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Monday, April 30, 2012

Cherry Beer Margaritas!!


One of the things that I love most about Pinterest is the ability to come across bloggers, and their delectable treats,  I never would have known existed. This is one of those recipes!

I did Mexican night on Saturday and had stumbled across this drink earlier in the am. Now, the other thing that I did on Saturday was my monthly grocery shopping. It gives new meaning to hating that time of the month, let me tell you...especially when you bring a husband in tow!! By the time I got home, I was ready to whip up a pitcher of these. My only fear is that the boys would have said they are too girly, but, honestly, at that point, I really didn't care! Well, let me tell you, THE BOYS LOVED THEM. They actually had two, which I guess it was a good thing I only wanted one. They called them refreshing and a nice twist to Beer Margaritas I had made a while ago and that were not a hit.  So, no sissy drink here!!

I have kept the recipe pretty true to Amy's recipe. The only thing I do different is add a bit of Maraschino cherry juice to the glass prior to adding the margarita mix.

So, here we go!


1 (12 ounce) can frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
12 ounces cherry flavored 7-up (NOT DIET)
1 (12 ounce) bottle of your favorite MEXICAN beer
12 ounces of your favorite BLANCO tequila
Add'l cherry juice liquid from bottle
Margarita salt, for rimming glass
Lime for garnish
Cherries for garnish


1) Take Margarita glasses or Mason jars (which are adorable Margarita glasses to me) and do a rimmer using lime juice or sweet/sour and Margarita salt. Fill with ice and place in freezer until ready for use.
2) Slice lime and slice a small line into lime to use as a decoration for the glass
3) In a large pitcher, combine limeade, cherry 7-up, beer and tequila. Stir until well blended
4) Remove glasses from freezer and add about a 1/2 T. of cherry juice to each glass. Pour in Margarita mix until full.
5) Garnish with straw, cherries (5) and lime slice!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pico de Gallo (2 cups)

I love Pico de Gallo with my Latin/Mexican food. It adds so much freshness that I can't stand it. Most commercially prepared Pico de Gallo is finely chopped, which I am not a fan of because I feel that the flavors can be lost. When I prepare my own, which is often during late Spring, Summer and early Fall, I prefer larger chunks of the ingredients to really grab the fresh flavors. Homemade PdG is so incredibly simple to make and can be made for pennies on the dollar and, in my opinion, the freshness is like comparing apples to oranges. I can vary the spiciness depending on who I am serving, where my son and I love spiciness, my husband isn't quite the fan!

So, here we go!


3 tomatoes, quartered, seeded and chopped to desired size
1/2 red onion, chopped to desired size
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 T. Adobo seasoning (see recipe under MY FAVORITE SEASONINGS)
1/2 lime juiced into bowl
1/2 T. Canola oil
1/2 large jalapeno, seeded and chopped finely (this is important to do with this pepper), if desired depending on desired spice level.


1) Combine all ingredients in a bowl and place in a covered container. Allow flavors to blend for a couple of hours before serving.

Dry Adobo Seasoning

I know Summer is coming when I make big batches of my Adobe seasoning! I tried a commercially prepared Adobo in a recipe for Ropa Vieja and it was so salty, I ended up having to throw out a $30 dinner! I said never again and looked at what was in it and came up with this. I am very big into how much salt go into my seasonings, so this isn't overboard! Adobo seasonings come in two types. Either a liquid or dry. I prefer the dry due to shelf life and versatility in dishes I can use it in. I don't need to alter the liquids in my dishes to make up for the liquid in the Adobo and I really haven't seen a taste difference in the two. During the late Spring and Summer months, when I am cooking Latin inspired foods like there is no tomorrow, I double, triple and quadruple this recipe at the beginning of the season and use it in almost everything I cook!!

So, here is a basic recipe!

4 Tablespoons Kosher salt
3 Tablespoons Onion Powder
3 Tablespoons Garlic Powder
3 Tablespoons COARSE Ground Pepper
1 Tablespoon Dried Oregano


1) Mix all ingredients in an airtight container. Product can be stored for up to 6 months.

Grilled Steak Tacos

Served with Mexican Rice

With Pico de Gallo
My son and I have a favorite Mexican restaurant by us that serves some killer steak tacos. We can down these things like there is no tomorrow. As I was eating them one night, I told him that these really can't be that difficult to make, so I set off on a journey to come up with my own recipe. I can't believe how easy this recipe is to make and how cheap they are to make. Plus, I love the freshness of these things. I partner them with the Mexican rice side and normally corn on the cob or a Mexican salad.
It is very important to note that the meat is the easiest part of this dish. Do not cook it until the last couple of minutes to ensure you get the juiciest meat possible!!

So, here we go!:


2 lbs Skirt Steak
Adobo Seasoning (See recipe under My Favorite Seasonings)
Mexican Beer
SOFT Corn Tortillas


Pico de Gallo (See recipe this blog)
Cheese (cheddar or queso fresco)
Salsa Verde
chopped avocado
lime slices/juice


1) Remove Skirt Steak from packaging and generously rub with Adobo seasoning.

2) Place in a disposable or glass 9x13 pan. Cover with Mexican beer and set aside for minimally 1 hour. I do up to 4 hours.

3) Prepare grill. Drain off liquid and grill steaks until rare.

4) Place on cutting board and chop into bite sized pieces.

5) Heat a frying pan which has been coated liberally with cooking spray. Place meat in hot pan and allow to "sear". Remove to serving dish. If necessary, but not advisable, place in warm oven.

6) In a small, heated frying pan, warm tortillas flipping once. Remove to warmed oven.

7) Top tortillas and favorite taco toppings!

Friday, April 27, 2012

German Pork Chops

I can honestly thank Chef Robert Irvine for inspiring this delicious recipe that I have made numerous times. I adore this man! He is actually in the top 5 of my Food Network chefs and very near the top! I love his show Restaurant Impossible. In fact, I love it so much that it has earned a spot on my automatically record for my DVR. Believe it or not, very few shows have that privilege. On one of his shows, he was working with a restaurant that used frozen pork chops and boxed mashed potatoes which were then topped with a very disgusting powder based gravy. While speaking with the owner of the restaurant, he mentioned 3 ingredients that the owner could partner with the pork chops which were apples, onions and bacon. A little light went off in my head and this recipe was the result. Partner this with commercially prepared spaetzle. I have tried homemade spaetzle but felt the noodles/dumplings were too tiny to support the strong flavors of this dish.  I prepare my own Paula Deen's House Seasoning (Revamped) utilizing 1/2 cup salt; 1/4 cup COARSE pepper and 1/4 cup garlic powder. This is a staple in my kitchen.

So, here we go!:


6 Thin Cut Pork Chops
1 cup flour
1 Tablespoon Paula Deen House Seasoning, revamped (recipe in notes section)
4 red apples (preferably a Gala or Macintosh) peeled, cored and chopped in large chunks
1/2 pound bacon cut into approximately 1 inch chunks
1 large onion chopped
1/2 T. rosemary
1/2 T. thyme
1 cup white wine, optional
1 bag spaetzle
1/2 stick butter


1) Place flour and PDHS in a large Ziploc bag and shake pork chops. Place on cooking rack and allow coating to "dry" for a few minutes.
2) Preheat ELECTRIC SKILLET to 350 degrees and liberally spray with non stick cooking spray
3) Cook pork chops in skillet until browned and cooked thoroughly.
4) Remove to plate and keep warm in a 170 degree oven.
5) Next comes making the compote, liberally spray skillet again and add bacon, onion and apples. Utilizing skillet safe utensils, stir ingredients making sure to include get the pork chop drippings incorporated. Allow this to cook down until bacon and apples are cooked. Add rosemary and thyme. Add wine if desired. Allow flavors to blend and the wine to cook out.
6) While cooking the topping, cook spaetzle according to package directions. Drain, add butter, cover and set aside.
7) Presentation should be a layer of spaetzle, layer of compote and then place the pork chops to the side.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Easy Italian Biscuits

I make alot of Italian dishes, which call for something bready to accompany it. The problem is that I get really, really tired of the same old store bought frozen garlic bread and wanted to come up with some other ideas of what to serve, but it had to be simple enough that it could be just thrown together. My immediate thoughts went to Italian salad dressing and the rest is history.

So, here we go!:


1 package grand style biscuits
Italian dressing
Parmesan Cheese


1) Liberally spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray
2) Place biscuits one inch apart on cookie sheets.
3) Brush biscuits liberally with the Italian Dressing
4) Sprinkle generously with the Parmesan cheese.

5) Bake according to package directions.

Weekday Lasagna

Adapted: Kraft

This lasagna is so simple that I can make it anytime of the year. Unlike my deeply involved, homemade from the beginning lasagna, this uses either a jarred sauce or a previous prepared sauce. Plus, the lasagna noodles don't require precooking, which really helps in that prep time. I have been known to whip it up in the morning and toss it in the oven first thing home. Pair with a salad and garlic bread it is fantastic.

Although the recipe calls for ground beef, I prefer Italian sausage. It gives it much more of a punch.

So, here we go!:


1lb. ground beef or Italian Sausage
2-1/2 cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, divided
1container (15 oz.) Ricotta Cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, divided
1egg, beaten
1jar (24 oz.) spaghetti sauce
1cup water
12lasagna noodles, uncooked


1) Preheat oven to 350°F.
2) Brown meat in large skillet on medium-high heat. 
3) Mix 1-1/4 cups mozzarella, ricotta cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan and egg until well blended; set aside.    
4) Drain meat; return to skillet. Stir in spaghetti sauce. Add 1 cup water to empty sauce jar; cover with lid and shake well. Add to meat mixture; stir until well blended.

5) Spread 1 cup meat sauce onto bottom of 13x9-inch baking dish; top with layers of 3 lasagna noodles, 1/3 of the ricotta cheese mixture and 1 cup meat sauce. Repeat layers twice. Top with remaining noodles, meat sauce and cheeses. 

6) Cover with foil sprayed with cooking spray.
7) Bake1 hour or until heated through, removing foil after 45 min. 

8)Let stand 15 min. before cutting to serve.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Surprise Blueberry Bread

Adapted: Fresh Fruit Quick Breads: In the Pantry Quick Bread by Joyce Middleton

I keep going on and on about the freebie cookbooks that I get from This little gem was another one. I have made two different breads from it and both were hits!

I love to take fresh treats to my live book club. It allows me to try out new recipes for sweet treats without having them stick around the house. Plus, I am able to get feedback on whether the recipes are a hit or not. This loaf was definitely a hit. Another plus, this recipe was so easy to make, I just whipped it up and 15 minutes later it was in the oven. Although the original recipe said it made one loaf, I did mine into 2 mini loaves, but kept the cooking time the same.

So, here we go:


2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons all  purpose flour, divided
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
2/3 cup orange juice
2 Tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries. If frozen used, do not defrost.


1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2) In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda.

3) Whisk the egg, orange juice and butter together.

 Stir into the dry ingredients JUST UNTIL MOISTENED!
4) Toss blueberries with the 2 Tablespoons flour. Fold these into the batter. OK I have to admit to an rookie cooking mistake. I accidentally skipped this part and just tossed the blueberries into the batter. No problems happened!

5) Pour batter into prepared pan(s) and bake for 60-65 degree oven. Loaves are done when an inserted knife comes out clean.

Italian Olive Oil Bread Dip

I make alot of Italian dishes. Sometimes having the same old garlic bread in different versions gets really boring. I had tried several dips that didn't include Parmesan cheese and found them to be tasteless and boring. Therefore, I really felt the need to come up with bread dips which would support a nice fresh baked demi baguette. This dip (as well as any bread dip) is best with fresh out of the oven baguettes. Living in Illinois, I get mine from Jewel Foods Bakery and ask them for frozen and package them ready for the freezer. When ready to bake...pop a loaf or two into a 375 degree oven for 12 minutes and you have fresh baked baguette! Be sure to dig down and grab some of the Parmesan cheese.

So, here we go!:


1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon Paula Deen House Seasoning Revamped (see Pub and Grub Archives)
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano


1) Mix all in a small bowl and serve with hot demi baguettes! Easy Peasy!!

Paula Deen's Fried Onion Soup

Now, you all have heard me go on and on about Paula Deen's recipes and some have been featured on the Pub and Grub with more to follow. This is one that I have made a couple of times and to be expected I made some changes. I love the simpleness of this recipe and the ability to have French Onion soup anytime the whim hits me.

I will say that this one though is one reserved for having a light lunch or dinner. I don't use this recipe for entertainment purposes. Normally, for that, I use the Stephanie O'Dea Crock pot French Onion Soup recipe found in the Pub and Grub archives or a more extensive recipe I have. But, if you are having a craving for some soup and want to pair it with a salad, this is the recipe for you..

So, here we go! I will list Paula's recipe first and then my substitutions:


8 cups beef broth (I use beef stock)
4 cups chicken broth (I use chicken stock)
2 teaspoons dried thyme
3 (2.8 oz) cans French's fried onions ( I use one 6 oz can)
1/4 cup dry sherry
6 slices day old french bread
1.5 cups shredded Swiss cheese (I use low fat mozzarella )
fresh parsley for garnish (I use fried onions)


1) Pour broth/stock in large sauce pan and add thyme.  Simmer for 10 minutes.

2) Add fried onions and simmer for another 5 minutes.

3) Add sherry and simmer for another 2 minutes (I actually do 15 minutes)

4) Ladle soup into oven proof bowls and add two slices of french bread. Cover with cheese. Bake for 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

* I must note that Paula does call for broiling the soup for 3-4 minutes. I have never been a fan of broiling the cheese because it can go really bad, really quick. I get the same results with baking it.

** I apologize for the quality of the pictures. It is dark outside..thus dark in the Blackburn household. My camera didn't want to cooperate!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Oven Baked Coconut Crusted Cod

Oven Baked Coconut Crusted Whitefish with Caribbean Rice

Adapted: Simple Easy Gourmet by Jenny Clarke

I have friends on Goodreads who absolutely love Amazon freebie romances and recommendations fly left and right when their is a winner that comes up. I am the same way, but my love is for the free Amazon cookbooks. In a very short time, I have accumulated approximately 200 of them that I head in take a look at and prepare. I downloaded one a couple of days ago that looks like it is going to be a real winner. The jury is still out because this is my first recipe out of it, but, with the winner that this was, it won't be my last. I wanted to post the link to the cookbook, but it seems to have disappeared off Amazon. I hate it when that happens!

Any one who knows me knows how much I love tropical settings. I know that will be my living arrangement at some point in my life, probably at retirement, but hey! Any how, I paired the fish with a Caribbean rice recipe I developed, which I will post tomorrow. The rice really complimented the fish because it was mild and had a nice sweetness to it. I did lighten this up slightly, so I am going to do her recipe and my changes.

So, here we go!


1/4 cup mayonnaise (I used fat free)
1/4 cup brown mustard (or spicy brown)
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup very finely chopped mixed nuts (I used pecans, next time I will use macadamia nuts)
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper ( I used 1/4 teaspoon)
1 lb whitefish (I used cod)
Salt and Pepper


1) Spray a 9x13 pan very liberally with cooking spray. The recipe calls for oiling the pan, but I really wanted to keep it light.
2) In a shallow dish, whisk together mayo and brown mustard. Set aside

3) In another dish, whisk together bread crumbs, coconut, nuts, brown sugar, cayenne. Set aside.

4) Salt and pepper fish fillets and coat with mayo/mustard sauce.

5) Then coat with the crumbs. Place in oiled pan when finished.

Yes, there is a fish fillet in there! ;)

8) Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily. If desired, you can flip fish midway. I chose not to.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lightened Up Snickers Dip (Makes 4 Cups)

Adapted: Relative Taste(Kim)

When I saw that a friend had pinned this on Pinterest, I knew I had to try it. My family loves Snickers bars, so I thought this would fit in for Bears Sofa Tailgates! When a friend saw that I had pinned it, she immediately requested it for my live book club and I quickly agreed.

As I went in and took a look at the recipe, I cringed. It used full fat cream whip and cream cheese, as well as 6 Snickers bars. I wanted the recipe, but wanted to see how it would be "lightened up" and I already had a group of guinea pigs. This by far isn't fat free, but it is lightened up. By the way, my live book club and library staff LOVED it and so did my family.

So, here we go!:


2 packages low fat or fat free cream cheese
1 (8 oz) container low fat or fat free Cool Whip
1/4 brown sugar or Splenda Brown Sugar
5 full size Snickers bars chopped
graham crackers and pretzels for dipping


1) Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until well incorporated.

2) Place in a covered container and allow flavors to "blend" for 24 hours.
3) Serve with graham crackers and pretzels

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Neely's Get Yo' Man Chicken

Adapted: The Neelys (Down Home with the Neelys)

Alright, I have spoken about my love of Paula Deen on my blog before. But, I must admit, that I am a huge fan of the Neely's, as well. I love the southern comfort food touch that they bring to the majority of their dishes. Plus, there is just alot of fun in cooking their dishes.

I have made this dish so often that I think with a couple of more times, it will officially be memorized! My family and I just love it. There is a tomato lemony flavor that is AWESOME on buttered rice. I also love the fact that it uses chicken thighs. I do have to say that I did make a couple of changes to their original recipe. I think it makes it a tinge better, but this is a pretty spectacular recipe. I will note my changes next to the original as I have made it both ways.

So, here we go!:


2 tablespoons olive oil
6 bone in chicken thighs, skinless ( I leave the skin)
1 medium onion, sliced ( I chop mine)
1 cup chicken stock (I use broth)
1/2 cup white wine (bottled cooking wine works also, but I normally use regular wine and serve remaining with the meal)
1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed tomatoes in thick puree
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon lemon-pepper
Hot buttered rice

1) Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.
2)Pat chicken dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.
3)Brown the chicken, meat-side down first, and turning once, about 4 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate to reserve and place in oven to keep warm.

5) Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of oil from the pan. (I keep all the oil in the pan. It isn't too much more)
6) Add onion to the pan and saute until tender, roughly 3 minutes. Add the stock/broth and wine. Stir, scrapping any brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Turn heat to high and reduce by half, about 3 minutes. Pour in the crushed tomatoes and add the dried herbs and lemon pepper.

7) Add the chicken thighs back into the pan.Cover and cook on medium-low heat for 40 minutes.

8) Remove chicken from liquid and serve on hot buttered rice. Ladle the sauce on top

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Alice Springs Chicken with my Crock Pot Baked Potatoes

Alice Springs Chicken with my Crock Pot Baked Potatoes

adapted: Six Sisters

Another reason to love the Sisters! I stumbled across this recipe on, you guessed it, Pinterest and, although I had been to Outback numerous times, had never heard of it. To be honest though, when I go to Outback, I am a beef kind of girl!

This looked intriguing enough to try, so I went ahead and did it. I am not disappointed. I didn't make the dipping sauce because I didn't think it needed it, so this is just for the dish alone. Also, like the Sisters, I made it as a casserole. They mentioned that their mother makes it as an individual piece of chicken, but I have to be honest, I am too lazy to do that. Maybe if I was using it for entertaining, which, by the way, this would fit perfectly into, but it was just my family and it didn't stick around long enough to be admired for beauty!

Unlike other recipes that I do, I kept this one pretty close to the original.

So, here we go!:

3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in half length wise and pounded to 1/2 inch thickness
seasoning salt
6 slices bacon, chopped
1/4 cup mustard
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons mayo
1/2 tablespoon dried onion flakes
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
3 cups shredded Colby/Jack cheese

1) Sprinkle and rub the pounded chicken breasts with seasoning salt. 

2) Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 
3) Cook bacon in a large skillet. Be very careful and watch closely. I will actually cook my bacon right until it becomes crispy. The bacon will continue to cook in the oven and it is important to not have it burnt crisp! Yuk!!

4) In a small bowl, mix the mustard, honey, mayo and dried onion flakes.

5) Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. 
6) Place chicken in the skillet and saute for 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until browned. 
7) Place browned chicken to an 13x9 inch
with mustard sauce

8) Apply the honey mustard to each breast, then layer with mushrooms, bacon, and shredded cheese.

before cheese

after cheese...ready for oven

9) Bake in a 350° oven for 30-40 minutes, or until cheese is melted and chicken is done.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Chicken with Jalapeno Popper Sauce


My new love is HOMEMADE jalapeno poppers. God, I love those bad boys. When I stumbled upon this recipe on, I knew I had to make it. I did make a couple of changes like I always do, but this recipe was just downright yummers. I do feel it has much more of a Mexican dish flare to it than a jalapeno popper, but I would take it any way it was called.

I served it along with the Mexican rice side dish which is on the Pub and Grub, as well as Fiesta Corn and simple blue margaritas. The meal came together perfectly. This is also a dish I would serve as a "light" entertainment with friends.

So, here we go!:


8 slices bacon
3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts halved lengthwise or 6 small chicken breasts
3 large jalapenos, seeded and chopped (make sure they are larger peppers)
1.5 teaspoons jarred garlic
2.5 cups chicken broth
8 oz cream cheese, cubed
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons fresh cilantro chopped

Tortilla chips (which work wonderfully to scoop up the sauce, rice and chicken)
Avocado or guacamole


1) In a very large skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Watch very carefully..bacon goes from beautiful to disaster very quickly. Set aside to drain, but reserve bacon grease in pan. Crumble bacon when drained.
2) Between 2 sheets of saran wrap, pound chicken to even thickness. Salt and pepper them on both sides
3) Cook chicken in bacon grease 5 minutes each side. Remove to platter and keep warm in a 170 degree oven
5) Add jalapenos to grease and cook for 1 minute, then add chopped garlic and cook another minute
6) Add chicken broth, deglazing pan while doing so.
7) Add cream cheese stiring until melted and then the cheddar cheese doing the same.
8) Return crumbled bacon and cilantro to pan.
9) Serve chicken with sauce spooned over it.