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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Paula Deen's BBQ Shrimp

Serve as a meal...or....
Served right out of the pot for Bear's Sofa Tailgating cuz they never last long!

Now, I have said many a time that I think Paula Deen is the Queen of the Kitchen and this delectable little treat is ONE of the reasons why!

This dish is so versatile that I have served it not only for CHICAGO BEARS sofa tailgating celebrations, but it converts easily to a main dish when partnered with a white or brown rice. I have shown examples of both. Paula recommends serving it with corn bread, but to be honest, I serve it with French bread to soak up the unbelievably flavored butter sauce. My mouth just waters whenever I think of this shrimp.

I have altered the recipe slightly. First, the recipe calls for 12 shrimp heads still attached. I consider myself open to trying new things, but, nah, I am not that adventurous. Second, one of the things that drove me crazy about the original recipe was that it was a tad bit too salty for my family and I. We tend to be really sensitive to that. I found by substituting out some salted butter for unsalted butter, it cut down on that taste of being over-salted. The other thing that I did was some of the ingredients in the sauce so there would be plenty to soak up with the bread.

Now, one final regards to shrimp, I suppose you can use raw shrimp that have been had their shells removed. I ALWAYS recommend against that due to how sensitive these guys are to heat and how they can go from delectable to rubber with the snap of a finger. It is worth it to make them finger food. Just serve with plenty of napkins or Wetnaps and a bowl for the discarded shells!

I have put my ingredients first with Paula's original ingredients in parenthesis in blue.

So, here we go:


2 lbs medium raw, shell on, deveined shrimp (12 jumbo raw heads/tails on shrimp)
4 T. BUTTER, salted (8 T. salted BUTTER)
4 T. BUTTER, unsalted (Omit if you are following Paula's path)
4 T. Cajun seasoning (such as Zatarrains) (2 t. Cajun Seasoning)
1 c. Lager ( I use Leinie's Classic Amber) (1/2 c. Lager)
1/3 c. Lemon juice (juice of 1/2 lemon)
1 t. Worcestershire sauce (1/2 t.)
1 T. FRESH thyme (2t.)
Fresh parsley for garnish (mine never stay around long for that formality)


1) Place shrimp on a cookie sheet and sprinkle generously with the Cajun seasoning.
2) Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan and when melted, add the shrimp.

3) Allow the shrimp to cook thoroughly. They turn from a grayish color to a really pretty opaque and salmon color when cooked
4) Add the remaining ingredients and I give it about another 3 minute cooking time with the lid on.

Throw a lid on it to give it a bit of a boost..then voila..Finis!!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Gnocchi Mozzarella Bake

Adapted: Lemons and Love

I stumbled upon this recipe while on Pinterest one day. I love baked spaghetti and I love gnocchi, so I knew I would die for this recipe. It was fantastic. I loved the low amount of meat in it. Actually, had I chosen to do so, I could have omitted the pepperoni in this recipe and it would have been just as good. My husband almost ate the entire pan by himself and leftovers didn't last long in the Blackburn house!

I did make a number of changes to the recipe, but think the outcome was saucier and with more of a tomato base than the original recipe.

So, here we go:


2 Packages (15.75 oz) Gnocchi (Can be found either in the pasta section or frozen pasta section in your grocer)
1 tablespoon butter
1 T. Olive Oil 
1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped (or 1.5 t. jarred garlic)

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 T. Paula Deen House Seasoning
1 jar (24 oz) Marinara sauce

1 15-ounce can petite diced tomatoes 

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

3 cups shredded fresh mozzarella cheese

30 pepperoni slices


1) Prepare Gnocchi according to package directions, minus 1 minute of cooking time, and drain.

2) In a large skillet, warm olive oil and butter until butter is melted. Add onions until translucent and then chopped garlic.
3) Add Marinara, diced tomatoes, red pepper flakes, PDHS, Italian seasoning. Let simmer for 15 minutes.

4) Pour sauce over gnocchi, stir and pour into 9x13 pan coated with nonstick spray.

5) Top with Pepperoni and Cheese.

Spread out the pepperoni to make sure everyone gets some!!

Then, top with shredded Mozzarella!

6) Bake in a 350 degree oven until cheese is melted. My dish took 20 minutes.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Po Boy Steak Sandwiches with Sauteed Mushrooms and Onions

There is a restaurant near Joliet, IL called Merichka's ( ) that has been my husband's favorite restaurant since he was a young boy. His favorite thing there are the Poor Boy Steak Sandwiches. These steak sandwiches are tender with loads of garlic flavor which is then topped with cheese, onions and mushrooms. Unfortunately, we live a bit of a distance from Joliet now and have little reason to head back that way. One of the things I wanted to be able to do for him though was to be able to duplicate the sandwiches as close as I could.  It took a bunch of mis-tries before I figured this one out.

Although, it isn't as good as Merichka's, it is dang close. Bonus, these whip up quickly, so partner with chips, and you have an awesome summer meal that barely heats up the house!

So, here we go!:


4 Po Boy steaks (these look like long cube steaks)
1/2 T. Adobo seasoning (see my favorite seasonings)
1/3 cup Beef broth
4 slices Provolone cheese
4 Ciabatta Garlic rolls (bonus if you can find ones with cheese, but not necessary)

Onion/Mushroom topping
4 T. Butter
1 Onion sliced thinly
1 8 oz can mushrooms


1) Melt butter in a skillet. When melted, stir in onion and mushrooms. Sautee, stirring frequently, until softened. Remove from heat and set aside.
2) Sprinkle steaks with Adobo seasoning and set aside.
3) Bake Ciabatta garlic rolls according to package directions.
4) Spray a skillet liberally with cooking spray and allow to heat up. Add steaks to skillet and fry until cooked through.
5) Add beef broth and continue to cook for no more than 5 minutes (this will soften the steaks some)

6) It is now time to assemble the sandwiches. Place a steak on the bottom half of the roll and top with some of the onion/mushroom saute. Top with cheese.

8) Place top half of the roll on sandwich and serve!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Maple Dijon Chicken Breasts

OK..have to be honest, when I hear a blogger rave and rave about a dish they make, I am like "We'll see". Well, Wittyinthecity was dead on with this one! Originally called Man Pleasing Chicken, I went with Maple Dijon Chicken Breasts because I felt funny calling it by that name! Plus, it was pretty woman pleasing too! Even my 23 year old son who LOATHES any form of mustard loved this dish. Not only did this taste fantastic, but it made my house smell WONDERFUL! The fresh rosemary just sent it over the edge with yumminess! So, now I am one of those bloggers saying how dynamic my dish is. I guess I officially a food blogger!

Now. She did use boneless skinless chicken thighs while I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I would say whatever your pleasure is!

So, here we go!!:


1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup Maple syrup
1 T. Rice Wine Vinegar
6 smaller b/s chicken breasts ( I used Purdue boxed chicken breasts) or 6 b/s chicken thighs
Fresh rosemary chopped


1) Combine mustard, syrup and rice wine vinegar in a bowl.
2) Place chicken breasts in a 9x13 dish LIBERALLY SPRAYED WITH COOKING SPRAY!!
3) Pour sauce over chicken.

4) Place in a 450 degree oven and cook for 40 minutes turning over once.

5) Give each piece of chicken a swirl in the extra sauce to make sure it is well covered. When serving, sprinkle with the rosemary.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Caribbean Grilled Steak

Caribbean Steak with Grilled Lobster Tail and Crock Pot Potatoes

When I think Summer, I think grill and one of my favorite things is a good marinaded steak! I stumbled upon this recipe on quite by accident. This sounded so good that I actually held onto it for about 6 months for the warm weather to come because I knew this would be a killer steak. It held true to its' promise. This will be a staple for celebrating the Chicago Bears with sofa tailgating and entertaining friend, family and business associates!

I was dissatisfied with the original marinade amount so I doubled it, plus I used fresh sage vs. dried sage.

So, here we go!:


2 ounces coconut flavored rum, such as Malibu
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/4 t. cinnamon
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. oregano
1 T. FRESH sage (or 1/2 t. dried sage)
1 t. white vinegar
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1 onion sliced
4 Strip steaks or 6 sirloin steaks


1) Mix all marinade ingredients, minus steak, in a bowl.

2) Place steaks in a Ziploc bag and pour marinade in bag

3) Let marinade 4-6 hours

4) Grill over open flame for desired internal temperature.

Grilled Lobster Tails

I love lobster tails. My normal way to cook them was simply to bake them in the oven with butter and lemon, but that was getting boring, so I went wandering around Allrecipes and found this recipe for grilled lobster tails.  These were fantastic. I cut the tails in half, as shown and they gill beautifully. They don't require any extra lemon or butter, although I don't think a lemon wedge would hurt this recipe. I have kept this recipe true to its' original.

One last tidbit of information. I am not a fan of gas grills, so this recipe has only been made on a charcoal grill. I can not attest to the yumminess on a gas grill!

So, here we go:


1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
2 (10 oz) or 4 (6 oz) lobster tails


1) Combine all ingredients except lobster in a bowl and whisk until well blended.

2) Cut tails in half length wise.

3) Place tails on hot grill and brush with marinade. Tails normally take about 10 minutes to cook. I give it a blast of flame by leaving grill lid open and give it one last brush of the marinade.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mint Lemonade Cooler

The mint is growing crazily at the Blackburn home these days and one can only have so many mojitos before it is time to check into rehab. I had concocted this drink because of my love for both mint and lemons. Although I have made this drink sugar free, it can just as easily be made with sugar. I have added those additions in blue. This is going to make a little over 1.5 quarts or 4 servings.

So, here we go:


1 cup water
3/4 cup sweetener (sugar)
16 mint leaves or 1 package store mint package
3/4 cup FRESH SQUEEZED lemon juice (about 6 lemons)
6 cups diet 7-up (Regular 7-up)


1) In a saucepan, heat water and sugar together. Rinse and add mint leaves and allow to steep for no less than 30 minutes.

2) Meanwhile, juice your lemons and pour juice into pitcher.

3) Remove mint leaves and pour simple syrup in pitcher.

4) Add 7-Up and stir gently. Chill well and pour into ice filled glass. Serve with additional mint leaves and lemon slices.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Crock Pot Korean Short Ribs

I have expressed my love for Stephanie O'Dea's cookbooks and this is one of my all time favorite of hers. She actually credits  Stefania Pomponi Butler from for this little gem. This recipe couldn't be any easier if you tried. Plus, put it in your crockpot, head out the door and you only have to whip up the rice and veggies when you get home. SO simple!!

So here we go!:


1 cup brown sugar
1 cup less sodium or regular soy sauce
1/2 cup water
4 lbs. beef short ribs
5 whole jalapeno peppers


1) Mix brown sugar, water and soy sauce in a bowl.

2) Place 4 lbs beef short ribs in 6 Qt. Crock pot. Pour sauce over ribs and throw whole jalapeno on top of all.

3) Cook ribs on low for 8-10 hours. Flip ribs once during cooking. This can be done right before serving. Just give it enough time to soak up some of the sauce.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Margarita Grilled Chicken

Margarita Grilled Chicken with Mexican Rice

My favorite chain restaurant, hands down, is Bahama Breeze. I love EVERYTHING about that place. Food, atmosphere and drinks that just can't be beat. One of my favorite dishes of theirs is Margarita Grilled Chicken. Although, I go round with the dishes that I get there because they are all so good, frequently I will head back to this one. Again, I prefer using a thinner cut chicken breast with this. I have found it cooks in a more balanced manner.

Although the original recipe calls for honey, I switched the honey out for Agave nectar. Agave nectar is much more authentic to Mexican cooking and is much more softer than honey.

I saw many a recipe for this dish, but this recipe from is my all time favorite and comes closest to Bahama Breeze's version.

So, here we go!:


2/3 cup chopped cilantro
1 T. Adobo seasoning
1/2 cup commercial margarita mix
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 cup olive oil
2 T. Agave nectar (look for it in your grocer's natural foods section)
3 T. triple sec
3 T. blanco tequila
6 thin chicken breasts ( I use Purdue or cut the store breasts in half)


1) Pour all marinade ingredients into a blender and mix until well blended.

2) Put chicken breasts and marinade into a Ziploc bag. Allow to marinade for no less than 5 hours.

3) Prepare grill and grill chicken for 10 minutes each side.

4) Serve with Mexican rice and corn on the cob. Frequently, I will make a Mexican salad to boot. Sheer heaven!!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Easy Baked Foil Tilapia

I love a baked fish. My husband doesn't! He prefers his deep fried with a beer batter coating. Let's just say that isn't going to happen in my kitchen very often and by very often, I mean twice in the 22 years we have been married! As a result, I have had to search and play with recipes which will get him to love the taste of baked fish. This one has received the seal of Pat approval, so if it can work for Pat, I am sure it will work for your fish haters as well! I also love this dish because prep and clean up is so easy.

Although I have included my basic recipe for this, I love baking it in the summer when my veggies are fresh and I can walk out my back porch and pull off some fresh veggies. Other veggies I have thrown in the packet include summer squash, green beans, zucchini, green onions and spinach. I also grab the jalapeno pepper and tomatoes right off the plant. The spiciness of the jalapeno pepper softens greatly and picks up the other flavors of the veggies! I have played with this recipe alot and come up with various versions including a Mexican version. The taste just cannot be beaten.

I serve this with either a white or brown rice. The juices that come off this dish make a superb "topping" for the rice.

Really have fish haters in your home, I have also made this dish with a thin cut chicken breast and also had a wonderful results. I simply love the fish version the chicken was done as a "test" dish.

So, here we go:


4 Tilapia fillets
2 teaspoons Paula Deen House Seasoning Revamped (I have also used my homemade Adobo seasoning)
1.5 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Jalapeno pepper sliced thinly
1 large tomato seeded and chopped
1 lemon sliced thinly


1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees and cut two slices of tinfoil the same length. Place tinfoil on large cookie sheet and spray bottom tinfoil with olive oil cooking spray.

2) Place fish (or chicken) on tinfoil and place a bit of olive oil one each piece of fish. Spread it with your fingers or a brush. Sprinkle liberally with PD house seasoning or Adobo seasoning.

3) Cut up the veggies/lemon you want to put in the packet and top the fish with them. Place veggies on top of the fish and then end with the lemon slices.

4) Seal with the top sheet of tinfoil ensuring that the edges are sealed well.

5) Bake in oven for approximately 20-25 minutes depending on thickness of fish and veggies included.

6) Remove from oven and serve!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Dutch Chocolate Wine Delight Coffee

Side View

Top View

Adapted: Cool Coffee Creamer Secrets-20 Homemade Coffee Creamer Recipes by Jeen van der Meer

As I have said many times, I love it when I am able to find little gem cookbooks on Amazon for free. This is one I stumbled on a while ago and have made several of the creamers out of it. Each has been fantastic. Although a couple of the recipes call for using non-dairy creamers, a product I am not thrilled with, there are a chunk which use other ingredients. The ones that use the non-dairy creamers, I would probably try to alter.

This is one of my favorite drinks out of the book.  I would easily make this drink for entertaining friends and it uses one of my favorite ingredients, ChocoVine Original Wine. I would consider this drink restaurant quality. On a side note, I made this drink with the original recipe and also with ChocoVine Raspberry. Both were delicious!

I have stayed very true to the original recipe.

So, here we go!


2 Tablespoons ChocoVine Original Wine
1/2 teaspoon of Cocoa Powder
1/2 teaspoon Sugar
8 oz HOT Coffee (make sure it is very hot!!)
Whipped topping


1) In a small bowl, combine the ChocoVine, cocoa and sugar. COMBINE THOROUGHLY!!

2) Pour into hot coffee and stir well. It should be really creamy.

3) Top with whipped topping and additional cocoa or sweetened cocoa.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Oven Fried Chicken

I pulled this recipe along time ago from when I was in the mood for some fried chicken, but didn't want to go through the time and hassle of cooking it. Since then, this recipe has become a staple in the Blackburn house. I make the coating ahead of time and split it in two. The original recipe makes way too much. As with all my chicken recipes, I make this with thighs, as they are the perfect size for me, but have made it with whole cut up chicken and bone in/skin on chicken breasts before. Another thing I love about the flexibility of the recipe is that either bone-in/skin on or boneless/skinless chicken can be used. The original recipe calls for boneless/skinless chicken thighs.
Served with mac and cheese and an ear of corn, it becomes the perfect weeknight meal that is simple to boot!

So, here we go!:


8 chicken thighs (can be either bone-in/with skin or boneless/skinless)
2 T. paprika
2 C. flour
1/2 T. Paula Deen's revamped seasoning (see under my favorite seasonings)
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted


1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place melted butter in a 9x13 pan
2) Place paprika, flour and Paula Deen's House Seasoning in Ziploc Bag. If desired, remove one cup of coating and save for another day!!)

3) Coat each piece of chicken and place in pan

4) Bake in oven for 20 minutes. Flip chicken and bake an additional 20 minutes.
First flip!

How easy is that!!!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cola Porkchops

My husband is not a fan of pork chops. I am, so I am always in search of recipes which I think I will like, but will tickle his fancy as well. Stumbling through, I found this one.

I love the simplicity of this recipe. I love whipping it together for a weeknight meal because while it cooks, there are numerous other things that I can be doing. The sauce is 3 ingredients, plus the pork chops. What can be easier?? Another positive to this recipe is that the submitter to Allrecipes said it could just as easily be used with chicken.

So, here we go:


8 oz Ketchup
8 oz Cola drink (I use Coke Zero to cut down on some of the sugar of the recipe)
2 T. Brown Sugar
6 Center Cut Pork Chops


1) Mix Ketchup, Cola and Brown Sugar together in a bowl.

2) Salt and Pepper Pork Chops
3) Pour sauce over chops and bake for 1 hour in a 350 degree oven.

4) Serve with white or brown rice!

Islamorada Punch

I love the Caribbean..absolutely love it! I developed this drink to pay homage to that incredible place and to celebrate its' simpleness and beauty.

On that note, It is mint season in the Blackburn home. As usual, the mint I grew without thinking about the the weed that mint can become if not put into check is taking over my garden. I have had to become creative in how I use it in recipes. One can only have so many mojitos before they become boring or I become drunk. Trust me, I have alot more mint than that!!

So, the recipe concoctions have begun. This is the first recipe out of that marathon...

These are so tasty and go down so easily, it isn't even funny. The mint flavor celebrates the essence of the Cuban mojito, but is much more subtle than the mint taste in a classic mojito. Anyone who has tried these have loved their smoothness. I use Maraschino cherry juice vs. grenadine because I don't like the aftertaste and overpowering sweetness of grenadine. Feel free to use grenadine if you prefer.

So, here we go:


1/2 to 1 lime, cut into 6 pieces ( I like my drinks with heavy lime, adjust to your tastes)
1 T. brown sugar
1 handful of fresh mint leaves
1 ounce cherry juice or grenadine
2 ounces rum
4 ounces Cherry 7-up


1) In large glass or shaker ( I use a mason jar for effect and ease), muddle lime, brown sugar, mint and cherry juice.

2) Add rum, 4 to 5 Maraschino cherries and a very generous helping of ice. Put on lid or shaker top. Shake for 60 seconds. If using a shaker, pour into a large glass.

3) Top with Cherry 7-Up and stir gently. Garnish with an additional lime slice.