Sunday, March 30, 2008

Pot Roast & Risotto

If you have been reading my blog since day one (which was only a few weeks ago), you might recall that I was pining for pot roast. I took out what I thought was a pot roast from my freezer but it turned out to be about 4 pounds of ground beef. Well, I finally made the pot roast that I have been dying for. I am one of those cooks who tries new recipes constantly. I rarely make the same recipe twice. But in this case, I loved Tyler Florence's pot roast and risotto recipe so much that I am on my third or fourth time making it. That really says something for this recipe. Tyler Florence makes this pot roast on the stove top in a large dutch oven. I am not sure why we couldn't use a slow cooker but I didn't. I followed his recipe to the letter. It was so good that I didn't want to mess with success. The recipe is time-consuming at over 3 hours just to cook the pot roast (which is why I thought it could be put into a slow cooker) but it is so worth the time. Just try it once and you'll be hooked on this pot roast too! The risotto is creamy and heavenly -- so luscious. All I can say is yum!

Pot Roast Risotto
3 hrs., 55 mins.


Pot Roast:

2 1/2 pound beef shoulder
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 medium onions, peeled and sliced in half
4 large carrots, cut in half
2 celery stalks, sliced in large pieces
1 cup red wine
2 quarts beef stock
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 bay leaves
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
8 cups pot-roast braising stock, strained, skimmed and heated
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil

Cooking Instructions:

Start with the pot roast. Drizzle the meat with extra-virgin olive oil and then season all over with a good amount of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. In a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot that has a tight cover, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over moderately high heat. Sear the beef all over, ensuring a nice crust and good even color. Add the rosemary, thyme, bay leaves and garlic cloves to the beef. Then add the onions, carrots and celery and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the red wine and then the stock.

Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Braise for about 3 hours, basting every 30 minutes with the pan juices, until the beef is fork tender. Set the meat aside and take out the vegetables. Strain the braising liquid and skim the fat, this will be used to make the risotto.

Now prepare the risotto. Place a large, deep skillet over medium heat and pour in 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes, until soft. Stir in the rice making sure to coat all the grains with the oil. Add wine and thyme and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Ladle in 1 cup of strained, hot braising stock. Using a wooden spoon, stir constantly until most of the stock has been absorbed. Keep adding stock, one cup at a time, and stirring until absorbed. After about 10 to 15 minutes, test the rice. It should be cooked and creamy but still have a slight bite to it. (You may not need all of the stock.) Season with salt and pepper; stir in Parmesan cheese. Taste for seasoning then remove from heat and cover. Just before serving fold in chopped parsley.

To serve, slice the pot roast and arrange over the top of the risotto with some of the vegetables. Garnish with fresh parsley stems.

I didn't use all the beef stock to make the risotto but I didn't have much left. I like my risotto more creamy than crunchy. I didn't keep the onions and celery that were cooked with the roast. I did keep the carrots to enjoy with dinner. The pot roast and risotto wasn't very photogenic so if you really need to see a better picture you can check out and search for pot roast and risotto.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

French Toast

Last night, my son and I were watching Good Eats with Alton Brown on the Food Channel. He was doing a show all about toast. He created the yummiest looking French Toast I have ever seen. After the show was over, my son and I looked at each other and decided we HAD to make that French Toast. It is similar to the French Toast I ate as a child only in the fact that it uses eggs and bread. Other than that, it is light years away from the French Toast my mom made 30 plus years ago. She always used Silvercup bread. She dipped the bread in an egg batter and frequently dipped that into breadcrumbs and fried it up for us. We would always douse it with pancake syrup and powdered sugar. I loved that French toast until I started making my own. I used whatever store-bought bread I happened to have in the house, dipped it an egg, vanilla and milk mixture. I would fry it up in my electric frying pan. My son enjoyed that type of French Toast until we tried Alton Brown's French Toast extravaganza!

One of Alton Brown's comments about authentic French Toast were that you should use high quality bread. The options he suggests are day-old country loaf, brioche or challah bread. I could only find challah bread at the grocery store. I am not sure how "high quality" it was but it did make some yummy French toast. We enjoyed it on Saturday morning with some strawberries, real maple syrup and powdered sugar.

French Toast courtesy of Alton Brown

1 cup half-and-half
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons honey, warmed in microwave for 20 seconds
1/4 tsp salt
8 (1/2 inch) slices day-old country loaf, brioche or challah bread
4 tablespoons butter

In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, eggs, honey, and salt. You may do this the night before. When ready to cook, pour custard mixture into a pie pan and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Dip bread into mixture, allow to soak for 30 seconds on each side, and then remove to a cooling rack that is sitting in a sheet pan, and allow to sit for 1 to 2 minutes.

Over medium-low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a 10-inch nonstick saute pan. Place 2 slices of bread at a time into the pan and cook until golden brown. Approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and place on rack in oven for 5 minutes. Repeat with all 8 slices. Serve immediately with maple syrup, whipped cream or fruit.

I had to double the custard ingredients to have enough for all 8 slices of bread. My bread slices must have been gigantic. Also, I added a half teaspoon of vanilla to the custard because I love a little vanilla in my French Toast batter. Try this recipe one Saturday morning when you have time. I know you'll love it.

The Creative Cook

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Baked Applesauce Doughnuts

I am finally ready to talk about my complete failure at making baked applesauce doughnuts. Well, maybe not a complete failure. My son said he liked them (isn't that sweet). The recipe is from the same book that I got the Chocolate Buttermilk Muffin recipe from. It is called Breakfast All Day by Edon Waycott. I doubt that my failure at making the recipe had anything to do with the recipe itself. I think it probably had something to do with my lack of expertise at bread baking of any type. This recipe called for kneading. I don't knead very well. I also substituted Egg Beaters for a whole egg, which may also have contributed to the problem. Oh yeah, I also substituted powdered sugar for granulated sugar in the recipe. If you are a baking expert, please let me know if any of these things or all of these things combined would cause my doughnut disaster. Yes, that's right I had two food-related disasters in the same weekend. These doughnuts came out very heavy and kinda hard. It was almost funny. I vow to find a baked applesauce doughnut recipe that works for me. I also need to find a doughnut cutter. I had several but I probably gave them away. They are harder to find than you might think. I wound up using a glass and a small pill bottle cap to make the doughnut "holes." Believe me, with the thickness of my dough it wasn't easy. The dough reminded me more of a pound cake than a doughnut. If I threw one of these babies across a room, I could probably do some damage!

Baked Applesauce Doughnuts
1 large egg
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbls safflower oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbls baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
2 tsps ground cinnamon
For the Topping:
3 tbls unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar mixed with 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar, oil, buttermilk, and applesauce. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and blend. Form into a ball and knead lightly on a floured surface until a soft dough forms. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease well.
Roll out the chilled dough (it will still be soft and slightly sticky) into a 3/4 inch thick circle on a well-floured surface. Flouring a doughnut cutter before each cut, cut out 12 doughnuts and "holes," rerolling the scraps when necessary. Place on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the bottoms are lightly browned. While still warm, brush the tops and sides with the melted butter and dip into the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Makes 12 doughnuts and 12 "holes."
The Creative Cook

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

I was reading a blog yesterday that said "food tastes better when it has a story." I tend to agree. Almost every recipe I try comes with a story. This recipe came to me from the newspaper. In my little corner of Maryland, we read the Baltimore Sun newspaper. Don't get me started on critiquing that paper. In any event, every Wednesday they run recipes in the paper. Years ago, shortly after I got married I had the bright idea to start my own cookbook with recipes from various magazines and newspapers. Most of those recipes still sit in a photo album in my china cabinet unused and untested. Since my son loves chocolate, I have made this one for Banana Chocolate Chip Bread many times over the years. In fact, I made it last Friday. My father-in-law was down visiting us from New York (well he was actually up from Myrtle Beach but that is another story) for the NCAA Tournament. He and my husband got into the banana bread before I could start taking pictures. That is why my picture shows a half-eaten cake. Both these guys ate it frequently over the weekend for breakfast and for a snack. That is a testament to how good it tastes.

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

Makes 1 loaf

2 cups flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 small bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup pancake & waffle syrup (I used 1/4 cup maple syrup and 1/4 cup honey)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup milk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I never use nuts - my son is allergic)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl; set aside.

Beat eggs in a small bowl; stir in bananas, syrup, oil and milk. Add to the flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Batter will be lumpy. Stir inn chocolate chips and nuts. Pour into a greased 9-by-5 inch loaf pan.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 60 to 65 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan. Cool completely on a wire rack. For easier slicing, wrap bread and store overnight.

The Creative Cook

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Muffins & Stuff

When I started this blog two weeks ago, I promised to make posts about successful attempts at cooking and baking as well as unsuccessful ones. Well, last weekend I had a couple of successes and one attempt at a recipe that was less than successful. I'll start with the best one first. I made a recipe from one of my cookbooks called Breakfast All Day by Edon Waycott. I haven't tried many of the recipes in this book but am I ever glad I tried this one. It is a recipe that my son didn't even want me to consider making but I went ahead and made it anyway. These muffins are so yummy! I caught my husband sneaking one last night and I just ate the last one right before I started this post. The recipe is

Chocolate Buttermilk Muffins

3 ozs unsweetened chocolate
6 tbs (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup dried cherries
Powdered sugar for garnish

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees farenheit. Line 8 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate and butter with the buttermilk. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat the egg, vanilla, and sugar until light. Dissolve the baking soda in 1/4 cup of boiling water and add to the egg mixture, along with the chocolate. Mix until well combined. Ad the flour, cocoa, and baking powder and mix just until incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips and cherries.

Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin cups and fill to the rim. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the centers are firm when lightly pressed with a finger or a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Allow the muffins to cool for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Dust the tops heavily with powdered sugar before serving. Makes 8 muffins.

I took these muffins out of the oven after 15 minutes. I inserted a toothpick into the center of one of the muffins and it came out chocolatey. I forgot that there are chocolate chips in these muffins. When I tried to put them back into the oven I had what I like to call a "muffin disaster." The muffins toppled out of the tin onto the door of my oven. I was able to save all but one muffin that got squashed. It was a sad day. Anyway, these muffins were well worth the extra work it took to clean up after the muffin disaster.

Tomorrow I will tell you about the luscious banana chocolate chip bread that I made.

The Creative Cook

Monday, March 24, 2008

Barbecue Sauce

I am happy to report that my niece M has agreed to do a banner for my blog. I can't wait to get something original on the blog rather than the spots that currently adorn it. It might take her some time because she is an attorney and the mom of an adorable 2 year old. She is really creative with pictures, too. I have very high hopes for my new banner and an improved look for this blog.

On a food-related note, I have been thinking about barbecue. The weather is getting nicer and soon we will be going outdoors for get-together's, picnics and weddings. A good barbecue sauce is important. I have started reading the ingredients on the store-bought varieties lately and I don't like what I've been finding in those. I decided that I needed my own home-made yummy variety. I tried a simple version that just included white vinegar, molasses and mustard. That was pretty good. In fact, I still have some sitting in my fridge. My son happens to really like that one. I thought it was a bit too thin. I found this recipe in my Moosewood Restaurant Low Fat Favorites cookbook. I adapted it a bit to my own liking. I am definitely trying it on some ribs very soon.

Barbecue Sauce

1/2 cup minced onions
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/4 cup soy sauce (I recommend Annie Chun's organic)
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup ketchup or tomato paste (if using ketchup try organic)
1/4 cup unsweetened apple or orange juice
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
2 tablespoons molasses
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Simmer in a saucepan, uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often or until thickened. Tightly sealed and refrigerated, it will keep for at least 2 weeks.


The Creative Cook

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Cooking By the Seat of My Pants

Do I have a right to advertise someone elses blog on my blog? I think I do. Will anyone see it, doubtful. But I like this guy's blog and I especially like the idea of possibly winning an Apple Ipod Touch for my son or my hubby. So here goes, please visit This is a fun-to-read blog by a guy with a 19 month old which certainly makes things interesting. He is giving away an Apple Ipod Touch, another great reason to check out his blog. Maybe that is what I need to do, a few give-aways. I'll start thinking about that.

The Creative Cook

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cake

Recently, I have been thinking about chocolate chips. You already have my favorite oatmeal chocolate cookie recipe but I have another favorite chocolate chip recipe. This one is for chocolate chip cake. It is really yummy. Just sitting here thinking about it, I can smell it baking in my oven. The recipe is from another unusual source. It comes from my favorite Lang calendar. My sister would buy that calendar for me every year. Then one year it just disappeared. Lang stopped publishing it. It was called the American Kitchen Calendar. I have several recipes from it in my favorite recipe drawer. This one is from the 2003 American Kitchen Calendar. Enjoy!


1 box Duncan Hines Yellow Cake Mix
4 eggs
½ cup water
½ cup Wesson oil
4 oz pkg German Chocolate, grated
8 oz sour cream
6 oz pkg. chocolate chips, miniature
1 box Jello Instant Vanilla pudding

Mix above together well. Pour into greased bundt or tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes. Cool and remove from pan. Frost if desired or sprinkle with powdered sugar.

The Creative Cook

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Unorthodox Shepherd's Pie

I know that I mentioned how much I love to cook but did I mention that I also love to read? My favorite books are murder mysteries. Put those two hobbies together and you will understand my love of Diane Mott Davidson's books. The main character in her books is a Colorado caterer by the name of Goldie Schultz. In each of her books, Diane offers up several interesting recipes. I love reading the recipes but I have never tried making one until my son looked through Diane's latest book (which happened to be on my bookshelf) and found the recipe for Unorthodox Shepherd's Pie. He kept asking me to make it. I finally relented. I am so glad that I did. It is scrumptiously delicious. All of the recipes in Diane's books can be found on her website

Unorthodox Shepherd's Pie


· 2 pounds lean ground beef
· 2 cups chopped onions
· 2 cups chopped celery
· 2 tablespoons olive oil
· ¼ cup all-purpose flour, plus 1 Tbsp
· 2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
· 2 teaspoons dried thyme, crumbled
· ½ teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
· 1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt, or to taste
· ¼ to ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
· 1 cup frozen baby peas
· 1 cup frozen baby corn
· 4 ½ pounds russet potatoes
· 1 ½ cups half and half
· 1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
· ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
· additional sea salt, to taste
· additional freshly ground black pepper, to taste
· ½ stick unsalted butter, cut into bits
· paprika


In a very large sauté pan, sauté the ground beef, onions, and celery in the oil over medium heat until the beef is browned and the vegetables are limp. Add the flour and stir for 2-3 minutes, until the mixture begins to bubble. slowly add the chicken stock. Stir until completely combined, then stir in the thyme, rosemary, and salt and pepper. Cook and stir until the mixture is bubbling and thickened. Stir in the peas and corn and set aside.

Bring a large quantity of salted water to boiling. Peel the potatoes and drop them into the water. cook for about 40-45 minutes. In a small saucepan, heat the half-and-half until it is steaming, but not boiling.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch deep-dish pie plates. Grease or line a baking sheet.

Remove the potatoes from the heat, drain, and place them in the large bowl of an electric mixer. Begin to beat the potatoes on low speed, slowly adding the hot half-and-half, the cheese, and the additional salt and pepper.

Place half the beef mixture in each of the prepared pie plates. Place half the potato mixture on top of the beef. Scatter half the butter bits on top of each potato mixture. Sprinkle generously with paprika.

Place the pies on the baking sheet and place them in the oven. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are browned and the pies are completely heated through.

I had never made shepherd's pie before because I thought it was made with lamb and I don't like lamb. Boy was I wrong. I put one of the pies in the freezer and pulled it out one night when I had no idea what to make for dinner. It was a hit both times. Enjoy!

The Creative Cook

Monday, March 17, 2008

Amazing Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is my "go to" recipe for chocolate chip cookies. Everyone loves them. I got the recipe over 10 years ago in an Urban Legend email forwarded to me from a friend. It was one of those recipes that said someone was spreading it around because she had asked for the cookie recipe at Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus and was charged $250 for it. Well, that email turned out to be a hoax but this recipe turned me into the best oatmeal chocolate chip cookie baker in my little corner of Maryland. Okay, I improved on the original recipe a bit but not much. I know you'll love them even if you don't like oatmeal chocolate chips. I say that because people have been telling me how good they are ever since I made the first batch of these babies over 10 years ago. The secret is in putting the oatmeal in the blender and blending it into a fine powder. The recipe makes a HUGE batch of cookies but this has never been a problem. They go fast!


2 cups butter
4 cups flour
5 cups blended oatmeal**
2 cups sugar
2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
24 oz chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

**Measure oatmeal and blend in a blender to a fine powder.
Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla; mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Add chocolate chips. Roll into balls and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes 112 cookies! (really)

You can also add your choice of chopped nuts or a grated 8 oz Hershey bar if you desire. In my opinion, adding anything else would be overkill. Make sure your baking powder hasn't expired. I used expired baking powder in this recipe once and the cookies came out flat. That was the only time this recipe let me down. It was my own fault for not checking the expiration date on my baking powder, though.

The Creative Cook

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday Night Recipe Catch-Up

This weekend I spent lots of time making the recipes I posted last week. I tried making all the recipes and I succeeded except for the apple barley pudding. I just didn't have time to make that one.

I thought the Crock Pot Corned Beef Dinner was very tasty. I wasn't expecting corned beef to be sweet but was quite sweet. If you don't like the idea of corned beef being sweet, don't use the glaze or reduce the amount of brown sugar in it. Since we didn't know what corned beef and cabbage was supposed to taste like, we didn't mind. My son said that it was the best St. Patrick's Day dinner he ever had. Of course, it was probably the only one he has ever eaten since he is only 9 years old! I thought that the amount of vegetables was excessive, at least for my family. There will be leftovers of the cabbage, potatoes and carrots at our house for quite a while.

I thought that the Irish Soda Bread dough was way too dry. I had to add about 1/4 cup of water to get it to form into a dough. Also the cooking time was too long for my oven. The bread got too brown. This soda bread is very dense but I think it is supposed to be like that. This bread got rave reviews from my son and my husband for taste.

Now for the Easter Bread. I have to admit that I don't know how to work with yeast. The dough looked good to me but when I put it aside for the first "rise" it didn't do much. I thought, "Well maybe it will rise more next time." But it didn't. It barely rose to half the size of the bundt pan I used. The cooking time of 40 minutes was too long. I took it out of the oven after only 25 minutes but the bread still got really brown. The glaze was lumpy too. I just couldn't get the lumps out. My husband and I bravely tasted it anyway. It was pretty good. It reminded me of the egg bread called Challah. I think that next time I will use a smaller pan and cook the bread for 25 minutes. Maybe that will help. I wouldn't call this a complete failure but it definitely wasn't my greatest success. I didn't take a picture of it because it was so strange looking.

The Creative Cook


I have seen recipes for all sorts of Italian Easter pies on food blogs and recipe websites in recent weeks. There are sweet pies and savory pies that are made primarily around the Easter holiday season. But I haven't seen one like my family's ricotta pie recipe. That is why I decided to post this one. Last week, I had a discussion with my mother about Easter pies. She told me that this particular recipe was developed by my grandmother Lucia. Grandma grew up in an orphanage in Sicily. Because she didn't grow up in an family atmosphere, she didn't have any family recipes that had been handed down for generations. Grandma had to come up with her own recipes from scratch. This was one that she created because her kids (my mom, her brother and sister) didn't like the ricotta pies made with citron or pineapple. My mom helped me decipher the very vague handwritten recipe I found hidden in her old American Culinary Institute cookbook. The recipe simply said "ricotta - as much as you want; eggs; sugar; cinnamon." I had to figure out how much of each ingredient, how long to bake it, and what temperature to bake it at. I wasn't in the mood to make my own pie crust so I decided to cheat and use a store bought crust. I used graham cracker crusts because I thought they would work with the cheesecake-like consistency of this delicacy. I hope you enjoy this pie as much as my family does!

Ricotta Pie

32 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
2 graham cracker pie crusts

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Put the first 4 ingredients into a large bowl and whisk them together. Pour the filling evenly into the two pie crusts.

3. Bake the pies for 1 hour. I combined a tsp of powdered sugar and 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and sifted it over the pies while they were warm.

Serve chilled.

The Creative Cook

Friday, March 14, 2008

Meatless Friday

Since today is Friday and we are still in the Lenten season, I want to talk about Meatless Fridays. I am not sure why, but on Ash Wednesday and every Friday through Good Friday (the Friday before Easter) Catholics are not supposed to eat meat. I have an aversion to seafood so it makes my life very difficult trying to find things to eat on Fridays. While talking with my mom earlier this week, she reminded me about my favorite Italian comfort food. It is a very simple dish called Alia E Olio which means garlic and oil. I don't have an actual recipe for it. I make it the same way my mother did. I just boil a pound of pasta, put some good olive oil on the bottom of a small saucepan and heat it up with several peeled garlic cloves until they get brown. Once the pasta is cooked, I drain it, put it in a big bowl and pour the heated olive oil over it (usually I remove the cooked garlic cloves). The finishing touch is some freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top. If you want a real recipe, I searched the internet and found one for you that comes from the website for Crinella Winery.

Spaghetti Alia E Olio

1 pound of spaghettini
6 or 7 medium-to-large sized garlic cloves, finely-chopped
1 cup, olive oil
1 teaspoon, coarsely-ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon, salt
8 quarts, water
1 cup, Parmesan cheese
1/2 cups, finely chopped parsley

Add salt and a drop of olive oil to boiling water. Add spaghettini and cook until tender, but firm (al dente).

Drain spaghettini in colander and return to pot, stirring in about 1/2 cup of the olive oil.

Heat remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil in skillet, add finely chopped garlic, and cook until garlic is lightly browned.

Stir in pepper and immediately remove from heat.

Add contents of skillet to spaghettini, stir to ensure that all the past is coated.
Sprinkle finely chopped parsely into mixture and serve immediately.
Sprinkle with cheese to taste (although this dish is often eaten without cheese).

Serves about 4.

Note: Some Italians use crushed hot red pepper rather than black pepper.

In response to the note on the recipe, I NEVER eat this dish without cheese. To me there would be no point in eating it without that Parmasan cheese. Personally, I don't use spaghettini for this dish. I use regular spaghetti or linguini. Sometimes, I even use angel hair. It is all good.

The Creative Cook

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Thursday Morning Wit


I'm sure you all know that St. Patrick's Day is coming up on Monday, March 17. Many people like to celebrate by eating green foods like pistachio cake or sugary shamrock cookies. I say, let's try something a bit more authentic this year. I have decided to post some outstanding recipes for a perfect St. Patrick's Day menu. This corned beef recipe gets 5 stars at


• 4 lbs corned beef, with included seasoning packets(buy the cheapest cut, the fattier cuts have more flavor)
• water, to cover
• 1 onion, quartered
• 2 bay leaves
• 2 minced garlic cloves
• 2 lbs baby red potatoes
• 1 lb baby carrots
• 1 head cabbage

• 1 cup light brown sugar
• 1/4 cup gulden's spicy mustard

1. Put corned beef, seasonings, water, onion, bay leaves, and garlic to crock pot. Cover; Cook on LOW 11 hours (get up early -- ).

2. Remove meat and transfer liquid to another large pot.

3. To liquid add potatoes.

4. Cook on medium high stove top for 20 minutes and then add carrots, cook five minutes more, add cabbage (green/quartered) and cook an additional 20 minutes.

5. Spread glaze over cooked brisket and bake meat (uncovered) for 30 minutes at 350.

6. This should be done about the time the vegetables are cooked through.

7. This recipe is best served with Irish soda bread.

(Note ***** an 8 lb. corned beef feeds 6 adults and 5 kids, also prepare 5 lbs. potatoes, 2lbs. carrots and 2 heads cabbage and double glaze. It looks like a lot when you have it uncooked but meat shrinks about half once cooked. ******* There will be leftovers, but you'll be happy then next day! otherwise if you are making this recipe for 1-4 people, stick to original recipe).

This Irish Soda Bread recipe received 4-1/2 stars at


4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a large baking sheet.
In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and margarine. Stir in 1 cup of buttermilk and egg. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form dough into a round and place on prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine melted butter with 1/4 cup buttermilk; brush loaf with this mixture. Use a sharp knife to cut an 'X' into the top of the loaf.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 30 to 50 minutes. You may continue to brush the loaf with the butter mixture while it bakes.

I have to tell you that it wasn't easy to find a St. Patrick's Day dessert that didn't contain alcohol but I did find one! It is a recipe for a simple pudding made with just 5 ingredients. The recipe comes from from Carol Pellegrinelli at


• 3 cups water
• 4 tablespoons pearl barley
• 1-1/2 pounds apples, peeled, cored and sliced (I prefer tart, it's your choice)
• 3 tablespoons sugar
• 3/4 cup heavy cream
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Bring water to boil. Stir in barley. Add apples and cook until both are soft. Process in food processor. Put back in pan. Add sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Allow to cool. Then chill in refrigerator.


May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

The Creative Cook

Corny St. Patrick's Day Jokes

Q: Why do people wear shamrocks on St. Patrick's Day?
A: Regular rocks are too heavy.

Q: Why can't you borrow money from a leprechaun?
A: Because they're always a little short.

Q: Why do leprechauns have pots o'gold?
A: They like to "go" first class!

Q: How can you tell if an Irishman is having a good time?
A: He's Dublin over with laughter!

Q: What's Irish and stays out all night?
A: Patty O'furniture!

Q: How did the Irish Jig get started?
A: Too much to drink and not enough restrooms!

Q: What would you get if you crossed Christmas with St. Patrick's Day?
A: St. O'Claus!

Q: Are people jealous of the Irish?
A: Sure, they're green with envy!

Q: What would you get if you crossed Quasimodo with an Irish football player?
A: The Halfback of Notre Dame!

Q: Why did the leprechaun stand on the potato?
A: To keep from falling in the stew!

Q: Do leprechauns make good secretaries?
A: Sure, they're great at shorthand!

Q: How did the leprechaun beat the Irishman to the pot of gold?
A: He took a shortcut!

Q: What do leprechauns love to barbecue?
A: Short ribs!

Q: Why are leprechauns so hard to get along with?
A: Because they're very short-tempered!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wednesday Morning Wit

Can you believe that Easter is just a week away! I can't. I have been ignoring Easter but someone left me a comment that included a recipe for Easter Bread. The commenter mentioned that it came from a website called Well, since I am 100% Italian I felt compelled to check that website out. I looked through most of the Easter information and something popped out at me. Palm Weaving. Do you know what this is? When Catholics go to church on Palm Sunday, we receive palms that have been blessed. Some Italians use the palms to weave into various decorative shapes. My dad and mom always weave crosses and apples out of the palms. Unfortunately, this is a dying art. My dad is now 88 years of age and my mom is almost 80 years of age. I have tried to watch them when they weave the palms but I am not very good at it. There is a really cool tutorial at the website if you are interested. Sadly, my parents are going to be in Phoenix, Arizona visiting my niece and her family for Easter this year so I'm not sure if they will be doing any palm weaving for me. I may actually have to do my own palm weaving this year. If I do, I'll post some pictures for you.

I will share the Easter Bread recipe even though I have not tried making it myself. If you try it, let me know how it works out. If I get a chance to make it over the weekend, I'll post some pictures.

Easter Bread
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 package dry yeast
3 eggs at room temperature

1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp. softened butter
1 to 2 tablespoons hot water or milk.

In small saucepan warm milk and butter to lukewarm.
In larger bowl mix 3/4 cup flour, sugar and yeast. Add warm milk mixture, stirring well. Add eggs, blend well and add remaining flour. Cover and let rise 1 hour. Stir down dough. put into greased tube or bundt pain. Let rise for 30 to 45 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for approx. 40 minutes. Prepare glaze by blending ingredients into a small bowl until smooth. Once bread is baked and cooled drip glaze over top.

My Italian mother also used to make ricotta pie for Easter and another type of pie with Italian cold cuts and hard boiled eggs in it. I think it was called Neopolitan Pie. I also have a vague memory of bread with whole hardboiled eggs in it. Can that be right? I will have to talk to mom and see if she still has the recipes so I can post them too! I just decided that I will stop ignoring Easter and start posting recipes that celebrate the season! I may even do a St. Patrick's Day Menu!

The Creative Cook

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tuesday Morning Tidbits

Now, for the rest of the story. But first let me explain that the reason I had no idea that there was ground beef in my fridge instead of a pot roast is because my freezer is not very organized. I could have marked and labeled everything but that would eliminate the need for me to be the "Creative Cook" and I would become the "Boring Cook" or something like that. Well, I still had lots of ground beef to deal with and I couldn't put it back into the freezer since it was already thawed completely so I searched some more and found another great recipe on It comes from the "Kissing Cook" and it is called (Drumroll Please) Awesome Meatballs. I have to say that the Kissing Cook is correct when she says that the fresh breadcrumbs soaked in milk make all the difference. Oh well, you'll see.



2 eggs, beaten
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs, soaked in
1 cup milk
1 cup shallots, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup snipped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 lb meatloaf mixture(ground pork, veal, beef)
1 lb ground beef or ground turkey


1. In a small frying pan, place 1-2 T. oil in pan. Saute on a medium heat the shallots and garlic until lightly brown and transparent.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, soft breadcrumbs parsely, salt and pepper, thyme and parmesan cheese and milk together. Let stand so breadcrumbs can absorb milk. Add sauted shallots and garlic and then add meat mixture. Mix, but don't overmix.

3. Form into meatballs and place on a jelly roll pan lined with foil (I use Release Foil, so I don't have to spray with a non-stick spray - if you don't have Release Foil, spray your foil with non-stick spray).

4. Place meatballs in 350 degree oven for approximately 20-25 minutes. Let cool on wire rack and either place in freezer container or use as needed.

5. Yield - 48 meatballs.

I substituted onions for shallots because I don't keep a ready supply of shallots in my house, do you? And once again, I used ground turkey instead of veal. I think the mixture of meats makes the meatballs really excellent along with the fresh breadcrumbs. My other taste-tester (my husband Bill) has enjoyed the meatballs very much. Please let me know what you think of these recipes.

Until tomorrow!

The Creative Cook

Monday, March 10, 2008

Monday Morning Musings

Since I started working half time at a local accounting firm for the busy season, I don't have as much time as I would like to cook. But last week I started thinking about pot roast. I knew I had a roast chilling in my freezer, I had celery, I had carrots, I had garlic, I had almost everything I needed except potatoes. I knew I could rectify that easily with a quick trip to a local grocery store. In anticipation of a yummy pot roast dinner, I pulled out what I thought was my roast and set it in my fridge to thaw. Well, low and behold, was I shocked when I found not a pot roast in the fridge but 3 lbs of Laura's ground beef. Keep in mind that I still had the yummy aroma of pot roast swirling around in my head. Here is where I had to get my creative side going. I did some googling and found two excellent recipes. The first is called All-American Meatloaf and it comes from Martha Stewart's website:

All-American Meatloaf

Serves 6
3 slices white bread
1 large carrot, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1 celery, strings peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves, loosely packed
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons ketchup
4 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
8 ounces ground pork
8 ounces ground veal
8 ounces ground round
2 large eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon Tabasco Sauce, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, plus more needles for sprinkling
2 tablespoons dark-brown sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small red onion, cut into 1/4 inch-thick rings

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove crusts from bread, and place slices in the bowl of a food processor. Process until fine crumbs form, about 10 seconds. Transfer breadcrumbs to a large mixing bowl. Do not substitute dried breadcrumbs in this step, as they will make your meatloaf rubbery.

Place carrot, celery, yellow onion, garlic, and parsley in the bowl of the food processor. Process until vegetables have been minced, about 30 seconds, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice. (Chopping vegetables this way saves time and ensures that vegetables will be small enough to cook through and not be crunchy). Transfer vegetables to bowl with the breadcrumbs.

Add 1/2 cup ketchup, 2 teaspoons dry mustard, pork, veal, beef, eggs, salt, pepper, Tabasco, and rosemary. Using your hands, knead the ingredients until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. The texture should be wet, but tight enough to hold a free-form shape.
Set a wire baking rack into an 11-by-17-inch baking pan. Cut a 5-by-11-inch piece of parchment paper, and place over center of rack to prevent meat loaf from falling through. Using your hands, form an elongated loaf covering the parchment.

Place the remaining 3 tablespoons ketchup, remaining 2 1/2 teaspoons mustard, and brown sugar in a bowl. Mix until smooth. Using a pastry brush, generously brush the glaze over loaf. Place oil in a medium saucepan set over high heat. When oil is smoking, add red onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and golden in places. Add 3 tablespoons water, and cook, stirring, until most of the water has evaporated. Transfer onion to a bowl to cool slightly, then sprinkle onion over the meatloaf.

Bake 30 minutes, then sprinkle rosemary needles on top. Continue baking loaf until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf registers 160 degrees. about 25 minutes more. Let meatloaf cool on rack, 15 minutes. Remove crusts from bread, and place slices in the bowl of a food processor. Process until fine crumbs form, about 10 seconds. Transfer breadcrumbs to a large mixing bowl. Do not substitute dried breadcrumbs in this step, as they will make your meatloaf rubbery.

This recipe looks long but it is definitely worth the trouble. I have to tell you that Martha is absolutely right -- don't substitute the boxed breadcrumbs -- please use fresh. It is so worth it. I substituted ground turkey for the veal and I skipped the fresh rosemary and didn't make the carmelized onion topping (too lazy). The meatloaf was great anyway. My son enjoyed it so much he had it for dinner on Friday night and then again for lunch on Saturday.

I was going to post the 2nd recipe but this is getting long so I'll keep you in suspense until tomorrow!

Yours truly,
The Creative Cook

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Welcome to Our Cooking Blog

My son and I have decided to start our own cooking blog. We know that there are thousands if not hundreds of thousands of food and cooking blogs out there. We want to share our love of cooking and food with our friends. If we reach only a few dozen people, that is fine with us. Our goal is to share recipes that we love. We hope to get some of you to submit your favorite recipes that we can post. We look forward to getting feedback from you.

We also plan to post information about foods and restaurants that we love.

I have been reading lots of cooking blogs recently and the ones I enjoy the most are the blogs that discuss mistakes as well as successes. We will try to include both.

The Creative Cook 'N Son