Saturday, December 22, 2012

Chocolate-Vanilla Swirl Cookies

I really like making what used to be called "ice box" or refrigerator cookies.  They are simply cookies that are rolled into logs and refrigerated or frozen for a period of time.  I had to add about two teaspoons of vanilla extract to get the dough to come together.  

Chocolate-Vanilla Swirl Cookies
Baking for All Occasions by Flo Braker 
Makes about 12 dozen cookies

Vanilla Dough

2-3/4 Cups (11 ounces/310 grams) cake flour 
1 Cup + 2 Tablespoon (4 ounces/115 grams) powdered sugar 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
8 oz (2 sticks/225 grams) butter @ room temperature 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used two teaspoons vanilla)

Chocolate Dough

2-1/4 Cup (9 ounces/255 grams) cake flour 
1 Cup + 2 Tablespoon (4 ounces/115 grams) powdered sugar 
1/2 Cup + 1 Tablespoon (2 ounces/55 grams) natural or Dutch-processed cocoa powder 
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 oz (2 sticks/225 grams) butter @ room temperature 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used two teaspoons vanilla)

2 Cup (about 15 ounces/430 grams) nonpareil sprinkles for decoration (I used 1 Cup 
raw sugar)

For the Vanilla Dough: 
Combine flour, sugar and salt and mix on lowest speed just to blend. Stop the mixer and place the butter on top of the flour mixture. Wrap a kitchen towel around the mixer bowl to prevent the flour from flying out of the bowl. Mix on the lowest speed just until it starts to appear lumpy. Stop the mixer and add the vanilla. Mix on the lowest speed just until the mixture is combined. Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes. 

For the Chocolate Dough: 
Use the same instructions above, placing the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and salt in the bowl and mixing on the lowest speed to blend. Add the butter and proceed as above, then add the vanilla. Transfer the dough to a bowl and if too soft, cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

To form into logs: 
Divide the Vanilla Dough into thirds, with each piece weighing about 7 1/2 ounces (215 grams). Divide the Chocolate Dough the same way. You will work with one-third of each dough at a time. 

On a piece of parchment or clean work surface, flatten one piece of Vanilla Dough into a 7" x 5" rectangle. Repeat this with a piece of the Chocolate Dough. Place the chocolate rectangle on top of the vanilla rectangle, then cut the stack in half crosswise to create 2 pieces, each about 3 1/2" x 5". Place one half on top of the other half to create 4 layers. (You may need a dough scraper to help with this.) Press or roll the stack into a 9" x 4" rectangle. Cut the stack in half lengthwise to create two 9" x 2" pieces. Place one piece on top of the other to create a long narrow stack with 8 layers.

Carefully twist each end of the dough once or twice, gently working toward the center. Use your hands to twist the pattern and shape the swirled dough into a log about 8 1/2 ” x 2”. Set aside. Repeat this process with the remaining pieces of each dough to form two more logs. Compress each log with your hands so it is compact, gently rolling back and forth until the log is round and uniformly shaped.

Roll each log in the sprinkles to coat. If the dough is soft, set the coated logs on a baking sheet and refrigerate for about 1 hour or until firm enough to handle. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and return to the refrigerator for a few hours to chill thoroughly. 

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Use a sharp knife to cut generous 1/4” slices and arrange 1/2" apart on baking sheets lined with parchment or a silpat. 

Bake one sheet at a time just until they are no longer shiny on top and are lightly golden on the bottom, about 10 - 12 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack.

Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 10 days.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Vanishing Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is the recipe on the inside of the cover of the Quaker Oats Oatmeal box.  One of my friends made them for my cookie exchange.  They were the only cookies my son would eat, including the ones I made.  He wouldn't even try mine.  Nice.  I decided to give these a try.  She simply replaced the raisins with chocolate chips and voila!  I ran the oatmeal through my food processor to break it down a little bit.

Vanishing Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies


1/2 cup (1 stick) and 6 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups Quaker Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1 cup chocolate chips


1.  Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  In large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy.

2.  Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.

3.  Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well.

4.  Add oats and chocolate chips; mix well.

5.  Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

6.   Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown.  Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack.  Cool completely.  Store tightly covered.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Bar Cookies:  Bake 30 to 35 minutes in ungreased 13 x 9-inch metal baking pan.


The Creative Cook

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Chicken Tetrazzini with Prosciutto and Peas

I made this Chicken Tetrazzini tonight for dinner.  I split the difference and put mushrooms into half and peas into the other half to satisfy my family's food likes and dislikes (including my own).

Chicken Tetrazzini with Prosciutto and Peas


3 ounces finely chopped prosciutto
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 (6 or 7 oz.) package vermicelli pasta
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules or paste
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 cups diced cooked chicken
1 (4.5 oz.) jar sliced mushrooms, drained
1 cup frozen baby peas, thawed
1/2 cup slivered almonds (optional)


1.  Saute prosciutto in hot vegetable oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat 2 to 3 minutes or until crisp.

2.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare pasta according to package directions.

3.  Melt butter in dutch oven over low heat; whisk in flour until smooth.  Cook 1 minute, whisking constantly.  Gradually whisk in milk and wine; cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, 8 to 10 minutes or until mixture is thickened and bubbly.  Whisk in bouillon, pepper and 1 cup Parmesan cheese.

4.  Remove from heat; stir in diced cooked chicken, sliced mushrooms, peas, crispy prosciutto, and hot cooked pasta.

5.  Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 13 x 9-inch baking dish; sprinkle with slivered almonds and remaining 1 cup Parmesan cheese.

6.  Bake at 350 degrees F. for 35 minutes or until bubbly.


The Creative Cook

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

These cookies are from the FoodNetwork website but they originate from Trisha Yearwood.  I made them for the first time today.  The cookies are yummy.  They are different from the average Christmas cookies.  I highly recommend these even if you don't like white chocolate.

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies
courtesy Trisha Yearwood


1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packaged light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 cup macadamia nuts, chopped


1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2.  With an electric mixer, cream the butter and both sugars together until smooth.

3.  Add the vanilla and egg, mixing well. Sift together the flour and baking soda.

4.  Spoon the flour mixture gradually into the creamed sugar mixture.

5.  Stir in the cranberries, white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts.

6.  Drop by heaping spoonfuls, about 2 tablespoons, onto the prepared baking sheets, 2 inches apart.

7.  Bake 1 sheet at a time until lightly golden on top and the edges are set, 12 to 15 minutes.

8.  Cool on the sheet about 5 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

9.  Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.


The Creative Cook


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Cranberry Banana Bread

I made this banana bread for my cookie exchange last year.  I wanted to make it again this year but I had a hard time finding the recipe.  I figured that I better post it so that I don't lose it again.

Cranberry Banana Bread
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour

1 cup white sugar
½ cup butter, melted (I used coconut oil)
1 cup mashed banana
¼ cup milk
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup almonds, chopped
6 ounce package Craisins or Dried Cranberries


  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the melted butter and sugar.  Add the milk and eggs, mix well.  Combine the flour, baking soda and salt, stir into the butter mixture until smooth.  Finally, fold in the almonds and dried cranberries.  Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.  Cool loaf in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Snickerdoodle Muffins

I baked these during Superstorm Sandy.   My son had a few friends over for his birthday on Sunday (a few weeks late) so since they had no school on Monday due to the storm some of they decided to stay over night. I figured they could have these muffins for breakfast.  They seemed to enjoy the muffins.  I had one and thought it was pretty darn good.  The original recipe comes from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody with a few changes along the way.

Snickerdoodle Muffins

2 sticks unsalted butter (softened)
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1-1/4 cup sour cream
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar and 1 Tbsp cinnamon mixed together for rolling*

  1. Cream the butter and sugar until soft about 3 to 5 minutes.  Add in the vanilla.  Add in the eggs one at a time and mix until each is incorporated.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cream of tartar and nutmeg.
  3. Add the flour mixture and the sour cream alternately to the egg-butter mixture.  Start with the flour and end with the flour.  Scrape the bowl occasionally.
  4. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out the muffin batter, one at a time and drop into a shallow bowl filled with the cinnamon sugar mixture.  Roll the muffin around in the mixture until it is covered completely in cinnamon sugar.  Place muffin into muffin tin.  Depending on the size of your tins, you should get about 12 to 14 muffins.  Bake the muffins for approximately 20-22 minutes in a 350 degree oven or until they are golden brown.
* The original recipe calls for 1 cup sugar and 2 Tbsp. cinnamon.


The Creative Cook

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Lemon Blueberry Bread

I made this bread on Monday during the Superstorm Sandy.  I like to bake when I'm nervous.  I also thought we could eat it without heating it and it did not need refrigeration if we lost power.  Thankfully, we did not lose power.  We were very lucky compared with our friends and family in New York and New Jersey.  I pray that they get through this quickly and easily.  It was scary enough for us down in Maryland even though we dodged that bullet!

Lemon Blueberry Bread
from Taste of Home
16 Servings
Prep: 15 mins.
Bake: 1 hour


1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 eggs
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup chopped nuts
2 tablespoons grated lemon peel


2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar


  1. In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, lemon juice and eggs.  Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir into egg mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition.  Fold in the blueberries, nuts and lemon peel.
  2. Transfer to a greased 8 x 4 inch loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 60 to 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to wire rack.
  3. Combine glaze ingredients; drizzle over warm bread.  Cool completely.
Yield:  1 loaf (16 slices)


The Creative Cook

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sweet Milk White Bread

This bread isn't exactly made in the breadmaker but it is mixed in the breadmaker.  I really did take it out and bake it in my oven although I was seriously thinking about trying to bake it in the breadmaker.  If you do that, leave me a comment and let me know how it works for you.  I have to say that this is my son's favorite bread.  In fact, I don't think that my husband or I even had a slice.  My mother may have tried a slice but it was primarily my son's breakfast.  I will definitely make this bread again. It comes from Salad-in-a-Jar blog.  She touts it as the best bread to use for a PB&J but since my son is allergic to most nuts, that wouldn't work for us.  Just butter on top is how my son ate it.

Sweet Milk White Bread


7/8 cup water (room temperature) (7 oz. or 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter (room temperature)
3 cups (+) bread flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast


1.  Add ingredients to bread pan in order listed in your instructions.  Start with 3 cups flour.

2.  Select dough cycle and start  Raise lid and check dough after about 5-10 minutes.  Add flour one tablespoon at a time, if necessary, until dough reaches correct consistency.  It should come together in a ball that sticks to side of pan, then pulls away.  If dough thumps against the side of pan, add warm water one tabespoon at a time.  If dough is thin enough to level out, add flour one tablespoon at a time until dough starts to form a slightly sticky ball.

3.  Remove dough from pan at the end of the dough cycle and place on lightly floured board.  Roll into rectangle.  Roll up and tuck ends to fit into greased 4 x 8 inch loaf pan.  Let rise until dough is 1-inch above top edge of pan in the middle.

4.  Bake at 375 degrees for 35 - 45 minutes.  Interior should reach 190 degrees.  Place a foil tent over bread halfway through baking to protect from over-browning.  Allow to cool for 15 minues before turning out to cool completely.  It is best if you wait at least two hours before slicing so loaf will hold its shape without squishing with the pressure of a knife.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Banana Cinnamon Chip Bread

I know what you're thinking. . . another recipe for banana bread?!  What!  Yes, another banana bread recipe.  I like banana bread and this one is very good.  I bought my cinnamon chips at Prepared Pantry's online website.  They are so good.  They almost melt into the bread.  

Banana Cinnamon Chip Bread with
Cinnamon Sugar Topping

1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
3 over-ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup melted butter
¾ cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup cinnamon chips

1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon


·        Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray an 8-1/2 inch by 4-1/2 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.  Dust it lightly with flour and set aside.
·        Whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together in a small bowl.  Set aside.
·         Mix the bananas, butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla together in a medium bowl.  Add the flour mixture and carefully stir.  Don’t over mix.  Add in the cinnamon chips and gently stir.
·        In a small dish, mix together the 1/3 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon.
·        Add the batter to the loaf pan and smooth out with a spatula.  Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar topping generously over the batter.
·        Bake bread for 50-60 minutes, or until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean.  Transfer to cooling rack.
·        Let bread cool for 10 minutes and then remove from pan.  Cool, slice and enjoy.


The Creative Cook

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Baked Chicken Meatballs

These are probably the best meatballs I have ever made or eaten.  The boys just loved them but who doesn't love bacon.  Even if it is Italian bacon (better known as Pancetta).  Bacon does make everything taste better.  I have seen another meatball recipe that uses American style bacon.  I'm probably going to have to try that one, too.  The author of this recipe says you can use Canadian bacon if you can't find Pancetta but I don't think that would work for me.  Too much like ham.  She also said you could probably render the Pancetta and then cook the onion and garlic in the fat from that instead of the olive oil.  I didn't but I'm sure the meatballs would have tasted even better that way.  

Baked Chicken Meatballs
by Smitten Kitchen

Serves 4, or more as appetizers or sliders
3 slices Italian bread, torn into small bits (1 cup)
1/3 cup milk
3 ounces sliced pancetta, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 large egg
1 pound ground chicken
2 tablespoons tomato paste, divided
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 400°F with a rack in the upper third of the oven. Soak bread in milk in a small bowl until softened, about four minutes.

Cook pancetta, onion, and garlic in one tablespoon oil with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large skillet over medium heat until onion is softened, about 6 minutes. Cool slightly.

Squeeze bread to remove excess milk, then discard milk. Lightly beat egg in a large bowl, then combine with chicken, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, pancetta mixture, bread, and parsley. Form 12 meatballs and arrange in another 4-sided sheet pan or a 9×13 roasting dish.

Stir together remaining tablespoons of tomato paste and oil and brush over meatballs, then bake in upper third of oven until meatballs are just cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes.


The Creative Cook

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Milk & Honey Bread

Milk & Honey Bread

Milk & Honey Bread

I just got a bread maker.  It isn't a new bread maker but it is new to me.  It is an Oster ExpressBake Bread Maker Model #5838.  Therefore, I'm learning how to use it.  The first thing I did was bake a loaf of basic white bread that came out great except it sank.  I was disappointed so I decided to stay up late (for me) and make another loaf before I went to bed.  I tried this Milk & Honey Bread recipe.  It came out perfectly except that it was a little dark.  Next time I make it, I will try it on the "light" setting.  I found out that you shouldn't use quick rise yeast when you bake bread in a bread maker.  If you do, you should use a bit less of the yeast.  I also learned that all your ingredients, and I do mean all your ingredients must be room temperature or use a cooking thermometer to make sure they are whatever temperature suggested in the recipe.  The next trick is to let the dough knead and mix in the machine for about 10 minutes, then open the lid and touch the dough.  If it is moist and firm but does not stick to your finger, it is perfect.  Otherwise, if it is too sticky add one tablespoon of flour then let it mix for a minute and check again. If it is too dry, then add a bit of water or mist the dough with water.  I used King Arthur All-Purpose Flour which worked fine but in the future I will use bread flour.

Milk & Honey Bread
Makes 1 Loaf


  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk (room temperature-let stand 20 minutes on counter)
  • 3 tablespoons honey (room temperature)
  • 3 tablespoon melted butter (room temperature)
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast

  1. Add ingredients to the bread machine pan in the order recommended by your bread machine manufacturer.
  2. Use Basic and Medium crust setting.

The Creative Cook

Friday, September 21, 2012

Real Spaghetti and Meatballs

I have to say first and foremost that I am not a big fan of Ina Garten and her Barefoot Contessa recipes.  I don't think that I have posted very many of them but I also have to say that these meatballs are "to die for."  For real.  The problem is that they get eaten so fast.  I have no idea where this batch of meatballs went but it was just gone.  I didn't follow the recipe exactly.  I used two packages of meatloaf mix at the grocery store and by that I mean the 1/3 beef, 1/3 pork, 1/3 veal ground meat mix.  I also used only fresh white bread crumbs.  I didn't use the seasoned dry bread crumbs.  I will probably use them next time but I didn't have any.  These meatballs are seriously delicious.  

Real Spaghetti and Meatballs
From Ina Garten: The Barefoot Contessa Family Style Cookbook


For the meatballs:
·         1/2 pound ground veal
·         1/2 pound ground pork
·         1 pound ground beef
·         1 cup fresh white bread crumbs (4 slices, crusts removed)
·         1/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
·         2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
·         1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
·         2 teaspoons kosher salt
·         1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
·         1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
·         1 extra-large egg, beaten
·         Vegetable oil
·         Olive oil

For the sauce:
·         1 tablespoon good olive oil
·         1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
·         1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
·         1/2 cup good red wine, such as Chianti
·         1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, or plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
·         1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
·         1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
·         1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For serving:
·         1 1/2 pounds spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
·         Freshly grated Parmesan

Place the ground meats, both bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg, and 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl. Combine very lightly with a fork. Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs. You will have 14 to 16 meatballs.
Pour equal amounts of vegetable oil and olive oil into a large (12-inch) skillet to a depth of 1/4-inch. Heat the oil. Very carefully, in batches, place the meatballs in the oil and brown them well on all sides over medium-low heat, turning carefully with a spatula or a fork. This should take about 10 minutes for each batch. Don't crowd the meatballs. Remove the meatballs to a plate covered with paper towels. Discard the oil but don't clean the pan.
For the sauce, heat the olive oil in the same pan. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping up all the brown bits in the pan, until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper.
Return the meatballs to the sauce, cover, and simmer on the lowest heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve hot on cooked spaghetti and pass the grated Parmesan.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pear Bread

My sister has about 5 or 6 pear trees at her house.  The pears were really bursting off the trees this year.  It was crazy.  My mother and I picked about 6 batches of pears.  I made 6 pans of roasted pears with vanilla and  honey for my sister.  The last time, I kept some of the pears that I cooked.  Sadly, we did not eat the pears.  I decided that instead of throwing out the pears that I had lovingly cooked, I would make this delicious Pear Bread.  

Pear Bread
By Smitten Kitchen

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
¾ cup butter, softened, or ¾ cup vegetable oil
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups sugar
2 to 4 firm, ripe pears (2 cups) grated
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1.     Heat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2.     Lightly grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan or two 9-by-5 inch loaf pans.
3.     Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl, and stir with a fork to mix everything well.  If you’re using nuts, scoop out about ¼ cup of the flour mixture and combine it in a small bowl with the chopped walnuts, stirring and tossing to coat the nuts with the flour.
4.     Peel and core pears, then grate them.  You’ll want two grated cups total; set them briefly aside.  In a medium bowl, combine the butter or oil, eggs, sugar, grated pear, nuts (if using), and vanilla, and stir to mix everything well.  Scrape the pear mixture into the flour mixture and stir just until the flour disappears, and the batter is evenly moistened.
5.     Quickly scrape the batter into the prepared pans and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 60 to 70 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and firm on top and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
6.     Cool the bread in the pan on a wire rack or folded kitchen towel for about 10 minutes.  Then turn it out onto a plate or a wire rack to cool completely, top side up.  Serve it as is, sprinkle it with confectioners’ sugar or drizzle it with a simple glace made from whisking 3 tablespoons buttermilk, a dash of vanilla and 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar together.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Birthday Cake

I made this birthday cake for a friend of mine last weekend.  I knew that it wouldn't work for my family if I used the frosting that goes with the cake so I used my Instant Fudge Frosting instead.  I didn't use the vanilla bean because I figured my son would be asking me what were the black flecks in the cake.  Besides, vanilla beans are so expensive.  I saw them at the grocery store today at 2 vanilla beans for $17.99!  I would probably use vanilla paste in the future if I have time to order it or look around for it in the local grocery stores.  In any event, this cake was a hit!    

Pink Vanilla Bean Birthday Cake
Source: Sweetapolita


3 sticks (1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature (on counter approx. 20 mins.)
2-2/3 cups granulated sugar
9 egg whites, at room temperature (1 cup and 2 tablespoons liquid egg substitute)
4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped (or vanilla paste)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


1.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter three 8” by 2” round cake pans, line with parchment rounds, and dust with flour, tapping out the excess.
2.     In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high Speed until lighter in color and slightly increased in volume, 3 to 5 minutes.  Lower the speed to medium and add the egg whites gradually, mixing until fully incorporated.
3.     Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl.  Mix vanilla extract and vanilla paste (or contents of vanilla bean) into buttermilk.  Alternate dry ingredients and buttermilk into creamed mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.  Mix until just incorporated or finish by hand gently.
4.     Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.  If possible, weigh the batter in each cake pan on a digital kitchen scale to ensure even layers.   Smooth with small offset palette knife, and bake for about 30 minutes, rotating once after 20 minutes.  Cake is done when toothpick or skewer comes clean.
5.     Let pans cool on wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert cakes onto racks, gently peeling away parchment rounds.  Let cool completely.

Pink Vanilla Bean Birthday Cake
Adapted from Sweetapolita


3-1/2 sticks (1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
3-1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup heavy cream
1-1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt


1.      In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip butter on medium-high speed until smooth about 1 minute.
2.     Add the confectioners’ sugar to the bowl and mix on medium-low speed just until incorporated.  Add in the salt.  Continue to beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1-2 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla extract and heavy cream on low speed just until incorporated.  Increase the mixer speed and whip on high speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl as needed, about 4 minutes.

From Smells Like Home

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sweet'n Spicy Crispy Chicken

I am sure that I've mentioned how scared I am to fry things. I have tried but failed at frying.  This faux fried chicken really worked out well for me.  I wasn't doing it because I was worried about calories or fat but it definitely was a great way to get that fried chicken taste without actually frying it.  This recipe comes from Fitness Magazine.  It has several optional ideas that I will add for you.  The article also states that a thinner layer of cornflakes equals crispier chicken, which makes sense.  So, brush off any excess cornflakes before baking the chicken.

Sweet'n Spicy Crispy Chicken
Makes: 8 servings

Nonstick cooking spray
1/2 cup apricot preserves
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
2 cups crushed cornflakes
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly coat a 13 by 9 inch baking dish with cooking spray.

2.  To make the glaze: Whisk together apricot preserves, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder and hot pepper sauce in a small bowl.

3.  Mix together the cornflakes, salt, thyme and black pepper on a piece of waxed paper.

4.  Brush chicken breasts with apricot glaze and coat in cornflake mixture.  Arrange chicken in a single layer in prepared baking dish.

5.  Bake chicken 35 minutes or until internal temperature registers 170 degrees on an instant read thermometer.

The article also mentions that you can dredge the chicken in these ingredients instead of cornflakes:

  • 2-1/2 cups crushed whole-wheat melba toast
  • 1-1/2 cups whole-wheat flour + 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 2 cups whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs
  • 1-1/4 cups whole-wheat flour + 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 2 cups whole-wheat bread crumbs + 1/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar
These all sound like great ideas to me.  I may try a few of them.


The Creative Cook

Monday, September 10, 2012

Best Steak Marinade in Existence

This is really good steak marinade.  I used it twice over the summer.  Everyone enjoyed it.

Best Steak Marinade in Existence

servings: 4


2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2-1/4 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon and 1-1/2 dried basil
2-1/4 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (optional)
1/2 teaspoon dried minced garlic (optional)


1.  Place the soy sauce, olive oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, basil, parsley, and pepper in a blender.  Add hot pepper sauce and garlic powder, if desired.  Blend on high speed for 30 seconds until thoroughly mixed.

2.  Pour marinade over desired type of meat.  Cover, and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.  Cook meat as desired.


The Creative Cook

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Lemonade Layer Cake

This was a yummy summer cake.  We enjoyed it very much.  

Lemonade Layer Cake
from Cooking Light

Yield:  16 servings/slices



1-1/3 cups granulated sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
3 tablespoons thawed lemonade concentrate
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/4 cups fat-free buttermilk
Cooking spray


2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
2 teaspoons thawed lemonade concentrate
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces 1/3 less fat cream cheese
3-1/2 cups powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To prepare cake, place first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until, well blended (about 5 minutes).  Add eggs and egg whites one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.  Combine flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda; stir well with a whisk.  Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat well after each addition.

Pour batter into 2 (9-inch) round cake pans coated with cooking spray; sharply tap pans once on counter to remove air bubbles.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

To prepare frosting, place 2 tablespoons butter and the next 4 ingredients (2 tablespoons butter through cream cheese) in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until fluffy.  Add powdered sugar, and beat at low speed just until blended (do not overbeat).  Chill 1 hour.

Place 1 cake layer on a plate; spread with 1/2 cup frosting.  Top with remaining cake layer.  Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake.  Store cake loosely covered in the refrigerator.


The Creative Cook

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Belgian-Style Yeast Waffles

I finally decided to try making Belgian waffles with yeast.  I had never tried it before but I figured it was about time.  This is a classic yeasted waffle recipe from King Arthur Flour's website.  These waffles turned out great.  Everyone enjoyed them.  I will definitely make them again.

Belgian-Style Yeast Waffles

1-1/2 cups lukewarm milk (Buttermilk)
6 tablespoons butter, melted
2 to 3 tablespoons maple syrup, optional
3/4 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1-1/2 teaspoons instant yeast


1.  Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl, leaving room for expansion; the mixture will bubble and grow.

2.  Stir to combine; it's OK if the mixture isn't perfectly smooth.

3.  Cover with plastic wrap, and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour; the mixture will begin to bubble.  You can cook the waffles at this point, or refrigerate the batter overnight to cook waffles the next day.

4.  Preheat your waffle iron.  Spray with non-stick cooking spray, and pour 2/3 to 3/4 cup batter (or the amount recommended by the manufacturer) onto the center of the iron.  Close the lid and bake for the recommended amount of time, until the waffle is golden brown.

5.  Serve immediately, or keep warm in a 200 degree F oven.  Serve with berries and whipped cream, if desired.

Yield:  about 4 Belgian-style (deep-pocket) 7" round waffles.


The Creative Cook

Friday, September 7, 2012

Bang Bang Chicken

I made this recipe for dinner.  It is a copycat for the Bang Bang Shrimp from Bonefish Grill.  I have never tried the shrimp but my son and my husband both absolutely love it.  I doubled this recipe and did not notice that I was supposed to "double dip" the chicken in the breading.  It was still delicious!  

Bang Bang Chicken
Servings: 4


½ cups Mayonnaise
5 teaspoons Siracha Sauce
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 egg, beaten
½ cup milk
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon dried basil
5 chicken tenderloins
Vegetable oil, for frying

1.       Prepare a plate lined with paper towels for the chicken after it is done cooking in the oil.  Set aside.
2.       Combine all the ingredients for the sauce (mayo, Siracha, sugar, and rice vinegar) and set aside.
3.       In a small, shallow dish, combine the egg and milk.  Set aside.
4.       In another shallow dish, combine the ingredients for the breading (flour, panko, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dried basil).  Set aside.
5.       Bread the chicken by first coating it in the bread mixture then the egg wash then back in the breading.  Put the coated chicken on a plate.  Continue until all the chicken has been breaded.
6.       Pop the plate of chicken into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.  That will help the breading stick to the chicken.
7.       In a large skillet, add a thin layer of vegetable oil and place over medium high heat.
8.       Once the oil is glistening, add the chicken (you may need to do it in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan) and cook the chicken until breading is crispy and golden brown.
9.       Once the first batch is done, put the cooked chicken on the prepared plate with the paper towel.  Continue with the second batch and once that is cooked, add that to the prepared plate.
10.   In a large bowl, put in your cooked chicken and pour the sauce all over.  Toss well to coat ever bite.

Blueberry Muffin Bake-Off

I did a taste-test of two different blueberry muffin recipes.  The first is called "My Aunt's Blueberry Muffins" and it comes from Howard at Mr. Food who ways  his "Aunt Ruthie" used to bring muffins like this home from her work.  She worked at Jordan Marsh which was a department store in New England.  This recipe is a version that they recreated to match the original muffins from the Jordan Marsh bakery.

The second recipe is called "To Die For Blueberry Muffins."  This muffin recipe can be found all over the internet blogosphere.  They come up so often that I can't identify the original location of these muffins.

The "To Die For Muffins" have a crumb topping while the "My Aunt's Blueberry Muffins" have only granulated sugar sprinkled on top.

The results were that my husband loved the To Die for muffins and I loved the My Aunt's muffins.  Sheesh!  I decided that I will combine the two by adding the topping of the To Die for muffins to the My Aunt's Blueberry Muffins.  I will also increase the amount of blueberries next time.

My Aunt's Blueberry Muffins
Serves: 6


    1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
    1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
    2 eggs
    2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup milk
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 pint fresh or 1 (12-ounce) package frozen blueberries


    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 6-cup muffin tin with paper baking cups and coat with cooking spray.
    In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat 1-1/4 cups sugar and the butter until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add 2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt; beat well. Add milk and vanilla, and beat until thoroughly combined.
    Mash 1/2 cup blueberries and stir into batter. In a medium bowl, toss the remaining blueberries in the remaining flour. Stir into batter and spoon into baking cups, distributing batter evenly. Sprinkle tops with remaining sugar.
    Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

To Die for Blueberry Muffins
Servings: 8


1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup white sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk or buttermilk
1 cup fresh blueberries

1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter (room temperature)
1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon


1.     Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).  Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.
2.     Combine 1-1/2 cups flour, ¾ cup sugar, salt and baking powder.  Place vegetable oil into 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup.  Mix this with flour mixture.  Do not over-mix batter.  Fold in blueberries.  Fill muffin cups right to the top. 
3.      To Make Crumb topping: Mix together sugar, flour, butter, and cinnamon.  Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.
4.      Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done. 

HELPFUL TIPS: Regular size tins make 12 at 18 min. Giant tins as recommended make 5-6 so double recipes!


The Creative Cook