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Roasted Tomato and Italian Sausage Pasta with Cream is an easy and delicious pasta dish that is a great use for homegrown tomatoes and basil in the summer; try finding roasted Italian tomatoes that are canned for the winter.

While my summer cooking is primarily trying to make things on the grill; there are some things I have to have that require a bit of indoor cooking. I try to limit oven time to mornings when the house is cool after a Colorado night where the temp always falls into the 60 degree range and that’s what I did with this dish last week.

I roasted the homegrown tomatoes (not mine sadly) in the morning and then finished the dish later in the day for dinner. While I might most often think of this as something you would enjoy in the winter too; for me it’s a summer must have with fresh tomatoes and basil from the garden (yes MY garden…I am on top of something!).

I’m growing some larger tomatoes this year so that I can roast a few more but at the moment I’m wondering the benefit of that effort. At least with cherry tomatoes I would be picking them now; I’m betting I have another month before the ones in my garden are ready.

Next year I am going to go crazy with grow lights and shelves in the basement and get a head start; I’ve done it before and I’m ready to try again.  I love tomatoes so much and nothing compares to homegrown so I have to enjoy tons of them during the summer while I can. Winter means canned tomatoes only and while they can be good…well, you know they’re not the same.

You know what’s difficult sometimes? I made this dish last week and had some friends here for dinner; we had pasta and garlic bread and that was it. It was devoured so no leftovers. Now I’m sad; having to put this post together and be reminded of how delicious it was makes getting it done difficult…I’m hungry!

I’m starving and I think what I have to look forward to tonight is a cheese and tomato sandwich. So not the same is it?

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I made these Flourless (Gluten Free) Peanut Butter Cookies as a treat for my neighbor; they were so good I could have finished them off myself!

You’re right; I’m not a Gluten Free blogger. It’s not something I have to worry about (thank goodness) and the recipes I typically develop or share on this blog don’t have to be devoid of much of anything. In this day and age I feel blessed because I know so many deal with food allergies; gluten, dairy, eggs, etc.

And some of those people are my friends, including Amy across the street. She didn’t seem to have a problem when we first moved in but she has always dealt with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis; a disease of the Thyroid gland. She had tried several different doctors and remedies but nothing gave her relief until she cut gluten from her diet.

It’s no secret I love to cook and I share a lot of that cooking with neighbors. I’m the one who has party central at my house and where we most often gather as a group and I have to give Amy credit; she’s never been a prima donna about her disease and is willing to bring something of her own to eat rather than make it difficult for me or anyone else.

You know what happens when a person with food allergies takes ownership of their allergy and doesn’t think you should have to? You WANT to make things they can eat! I’ve found it’s just as tasty to serve pork barbecue on mashed potatoes as on buns and actually love it and I always buy corn tortilla chips now.

I recently dusted the chicken in this Baked Chicken with Leeks, Bacon and Mustard dish with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Flour since I knew I would share it with her, and I’ve always got a bottle of potato vodka handy so I can make us a quick cocktail. Simple things but enough to make an effort without hugely modifying either my pantry staples or techniques enough to be a big challenge for me.

Where I’ve too often failed Amy though was in the dessert category. I want to accommodate but switching gears for baking is a big deal and not one I’ve actually been willing to jump into for one person. I love making cakes and pies and most often would simply serve Amy a bowl of ice cream as her sweet after a meal (and she was OK with that!).

Recently I’ve been of a mind that I wanted to try my hand at a couple of sweet treats for her too. With some irony when I decided to try my hand at a flourless chocolate cake and was using my pal Google, I actually ran across recipes for flourless peanut butter cookies and loved how easy they were to make; so I decided one day last week to get busy with these first.

I combined about three different recipes and ignored all of them when they called for plain peanut butter. Use it if you want, but I keep only crunchy in my pantry and loved having that bit of crunch in these cookies too. And these cookies? Honestly delicious!

It’s funny, if you live at altitude like I do; cookies struggle to have that same lift that they might at sea level; these cookies looked pretty normal to me! I had some other neighbors here the day I finished them and asked them to test the waters; only telling them that they had something unique about them. No guys; no bugs or anything, promise…and they got a hearty thumbs up from Sam and Sherry too.

So I sent a couple over to Amy as a trial balloon, promising the rest as soon as I got photos completed. She told me she had not had homemade peanut butter cookies since her Grandma had made her some many, many years ago and was going to find a quiet space and get a glass of milk and really enjoy them.

Then she sent a text and wondered if I was really going to give her more…clearly the best sign of success. Yep, I sent them all to her; I might have loved them but I can eat the real deal so I wasn’t going to devour hers. How much did she love them? I have one photo where I took a bite out of a cookie; it was her choice whether she wanted that one or not. No question, she took it.

I did a flourless chocolate cake yesterday too. Honestly? It was just OK. The texture was good but for me, and maybe not for you, the chocolate ganache on chocolate cake was too much. I like more of a contrast with my regular chocolate cakes; preferring a contrast with a lighter buttercream frosting so I’m going to try my hand at a variation that brings that to the recipe before I post it and I promise; you’ll be the first ones to know!

In the meantime, make these  Flourless (Gluten Free) Peanut Butter Cookies for someone you know that needs to cut out gluten and well, make sure you don’t devour them all yourself!

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My favorite pie in the world, this Homemade Fresh Cherry Pie has an extraordinary crust and a delicious filling; combined they truly are perfect!

I admit that for all of my youth and a fair number of years as a young adult that my pie baking was limited; I was guilty of grabbing a pie filling off the the shelf at the grocery store. The day that I decided to do the whole thing from scratch was a revelation and I’ve never looked back!

The pie filling itself is simple and basic; letting the fruit shine. The only real work when doing a cherry pie is the removal of all of those pits from the cherries. What a tedious job that used to be; having to open each cherry with a knife to remove the seed.

Years ago I found a simple cherry pitter that removed the seed but it was still a process; doing one at a time took forever. Then along came this…my newest cherry pitter that’s makes quick work of pounds of cherries. I’ve had to fight off the neighbor kids who want to do it for me…now that’s a workload I don’t miss!

The recipe I use for the crust for this pie is my tried and true favorite pie crust that combines butter and leaf lard; if leaf lard is impossible for you to source, then combine butter and shortening; it will still be a fantastic crust for this simple but delicious pie. I loved making a lattice crust but they intimidate some people; once you master one you won’t be intimidated anymore; they’re really pretty easy.

I’ve actually had this pie recipe on the blog for a couple of years but I erred when I included it with the recipe for the crust; it sort of got lost so I’m giving it a home all it’s own in hopes that more people will enjoy this quintessential summer treat and if you’re making one and live close; I’ll come and be your taste tester. Please?

My pie making Grandma had me doing lattice work (and crimping) since I was little girl but if you did not have a ‘pie Grandma’ here’s a video from Seattle Magazine and expert pie maker Kate McDermott that shows just how simple it is:

PerfectPieCrustKateMcDermott.mov - YouTube

Nothing quite says summer to me like a Homemade Fresh Cherry Pie when cherries flood the market. Make one (or two) for yourself and you’ll never reach for a can again either! I also make small batches of cherry pie filling so I always have a couple of jars of filling ready to go; it’s easy and I urge you to do the same. Trust me; one Homemade Fresh Cherry Pie is so not enough!

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Grab a gorgeous fresh watermelon and make a Watermelon Moscow Mule Float or two immediately; they’re a light, fun adult beverage that are just perfect for the 4th of July or all summer long!

This cocktail was inspired by a friend who made a watermelon float and showed me the photo. She knows I love to make (and drink!) cocktails, maybe didn’t know how much I love watermelon, but for me one of the best parts of her photo were the adorable star spangled sprinkles that she had adhered to the rim from the Del Cove Spice Company.

I thought Anita’s Star Spangled Watermelon Gin Slush looked great and I admit I coveted some of those sprinkles, however, more than the sprinkles I simply could not get over the idea of combining watermelon and ice cream. I wanted it BAD. So I decided to do my own cocktail starting with those two ingredients.

Funny but without purposely deciding to, and after a cursory run through of available ingredients, I ended with this dessert version of a Moscow Mule. I had everything on hand; always a plus so it was time to measure and pour some blended watermelon, vanilla ice cream, lime, vodka, and already chilled ginger beer. Why yes, that will do nicely, thank you very much!

I decided to use the Seagram’s Watermelon Vodka that I had recently received from the brand. My neighbor and I thought we had to try it as a shot first and we liked it all by itself; I can imagine it would really be fun if ice cold; I’ll be keeping the rest of the bottle in the freezer. These are not premium vodkas but this one has a nice, sweet watermelon hint that was very pleasant.

Admittedly I was late to the Moscow Mule craze; catching on only when the zingy drink started a resurgence a few years ago. I had never had a taste of one in my younger years, only being introduced with this honey vodka version in 2012. I was completely hooked and have discovered that it is a basic drink that does well with a lot of different fruit combinations, why not watermelon?

Yes, why not watermelon? The end result was one of those combinations that if not for me knowing specifically that yes, indeed, there really was alcohol in there, it would have been easy to have downed the entire cocktail with a few swigs.

Since finishing a ton of garden work this spring/summer I’m determined to get some photos outside and on this day it was hot and unusual for Colorado; a bit muggy after a late afternoon shower. By the time I finished; this was the perfect antidote to quench my thirst. Want a mocktail for friends who don’t imbibe or something for kids? Just mix it up without the vodka and you’re set.

Gardening Tip #101

At the urging of friends who know how much I love to garden, I’m going to start including some photos and tips for things I’ve learned over the years; I hope you won’t mind indulging me; I promise it won’t be lengthy!

My first tip is to share with you a secret for growing mint that keeps it from invading everything else in your garden. While my mint is currently in it’s own pot near an elevated planter with other herbs, once I decide on garden space I will put it in the ground. If  you know how much mint can get out of control that might seem a recipe for disaster but it’s easy to contain; simply contain it before you dig your hole!

I use a 5 gallon paint bucket from Home Depot; dig a hole large enough to sink the entire bucket, leaving a couple of inches above ground level and then fill the bucket with good dirt and plant your mint plants in the bucket. It will thrive in the space of that bucket, should come back each year too, but will not branch out via roots and get a foothold anywhere else in your garden.

I had one year when some longer shoots hanging over the edge starting rooting but I just pulled them out and cut them off. Worked for me for 23 years at my former home and will again in this garden I’m sure! Having fresh mint outside is wonderful; it’s such a refreshing addition to salads, desserts, ice tea, and cocktails! Grow your own and it’s just a quick trip outside to gather mint for this Watermelon Moscow Mule Float!

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There is something so perfect about this Key Lime Pie with Whipped Cream and Lime Zest; especially if you are a lime lover like I am. This pie makes the perfect addition to your Summer Barbecue plans; easy, fresh, and so delicious!

I think the first question asked of me when I mentioned I was going to make this pie is, “What exactly are Key limes and how are they different from ‘regular’ or Persian limes?” I was going to take a photo and show you but ahem, I misplaced the limes I had planned to use for the photo. I found them this weekend in the laundry room; oh snap…yes I did go to change out the laundry on the way to my studio and put them on a shelf and  forgot them so, well, the rest is history. Hard as a rock and no longer photogenic so I’ve borrowed am image from someone else!

Photo by Vicki Wasik for Serious Eats

First and foremost, the original Key lime trees were decimated by a hurricane in the Florida Keys in 1926 and as the islands recovered, people resorted to planting the sturdier Persian limes most of us know. Some people might be lucky enough to have a real Key lime tree in their backyard but for the most part, the limes now labeled as Key limes that you find at the local grocery have come from either California or Mexico and are often rock hard.

Not surprising, because they are so small, I’ve found that when I do decide to use them that I had better be ready to juice them that day; they dry out very quickly. And juicing is slow and tedious. I use an electric juicer and that little baby lime just barely fit around the part that is supposed to burrow into the flesh of the fruit. It took about thirty of those little buggars to get the amount of juice I needed!

To be honest? Don’t be like Barb; I wanted to do it and now that I have I’m going to recommend you use the standard grocery store variety Persian limes. I don’t think the difference supports the need to find them and spend so much time juicing them; if there is any difference at all. Also don’t expect the green you might have seen in prepared pies. Lime juice is not green without food coloring; I kept this pie au natural and then garnished it with a bit of green. Much better!

Supposedly Key limes are a bit sweeter than Persian limes and you might be tempted to balance that change with more sugar. I find the difference so minimal and I personally love the tartness so do a quick taste test of the filling before deciding more sugar is necessary. I subbed out a bit of the lime juice for lemon juice though; that mixture works beautifully for my favorite Fresh Margarita so I went the same direction and this pie was fabulous.

There are some Key lime pie afficionados in Florida who insist that meringue is the only topping for a Key lime pie but considering the history of the pie, I have a difficult time believing that someone hand whipped a meringue in the middle of a humid summer and had much success. Besides, I prefer the balance of cool whipped cream with a hint of zest for garnish.

My neighbor Casey wasn’t feeling well the other day; he has a history of  killer migraines and he was recuperating from one. I had called his house in search of a lime; I thought I had saved one for garnish but apparently not and while Amy said there were no limes in the house, she did mention that Casey just loved Key Lime Pie. I’m hoping the pieces I sent over when it was completed were what he needed to feel better. I had wrenched my back the day before and I know I was going to use that excuse for devouring two slices myself!

This Key Lime Pie with Whipped Cream and Lime Zest is the perfect Summer Barbecue Dessert; watch it disappear!

Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. Each recipe in our menu this month features foods for a Summer Barbecue. This month it’s my turn to host Progressive Eats and I decided to make it all about foods for a Summer Barbecue; in this list there is bound to be something for everyone. Several somethings as a matter of fact!

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats it’s a virtual party. A theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out. Come along and see all of the delicious summer dishes!

A Summer Barbecue!

Cocktails & Other Beverages

Appetizers

Bread

Main Courses

Side Dishes

Desserts

  • Reeses Rice Krispie Treats – That Skinny Chick Can Bake
  • Key Lime Pie with Whipped Cream and Lime Zest – Creative Culinary (You’re Here!)
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I’ve made what I’ve always considered the best French Onion Soup for years and then I tried something new. This is amazing and it just took a new trick and a few extra minutes to go from the best to The Ultimate French Onion Soup; so worth it!

I’ve been making this French Onion Soup forever; seriously ever since the St. Louis Post Dispatch included it in the pages of their newspaper I jumped all over it. It’s really good and I’ll leave it as is on the blog because so many people from St. Louis have the same memories as I do and find that page.

BUT, I’ve upped my game a bit. I picked up a copy of Cook’s Illustrated All-Time Best French Recipes not long ago. I’ve made almost every dish they include in the glossary but I’m not sure I’ve made the best version of each recipe. I’ve always loved Cook’s Illustrated. I appreciate the time they take to test and share those tests with readers. This Best Margarita recipe came from one of their publications probably 20 years ago and while I’ve fiddled with it a bit, it seriously is the best I’ve ever had.

I’ve had similar success over the years so I trust them and I was anxious to try something new. The ingredients are not all that unique from what I’ve always used but the method is quite different and yes, it really does make for a richer and even more flavorful variation than what I’ve done before; the trade-off is it takes a bit longer too (so worth it!).

What’s different? Well for one thing the onions are cooked down in the oven. I liked this approach as it required less attention be paid than if cooking on the stove-top. But the most revolutionary part of the process was the caramelization and de-glazing of the onions during the process.

While my older recipe calls for cooking the onions down for one and a half to two hours, it never really specifies to cook the onions until caramelized. The difference is big; one creates soft, sweet onions and the other does the same but cooks them a bit longer til they start to turn brown and have a caramel color and are even sweeter. But Cook’s Illustrated doesn’t stop there; it has the cook repeat this process multiple times until the onions turn a dark brown color before adding the remaining ingredients.

I loved the results of this technique, a soup even richer with an increased depth of flavor. But old habits die hard so I added some components of what I have always known and borrowed from my old recipe and that included adding paprika. It’s subtle but the black pepper and paprika are nice additions to a soup with sweet onions.

I also borrowed one thing I believe is a must from my tried and true version; I let the entire pot of soup sit in the refrigerator overnight before warming it and serving it the next day. It really does make a difference!

Finishing the soup requires some french bread cut into rounds and toasted and then added to the soup before being topped with cheese. The typical cheese used for French Onion Soup is Gruyère. If I’m honest I’ve often used Swiss because it’s handy and nowhere near as pricey as Gruyère; but honestly it’s just not as yummy either. This time around the choice was made for me. I had been asked to sample some Jarlsberg Cheese and had a block in my cheese drawer and a tasty sliver told me it would be perfect.

Jarlsberg® is a mild, semi-soft, part skim cheese made from cow’s milk and is famous around the world for its characteristic mild, sweet and nutty taste. It was that nutty component that I thought would make it be a good substitute for Gruyère. That it had a more robust flavor than plain Swiss was a plus and it was absolutely perfect, the cheese melted wonderfully and brought a great flavor profile to the finished dish.

It’s prophetic that just this week, a woman who is in a group I’m in on Facebook that discusses food culture commented that she did not like leftovers and wondered why people make more than they needed. I responded that I love leftovers; it’s like the work has been done and it’s an easy meal and they’ve been a part of my life since I was little. Heck they were lifesavers when I was a single mom; I enjoy cooking but I don’t need to make a new meal every single night!

Beyond that I mentioned that I felt some foods, soups included, seem to taste better after some time for the ingredients to meld in the fridge. She wasn’t buying it and that’s OK, to each their own right?

Still, this soup falls into that ‘overnight in the fridge’ category and it’s absolutely necessary. I tried a quick bowl of this prior to refrigeration and it doesn’t come close to the richness of flavor that is evident after an evening spent chillin’ in the fridge. So Cook’s Illustrated might not have needed it but I did. Taste testers agreed, citing it the best French Onion Soup they’ve ever had. That’s high praise indeed; especially since one of them has never been a fan and she finished off that bowl!

It’s a bit time intensive but still easy to make and don’t let the warmer weather stop you; we will be eating The Ultimate French Onion Soup all year round. It’s so good I’m not letting some summer heat stop me! If you make it and have leftovers? I freeze some in flat pouches that are so easy to warm up whenever the urge strikes you.

Try it and let me know if you don’t think it’s the Ultimate too!

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This Kentucky Peach Cocktail might sound too unique combining Peach Vodka and Bourbon but it’s wonderful; lighter than a bourbon cocktail so it’s perfect for summer.

Hello…do you remember me? My name is Barb and when not cooking, grilling and making cocktails, I am a certified Gardenaholic! If you’ve notice my absence, or heck even if you haven’t, I’ve been in the yard, the front, the back and in between!

I moved into my home a bit over 4 years ago, so this is my fifth summer. Almost hard to believe; I lived in my previous home for 23 years and when I moved the yard was nothing less than idyllic. Thirty year old mature trees swaying in the breeze; gardens filled with mature plantings and designed around a huge assortment of perennials. It was lovely and while I loved my home, it’s the garden I’ve mourned the most.

I thought I would be happy with less and I was wrong. One day soon I’ll share some before and after photos but one of the many things I did this year was finish this perennial bed in front. Where once was grass, now is flowers!

I’ve had the sweetest boy up the street come help me the last couple of weekends; I’m sort of on my last legs. Even professional athletes take time to recuperate and I’ve just kept after it every day. I’m beat but also exhilarated. It will never be my old garden because neighbors are SO close but it’s taking on a character that is feeling good. And I love it enough now that I’ll be taking more photos outside too. This cocktail was the first!

I’ll be honest; I’ve never been big on a lot of flavored vodkas. Vodka is not supposed to taste like cake or cotton candy so I shied away. But I’m not so stubborn I wouldn’t try something that sounded like it would work. And vodka infused with fruit flavors sound better to me; heck I make a ton of cocktails with vodka and fruit so for me it’s the perfect marriage.

This cocktail includes Seagram’s Peach Flavored Vodka. And Bourbon. Yes, I know, an unlikely pairing it seems but actually perfect. Vodka does not have a lot of flavor on its own so adding the peach flavored vodka to the bourbon and lemonade makes for a much lighter and more flavorful cocktail than if just bourbon alone. I added a muddled peach to the mix in a cocktail shaker to further intensify that peach flavor and it was good to go.

Truth…sometimes I have an idea or a recipe and it sounds good but maybe I shouldn’t admit this but I’m assuming it will be and don’t actually take a sip until I’m done with the shoot. I guess years of cocktail making give me some confidence that it will turn out. And I usually like them too.

This one? See the evidence with the snap from my phone? I honestly could have finished it off with one long drink I think it was SO good but I had a moment of clarity and remembered, probably not a great idea. I finished, put away all my equipment and then sat and enjoyed it. And liked it well enough that no calls when out to the neighbors to share drink number two; nope, I drained the ice from the second one and it’s in the fridge waiting for me to enjoy tonight. Sorry Amy and Kevin, my two best tasters, not this time around!

Honestly this is one amazing summer cocktail; get your Seagram’s on, buy a peach or two and make sure you have lemonade and you’ll see for yourself. Cheers!

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I don’t care if it’s considered old-fashioned, it’s still a favorite and for me, the Best Pineapple Upside Down Cake with Rum is a marriage made in dessert heaven combining those two tropical favorites into one beautiful cake.

So I hear Pineapple Upside Down Cake is out of fashion; not popular, relegated to the annals of history as something from ‘back in the day.’ Well, guess I’m out of fashion because it’s one of my favorites. I haven’t had one in a very long time though but circumstances beyond my control made this meant to be.

My neighbor Casey who lives across the street had just been awarded an honor from Colorado Parks and Wildlife as their ‘Wildlife Officer of the Year.’ I know he is mine; I like to kid but it’s true…I know more about the rules and regulations of hunting than any person who has never hunted and it’s all because of him. He’s shared a few tales and because of him I’ve seen a live racoon, a dead badger and a real mounted deer with an automated head to try and catch the bad guys hunting in all the wrong places!

I wanted to have a little celebration and have some neighbors over so I asked him what he would like me to make. Of all things…Pineapple Upside Down Cake? Sure, I can do that! This post was old and so were the images so it was perfect; I got to update and we all had cake to share. Not lying, Casey said it was the best Pineapple Upside Down Cake he had ever had…and here’s some reasons why.

  1. The eggs are separated and the whites are whipped a bit; makes it lighter and a good balance to that richer than rich topping.
  2. The Rum. Honestly there is a bit of rum in the cake but it’s the rum in the buttery, gooey sauce on top that is really so perfect.
  3. I use fresh pineapple. Trust me, it is so worth it. It was a bit of trial to get it right but use it if you can; if not it will still be a delicious cake!

Upside down cakes have been made for centuries in this country using cast iron skillets that were placed over a fire; the practice of putting fruit and sugar in the bottom made for a simple preparation with the topping cooking at the same time as the cake. Pineapple became a popular fruit for decorating these skillet cakes in the early 1900’s after James Dole’s engineer invented a machine to both core and cut pineapples into rings…the addition of maraschino cherries was to simply add a boost of color.

The first mention of this cake was in 1925 in a Gold Medal Flour ad that featured a full page photo of Pineapple Upside Down Cake and described it as we still know it today; a round cake with slices of pineapple, candied red cherries and a brown sugar/butter glaze.  Researchers have discovered several references through the next decade, most notably the 1936 Sears and Roebuck catalog. I’ve been making this cake for as long as I can remember and I won’t deny that for most of those years it included canned pineapple and a boxed cake mix; those conveniences are certainly what helped the cake gain notoriety during the 1960’s and 1970’s when women were leaving some of their traditional roles and demanding more ease in the kitchen.

Fast forward to today when many of us prefer to circumvent that ease and enjoy doing things ‘from scratch.’ From my experience, the extra effort is so worth it. Even peeling that pineapple was easy. I wasn’t concerned about the peeling which is really pretty easy; cut off the top and bottom and slice the outer skin off by starting at the top and and slicing downwards following the curve of the fruit.

My challenge was to figure out how I would remove the core without making a mess that would ruin the whole look. To the rescue? My Grandma’s biscuit cutter! It has a piece that is removable that makes a center hole so it can also be used for donuts so I removed that little piece and used it to core each slice…yes, I was pretty doggone pleased with the results!

Now I have to say I was OK with this method until my neighbor Sam suggested I try a gadget he had for peeling and slicing the pineapple. I sort of like my quirky fix but the truth is that not everyone is going to have Grandma’s biscuit cutter so I thought it might be wise to take a peek. Doggone it…this Pineapple Peeler/Corer was quick, easy, and made nice neat circles, something I certainly wasn’t getting! I succumbed and happy I did and Sam even said I could keep it (he just wants more cake!).

This recipe is so old, the card it was written on when I first decided to write it up was barely legible; I think it may have been my Grandmother Vaden’s writing copying a recipe for me from one of her many cookbooks. I most often remember baking and cooking with my Grandma Bathe, my Dad’s mom, but it was true then and I’m reminded of this fact today; my Grandma Bathe was the ‘pie’ Grandma and Grandmother Vaden was the ‘cake’ Grandma. So if this was handed down from a Grandma of mine…well, Luda Vaden it must have been!

Am I am so single minded in my  thinking that I no longer offer any surprises? I guess we are all creatures of some type of habit right? So…want to guess what I added to this cake? I mean…really, how could I not? Pineapple. Brown Sugar. Butter. Don’t those just CRY out for Rum? I thought so too! I’ve updated this time honored recipe to include some dark rum…oh baby was that a good idea!

Almost a hundred years of history; my own family history of half that time; pineapples from Hawaii (thank you for joining the Union and sending us pineapple), those bright maraschino cherries…what about all that is NOT American? I hope you will dust off any notion that this is old or old fashioned. I prefer timeless or vintage; it is most definitely a cake that should not be forgotten. Come over and have a slice; you’ll see what I mean.

PIN ‘Best Pineapple Upside Down Cake with Rum’


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The post The Best Pineapple Upside Down Cake with Rum appeared first on Creative Culinary.

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I don’t need an excuse to make a margarita but I can’t deny Cinco de Mayo is a good reason. It’s party central in the US (even if not so much in Mexico!). These Fresh Blackberry Margarita Cocktails are worthy of the celebration…or any time for that matter!

You can imagine if I didn’t get a post for a Kentucky Derby Pie with Walnuts and Bourbon completed and published until last night that I might be behind the 8-ball just a bit on a cocktail for today. Trying to manage sharing food and/or drink for two celebrations in one week? Priceless!

Still, another better late than never I hope because I really wanted to make this one happen, especially since I’ll be taking a big pitcher of these Blackberry Margaritas to a party tomorrow and it’s nice to just share my website address for those who are interested in recreating them at home.

Speaking of party, I have to share with you the cutest piñata that I received the other day from Nipyata. While it’s a bit late to get one in hand for tomorrow; don’t let that stop you from adding this tradition to a summer party. Why Nipyata? Well, sure there might be a sprinkling of candy in there; but even more fun are the little bottles of BOOZE! The Nipyata came with an entire kit for a party experience including ‘The Burrito’ Nipyata, a stick to be used for swinging at it, a blindfold and Rules of the Game; reading the rules was fun all by itself!

I would have loved to show you what is inside BUT I’m taking it with me tomorrow to a party; I wasn’t about to break it open early. Check out their website at Nipyata.com for ‘The Burrito’ and other fun Nipyata’s for your next party…and then invite me, OK?

There are some days I think I’ve made about every version of margarita possible and then I realize, well, that’s just silly. Because if I have shared it, chances are half of them need to have new photos taken anyhow so they will always be on a continuous cycle and that’s good with me. I love, love, love them. Take a peek at a couple more of my favorites…you could really spend all summer sampling them!


Blood Orange Margarita


Limoncello Margarita


Strawberry Margarita

That wasn’t always the case; I actually recall the first time I had a margarita and I literally wanted to spit it out. I had to graciously sip the drink while grimacing with every taste. It was awful so I blamed the establishment and tried, tried again. I finally decided they just were not for me and gave up the effort…until one magical day when I had a magazine with an article about margaritas and learned enough in just a few paragraphs to change everything.

Simple points that I have never forgotten and never change. Good tequila. Not pricey necessarily but just a good, decent brand. The cheap stuff is what they use for house margaritas at restaurants and that awful burn is what was part of what I found distasteful. Try a reposado or blanco; that’s a good start.

Fresh fruit. And not just for the one chosen for flavoring; but fresh limes and lemons too. No sweet and sour mixers or bottled citrus juices. Nope. Use real fresh squeezed juices and it will make a world of difference. I use a handheld juicer for lemon and limes and wouldn’t be without one; they extract way more juice than I can do just by squeezing by hand.

Real orange liqueur, not the cheap triple sec that is simply sugar, water, and artificial flavoring. Again, pricey is not important but it should have essence of real oranges. I use whatever one has the best price when I shop so I’m only discriminating to a point!

Those rules apply across the board to any margarita and I think if you make them a part of your game plan that you and guests will never look back. Forget about going out…plan a party at home with ‘The Burrito’ and your homemade drinks…bet you’ll have way more fun!
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PIN ‘Fresh Blackberry Margarita Cocktails’

This is a sponsored post sharing the adorable Nipyata but all commentary is my own.

The post Fresh Blackberry Margarita Cocktails appeared first on Creative Culinary.

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