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updated: 9/4/2013 2:18 PM

Cook of the Week Challenge: First cooks tackle mystery ingredients

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  • Elliott Papineau

    Elliott Papineau

  • Tina Garrett

    Tina Garrett

  • Nancy Smearman

    Nancy Smearman

  • Jeff Zilch

    Jeff Zilch

By Deborah Pankey
Daily Herald Food Editor

Hang on to your plate, and get ready to have your taste buds blown away.

The first of our Cook of the Week Challenge contestants have been in the kitchen fiddling around with the likes of lime gelatin and cucumbers, acorn squash and beer and have come up with some pretty creative recipes you'll see on Pages 4 and 5.

Once you read these recipes, I guarantee you'll be putting those ingredients on your next shopping list.

The mission of the 12 mystery basket challenges that will unfold between now and mid-October is to get the contestants to use ingredients they might otherwise overlook or in combinations they might not have considered to create a cohesive meal -- either an entree and a side dish or a one-pot meal.

I hope the recipes inspire you to try their creations yourself -- or give you the confidence to open your own pantry or fridge and realize the makings for dinner are there if you just think outside the box or can.

Today's recipes are from Nancy Smearman and Jeff Zilch, Tina Garrett and Elliott Papineau.

The judges also have these recipes and will rate each one on creativity, use of ingredients, appearance, perceived taste and ease of preparation.

The results will be published next week, and the cook with the better recipe in each challenge will advance to Round 2.

Readers are invited to weigh in as well. Head to and vote for your favorite recipes. The results of online voting also will appear in the following week's Food section, and each week a random voter will be selected to receive a prize from one of our sponsors.

At the end of the two challenge rounds, the cook with the most votes will receive a special prize.

I also invite you to "Like" us on Facebook at Once you're there, tell us what you might have whipped up if faced with lime gelatin, flank steak and cucumbers in your pantry.

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