Saturday, July 30, 2011

Cucumber and Feta Salad

Cucumber and Feta Salad

Before I get into the recipe tonight, I must digress.  I received exciting news this week that I was selected as a Grand Prize Winner in the "Country Woman" magazine contest.  I'll be featured in an early spring issue.  AND, my hubby, Dan, made the semi-finals of the Beringer Great Steak Challenge!  My husband is learning how to cook.  He's always been great at seafood and baking.  Now he's mastered sauces and steak rubs like you wouldn't believe.  Please join me in congratulating Dan!

Now on to the blog...

There are nights when even the most accomplished home cook takes some store-bought help.  Today was a busy day.  I opted to open a jar of Vodka Sauce and make rigatoni. 

Even on nights like this, your side dish doesn’t have to fall flat.  Sometimes the simplest sides can turn out amazing.  Here is one of my favorite salads for pairing with pasta.

This recipe serves 2, but you can double or triple it.

For the Salad:

1 large Cucumber, peeled and sliced
1/8 cup Diced Sweet Onion
2 ounces crumbled Feta Cheese with Herbs
7 (for good luck) Greek Olives, pitted and chopped

For the Dressing:

Juice of one half large Lemon
Splash or two of Red Wine Vinegar
1/8 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ tablespoon dried Oregano
 teaspoon Sugar
Garlic Salt, to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Combine all salad ingredients into a salad bowl. 

Add Lemon and vinegar to a mixing bowl.  Slowly whisk in the olive oil.  Add remaining ingredients for the dressing and stir.

Pour dressing over salad and mix well. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Chicken Fried Steak

Chicken Fried Steak

I try to make everything healthier.  Even this dish!  I think I figured out a way to cut calories. 

1 pound Cubed Round Steak, cut into four pieces
1/8 cup Extra Tenderizing Worcestershire Sauce
Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, to taste
1 cup Bisquick
1 large Egg, beaten
One teaspoon Hot Sauce
1/8 cup 2% Milk
1 cup Italian Breadcrumbs
4 Tablespoons Canola Oil
Freshly Chopped Parsley for Garnish

Drench cube steak in Worcestershire and sprinkle with seasoned salt.  Cover and refrigerate at least four hours; longer if you can.

In three separate bowls, place Bisquick, egg with hot sauce and milk, and breadcrumbs.  Dip each piece of cubed steak in the Bisquick, egg mixture and breadcrumbs.

Using a non-stick pan, preheat oil for five minutes until it bubbles once you add a few drops of water to the pan with the oil.

Add two steaks at a time.  Brown on both sides, about seven minutes total.  Repeat for other two steaks.

Tent under tin  foil until ready to serve.  Top with Fresh parsley.  

Note. I have had good country gravy and bad.  The bad tastes like flour.  I use this product to ensure the outcome.* 

*Not a paid endorsement.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Seafood Stuffed Flounder in a Dijon Mustard-Caper Sauce with Herb and Mushroom Brown Rice Pilaf

Seafood Stuffed Flounder
in a Dijon Mustard-Caper Sauce
with Herb and Mushroom Brown Rice Pilaf

I have to say, this is one of the best fish dishes I’ve ever made!  It is so flavorful. Even though I loathe turning on the oven in the summer months, this cooks so quickly so you won’t heat up the house .  This is a great dish all year ‘round.

Serves Two (2), but you know the drill (double or tripe as you desire).  Don’t be put off by the list of ingredients.  This is definitely a 30-Minute Meal!  You will note the similar ingredients in all three components of this dish.


For the Seafood Stuffed Flounder:

2 Flounder Fillets
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Butter, divided
2 tablespoons diced Sweet Onion
4 ounces large Shrimp, peeled, deveined and sliced into thirds
4 ounces Bay Scallops or Chopped Sea Scallops
Old Bay Seasoning, to taste
Garlic Powder, to taste
½ cup  Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs*
1 egg, beaten
½ tablespoon Lemon Juice
½ tablespoon finely chopped Fresh Herbs; suggest Basil, Oregano and Mint
Splash of dry White Wine
Freshly Chopped Parsley, optional
Lemon Slices and Wedges, optional

For the Herb and Mushroom Brown Rice Pilaf:

1 teaspoon of Olive Oil
½ tablespoon of Butter
¼ cup sliced Baby Bella Mushrooms
½ teaspoon dried Thyme
1 ½ cup Chicken Broth
½ cup quick cooking Brown Rice
2 tablespoons freshly chopped Herbs, divided (suggest Mint, Basil and Oregano)
Pinch of Kosher Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Handful of Frozen Peas
Splash of Dry White Wine

For the Dijon Mustard-Caper Sauce:

¼ teaspoon Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 tablespoon Philadelphia Brand® Savory Garlic Cooking Crème
1 teaspoon Capers, rinsed and drained
¼ cup water
Splash of White Wine
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons chopped Parsley (optional)

To make the stuffed Flounder:  Preheat oven to 350°F.

Heat oil and butter in nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook for three minutes. 

Sprinkle some of the Old Bay and the Garlic Powder onto the shrimp and scallops. Add the shrimp and scallops to the pan with the onion and cook for two minutes (leaving fish opaque).

Remove mixture to a mixing bowl.  Add breadcrumbs*.

*Note:  For this step, I suggest leaving 2 thin sliced whole wheat bread slices out all night. Cut the crusts off, and then crumble the bread into the mixing bowl followed by the crust.  I like to use the crust (some people don’t). I believe it adds body to this stuffing.

Beat one large egg and add it to the mixture in the bowl.  Add lemon juice and herbs.  At this point, the stuffing should be moist.  You don’t want it to dry out while baking.

Sprinkle Flounder fillet with Old Bay, to taste, on both sides. 

Place half of the stuffing in the middle of the fillet and roll up.  Secure with toothpick.  You can sprinkle with more Old Bay, if desired, and add a slice of lemon on top.  Hit it with a spalsh of white wine before baking.

Bake at 350° for  20 Minutes.

To Make the Rice:

Add olive oil and butter to hot pan.  Sauté mushrooms for three minutes.  Add Thyme.

Add chicken broth, quick cooking rice, herbs, salt and pepper, peas, wine and mushrooms (including oil), to pan.  Bring to boil and reduce to simmer, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.

For the Sauce:

Whisk all ingredients together except for parsley.  Bring to boil and reduce to simmer, about three-to-five minutes. 

Serve immediately over fish.

Note:  I am doing wine pairings with my recipes for the next two weeks.  If you like this let me know and I’ll continue it when it is a meal that calls for wine.  ;.)

Tonight’s wine Pairing is Talus Collection 2008 Pinot Grigio.  It’s bright fruit flavors compliment the stuffed flounder with Dijon. I get a distinct hint of citrus and spices mixed with grapey grape.

I found this gem on sale.  I am going to write to the winemaker to see if this is the last of this vintage or if I can get more!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Easy Chicken Cacciatore

I love Chicken Cacciatore.  There are so many different versions of this dish.   

Easy Chicken Cacciatore

In case you're not familiar with the history of this classic, Cacciatore means "hunter" in Italian.  "Alla Cacciatore" means "hunter-style" chicken.  In Italy, it is also often prepared with rabbit.

In Northern Italy, white wine in added.  In Southern Italy cooks use red wine.  So, I guess my version would be considered more Southern Italy.   I used peppers grown right from my own patio garden. 

At any rate, it is delicioso; a meal and wine that Tony Soprano and the boys would truly enjoy.  I use chicken leg quarters because they are economical and rustic, just like this dish.

Cook’s Notes: 

I recommend cooking this chicken with the skin on. It keeps the chicken juicy and moist.  You need that little bit of fat from the skin to flavor the sauce.  You can certainly remove the skin before you eat if you like, or splurge and eat it like I do. No pasta is needed with this recipe so you’re already cutting calories there. 

This recipe is for two, but as always, you can double or triple it.

3 tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
2 Chicken Leg Quarters, cleaned and trimmed of excess fat
Sea Salt, to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
1 cup sliced Bell Peppers (any color)
1 medium Sweet Onion, sliced
1 cup sliced Baby Bella Mushrooms
1/2 tablespoon Butter
¼ cup Chianti wine
1 cup Diced Tomato with Garlic and Onion
1 cup of good quality store-bought Marinara Sauce (Suggest Gia Russa*)
1 cup Chicken Broth
½  tablespoon Italian Seasoning
2 dried Bay Leaves
2 tablespoons Philadelphia Brand Savory Garlic Cooking Creme
6 torn Basil Leaves
Grated Parmesan and Romano Cheese, for passing at the table

Add two tablespoons of the olive oil to hot pan.  Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and brown on both sides.**  Remove chicken from pan and keep warm.

Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  Add peppers, onions and mushrooms and cook for three minutes.  Add butter and cook vegetables until softened and mushrooms begin to brown.

Add wine and deglaze, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add tomatoes, Marinara sauce and broth.  Stir in Italian Seasoning.  Add Bay Leaves. 

Return chicken to pan.  (Braising liqued should come about half way up the chicken once returned to the pan). 

Bring to boil and reduce to simmer.  Cover and continue to cook for 45 minutes until chicken is falling off of the bone.  Stir occasionally while simmering.  I like to turn the chicken over about half way through the braising process.

Remove chicken.  Plate and keep warm. 

Return sauce to boil and reduce for about five-to-ten minutes, until sauce thickens, stirring frequently. 

Turn heat off and stir in cooking creme.

Top chicken with a little of the sauce, torn basil leaves and grated cheese. 
Serve with a side of the sauce.  Serve with steamed broccoli.

Tonight’s wine pairing: Bolla 2009 Chianti.
(only $8.99/bottle)

The fresh plum, black-cherry and raspberry flavors pair wonderfully with this savory Italian favorite. 

Don’t drink wine? 
Try this dish with Mint Iced Tea! 

*Not a paid endorsement.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Garlic Spaghetti with Chicken Sausage, Spinach, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Feta

Garlic Spaghetti with Chicken Sausage,
Spinach, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Feta

Quick post as the cook needs to hit the sack early tonight.   An easy and quick recipe requires few words.  I know you are going to love this one!

I love one plate meals in the summer.  You don't even have to think about making any sides. 

Makes 4 servings.

Here's what you will need -

Cooking Spray for the grill
1 package Al Fresco Sun Dried Tomato Chicken Sausage*
1/2 lb. Low Carb or Whole Grain Spaghetti
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 bag of pre-washed Spinach
1/4 teaspoon ground Nutmeg
A few pinches of Crushed Red Pepper
1/4 cup sliced Sun Dried Tomatoes packed in Oil
1/4 cup Philadelphia Brand Savory Garlic Cooking Creme*
1 ladle Starchy Cooking Water from Pasta
Crumbled Feta Cheese for Topping

Spray grill with cooking spray and preheat to 350 degrees. 

Chicken sausage is pre-cooked, so you only need to grill it for about seven minutes. 

While sausage is grilling, cook pasta per package directions.

Saute spinach in olive oil.  Add nutmeg, crushed red pepper and sun dried tomatoes. 

Add cooked pasta to the spinach.  Add cooking creme and mix well.  Add starchy cooking water.

Plate spaghetti. 

Slice one sausage on each serving. 

Top with feta cheese. 

That's it. 

*Not a paid endorsement an no product was supplied to blogger.  Noting product due to the fact that products are unique and using others might vary the outcome of the recipe.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Key West Shrimp Risotto

Key West Shrimp Risotto
Oh my gosh.  If you love Shrimp and Risotto, and you also love over the top citrus flavors of lemon and lime, you are going to love this dish!  This Risotto is made with Corona Beer!  Yeah...

Baby Lime on our tree this past Spring

We grow limes in our back yard.  I picked some of those this evening to use in this dish.

I used Philly Cooking Creme (Savory Garlic) again tonight.  That gives this dish an extra layer of creaminess and a savory tang. 

I normally pull out a special pan when I make Risotto.  Tonight I got a little lazy so I made it in my nonstick skillet.  You know what?  I noticed the starchiness pulled out much more quickly in this pan.  Maybe I'm on to something? 


3 cups Light or Fat Free Chicken Broth1 pound large Shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon Blackend Seasoning
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
2 tablespoons Butter
4 Green Onions, sliced
12 ounces All Natural or Organic Arborio Rice
12 ounces Corona Beer
Juice of one large Lime
Juice of one medium Lemon
1/4 cup Grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon Turmeric
Smoked Paprika, to taste (optional)

Heat chicken broth over low heat until warmed.

Sprinkle shrimp with blackened seasoning. 

Add oil to pan and melt butter.  Add white and light green parts of green onion along with shrimp.  Saute for three minutes.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Add rice.  "Brown" for three minutes - when I say, "brown," I mean lightly.  Do not burn.

Add 1/2 of the beer and 1/2 of the lemon and lime juice.  Cook over a low heat until all of the liquid is absorbed. 

Add the other 1/2 of the beer and the other half of the lemon and lime juice.  Cook over low heat until all of the liquid is absorbed.

Add 2 ladles of the chicken broth.  Stir frequently until all liquid is absorbed.  Repeat until all of the chicken broth is used up; about 20 minutes.

Add Parmesan and Turmeric. 

Top Risotto with cooked shrimp, the green scallions and paprika if desired.

Enjoy this dish with a cold Corona Light Beer with a lime.  If you prefer a glass of wine, try the Fish Eye 2010 South Easter Savignon Blanc. (Find it for $6.00 a bottle).  It's crisp and refreshing, with a hint of melon and grapefruit.  It showcases perfectly with this casual citrus-filled dish.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Grilled Tuna with Saucy White Beans topped with Rosemary Olive Tapenade and Feta Cheese

Grilled Tuna with Saucy White Beans
topped with Rosemary Olive Tapenade and Feta Cheese

Sounds fancy and bit  “gourmet, right?”  This dish looks impressive and it tastes like something you’d get at a pricey restaurant, but it’s so easy to make.  This is a 30-Minute Meal that you’d be proud to serve to your guests.

Note:  I used up the remaining sauce from the jar I opened last night to make the delicious Moussaka.  I selected grill seasoning for chicken to season the tuna as it is milder and often contains herbs which compliment the tuna. 

Serves 4.

2   6 ounce Tuna Steaks
Drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Grill Seasoning for Chicken, to taste
1  15 – 16 ounce can Cannellini Beans
16 ounces Red Pasta Sauce with Sweet Peppers (suggest Barilla Calebrese)
2 tablespoons Grated Parmesan and Romano Cheese
Crushed Red Pepper, to taste

For the Rosemary Olive Tapenade:

10 large Green Queen Olives Stuffed with Pimento, chopped
1 teaspoon Capers
1 teaspoon dried Rosemary
1/8 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Crumbled Feta Cheese
Cooking Spray for Grill

Spray Grill with cooking spray.  Preheat grill to 300 degrees.

Drizzle Tuna Steaks with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and sprinkle with grill seasoning, patting the seasoning in the flesh of the fish.

In a medium sauce pan, add beans, sauce, and grated cheese and crushed red pepper.  Bring to boil and reduce to simmer, about five minutes.

Grill fish 2 – 3 minutes each side; longer if you want it more well done.

Top a dollop of beans with fish.  Top that off with the olive mixture and crumbled feta.

Suggestion:  Serve with sautéed spinach with garlic.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Eggplant and Lamb Moussaka (Baked on the Grill)

Eggplant and Lamb Moussaka

Eggplant is a summertime staple in our house.  We buy it at our local farmer’s market on Sunday afternoon. 

Hubby Dan loves Eggplant dipped into Mrs. T’s Spicy Bloody Mary Mix and dredged in all purpose flour.  Then we fry it in combination of light olive oil and canola oil  – 2 minutes each side.   We pat off the excess oil and once we plate them, we hit them with a little fine sea salt.  We serve it with a ranch dip spiked with your favorite hot sauce.  Yum!  (This is your bonus recipe tonight).

We try not to fry too food much in this household.   I had eggplant that I wanted to use up, and I also had ground lamb in the freezer.  I have an abundance of oregano and fresh mint growing in my patio herb garden so I said to myself, “Self, why not make Moussaka tonight?  

This is a summertime casserole that you can bake on the grill.  Yes, I said on the grill.   Remember - a grill is an outside broiler.  You only need to use the oven for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees to pre-roast the eggplant.  If you read this blog, you know how I feel about using the oven in the summer.

The flavors in my Moussaka will make you want to shout “Opa!” and break out the Ouzo.  The addition of the little bit of cooking cream, sweet red pepper and pepper tomato sauce, I am certain is not traditional. I think you will like my garlicky and savory version of this classic Greek delight.  Lots of good veggies (Power Foods) in this meal!

Serves 4.

For this recipe, you will need –

To Prepare the Eggplant:

18 slices of Eggplant (peeled and thinly sliced)
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Butter flavored cooking spray
Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

For the Lamb Filling:

Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 pound Ground Lamb
1 small sweet Onion, diced
2 tablespoons chopped Red Bell Pepper
1 Plum Tomato, chopped
1 cup Prepared Spaghetti Sauce with Sweet Peppers (suggest Barilla ® Calabrese)
¼ cup Philadelphia Brand® Savory Garlic Cooking Crème
1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
1/4 of Dry Red Table Wine
Sea Salt, to taste
Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste
Pinch or two of Ground Cinnamon

Béchamel Sauce:

4 tablespoons Butter
2 tablespoons Flour
3/4 Cup of 2% Milk
¼ teaspoon Nutmeg
Sea Salt, to taste
White Pepper, to taste
1/4 cup Grated Parmesan and Romano Cheese


Cooking Spray
1 tablespoon Fresh Oregano, stemmed and chopped
1 tablespoon Fresh Chopped Mint
Fresh chopped Parsley (optional)
¼ cup Crumbled Feta Cheese

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.

Peel purple skin from eggplants and slice thin. 

Salt and pepper both sides and place on cooking sheet sprayed with butter flavored cooking spray. 

Drizzle with Olive Oil.   Bake for 15 minutes.  Set aside until cool to touch.  Turn the oven off!  That’s all you’re going to need it.

Brown lamb in Olive Oil.  Add onion and chopped tomato.  Cook for three minutes.

Add remaining ingredients for the lamb.  Stir well to mix the cooking cream and the red sauce.  Bring to boil and reduce to simmer, about five minutes until heated through.

In a tin foil loaf play sprayed with cooking spray, layer 3 slices of eggplant and meat until all are used up (no meat on top of the last layer).

Add Butter to sauce pan along with the flour.  Cook for three minutes over low heat, stirring to make sure that flour doesn’t burn but is combined with the butter. 

Add the milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Simmer over low until sauce thickens, stirring frequently. Stir in the grated cheese at the end.

Top the eggplant and lamb mixture casserole with the Béchamel.  Sprinkle with the fresh Oregano and chopped Mint.  Reserve some for garnish if desired.  Top with crumbled feta.

Preheat your grill to 400 degrees.  Bake your casserole in a grill-safe pan for about 25 minutes or until slightly browned.  You can open and close the lid to adjust or retain the heat.  Kick back and have a cool glass of iced tea while you sit on the porch and watch your grill.

Let casserole rest for ten minutes before serving.   Top with fresh chopped parsley and reserved herbs if desired.

Note:  You’ve got to have a spinach salad with Greek Olives, tomatoes and feta with this dish, and don’t forget a glass of red wine!  Red wine and this dish are a match made in heaven.

Wine Pairing:  I suggest Lakeridge Reserve Cuvee Noir*.  This wine has a deep burgundy color and just a hint of oak (winemaker’s secret, as it’s made in stainless steel tanks).  The spices in this wine work wonderfully with the rich flavors of this dish.  

Find this wine at *

Note about cooking with wine:   If you drink better or pricier wines, or you’re concerned about using what you plan to drink up in the food if you’ve got a lot of people to serve, here’s a tip I go by --   Try to find decent wines that are on sale for cooking.  Select a slightly better or higher quality wine with similar characteristics to drink with the meal.

I found a California Merlot  wine which was on sale 2 bottles for $9.00.   I only bought the one bottle for $4.50.  I used it in this dish and then pumped the air out.  Corked and refrigerated, it should last the remainder of the week  for cooking.  I served the Cuvee Noir with this dish.  The flavors of the two wines (the Merlot in the food and the wine we were drinking) complimented each other just fine.

Not a paid endorsement for the wine.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Two Easy Summer Side Dishes

Summertime means a lot of quick meals on the grill; simple marinated fish, chicken breast, or steak.  If you're looking for something a little different to serve along side, I've got the answer - this is a great way to get some of those fantastic summer veggies onto your family's plate!

The first recipe if for -

Fried Corn and Green Tomatoes

Green tomatoes aren't just for breading. 
Try them sautéed with corn in this savory side dish.

For every two servings you will need -

1 large ear of Fresh Corn-on-the-Cob
1 small Green Tomato, diced
1 teaspoon Fresh Thyme
2 teaspoons Light Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Butter
Sea Salt, to taste
Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste

Cut corn from cob, including the "milk" of the corn, which is the milky white substance on the cob.

Chop green tomato and stem thyme. 

Add olive oil to nonstick skillet and preheat.

Add corn to oil skillet.  Reduce heat to medium.  Cook for three minutes. 

Add tomatoes and cook for two minutes.

Add thyme and butter.  Cook for one minute.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

The second dish I have for you tonight is -

Mexican Summer Squash

Mexican Summer Squash

1 teaspoon Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Butter
4 Yellow Squash, sliced
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Mild Chili Powder
Sea Salt, to taste
Chopped Fresh Cilantro

Add squash and cook for three minutes. 

Add spices and salt and cook for one more minute.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Traditional Greek Salad

Traditional Greek Salad

I used to live in the Tampa Bay area.  Tarpon Springs, which is in north Pinellas County, is known for fantastic Greek Food.  One of the favorites is this arranged Greek salad with potato salad.

On the fifth of July I had to make an unscheduled visit to my corporate office in Clearwater because my work laptop died.  While at the office, someone mentioned Tarpon Springs Greek food to me and it made me think of this salad. I had leftover potato salad, tons of it, from the 4th which I wanted to use up.  I also needed something quick.  So I whipped up some of my famous veal Marsala.  

Veal Marsala 

Traditional Greek Salad

The Potato Salad:

2 pounds Idaho Potatoes, scrubbed clean, peeled, and cut into quarters.
2 tablespoons Yellow Mustard
1/2 cup chopped Celery
3 Green Onions, chopped
1/2 cup Canola Oil Mayonnaise
Seasoned Salt, to taste
Black Pepper, to taste
Spanish Paprika, to taste

The Greek Salad:

3 cups Romaine Lettuce, washed and torn
10 Kalamata Olives, pitted and chopped
1/3 cup crumbled Feta Cheese (good quality, packed in water)
1/2 sliced Cucumber
1 large Tomato, diced
Greek Peppers (optional)

The Dressing:

3 tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
1/8 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Juice of one medium Lemon
1 tablespoon Dried Oregano
Sea Salt, to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste

This salad also goes great with seared blacked Tuna steaks. 

Take your pick of what you want as your main dish and enjoy!

Note:  Please look at my new Florida Restaurant Review section, "MK Fav Places to Eat."

Friday, July 1, 2011

Cheesy Potatoes

Cheesy Potatoes

I had a minor surgical procedure this afternoon so Dan made the bulk of the dinner tonight; he made lobster tail and scallops and we steamed fresh asparagus.  In addition to giving me the night off, he wanted to thank Mama Pirri for watching our dog, Eddie, while were away for a few days.  Mama Pirri loves her lobster! 
I wanted an easy, cheesy side dish to go with it; one which wouldn't require me to stand for a long period of time.  If you've been reading my blog, you also know that I don't like using the oven in the summer.  So I compromised and made this dish half in the microwave, and it only needed 20 minutes in the oven and a short time under the broiler to finish. 

I used KRAFT Philadelphia Cooking Creme as the base for this dish.  I used the savory garlic flavor, but you could also kick it up and use one of the other flavors, like Santa Fe (pictured below).

This dish can be made ahead.  Just cover it with foil, turn the oven off, and keep it in the warm oven until ready to serve.

What you need:

Four medium Russet Potatoes, scrubbed clean of the skin and sliced thin
3 tablespoons Water
5 ounces (1/2 tub) Savory Garlic or Santa Fe Blend KRAFT Philadelphia Cooking Creme*
1 cup shredded mild Cheddar Cheese
3 tablespoons Butter, cubed
1 cup 2% Milk
1/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste


Butter Flavored Cooking Spray
Fresh Chopped Chives

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Add sliced potatoes to a microwave safe bowl.  Add water and cover with plastic wrap.  Microwave on high for seven minutes.  Drain water from potatoes and return to bowl.

While potatoes are warm, mix in cooking creme.  Cool slightly so that you can handle.

Spray rectangular baking pan with cooking spray.  Place one layer of potatoes on the bottom of the pan.  Top with 1/2 of the cheddar cheese, 1/2 of the butter, and 1/2 of the milk. 

Repeat with second layer.  Top with grated Parmesan cheese and fresh ground pepper.

Bake potatoes in oven for 20 minutes.  Turn on broil.  Broil for 3-5 minutes until cheese is all bubbly and brown. 

Great with seafood or ham.

*Not a paid endorsement and no product was supplied to blogger.