Sunday, December 13, 2009

Gingerbread Waffles

These waffles look like a great idea for Christmas morning or even a holiday brunch! I love gingerbread but sometimes I have problems making the old fashioned gingerbread cookies that I make each year. I posted that recipe last year. I had found it in a magazine when I was around 11 years old. I have been making those cookies off and on for years. Yet, I still have difficulties from time to time. I am pretty sure it is due to using cold eggs and other ingredients. I need to remember to leave the eggs and butter out for an hour or two to get them to room temperature. Anyway, these waffles sound like a good substitute if you don't feel like battling with gingerbread cookie dough!

Gingerbread Waffles
(3 servings)

• 3 eggs
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1/2 cup molasses
• 1 cup buttermilk
• 1 and 1/2 cups flour
• 1 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 6 tablespoon (3/4 stick) butter -- melted and cooled
Preheat waffle iron to medium.

In a small bowl, beat eggs until light and fluffy. Add sugar, molasses and buttermilk, then beat.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Add to batter and stir until smooth, then add butter and combine.

Pour about 1/2 to 3/4 cup batter into very hot waffle iron and bake for four to five minutes. Serve hot.


The Creative Cook

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Rosemary Butter Cookies

This is the time for cookies. Everybody makes cookies at Christmas. I decided to make these just because they were different. Putting Rosemary and other types of spices into cookies is very Victorian. The taste gets mellower. These are very aromatic cookies. If you don't like really sweet cookies, use cornmeal instead of sugar to coat the cookies. You'll get the same "crunch."

Rosemary Butter Cookies

Makes 5 dozen cookies (60 cookies)

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg plus 1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
3/4 tsp coarse salt
1/2 cup fine sanding sugar

Cream butter and sugar and add whole egg and vanilla. Add flour, rosemary, and salt. Mix until combined. Shape dough into 2 logs about 1 1/2 inches wide. Roll in parchment paper. Freeze until firm, about an hour. Brush each log with egg white and roll in sanding sugar. Cut into 1/4 inch rounds. Space 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper in a 350 oven for about 15 to 18 minutes until edges are barely brown. Cool on sheets on wire racks. Store in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.


The Creative Cook

Monday, December 7, 2009

Chicken & Biscuits

Talk about comfort food. Chicken and Biscuits is the quintessential America comfort food. I had never made it or even tried it before I took the plunge with this recipe yesterday. When I read the recipe to start cooking the Chicken and Biscuits it was already around 5:30 pm so I did not have two hours and 20 minutes to spend cooking a whole chicken. Instead, I used chicken breasts. I not only had some on hand but I knew it would take a whole lot less than an hour to cook them. I left out the mushrooms because I don't like them. My boys would have probably loved it if I had used them. Sorry guys. I also reduced the amount of salt and I used dried tarragon because that is what I had. The broth for the chicken and biscuits is so delicious. I was skeptical about using cayenne pepper but it turned out well. The recipe comes from and it was posted there by John Mitzewich. Good job, John!

As John says, don't let the ingredient list fool you, this chicken and biscuits recipe is very simple to make and almost impossible to mess up!

Makes 8 portions of Chicken and Biscuits
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours

1 large chicken (about 4 pounds)
2 quarts water or broth
1 bay leaf
4 cloves garlic, cut in half
1 whole clove
3 carrots, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
3 ribs celery, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1 large onion, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
6 mushrooms, quartered
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cream or milk
1 package (8 portions) buttermilk biscuits, baked according to the package directions.

Rinse the chicken and place it in a Dutch oven or other large pot with a lid. Add the water, bay leaf, garlic, and clove. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Skim foam from the surface, cover, turn heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. Carefully remove the chicken to a bowl to cool. Strain the broth into another bowl and reserve. Discard bay leaf, garlic, and clove.

Place the pot back on medium heat, and add the butter, carrots, celery, onion, and mushrooms. Saute the vegetables in the butter for 5 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add the flour, and cook stirring for about 5 minutes, or until the flour begins to smell like cooked pie crust.

Add the reserved broth and whisk into the flour and vegetable mixture. Add the salt, pepper, herbs and spices. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

In the meantime, remove all the cooled chicken from the bones, and tear into large chunks. When the vegetables are done, stir in the cream, and the chicken. Bring back to simmer, and cook for 5 minutes to heat the chicken through. More liquid can be added in this step if the gravy is too thick. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve hot in bowls, topped with a buttermilk biscuit.


The Creative Cook

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cookies - Coconut Macaroons

I am not usually one to use artificial sweeteners but I know that there are plenty of people out there who are watching their carbs and/or their sugar intake. My sister sent me these recipes which came from the Splenda website. She says they are really good and easy to make. Please let me know if you make any of them. I would be more likely to make them with regular sugar (*my bad*).

Chocolate Chip Macaroons

Submitted by: Maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products

Servings: 24 servings


3 large egg whites
¼ cup SPLENDA® Brown Sugar Blend
¼ teaspoon pure almond extract
¼ teaspoon salt
1 (14 ounce) package sweetened flaked coconut
½ cup mini chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Whisk together egg whites, SPLENDA® Brown Sugar Blend, almond extract and salt until frothy. Add coconut and mini chocolate chips, mixing until the chocolate chips are evenly distributed throughout the mixture.

3. Scoop batter using a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon, placing batter 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.

4. Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Rotate sheet half way through the baking process for more even browning.

5. Transfer warm chocolate coquitos to a cooling rack and let sit until completely cooled. Store coquitos in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.

Sugar-Free Coconut Macaroons


* 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
* 4 egg whites from large eggs (should be about ½ cup)
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 cup sugar substitute (I like liquid forms of Splenda, with zero carbs)
* about 2 Tablespoons water


1) Heat oven to 375 F. Line baking sheet with either parchment paper on a silicone mat.

2) Measure egg whites. If they aren't quite ½ cup, add a little water to reach that level. Then add the vanilla, liquid sweetener if using, and water so that sweetener and water together equal 2 Tablespoons.

3) If using powdered sweetener, mix in with unsweetened coconut.

4) Mix dry and wet ingredients together. The mixture should just hold together. Let set a minute or two and you'll be able to mold them better.

5) Roll into balls a little bigger than an inch in diameter. Slightly flatten and put on baking sheet (whatever shape you put them in is how they will stay, so this is your chance). Put at least half an inch apart.

6) Turn down the oven to 325 F, and bake for about 15 minutes, but start checking them a couple of minutes before. You want them golden brown on the bottom, and just barely starting to brown on top (though if you like them a little crispier, bake a couple of minutes longer).

Makes about 14 cookies, but yield will vary based on size of the cookies.

Nutritional Information: Each cookie has 1 gram effective carbohydrate plus 2 grams fiber, 2 grams protein, and 76 calories.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Chocolate Buttermilk Pie

This is a first for me. I have never made any of Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade recipes before. It really is semi-homemade because I didn't make my own pie crust. I happened to have two store bought frozen pie crusts in my freezer. D mentioned that he wished I would make the chocolate pie I made before. I don't remember ever making a chocolate pie but I did make and post a chocolate tart recipe. He says that isn't what he meant. Since it was the night before Thanksgiving, I really didn't want to go to the grocery store and fight the crowds. I had already been there once this week and that was enough for me. This pie turned out great. D liked it and so did I and all the other guests that tried it. I was pleasantly surprised that it didn't get "runny" even though it doesn't have any gelatin or cornstarch in it. It is a pretty simple recipe.

Chocolate Buttermilk Pie

Recipe courtesy Sandra Lee

Prep Time:
15 min
Inactive Prep Time:
1 hr 0 min
Cook Time:
1 hr 25 min


8 to 10 servings


* 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 6 eggs
* 1 cup buttermilk
* 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
* 1 pre-made store-bought (9-inch) deep dish pie crust
* Pre-made whipped cream, for garnish


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.

Place the chocolate chips in a double boiler and melt over low heat, stirring constantly.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, and salt until well combined. In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the sugar mixture and mix with an electric hand mixer or whisk vigorously. With a rubber spatula, stir the melted chocolate into the batter.

Pour batter into the piecrust; you will have about 1 cup of left-over batter. Place pie in oven on middle rack. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 25 minutes, or until the pie is crisp on top and a knife inserted in the center comes out with just a bit of moist chocolate on it.

Remove from oven and cool completely. Let stand at least 1 hour before serving. If not eating immediately, refrigerate pie. This pie can be served warm or chilled. Garnish with store-bought whipped cream just before serving.


The Creative Cook

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sausage and Apple Stuffing

I just said goodbye to the last of my Thanksgiving guests and cleaned up as much as I am going to tonight. My mother and my sister were extremely helpful today. I want to thank them for everything they did and everything they brought. Also, my nephew and his wife brought two huge hams which were delicious. We had way too much food but that is what Thanksgiving is all about, right?!

I wanted to post this stuffing recipe as soon as I could because the recipe I made last year was somehow lost in the shuffle. It is probably in a drawer somewhere but I could not locate it so I googled apple sausage corn bread stuffing and found this really great one on the Food Network website. It was a big hit today. Try this stuffing next time you need to make some, you won't be disappointed. I didn't use the walnuts when I made it. I used 4 boxes of Jiffy Corn Muffin mix instead of the dried cornbread stuffing mix. I baked them in two 8 x 8 pans.

Sausage and Apple Stuffing
Recipe courtesy Food Network Kitchens
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 1 hr 0 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 8 to 10 servings


2 sticks plus 3 tablespoons butter, divided
2 cups water
2 (14 to 16-ounce) bags of your favorite dried cornbread stuffing mix, recommended: Arnold's
1 pound pork sausage (not links)
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dried sage leaves
1 cup chopped walnuts
3 medium apples, cored, sliced
2 to 3 cups homemade giblet stock or low sodium canned chicken broth


In a large pot melt 2 sticks butter in water. When melted add dry cornbread stuffing stirring to incorporate liquid, set aside.

In a large saute pan set over medium-high heat melt 1 tablespoon butter and add sausage. With a wooden spoon break up sausage and saute until lightly browned and cooked through. Transfer sausage to paper towels to drain. In the same pan melt remaining butter and saute onions with the garlic, celery, thyme, and sage until onions are translucent and celery is crisp tender. Add walnuts and saute for 1 minute. Add apples and saute for one minute more. Remove from heat. Combine cornbread stuffing with sausage and sauteed ingredients and stuff turkey. Roast turkey as usual.

Alternatively: fill a 10 by 15 by 2 inch pan with the stuffing, moisten with the giblet stock, and bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven, covered with foil for 1/2 hour. Remove foil and bake until top is lightly browned, about 15 minutes more.


The Creative Cook

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake Pie

I promised you some "different" pumpkin pie recipes for Thanksgiving. I found this recipe on the Better Homes & Gardens website ( It looks very delicious. It could be a great alternative to a traditional pumpkin pie for the holidays.

Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake Pie
Prep: 30 minutes
Chill: 30 minutes
Bake: 64 minutes


1 recipe Deep Dish Pie Pastry, below
12 oz. cream cheese, softened (1-1/2 8-oz. pkgs.)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup finely chopped semisweet chocolate or miniature chocolate pieces
1 15-oz. can pumpkin
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
4 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup half-and-half or light cream
Chopped chocolate (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Prepare and roll out Deep Dish Pie Pastry. Transfer pastry to a 9-1/2- to 10-inch deep-dish pie plate. Trim crust edge 1/2-inch beyond pie plate. Flute edge high. Line pastry with double thickness of foil. Bake 8 minutes. Remove foil; bake 6 minutes more or until golden. Cool on wire rack. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F.

2. In medium mixing bowl combine cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 egg; beat on low speed until smooth. Spread cream cheese mixture in cooled pastry shell. Sprinkle with chopped chocolate.

3. In bowl combine pumpkin, brown sugar, and spice. Stir in 4 eggs. Gradually stir in half-and-half. Slowly pour pumpkin mixture on chocolate layer. To prevent overbrowning, cover pie edge with foil.

4. Bake 60 to 65 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Remove foil. Cool on wire rack. Cover and refrigerate within 2 hour. Top with chopped chocolate.

Deep Dish Pie Pastry:In medium bowl, stir together 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Using pastry blender or two knives cut in 6 tablespoons shortening until pieces are pea-size. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon cold water over part of flour mixture; gently toss with fork. Push moistened dough to side of bowl. Repeat, using 1 tablespoon water at a time, until all flour is moistened (5 to 6 tablespoons total). Form into ball. On lightly floured surface, flatten dough. Roll pastry from center to edge into 13-inch circle. Serves 8.


The Creative Cook

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pasta Carbonara Frittata

I have been having a yen for Pasta Carbonara recently. When I looked up the recipes I saw how many eggs were in it and the fact that you don't really cook the eggs. They are poured over the pasta and are supposed to cook from the heat of the cooked pasta. Well, that doesn't sit well with me especially with all the E-coli issues and other food borne illnesses around. That's why it was so strangely fortuitous that I found a recipe for a Pasta Carbonara Frittata in this month's All You Magazine. This pasta carbonara is at least cooked in a skillet and then put under the broiler. It was really yummy. Of course, I changed it a bit. I used a liquid egg substitute and instead of the turkey bacon, I used Pancetta which is an Italian bacon. I used it because I had it in my refrigerator not for any other reason. I doubt it has less fat or less sodium than turkey bacon. This is a delicious, inexpensive and easy recipe so try it!

Pasta Carbonara Frittata

Prep: 5 min.
Cook: 25 min.
Serves: 4

8 oz. spaghetti
2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 oz. turkey bacon
6 large eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
salt and pepper

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook spaghetti until just tender, about 8 minutes or as package label directs. Drain, transfer to a large bowl and toss with olive oil to coat. Let cool to room temperature.

2. Cook turkey bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, about 6 minutes. Remove bacon to paper towels to drain. Discard all but 1 Tbsp. of fat in skillet.

3. Preheat broiler to high. Whisk together eggs, Parmesan, garlic, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper in a large bowl. Pour over spaghetti and toss to coat. Crumble bacon into bowl and mix well.

4. Place skillet on stove over medium-low heat and add egg-and-spaghetti mixture, spreading into an even layer with a spatula. Cook until bottom is well-browned, about 8 minutes, sliding a spatula underneath frittata occasionally to loosen.

5. Place pan under broiler and cook until top is golden and set, about 3 minutes. Cut frittata into wedges and serve.


The Creative Cook

Monday, November 9, 2009

Spinach and Ricotta-Stuffed Shells

I know this recipe is a bit off topic but I had a box of jumbo shells in my pantry that I've been wanting to make so I searched for a recipe and found this one from Cooking Light Magazine. It is really tasty. I used all the shells in the box rather than just making 24. I also used the entire container of part-skim ricotta. The only change you will need to make is to keep it in the oven longer. I left it in there for an hour rather than 30 minutes and it came out great. I also put shredded mozzarella on top.

I also found another recipe by Rachel Ray that I will try in the near future. Rachel Ray's recipes are far from "light" but usually really yummy.

Spinach and Ricotta-Stuffed Shells

Substitute various cheeses, such as Asiago or feta, in place of Parmesan and other dried herbs, such as thyme, basil, or dill, in place of oregano.

2 cups Basic Marinara, divided
Cooking spray
2 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
1 large egg yolk
1 garlic clove, minced
24 cooked jumbo pasta shells

Preheat oven to 350°.

Spread 1/2 cup Basic Marinara over bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Combine ricotta and next 8 ingredients (through garlic) in a large bowl, stirring well. Spoon about 1 1/2 tablespoons filling into each pasta shell. Arrange stuffed shells in prepared dish; spread with remaining 1 1/2 cups Basic Marinara. Cover and bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 4 stuffed shells and about 1/3 cup sauce)

4 Cheese Stuffed Shells
Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray
Prep Time: 10 min Inactive Prep Time: -- Cook Time: 25 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 4 servings

8 pieces jumbo pasta shells
1 1/2 pounds ricotta cheese or part skim ricotta cheese
1 pound mozzarella, diced
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 cup shredded Asiago
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 or 7 leaves fresh basil, torn or shredded

Preheat oven or broiler to 450 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt water and add pasta. Cook shells 12 to 15 minutes, they should be softened but still undercooked at the center. Drain pasta and cool.

Combine ricotta, 1/2 of the diced mozzarella, a couple of handfuls of Parmigiano and 1/2 of the Asiago. Add parsley to the cheeses and stir to combine.

To a small saucepan over moderate heat add oil, garlic and onions. Saute onions and garlic 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and season sauce with salt and pepper. Simmer sauce 5 minutes and stir in basil leaves

Pour a little sauce into the bottom of a shallow medium sized casserole dish. Fill shells with rounded spoonfuls of cheese mixture and arrange them seam side down in casserole dish. Top shells with remaining sauce and remaining mozzarella and Asiago cheeses. Place shells in very hot oven or 8 inches from hot broiler and cook 6 to 8 minutes to melt cheeses and bubble sauce.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Coconut Custard Pie

Does anyone eat Coconut Custard Pie besides me? I started eating it as a child. My mom used to buy it at a local bakery in Brooklyn, New York called Ebinger's. At least that is how I think it is spelled. I have done a few "copycat" cakes from that bakery. The one I did last year was the Mocha Cake. This time I am going to try replicating the Coconut Custard Pie. I have looked at many recipes but this one looks like the best. Maybe this one will remind me of the pies from Ebinger's. I sure hope so!

Coconut Custard Pie
Kathleen of Tate's Bake Shop

One 9-inch pie crust
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
3 eggs, beaten
1 egg yolk (save white)
¾ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup unsweetened coconut chips* (large white flakes)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Measure coconut into prepared pie shell and place pie onto a sheet pan.
In a small saucepan, combine milk and cream. Heat until just starting to boil.
Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, egg yolk, sugar, salt and vanilla.
Slowly add scalded milk mixture, beating continuously, by adding a small amount, whisk, add more, whisk again, until all the milk is incorporated into the sugar mixture.

Pour egg mixture into prepared pie shell with coconut.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Lower oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake 35 more minutes.

Pie should be browning on the top and jingly, but not liquid.

The Creative Cook

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Thanksgiving - Pumpkin Pie

I know, I know, pumpkin month is over but Thanksgiving is right around the corner. I am having Thanksgiving at my house this year so I'm thinking about pie. Of course, you say?! Why are you thinking about pie? You have a whole dinner to worry about. Well, my family is very helpful.

My sister is making the turkey. She is very particular about how the turkey is cooked, so she is bringing it. That's fine with me. Whatever works.

My mother is bringing sweet potatoes and artichokes and maybe if I beg her she'll bring her famous string bean salad. That leaves very little for me to make. We'll most definitely buy an apple pie and maybe some other type of pie but I really like to cook as you already know. That leaves me with the chore of figuring out what I can make. I usually make stuffing because no one else in this family really eats and/or likes stuffing but the husbands. My husband and son love cranberry sauce but not the home made kind. They always prefer the store bought "jellied" kind. Since I don't eat cranberry sauce, I figure they can have whatever kind they want. So sue me!

I'm thinking about making a savory pumpkin soup. The recipe I posted last month with the pumpkin Parmesan soup sounded pretty good to me. So there you have it, I am having around 16 people for Thanksgiving dinner and all I am making is soup, stuffing, a dessert of some sort and mashed potatoes. Why am I making mashed potatoes, because I really like them. That's why! Maybe I'll go crazy and even make some dinner rolls.

I should make November "Pie" month. I'm going to start off with a traditional pumpkin pie recipe for you. This recipe is from the Martha Stewart Living website. Enjoy!

Fluted Traditional Pumpkin Pie

Serves 12


• All-purpose flour, for surface
• Pate Brisee for Traditional Pumpkin Pie (pie dough)
• 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
• 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
• 1 tablespoon cornstarch
• 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
• 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 3 large eggs
• 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
• Ground cloves
• Whipped cream, for serving (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll pate brisee disk 1/8 inch thick, then cut into a 16-inch circle. Fit circle into a 9-inch deep-dish pie dish, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Fold edges under.

2. Shape large, loose half circles at edge of dough, then fold into a wavelike pattern to create a fluted edge. Prick bottom of dough all over with a fork. Freeze for 15 minutes.

3. Cut a circle of parchment, at least 16 inches wide, and fit into pie shell. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until edges of crust begin to turn gold, about 15 minutes. Remove pie weights and parchment. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool.

4. Meanwhile, whisk pumpkin, sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla, eggs, milk, and a pinch of cloves in a large bowl.

5. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Transfer pie dish to a rimmed baking sheet, and pour pumpkin mixture into cooled crust. Bake until center is set but still a bit wobbly, 50 to 55 minutes. (If crust browns too quickly, tent edges with a strip of foil folded in half lengthwise.) Let cool in pie dish on a wire rack. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 6 hours (preferably overnight).

Serve chilled with whipped cream, if desired.

Pate Brisee (Pie Dough)

Pate brisee is the French version of classic pie or tart pastry. Pressing the dough into a disc rather than shaping it into a ball allows it to chill faster. This will also make the dough easier to roll out, and if you freeze it, it will thaw more quickly.

Makes 1 double-crust or 2 single-crust 9- to 10-inch pies.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water


In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.

With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.

The Creative Cook

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pumpkin Month - Sour Cream Pumpkin Bundt Cake

This recipe looks like a winner for a Halloween party or a Thanksgiving dinner. I found this recipe on but it was originally from Libby's website. They are the ones that make the canned pumpkin puree.

Printed from COOKS.COM

A surprise filling of brown sugar streusel makes this pumpkin-flavored cake a special treat. Save a bit of icing for drizzling over each serving of this wonderful cake!

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons butter

COMBINE brown sugar, cinnamon and allspice in small bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives until mixture is crumbly.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
4 large eggs
1 cup LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
1 container (8 oz.) sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan.

COMBINE flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Beat granulated sugar and butter in large mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add pumpkin, sour cream and vanilla extract; mix well. Gradually beat in flour mixture.

TO ASSEMBLE: SPOON half of batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle Streusel over batter, not allowing Streusel to touch sides of pan. Top with remaining batter. Make sure batter layer touches edges of pan.

BAKE for 55 to 60 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in cake comes out clean. Cool for 30 minutes in pan on wire rack. Invert onto wire rack to cool completely. Drizzle with Glaze.

COMBINE 1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar and 2 to 3 tablespoons orange juice or milk in small bowl; stir until smooth.

Estimated Times: Preparation - 12 minutes; Cooking - 55 minutes.
Yields 12 to 16 servings.


The Creative Cook

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pumpkin Month - Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies

This recipe is from Streaming Gourmet -- The Blog. These cookies look so yummy. I think they would work for Thanksgiving as well as Halloween. I'm also thinking that the Heavenly Pumpkin Brownies could be a great Thanksgiving dessert for those who don't care for pumpkin pie. I'm going to explore some different kinds of pumpkin pie recipes next month because I am not a big fan of pumpkin pie.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies

Makes about 36 cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 brown sugar
3/4 granulated sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
pinch freshly ground nutmeg
pinch mace
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.

2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add pumpkin and beat well. Then add eggs and beat well. Finally add vanilla and beat well.

3. Mix together dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture, about 1/3 at a time and mix well after each addition. Fold in the chocolate chips with a spoon or spatula.

4. Spoon batter onto cookie sheets that have been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray or lightly buttered. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Let sit for one minute after removing from oven. Then cool on wire racks.


The Creative Cook

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pumpkin Month -- Heavenly Pumpkin Brownies

Heavenly Pumpkin Brownies

4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, melted
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. In a large mixing bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs well, add in the sugar and butter and mix well. Add the pumpkin and vanilla and mix. Add the flour and spices and mix well. Spread in a 9 X 13-inch greased pan.

2. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool.

3. To make frosting: In a small bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, vanilla and powdered sugar until just mixed, careful not to over mix.
When the brownies are cool, frost. (I only needed to use about 1/2 of the frosting.) You can sprinkle chopped nuts on top of the brownies, if desired. Cut into squares and serve. Enjoy.

Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Brownies
Makes about 20 brownies


For the chocolate batter:
3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 oz Ghirardelli 70% cacao baking chocolate
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs

For the pumpkin batter:
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 cup canned pumpkin purée
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves


1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spray a 9″ x 11″ baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Using a double boiler, melt the butter and chocolate together. I don’t have a double boiler, so I just put a metal mixing bowl on top of a saucepan with simmering water. Stir constantly while they are both melting. Remove from heat and allow to come to room temperature while you prepare the other parts of the batters.

3. In a medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients for the chocolate batter (i.e. the flour, baking powder and salt) and set aside.

4. In another medium bowl, at the other end of the counter, mix the dry ingredients for the pumpkin batter (i.e. the flour, baking powder and salt in slightly different proportions).

5. In a standing mixer, with the paddle attachment in place, beat together the 2 eggs and 3/4 cup of sugar for the pumpkin batter. Mix them for 3-5 minutes until fluffy. Add the vanilla and pumpkin and mix thoroughly. Add the melted butter and spices and blend well.

6. Back to the chocolate batter. Add the brown sugar and vanilla extract to the chocolate mixture and blend well. Beat in the eggs and combine well.

7. Now you are ready to mix dry ingredients with wet. For the chocolate batter, fold the dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture, stirring as little as possible to get it blended completely. For the pumpkin batter, pour the dry ingredients into the wet and use the stand up mixer to combine thoroughly, again without overmixing.

8. Pour half of the chocolate batter into the prepared pan. Layer half of the pumpkin batter on top of the chocolate. Repeat with the reaming two layers. Using a spatula, swirl the two batters together by inserting the tip all the way to the bottom of the pan and moving it through the batters in an S shape. Try to swirl the bottom layer up toward the top while continuing with the swirly, s-shaped motions.

7. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan.

These sound yummy~ Enjoy!

The Creative Cook

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pumpkin Month - Pumpkin Scones

Starbucks Pumpkin Scones Recipe

These are great for the holidays...or any other time of the year. Recipe originally submitted at
by Rachel-Snachel
30 min | 15 min prep
6 scones


• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 7 tablespoons sugar
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
• 6 tablespoons cold butter
• 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
• 3 tablespoons half-and-half
• 1 large egg

Powdered Sugar Glaze
• 1 cup powdered sugar
• 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
• 2 tablespoons whole milk

Spiced Glaze
• 1 cup powdered sugar
• 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
• 2 tablespoons whole milk
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1 pinch ginger
• 1 pinch ground cloves

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.
2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Using a pastry knife, fork, or food processor, cut butter into the dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly and no chunks of butter are obvious. Set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, half and half, and egg. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Form the dough into a ball.
4. Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a 1-inch thick rectangle (about 9 inches long and 3 inches wide). Use a large knife or a pizza cutter to slice the dough twice through the width, making three equal portions. Cut those three slices diagonally so that you have 6 triangular slices of dough. Place on prepared baking sheet.
5. Bake for 14–16 minutes. Scones should begin to turn light brown. Place on wire rack to cool.

6. Mix the powdered sugar and 2 tbsp milk together until smooth.
7. When scones are cool, use a brush to paint plain glaze over the top of each scone.

8. Combine the ingredient for the spiced icing together. Drizzle this thicker icing over each scone and allow the icing to dry before serving (at least 1 hour). A squirt bottle works great for this, or you can drizzle with a whisk.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pumpkin Month - Pumpkin Pancakes

Pumpkin Pancakes


• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 3 tablespoons brown sugar
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon ground allspice
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 1/2 cups milk
• 1 cup pumpkin puree
• 1 egg
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 2 tablespoons vinegar

1. In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vinegar. Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, ginger and salt, stir into the pumpkin mixture just enough to combine.
2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.


The Creative Cook

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pumpkin Month - Pumpkin Waffles

Pumpkin Waffles
Gourmet | November 2000
Cafe 222, San Diego, CA
yield: Makes 12 (4-inch) waffles
active time: 35 min
total time: 35 min

• 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
• 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
• 4 large eggs
• 1 cup whole milk
• 1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
• 1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
• 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
• Vegetable oil for brushing waffle iron
• Accompaniment: warm pure maple syrup
• Special equipment: a waffle iron (preferably nonstick)

Preheat oven to 250°F and preheat waffle iron.
Sift together flour, brown sugar, baking powder and soda, salt, and spices.
Whisk eggs in a large bowl until blended, then whisk in milk, buttermilk, pumpkin, and butter until smooth. Whisk in dry ingredients just until smooth.
Brush waffle iron lightly with oil and spoon batter (about 2 cups for four 4-inch Belgian waffles) into waffle iron, spreading quickly. Cook according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Transfer waffles to rack in oven to keep warm and crisp. Make more waffles in same manner.


The Creative Cook

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pumpkin Month - Pumpkin Gnocchi

Pumpkin Gnocchi
Serves 4

Chef Jeffery Jake shared this divine, melt-in-your mouth pasta dish with us during a Chef Walk at Earthbound Organic Farm Stand. You can substitute canned pumpkin purée if you don't have a fresh pumpkin. Be sure to use a cooking variety, like Sugar Pie, rather than an ornamental pumpkin for the best flavor and texture.

1-1/2 pounds fresh pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
(or 1-1/2 cups purée)
2 tablespoons butter
1-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

Shaved parmesan cheese, as garnish

Place the pumpkin cubes in a medium-size saucepan and cover with boiling water. Cook over medium-high heat until the pumpkin is soft and tender. Drain and discard the cooking water.

Set a sieve over a bowl and press the pumpkin through the sieve. Return the purée to the pan and add the 2 tablespoons of butter. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the pumpkin has thickened and dried, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the flour, egg yolk, salt, and pepper, beating just until combined. The mixture should be in the form of a soft dough.

To form the gnocchi, roll about a tablespoon of dough in the palm of your hand to form an oblong disk. Press the tines of a fork lightly against one side of the disk to make an indentation. Place the formed gnocchi on a baking sheet lined with wax paper or parchment. If you're not going to cook them immediately, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the gnocchi for up to 4 hours.

When you're ready to cook the gnocchi, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil.
Meanwhile, make the sauce by combining the butter and thyme in a small skillet. Place over low heat and simmer until the butter turns golden.

Cook the gnocchi a few at a time in the boiling water until they rise to the surface of the water. Transfer them with a slotted spoon to a warm platter. To serve, drizzle the gnocchi with the butter sauce, and top with ribbons of parmesan and a few grinds of fresh pepper.

Pumpkin Gnocchi With Sage Butter
From: Italian Food Forever

Be careful not to overwork or overknead the dough; you simply want to incorporate the flour into the pumpkin puree

• 1 (15 oz.) Can Pumpkin Puree (drain excess water)
• Salt & Pepper
• Dash Of Nutmeg
• 2 3/4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
• 1/3 Cup Melted Butter
• 6-7 Finely Chopped Sage Leaves
• 1 Large Clove Garlic, Minced
• Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

1. Mix together the flour, pumpkin and seasonings to make a soft dough.

2. Add additional flour if the dough is sticky or does not hold together.

3. Divide the dough into 6 parts, and on a lightly floured surface, roll each piece into a rope about 1 inch in diameter.

4. Cut the rope into 1 inch pieces and roll each lightly along the floured surface.

5. Continue using up all the dough in this fashion. Place on a lightly floured baking sheet. You can refrigerate the gnocchi until you are ready to cook them.

1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a slow boil.
2. Place the butter in a small saucepan and heat.
3. Add the garlic and sage.
4. Cook the gnocchi in lightly salted boiling water for until the gnocchi rise to the surface and float.
5. Remove from the water, mix with the butter sage sauce, and serve topped with the
freshly grated cheese.


The Creative Cook

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pumpkin Month - Spiced Pumpkin Butter

I have never really thought about making pumpkin butter before. In fact, I only just tried apple butter for the first time about a month ago. I guess I’m really behind the curve on this fruit butter stuff. I actually had to do some research about what to use pumpkin butter on. The serving suggestions for pumpkin butter that I have read say it is a great all-purpose spread. You can spice up your breakfast by spreading it on toast, pancakes or muffins. For a quick appetizer, spread it on toasted bread with slices of your favorite cheese.

Prep: 15 min.
Cook: 25 min.

4 cups Pumpkin Puree or two 15-oz cans pumpkin
1-1/4 cups pure maple syrup
½ cup apple juice
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. salt
Chopped hazelnuts (optional)

1. In 5-quart Dutch oven combine all ingredients except nuts. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat, stirring frequently, 25 minutes or until thick. (If mixture spatters, reduce heat to medium-low). Remove from heat; cool.

2. Ladle into jars or freezer containers, leaving ½-inch headspace. Cover; store in refrigerator up to 1 week or freezer up to 6 months.

3. To serve, top with chopped nuts.

Makes 4-1/2 cups


The Creative Cook

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pumpkin Month - Parmigiano Pumpkin Soup with Frizzled Prosciutto

If your idea of pumpkin is sweet, if you think it should be seasoned only with nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, and sugar, then get ready to change your mind. This savory, creamy, pungently cheesy pumpkin soup is seasoned with garlic and Parmesan, and with the frizzled threads of crisped prosciutto. Serve it as a first course before a roast (it makes an inspired appetizer for Thanksgiving), or for lunch with someone you’re dying to impress.


2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 ozs. Thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into thin strips
1 large onion, cut into 1/8 inch dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (about 28 ozs.) 100% pure pumpkin
2 quarts vegetable or chicken broth
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. ground white pepper
½ cup cream (at least 10% fat)
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tbs. chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley


1. Heat the oil in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the prosciutto, and sauté until crisp and frizzled. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.

2. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion to the skillet, and sauté until tender (do not brown). Add the garlic and cook for a few seconds, until aromatic. Stir in the pumpkin, broth, nutmeg, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Transfer to a 5-to 6- quart slow cooker, cover and cook for 3 to 4 hours on high, or 6 to 8 hours on low.

3. Stir in the cream and Parmesan, and heat through, about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley. Ladle into bowls, garnish with frizzled prosciutto and serve.


Even though the length of cooking time for this soup would make it possible to use fresh pumpkin instead of canned, I advise you not to. Libby’s canned pumpkin (the most commonly available brand) is made from a specially cultivated strain of pumpkin designed for cooking. It is richer, creamer and tastier than any fresh pumpkin you can purchase.

If you don’t have prosciutto, you can substitute 3 slices bacon, cut into thin strips.

Feel free to alter the type of cheese to fit your taste or what you have on hand. Any smoked cheese would be delicious in this soup, and other grating cheeses, like Asiago or Romano, are easily substituted.

American Lifestyle Magazine
October 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pumpkin Month - "Pumpkin" Stew

This recipe was given to me by my friend "C". She says, "It really is quite simple and tasty. A great way to fill up those little ghoul and goblin tummies with some 'good food' before they hit the streets for trick or treating."

Pumpkin Stew

You use a small to medium pumpkin and cut it so that 2/3 is the bottom and 1/3 the top; this is so the pumpkin will serve as a serving bowl for the stew. Peel and cube the cut-off, top portion of the pumpkin, discarding the stem. Using your favorite beef stew recipe, omit 1/3 of the potatoes and add in the pumpkin cubes. After stew is cooked, serve from the hollowed out pumpkin shell.


The Creative Cook

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pumpkin Month - Pumpkin Rice Pudding

Another yummy looking pumpkin recipe:

PREP: 25 min.
BAKE: 1 HR. 5 min.
COOK: 15 min.
STAND: 15 min.
OVEN: 325 degrees F

2/3 cup water
1/3 cup uncooked long grain rice
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
2/3 cup Pumpkin Puree or canned pumpkin
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. salt
¾ cup dried cranberries or raisins
1 medium red apple and/or green pear, cored and thinly sliced (1 cup)
½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
2 Tbsp. honey

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In small saucepan combine water and rice. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed, stirring once.

2. In medium bowl combine eggs, milk, Pumpkin Puree, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, and salt. Stir in rice and ½ cup of the cranberries. Pour mixture into 1-1/2 quart straight sided deep baking dish. Place dish in baking pan on oven rack. Pour boiling water into baking pan until water comes halfway up sides of baking dish.

3. Bake 30 minutes; stir. Bake 35 minutes more or until outside edge appears set. Remove dish from oven. Cool slightly on wire rack.

4. Meanwhile, in bowl combine remaining ¼ cup cranberries and boiling water to cover. Let stand 15 minutes; drain. Just before serving, toss together apple, walnuts, honey and cranberries. Spoon over pudding. Serve warm.

5. To store, cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Pumpkin Month - Roasted Pumpkins with Bacon & Brown Sugar

Today is such a dreary day that I chose this recipe to lift our spirits and nourish our souls. Well, if that doesn't work there is always the bacon. It is said to make almost everything taste better, or so I've heard. This is the perfect weather for staying home and making something yummy!

This recipe says that pie pumpkins are small, sweet pumpkins grown for eating. Look for even coloring and no soft spots. Sounds like good advice!

Prep: 15 min.
Roast: 20 min.
Oven: 400 degrees F

6 slices bacon, crisp-cooked and drained, drippings reserved
2 2-to-4 pound pie pumpkins
1 tsp.salt
¼ tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
¼ cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp. fennel seed, crushed
2 to 3 green onions, diagonally sliced

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut off top ¼ of pumpkins. Remove seeds and strings; reserve 2/3 cup pumpkin seeds.

2. Place pumpkins, cut side up, in foil-lined baking pan. Brush insides with some of the bacon drippings and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and brown sugar. Replace lids. Roast pumpkins in oven 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in skillet stir together pumpkin seeds, fennel seed, green onions, and remaining bacon drippings. Add skillet to oven during last 10 minutes of roasting.

4. Remove pumpkins and seed mixture from oven. Sprinkle inside of pumpkins with seed mixture and crumbled bacon. To serve, use a large spoon to scoop out insides or use knife to cut into wedges.
Serves 8 to 10.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pumpkin Month -- Pumpkin Black Bean Bake

First things, first. Do you use canned pumpkin when you make a pumpkin dish? I have never seen a "pie" pumpkin in a grocery store but I haven't really looked that hard.
This recipe looks yummy!

Serves 6

Prep: 30 min.
Bake: 20 min.
Oven: 400 degrees F

1 lb ground beef
2 cups ½ inch pieces peeled pie pumpkin or winter squash
1 medium onion , coarsely chopped
1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen whole kernel corn
1 4-oz can diced green chilies
½ tsp. salt
½ cup lower-sodium beef broth
1 3-oz pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 8-1/2 –oz pkg. corn muffin mix
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup Pumpkin Puree, recipe below or canned pumpkin
Jalapeno-Olive Relish (optional), recipe below

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large skillet cook ground beef, pumpkin, and onion over medium heat until meat is browned and onion tender, breaking up ground beef with spoon; drain fat. Stir in black beans, corn, chilies, and salt. Heat through. Stir in broth and cream cheese until blended. Transfer mixture to 2-1/2 quart baking dish.

2. In medium bowl stir together corn muffin mix, egg, milk, and Pumpkin Puree until just combined. Spoon over beef mixture.

3. Bake 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into topper comes out clean. Serve with Jalapeno-Olive Relish.

JALAPENO-OLIVE RELISH: In a small bowl combine ¼ cup halved pitted green olives; 1 to 2 jalapeno peppers,* sliced; 6 cherry tomatoes, quartered; and 1 to 2 tablespoons snipped fresh cilantro. SERVES 6

*Hot chile peppers contain oils that can burn skin and eyes. When working with them, wear plastic or rubber gloves.

Makes 5 Cups Puree

PREP: 15-min
COOK: 1 hour
OVEN: 375 degrees F

2 3-1/2 lb. pie pumpkins

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut pumpkins in 5 x 5 inch pieces. Remove seeds and strings. Arrange pieces in single layer, skin side up, in a foil-lined baking pan.

2. Bake, covered, 1 hour or until tender. When cool enough to handle, scoop pulp from rind. Place pulp in blender or food processor.

3. Cover and blend or process until smooth. Transfer to freezer bags. Store in refrigerator up to 3 days or freeze up to 6 months. Thaw in refrigerator to use.

All recipes are from Better Homes & Gardens, October 2009

Friday, October 9, 2009

Pumpkin Month - Pumpkin Cheesecake II

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap-Pecan Crust
And maple sour cream topping
Makes one 9” cheesecake

For the Crust –

24 small gingersnap cookies (to make 1 cup crumbs)
4 graham crackers (to make ½ cup crumbs)
½ cup pecan halves, toasted
3 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbs. sugar
Pinch of Salt

For the Filling –
3 pkg. cream cheese, at room temperature (8 oz each)
1 cup sugar
1 can pumpkin puree (15 oz.)
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground cloves
Juice of ½ a lemon

For the Topping –
1-1/2 cups sour cream
1/3 cup pure maple syrup

Preheat oven to 325 degrees; coat a 9” springform pan with nonstick spray.

Process gingersnaps for the crust in a food processor until fine (remove any big chunks); transfer to a bowl. Process crackers until fine and add to cookie crumbs. Pulse nuts until chopped and add to crumb mixture. Stir in butter, 2 Tbs. sugar, and salt until sandy, then press into the bottom and 1” up the sides of prepared pan. Place pan on baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove and cool slightly.

Beat cream cheese and 1 cup of sugar for the filling in a bowl with a hand mixer until fluffy. Add pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, spices, and lemon juice; beat until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl periodically.

Pour filling over crust and bake 50-55 minutes, or until sides are set but center is still slightly jiggly. Remove cheesecake from oven (leave oven on).
Whisk sour cream and syrup for the topping together in a small bowl. Carefully spread topping over cheesecake, return it to the oven, and bake 15 minutes more, or until set. Turn oven off, crack the door, and leave cheesecake inside for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, cool to room temperature, then cover loosely with plastic and chill overnight. To serve, remove sides from the pan, then slice with a sharp knife dipped in hot water and wiped dry before each cut.

Total Time: 1 hours 30 minutes, plus cooling

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Pumpkin Month - Pumpkin Muffins


1 15 oz can of pure pumpkin
(about 2 cups)*
3 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs

3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¾ teaspoon ground cloves

Preheat oven to 350.

In large mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin, sugar, water, vegetable oil, and eggs. Beat until well mixed.

In separate bowl, combined the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, nutmeg and ground cloves.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture, beating until smooth.

Bake 30-35 minutes. Makes between 3 ½ to 4 dozens.

*Sometimes I add an individual size (4 oz) applesauce to the muffins.

Taste great with cool whip on top.

You can also make it in a bread pan – just bake it longer.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Pumpkin Month - Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake

My favorite month of the year is October. My favorite season is fall. Why, you ask? Well, it is my birthday month, my son's birthday month, my husband's birthday month and just about everyone I know is born in October. No, not really. But sometimes it feels that way. We do know lots of Libras and October babies.

Fall is my favorite season because of the crisp, clear weather! I also love the apple cider, especially hot apple cider. I also love to see the Halloween decorations, pumpkins and scarecrows come out for the season. Every year I try to take my son to a corn maze. He may be getting too old for it but we are going this year anyway. His school had a fundraiser at a local corn maze which is always a good cause. He and his buddies want to do the "night maze" this year to make it a little more age appropriate for them. I don't mind. I'll get some hot apple cider or some hot cocoa and maybe an apple fritter and I'll be set!

In keeping with the fall season, my sister sent me a bunch of pumpkin recipes. She doesn't eat pumpkin in any way shape or form but I guess it sounded good to her so she sent them over to me. I also got a pumpkin muffin recipe from a friend and I'm expecting a pumpkin bread recipe from another friend. I think it is going to have to be pumpkin month at my blog with maybe some apples thrown in for good measure. The pumpkin recipes I have even include a casserole that sounds pretty good. I'm going to start pumpkin month with a pumpkin cheesecake recipe that I have been holding onto for a long time. I think it is time to try this cheesecake. It would be super appropriate for any Halloween party, don't you think? You could use low fat cream cheese but why bother!

Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake
12 Servings

3 Tbs. unsalted Butter
1 cup gingersnap crumbs, about 20 cookies
2 lbs. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbs. cornstarch
1 cup sour cream
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. salt
3 eggs
1 tsp. lemon juice
2/3 cup canned pumpkin puree
3 Tbs. dark-brown sugar
2 Tbs. molasses
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
¾ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9” springform pan and wrap the pan with a piece of heavy-duty foil.

Melt the 3 Tbs. butter and combine with the crumbs. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan and chill. With an electric mixer set at medium-low speed, beat the cream cheese, the granulated sugar and 2 Tbs. of the cornstarch until smooth. Beat in the sour cream, the vanilla and salt. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Remove 3-1/2 cups of this batter, stir in lemon juice and set aside.

Combine the remaining batter with the pumpkin, brown sugar, molasses, the remaining 1 Tbs. cornstarch and the spices. Set aside 1 cup of the pumpkin batter. Spread half of the remaining pumpkin batter in the prepared pan.

Gently spoon half of the plain batter over the pumpkin batter. Spoon the other half of pumpkin batter over this and then the remaining plain batter over the pumpkin. Dot with spoonfuls of the reserved cup of pumpkin batter. With a chopstick or the handle of a wooden spoon, gently swirl the batters.

Put the cheesecake in a large roasting pan and fill the roasting pan with water halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan. Bake until the center of the cheesecake jiggles only slightly when the pan it tapped. About 1 hour 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and run a knife around the edge of the cake. Let the cake cool 10 minutes in the water bath. Remove and cool completely on a wire rack. Chill thoroughly before serving. Decorate with candied walnuts if desired.

Work Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 50 minutes

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cooking Class - Ode to Julia!

My friend V and I went to a cooking class two weeks ago on a Friday night at a wonderful cooking school in Frederick, Maryland called The Kitchen Studio Frederick. This particular class was called “Ode to Julia”. We made a few classic French dishes. I have never tried to make Hollandaise sauce before nor have I ever attempted to make a soufflé. It was a really interesting class because our chef/teacher and owner of the school Christine Van Bloem was trained at a French cooking school in New York City so she was the perfect person to teach us a few of the French classics. I learned that there are four basic French sauces that all other French sauces are based on: Hollandaise, Béchamel, Brown Sauce, and tomato sauce. These are the building blocks of classic French, Julia Child, style cooking. I have made tomato sauce many times so that doesn’t scare me but Hollandaise and Béchamel are really “out there” for me. Chef Christine told us that Hollandaise is a “bear” to make, not in those words, exactly. There is an easy but yet excellent recipe for Hollandaise that I will definitely try. It is called Blender Hollandaise. Nothing wrong with using a few shortcuts if you can. We also talked about why she couldn’t have us make Boeuf Bourguignon in a 3 hour class. It wouldn’t work unless we were willing to leave it for her to eat after class! None of us were willing to do that. At the end of each of her classes at The Kitchen Studio Frederick, Christine offers us the meal we have just cooked. I would like to try Boeuf a la Bourguignon sometime but I’ll have to do it on my own.

I stayed away from the soufflé. But I learned that when you pour the hot chocolate mixture into the egg whites you should first pour it into a cool bowl and then add it in small portions so that the two different textures and temperatures of the mixtures can combine slowly. It is very difficult to get it right. That seems to be the most difficult part of a soufflé. We also learned that it isn’t true that soufflé’s will drop if you walk around your house while they are baking or if something drops, etc. That seems to be an “old wives tale.” Good to know! I really wanted to try making a cheese soufflé but now that I know the consistency of a soufflé is more of a custard or pudding, I’m not so sure. I always thought they were more like the consistency of a bread or cake. I don’t know what gave me that idea but I’ll have to rethink my plan to make a soufflé.

The chicken in tarragon cream sauce was pretty easy compared to the soufflé and the hollandaise. I did participate in making this dish. I finally learned how to “butterfly” a chicken breast. Christine thought that would be the best way to thin the chicken breast rather than having us pound chicken breasts all over the kitchen. I agree. It was interesting. It seemed easy but I didn’t really cut it that well. Mine was fairly uneven. The other tip Christine gave us about the chicken is that when you want to sauté anything you must do the sauté in a stainless steel pan. You can’t make a good sauté in a non-stick pan. I’m going to put a 10 or 12-inch stainless steel sauté pan on my Christmas wish list! The chicken does brown beautifully in a stainless steel pan. It was so yummy!

The blender Hollandaise was pretty easy. Only one of the students in class had the chance to actually pour the oil into the blender to make this sauce but we all got a chance to taste it. Having never tried Hollandaise before, I thought it was very rich and tasted mainly of butter. The “other” regular Hollandaise sauce seized up on us. Christine had to rescue it by adding ice cubes. Apparently, this happens fairly frequently and we weren’t the only ones to have our Hollandaise get to that state. She was happy to show us how to “fix” it with the ice cubes and cool it down. I never did taste this Hollandaise but I’m sure it was delicious.

The other thing that we learned was how to poach an egg. I remember that when I was a little girl (many many years ago) I played with an oddly shaped aluminum pan that I was told was an egg poacher. I never knew nor did I ask what the heck a poached egg was but I didn’t like eggs much anyway. Well, all these many years later I learned that you can poach an egg in hot but not boiling water in a shallow pan. You must put some white vinegar in the pan otherwise it won’t work. You break the egg and before you pour it into the water, you stir the water. The egg will swirl in upon itself (or it should) and then you let it cook for 3 to 5 minutes. The eggs they poached that night were all the 3 to 4 minute ones that are “runny”. I decided that I will try making poached eggs with Hollandaise and make my eggs the 5 minute variety so that they are firm. Of course, you know that poached eggs with Hollandaise sauce on top of an English muffin are called Eggs Benedict. There are several stories about the origin of Eggs Benedict. Here are a few that I found on

“In an interview in the "Talk of the Town" column of The New Yorker in 1942, the year before his death, Lemuel Benedict, a retired Wall Street stock broker, claimed that he had wandered into the Waldorf Hotel in 1894 and, hoping to find a cure for his morning hangover, ordered "buttered toast, poached eggs, crisp bacon and a hooker of hollandaise." Oscar Tschirky, the famed maître d'hôtel, was so impressed with the dish that he put it on the breakfast and luncheon menus but substituted ham and a toasted English muffin for the bacon and toast.

Craig Claiborne, in September 1967, wrote a column in The New York Times Magazine about a letter he had received from Edward P. Montgomery, an American then residing in France. In it, Montgomery related that the dish was created by Commodore E.C. Benedict, a banker and yachtsman, who died in 1920 at the age of 86. Montgomery also included a recipe for eggs Benedict, stating that the recipe had been given to him by his mother, who had received it from her brother, who was a friend of the Commodore.

Mabel C. Butler of Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts in a November 1967 letter printed in The New York Times Magazine responded to Montgomery's claim by correcting that the ‘true story, well known to the relations of Mrs. Le Grand Benedict’, of whom she was one, was:

‘Mr. and Mrs. Benedict, when they lived in New York around the turn of the century, dined every Saturday at Delmonico's. One day Mrs. Benedict said to the maitre d' hotel, "Haven't you anything new or different to suggest?" On his reply that he would like to hear something from her, she suggested poached eggs on toasted English muffins with a thin slice of ham, hollandaise sauce and a truffle on top.‘

Another origin of the dish is suggested in Elizabeth David's French Provincial Cooking, where she describes a traditional French dish named œufs bénédictine, consisting of brandade (a puree of refreshed salt cod and potatoes), spread on triangles of fried bread. A poached egg is then set on top and napped with hollandaise. This story would also explain the distinctly French syntax, where the adjective follows, rather than precedes, the noun (although Oysters Rockefeller has the same syntax without needing a Romance-language origin). Still, it is not clear how this dish would have migrated to America, where it became popular. The combination of cod and eggs suggests it was a Lenten or meatless dish, and the use of salt cod suggests it could be as old as the Renaissance, when salt cod became more plentiful.

Mrs. Isabella Beeton's Household Management had recipes in the first edition (1861) for ‘Dutch sauce, for benedict’ (p. 405) and its variant on the following page, ‘Green sauce, or Hollandaise verte’, so it undoubtedly precedes the 20th century claimants above.”

I won’t pretend that I know which story is the true one but they all sound interesting and plausible. I will definitely have to try Eggs Benedict now that I know how to poach an egg!

I want to thank Chef Christine for her wonderful class. I am definitely going to take another class soon. Please check out the classes on her website and sign up. The classes are so much fun!


The Creative Cook

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Potage Parmentier by Julia Child

I probably mentioned that I have recently seen the movie Julie & Julia as well as read the book. I enjoyed both of them and recommend them if you enjoy the culinary arts. It was a fun movie. The book was a bit darker and more intense at times but still a very good read. Julie Powell takes most of the book almost directly from her blog, The Julie / Julia Project. I went online to read her blog and realized it was almost “word for word” the same as the book. Not an issue. Just read the blog or the book, not both. In any event, this movie and book have made me wonder about the recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I by Julia Child that has been sitting in my china cabinet for months. I pulled it out yesterday and decided to make Potage Parmentier for a few reasons:

1. I love potato soup and so does my family;
2. It was one of the first recipes that Julie tried to make; and
3. I had all the ingredients sitting in my cupboard and fridge.

The recipe turned out great but I did make a few alterations. I added some chunks of potato to suit my son’s taste. I didn’t use quite as much salt as Julia recommends. I used a “ricer” instead of a food mill because I own a ricer and do not own a food mill. I’m not sure I even know what a food mill is but I am sure that someone will explain it to me. If I remember correctly, Julie did the same thing in the book. I will probably try a few more recipes at some point. I really want to try making a soufflé. The Boeuf a la Bourguinonne sounds yummy. Crepes are a good thing, at least in my opinion. I have never made a quiche but it would be cool to try making one, I think. Those are the recipes that jump out at me.

On Friday, I am taking a cooking class with a friend of mine that honors Julia Child and her French cooking. I’m anticipating having fun and eating well at that class. I’ll tell you about it the following week.

Last weekend, we drove up to visit some friends of ours who live in New Jersey. Oddly, Julia Child came up in conversation. I guess now that the movie is out she is regaining some popularity. Our host told me that a group of his friends are forming a Julia Child Dinner Club. Each couple is going to make a dinner from Mastering the Art of French Cooking and share it with the rest of the group each month. I begged him to blog about his experiences making those meals but I wasn’t able to convince him. He told me that he isn’t inclined to make any of the organ meat or aspic recipes but that he is interested in making the Pate de Canard en Croute which is Boned Stuffed Duck Baked in a Pastry Crust. That is one of the recipes featured prominently in the movie. He suggested having a butcher bone the duck rather than trying to do it yourself. It makes sense to me. Why bone a duck if you don’t have to?! I guess it makes a better book and movie if you do it yourself and drop the duck on the floor a few times. That certainly would frustrate me. I don’t like handling raw meat all that much.

Potage Parmentier
{Leek or Onion and Potato Soup}
By Julia Child

For about 2 quarts serving 6 to 8 people

3 to 4 cups or 1 lb. peeled potatoes, sliced or diced
3 cups or 1 lb. thinly sliced leeks including the tender green;
Or yellow onions
2 quarts of water
1 Tbs. salt
4 to 6 Tbs. whipping cream
Or 2 to 3 Tbs. softened butter
2 to 3 Tbs. minced parsley or chives

Use a 3 to 4 quart saucepan. Simmer the vegetables, water and salt together, partially covered, for 40 to 50 minutes until the vegetables are tender;

Mash the vegetables in the soup with a fork or pass the soup through a food mill. Correct seasoning. Set aside uncovered until just before serving, then reheat to the simmer.

Off heat and just before serving, stir in the cream or butter by spoonfuls. Pour into a tureen or soup cups and decorate with the herbs.


The Creative Cook

Friday, September 11, 2009

Orecchietti with Peas & Ground Turkey

I bought a bag of orecchiette a few weeks ago and every time I opened my cupboard, I wanted to make it. I just couldn't think if what to make it with. Finally, I decided that it would be nice with peas, ground turkey and marinara sauce. I simply cooked up a pound of ground turkey in some olive oil and threw in some onion that I minced along with some powdered garlic and basil. Then I threw in the frozen peas and let them thaw and cook a bit. After that I put a jar of really good organic marinara sauce into the pot and let it get nice and hot. Meanwhile I cooked the orecchiette for the 11 minutes suggested on the bag. Believe me, this was a really good, quick dinner. My hubby and I both loved it.

In case you didn't know, orecchiette is a type of pasta native to Apulia, whose shape resembles a small ear. In Italian, "ear" is orecchio, so this translates as "little ears". In the Taranto area it is still called by the synonym chiancarelle. An orecchietta is about 2 cm (¾ inch) in size and looks like a small white dome with a thinner center than edge and a rough surface.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Plastic Bag Ice Cream - Coffee Can Ice Cream

Kids absolutely love making ice cream. It doesn't matter how young or how old they are. Homemade ice cream is so yummy and they can make whatever kind of ice cream they like the most. This is a fun activity that isn't actually messy at all even thought it sounds like it would be. It can also be very educational. Read through the different recipes before you pick one to make. I recommend using rock salt. I have used kosher salt and the ice cream didn't come out quite as "icy" as I would have liked.

Plastic Bag Ice Cream Recipe

1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon sugar
4 cups crushed ice
4 tablespoons salt
2 quart size Ziploc bags
1 gallon size Ziploc freezer bag

a hand towel or gloves to keep fingers from freezing as well!

Mix the milk, vanilla and sugar together in one of the quart size bags. Seal tightly, allowing as little air to remain in the bag as possible. Too much air left inside may force the bag open during shaking.

Place this bag inside the other quart size bag, again leaving as little air inside as possible and sealing well. By double-bagging, the risk of salt and ice leaking into the ice cream is minimized.

Put the two bags inside the gallon size bag and fill the bag with ice, then sprinkle salt on top. Again let all the air escape and seal the bag.

Wrap the bag in the towel or put your gloves on, and shake and massage the bag, making sure the ice surrounds the cream mixture. Five to eight minutes is adequate time for the mixture to freeze into ice cream.

Tips: Freezer bags work best because they are thicker and less likely to develop small holes, allowing the bags to leak. You can get away with using regular Ziploc bags for the smaller quart sizes, because you are double-bagging. Especially if you plan to do this indoors, we strongly recommend using gallon size freezer bags.

Coffee Can Ice Cream

An alternative to the baggie method is to use coffee cans. The recipe is the same, and may be doubled or tripled because the coffee can will hold more liquid than the baggies. Put the mixture in a standard size coffee can and seal with the plastic lid, then place that can inside a larger "economy size" can. Pack the large can with ice and salt, and seal with the lid. Kids can roll the can back and forth on the ground (outside - the condensation will drip) until the ice cream is set. The time required to set the mixture will vary depending on the number of servings in the can.

What does the salt do? Just like we use salt on icy roads in the winter, salt mixed with ice in this case also causes the ice to melt. When salt comes into contact with ice, the freezing point of the ice is lowered. Water will normally freeze at 32 degrees F. A 10% salt solution freezes at 20 degrees F, and a 20% solution freezes at 2 degrees F. By lowering the temperature at which ice is frozen, we are able to create an environment in which the milk mixture can freeze at a temperature below 32 degrees F into ice cream.

Who invented ice cream? Legend has it that the Roman emperor, Nero, discovered ice cream. Runners brought snow from the mountains to make the first ice cream. In 1846, Nancy Johnson invented the hand-cranked ice cream churn and ice cream surged in popularity. Then, in 1904, ice cream cones were invented at the St. Louis World Exposition. An ice cream vendor ran out of dishes and improvised by rolling up some waffles to make cones.

Plastic Bag Ice Cream

2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup salt (The bigger the granules, the better. Kosher or rock salt works best, but table salt is fine.)
Ice cubes (enough to fill each gallon-size bag about half full)
1 pint-size Ziploc bag
1 gallon-size Ziploc bag

1. Combine the sugar, half and half, and vanilla extract in the pint-size bag and seal it tightly.

2. Place the salt and ice in the gallon-size bag, then place the sealed smaller bag inside as well. Seal the larger bag. Now shake the bags until the mixture hardens (about 5 minutes). Feel the small bag to determine when it's done.

3. Take the smaller bag out of the larger one, add mix-ins, and eat the ice cream right out of the bag. Easy cleanup too! Serves 1.

Ice Cream in a Bag


1/2 cup milk (it doesn't matter what kind, whole, 2%, chocolate, etc.)
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon flavoring

Preparation Steps:

Add ingredients to a pint size zipper freezer bag and zip shut.

Place that bag in a larger (quart or larger) zipper bag and add ice to outside bag until bag is half way full.

Add about 6 Tablespoons salt (rock or regular) to the outer bag.

Zip outer bag shut and shake, turn, toss, and mix the bag.

In about 5-10 minutes you will have cold hands and yummy ice cream.

Flavor suggestions:

Root Beer

If members of the group are allergic to milk, make ices instead! Substitute juice or juice drinks for milk.


Don't double this, it doesn't work.

Suggest ice cream makers wear mittens or gloves. Their hands will get very cold.

Be sure to wipe or rinse all the salt off the small bag before you open it. Otherwise, you will have salty ice cream instead of sweet.


The Creative Cook

Monday, September 7, 2009


This is the recipe for Armpit Fudge. It is fun to make with kids even if they aren't scouts. I think the boys, especially would love it. When my son made it at cub scout camp, all the boys ate it for a treat. You don't have to smoosh it under your arm if you don't want to. It can be messy if you don't double bag it and make sure the bags are sealed. I think you could also make several different varieties like any flavor fudge you would like to eat. I'm thinking key lime or vanilla or even chocolate chip.


Ingredients: (single serve version)
2 oz. powdered sugar (1/2 cup)
1 Tbsp butter
2 tsp cream cheese
dash of vanilla
2 tsp cocoa

Place all ingredients in a sandwich-size plastic zipped bag.

Squeeze out all the air. Squish and smoosh (under the arm!) the bag until all the ingredients are well mixed with a creamy consistency.

Add any favorite flavors or other stuff (raisins, M&M's, peanut butter, chopped nuts, etc). Take out a spoon and enjoy.

ARMPIT FUDGE (group servings)


1 lb. powdered sugar
1 stick (1/4 cup) butter
1 - 3 oz pkg cream cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup cocoa

Mix ingredients in a one-gallon zipper bag until it looks like fudge, then eat!

WARNING!! Make sure the bag is SEALED! I recommend putting it in two Ziploc bags. One sealed and placed seal side down into another baggie.)

This also brings to mind the recipe for ice cream in plastic baggies or coffee cans.


The Creative Cook

Friday, September 4, 2009

Ziploc Omelet

This sounds like such a great idea. I'm wondering why I didn't think of it myself. It never occurred to me until I got this email from my niece. I'm sure tons of people have had this idea before but not me. Even when D made "armpit fudge" in a similar way at cub scout camp, I didn't think, "yes, this is a great way to make an omelet." Actually, I'm not much of an omelet maker myself. When I try making them they usually come out like scrambled eggs with stuff in them. Anyway, I'm definitely going to try this great idea for an omelet.

Ziploc Omelet

This works great!! Good for when all your family is together. The best part is that no one has to wait for their special omelet!!

Have guests write their name on a quart-size Ziploc freezer bag with permanent marker.

Crack 2 eggs (large or extra-large) into the bag (not more than 2) shake to combine them.

Put out a variety of ingredients such as: cheeses, ham, onion, green pepper, tomato, hash browns, salsa, etc.

Each guest adds prepared ingredients of choice to their bag and shake. Make sure to get the air out of the bag and zip it up.

Place the bags into rolling, boiling water for exactly 13 minutes (we did 15 minutes). You can usually cook 6-8 omelets in a large pot. For more, make another pot of boiling water.

Open the bags and the omelet will roll out easily. Be prepared for everyone to be amazed.

Nice to serve with fresh fruit and coffee cake; everyone gets involved in the process and a great conversation piece.

Imagine having these ready the night before, and putting the bag in boiling water while you get ready. And in 15 minutes, you've got a nice omelet for a quick breakfast!!

If anyone tries this, please let me know. I want to know how it works out. I also am going to post the recipe for armpit fudge as soon as I can find it.


The Creative Cook

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

French Onion Soup

Today, I had a really great experience making French Onion Soup. It seems like such a 70's dish but it is so yummy I can forget that it's been around for years. My whole family loves this soup. I'm not sure how it became such a favorite of ours but we are now really particular about our French Onion Soup. That's why I was a bit concerned, considering my recent cooking disasters. I'm happy to say that today was different. I'll admit, this soup was pretty easy and much less risky than some of the other meals I've made recently. I got the basic recipe from a neighbor but I changed it up enough to say it is now my own concoction. I used organic beef and chicken broth and some dry red wine to give it a bit of a kick. You won't be disappointed with this soup!

French Onion Soup

2 (32 oz) boxes Organic Chicken Soup (low sodium)
2 (32 oz) boxes Organic Beef Broth (low sodium)
2 lbs yellow or white onions
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 stick butter
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup dry red wine or sherry
cheese slices (Provolone, Swiss and Mozzarella)
thin french bread slices or croutons (optional)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Put the broth in a large stock pot to simmer on medium heat along with the thyme and garlic powder. While the broth is simmering, thinly slice the onions and cut in half. Cook the onions in the butter and olive oil for about 30 minutes or until translucent and lightly browned. Once the onions have cooked, remove them from the pan and then deglaze the pan with the sugar and red wine. After you have deglazed the pan, combine the flour with the onions and cook for another 10 minutes or until thickened. Add the onion mixture into the broth and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour on medium heat. (

Put the soup into individual serving bowls. Place the bowls on a cookie sheet and keep them in a warm (200 degrees) oven while you broil both sides of the french bread slices that have been buttered and sprinkled with garlic. Add thin french bread slices and a slice each of Mozzarella, Provolone and Swiss. Turn the oven up to 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted, brown and bubbly. You may place the bowls under the broiler for no more than 5 minutes.


The Creative Cook

Monday, August 31, 2009

Southern Fried Chicken - Musings

Last Monday was my baby boy's last free day before he started 6th grade. He decided that he wanted to go for a picnic. We decided to have our picnic at Piney Run Park. It is a beautiful location with a nice lake and picnic tables. My thought was to have southern fried chicken and sides. I already told you about my problems with potato salad so I planned to buy the side dishes but make my own southern fried chicken. Everyone knows who the Queen of Southern Fried Food is -- Paula Deen, of course. That's why I used Paula's recipe for SFC. The recipe was taken from but is attributed to Paula. I didn't use the hot sauce because I was pretty sure D wouldn't like it. Also, I don't like messing with chicken on the bone so naturally I decided to make southern fried chicken strips ala Paula Deen. My tastebuds were so ready for 'em!

I got going early Monday morning. I poured a combination of safflower and canola oil in a deep pan about half full. I didn't want to put too much oil in the pot for fear of it -- HOT OIL! I am not comfortable with hot oil (i.e. grease). It isn't my favorite medium. I don't own a fry baby or deep fryer. I'm afraid that if I did own one I might start frying all kinds of things that really shouldn't be fried. But, let's face it, I'm not a southern gal. I'm Italian. I don't know squat about deep frying stuff in hot oil. It is scary. Shortly after I got the oil nice and hot, I heard the unmistakable beeping of our smoke alarm as the house started to fill up with smoke! Yes, that's right. Smoke. I never really thought, "hmmm, maybe I should put on the fan over the stove so I don't smoke up the house." That just never entered my mind until I heard the smoke alarm blaring. My darling husband starts opening windows and doors and fanning the smoke around. Then D walks by and says, "hey, mom that chicken looks overcooked." Yes, at age 10 he is a fried chicken expert. No, really. I mean he doesn't like anything that is brown. When I make grilled cheese sandwiches, hot dogs on the grill or anything that could potentially get dark brown he freaks. So, I instantly pulled those chicken strips out of the hot oil. I dutifully placed them on layers of paper towels and breathed a sigh of relief that they were done.... or so I thought!

Once we got to our picnic table on the edge of the lake, we pulled out all yummy looking food. Then I took a fork and knife and cut open one of the pieces of chicken. It was RAW! Yikes. Yes, raw!! I was so upset, depressed, sad, scared, offended, embarrassed! You name it. Luckily it was just me, my hubby and my baby boy. Then and there my boy says, "Mom, at least the lemonade is good." He was trying to be sweet but it missed its mark.

Try this recipe and make sure you cook the chicken long enough. My friend, S happened to make Southern Fried Chicken last week and hers turned out overcooked. You just can't win....

Southern Fried Chicken
by Paula Deen

House Seasoning:

1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder

Southern Fried Chicken:

4 eggs
1/3 cup water
1 cup hot red pepper sauce
2 cups self-rising flour
1 teaspoon pepper

House Seasoning
2 1/2-pound chicken, cut into pieces
Oil, for frying, preferably peanut oil

To make the House Seasoning, mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

In a medium size bowl, beat the eggs with the water. Add enough hot sauce so the egg mixture is bright orange. In another bowl, combine the flour and pepper. Season the chicken with the House Seasoning. Dip the seasoned chicken in the egg, and then coat well in the flour mixture.
Heat the oil to 350 degrees F in a deep pot. Do not fill the pot more than 1/2 full with oil.
Fry the chicken in the oil until brown and crisp.

Dark meat takes longer than white meat. It should take dark meat about 13 to 14 minutes, white meat around 8 to 10 minutes.

Good luck!

The Creative Cook

Friday, August 28, 2009

CAKE WEEK - Hummingbird Cake

I love the name of this cake. It sounds so interesting. I have no idea where the name comes from. The best guess is that the cake is so named because it comes close to the sweetness of the nectar that hummingbirds love to feed on. I have been looking at this recipe since the beginning of summer. It definitely seems like a summer cookout type of cake. I haven't tried making it yet. With my recent track record, I'm a little nervous to try it. Maybe next summer! I did do some reading on the Internet about how this cake came into being. The recipe was published in the February 1978 issue of Southern Living Magazine and afterwards it gained widespread popularity. I also learned that the recipe was submitted by a Mrs. L. H. Wiggins of Greensboro North Carolina. It consists of two or three layers of cake full of chopped pecans, crushed pineapple, and mashed bananas that are filled and frosted with a delicious cream cheese icing. Someone out there needs to try making this cake and report back to me!



· 3 cups all-purpose flour
· 2 cups granulated sugar
· 1/2 teaspoon salt
· 2 teaspoons baking soda
· 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
· 3 eggs, beaten
· 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
· 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
· 1 can (8oz) crushed pineapple, well drained
· 1 cup chopped pecans
· 2 cups chopped firm ripe banana

Cream Cheese Frosting:

· 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
· 1 cup butter, room temperature
· 2 pounds confectioners' sugar
· 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
· 1/2 to 1 cup chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 350°. Sift flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and cinnamon together into mixing bowl several times. Add eggs and salad oil to the dry ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon until ingredients are moistened. Stir in vanilla, pineapple and 1 cup pecans. Stir in the bananas. Spoon the batter into 3 well-greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes,or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting: Combine cream cheese and butter; cream until smooth. Add powdered sugar, beating with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla.

Frost the tops of all 3 layers, stack and then frost sides. Sprinkle top evenly with the 1/2 to 1 cup chopped pecans.

The Creative Cook

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cake Week - White's Fudge Cake

I made this cake on Saturday for a BBQ. Almost everyone liked it. I can discount the boy who said it was "nasty" because I found out that he doesn't like chocolate. My friend told me it was just "so so" but the next time I talked to her she changed her tune. She said she had eaten a piece the next day and it tasted much better to her. Everyone else who ate it, absolutely loved it. My recommendation is to use a large tube pan because my 10-inch bundt pan wasn't big enough to contain all of the batter for this cake. I also think that I will increase the oven temperature to 325 degrees. It wasn't completely done when I took it out of the oven at 300 degrees after the one hour and 20 minutes or more it was in there.

White's Fudge Cake
Makes a 10-inch Cake

1 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 4-ounce bars sweet baking chocolate, melted and cooled
1 cup chocolate syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla
1-1/2 cups mini-morsel chips
4 ounces white chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons shortening

Cream butter in a large mixing bowl,gradually adding the sugar. Beat well on medium speed of an electric mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Combine buttermilk and soda, stirring well. Add to creamed mixture alternately with flour, beginning and ending with flour. Add melted chocolate, chocolate syrup and vanilla. Mix well and stir in 1 cup of mini-morsels.

Pour batter into heavily greased and floured 10-inch bundt pan (or tube pan). Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Invert cake immediately onto a serving plate and let cool completely.

Combine 4 ounces white chocolate and 2 tablespoons shortening in top of a double boiler and bring the water to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and drizzle mixture over the cooled cake.

Next, melt remaining 1/2 cup of mini-morsels and 2 teaspoons shortening in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat, let cool and drizzle over white chocolate. Garnish with chocolate and white chocolate leaves.


The Creative Cook