Patricia Kutchins was so well known and loved for her baked treats that she would bring into work that she earned the name "Patty Cake."
Co-workers relied on cupcakes, cookies and took advantage of her passion for cheesecake. She developed a basic cheesecake recipe and created flavors and toppings including amaretto, chocolate chip, strawberry swirl, blueberry swirl, black cherry and key lime.
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"I have a list that I give to people when they ask me to make them a cheesecake," she added.
But while desserts may have led to her nickname, the Lake Zurich resident is pleasing not only guests to her home but also viewers online to discover she can make so much more.
Learning much from her mom who was born in Italy, Patricia said Italian food is always a favorite to serve whether it be for husband, Fred, or for parties, which she likes to host twice a year. Favorites include eggplant parmesan, baked ravioli and a big antipasto salad. Of course, guests expect to make room for the large dessert table that she plans after the meal.
"Some people go to parties and love to drink. My friends come to my parties because they love to eat," she said.
Since her senior year in high school, Patricia has collected cookbooks to find her inspiration and continues to spend hours browsing the latest books and magazines. In more recent years she has discovered another source to find recipes, the Web.
"I love to read the recipes that other women put on there. It is fascinating how they come up with these ideas. I keep saying to myself why can't I come up with something like that?" she said with a laugh.
On JustAPinch.com, Kutchins not only discovers recipes but has shared her own. So many that she has added another cookbook to her repertoire, one she created on the site that viewers can purchase a print copy or download. Paging through her cookbook, she lists examples in each course just as would be found in many books on her shelves.
There are appetizers from pear pecan salad and cauliflower soup to side dishes such as squash casserole, main dishes that capture her Italian heritage such as Italian caprese burger and chicken parmesan. And for the sweet tooth, there's chocolate-filled cannoli, Snickers cheesecake, pumpkin spice biscotti and tiramisu, which she also shares with readers.
She also has gotten involved with a website that sounds more like a reality TV show. But the Real Women of Philadelphiarecognizes home cooks and recipes that use Philadelphia Cream Cheese products. One of Patricia's recipes became such a hit, she was named a Season Two winner. The recipe chiquito chiles is a play on chili rellenos where red, yellow or orange chili peppers are stuffed with chive and onion cream cheese and seasonings.
"I've always wanted to enter a cooking contest but never in a million years did I think that this little recipe would be a winner," she said.
After a request from the Philadelpia site, Patricia began to share not only her recipe but create videos, too. On Youtube.com, she demonstrates how to make Italian crab meat cheese and herb ravioli or a double decker cheesecake.
Patricia has even ventured on her own and created a blog called PatKutchinsKitchen. While the blog features some decadent desserts including her newest post for black cherry mini cheesecakes, she also offers some ideas to try before dessert, too.
"No one should ever be afraid to cook," she said.