Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Filet Gorgonzola

Filet Gorgonzola

Yes, I have been away.  Tonight is going to be all about steak…

Dan and I had some much deserved time away on Clearwater Beach.  Between my surgery and all of the family and household issues we’ve been dealing with this year, we REALLY needed it.  Jimmy Buffet had nothing on us these last five days.  We were beach bums and Parrot/Rum Heads and we loved every minute of it.

Back to reality…  I am starting a new tab on my page called MK’s Fav Places to Eat.  My first review is of the Clearwater, FL seafood restaurant Backwater.  They did not know they were being reviewed when they gave us excellent food and service.  So be sure to check out my review and if you’re in the area, you will want to go there!

Now on to the filet…

We ate so much seafood over the last few days, I wanted to return to my “carnivorous habits.” 

This recipe is for two, but you can adjust it accordingly.

2 – 6 oz. Filets
1 ½ tablespoon Grill Seasoning for Steak
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 oz. Crumbled Gorgonzola Cheese
1 tablespoon KRAFT Philadelphia® Savory Garlic Cooking Crème*
2 teaspoon fresh chopped Chives
Fresh Chopped Parsley, for Garnish

Other:  Cooking Spray for Grill

Rub filets with grill seasoning and olive oil.

Mix together cheese, cooking cream and chopped chives.  Mash mixture until smooth.  Bring to room temp while grilling steaks.

Spray grill with cooking spray.   Preheat grill to 450 degrees.

You will also need to preheat tin foil on the hot grill while cooking, sprayed with the cooking spray.

Grill steaks for over medium high heat for five minutes, or until seared on one side.  Turn.  Grill to desired temperature. 

Note:  I like to pull these steaks at 140 degrees when I make this dish, as I like my steak medium rare.  Carryover cooking time is important when cooking steak.  Always pull you streaks just under done.  Adjust cooking time accordingly for your grill and taste.

When your steak reaches your desired “underdone” temp, move the steak to tin foil that has been preheated on the hot grill.  Add half of the cheese mixture.  Close the lid and let the cheese melt for 1 – 2 minutes.

Serving Suggestion:  Serve with “Grill-fried” Potatoes.  Season red potato slices with seasoned salt and pepper.  Add to a tin foil pan spayed with cooking spray and toss in two tablespoons of Olive Oil.  Grill as much as you want.  If you like them really brown, keep grilling.  

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

Filet Gorgonzola with Grilled Potato

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Juicy Jerk Chicken

Juicy Jerk Chicken

I poured wine at a festival at a local winery this weekend, and a man came by my tasting line and happened to tell me about the Jerk Chicken he was making. He made his using a store-bought rub and leg quarters. I was so hungry for it after speaking with him, I decided to give it a try but of course, I had to jazz it up a bit.

I like to make my own sauces and rubs, but some days you are just too busy. I have to say, this product is excellent. If you cannot find it at your local grocery store, you can find it at - I am sure they will be happy to ship it to you or tell you where you can purchase it in your area.*

Updated - Alternate link for Jerk Seasoning:
Just type in Jerk Seasoning in the search box.

You will need to start with –

4 Chicken Leg Quarters, washed and cleaned

Note: Skewer the skin of each leg quarter about four times, making X shapes across the top of the thigh and leg. This helps the marinade to get working!

For the Marinade:
4 teaspoons of JCS® Boston Jerk Seasoning
1 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
2 tablespoons Canola Oil
10 fresh Thyme Sprigs

Pour the vinegar over the chicken leg quarters. Rub the oil over the chicken and then using your hands, work the seasoning into the meat.  Top with thyme springs, cover, and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight.

What else do you need?

Canola oil to brush your grill
Cooking spray
4 equal sized tin foil squares to wrap each piece of chicken

To cook the chicken:

Oil your grill grates with Canola Oil.  Preheat your grill to 400 degrees.

Place chicken skin side down and grill for five minutes.  Grill is likely to flair up, but that is okay.  The seasoning with blacken.  

Turn chicken and grill for five more minutes.

Spray tin foil squares with cooking spray.   Place partially cooked chicken on tin foil, one piece per square and wrap.  I like to leave the bottom of the leg bone sticking out.  This allows me see when the meat is separating from the bone (which is what you want) and also it allows for the grease to escape while holding in the juices.

Grill for approximately 25 minutes, or until internal temperature of the chicken reaches 180 degrees.  Grills vary, so adjust cooking time accordingly. 

Serve with coleslaw and boiled and buttered corn on the cob.

*Not a paid endorsement.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Creamy Shrimp Rigatoni with Tomato and Zucchini

Creamy Shrimp Rigatoni with
Tomato and Zucchini

Many of the readers of this blog have told me that they can't get enough of the shrimp recipes that I post.  We love shrimp.  There are so many fun and delicious ways to prepare it.

This is a recipe I prepared back in April but never got to publish.  It's a perfect summertime pasta dish - especially when you add the fresh herbs!

To make the pasta creamy, I used Philadelphia Savory Garlic Cooking Crème.*  As a result of using the cooking crème, I used less olive oil than called for in similar recipes that I have seen.  

Remember from my previous posts, there are only 25 calories per tablespoon in this cooking crème.  There are approximately 101 calories in tablespoon of butter and 119 calories in a tablespoon of Olive Oil. 

Of course – YES -  I know the health benefits of olive oil!  When you are watching your weight, every calorie counts, too.

What you need -

½ lb. Rigatoni Pasta, cooked one minute under package directions in salted water

1 ½ tablespoon Olive Oil (reserve ½ tablespoon)
2 medium Zucchini, chopped
½ lb. fresh large Shrimp, cleaned but shell on
1 teaspoon Old Bay® Seasoning
1 tablespoon Butter
¼ teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper (more or less to taste)
2 fresh medium sized Tomatoes, seeded and chopped
Freshly ground black Pepper, to taste
1/4 cup dry White Wine
1 ladle starchy Salted Cooking Water from pasta
3 oz. (about 1/3 container) Philadelphia® Brand Savory Garlic Cooking Crème
2 Tablespoons fresh Basil, torn
1 teaspoon fresh Oregano, chopped
Grated Parmesan Cheese, for tossing at the end, to taste

Cook pasta per package directions in salted water; under-cook by one minute.

In a large skillet, add one tablespoon Olive Oil to pan.  Toss Zucchini an shrimp in Old Bay® seasoning.   Sauté zucchini for three minutes, over medium heat, so that it begins to brown up and soften.   Add shrimp in shells to pan.  Add butter and red pepper.  Continue cooking for three minutes, until shrimp begins to turn pink.

Remove shrimp and zucchini from pan.  Reserve in a bowl.

Add remaining ½ tablespoon of olive oil, tomatoes, pepper, white wine and cooking liquid.  Braise for two minutes. 

Add cooking crème and stir. 

Toss in pasta, fresh herbs and Parmesan cheese.  Serve immediately.   

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

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Shrimp with Spinach and Lentils

Shrimp with Spinach and Lentils

I was planning on grilling tonight but we had major thunderstorms here in the Orlando area tonight.  I decided to shake it up a bit.   If you have frozen shrimp, a few seasoning ingredients, bagged spinach and lentils on hand in your pantry, you can make this dish in no time.  It’s healthy, but it’s so delicious, nobody needs to know.

Again, I wrote the recipe for two, but you can double or triple it as needed.

You will need –

1 pound large Shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon Old Bay® Seasoning
4 tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
3 tablespoons Butter
Sea Salt, to taste
2 tablespoons Garlic Powder
Crushed Red Pepper, to taste
4 slices Lemon, plus more slices for garnish
3 cups fresh Spinach, washed and stemmed
½ teaspoon freshly ground Nutmeg
1/2 cup brown Lentils
¼ cup raw chopped Sweet Onion

Season shrimp with Old Bay.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Add on tablespoon olive oil to 2 cups of cold water.  Add lentils, sea salt and one tablespoon of the garlic powder.  Bring to boil and reduce to simmer, about 20 minutes until lentils are tender.

In a large non-stick skillet, add the remaining garlic and butter.  Once butter is melted, add remaining garlic powder and crushed red pepper.  Cook for one minute over medium heat.

Add two of the lemon slices and the seasoned shrimp.  Sauté for three or four minutes, until shrimp turns light pink.

Add spinach and nutmeg.  Cook for one more minute.

Pour Shrimp and Spinach, including pan juices, over cooked lentils.  Top with raw onion and garnish with fresh lemon slices.  

Monday, June 13, 2011

Spiced Up Bourbon Glazed Pork Chops with Herbed Potatoes Done on the Grill

Spiced-Up Bourbon Glazed Pork Chops
w/ Herbed Potatoes Done on the Grill

Summertime is all about taking it easy.  We all have way too much on our plates these days.  Technology is a blessing and an evil.  I recall being a young salesperson in the field and having to find a pay phone to call in for my messages, which a cheerful receptionist kindly took down on little slips of pink paper.  These days, you’ve got work phone in one hand and you’re answering a text with the other.  Not to mention all the activities for which you probably have Chauffeur duty.

I have been asked to write a few more easy recipes – “Semi-homemade” if you will, using a mix of fresh and store bought ingredients.  Being that I can mix my hubby, Dan, a mean Canadian Whiskey and Soda on a Friday night, I guess I would make Sandra Lee proud to follow in her tradition.

Here is a quick and easy dish that I know you will love.  These pork chops stay so juicy.  I used Paula Deen’s Sweet Bourbon Glaze* but you can pick your favorite off the shelf.

Note:  This recipe is written for two, but feel free to double or triple it as needed.

2 All Natural Pork Loin Chops Center Cut bone in (approximately ½ inch thick)
2 teaspoons Blackened Seasoning
2 teaspoons Cajun Seasoning
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
¼ cup store-bought Bourbon Glaze

For the Potatoes:

½ pound small Organic Russet Potatoes, cut into quarters and then halved
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
2 tablespoons Butter, divided
2 tablespoons dried Rosemary
1 tablespoon dried Thyme
Fresh chopped Chives, to taste
Sea Salt, to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Other:  Cooking Spray for Grill

Prep:  Rub pork chops with blackened seasoning and Cajun seasoning.  Refrigerate for at least one hour.

Rub chops with olive oil.

Spray grill and preheat to 450 degrees.

Grill chops for about seven minutes the first side.  Flip and grill for three minutes.  Cover with a tin foil tent.  Let chops rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

Note:  Internal temperature should exceed 145 degrees when chops are pulled from the grill.  Carryover cooking will ensure that they are done.  Adjust time and temperature accordingly for your grill.

For the potatoes; add all ingredients (half the butter) to a tin foil packet.  Cook over high heat for 20 – 25 minutes.  Top with remaining butter.

PS -  Is "herbed" a real word?  LOL.  I think it's slang, but it is used in cooking so what the heck, right?  It sounds good. 

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

Friday, June 10, 2011

Steak Pizzaiola

Steak Pizzaiola

My hubby, Dan, is on this Soprano's rerun kick lately.  In a recent episode we watched together, Tony walked into an Italian joint and they were serving this savory dish.  Dan got hungry for it.  So, forgetaboutit!  I was gonna make it or else...   You got a problem with that?  ;.)))

Dan's mom - Mama Pirri - worked in an Italian-family owned restaurant in Connecticut for years.  She "ran the place."

Mama Pirri makes the best classic Steak Pizzaiola based on a recipe she learned while she worked there -- I will attest, it is one that Tony and the boys would surely love.

A radiant Mama Pirri with Ralph Loglisci on his birthday.
Ralph lives in Florida now but he is the former co-owner
of JR's Restaurant in Stamford, CT

Here is my kicked up version using fresh herbs and a little onion and bell pepper.   The most notable addition is Mozzarella Cheese.  Is this a "classic" recipe?  Probably not... but it is goooood..!  All you need to go with this dish is a little whole wheat penne and nice summer salad of tomato, onion, cucumber, salt, pepper, oil and white wine vinegar.

You can use your favorite Marinara Sauce from the jar or try my recipe (below).

Steak Pizzaiola

1 - 1 1/2 pound Chuck Steak, about 1/2 inch thick
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
2 teaspoons Garlic Salt
1 teaspoon freshly Ground Pepper
1 small Green Bell Pepper, thinly sliced
1 small Sweet or Vidalia Onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup dry White Wine
2 1/2 cups Marinara Sauce
2 tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese (from the can)
4 ounces Whole Milk Mozzarella Cheese, sliced into four slices
Fresh chopped Oregano, to taste
Fresh chopped Basil, to taste
Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese for passing at the table, optional

Using a Dutch Oven, brown chuck steak in oil.  Season with garlic salt and pepper and set meat aside on a plate once browned.

Add bell pepper and onion to pan.  Cook for three minutes.  Add wine and deglaze pan.

Add Marinara sauce to cover meat.  Bring to boil and reduce to simmer, about 2 hours.  Top with grated Parmesan cheese and cook for another 15 minutes. 

Preheat broiler.  Top meat with Mozzarella Cheese.  Broil for five minutes until bubbly.  Transfer to serving plate.  Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs.

Serving suggestion:  Use the sauce with the peppers and onions to top whole wheat pasta.

MK's Slow Cooked Marinara Sauce 

2 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 tablespoons Granulated Garlic (Garlic Powder)
1/4 cup Dry White Wine
1 - 32 ounce can Crushed Tomatoes
1 small Sweet or White Onion, peeled but left whole
1/4 cup Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 tablespoon fine Sea Salt, more or less to taste
1 teaspoon freshly Ground Pepper, more or less to taste
1 tablespoon Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Ground Allspice
2 tablespoons Dried Oregano
2 tablespoons Grated Parmesean Cheese*

* If I am making Steak Pizzaiola I save the Parmesean Cheese for the step noted below with the steak.
Add olive oil to pan and sauté granulated garlic over low heat for three minutes, incorporating the flavor into the oil.  The granulated garlic should be golden but not brown after this step.

Add wine to pan.  Simmer one minute.

Add all ingredients except for the parmesan cheese.  Bring to boil and reduce to simmer for about 3 – 4 hours (more if you can), stirring occasionally. 

If just making the sauce, add parmesan cheese at the end.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Philly Cheese Steak Burgers

Dan loves Philly Cheese Steaks.  Who doesn't?  I wanted an excuse to use the first home-grown bell pepper of the season to be picked. I came up with this easy and delicious burger recipe inspired by the famous sandwich with a touch of English pub thrown in for good measure.

Using light Swiss Cheese and lean ground chuck helps to keep this recipe within my "Just for Cooking" healthy recipe guidelines.  Use whole wheat burger buns for an even healthier meal!

Philly Cheese Steak Burger
For the Burger:

1 1/4 pound lean Ground Chuck
2 tablespoons Grill Seasoning for Steak
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
Splash of Merlot Wine
4 slices Light Swiss Cheese

4 Hamburger Buns
Cooking Spray for Grill


1 tablespoon Olive Oil
2 tablespoons Butter

1 small Green Bell Pepper, sliced
1 large Sweet Onion, sliced
1 cup sliced white Mushrooms
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Coarse Sea Salt, to taste


1 tablespoon prepared Horseradish
3 tablespoons Canola Oil Mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Sour Cream
2 tablespoons freshly Chopped Chives

Spray grill with cooking spray.   Preheat grill to 400 degrees.

Mix all burger ingredients well - except for cheese - in large mixing bowl and form into four even patties. 

Place patties on grill and cook to 165 degrees, turning once (about 5-7 minutes each side).  Melt cheese over burger. 

Note:  I like to use a meat thermometer and I pull the burger just shy of this temp and place them under a tin foil tent.  The carryover cooking brings them to the perfect temp.  Grills vary so adjust cooking time accordingly.

On the side burner of the grill, add oil and butter to a cast iron skillet.  Add bell pepper and onion and cook for five minutes. 

Add mushrooms and pepper and cook for an additional five minutes.  Add salt to taste.

For the sauce, mix together all ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use.  This step can be done in advance.

 Top with burger with sauce and then add the peppers, onions and mushrooms. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Easy Eggplant Parm

This week, it's all about summertime recipes!  I am going to show you two great dishes where you can use fresh basil and a great beef burger recipe that will remind you of a Philly Cheese Steak. 

Easy Eggplant Parm

I love Eggplant Parmesan.  It is a great Italian dish for the summer because it's lighter than baked pasta dishes.  You only have to use the oven for a few minutes. You won't be heating up the house.

Here is a quick and easy recipe.  Take a little help from the store with a jar of your favorite marinara sauce.  The Lemon Panko breadcrumbs add that extra yum.  You can find these in your grocery store.  If you cannot, you can substitute plain Panko breadcrumbs or whole wheat.


1 large Eggplant, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch-thick rounds (about one pound)
2 Eggs, beaten
Freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste
1 cup Seasoned Italian Breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Lemon Panko Breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Low Fat Parmesan Cheese
3/4 cup good quality Light Olive Oil
Course Sea Salt, to taste
1 1/2 cups store bought Marinara Sauce
1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Fresh torn Basil for garnish, optional

Other:  Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.   Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray and set aside.

Heat oil in large skillet until it "pops."  A good way to test if the oil is ready is to - carefully - add a couple of drops of water to the skillet and if it pops, it's ready to go.

Beat eggs and add fresh pepper to egg, to taste.  Mix together Italian breadcrumbs with panko breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. 

Dip eggplant slices in egg.  Coat egg dipped eggplant into the breadcrumb mixture and coat both sides.   Repeat process until all eggplant slices are coated.

Add eggplant in small batches to hot oil.  Reduce heat and "brown" the eggplant on both sides.  You are not deep frying here; you are simply trying to get a nice, golden color on both sides.

Remove eggplant to a plate layered with paper towel.  Blot off excess oil.  Remove hot oil pan from heat.

Place fried eggplant slices on sprayed cookie sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes, turn and bake for another five minutes.  Top with sauce and mozzarella cheese.  Return pan to oven and bake for another five minutes, until the cheese is all melty. 

Top with torn basil and serve.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Rustic Shellfish Bowls

Rustic Shellfish Bowl

Here in Florida, we eat a lot of seafood in the spring and summer months.  A few days ago I posted a great recipe for shrimp and scallops.   If you haven't seen it, check it out:

The BBQ Shrimp and Scallop recipe requires a little time to prepare the basting sauce.  Maybe you don't have time.  Here is a simpler way to prepare your favorite shellfish.  I used a tasty combination of shrimp, clams and mussels.  

For EACH bowl you plan to prepare, you will need:

5 deveined shell on Extra Large Shrimp
6 Littleneck Clams, cleaned and scrubbed
4 Mussels, cleaned and scrubbed
1/8 cup chopped sweet Onion
6 mini Sweet Pepper Rings*
2-3 fresh Thyme Sprigs
2 Oregano Sprigs
A little Fresh Parsley, to taste
Fresh Dill, to taste
1 clove Garlic, crushed
Sprinkle of Essence of Emeril (to taste)
1 tablespoon cold Butter, sliced into six pieces
1 slice of Lemon
Drizzle of Olive Oil
Splash of dry White Wine
1/8 cup Heirloom or Grape Tomatoes
Torn Fresh Basil, for garnish, optional

Other:  Butter flavored Cooking Spray

Preheat outdoor grill to 400°.

Tear tin foil made for the grill in one foot by one foot squares (eyeball it).  Spray each sheet with cooking spray. 

*  If you cannot find these in your grocery store, simply substitute thinly sliced bell pepper (any color).  You can also substitute on the herbs.

Place all ingredients onto one tin foil square except for tomatoes and basil.  Turn the corners up on the foil and form a “boat.”  When you secure the top, make sure that it’s tight enough that the liquid in the pack won’t leak out, but not too tight so you can’t open it while it’s on the grill.

Grill for 10-15 minutes.  Carefully open the top of each pack and add tomatoes.  Reseal pack and cook for another five minutes until shrimp is pink, and the clams and muscles open.  Discard any unopened clams or muscles.

Carefully open packets back up and turn contents into a serving bowl.  Top with torn basil and serve immediately. 

Suggestion:   Serve with crusty bread to soak up the delicious sauce! 

Next week, I'll be posting recipes for Eggplant Parmesan and a great beef burger recipe I know you are going to enjoy.  Some back and visit this blog again real soon!