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Monday, April 22, 2013

Luau Cupcakes

Every month for my live book club I make several fresh baked goods that allow me to try new stuff for The Pub and Grub without having it sit around my house. I found this recipe on Pinterest (of course) and they went over big to those who tried them.

I love the softness of the pineapple cake and the toasted coconut. I even over toasted my coconut a bit and it was fine. Be sure to use fresh pineapple chunks for your decoration. It really did something versus using the canned chunk that was called for.


1 box vanilla cake mix (ingredients for cake prep)
Approximately 8 oz pineapple juice
fresh pineapple chunks
1 container whipped white frosting
2 cups sweetened coconut
maraschino cherries


1) Prepare cupcakes according to package directions. Replace pineapple juice for the water called for in the recipe. Bake cupcakes according to package. Cool cupcakes completely.

2) Toast coconut in a frying pan on medium low heat. Set aside and allow to cool.

3) Frost cupcakes with a spatula with white frosting.

4) Dip the cupcakes in the toasted coconut.

5) Place a piece of pineapple on top along with a cherry.

Ham and Macaroni Casserole

Source: Allrecipes

Oh my goodness, we LOVED this simple yet hearty recipe! I whipped it up before I headed out for the day and tossed it in the oven when I came home. Partnered with a nice veggie and pre-made salad...dinner was done! I could easily see this recipe as being freezer friendly.  I thought the taste was like a very fancy mac and cheese dish and the Swiss cheese really stood out.

When it first came out of the oven, I thought it looked kind of dry, but it was anything but. The sauce was down below and everything blended well together.

So, here we go!:


6 cups water
4 cups uncooked macaroni
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
2 cups diced cooked ham
2 cups shredded Swiss
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1) Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 2-quart casserole.
2) Bring water to a full rolling boil in a pot.. Cook the macaroni in the boiling water, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes; remove from heat, cover, and let stand until the noodles are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.
3) Stir the macaroni, onion, sour cream, chicken soup, ham, and Swiss cheese together in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs.
4) Bake in the preheated oven until the casserole is bubbling and the bread crumbs have browned, about 40 minutes.

Litton's Favorite Chicken with Mushroom Gravy

Source: The Dinner Doctor by Anne Byrn

I had a new cookbook recommended to me this past week and as usual, opened it to search for new recipes to have my family "guinea pig". This is one that I knew my family would enjoy and they sure did! There is nothing too fancy about the recipe, but I knew it was a good one.

Note: This recipe called for bone in chicken breasts, but I have to say if I was going to do it again I would debone the breasts or use boneless/skinless chicken breasts and simply alter the cooking time.. This chicken has to cook for several hours so the chicken almost falls off the bone. Problem is that when it does this, the bones becomes part of the gravy, which can be dangerous especially for young eaters.

So, here we go!:


4 Bone in chicken breasts
3 T. vegetable oil
1 large onion thinly sliced
2 (4 oz cans) mushrooms
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 soup can milk
1 soup can water
3 T. dry sherry


1) Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Salt/pepper breasts. Heat vegetable oil in a large non-stick pan and brown breasts for 4 minutes on skin side (bone side up). Place in a large dutch oven or lasagna pan.

2) Place onions and mushrooms in same skillet and cook until softened. Add the rest of the ingredients to pan and stir until well blended. Pour over breasts. Cover tightly with foil or cover.

3) Bake breasts in the oven until fork tender (2.5-3 hours). Remove and de-bone chicken. Serve gravy over chicken.

Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs

I found this recipe on The recipe included a recipe for a BBQ sauce but those commenting on the recipe really panned the sauce and suggested either finding another homemade sauce or using a bottled sauce. I ended up just using a bottled sauce. This recipe was so simple though it wasn't even funny. In my crock pot, The ribs only took 5 hours to get to the next level. Also, I love the smokey flavor of charcoal grilling on my ribs, so I added another step of throwing them on the grill for 10 minutes and adding another layer the BBQ sauce.

These ribs were so tender that they literally fell apart in the crock pot. I will never make ribs in another way. I partnered with Tricia Yearwood's Crockpot Mac and Cheese and corn on the cob.

So, here we go!:


4 lbs Pork Baby Back Ribs
Salt/pepper to taste
4 cups BBQ sauce


1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Salt/pepper ribs. Place ribs in oven and brown for 15 minutes each side.

2) Place ribs in a 6 qt crock pot and pour sauce over ribs and turn to coat. Let cook for 5-7 hours.

3) If desired, throw ribs on grill for 10 minutes and slather another layer of sauce on ribs.

How simple is that?!?!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Mexican Cheeseburger Casserole

Holy cow, Batman! I can't remember where I found this recipe, but this dish is SO tasty, yet so simple! To save a bit of time, a better chunk of it can be prepared early and then finished up at dinner to get it on the table quicker. I partnered with my Mexican Rice that really complimented that wonderful, creamy sauce. If I had to describe this dish, I would say that it reminded me of a ground beef burrito without the tortilla. Even the leftovers were tasty!

Note: Use a higher fat ground beef for this recipe. I used a lower fat recipe. When I make this again however; I will use a higher fat meat. I did notice that the lower fat meat had a hard time staying together and binding.

Note 2: Next time I make this, I will serve with garnishes of chopped tomatoes, lettuce,salsa and/or sour cream.

So, here we go:


1.5 lbs ground beef, formed into 6 patties and dredged in flour
3 cups Mexican blend cheddar cheese
2 cans cream of chicken soup
3 cans (4oz each) diced grean chiles


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, fry burgers until only brown and transfer to a prepared 9x13 pan.

2) In a large bowl, combine soup and green chiles. Pour over burgers and top with cheese.

3) Bake in oven for about 40 minutes.

Cranberry Balsamic Pork Tenderloin


Oh my goodness! Looking for something that is a bit more upscale yet easy to make? Cranberry Balsamic Pork Tenderloin is for you! This dish while simple to make was SO tasty, there were no leftovers in the house. The sauce was had a sweet tang to it that was accented with the pop of a whole cranberry. I partnered this with plain couscous that really accented the sauce well. I think a plain mashed potato would do well too.

The only thing I would do in the future is double the recipe. As written, the recipe only serves two. This is not enough in the Blackburn home, as my men love to eat!

So here we go!

1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 (8 -10 ounce) pork tenderloin
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup canned whole berry cranberry sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1) Preheat oven to 450°F.

2) Melt 1/2 tablespoon butter in heavy large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Sear pork on all sides, about 2 minutes.

3) Place skillet with pork in oven. Roast pork until thermometer inserted into center registers 155°F, about 10 minutes.

4) Meanwhile, melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat.

5) Add onion and rosemary; saute until onion softens, about 3 minutes. Add broth, cranberry sauce and vinegar and whisk until cranberry sauce melts, about 2 minutes.

6) Remove pork from oven and transfer pork to work surface.

7) Scrape any juices from large skillet into cranberry mixture. Boil until sauce has reduced enough to coat spoon thickly, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

8) Slice pork and serve with sauce.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Naomi's Perfect Steamed Spinach

This is my all time FAVORITE way to eat fresh spinach. I can eat bags of this stuff by myself and have been since I was a little girl. I partnered this with my Lemon Chicken and the lemon in the spinach really complimented it.

Bags of spinach that you get from the store doesn't go far when it has been steamed so if you are cooking for more than 2 people, add bags of spinach. I have determined that one bag of spinach equals two servings.

So here we go!:

Ingredients for 2 servings:

1 bag fresh spinach
1/4 cup water
2-3 tablespoons butter 
salt/pepper to taste
1/2 lemon fresh squeezed
grated Parmesan cheese to taste, if desired


1) In a large pan WITH A TIGHT FITTING LID, place spinach and water. Allow to cook down under medium heat.

2) Once cooked down, add butter, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Stir to make sure spinach is well covered

3) If desired, top with Parmesan cheese.

Naomi's Perfect Chicken Noodle Soup

This Winter, the Blackburn's saw a whole lotta illness in our home. My homemade chicken soup was a frequent request from my son and husband. I love the simplicity yet downright comfort of this recipe. I can just sit and eat bowls of this stuff because it is just perfect! Just like Grandma's!

The noodles can either be added to the soup mixture or boiled separately and added to the soup. I prefer the later just simply because I don't want the starch off the noodles in my soup.


5 Bone in, Skin on Chicken Breasts
6 qts water
6 qts chicken broth
1 lb bag baby carrot, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
6 chicken bouillon cubes
Salt, pepper as desired
1 bag Amish noodles


1) Place chicken breasts in a large soup pot and cover with water (normally about 6 qts) and boil for about 1 hour. Once cooked, remove breasts from water, remove meat from bones and shred in large chunks.

2) Return the chicken to the pan and discard the bones. Add the next 6 ingredients and allow to simmer for another hour. In the meantime, cook noodles in a separate pan or add to the soup after the hour. 

Lemon Chicken

I love lemon chicken and when I saw this on Annie's Eats via Pinterest, I knew I wanted to give it a try. I am really happy I did. It will be my new go to recipe. The flavors blended perfectly and the juices that came off it, partnered with the rice side beautifully. I served it with my steamed spinach, which is also on Pub and Grub as a side dish. I was lickin' my fingers this dinner was so tasty.

The directions are pretty simple, but do give it the full time to marinade.

On that note, here we go!:



1) Combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper in a large zipper-lock plastic bag.  Seal the bag and shake well to blend.

2) Place the chicken pieces in the bag with the marinade, pressing out excess air and sealing once more.  Refrigerate and let marinate for 2 hours.

3) Preheat the oven to 425˚ F.  Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and transfer to a baking dish, skin-side up, reserving the leftover marinade.  Brush the top of each piece of chicken with melted butter.

4) Bake for 50-55 minutes, until the skins are crispy and well-browned.

5)  Halfway through baking, pour the remaining marinade over the chicken pieces in the baking dish.  Once fully baked, cover loosely with foil and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Pomegranate Tequini

Tinis aren't just for vodka! I found this Garnish with Lemon through Pinterest (of course).  It was a must try for the tequila girl. Now, prepared another way, it would be a Pomegranate margarita, but this was a fun way to try it.

Important on this one, make sure all glassware and shakers are well chilled as this isn't served with ice and it lost its appeal when it warmed up. Also, if desired, rim glassware with sugar. It really made it pop.


3 oz. BLANCO Tequila
1.5 oz. Pomegranate juice
1 oz. Lime Juice
1 oz. triple sec or Grand Marnier


1) If desired, prepare the glass by rubbing edge with lime wedge and the coat in sugar. Return glass to freezer. Pour all ingredients in a martini shaker filled with ice and shake well. Strain contents of shaker into glass and serve immediately.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Bread MACHINE Cinnamon Rolls


Yes, I did say BREAD MACHINE Cinnamon Rolls. The original poster of the recipe was called them Cinnabons. Now, I wouldn't go that far, but dang they were good. The pan went quickly in my house. They took about 3 hours from start to finish.

Now, it is very rare that I copy a recipe verbatim from the original poster. Normally I am putting my own spin on the recipe and everything, but I didn't play with these so I have included the link from A Cowboy's Wife above to ensure a full understanding of the recipe. I LOVED her idea regarding the raising of the dough...simply ingenious!

Dough-2 pound ingredient
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 4 Tbsp. Melted butter
  • 4 Tbsp. water
  • ½ box instant vanilla pudding (3.4 oz box)
  • 4 cups Bread flour
  • 1 Tbsp. Sugar
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • 2 ½ tsp. Bread machine yeast
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 Cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts, opt.
  • ¼ cup raisins, opt
FROSTING 1 (Real Cinnabon Frosting) -This is the recipe I used. I don't know if I would use it again.

  • 4 oz. Cream cheese, room temp. (With walnuts and raisins)
  • ¼ cup butter, softened (this is awesome)
  • 1 ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp. Vanilla
  • 1 ½ tsp. Milk
  • 3 Tbsp. real Maple Syrup
FROSTING 2 (not the real thing, but good)
  • 1 tsp. milk
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1½ Tbsp. milk
1) Place all ingredients in your machine in order recommended by your machine’s manufacturer.

2) Place the pan in your machine.
3) Select the dough cycle and press start.
4) When cycle is finished, remove the dough, knead enough to punch down and roll to 17×10.
5) Combine first 3 filling ingredients and mix well.
6) Heat in microwave 10 seconds. To make spreadable.
7) Spread over rolled out dough with rubber spatula. Get as close to the edges as possible. Sprinkle nuts or raisins over dough, if desired.
8) Starting with widest end, roll the dough into a tight log.

9) Cut into ½ to 1” slices.

10) Place in a lightly greased baking dish with sides.
11) Place in a warm draft free place and allow them to rise until double. (I turn my oven on warm and place them inside. When the temp light goes off, turn off the oven.)
12) Let them rise 20-30 minutes this way. (Take out to heat oven to baking temp)
13) Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.
14) When the rolls are done top with frosting of your choice.

A note: WHEN I make these again, I will use a bigger pan. I thought it was a bit too tight of a fit for a 9x13 pan. 

Glazed Honey Orange Chicken Breasts

Oh my goodness, THIS CHICKEN ROCKS! I was so shocked at how good this was. To say I was a bit apprehensive when I made this dish doesn't cover it, but it will be a regular in the Blackburn house now. This dish was incredibly simple to make...although it did take some prep. The juices that came off this chicken partnered perfectly with couscous, as well as my recipe for Oven Roasted Cauliflower.I can't remember where I found this recipe, but a big THANK YOU to the original poster of it!

So, here we go:


4 skin on/bone in chicken breasts, salt and peppered
1 T. vegetable oil
1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate thawed
4 T. honey


1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2) Heat oil in pan and sear chicken skin side only for 5 minutes. Place in a 9X13 pan liberally sprayed with cooking spray.

3) While the chicken is cooking, make the glaze by placing the orange juice and honey in a small pan. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly and then remove from heat.

4) Pour glaze over chicken and turn each piece of chicken in the glaze. Place in oven and bake for one hour and 15 minutes, skin side up and brushing with glaze every 15 minutes. Internal temperature should be 170 degrees. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

A Year in Food & Beer: Recipes and Beer Pairing for Every Season by Emily Baime & Darin Michaels

Book: A Year in Food & Beer: Recipes and Beer Pairing for Every Season
Author: Emily Baime & Darin Michaels
Narrator (if applicable):n/a

Release date (if applicable): May 16, 2013

Synopsis: The authors lay out differences in microbrewed beers and their flavors/colors. Recipes are given for getting the most out of each beer's uniqueness. Then, learn how to host a beer tasting party of your own!
My rating: 4.5 Stars
My opinion: Alright, I have to say that this was a pretty cool cookbook. I am familiar with wine pairings and so much is written on them, but not a whole lot on beer pairings or that all beers aren't Miller light or Budweiser. 

I am going to lay out in bullet points what I like and didn't like about this book:

  • Beer categories are laid out beautifully with rich, detailed descriptions about color and taste
  • The authors give very clear instruction to the storing and serving of beers right down to the glassware.
  • For the most part the recipes were incredibly tasty looking
  • Gave step by step instructions for hosting a beer party
  • Recipes were not well laid out. Instead of using step by step instructions, the authors used paragraph format, which are more difficult to follow in a kitchen setting.
  • Photos looked amateurish for the book print quality
  • Because this book was so detailed and targeted towards an audience new to beer pairings, it would have helped to have photos of the beers and ingredients next to the descriptions rather than in inserts in the middle of the book.  
Source: Netgalley for Altamira Press
Would I recommend? : Yes, I already have.
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Washington Post Cookbook: Readers' Favorite Recipes by Bonne S. Benwick


Book: The Washington Post Cookbook: Readers' Favorite Recipes
Author: Bonnie S. Berwick
Narrator (if applicable): N/A

Release date (if applicable): April 15, 2013

Synopsis: A collection of recipes from The Washington Post. Courses include appetizers, main dishes, side dishes and desert. Recipes were even in the book for breakfasts, holidays and also vegetarian selections. How about my favorite selection...drinks? Yep, those are in there too!

Some of my favorite recipes include:

  • 1789 Pear Salad
  • Lemon Rice with Pine Nuts
  • Risotto with Fresh Greens and Basil
  • Arroz Veracruzano
  • Brown Sugar and Beer Glazed Beef
  • Misery Meatloaf
  • Texas Chicken Fried Steak with Gravy
  • Slow Cooked South Carolina Pulled Pork
  • Hoisin Hens
  • Stephanie's Fried Chicken
  • Best Brussel Sprouts Ever!
  • Not Derby Pie

Among others!

My rating: 4 Stars
My opinion: My first impression of this cookbook was definitely not my last. When I first had downloaded the book, I thought nice cookbook but for entertainment only. When I ended the book I was like "dang...tons and tons of recipes that I could make for family meals!" 

Recipes were laid out for easy instruction. I was also impressed that the majority of the recipes while unusual seemed simple to prepare. Pictures of completed product were included for the majority of the dishes. 
Source:  Netgalley for Time Capsule Press, LLC   
Would I recommend? : Absolutely, it was a fun cookbook!
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone