Thursday, May 31, 2012

All in One Chicken Potato Salad

This is a nice recipe for a picnic or a hot summer day.  

All in One Chicken Potato Salad
Serves: 4


6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 tablespoons salt
1 (10-ounce) package refrigerated cooked, sliced chicken breast
1 (10-ounce) package frozen baby peas
3 stalks celery, diced
 1 cup ranch dressing


1.     Place the potatoes and salt in a soup pot and add enough water to cover the potatoes.
2.     Bring to a boil over high heat and let boil for 5 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender; drain, rinse with cold water, drain again.
3.     Place the potatoes in a large bowl and add the chicken, peas, celery and dressing; toss well.  Serve warm, or cover and chill until ready to serve.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

French Toast Muffins

I'm not sure but I may be obsessed with muffins.  I've posted countless muffin recipes on my blog, lusted after pictures of luscious looking muffins, pined over amazing muffin recipes.  Am I alone?  I think not.  Muffins are a beautiful thing.  They're relatively easy to make and if you make them correctly they can be delicious.  Muffins are also a single serve option for feeding a crowd.  Sadly, the muffin is too often over looked.  But not by me. I've made these muffins twice now.  Last week, I made them and added some chopped up cooked bacon to the topping.  My husband and I loved them that way but my son was having none of it.  I had several relatives and friends side with him, so I got up early this morning and baked a batch sans the bacon. But let me be perfectly honest with you folks.   I baked the muffins in large muffin pans so I got only 8 big muffins instead of 12 smaller ones.    I hope he likes them.  I'll know soon enough.  

French Toast Muffins
Recipe from Framed, originally from

French Toast Topping

3 tablespoons milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
6 slices cinnamon bread, crusts removed, cut into ½ inch cubes
½ teaspoon cinnamon


1 ½ cups milk
½ cup butter, melted and cooled
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flower
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt


¼ cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine all the French toast topping ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.  Combine milk, melted butter, egg and vanilla extract in another medium bowl.  Combine all remaining ingredients in a large bowl.  Stir milk mixture into flour mixture just until mixed.

Spoon batter into a greased or lined 12 cup muffin pan.  Spoon French toast topping evenly over batter; press down slightly.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Immediately, brush muffins with maple syrup.  Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Sprinkle over glazed muffins.  Cool 5 minutes; remove from pan.  Serve warm.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


I have to be honest.  I saw Giada making this on her show one day last week and I could not get it out of my mind.  I don't really know why. It was just eating at me.  For some reason, everything she makes looks yummy to me.  Even things I would not normally eat.  Anyway, I knew that I had to make it.  For some reason, I owned a small (350 ml) bottle of vodka.  It was in my possession and I had no other plans for it.  So, I decided to halve the recipe and give it a go.  It was a long process but not a difficult one.  I just put the orangecello in my refrigerator today.  I started the process of making this stuff on Friday of last week.  You can't be in a rush to make it, that's for sure.  I guess all good things take time, or that is what "they" say at least.  I am going to have to do research on what to do with the Orangecello now that I've made it.  I know I can just drink it but I doubt I'll drink half a bottle of vodka myself.  Who knows if the hubster will enjoy it or not?  I have seen recipes for desserts using orangecello, so now I have a new ingredient to play with!!  

Recipe courtesy Giada de Laurentiis

7 medium navel oranges, preferably organic
1 (750 ml) bottle vodka
2-1/2 cups water
1-1/2 cups sugar


Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the oranges in long strips (reserve the oranges for another use).  Using a small sharp knife, trim away the white pith from the orange peels; discard the pith.  Put the orange peels in a 2-quart pitcher or large glass bowl.  Pour the vodka over the peels and cover with plastic wrap.  Steep the orange peels in the vodka for 4 days at room temperature.

In a medium saucepan, combine the water and sugar over medium heat.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool, about 20 minutes.  Pour the syrup over the vodka mixture.  Cover and let stand at room temperature overnight.  Strain the orangecello through a mesh strainer.  Discard the peels.  Transfer the orangecello to bottles.  Seal the bottles and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours and up to 1 month. 


The Creative Cook 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Pasta with Ham, Peas, Garlic and Ricotta Salata

While I was walking through my local grocery store, I found something new and interesting.  It is a cheese called "Ricotta Salata."  I did not know what I would do with it but I tossed it into my cart anyway.  When I got home, I looked for some likely recipes.  This one looked perfect.  Except, I added some ham to make it a complete meal.  You have to admit, ham is the perfect addition to this dish.  I guess I could have used bacon but the ham just seemed to be calling to me.  I found it interesting that my mother told me she ate ricotta salata often during her childhood. For me, it was something different but for her it is an old familiar cheese that she hadn't seen in a long time.  Everything old is new again, I guess.
Ricotta is a moist fresh cheese made from whey that is used in Italian dishes like lasagna, manicotti and cheesecake. Ricotta salata is a variation of ricotta that has been pressed, salted and dried.
Ricotta salata is hard and white and has a mildly salty, nutty and milky flavor. It can be shaved or grated over salads, pastas and vegetable dishes.

Pasta with Ham, Peas, Garlic and Ricotta Salata
Adapted from Food & Wine
Makes 4 Servings

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh baby peas (1 pound unshelled)
1 cup ham, diced
1 pound linquine
Salt and pepper ground pepper
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped marjoram
½ cup crumbled or shaved ricotta salata or feta cheese (about 2 ounces)


1.     Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet.  Add the garlic and cook over low heat, stirring until very soft and golden, about 3 minutes.  Add ham and cook for another 2 minutes or until heated through.  Remove from the heat.
2.      In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, blanch the peas in a strainer until just tender, about 3 minutes.  Transfer the peas and ham to a bowl
3.      Add the linquine to the saucepan and boil until al dente.  Drain the linquine, reserved ¼ cup of the cooking liquid.   Return the pasta to the saucepan and toss with the garlic, oil, peas and reserved pasta water.  Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the marjoram.  Top with the cheese and serve at once.


The Creative Cook

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Vanilla Poppy Seed Loaf

I made this cake but did not add poppy seeds.  I used some raspberry sauce and and cream cheese for a swirl instead. It was quite good.  I think this cake is very versatile.  

Vanilla Poppy Seed Loaf
Makes 6 small loaves or 2 large loaves

3 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2-1/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
¾ cups cooking oil (safflower or canola)
¾ cups melted butter
1-1/2 cups milk
1-1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Mix all dry ingredients together.  Mix the eggs, butter, oil, milk and vanilla together.  Add to dry ingredients and stir to mix.  Do not over mix.  Pour into buttered mini or large loaf pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes for muffins and 30 to 35 minutes for mini loaf pans.  Large loaves will take 50 to 60 minutes.

Warm Butter Glaze

½ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
¼ butter
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Add sugar and butter to small sauce pan.  Add water.  Cook over low heat until sugars melt.  Do not bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and add vanilla.  Poke holes in muffins/loaves.  Spoon the warm butter glaze over cakes.

Adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything Blog by Thibeault’s Table
But original recipe came from Jean Welbourne of The Not So Desperate Housewives

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Almond Joy Cookies

These cookies were a big hit all around.  Who doesn't love an almond joy?  I made them for one of my husband's co-workers who is going through radiation and chemo.  She absolutely loves cookies so I thought why not bake something for her. She especially liked these.  My family enjoyed them as well.  I am adding a photo I took of the dough before I baked them but I can't be sure if the photo of the baked cookies is the Mrs. Wakefield's Chocolate Chips or these cookies.

Almond Joy Cookies
Yield: 60 cookies

-1 cup unsalted butter, softened
-1 ½ cups white sugar
-2 eggs
-2 ¼ cups flour
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp salt
-2 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut
-1 ½ bags chocolate chips (3 cups)
-2 cups peeled, slivered almonds

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and prepare two sheet pans with parchment or silpats.
2) In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until creamy.
3) Add the eggs and beat until creamy
4) Meanwhile mix the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.
5) Add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and stir until you have thick cookie dough.
6) Add the coconut, chocolate chips and almonds and mix until well combined.
7) Scoop the cookies onto the sheet pans and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes. (when you take the cookies out they should still be a bit doughy looking in the middle- they will stiffen up).


The Creative Cook