay, just do it a little bit and call it good.  Sprinkle the last 1/4 cup of chocolate chips on top and bake for 40-45 minutes.  When you take it out, it should be a little bit jiggly in the center.  No worries, cool it completely and dig in! 

So good, you don't even need frosting!  I mean, whipped cream or ice cream would be great, but, I don't want to be responsible for anyone's bad decisions. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Cheesy Kielbasa and Pasta Dinner

Good evening my friends!  It feels so good to bring you a new recipe last week and another one this week!  I have missed it, and all of you.

I found kielbasa at the store marked down.  1.00!  I bought a handful, ok....I bought 8,  Straight into the freezer for a good potato and kielbasa hash with a fried egg on top or something for breakfast or breakfast for dinners.  I asked you all on Facebook for your best recipes using kielbasa, and what great feedback.  I plan to give many of them a try!  I wanted to use pasta and cheese, and had never run across much of that nature so I went to work and hit this on the head, the first time and I can assure you, this might be a once a weeker in our house now!

This is a one pot show.  Everything into one hot tub and you are golden.  I even served it straight out of the pot.  Why not?  Added some crusty bread and a green salad and boom!

Feel free to trade out the can of diced tomatoes for a very large fresh tomato, diced!

1 T olive oil
1 lb kielbasa, cut into coins
1 tsp minced garlic
1- 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes (feel free to swap out one LG fresh tomato, diced)
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 T onion powder
16 ounces short pasta (I used rotini)
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (divided)

In a large pot, on medium heat add in your olive oil.  Let warm for a minute and add in your keilbasa and let heat through and brown for 2-3 minutes.  Add in your garlic and stir constantly for 1 minute.  Add in your chicken stock and tomatoes (with juice).  Stir in your onion powder and bring the mixture to a boil. 

When it boils, add in your pasta, stir and cover and let simmer 8-9 minutes.

Remove lid, stir in heavy cream and 1 cup of cheddar cheese.

Mix until combined.  Add the other cup of cheddar on top and put the lid back on.  Let sit for 3-4 minutes to melt the cheese.

I served this with some nice crostini and fresh green beans!

If you enjoy this recipe you may also enjoy:

Mexican Spaghetti
Orecchiette and Sausage

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Cookies and Cream Oreo Blondies

Heyyyaaaa!!  Long time no see, eh?  Been a slow summer.  Been in a transition time and just haven't been mentally at my best.  I am looking forward to fall and winter though!   Lots of kitchen time!  Lots of soup!  Lots of comfort food!  Lots of delicious goodness!

As most of you know, I have a new YouTube channel.  I would love to have you subscribe if you haven't.  Here is the link, FoodThoughtsOfaChefWannabe.  You will find lifestyle, food, hauls, Scentsy, and random videos with my littles and hubby!  That being said, I love couponing so one fo those channels I watch, Nicole Burgess and she shared this recipe from Six Sisters Stuff.  I adapted my recipe from that.  I changed it up in a way I thought we would enjoy it better!

Here is what you will need:

1 cup butter softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3.4 ounce package of INSTANT vanilla pudding
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 heaping cup of white chocolate chips
20 Oreo's roughly chopped  (I save a handful off to the side to sprinkle on top when it is in the pan)

You can do this by hand, but the mixture gets pretty thick and hard to stir, (I learned the first time).  I did it in my stand mixer this time!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside.

In your stand mixer cream together butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla.  When it is smooth and fluffy, add in vanilla pudding mix.  Mix until completely incorporated.  Scrape down the sides as needed!

Mix together the flour, soda, powder, and salt.  Just mix for a couple of seconds and then add flour mixture into the mixer bowl half at a time and continue mixing.  Next add in your cookies and white chocolate chips, (minus that handful) Mix until just combined.  Pour out into your 9x13 and even it out as best you can.

Pop it in the oven for 25-30 minutes.  It should still be a little gooey looking in the middle!  Let cool and serve up with an ice cold glass of milk!

Other Recipes You Might Enjoy:

Double Chocolate Mint Brownies
Chocolate Amaretti Trifle
Chocolate Crunch Brownies

Monday, May 8, 2017

Sweet and Tangy Macaroni Salad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Blueberry Cheesecake Stuffed French Toast

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

Instagram: @ftchefwannabe
Twitter: FTofChefwannabe

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

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

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

Here is what you will need!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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