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

Monday, August 24, 2009

Cake Week -- Golden Cake with Fudge Frosting

I made a few cakes over the weekend. I brought them to the BBQ's we attended on Saturday and Sunday. I made this cake yesterday. It was good but the almond flavoring was pretty strong. I like almond flavor but some of the kids said it tasted "weird". The adults all seemed to like it, though. I will try making this cake again and leave out or reduce the almond flavoring. I also made this cake in a 9 x 13 inch pan and baked it for 45-50 minutes. It was really good. I will tell you that I didn't make the fudge frosting. I didn't have enough butter in my fridge to make it so I used a container of Duncan Hines Chocolate Fudge frosting. No one seemed to mind. I will definitely try to find a pourable fudge frosting recipe like the one on the Entenmann's Golden Cake with Fudge Frosting. There was a review on a website that talked about a recipe for this frosting. The author said her frosting "sets like fudge." Why, oh why didn't she go ahead and post the recipe in the comment section. I don't think that was very fair or nice. I tried to email her but apparently you have to be a "premium" member of the website to be able to email the other members. I am going to keep looking for that recipe. It would be worth my time if it is really that good!

Chocolate Fudge and Golden Layer Cake
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand
Cook Time: 30 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 12 to 16 servings

3 cups sifted cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 cup milk (whole, 2 percent fat, or 1 percent fat)

Instant Fudge Frosting

3 sticks butter (12 oz.)
4-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar (no need to sift)
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
1 tablespoons vanilla
6 tablespoons milk


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter and flour 2 (9-inch) round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together 3 times and set aside.

In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, cream the butter until smooth and fluffy. Add the sugar and mix until blended. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing after each addition until blended. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix.

With the mixer running at low speed, and working in alternating batches, add the dry ingredients and the milk to the butter mixture, mixing just to combine after each addition. Mix until just smooth. Pour into 2 cake pans. Bake until risen, golden, and firm to the touch, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in the pans.

For the frosting:  Place all of the ingredients into a food processor and pulse to incorporate, then process until the frosting is smooth.

Once the cakes have cooled, place 1 layer on a serving platter and cover the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top of that but bottom-side up, to create a nice flat top. Press down to secure the layer. Frost the top and sides using a swirling motion. Or if you want it to look more professional, do a crumb layer of frosting, chill, then do a topcoat.

The Creative Cook

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Potato Salad Problems

I offered to make potato salad for a cookout at a friend's house. Big mistake.... I followed the recipe for potato salad that I posted on my blog. I increased the amounts by 4 because I didn't want to make enough for just 4 people. I also followed the instructions on how to easily peel the potatoes in the video I posted with Dawn Wells of the Idaho Potato Council.

I had no problem at all mixing the ingredients for the potato salad. It was a combination of mayo, mustard, relish, and garlic. The recipe calls for celery and eggs chopped up along with the potatoes. None of that was a problem for me. I read someone who posted that her potato salad became "watery" on the second day. That is not my problem.

My problem is in the boiling of the potatoes. I followed the instructions to boil the potatoes for 15 minutes. Of course, the potatoes were under cooked. In fact, when I asked my husband to taste-test the potato salad for me he asked if the potatoes in potato salad were supposed to be cooked! "Houston, we have a problem." That was when I knew I was going to have to send him out to the store to buy some potato salad. I was so frustrated. I had spent the entire morning boiling, chopping, mixing and washing pots and pans to no avail! I feel like Julie in the Julie & Julia book not the Julie in the movie, she is way too nice. I didn't drop the "F" bomb quite as many times as Julie in the book but I was upset. I have made potato salad before. I have often overcooked and/or undercooked those "darn" potatoes. I have made Dijon potato salad and had someone make fun of it. He said it tasted "spoiled" so I never made that potato salad again. Even though I really liked it quite a bit myself. I should probably just give up on the potato salad but I really want to be able to make a good potato salad. It really shouldn't be that hard. Why is it that if I boil the potatoes 15 minutes they are too raw and if I cook them 20 minutes they are too over cooked?

Can you help me? Any ideas? Maybe I'm using the wrong type of potatoes. I just bought cheap white potatoes. Could that be the cause of my failure? Maybe I'm just going crazy or it is because, as my son suggested, I'm approaching 50 this year?!

The Frustrated Creative Cook

Saturday, August 22, 2009

ZUCCHINI WEEK - Zucchini Cake

Zucchini Cake -- This sounds odd but think about how yummy carrot cake can be. So maybe vegetables in cake isn't really that odd. Is it still healthy if you use the zucchini in cakes or muffins? I don't know but I think it should be.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

1/2 c. (1 stick) butter or margarine
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1-3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c "sour" milk (1/2 T. white vinegar added to 1/2 c. milk), or yogurt, or buttermilk
2-1/2 flour
1/2 cocoa
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 salt
1/2 cinnamon
1/2 cloves
2 c. shredded zucchini

Cream together the butter, oil, and sugar. Beat in the eggs, vanilla, and milk. In a separate bowl combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cloves. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until thoroughly combined. Stir in the zucchini. Spoon the batter into a greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 40-45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.


The Creative Cook

Friday, August 21, 2009


No, I haven't given up on Zucchini week. I just got a little busy. Sorry! I received this recipe from my sister. It definitely puts an interesting spin on caponata. All the caponata that I have eaten has been made with eggplant but since zucchini is so prevalent at this time of year, why not try zucchini caponata instead??!

Now wait a minute, don't you go thinking that my sister is someone who actually eats something like caponata. No, absolutely not. She is definitely not a vegetable eater. She was nice enough to send me this recipe that she found while searching through the King Arthur Recipes on their website. She also found the Zucchini Cake recipe which I'll post tomorrow. Thanks to both my sister and my friend V for providing this recipe. I'm definitely going to try them both!



2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped zucchini
1 cup chopped onion
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped or minced
1 1/2 cups chopped tomato
2 to 3 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes
1 to 2 tablespoons drained capers
1/4 cup pitted halved black olives, preferably oil-cured
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, parsley, or oregano (optional)


1. Heat the oil, and fry the zucchini, onion, garlic, and tomatoes for 30 minutes, covered.
2. Remove the cover, and cook an additional 10 to 15 minutes to evaporate any extra liquid.
3. Add the sugar, salt, and pepper; stir and remove from heat. When lukewarm, stir in the cherry tomatoes, capers, and olives. Store covered and refrigerated until ready to use.


The Creative Cook

Thursday, August 20, 2009


sideThis zucchini pie recipe comes from my friend T. She tells me that it should be used as a side dish. I'm thinking that it could be a good appetizer too. It is a "savory" pie meaning that it isn't sweet. I have never eaten zucchini pie but it sounds good. I'm thinking that my mom or my grandmother made a pie similar to this one. Anyway, it wouldn't surprise me if they did. I'm still hoping that my friend V will send me the zucchini cake recipe. It is a chocolate cake recipe that she got from the King Arthur Flour bag several years ago.

Zucchini Pie

2 cans (8 ounces each) crescent rolls
Press crescent rolls into and up sides of 9 x 13 inch pan or 2 pie pans. Pinch all seams to seal. Set aside.

¼ to ½ cup butter or margarine
*6-8 cups thinly sliced zucchini/yellow squash
½ cup minced fresh or ground parsley
¾ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon basil
½ teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon garlic powder or 2 garlic cloves

4 eggs (beaten)
4 cups mozzarella cheese
¾ teaspoon salt

*Add sliced onions to taste up to 2 cups and sauté with zucchini/squash.

Melt butter in large skillet. Sauté’ zucchini and spices until zucchini are tender.

In separate bowl, combine eggs, cheese and salt. Gently toss zucchini with egg mixture. Pour into crust.

Preheat over to 375 degrees.
Bake 35-40 minutes or until center is set.


The Creative Cook

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Zucchini Week - Muffins & Bread

Today, I have a recipe for zucchini muffins provided by my friend T and a yam-zucchini bread that sounds very interesting to me. Since, as the newspaper article blurb I found with the bread recipe says, zucchini seem to multiply exponentially these recipes could provide a way to enjoy the overwhelming proliferation of these summer squash. Bread and muffins are definitely a very palatable way to serve zucchini to kids or adults who are not big fans of squash. These recipes sure do sound delish!

Makes 2 - 3 dozen muffins

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 cups shredded zucchini
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda.

Combine oil and eggs, add to dry ingredients and mix well.

Add zucchini, stir until thoroughly combined.

Fold in nuts if desired.

Pour into greased muffin pans or cup cake liners.

Bake 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.



1-1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup oil

3 eggs

1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained

1-1/2 cups grated, unpeeled zucchini

1-1/2 cups grated, peeled sweet potato (about 1 large)

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

3/4 cup golden raisins

1. In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly beat sugar, oil and eggs. Blend in pineapple, zucchini and sweet potato. Add the next 4 dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated. Stir in walnuts and raisins.

2. Spoon batter into a greased and floured 9 x 5 inch loaf pan, spreading evenly. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 1 hour and 20 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool on wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on rack.


The Creative Cook

Monday, August 17, 2009

Zucchini Week - Zucchini Dinners & Sides

Clearly, zucchini is a popular vegetable. I looked in my huge pile of recipes torn out of magazines and newspapers over the last 15 years and, surprise, surprise -- I found 5 zucchini recipes for main dishes and sides that I have been holding onto for who knows how long!

I now realize that zucchini is one of the few vegetables that you can use to make breakfast, lunch, and all courses of dinner. By that I mean, you can make zucchini muffins or bread (breakfast), zucchini with pasta or fried or any of the dinners or sides below and have a good lunch or dinner. Yesterday, I posted the zucchini marinara recipe which is a great appetizer and my friend V has promised to send me a recipe for a zucchini cake (dessert, of course) which she says that I may post on this blog! I'm also planning to post a recipe for zucchini pie which is more of an appetizer as it is a savory pie, I think. I'll have to ask my friend T who provided this recipe to me. That really doesn't even scratch the surface of what you can do with a zucchini. Don't forget about zucchini parmesan and all other the zillions of ways you can cook it.

I've never thought about this before but zucchini is an awesome vegetable!!


¼ cup fine dry bread crumbs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved (1-1/4 lbs.)
All-purpose flour
2 tbs oil
1/3 tsp hot pepper sauce
4 oz Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 egg, beaten
1 (15-1/2 oz) jar marinara sauce
¾ lb. or 2 cups sliced zucchini
Cooked pasta

1. Mix bread crumbs and ¼ cup of Parmesan cheese.

2. Coat chicken pieces with flour. Dip into egg, and then coat both sides with crumb-cheese mixture.

3. Heat oil in 10” skillet with cover. Add chicken. Brown on both sides over medium heat.

4. Mix marinara sauce, parsley and hot pepper sauce. Spoon half over chicken.

5. Arrange zucchini slices over chicken. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese, top with remaining sauce.

6. Cover and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes or until chicken is tender. Serve with pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4
Active: 12 min.
Total: 30 min.

4 navel oranges
¼ cup olive oil & vinegar dressing
4 chicken breast halves
1/3 cup halved, pitted Kalamata olives
¼ cup thin-sliced red onion
3 tbs sliced mint
4 small zucchini, halved lengthwise
Nonstick spray
¼ tsp each salt and pepper
1 bag (4 to 6 oz) baby arugula

1. Squeeze juice from 1 orange (should yield ½ cup). Pour ¼ cup juice and 2 tbs. dressing into a ziplock bag. Add chicken, seal bag and marinate at room temperature 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat grill. Remove peel and white pith from remaining 3 oranges. Cut in half and slice. Put into a bowl; add olives, onion, mint, and remaining juice and dressing; toss.

3. Coat zucchini with nonstick spray; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Remove chicken from marinade; discard marinade.

4. Grill chicken and zucchini 8 to 10 minutes, turning once, until chicken is cooked through and zucchini is tender.

5. Divide arugula among 4 serving plates. Top with chicken, then orange mixture. Serve with zucchini.

Makes 8 to 10 Servings

1-1/2 lbs sliced zucchini (about 3 large)
4 medium sliced tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 lbs. ground beef, cooked and drained
1/4 cup chopped onion
¾ cup raw rice (not instant)
2 tbs. chopped parsley
¼ cup chopped green pepper
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Line bottom of a 9-inch-by-13 inch pan with half of the zucchini, tomatoes and salt. Mix remaining ingredients together, with the exception of the cheese, and place on top. Put the other half of the zucchini, tomatoes and salt on top. Cover and bake for 1-1/2 hours at 375 degrees. Uncover, sprinkle with cheese and cook until melted.

“Tester Laura Reiley’s comments: ‘This is a great one-dish meal. The rice will absorb a great deal of the moisture as it cooks; but, if during cooking the casserole looks extremely juicy, you may want to uncover slightly. The casserole may be less likely to fall apart when served if you slice the zucchini the long way into 1/4 –inch slices.’”

By Terrye Kocher, Mountain View, Calif.

2 medium zucchini (about 12 oz.)
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1 tbs olive oil
2 tsp. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. dried basil, crushed
1/8 tsp pepper
½ cup milk
¼ cup frozen egg product, thawed or 1 beaten egg
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Place, cut side down, in a microwave-safe 2-quart square baking dish. Microwave, covered, on 100% power (high) for 2 or 3 minutes or till nearly tender. (Or, cook in boiling water for 3 or 4 minutes.) Scoop out pulp, leaving a ¼ -inch-thick shell. Set shells aside. Finely chop the zucchini pulp; set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan, cook onion in hot oil until tender but not brown. Add chopped zucchini; cook 1 minute more. Stir in flour, basil, and pepper. Add milk all at once. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1 minute more. Gradually add zucchini mixture to the egg product or egg. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Spoon mixture into zucchini shells; place in a 2-quart square baking dish. Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until filling is lightly browned. Makes 4 side-dish servings.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

4 cups lightly salted water
3 cloves garlic
6 small zucchini, ends trimmed
2 tbs fresh chives
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Bring water to a boil. Add the garlic and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. Add zucchini and keep simmering, until soft, about 15 minutes longer. Remove garlic and zucchini. When cool enough to handle, peel zucchini.

2. Using a food mill, puree the garlic and zucchini. Spread puree into a lightly oiled gratin dish. Sprinkle with chives and Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper. Broil until the cheese is golden, about two minutes. Serve immediately.


The Creative Cook

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Zucchini Week - Zucchini Marinara

The end of the summer is always the time for a bumper crop of zucchini in my family. My dad, up until a few years ago, grew a garden. He always planted zucchini, Sicilian Squash, peppers, eggplant, basil and more. My brother-in-law also plants a garden. He still does his garden with my parents and my sister's help to water while he is away on business. Occasionally, he will get D to come over to water with him or my parents. I reap the benefits of all this hard work on gardening by enjoying my mother's eggplant and/or zucchini Parmesan. This summer I also got some peppers, basil, eggplant and lots of zucchini from my brother-in-law's garden. I really wanted to come up with good recipes to enjoy the zucchini. I found a zucchini marinara recipe that both D and I enjoyed. We got the idea while we were up in Rochester, NY this summer. D and I ate dinner at a restaurant called Proetti's. It is a classic Italian restaurant that was close to our hotel. B and his dad decided they "needed" to go to the racetrack which meant D and I were on our own for dinner on a Friday night. Thankfully, I had my GPS and some recommendations which is how we wound up at Proetti's. They serve a complimentary appetizer called Zucchini Marinara. It was so awesomely delicious that I knew I would have to try making some when I got home. D and I gobbled it up. I am not generally such a vegetable lover that I would gobble up any vegetable dish, so just sayin....

I'm betting that the Proetti family (being Italian and all) also has a "bumper crop" of zucchini from their family gardens which is why they came up with this complimentary appetizer. I can't prove this but I think it is a good guess!

1 hour
25 minute prep

Serves 6

2-3 zucchini, unpeeled and sliced
1/4 olive oil, divided
1 (15 oz) jar marinara sauce (or the equivalent of homemade)
1/2 cup red wine
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon basil leaves, crushed
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1 cup shredded Monterrey jack cheese (4 ounces)

1. Saute zucchini in 3 tbs olive oil until lightly browned; drain.
2. Place in 1-1/2 quart casserole.
3. Combine marinara sauce, wine, remaining garlic, basil and oregano in small saucepan; stir well.
4. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Spoon sauce over zucchini; mix well.
6. Sprinkle cheese over sauce; cover.
7. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.
8. Bake, uncovered, for 5 minutes longer.


The Creative Cook

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Blueberry Week - Blueberry Ice Cream Parfaits

Sadly, blueberry week has come to an end. I am not sure how I managed to post about sloppy joe's last night. I was just starting that post to keep for a later date and it wound up getting posted without either of the recipes.

I want to end blueberry week on a high note. These parfaits sound absolutely heavenly. I haven't tried them yet but I definitely will. I have a large bag of blueberries in my freezer just waiting.... I can't imagine why I wouldn't be able to use frozen blueberries for this but I'll find out soon enough.

Tomorrow, I'm starting zucchini week. I have also been getting tons of zucchini from my sister's garden. Her hubby loves to grow vegetables. They are always so fresh and good. I can't stand to see them go to waste. When I think of all the years during my youth that I turned up my nose at zucchini and eggplant, it makes me sad. I've even got D eating zucchini and he has tasted the eggplant. As far as I know, my sister still does turn up her nose at zucchini and eggplant but two of her kids (at least) eat both! Good for them.

Serves 8
Active: 15 Min
Total: 5 Hr (includes freezing)

4 cups blueberries
½ cup sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 qt vanilla ice cream
1 (10-oz) pkg frozen raspberries in syrup, thawed
2 cups sweetened whipped cream or frozen whipped topping, defrosted
1 cup fresh raspberries

1. Place 3 cups blueberries, the sugar and lemon juice in medium saucepan; mash berries well with a potato masher. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer; cook 5 minutes. Pour mixture into a blender and puree. Pour into a 2-cup measure, cover and chill 2 hours. Place a 1-1/2 qt freezer container in freezer to chill.

2. Let vanilla ice cream stand at room temperature until softened. Fold chilled blueberry puree into ice cream until well blended. Scrape ice cream into chilled container in freezer; freeze several hours or until firm enough to scoop.

3. Puree thawed raspberries and syrup in blender until smooth; scrape mixture through a fine sieve to remove seeds.

4. To make parfaits: For each parfait, spoon 1 Tbsp raspberry puree into a dessert glass and top with a small scoop blueberry ice cream. Top with 1 Tbsp whipped cream, and a few blueberries and raspberries. Repeat the layers. Top parfaits with a dollop of whipped cream.

The Creative Cook

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sloppy Joes

I have tried exactly three different recipes for Sloppy Joe's. The first is from my friend Miss B. She informed me that it was her mom's recipe. It is called Old Fashioned Sloppy Joe's. I have to say that it is completely yummy. This recipe tastes exactly how I would want a Sloppy Joe to taste. The only negative about this recipe is that it isn't exactly healthy. That is why I tried Martha Stewart's Turkey Sloppy Joe's. They didn't quite live up to my expectations nor did they live up to D's expectations. He was highly disappointed and asked if he could put BBQ sauce on them. Sheesh! I am going to combine the two recipes next time to get a healthier version of a completely yummy Sloppy Joe. That is my best solution to the problem. What I'm thinking is to go with the ground turkey from Martha's recipe and also keep the carrot and minced garlic but I'll use the condiment measurement's from Miss B's recipe. That will hopefully make a less unhealthy yet delicious dinner!

The third sloppy joe recipe I tried was from Rachel Ray's Cooking Rocks! Kids cookbook. I blogged about it several weeks ago. That recipe was quite good.

Just as an "aside" my husband never likes any of the Martha Stewart recipes I make. Once when we first got married, I tried her key lime pie recipe. How can you go wrong with key lime pie, I ask?? Well, my darling hubby absolutely hated it. I'm not sure if it was just because he knew it was a "Martha" recipe or if he really didn't like it. I actually wound up giving away that Martha Stewart Cook Book a few years ago.

Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes
by Miss B
Serves 4-6

1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped finely
2 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs vinegar
2 tbs brown sugar (packed)
3 tbs Worcestershire Sauce (I use organic)
1 cup ketchup
1/2 tbs prepared mustard
Dash red pepper sauce (optional)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Brown ground beef with onions. Drain.

Add all other ingredients and simmer for about 20-25 minutes. Serve on hamburger bun.

by Martha Stewart
Prep: 15 Mins
Total: 30 Mins
Serves 4


1 tablespoon olive oil
4 carrots, coarsely grated (2 cups)
1 medium onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
coarse salt and ground pepper
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3/4 pound ground turkey (93% lean, dark meat)
1 can (28 ozs) crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons dark-brown sugar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
4 whole-wheat hamburger rolls, split

1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat; add carrots, onions, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes.

2. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add turkey; cook, breaking up meat with a spoon, until no longer pink, 4 to 5 minutes.

3. Add tomatoes, sugar, vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 12 to 14 minutes. Serve on whole-wheat rolls.

I also made fresh white corn on the cob with this. The corn was really good :)


The Creative Cook

Blueberry Week

Do you know what scones are supposed to taste like? If I remember correctly from way back when I was in England, they are dense and a bit dry. I remember needing to put butter on them. I made these scones yesterday but they came out soft and doughy. Not what I had anticipated. It is very hard for me to tell you what they should have been like since the only scones I have eaten recently are from our local grocery store. I thought these scones tasted good but not like what I thought scones are supposed to taste like. They also did not come out very "pretty". I'm quite sure this is all my fault. I did take the butter out of the fridge a bit early so I'm thinking they got doughy because the butter wasn't cold enough. If you know something about how scones should taste/mouth feel, please let me know. I need someone from England to comment on this post! If not, I'm going to have to try making these again or maybe try another scone recipe. D likes the idea of chocolate chip scones so maybe you'll see a recipe for those on here soon. I found a website that gives some tips and suggestions about how to bake and eat scones. Check it out here. I really wish I had read this before I baked these scones!

I also need to tell you that when I went shopping for cardamom, I was very surprised. I found it in only two stores. That in itself wasn't surprising. The really surprising part was the price! I could NOT justify buying a bottle of cardamom for $12.00!! Especially since I am pretty sure I'll never use it again. The cheapest I could find it around here was $11.00 at the local Shoppers Food Warehouse. I did some research (afterwards) and found out that it is one of the most expensive spices. I always thought that honor belonged to saffron. I found out that the TWO most expensive spices are saffron and pure vanilla. Cardamom comes in third. I did further research and found out that you can substitute nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, or mace for cardamom. Apparently, though it has its own unusual taste it is fairly similar to those spices. The website that I read about it on suggests starting with half of the recommended amount. I simply used nutmeg. Since I know that I like nutmeg, I went ahead and used the full 1/4 tsp.

Here is what I found out about cardamom: "Cardamom -The third most expensive spice used frequently in East Indian, Scandinavian, Arabic and Central African cuisines. It is an essential ingredient in Arabic coffee and the scent is most enticing."

Makes 16
Active: 15 Mins.
Total: 1 hr. (includes chilling)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
¼ tsp each ground cardamom and salt
6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1-1/2 cups blueberries
¾ cup plus 1 Tbsp heavy cream
2 large eggs
¼ tsp almond or vanilla extract

1. Line two small baking sheets with parchment paper. In large bowl, whisk flour, 1/3 cup sugar, the baking powder, zest, cardamom and salt until combined. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Gently fold in blueberries.

2. In 2-cup glass measure, whisk ¾ cup cream, eggs and extract until blended; slowly stir in dry ingredients just until a wet dough comes together. Divide in half.

3. With floured hands, transfer dough to each prepared baking sheet. Pat each into a 6-1/4 inch round, a scant 1 in. thick. With floured knife, cut each round into 8 wedges. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

4. Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush dough with remaining 1 Tbsp cream and sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbsp sugar. Bake 24 minutes, or until scones are golden and a pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve warm.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Blueberry Week

This salad recipe sounds so summery and refreshing. Unfortunately, I will probably never get a chance to try it. My son doesn't like melon. Have you ever heard of anything like that? I am such a huge watermelon fan that I can't believe it when he tells me that watermelon smells bad. Oh, well maybe I'll try it one day when we have guests or the next time he is away at camp! If you try this recipe, please let me know what you think of it.

Serves 8
Active: 25 Min
Total: 45 Min

Thyme Syrup:
1 cup sugar
¼ cup water
Peel and juice from 1 lemon
4 large sprigs fresh thyme, preferably lemon thyme


3 cups each diced cantaloupe, honeydew melon and seedless watermelon
1 pint blueberries

Garnish: lemon thyme sprigs

1. Thyme Syrup: Bring all ingredients to a gentle boil in a small saucepan; simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; let steep 20 minutes. Discard thyme sprigs and lemon peel. Cool syrup to room temperature or store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

2. Salad: Just before serving, gently toss together fruit in a serving bowl; add 1/3 cup of the thyme syrup and toss. Spoon into dessert bowls or glasses and garnish with thyme sprigs. Serve with extra thyme syrup, if desired.

The Creative Cook

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

I love blueberry muffins. When I saw this recipe, I had to try it. The streusel sounded so yummy to me. And it is really good. The muffins come out large. But since I have only got a regular size twelve muffin tin I simply filled only 6 of the cups instead of all 12. The muffins were not nearly as huge as I imagined they would be, though. I guess I was thinking they would be like the giant muffins I used to get back in the day when I worked in Manhattan. But no. I'm certainly better off that they are just big and not gigantic! I sure don't need the extra calories. Try these when you have time. They are really tasty.

I have pictures of the muffins but I'm getting an error message when I try to add the photos. I'll try again later. Yesterday, I couldn't get on the internet that's why I didn't post a blueberry recipe. I will try to add another one later today to make up for it. I am just experiencing a few technical difficulties! ~ I finally got the photos to post on my blog!

Makes 6 Jumbo Muffins
Active: 30 Min.
Total: 70 Min.

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup blueberries
¼ cup yellow cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup milk
1/3 cup (5 Tbsp plus 1 tsp) unsalted butter, melted
3 Tbsp lemon juice

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ cup (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened

½ cup confectioners sugar
2 to 2-1/4 tsp milk

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 6 jumbo –size muffin cups with paper liners or coat with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Make Streusel: With fork or fingers, mix flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Add butter until blended and crumbly.

3. Place flour in medium bowl. Remove 1 Tbsp and toss with blueberries in a small bowl. To remaining flour, add yellow cornmeal, baking powder and salt; mix well, in another bowl, whisk sugar with eggs, milk, melted butter and lemon juice.

4. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just blended; fold in blueberries.

5. Spoon about ½ cup batter into each muffin cup; crumble streusel on top. Bake 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean. Let cool 5 minutes in pan, remove muffins from pan and cool on wire rack.

6. Make Drizzle: Mix ½ cup confectioners’ sugar and 2 to 2-1/4 tsp milk until smooth and pourable. Drizzle over muffins.


The Creative Cook

Monday, August 10, 2009

Blueberry Week

When I first saw this recipe, I couldn't imagine blueberry and key lime tasting good together. After baking and tasting this cheesecake, I found out that they really do compliment each other. The lime cuts the sweetness of the blueberry and it meshes very well together. I will tell you that my cake did crack. Wait, it was more like a crater that formed in the cake. It really doesn't matter because of the blueberry topping but I did some research and you can make a kind of plaster to fix the cake, you can also use the water bath cooking method. I really should have done that but I wasn't sure how to execute it. I will try it the next time I make a cheesecake that isn't being covered with fruit. I found an excellent website called Baking 911. This site explains how to repair all types of cheesecake problems. It is worth checking out.

I made this cake for my mom's birthday. She loved it. My brother-in-law also said he loved it. I'm still waiting to hear from my nephew. I have a few pieces stashed in the freezer for some other taste-testers.

Serves 12
Active: 30 min.
Total: 5 hrs. (includes cooling)


10 shortbread cookies
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened


3 bricks (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
½ cup sour cream, at room temperature
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 Tbsp grated lime zest
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 drop liquid green food color (optional)

Blueberry Topping

¼ cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp water
3 cups blueberries
1 Tbsp lime juice

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray an 8 x 3 inch springform pan with nonstick spray.

2. Crust: Process cookies in food processor to make fine crumbs. Add butter; pulse to blend. Press onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake 10 minutes or until set. Cool on wire rack.
3. Filling: In large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar and sour cream. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed 2 minutes until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl and beater once or twice. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until blended. Beat in remaining ingredients just until smooth and creamy; pour over crust.

4. Bake 60 minutes or until cake is almost set and center still jiggles slightly when touched. Remove to a rack; cut around outside edges of cake to loosen from sides. Cool on rack 3 hours (cake will sink as it cools). Cover and refrigerate up to several days.

5. Topping: In a small saucepan, mix sugar, cornstarch and water until blended. Add 1 cup blueberries; mash berries well with a potato masher. Cook over medium-high heat until mixture comes to a full boil. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened. Stir in lime juice and another ½ cup blueberries. Spread on top of cheesecake; top cheesecake with remaining 1-1/2 cups blueberries. Refrigerate until serving.

July 7, 2009 Woman’s Day Magazine
The Creative Cook

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Blueberry Week

I've been seeing blueberries everywhere lately. My sister has a blueberry bush in her yard. My parents have wild blueberries, raspberries and blackberries growing out behind their house. My neighbor has blueberry bushes in her yard, too. I know there must be some blueberries growing out in the forest behind our house because I'm constantly finding purple bird poop on my front porch. Luckily, I managed to find blueberries fairly inexpensively at my local Martin's grocery store. That's how I decided that it should be blueberry week here at my blog~ Oh, that and I found zounds of great blueberry recipes in the July 7, 2009 Women's Day Magazine! Most of these recipes are coming from that magazine. I have actually made most of them or plan to make them very soon. I really hope to bake the blueberry scones before I get the recipe posted. They sound so yummy to me. The recipe I have for you today is Blueberry Focaccia. It sounded so interesting and delicous that I absolutely had to try it. Admittedly, I am not the best with yeast but I tried it anyway. I found out that this particular bread doesn't require any fancy work with the yeast. It was quite simple. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. I never heard of Blueberry Focaccia before so it is something different.

I also managed to take a few decent pictures of the focaccia before and after baking it.

I hope you try this and let me know how you like it, if you do.


Serves 12
Active: 20 Mins.
Total: 2 hrs (includes rising)

½ cup sugar
1 Tbsp grated lemon zest
3 to 3-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 packet (1/4 oz) rapid rise active dry yeast
¾ tsp salt
1-1/4cups whole milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
½ stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups blueberries

1. Pulse sugar and lemon zest in food processor until zest is finely ground and incorporated into the sugar. In a large bowl, whisk 1/3 cup of the lemon sugar, 3 cups of the flour, the yeast and salt until blended.

2. Heat milk in a 2-cup measure in microwave on high 1-1/2 minutes, or until temperature registers 130 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant –read thermometer; add to flour mixture with egg and butter. Mix with a rubber spatula until a soft, sticky dough forms; scrape dough onto a floured surface. Using a dough scraper to assist, knead with some of the remaining ½ cup flour to form a smooth and pliable dough, about 2 minutes. Cover the dough with the mixing bowl; let rest 10 minutes.

3. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide dough in half. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, stretch and pat out on parchment into 12-in. free-form rectangle, about ¼ in. thick. Scatter with half the blueberries and half of the remaining lemon sugar. On a floured surface, pat out and stretch remaining dough slightly larger than the first piece and place over bottom dough. Press edges together and tuck under loaf. Cover with a sheet of greased plastic wrap. Place baking sheet in a warm area. Let rise 1 hour.
4. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, with floured fingers, dimple surface of loaf (pierce any bubbling with a knife tip to release air pockets). Scatter top of loaf with remaining blueberries and lemon sugar. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Slide focaccia onto a wire rack and cool slightly. Serve warm.


The Creative Cook