Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fettuccini Rigate with Peas & Pancetta

This recipe is adapted from one that I found on ABC's tv website by Rocco DiSpirito. I increased the amounts of pasta and other ingredients to serve 6 or 8 people. I don't know if you can find fettuccini rigate at your local grocery store but Barilla has just come out with it in our area. The difference between regular fettuccini and fettuccini rigate is that the rigate has lines in the pasta. The lines actually help hold the sauce onto the pasta. If you have ever eaten regular fettuccini you might have noticed that the sauce sort of drips right off. I also added the peas and pancetta. You could also add chicken and broccoli. The combinations are numerous. I just tasted this pasta and I like it a lot. I think it is quite yummy. It has much less fat than the normal Alfredo pasta sauce. I would definitely make this again if the boys enjoy it. I have to say that I like anything with ham and peas. It is a very "Italian" combination from what I have seen. You can always leave out the peas and just do bacon or ham but that just seems wrong to me. The only complaint was that there was not enough sauce. Next time, I'll have to increase the amounts for the sauce again or decrease the amount of pasta.

Fettuccini Rigate with Peas & Pancetta

1 box Fettuccine Rigate (Barilla)

2 tablespoon butter

6 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons cornstarch

Pinch of ground nutmeg

1-1/2 cup low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth

3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1-1/2 cup 5% Greek yogurt

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cups frozen peas, thawed

¼ pound Pancetta cut into strips (may substitute ham or bacon)

Cooking Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fettuccine and cook according to the package directions, 9 to 11 minutes; drain.

While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and pancetta and cook until fat is rendered. Discard excess fat.

Meanwhile, combine the cornstarch and nutmeg in a small bowl. Whisk in the chicken broth until smooth. Pour the mixture into the sauté pan, add the peas, raise the heat, and bring the sauce to a simmer, whisking occasionally. Whisk in 1/2 cup of the cheese until it has melted. Remove the sauté pan from the heat and whisk in the yogurt until the sauce is smooth.

In a large bowl, toss the cooked fettuccine with the Alfredo sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top the pasta with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese, and serve.

Serves 6-8


The Creative Cook

Friday, March 30, 2012

Lemon Blueberry Jumbo Muffins

I made these muffins especially for my husband. He had requested jumbo muffins. Since he bought me two jumbo muffin tins for Christmas, I figure I owe him some muffins. I found this recipe which was originally written to use raspberries. I would say you could even substitute strawberries cut into quarters or eights. I just took the muffins out of the oven. Watch these muffins carefully. I baked them at 400 degrees for 22 minutes and they came out slightly charred. Next time I make them, I will bake them at 350 degrees for 25 minutes and go from there. I also added a topping to make them more lemony which is optional.

Of course, you could make these muffins in regular size muffin tins which would probably make at least 12 muffins or you could even make them in mini muffin tins which would probably make at least 24 muffins.


Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Cook Time: 25 Minutes

Servings: 8


2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup all purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour)

1 cup sugar (I used 1-3/4 cups powdered sugar)

3 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup half-and-half (I used buttermilk)

½ cup vegetable oil (I used safflower oil)

1 teaspoon lemon extract (I used 3 teaspoons lemon juice)

1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened blueberries (or raspberries)

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional)

1 tablespoon Turbinado sugar (optional)

Topping (Optional):

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 cup sugar


  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  2. In another bowl, combine the eggs, cream, oil and extract.
  3. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
  4. Fold in berries.
  5. Fill greased jumbo muffin cups two-thirds full.
  6. Sprinkle with Turbinado sugar (if using).
  7. Bake at 400 degrees F for 22-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.
  9. Combine butter and lemon juice for the topping.
  10. While muffins are still warm, dip the tops into the butter and lemon juice, then dip in sugar.
  11. Serve warm.

Recipe from submitted by Carol Thoreson


The Creative Cook

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Monte Cristo with Strawberry Habanero Jam

Is there anyone else in the United States who hasn't tried a Monte Cristo besides me? The Monte Cristo has always been my husband's favorite sandwich but I had never eaten one or made one before. We have been married for over 20 years so I figure it's about time I break down and make him a Monte Cristo. The other day I happened to be watching The Sandwich King with Jeff Mauro on the Food Network when I saw him making his version of the Monte Cristo. Then and there, I knew that I had to make them for my husband. I decided not to make the Strawberry Habanero Jam because I know my husband likes his Monte Cristo's with Red Raspberry Jam. I'm sure Jeff's jam is great, too. We enjoyed these sandwiches last night for dinner.

Monte Cristo with Strawberry Habanero Jam
Recipe courtesy Jeff Mauro
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 4 sandwiches


Strawberry Habanero Jam:
4 cups granulated sugar
1 orange, zested and juiced (or 1/4 cup orange juice)
2 pounds strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 habanero, stem and seeds removed, finely minced

1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
2 eggs

Sandwich Build:
8 slices Texas toast
8 slices gruyere
12 ounces honey ham, shaved, such as Boar's Head
4 tablespoons salted butter
Powdered sugar, for dusting, optional


For the strawberry habanero jam: In a 4-quart saucepan set over medium heat, add the sugar, orange zest and juice, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Turn the heat up to high and add the strawberries and habanero. Bring to a boil, stirring often, until the temperature reaches 200 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Once the jam has reached that temperature, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool slightly. Once cooled, you can serve immediately. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a week.

For the custard: In a baking dish, whisk together the, milk, salt, sugar, nutmeg and eggs. Reserve.

For the sandwich build: Preheat a griddle over medium heat. Top a slice of Texas toast with a slice of cheese, one-quarter of the ham, a second piece of cheese and the second slice of toast. Dip the sandwiches into the custard, letting the excess drip off. Add some butter to the griddle and gently pan fry each sandwich until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes each side. Remove from the griddle, dust with some powdered sugar, if using, and serve some strawberry habanero jam on the side.


The Creative Cook

Monday, March 26, 2012

Cinnamon Mini Muffins

These muffins are great for a breakfast treat or any time. They will go quickly.


Servings: 24 Muffins


1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground allspice

1 egg, lightly beaten

½ cup milk

1/3 cup butter, melted


2 tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ cup butter, melted


In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and allspice, mix well. Combine the egg, milk and butter in another small bowl, mix well.

Stir egg mixture into dry ingredients until just moistened. Spoon batter into greased or paper-lined mini muffin cups.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 12-14 minutes or until muffins test done. Let muffins cook for 5 minutes.

For topping: combine sugar and cinnamon. Dip the tops of the mini muffins into slightly cooled, melted butter then dip into cinnamon sugar mixture.


The Creative Cook

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Tortilla Soup With Shredded Chicken

This recipe comes from the blog The Reluctant Gourmet. You can adjust the amount of spices to bring the heat up or down depending on how you prefer your soup. I used the minimum amount of spices because my family (my son) is not fond of spicy foods. I did not use the cilantro for similar reasons. You can save some time if you use rotisserie chicken. The soup can be served with just the fried tortillas or you can include freshly diced avocado, shredded cheddar cheese, or sour cream. You can use any combination or all of those to add to this soup. I happened to have some sour cream so I used a dollop of that on top of my soup.

Tortilla Soup Recipe with Shredded Chicken

Servings: 8


· 8 tablespoons Canola oil

· 5 10" to 12" corn tortillas

· 1 onion

· 6 garlic cloves

· 1 small bunch of cilantro

· 2 - 14.5 oz. cans of diced tomatoes

· 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth

· 14 ounces of canned or frozen corn

· 3/4 – 1-1/2 Tablespoons ground cumin

· 1/2 - 1 Tablespoon chili powder

· 4 bay leaves

· 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves or try thighs

· 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

· juice from 1 lime


Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Wash and towel try the cilantro, remove stems and chop. Open the cans of tomatoes and have them ready. Rinse the chicken under cold water and dry.

Cut up 2 of the tortillas into 1/4 inch strips and fry them in 3 tablespoons of Canola oil. You want them to be a golden brown but be careful not to burn them, they cook quickly. Remove the strips from pot and transfer to some paper towels to drain. Season with a little salt.

Heat the remaining oil over medium high heat and saute the onions for a couple of minutes. Then add garlic and saute for another minute or two. Tear the remaining 3 corn tortillas into bite size pieces and add to the pot.

Add the cilantro, stir, and cook for a minute more. Add the canned tomatoes with their juice and the chicken broth, cumin, chili powder, and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, add the corn, whole chicken breasts, and cayenne. Simmer the chicken breasts for 15 to 20 minutes until cooked throughout. Remove the chicken breasts and put aside to cool. Turn off the soup at this point.

Remove the bay leaves. Once the chicken breasts are cool, shred them with your hands and return to the pot. Add your lime juice and taste for spiciness. Reheat, and serve with the fried tortilla strips.


The Creative Cook

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Barbecued Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

I almost forgot to post this recipe. This is the first time I ever tried making pulled chicken. I made it last week and it was a very good work-night meal. I would recommend it. Sadly, I didn't make a note about where the original recipe came from. I always like to give praise when it is due. My son, who really wanted pulled-pork that day, even enjoyed this chicken.

Barbecued Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

For the Chicken:

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts

6 hamburger buns, split and toasted

For the Sauce:

½ cup ketchup

½ cup barbecue sauce

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 tablespoons molasses

1 tablespoon yellow mustard

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon onion powder

¼ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 pinch salt

3 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 teaspoon Hot Sauce


1. Cover the bottom of a slow-cooker with the onions. Place the chicken on top of the bed of onions.

2. In a medium bowl, combine all of the sauce ingredients and pour on top of the chicken

3. Cover and cook on low until the chicken is fork-tender and shreds easily, about 6 hours. Pull apart chicken with two forks. Serve on top of toasted split buns.


The Creative Cook

Monday, March 19, 2012


This is a recipe that I made for St. Patrick's Day. I have made it before but used a different recipe. There are apparently dozens of different ways to make this dish but I liked this one much better than the one I posted a few years ago. This recipe comes from


6 large potatoes, peeled
4-6 tablespoons half-and-half or milk
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1-1/2 onions, finely chopped
6 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 of a small head of cabbage, sliced thinly

1. Slice peeled potatoes in half and place in pot. Fill with enough water to cover and boil for 25 minutes or until potatoes are soft. While the potatoes are cooking, melt 4 tablespoons of butter in large saucepan. Add minced onion and stir to coat with butter. Add cabbage over onions. Cover saucepan and cook over medium-low to medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until cabbage is soft.

2. Drain potatoes and add half-and-half or milk and salt. Mash with electric mixer. Stir together onion and cabbage mixture with mashed potatoes. Spoon into an oven-safe dish and place under broiler until top is browned. Traditionally, colcannon is served with a deep well in the center filled with melted butter, so place 2 or more tablespoons on top and let it melt into the colcannon.


The Creative Cook

Friday, March 16, 2012

Lemon Scones

These are the scones I decided to make for St. Patrick's Day breakfast and maybe dessert also. I made it easy on myself and used the food processor for almost this entire recipe. I mixed the sugar and the lemon zest in the food processor and then added the flour mixture to that. I even put the buttermilk into the blender to form the dough. It was much easier than I expected it to be. I made these scones fairly small. I decided to add the glaze to sweeten them up a bit. They are yummy good.

Lemon Scones

From Scones & Bones by Laura Childs


3 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup sugar

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, cut into cubes

3/4 cup buttermilk

¼ cup lemon juice

Zest of one lemon

½ cup walnuts or pecans (optional)

1 egg


1-1/2 cup powdered sugar

3 tablespoons lemon juice


Sift flour together with baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine lemon zest and sugar, using a food processor or blender, grind it together. Add the sugar to the flour mixture and mix well. (I used the food processor for this.)

Cut butter into mixture until you get an even, crumbly consistency. Mix in nuts. Pour in the buttermilk and lemon juice and stir thoroughly until mixture forms dense dough.

Take a good-sized lump of dough and gently form into a triangular scone shape.

Place scone on a baking sheet lined with parchment, continue to form scones until mixture is used up.

Whisk an egg with 1 tablespoon of water juice to form egg wash, then brush egg wash on top of each scone.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes but check after 10 minutes (time depends on size of scones) or until golden brown.

Let scones cool then mix powdered sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl and paint each scone with glaze.


The Creative Cook

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

French Breakfast Muffins

These muffins are the bomb. Try them. Easy and delicious for breakfast or any time.

French Breakfast Muffins

Makes 12 Muffins



· 2 cups flour

· 2/3 cup sugar

· 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

· ½ teaspoon salt

· ¼ teaspoon nutmeg

· 1 large egg

· 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk

· 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

· 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cinnamon-Sugar Topping:

· ½ cup sugar

· ½ teaspoon cinnamon

· 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled


1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter the bottoms (only) of 12 standard-size muffin cups and set the pan aside.

2. Measure the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg into a large mixing bowl and combine them with a whisk.

3. In a medium-size bowl, whisk the egg until it’s frothy. Blend in the milk, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid mixture.

4. Using a wooden spoon, mix the batter just until it’s evenly blended, then spoon it into the muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds full.

5. Bake the muffins on the center rack for 15 minutes. Then rotate the pan and bake for an additional 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack until the muffins are cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes, and then remove them from the cups.

6. Before the muffins lose their warmth, prepare the topping. Mixing the sugar and the cinnamon in a small bowl. Melt the butter and transfer it to a separate small bowl. Set both bowls next to the muffins.

7. Working on one muffin at a time, quickly dip the tops in the melted butter and then in the cinnamon sugar, rolling each muffin in all directions to cover the entire top. If you’d like more topping, roll them in the cinnamon sugar for a second time while they’re still warm. Serve immediately.


The Creative Cook

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Roasted Fennel, Tomato, and Chickpea Soup

This is a very nice soup.  Next time I make it I will use tomato puree rather than diced tomatoes but that is personal preference.  I don't like chunks of tomato in soup.

Roasted Fennel, Tomato and Chickpea Soup
Yield:  4 servings


2 cups chopped fennel bulb (about 1 small bulb)
2 cups chopped onion
Cooking spray
1 (15-1/2 ounce) can organic chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
2 teaspoons butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 (14-ounce) cans fat-free, lower sodium chicken broth
2 (14-ounce) cans organic diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
Fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 (6-inch) pitas, each cut into 8 wedges


1.  Heat oven to 425 degrees.

2.  Arrange fennel and onion in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray, toss to coat.  Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes.  Add chickpeas to vegetable mixture.  Bake an additional 20 minutes or until fennel is tender and chickpeas start to brown, stirring after 10 minutes.

3.  Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add garlic to pan, and cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.  Add vegetable mixture, broth, and the next 3 ingredients (through salt) to pan and bring to a boil.  Cook for 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated.  Remove from heat, and garnish with parsley.  Serve with pita wedges.


The Creative Cook

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Glazed Doughnut Muffins

I made these muffins on Monday afternoon.  The kids got out of school early so my son had a bunch of friends over to play "Munchkin" which is some kind of card game they like.  They mostly played basketball and video games with maybe half an hour devoted to the card game.  No matter.  I wasn't prepared to cook for a crowd but I had planned to make these muffins so I went ahead and made them.  Once the kids got through with them, there were only 6 left.  My husband also enjoyed one or two over the next few days.  They are tasty and do remind me of glazed donuts but without the frying.  We all know how well I fry ~~ NOT!  I will probably make these muffins again without any changes to the recipe at all.  Well, I may reduce the amount of nutmeg down to 1/2 a teaspoon....  Maybe.  Other than that, they are perfect!



For the Batter

¼ cup butter
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk

For the Batter

3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
¾ teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons hot water


1.      Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Lightly grease a standard muffin tin or line with 12 paper muffin cups, and grease the cups with non-stick vegetable spray; this will ensure that they will peel off the muffins nicely.
2.       In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the butter, vegetable oil, and sugars till smooth.
3.       Add the eggs, beating to combine.
4.       Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and vanilla.
5.       Stir the flour into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined.
6.       Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pan, filling the cups nearly full.
7.       Bake the muffins for 15 to 17 minutes, or until they are a pale golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the middle of one of the center muffins comes out clean.
8.       In a medium bowl, prepare the glaze by mixing together the melted butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and water.  Whisk until smooth.
9.       When muffins have cooled slightly, dip the muffin crown into the glaze and allow the glaze to harden.  At this point, you can leave them as is or go for the double dip.
10.   Serve warm, or cool on a rack and wrap tightly.  Muffins will keep at room temperature for about a day.

Adapted from King Arthur Flour


The Creative Cook

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Lemon Risotto

This is a delicious tangy lemon risotto recipe from Rachael Ray.  I enjoyed it very much.  My husband is not as much of a lemon lover as I am but he did not complain.  As Rach says in her description it will make you "pucker up."

Lemon Risotto
By Rachael Ray
Serves 4


1 quart chicken stock
2 cups water
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 small-medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
1 cup Arborino rice
Zest and juice of 1 large lemon (1/4 cup)
½ cup white wine
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
2 tablespoons slivered mint leaves
A handful basil tops, shredded or torn
Salt and pepper


1.      In a large pot, heat the stock and 2 cups water over medium-low heat.
2.     In a risotto pot or large skillet with rounded bottom, heat the EVOO over medium to medium-high heat.  Add the onions and garlic to the pan and sauté to soften, 3-4 minutes.  Stir in the rice and add the zest of lemon.  Heat the rice a minute or two, then add the wine and cook to evaporate.  Add in the stock a few ladles at a time and stir for a minute with each addition of stock to develop the starch and creamy aspect.  Keep adding the stock each time pan starts to become dry at the edges.  The total cooking time will be 18 minutes or so.
3.     When the rice is cooked to al dente, stir in the butter, lemon juice, cheese and herbs.  Serve immediately.


The Creative Cook