Cookbook Reviews

Pub and Grub Forum Logo

Pub and Grub Forum Logo

Friday, September 28, 2012

Brown Sugar Smokies with Brown Sugar Sauce

This is the YUMMY sauce and
These are the Smokies!!


These are must haves in the Blackburn home. These bad boys are so simple to make they are unbelievable. Partner with the sauce and you have a great entertainment appetizer. 

Basically, the Brown Sugar Smokies are bacon wrapped mini sausages that are wrapped in a quarter slice of bacon and coated with brown sugar. The sauce also has 3 simple ingredients of mayo, brown sugar and bottled bbq sauce. Yep, it really is that simple!

So, here we go!:



1 pound bacon
1 (16 ounce) package little smokie sausages
1 cup brown sugar, or to taste
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2) Cut bacon into thirds and wrap each strip around a little sausage.
3) Place the wrapped sausages on wooden skewers, several to a skewer.
4) Arrange the skewers on a baking sheet and sprinkle them liberally with brown sugar.
5) Bake about 30 minutes or until bacon is crisp and the brown sugar melted.



1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup barbeque sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1) Stir together mayonnaise, barbeque sauce, and brown sugar in a small bowl until the brown sugar has dissolved. Chill while smokies bake!

Fire Crackers

These are the easiest and most addictive little crackers I have EVER made. I rue the day I came across this recipe on Pinterest because they are now made frequently in the Blackburn household. A collection of Cheese-its, baby saltines and Mini Club crackers coated with a ranch, red pepper flavoring, we constantly find ourselves grabbing handfuls of them.
On a side note, be sure to let these crackers sit for a minimum of 24 hours before serving them. The more they can soak up the oil. These bad boys are so awesome that they are addictin'!
So, here we go:
1/2 Box Cheese-its
1/2 Box Mini Saltines
1/2 Box Mini Club Crackers
1 Package dry Hidden Valley Ranch dressing
2 T. CRUSHED Red Pepper
1 Cup Canola Oil
1) Combine crackers in a large bowl.
2) Complete ranch dressing, oil and pepper in a second smaller bowl. Pour over crackers and stir to coat.
3) Place in a gallon sized Ziploc bag and turn periodically for a 24 hour period.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Cookies for Grown-ups by Kelly Cooper

Book: Cookies for Grown-up

Author: Kelly Cooper

Release date (if applicable): November 19, 2012 (hint, hint...just in time for holiday entertaining!)

Synopsis: Who says cookies are for kids? These recipes are for some of the most unusual ADULT cookies I have ever seen. Not only made of sweet stuff only, some of these recipes used peppers, cheeses, veggies and spices. To boot, this unusual cookbook gives readers "partnering" beverage ideas , including alcoholic drinks, to serve with these little gems.

My rating: 5 Stars

My opinion: Looking for something different for entertainment ideas? This cookbook is it! These were some of the most unusual cookie recipes that I have ever seen. These aren't going to be cookies most of the young in's are going to like they are something just for the adults!

I loved the drink partnering ideas, as well. For themed dinners, by identifying the drink or the wonderful "sub topic" bakers can easily identify cookies to fit their themes.

To show just how unusual this modern cookie cookbook is, there are "Quick Response" Codes for use with a smart phone.

Special note: Looking for more recipes? Don't miss the recipes on the author's site ( or even the publisher's site ( I pulled some more pretty awesome recipes from both sites!

Source:  Netgalley for Publisher

Would I recommend? : Not only would I recommend, it is going in my Amazon basket!

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone


Friday, September 21, 2012

Lemon Spaghetti

Lemon Spaghetti partnered with Blackened Tilapia

I found a version of this recipe on It will be a staple in my house, plus will be part of the recipes for "So Easy Even Bette can cook it!" The freshness of the lemon blends so well with the olive oil and Parmesan cheese. Partnered with Blackened Tilapia (recipe coming), it was a perfect match!

So, here we go:


1 pound spaghetti
2/3 cup olive oil
2/3 grated Parmesan
1/2 cup FRESH lemon juice (should be from 3 lemons)
Salt and Pepper


1) Cook spaghetti according to package directions

2) While spaghetti is cooking, combine the next 3 ingredients.

3) Drain spaghetti. While HOT, pour the liquid over the spaghetti and toss until all the spaghetti is covered.

4) Salt and Pepper as desired. Serve!

Drunken Pork Chops

adapted by: Siggy Spice Blogspot

I have an author buddy by the name of Bette Lee Crosby, who you can read all about in my book blog, A Book and A Review. Well, Bette can write a mean book, but one of the big jokes between us is that Bette can't boil water, much to the dismay of her husband, Dick! Every Wednesday on her website Words, Wit and Wisdom (Midweek Mixers), Bette features a recipe from The Pub and Grub Forum to share with her readers. I contacted Bette to see if she would be offended if October's theme was "Recipes so simple even Bette can make them!" Traditional to Bette's wonderful sense of humor, she jumped at it! So, the next set of recipes will be incredibly simple (just for Bette and Dick), yet wonderfully tasty!

These pork chops were WONDERFUL! Their flavor is purely dependent upon the choice of beer. Want a sweeter sauce, use a pale ale or draft beer. Want a "crisper" taste, use a darker brew, such as an ale or a stout. One of the reviewers of the recipe did state that he used Guinness Stout and it didn't work. He felt that there was way too much bitter aftertaste. Now, my suggestion is if a lighter beer is used, partner it with rice. Choosing a darker beer? Mashed or smashed potatoes partner perfectly!

So, here we go!


6 Pork chops, 1 inch thick, bone in or boneless, your choice!
Salt and pepper to taste
1 (12 oz) bottle beer, your choice see note above
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup ketchup
1 T. Cornstarch mixed into 1/4 c. water


1) Salt and pepper pork chops. Spray a pan with cooking spray and then add 2 T. of olive oil. Heat until glistening.

2) Brown chops on both sides for 4 minutes each.
3) While chops are browning, combine beer, brown sugar and ketchup.
4) Pour this mixture over brown chops and cover. Allow to simmer for 35 minutes.
5) When done, remove chops from sauce and place in warm oven.
6) Pour cornstarch mixture into sauce and turn to a high boil, stirring constantly until sauce is thickened.
7) Place a pork chop on a bed of either rice or mashed potatoes and ladle sauce over both.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Heroin Chicken Wings

OK, I have to admit...I did not like these wings, but my husband and son LOVED them. In fact, they ate all 20 wings I made for dinner one night. Rolled in butter and then a parmesan cheese mixture, they bake up with a crispy coating


24 chicken wing pieces 
2 cups grated parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons dried parsley
2 tablespoons dried oregano leaves
3 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt (can use less if desired. I omitted)
1 teaspoon pepper
2/3 cup butter
1) Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2) Combine the grated cheese and the seasonings.
3) Line a shallow baking pan with foil. Liberally spray tinfoil with cookin spray (Do not omit this step otherwise, the coating bakes into the pan!).
4) Melt the butter in a shallow bowl or pan.
5) Dip each piece of
6) Arrange in the foil lined pan.
7) Bake for 30-45 minutes at 350°F.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cuban Spiced Pork Tenderloin


OK, this was some tasty pork. I came across this recipe on Pinterest and KNEW I needed to make it for my family. The pork was tender, tasty and partnered with a margarita and the soffrito rice, a nice Mexican meal!

My only criticism was that, for me, it was a bit salty for me. Now, I am not sure how to correct that since the saltiness came from the Montreal Steak Seasoning. I might decrease the amount of MSS, but probably not. Make sure your tenderloin is the right size!

So here we go:


2 pork tenderloins totalling 2.5 lbs
2 t. jarred chopped garlic
8 bay leaves
2 t. ground coriander
1 T. ground cumin
2 T. Montreal Steak Seasoning
Olive Oil


1) Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut 4 slits into each loin and stuff garlic into each slit.

2) Combine next 4 ingredients crushing the bay leaves.

3) Rub tenderloins with olive oil and then with the spice mixture.

4) Roast for roughly 30 minutes. Allow to rest for 5 minutes and then cut into 1/2 inch slices. Partner with Soffrito Rice.

Soffrito Rice


I have made my Mexican rice recipe so many times that I have been quickly getting tired of it. I stumbled upon this while doing my usual Pinterest search. I partnered it with a WONDERFUL Cuban Spiced Pork Tenderloin. This dish has a smokey bacon and chicken flavor to it. Be sure to add the turmeric to it to give it that beautiful color. Since I originally made it, I have made it numerous times and has quickly replace the Mexican recipe dish as my family's favorite rice side dish.

So, here we go:


1 T. Olive Oil
3 bacon slices chopped
1 small white or yellow onion chopped
1 small green pepper chopped
2 3/4 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups white rice
1/2 t. turmeric


Chopped cilantro
Chopped green onions


1) Heat Olive Oil in a nonstick pan. Add bacon, onion and pepper and cook until softened and bacon is cooked, but not crisp.

2) Add chicken broth, rice and turmeric. Stir.

3) Turn to simmer and cook for roughly 30 minutes. Add more chicken broth 1/3 cup at a time until rice is soft and fluffy. Serve and top with chopped cilantro and green onion.

A Taste of the French Riviera Tini

Slightly adapted from Toxicology 101

In the original version from Toxicology 101, this drink is actually a cocktail and not a tini. When I made it, I wasn't that impressed with how it presented and thought it would do much better as a tini. Those who are my drink tasters agreed! Just look at that beautiful foam!! It was as good tasting as it was beautiful looking!

So, here we go


1.5 oz Pear Vodka (Grey Goose makes a wonderful one)
3 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Cranberry Juice


1) In a CHILLED metal shaker, fill half way with ice.
2) Pour in all liquids and shake for no less than 60 seconds
3) Pour into a CHILLED tini glass and garnish with pineapple wedge!

Chicken Enchilada Pasta

adapted from: The Kitchen Life of a Navy Wife (Orig. Pearls, Handcuffs and Happy Hour)

I have recently come across a blogger whom I admire from afar (and not in a creepy sort of way although I know that line comes off sounding that way!). Not only does Mercedes serve our country everyday by taking care of her Naval Officer hubby, to boot, she has some mighty awesome recipes on her site (The Kitchen Life of a Navy Wife ) When I came across this one, the pasta aspect kind of scared me, but my love of Mexican food wouldn't let me ignore it. I served it with a pitcher of my Agave Nectar Margaritas (Agave Nectar Margaritas ) and I had NO LEFTOVERS! This recipe is SO tasty. Now, I think I could have gotten away with parboiling some bone in chicken breasts, instead of purchasing a rotisserie chicken and all would have been copacetic. When I make this recipe again, that is what I will do.

So here we go:


1 Rotisserie Chicken or 3 parboiled bone in chicken breasts, shredded
2 T. Olive Oil
1 t. jarred garlic or 2 garlic cloves chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 RED pepper diced
1 (4oz) can diced green chiles
1/2 t. salt
2 t. chili powder
1 t. cumin
1 cans GREEN chili enchilada sauce (10 oz each)
2/3 cups Red Enchilada Sauce
2 cups Cojack cheese shredded
1 cup sour cream
16 oz Penne pasta


1) Heat olive oil in a deep skillet and cook onions for 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper and cook for another 3-5 minutes.
2)  Add cooked chicken, green chiles, cumin, chili powder, salt, and enchilada sauces. Let sauce simmer for about 8-10 minutes.
3) Boil pasta according to package. Drain and set aside.
4) Add cheese and stir until the cheese is melted and heated through. 
6) Slowly add the sour cream. Stir until sour cream is well mixed and heated through. DON'T LET MIXTURE BOIL, AS IT CAN CURDLE!!!
7) Add Pasta to the skillet with the cheese sauce; mix well. Serve and garnish with desired toppings.
Here is a list of toppings from Mercedes' site:
Green Onions
Black Olives
Sour Cream
And may I add:
Chopped onions (not green)
Extra cheese
This dish takes a bit more time, but it is SO worth it. I even find it ENTERTAINMENT WORTHY!
Green Onions
Black Olives
Sour Cream
Green Onions
Black Olives
Sour Cream

Baked Chicken Thighs


OK, want to know the Blackburn's FAVORITE chicken thigh recipe? Here it is. The flavors of this chicken are spectacular. There is a tartness from the lemon juice that blends with the garlic and other spices to really produce an almost Mediterranean flare. Served over a rice bed which soaks up the juices, we can never have just one thigh. Between dinner, snacks and lunches the next day, our little family makes these lil gems disappear! I make this chicken about once a month in my home and my family never complains.


1 c. butter
12 chicken thighs
1 c. flour
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. paprika
1 recipe sauce


1 sm. clove garlic, chopped or 1/2 t. jarred garlic
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. salad oil
1/2 c. lemon juice
3 tbsp. onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. thyme

Directions Sauce:

1) Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and allow to sit for several hours

Directions Chicken:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a Ziploc bag, blend dry ingredients

2) Melt butter in a large skillet

3) Shake thighs in flour mixture and place in hot skillet. Brown on both sides for about 4 minutes per side. If needed, do in batches. Placing in a large baking dish.

4) Pour sauce over chicken and place in oven. Cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes to one hour, removing cover for last 15 minutes of baking. Internal chicken temperature should be 180 degrees. Serve over rice with a nice veggie! Yummers!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Jacques Pepin New Complete Techniques

Book: Jacques Pepin New Techniques Cookbook

Author: Jacques Pepin

Release date (if applicable): November 1, 2012

Synopsis: A step by step guide for meat butchering, fish, vegetable, bread and baking.

My rating: 2 stars

My opinion: IMPORTANT NOTE: I am writing this review from the perspective of unprofessional, home based cooks/bakers. On that note, know anyone who is studying the culinary arts and/or is a professional chef where they are working with slabs of meat, this book is a must purchase with its' layout.

I found for the meat butchering in the US today already butchered meat is readily accessible and most cooks don't need to butcher their own meat. Second, the meat that was depicted in this book is very rare for US cooks. I found the same to be the same with the vegetable recipes. Some of the vegetables might even be difficult for cooks to find.

One other thing that bothered me regarding this cookbook was that it was a step by step instruction guide yet I thought the pictures were grainy and of low quality. I specifically kept this book on my computer to review it for this purpose of viewing the photos. Details could be identified, but I felt the photos for the purpose of the book could have been crisper.

On that note and the reason why this book received 2 stars instead of a lower rating, is the bread and dessert recipes in this book. They were fantastic and ones I am looking forward to making.

Source: Netgalley for publisher

Would I recommend? : See note above

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone