Showing posts with label dinner. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dinner. Show all posts

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Pan-Roasted Chicken With Lemon-Garlic Green Beans

Photo from

This meal came from  It could quite possibly be the best meal I have ever made or eaten in my life.  I am not exaggerating here.  It was absolutely delicious.  Of course, I could be prejudiced because my mom used to make oven roasted lemon chicken and potatoes all the time for us when I was a little girl.  I could be remembering those delicious meals and savoring this one in my memory.  Who cares?!  It was so good.  It filled every need for comfort food that I ever had.  When I make it again (you notice I said "when" not "if"), I will use more potatoes.  I am a huge potato fan. I could eat them all day long but I don't...  And to say it was easy, doesn't make it clear enough.  It was so "Real Simple" that it was a complete no brainer.  I can't imagine why I hadn't thought of this myself a long time ago.  The best part is that I got to use the convection roast feature of my new oven.  Wow!  Just wow!  I am in love this this meal.  Just add a glass of wine and you've got dinner.

Pan-Roasted Chicken with Lemon-Garlic Green Beans
Serves 4
Hands-on Time: 15 Mins.


6 tablespoons olive oil
2 lemons, 1 thinly sliced, 1 juiced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¾ pound trimmed green beans
8 small red potatoes, quartered
4 chicken breasts (bones left in, with skin, about 3-1/4 pounds)


1.      Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Coat a large baking dish or cast-iron skillet with 1 tablespoon of t he olive oil.  Arrange the lemon slices in a single layer in the bottom of the dish or skillet.
2.      In a large bowl, combine the remaining oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper; add the green beans and toss to coat.  Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the green beans and arrange them on top of the lemon slices.  Add the potatoes to the same olive-oil mixture and toss to coat.  Using a slotted spoon or tongs, arrange the potatoes along the inside edge of the dish or skillet on top of the green beans.  Place the chicken in the same bowl with the olive oil mixture and coat thoroughly.  Place the chicken, skin-side up, in the dish or skillet.  Pour any of the remaining olive-oil mixture over the chicken.
3.   Roast for 50 minutes.  Remove the chicken from the dish or skillet.  Place the beans and potatoes back in oven for 10 minutes more or until the potatoes are tender.  Place a chicken breast on each of 4 serving plates; dividing the green beans and potatoes equally.  Serve warm.


The Creative Cook

Friday, September 2, 2011

Classic Greek Moussaka with Eggplant

After making this Moussaka I have a new appreciation for Greek diners and Greek moms.  They do not have it easy.  This is one of my favorite Greek dishes but I will probably order it out more often now that I know how hard it is to make.  Moussaka is a casserole made by layering eggplant with a spiced meat filling then topping it off with a creamy bechamel sauce that is baked to golden perfection.  This recipe is a traditional rendition but you can layer in zucchini or any other vegetables that you prefer.  

Moussaka is perhaps the most widely recognized of all Greek dishes and was made famous by the legendary Greek chef, Nicholas Tselementes.  He must have been quite a chef or he had lots of help.  

While it can be time consuming to prepare, I think you will find that once complete it is a very worthwhile endeavor.

Moussaka - Classic Greek Moussaka with Eggplant

Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes

3-4 eggplants, about 4 lbs. total
1 lb. potatoes
1-1/2 lbs. ground beef (or lamb)
2 large onions, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1 cup tomato puree (or crushed tomatoes)
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups plain breadcrumbs
8 egg whites, lightly beaten (reserve yolks for bechamel)
1 cup grated Kefalotyri or Parmesan cheese

Bechamel Sauce:
1 cup salted butter (2 sticks)
1 cup flour
4 cups milk, warmed
8 egg yolks, lightly beaten
Pinch of ground nutmeg

Prep the Vegetables:
Using a sharp peeler, partially peel the eggplants, leaving strips of peel about 1 inch wide around the eggplant. Slice the eggplant in to 1/2 inch slices. Place the eggplant slices in a colander and salt them liberally. Cover them with an inverted plate that is weighted down by a heavy can or jar. Place the colander in the sink so that excess moisture can be drawn out. They will need to sit for at least 15-20 minutes, preferably an hour. The salt also helps to remove some of the bitterness of the eggplant.

Peel the potatoes and boil them whole until they are just done. They should not get too soft, just cooked enough so that they no longer crunch. Drain, cool and slice them in 1/4 inch slices. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil and lightly grease. Add a splash of water to the egg whites and beat them lightly with a fork. Add breadcrumbs to a flat plate.

Rinse the eggplant slices and dry with paper towels. Dip the eggplant slices in the beaten egg whites and then dredge them in the breadcrumbs, coating both sides. Place breaded eggplant slices on baking sheets and bake at 400 degrees for 1/2 an hour, turning them over once during cooking.

When eggplant is finished cooking, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Make the Meat Filling:
In a large sauté pan, brown the ground beef (or lamb) until the pink color disappears. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add wine to pan and allow it to simmer and reduce a bit before adding cinnamon, allspice, parsley, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, and sugar. Allow the sauce to simmer uncovered for approximately 15 minutes so that excess liquid can evaporate. It should be a drier, chunkier, tomato sauce.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Make the Béchamel Sauce:
Melt butter over low heat. Using a whisk, add flour to melted butter whisking continuously to make a smooth paste. Allow the flour to cook for a minute but do not allow it to brown.
Add warmed milk to mixture in a steady stream, whisking continuously.

Simmer over low heat until it thickens a bit but does not boil.

Remove from heat, and stir in beaten egg yolks and pinch of nutmeg. Return to heat and stir until sauce thickens.

Assemble the Moussaka:
Lightly grease a large deep baking pan (lasagna pan). Sprinkle the bottom of pan with breadcrumbs. Leaving a 1/4 inch space around the edges of the pan, place a layer of potatoes on the bottom. Top with a layer of eggplant slices.

Add meat sauce on top of eggplant layer and sprinkle with 1/4 of the grated cheese. Top with another layer of eggplant slices and sprinkle once again with 1/4 of the grated cheese.

Pour the béchamel sauce over the eggplant and be sure to allow sauce to fill the sides and corners of the pan. Smooth the béchamel on top with a spatula and sprinkle with remaining grated cheese. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes or until béchamel sauce is a nice golden brown color. Allow to cool for 15 – 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

You can make this dish ahead up until the béchamel sauce and refrigerate. Make the béchamel sauce right before you intend to bake it.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Turkey with Blueberry Pan Sauce

According to EatingWell Magazine, blueberries have just the right mix of acid and pectin so that they’re terrific in both sweet and savory dishes.  They work especially well with thyme.  So, this easy turkey sauté can be a delight whenever the berries are in season.   To make this dish into a meal, dress some quick-cooking barley with lemon and pepper and offer steamed green beans on the side.

Turkey with Blueberry Pan Sauce
from EatingWell:  August/September 2005, The EatingWell Healthy in a Hurry Cookbook (2005)
Servings:  4
Total Time:  40 Minutes


¼ cup all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt, divided
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 pound turkey tenderloin
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup chopped shallots
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 cups blueberries
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


1.       Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Whisk flour, ½ teaspoon salt and pepper in a shallow dish.  Dredge turkey in the mixture.  (Discard any leftover flour.)

2.      Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over high heat.  Add the turkey, cook until golden brown on one side, 3 to 5 minutes.  Turn the turkey over and transfer the pan to the oven.  Roast until the turkey is just cooked through and no longer pink in the middle, 15 to 20 minutes.  Transfer the turkey to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.

3.      Place the skillet over medium heat.  (Take care; the handle will be very hot.)  Add shallots and thyme and cook, stirring constantly, until the shallots begin to brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Add blueberries, vinegar and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt; continue cooking, stirring occasionally and scraping up any brown bits, until the blueberries burst and release their juices and the mixture becomes thick and syrupy, 4 to 5 minutes.  Slice the turkey and serve with blueberry pan sauce.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pan-Fried Pork with Blueberries

Here is another yummy sounding savory blueberry recipe.  This one is from Rachael Ray's magazine website but was created by Tracey Seaman.  I don't know how healthy it is but it sure looks good.  The recipe also suggests that you can try it with chicken tenders or cutlets if you prefer.  

Pan-Fried Pork with Blueberries by Tracey Seaman

2 pounds boneless pork loin, cut crosswise into eighths
Salt and pepper
¼ cup flour
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1-3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons butter

1.       In a medium bowl, season the pork with salt and pepper.  Add the flour and toss to coat. 
2.       In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Shaking off any excess flour, add the pork to the skillet and cook, turning once, until browned, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to platter.
3.       Add the onions to the skillet and cook, stirring over medium-heat for 1 minute.   Add the chicken broth and blueberries,  bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the butter and season with salt and pepper.
4.       Turn off the heat and return pork and any juices to skillet.  Divide the pork among 4 plates and spoon the sauce on top.

Try using chicken instead of pork.  Serve with buttered green beans.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Tex-Mex Casserole

Tex-Mex Casserole

1 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (16 ounces) tomato sauce or salsa
2 cups Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1 can refried beans (fat free)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup chopped olives
1 cup chopped chilies
1 cup corn
2 teaspoons chili power
2 cups rice, cooked


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Brown ground beef with the onion and garlic.  Add tomato sauce, simmer.  Mix sour cream with olives and chili powder

In a 9 x 13 inch pan, spread 1/2 cooked rice at the bottom of the pan.  Then layer meat mixture, sour cream mixture, refried beans and cheese.  Repeat.  Top with more cheese.  Bake for 35 to 45 minutes.  Serve with salsa and extra sour cream.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Left Over Pot Pie

It seems that this is my year for posting about how to deal with leftovers. I found this interesting leftover recipe in an email. This Leftover Pot Pie looks like a nice way to use up leftovers from any holiday meal.  The original recipe says you can substitute any type of leftover meat for the turkey.  So, I'm thinking that you could even use up some leftover Christmas ham in this recipe if you so desire.  I haven't tried making this pie myself yet but it looks like a yummy and economical way to forget you're eating your holiday meal for the 3rd or 4th time. You may want to make this into a deep-dish pie by adding a bit more meat, gravy and vegetables.  

Leftover Pot Pie


2 cups leftover turkey, chopped or shredded
2 cups turkey gravy (or turkey stock)
2 cups mixed vegetables
2 (9-inch) unbaked pie shells
2 tablespoons cornstarch (optional)
1/4 cup cold water (optional)


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C);

2.  If you are using stock, bring the stock to a boil.  Add cornstarch to cold water, and blend until smooth, whisk into stock to thicken;

3.  Line a 9-inch pie plate with pastry.  Mix turkey and vegetables together and place into pie crust.  Pour gravy or thickened stock over turkey and vegetables.  Cover with remaining pie crust.  Cut slits into the top of the crust to release steam.

4.  Place pot pie on a cookie sheet to prevent stock from overflowing into your oven.  Cook in center of oven until crust is golden brown, approximately 1 hour.  Slice and serve hot.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Roasted Turkey Tenderloin with New Potatoes & Tarragon Broth

After all the eating I did this summer, I am trying to get back into a healthier eating pattern.  I have my sister to thank for this recipe.  She didn't give me the recipe but she did recommend eating turkey tenderloin. I had never tried it before.  It stands to reason that there would be turkey tenderloin available for purchase in the grocery store but I just never really thought about making it.  It turns out that my husband likes the turkey tenderloin better than the more widely known pork tenderloin that I make fairly frequently.  Maybe he just liked the flavors in this recipe. I am not sure but please read all my comments to this recipe before you start cooking. 

I am sure that if I had seen the episode of Robin Miller's show where she made this turkey, I would not have had any questions about the recipe but I didn't watch the show.  I simply found the recipe through my favorite pastime (i.e., googling).  Fortunately, I read the comments left by other Food Network fans who made the recipe before I started making the turkey.  It was a mixed bag of positive and negative comments.  Some comments were very helpful, though.  The fact that baking the potatoes at 400 degrees for only 40 minutes came up. If you do it that way, I guarantee that the potatoes will be hard as rock when you take them out of the oven.  I suggest taking out the turkey (so it doesn't get dried out like an old leather shoe) and leaving the potatoes in for at least an additional 20 to 30 minutes.  That is how I resolved the potato problem.  Robin's recipe on the Food Network website also leaves out a few other very important details such as that you should brown the turkey tenderloin before roasting it.  Another big problem with the recipe is that there is no mention of what to do with the mango chutney.  Some people, according to the comments, must have left it out because they were saying that the recipe was not flavorful enough.  I guarantee that if you use the mango chutney you will not have a problem with a lack of flavor.   You may not like the chutney but it is definitely full of flavor.  I don't know exactly what Robin meant for us to do with the chutney but I put it on during the turkey's roasting process.  It turned out nice and tasty for me.  Another idea is to put the chutney on after you take the turkey out of the oven. 

I know that I was not familiar at all with the taste of chutney before I used it in this recipe.  It has sort of a sweet and spicy taste.  I liked it.  It is much more popular in the U.K. and in India, I think.  Give it a try.  You might enjoy it.  I didn't like it enough to actually want to make my own chutney right now but maybe one of these days, I will.  I bought a version of Major Grey's Chutney that I found in my local grocery store. According to Wikipedia: "Major Grey's Chutney is from the brand of Crosse & Blackwell, the number one chutney seller in the United States.[1] It is reputed to have been created by a British Army officer in the 1800s during the height of the British Empire. It' s characteristic ingredients are mango, raisins, vinegar, lime juice, tamarind extract, sweetening and spices.[2] It is notable for being one of the few sauces using tamarind.

The Crosse & Blackwell product is an imitation of a much older, Sun Brand Major Grey's Chutney, made by Poonjiajee Bros. and imported from Bombay (Mumbai), India.[citation needed] The latter has almost disappeared from the U.S. market, but is still available if one searches. Major Grey's Mango Chutney is manufactured in Pune, India by Desai Brothers Ltd under the brand name Mother's Recipe and has been exported to Singapore."


Roasted Turkey Tenderloin with New Potatoes
and Tarragon Broth

by Robin Miller

Prep Time: 15 min

Inactive Prep Time: 10 min

Cook Time: 40 min

Level: Easy

Serves: 4


• 1 tablespoon olive oil

• 2 (1 1/2 pound) turkey tenderloins

• Salt and ground black pepper

• 2 pounds new red potatoes or baby red potatoes, quartered (if bigger, cut into 2-inch pieces)

• 2 shallots, chopped

• 1 cup dry white wine

• 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

• 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves

• 4 tablespoons store bought peach, cranberry or mango chutney


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

{Missing from Food Network website recipe but necessary: place a tablespoon of oil into a large saute pan, heat the oil on medium-high heat.  When oil is sizzling brown the Turkey Tenderloin on all sides.}
Place oil in a large baking dish. Season turkey tenderloins all over with salt and black pepper and place in baking dish.

Arrange potatoes all around turkey and turn to coat with oil.

Season potatoes with salt and black pepper.

Arrange chopped shallots over potatoes in pan.

In a small bowl, combine wine, broth, vinegar, and tarragon.

Pour mixture over turkey.

Roast turkey and potatoes 40 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer registers at least 160 degrees F. .  {Put Chutney on the turkey either during the roasting process or after you remove it from the oven.}

Let turkey rest 10 minutes before slicing crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices

Serve half of the turkey and potatoes with this meal, with all of the broth from the pan over top. Serve spinach on the side. Reserve remaining turkey and potatoes for additional meals. {I would suggest that you take out the turkey after 40 minutes and leave the potatoes in the oven for an additional 20 to 30 minutes.}

The Creative Cook

Monday, May 24, 2010

Herbes de Provence Redux

I definitely did not try hard enough to find Herbes de Provence in my local grocery stores.  No sooner did I publish the post on Herbes de Provence, when I found a bottle at a grocery store in Westminster.  I bought that bottle although I am  not sure why.  I guess I felt that I should explore all possibilities.  I kept looking and found it again at another local chain.   Shame on me!  I had no idea how many places I could find Herbes de Provence but now I know.  I am feeling obligated to try as many recipes that call for Herbes de Provence as possible.  I found several so don't worry about that.  I also did some reading of reviews on the recipes.  I am pretty sure that there must be many versions of Herbes de Provence available in various parts of this country.  Some of the recipe reviews mentioned that the lavender was overwhelming.  I think these people must have used an imported version of the Herbes.  The McCormick Spice people did a nice job of blending the Herbes de Provence to our pedestrian American taste buds.  They bottle the Herbes de Provence under their Gourmet Collection Blends label.  I had no issues with lavender when I tried these Herbes.  In fact, there may not be any lavender in the McCormick blend.  I imagined that I tasted it in there very very slightly but when I read the ingredients I did not see lavender listed.  The list of ingredients goes something like this:  Spices (including rosemary, marjoram, thyme, and savory).  Yes, they actually use a parenthesis in the list of ingredients.  Isn't that interesting.  Of course, the McCormick Spice people know that here in the United States, we use lavender more in soap or candles than in foods.  The recipe for Herbes de Provence mentions lavender as optional but traditional.  Most the recipes I have reviewed and tried call for at least a tablespoon of Herbes de Provence so I wouldn't want to use the imported version and get a mouthful of soap with my chicken or potatoes or whatever.  Thank you McCormick Spice Company!! 

I am including two of the recipes that I found on the web for Herbes de Provence Chicken and Herbes de Provence Potatoes.  I don't necessarily recommend you try them together like I did.  It was pretty good but could be overwhelming if you don't care for the Herbes.  Both recipes are very easy to make.  Why not bring a little bit of the South of France into your kitchen when you get the chance?

Chicken Herbs De Provence

1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence seasoning

• 4 teaspoons champagne vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)

• 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

• 1 teaspoon sea salt

• 4 chicken breasts


Combine all ingredients and marinade chicken for at least two hours.
Grill until tender basting frequently with marinade or bake 30 minutes at 400.

(I had to roast the chicken about 45 minutes to get it to its proper doneness so be careful here.)

Roasted Baby Potatoes with Herbs

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis


4 to 6 servings


• 1/2 pound small red-skinned potatoes (about 1 3/4-inch diameter), scrubbed

• 1/2 pound small white-skinned potatoes (about 1 3/4-inch diameter), scrubbed

• 1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence, plus extra for garnish

• 3 cloves garlic, minced

• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Put the potatoes into a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the herbs, garlic, and oil together until blended, and then pour over the potatoes. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Transfer the potatoes to a heavy large baking dish, spacing them evenly apart.

Roast the potatoes until they are tender and golden, turning them occasionally with tongs, about 1 hour. Transfer the roasted potatoes to a decorative platter and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and Herbes de Provence, if desired. Serve hot or warm.


The Creative Cook

Monday, December 7, 2009

Chicken & Biscuits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serve hot in bowls, topped with a buttermilk biscuit.


The Creative Cook

Monday, 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

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

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sloppy Turkey Joes

We made another meal out of our Cooking Rocks! Rachel Ray 30-Minute Meals for Kids cookbook. Last Friday night, D had a friend over and we all decided it was a good night for Sloppy Turkey Joes. Apparently, one of the few things that D's friend will eat is Sloppy Joes! I was glad I had picked up all the ingredients the previous day. The boys seemed to really enjoy this meal. I served it with carrot and celery sticks and ranch dressing to dip 'em in. B and I also liked the sloppy joes. It was a nice treat.

Sloppy Turkey Joes
Makes 4 Servings

1-1/3 pounds ground turkey or ground turkey breast
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) (2 turns of the pan)
1/2 red onion
1/2 red bell pepper
1 tablespoon grill seasoning blend (a palmful), such as Montreal Seasonings by McCormick or Mrs. Dash grill seasoning for poultry
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup tomato sauce (8 ounces)
4 crusty sandwich rolls, split
12 celery sticks (available in produce department, or GH can chop)
12 carrot sticks (available in produce department, or GH can chop)

Using a pair of kitchen scissors, cut open the package of ground turkey and hand it off to your GH (grown-up helper).

Have your GH place a big skillet over medium-high heat for you. Add the evoo. Have the GH add the ground turkey to the pan, in case it splatters. Break the turkey up with a wooden spoon as it starts to cook. If anyone touches the raw turkey, they should go wash their hands.

If you are a really good chopper, using a small, sharp knife chop up some red onions. Remember when you are chopping to keep the fingers that are not holding the knife all tucked in and curled under. Have a GH help you. You need half a red onion chopped up small. Pull the seeds and white membrane and the top out of a half red bell pepper and chop that up small too. Add the veggies to the cooking meat and stir it all together.

Next, mix in a small bowl: grill seasoning blend, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and the tomato sauce. This will make your special sauce. When all the ingredients are combined, pour the sauce evenly over the meat and stir everything together really well. Turn the heat down to simmer and cook the sloppy mixture for 10 minutes. Blow on a spoonful until cool and taste it to see if you need to adjust the seasonings.

Have the GH help you serve. Place bun bottoms on plates. Use a big ice cream scoop to get a pile of sloppy meat onto each bun. Put bun tops in place and serve with vegetable sticks on the side and cheese fries (recipe on page 72 of Cooking Rocks!).

This recipe should satisfy even your pickiest eaters.


The Creative Cook & Son

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Unorthodox Shepherd's Pie

I know that I mentioned how much I love to cook but did I mention that I also love to read? My favorite books are murder mysteries. Put those two hobbies together and you will understand my love of Diane Mott Davidson's books. The main character in her books is a Colorado caterer by the name of Goldie Schultz. In each of her books, Diane offers up several interesting recipes. I love reading the recipes but I have never tried making one until my son looked through Diane's latest book (which happened to be on my bookshelf) and found the recipe for Unorthodox Shepherd's Pie. He kept asking me to make it. I finally relented. I am so glad that I did. It is scrumptiously delicious. All of the recipes in Diane's books can be found on her website

Unorthodox Shepherd's Pie


· 2 pounds lean ground beef
· 2 cups chopped onions
· 2 cups chopped celery
· 2 tablespoons olive oil
· ¼ cup all-purpose flour, plus 1 Tbsp
· 2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
· 2 teaspoons dried thyme, crumbled
· ½ teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
· 1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt, or to taste
· ¼ to ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
· 1 cup frozen baby peas
· 1 cup frozen baby corn
· 4 ½ pounds russet potatoes
· 1 ½ cups half and half
· 1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
· ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
· additional sea salt, to taste
· additional freshly ground black pepper, to taste
· ½ stick unsalted butter, cut into bits
· paprika


In a very large sauté pan, sauté the ground beef, onions, and celery in the oil over medium heat until the beef is browned and the vegetables are limp. Add the flour and stir for 2-3 minutes, until the mixture begins to bubble. slowly add the chicken stock. Stir until completely combined, then stir in the thyme, rosemary, and salt and pepper. Cook and stir until the mixture is bubbling and thickened. Stir in the peas and corn and set aside.

Bring a large quantity of salted water to boiling. Peel the potatoes and drop them into the water. cook for about 40-45 minutes. In a small saucepan, heat the half-and-half until it is steaming, but not boiling.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch deep-dish pie plates. Grease or line a baking sheet.

Remove the potatoes from the heat, drain, and place them in the large bowl of an electric mixer. Begin to beat the potatoes on low speed, slowly adding the hot half-and-half, the cheese, and the additional salt and pepper.

Place half the beef mixture in each of the prepared pie plates. Place half the potato mixture on top of the beef. Scatter half the butter bits on top of each potato mixture. Sprinkle generously with paprika.

Place the pies on the baking sheet and place them in the oven. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are browned and the pies are completely heated through.

I had never made shepherd's pie before because I thought it was made with lamb and I don't like lamb. Boy was I wrong. I put one of the pies in the freezer and pulled it out one night when I had no idea what to make for dinner. It was a hit both times. Enjoy!

The Creative Cook

Friday, March 14, 2008

Meatless Friday

Since today is Friday and we are still in the Lenten season, I want to talk about Meatless Fridays. I am not sure why, but on Ash Wednesday and every Friday through Good Friday (the Friday before Easter) Catholics are not supposed to eat meat. I have an aversion to seafood so it makes my life very difficult trying to find things to eat on Fridays. While talking with my mom earlier this week, she reminded me about my favorite Italian comfort food. It is a very simple dish called Alia E Olio which means garlic and oil. I don't have an actual recipe for it. I make it the same way my mother did. I just boil a pound of pasta, put some good olive oil on the bottom of a small saucepan and heat it up with several peeled garlic cloves until they get brown. Once the pasta is cooked, I drain it, put it in a big bowl and pour the heated olive oil over it (usually I remove the cooked garlic cloves). The finishing touch is some freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top. If you want a real recipe, I searched the internet and found one for you that comes from the website for Crinella Winery.

Spaghetti Alia E Olio

1 pound of spaghettini
6 or 7 medium-to-large sized garlic cloves, finely-chopped
1 cup, olive oil
1 teaspoon, coarsely-ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon, salt
8 quarts, water
1 cup, Parmesan cheese
1/2 cups, finely chopped parsley

Add salt and a drop of olive oil to boiling water. Add spaghettini and cook until tender, but firm (al dente).

Drain spaghettini in colander and return to pot, stirring in about 1/2 cup of the olive oil.

Heat remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil in skillet, add finely chopped garlic, and cook until garlic is lightly browned.

Stir in pepper and immediately remove from heat.

Add contents of skillet to spaghettini, stir to ensure that all the past is coated.
Sprinkle finely chopped parsely into mixture and serve immediately.
Sprinkle with cheese to taste (although this dish is often eaten without cheese).

Serves about 4.

Note: Some Italians use crushed hot red pepper rather than black pepper.

In response to the note on the recipe, I NEVER eat this dish without cheese. To me there would be no point in eating it without that Parmasan cheese. Personally, I don't use spaghettini for this dish. I use regular spaghetti or linguini. Sometimes, I even use angel hair. It is all good.

The Creative Cook

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tuesday Morning Tidbits

Now, for the rest of the story. But first let me explain that the reason I had no idea that there was ground beef in my fridge instead of a pot roast is because my freezer is not very organized. I could have marked and labeled everything but that would eliminate the need for me to be the "Creative Cook" and I would become the "Boring Cook" or something like that. Well, I still had lots of ground beef to deal with and I couldn't put it back into the freezer since it was already thawed completely so I searched some more and found another great recipe on It comes from the "Kissing Cook" and it is called (Drumroll Please) Awesome Meatballs. I have to say that the Kissing Cook is correct when she says that the fresh breadcrumbs soaked in milk make all the difference. Oh well, you'll see.



2 eggs, beaten
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs, soaked in
1 cup milk
1 cup shallots, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup snipped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 lb meatloaf mixture(ground pork, veal, beef)
1 lb ground beef or ground turkey


1. In a small frying pan, place 1-2 T. oil in pan. Saute on a medium heat the shallots and garlic until lightly brown and transparent.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, soft breadcrumbs parsely, salt and pepper, thyme and parmesan cheese and milk together. Let stand so breadcrumbs can absorb milk. Add sauted shallots and garlic and then add meat mixture. Mix, but don't overmix.

3. Form into meatballs and place on a jelly roll pan lined with foil (I use Release Foil, so I don't have to spray with a non-stick spray - if you don't have Release Foil, spray your foil with non-stick spray).

4. Place meatballs in 350 degree oven for approximately 20-25 minutes. Let cool on wire rack and either place in freezer container or use as needed.

5. Yield - 48 meatballs.

I substituted onions for shallots because I don't keep a ready supply of shallots in my house, do you? And once again, I used ground turkey instead of veal. I think the mixture of meats makes the meatballs really excellent along with the fresh breadcrumbs. My other taste-tester (my husband Bill) has enjoyed the meatballs very much. Please let me know what you think of these recipes.

Until tomorrow!

The Creative Cook