Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fish Francaise with Roasted Broccoli and Beets and So Long, for Now...

Two years ago I started Just for Cooking as a way for me to create enough recipes to write a cookbook.  To date, I am proud to say I have 275 online plus a handful on Cafe Cheapo.  You can check those recipes out by clicking on the tab above.

It is with mixed feelings that I tell you that this is going to be my last post -- at least for now. I am not saying goodbye.  I have other endeavors which I would like to pursue (including writing that cookbook).  Anyone who has a blog knows that you spend too many late nights cleaning up issues and formatting and fixing photos.  At the same time, it can be very rewarding as I've met so many nice people.

You can still reference these recipes online.   I am no longer going to be accepting comments.  If I feel that there is something that I want to share with you, I'll be back... maybe sooner than later... who know?

Here we go!

When I think of Florida, I think of shellfish, grouper and Mahi Mahi.  The fish that lend themselves to Key West flavors.  In the fall, I think of cold water fish, such as cod or haddock.  I used haddock in this recipe, and I just know if you are a fish lover, you're going to love this as it's super easy!

I took a little help from the store here.  I just love these Gia Russa Simmer Sauces.  I did have a coupon but not because they asked me to promote it... full disclosure here on JFC! 
So, let's get down to business here tonight:

Serves 2:


For the Beets and Broccoli -

1 large beet, peeled and sliced
2 cups broccoli florets
Sea Salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the Fish -

2 fresh haddock fillets - skin on (about 6-8 ounces each)
1 large egg, beaten
2/3 cup All Purpose flour
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tsp, seafood seasoning, divided
3 springs fresh tarragon, plus more for finishing
1 tsp. capers, drained and rinsed


2 tbs. Canola Oil
1 tbs. Butter
Gia Russa Simmer Sauce, Francaise flavor (one cup)


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Add the beet, broccoli, salt and pepper to a cookie sheet.  Drizzle with one tablespoon of the canola oil (see other ingredients).  Toss with hands.

Bake for about 30 minutes until the beets are tender.

Dredge the fish in the egg and flour seasoned with the black pepper and the seafood seasoning.  

Add one tablespoon of Canola oil to a pan.  Heat to high and cook the fish for approximately three minutes each side until lightly browned.  Add the butter along with the tarragon and the capers.   Carefully remove the fish to a plate and keep warm.  Add the Francaise sauce to the pan and warm through on low heat.

Serve sauce over fish.

I do appreciate all of you who read my blog over the last two years. I hope you will wish me the best as I wish you the best in your life's journey.

I hope you will look for my cookbook out there!   As I often say, I'll see you soon!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Muddy Martini

I don't post too many cocktails.  I am not a big cocktail drinker.  I like my wine on occasion and Dan (hubby) and I have gotten into beer tasting a few times a month.

Dan and me making the "Club" at World of Beer (WOB) in Clermont, FL
Photo used with permission.

In fact, I have only posted one other cocktail since I started this blog.  http://welcometojustforcooking.blogspot.com/2011/12/holiday-entertaining-tip-3-create.html

My "Muddy Martini" is a delicious take on a traditional "dirty martini."  Served over crushed ice, it's great for sipping before a dinner party.  I think the color of the drink also looks great on a fall table.  And the combination of the lime and the hot sauce makes you want to go, what's in there?  It's tangy but smooth; spicy but only a little.

Here is what you need (per drink)

2 shots good quality vodka
3 or four shakes of your favorite hot sauce (more to taste)
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 tbs. black olive juice
4 black olives

Add ice cubes to a cocktail shaker.   Add all ingredients.  Shake well.  Pour over crushed ice and top with four black olives.


Next up;  Linguine with hot sausage and clams!  Yum!

I'll see you soon!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Little Help from My Friend (the store): Stuffed Chicken Francaise

No, I haven't gone back to the 60's with this post.  Nothing psychedelic here.  I was only six in 1969 for gosh sakes! 

But this post is going to be pretty "groovy."


Sometimes I dine alone.  My husband travels on business at times and he is also a Mason.  I was going to say not the kind like Paul Revere, but actually, he is.  Check out American history if you are not sure what I mean here.  I know I have several readers from overseas. 

I also hurt my knee a few weeks ago while exercising to a Jillian Michaels DVD.  My bad.  I was swearing at her and I turned the wrong way. Of course, I pushed it.  After all, I am 50 and I can "Kick, stretch, and kick" as per the Molly Shannon character, Sally O'Malley on SNL.  If you've never seen those skits, Goggle those as they are drop over funny!

I have to really watch my diet.  Yet sometimes you just don't feel like cooking.  I found ways to use a little of a store-bought product so you get the flavor, but not a lot of calories or fat.

Here is a recipe that uses a variety of store-bought and fresh ingredients.  This recipe is for one serving but just double or triple it as needed.

Here you go:


2 tbs. light olive oil, divided
2 1/2 cup fresh spinach, washed and stemmed
Pinch of fresh ground nutmeg
1 tbs. whipped cream cheese with chives
1 tbs. grated Romano cheese
2 thin slices of chicken breast
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. grill seasoning for chicken
1 medium egg, beaten
1 tbs. butter
1 tsp. capers
1/4 cup sliced sun dried tomatoes; rehydrate in water (microwave for two minutes)
1/4 cup bottled Francaise sauce (I used Gia Russa)

Note:  The cauliflower is for a side dish


Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a skillet. Add spinach and nutmeg. Wilt the spinach.

Once the spinach is wilted, add the cream cheese and grated cheese. Toss well and remove from heat.

Dredge chicken in flour mixed with grill seasoning and egg.  Top one piece of the chicken the the creamed spinach mixture.  Top with another slice of chicken and secure with toothpicks. Only use as much spinach as will fit inside the "sandwich."*

Heat remaining tbs. of the oil and the butter in a sauté pan.

Add the chicken and brown on both sides, about four minutes total.

Add the capers, the sun dried tomatoes and the Francaise sauce to the chicken.  Simmer for two minutes.

*Serve with mashed cauliflower and the remaining creamed spinach on the side.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sizzlin' Sangria Skewers

It's fall and it's time to pick the oranges fresh off the trees here in Florida.  This time of year, I like to look for ways to use these beautiful sun-kissed delights in cooking.

This marinade is great with beef, chicken or tuna.  I  used beef. 

I served this dish over a store-bought beef rice mix with a squirt of orange added while cooking.   That is a great tip for spicing up store-bought rice mixes; add fresh fruit or fruit juice.

I topped the rice with a big mound of stir fry veggies prepared with soy sauce, orange juice, and garlic.   Just a little freshly ground pepper and a pinch of salt was all I needed to finish.

BTW - Add on any veggies that you like to the skewers.  This marinade is great with those pre-packaged skewers that you find in the meat section of your local supermarket.

Ingredients for Marinade:

(For each skewers you will need)

Juice of 1/2 orange
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Juice of one lime
1/4 cup dry red wine or non alcoholic wine
6 whole cloves


Combine all ingredients for marinade.  Toss in the citrus fruit rinds. Marinate chicken or beef skewers for thirty minutes, turning occasionally. 

For chicken, you will want to keep the food in the refrigerator.  Beef can be marinated to room temperature as long as it's covered.

Marinate tuna in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Remove from marinade.

Note:  Season the skewers as much as you like. I like to use a liberal amount of Adobo seasoning with pepper before I toss these on the grill pan. 

If you have a favorite seasoning, you can use that. Go ahead and mix it up!

Grill on grill pan over high heat, turning skewers once on each side; about five minutes for medium rare.


I will see you soon.  I've got some great low calorie comfort food recipes coming up over the next couple of weeks so stay tuned!

If you like this recipe, check out one of my originals (and one of my personal favorites): http://welcometojustforcooking.blogspot.com/2011/02/corsican-style-beef-served-with-winter.html

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Jalapeño Spanish Rice with Corn

We can all use easy side dishes.   I have been asked to post more of them on this blog.   This one takes a little help from the store.  All I did was add in a few things and it's delicious.  Sometimes we are so fried from work that don't think of the obvious.  That is why I am sharing this recipe with you. 


1 box Rice-A -Roni Spanish Rice ® mix (6.8 oz)
2 tbs. butter
1 tbs. vegetable oil
1/2 medium Jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
1 can tomato sauce (8 oz.)
2 cups cold water
1 can corn, drained (15 oz)


In a large non-stick skillet, add the rice and vermicelli mix to the pan along with the butter and the oil.  Add in the Jalapeño pepper,  Heat until golden brown.

Stir in the tomato sauce, the water (slowly) and the corn.  Bring to boil and reduce to simmer.

Cover and simmer over a low heat for about 15 - 20 minutes.  Let rice rest about five minutes before serving.


I have been very busy lately with other things but I promise I'll be stepping these blog posts up again very soon.  Thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Garden Chicken Soup with Dumplings

I roasted a small chicken last night and had leftovers.  I also had leftover chicken in the freezer.  Being it's been cool down here lately, I thought chicken soup might be good.  I didn't have any noodles so I decided big dumplings might to the trick.  

Check out this dish.


Leftover chicken on the bone
Seven cups of water, divided
2 medium onions
1 bay leaf
6 or 7 celery stalks, chopped
1 cup baby carrots
1/2 large head cabbage, chopped
1/2 tablespoon Herbes de Provence
2 tablespoons chicken soup base, more to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the Dumplings: 

2 cups baking mix
2/3 cup 2% milk


Boil chicken in four cups of the water for about an hour, covered, until the chicken falls off the bones. 


Remove the chicken from the pot and once cooled, remove the bones.  Be sure to get any bones out of the pot that might have fallen in during the cooking process.   Skim the soup for fat.  Keep the chicken warm.

Add one peeled onion, whole to the pot along with the bay leaf.  Bring to boil and reduce to simmer, covered, about two hours.

Add in all other ingredients for the soup.  Cover and continue to cook for at least an hour.  

About fifteen minutes before you are ready to serve the soup, mix the baking mix and the milk.  Drop big spoonfuls of the dough onto the top of the soup.   Cover and let the soup simmer lightly until the dumplings are done.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pumpkin-Spiced Braised Chicken

Before I begin, if you are in the path of the super storm headed to the northeast this weekend, please be safe!  I will be praying for all of you!

And I apologize for being a little lax on the posting.  I have been super busy and then I came down with a bit of the bug last week.   I will be stepping it up very soon.

BTW - today is my 12th wedding Anniversary!  Happy Anniversary, Dan.  I think I'll keep him.  ;.)

This recipe is super easy.   It's perfect for a weeknight meal.  I love this recipe because it doesn't use any salt!  The flavor comes all from the spices and the beer in which you braise the chicken.

You can make any variation of this if you cannot find this beer: 

An Oktoberfest beer would work nicely, too.


3 or 4 meaty chicken leg quarters, skin on
1 - 1 1/4 tbs. pumpkin pie spice
1 tbs. vegetable oil
pumpkin spiced beer (12 ounces)
1/2 cup slivered onion
1/2 tbs. ground sage
1 tbs. dried Marjoram


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Sprinkle chicken with pumpkin seasoning.

Heat oil in heavy braising pan or Dutch oven.  Add chicken, skin side down, and brown lightly.  '

Turn the chicken over.  Add the beer, the onion and the ground sage.  Bring to boil and reduce to simmer. 

Cover chicken with lid or tin foil.  Place in over and bake for about 45 minutes until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 170 degrees F and the juices run clear.


I'll see you soon.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Best Breaded Pork Chops

I've had a busy few weeks, so I apologize for being a little light on the posts.  And I also had a wonderful weekend celebrating with hubby and family, as I turned 50 yesterday!  I have to tell you, I don't feel a day over 49.  ;.)

I wasn't supposed to be home this evening, but my trip to the corporate office was canceled this morning.   I worked from home today.   I decided to use tonight to put up this post before I settle in with a little relaxation tea to watch our final presidential debate.

I don't belong to either political party.  I do vote, but I find the whole process to be rather ironic at times.  In honor of inflated Congressional spending and our out-of-control deficit, I decided to make pork chops tonight.  You have to be a political junkie like me to get that joke.

These chops are juicy, big and thick.  Perfect for dining in front of the television.

With no further adieu, here is tonight's recipe.  It serves 2.


2  bone-in  pork chops, about 1 inch thick
1 egg, beaten
1 tbs. Dijon mustard
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 packet Garlic and Herb Italian dressing mix
1 or 2 pinches Extra Spicy Mrs. Dash salt-free seasoning (optional)
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tbs. grated Parmesan and Romano cheese
Cooking Spray


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Pat chops dry with a paper towel.

Beat egg and Dijon mustard together.

Mix the Panko with the Italian dressing mix, Mrs. Dash (if using), and the dried rosemary.

Dredge the pork chops in the flour, then the egg mixture, and the in the Panko.  Coat evenly.  Transfer to a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.  Top with grated cheese.  Bake for 25 minutes until the cheese begins to brown and the chops are cooked through. 

I recommend at least 145 degrees internal temperature for those chops, plus five minutes carryover cooking time once removed from the oven. 

Suggestion:  Top with sautéed banana peppers; fresh sliced and bottled. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Herb and Garlic Shrimp with Tomatoes over Smashed Cauliflower

Tonight's recipe is so easy to prepare, it does not need a lot of fanfare in the presentation.  Total comfort food goes healthy with this wonderfully flavorful dish.  This is a great weeknight meal as it only takes about 20 minutes to prep and prepare if using fresh shrimp.  If you need to defrost your shrimp, add another five minutes.*

Serves 4.


1 lb extra large shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 tbs. bottled Italian dressing, your favorite brand
1/4 tsp.. Cayenne Pepper, more to taste
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 cups whole cherry tomatoes, washed
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
Seasoned salt, to taste
1/4 cup fat free sour cream
Fresh tarragon (chopped and whole for garnish)


Add shrimp and Italian dressing to a large non-stick skillet.  Season with Cayenne pepper and thyme.  Add the cherry tomatoes.  Continue to cook for about five minutes until shrimp turn pink and the tomatoes begin to pop.

Meanwhile, add the cauliflower to a microwave safe bowl along with seasoned salt.  Cover with plastic wrap and cook on high for about six minutes.  Drain.  Stir in sour cream and mash. 

Serve the shrimp and tomatoes over the mashed cauliflower.

Now, how easy is that?


*To thaw frozen shrimp quickly, place in a bowl of cold water for about five minutes. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Deep Dish Mushroom and Cheese Lasagna with Arugula Ricotta

Who doesn't love lasagna? 

Who doesn't love a lasagna that is lower in carbs and calories? 

This dish uses low carb lasagna noodles, part skim cheese, and it's loaded with good, wholesome veggies.  Nice trick to get those who don't like vegetables to eat more -- hide them in a lasagna!

You can use  your own store-bought favorite sauce, but I recommend you try my Savory Lasagna Sauce.  Although it looks a bit complicated, it's easy to prepare.  By making your own sauce, you control what goes in there.


2 tbs. light olive oil
5 oz. fresh arugula, washed and spun dry
1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
3 tbs. Parmesan/Romano Cheese, grated, plus more for topping lasagna
1/4 cup 2% milk
2 tbs. butter
3 cups white sliced mushrooms
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
5 oz. container Part Skim Ricotta
1 egg 
8 fresh torn basil leaves
2 1/2 cups Savory Lasagna Sauce (recipe below)
1 package (13.5 ounce) Low Carb lasagna noodles (I used Dreamfields), cooked per package directions and drained
12 oz. Six Cheese Italian Blend shredded cheese; low fat
Fresh dried oregano (optional)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Add half of the oil to one skillet and half to another.  In the first skillet, add the arugula.  Dust with ground nutmeg and saute' until wilted.  Add the cheese, the milk and one tablespoon of the butter to the pan. 

Toss and remove from heat.  The milk will naturally begin to thicken as the butter melts. 

In the second pan, add the mushrooms, the thyme and the remaining pat of butter.  Saute' for about five minutes until mushrooms are golden.  Remove from heat.

Add ricotta and the egg to a mixing bowl, along with the arugula mixture.  Tear the basil leaves and incorporate into the ricotta, mixing well.  The ricotta will be a little runny, but it should hold together.

Add one ladle of sauce to the bottom of a 9 x 9 lasagna pan.  Add four cooked noodles on top of the sauce.  The sides of the noodles should rest on the side of the lasagna pan.  This will create the "deep dish."  

Spoon half of the ricotta mixture on top of the noodles and spread evenly.  Sprinkle with 1/3 of the shredded cheese.

Add another layer of noodles on top of the ricotta.  Make sure that the mixture covers the noodles so that they do not dry out while baking.

I like to layer each consecutive layer in the opposite direction, as I find the lasagna stays together better when you serve it, but this is entirely optional

Add the cooked mushrooms and top the second layer. 

Ladle sauce over the mushrooms to cover the pasta.

Add another layer of noodles.  Spread the remaining ricotta with arugula and basil over the top.  Add 1/3 of the shredded cheese.

Top with a final layer of noodles.  Top with sauce,  the remaining shredded cheese, and a sprinkling of grated Parmesan and Romano blend.  Top with crushed dried fresh oregano.

Cover with tin foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Uncover and continue to bake for another 15 minutes.

Let lasagna rest for about 10 minutes before serving. 

Tip:  I like to store fresh oregano in the freezer so that I can crumble it over dishes as needed.  It's a great way to store all of that oregano at the end of summer.

Savory Lasagna Sauce:
1 tbs. light olive oil or olive oil and canola oil blend
2 tbs. bottled minced garlic
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper, more to taste
1 can (28 oz.) tomato puree
2 tbs. tomato paste
1 tbs. coarse sea salt
Fresh cracked black pepper, about 10 turns of the pepper grinder
1/4 cup dry red wine or low sodium vegetable broth*
1/2 tbs. dried marjoram
1/2 tbs. dried oregano
1 packet Splenda®
1 tbs. Parmesan/Romano grated cheese

Add olive oil to a heavy sauce pan along with the bottled minced garlic and the crushed red pepper.  Saute' for about three minutes until the aromas release.

Add the tomato puree, the tomato paste, salt, black pepper, red wine, marjoram, oregano, Splenda® and the grated cheese.   Stir until all ingredients are combined.

Bring to boil and reduce to simmer.  Cover and continue to cook for about 1/2 hour. 

Note:  Makes about 3 1/2 cups. 

Also great on pizza!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Beef Short Rib and Cabbage Fettuccine

Before I get started tonight, I am truly humbled and appreciative that Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey sent me a nice letter and had his team enclose his favorite New Jersey Blueberry French Strata Recipe to boot!  ;.)   If you recall back in the summer, I did a special series of recipes where I featured the 13 colonies.  I had written to the Governor's office to share the link which I wrote about the state and he actually wrote me back!  He thanked me for sharing the information on this blog.  How cool is that?
I don't know if the gov actually makes the recipe for his friends and family, but my cooking hubby, who recently won the Gnarly Head Rib contest, would like to challenge the gov to a New Jersey French Strata "Throw down" some day. 
BTW -  Just for Cooking is also followed by our own Florida Governor Rick Scott's team via Twitter
I love the fall.  October is my absolute favorite month of the year, and not just because it’s my birthday AND anniversary month.  The air seems to change.  I don’t care if it’s 50 degrees where you are now or 88 like it’s been down here in Florida; it’s comfort food time!

Comfort food doesn’t have to be unhealthy.  Take this dish:  It’s fettuccine pasta topped with pulled short ribs braised in a simmer sauce, along with sautéed green cabbage.  Yum!  It tastes as good as it looks.  Any time you can add fiber to a pasta dish, it helps to off set the fat your might get from the meat.   You won't have to go crazy on the treadmill after you eat this.

So, here we go -

Serves 4.


1 1/2 lb. short ribs (about 4 meaty ribs)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tbs. olive oil and canola oil blend, or light olive oil, divided
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 jar of your favorite light pasta sauce (I used Gia Russa Red Wine Simmer Sauce)
1/4 lb. fettuccine pasta, cooked per package directions
1/2 head cabbage, sliced thin
1 tbs. butter
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. paprika
Grated Romano Cheese, to taste


Dredge ribs in flour.  Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a heavy skillet.  Brown ribs on all sides.  Season liberally with salt and pepper and add to warm slow cooker.  Add 3/4 of the jar of pasta sauce.  Cook on high for two hours.  Reduce heat to low.  Continue to cook for two more hours.

Cook pasta per package directions.  While pasta is cooking, pull the beef from the rib bones and transfer to a sauce pan.  Add remaining sauce and warm through.

In a large skillet, add the remaining tablespoon of oil.  Add the cabbage and cook for about five minutes.  Add a little cold water (optional) to the pan to keep the cabbage from burning.  Add the butter, the garlic salt and paprika.

Once the cabbage is cooked, combine the beef with the cabbage and pasta.  Toss well
and add the cheese. 

Serve immediately.

Enjoy and see you soon.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Authentic Polish Bigos (Hunter's Stew)


Okay, so my friend from Poland, Gosia, wins this round! Not that this was a competition, but consider this a "Bigos Throw down." Bobby Flay would be proud of us. ;.)

I told you when I posted my Bigos recipe last week that I would post hers as soon as she sent me the photos.

In case you missed it: http://welcometojustforcooking.blogspot.com/2012/09/bigos-hunters-stew-lightened-up.html

With permission, here is Gosia's authentic Bigos. All I can say is... "wow!" I know you will enjoy her recipe. 

I think her pictures are great, too.  I hope Gosia will contribute more guest posts.

Gosia's Tip: "The secret of Bigos is that it gets better as it's reheated. The more it is heated the better it gets. Serve with good bread."

1 lb. smoked pork
1 lb. spareribs
1 lb. pork loin or pork ribs
2 cups water, divided
2 bay leaves
Two or three whole Allspice
Pepper, to taste
4 lbs. sauerkraut
1 cup Polish red wine
4 lbs. cabbage, finely chopped
Salt, to taste,
1/4 lb. bacon
1/2 cup onions, chopped
16 ounces fresh chopped wild mushrooms
1 ounce dried mushrooms, rehydrate overnight in red wine or water
1 lb. smoked kielbasa
2 cups dried plums
Two tablespoons tomato paste


Brown pork and spareribs in a large heavy pot. 

Add smoked pork with one (1) cup of water, the bay leaves, allspice and pepper.

Simmer for one hour.

Add sauerkraut and one cup of wine.  Chop the cabbage finely and add to sauerkraut.

Add lots of salt and pepper, cover and simmer for one hour.  Remove lid and keep the pot on a very low simmer.

In a side pan, fry bacon until crisp.  Crumble into the pot with the sour kraut and cabbage.

Cut kielbasa into slices.  Add to the pot along with the dried plums.  Stir in tomato paste.

Bring to boil and reduce to simmer about 30 minutes.  Serve hot.

Gosia's family dog, Drago, loves this recipe, too!

Thank you, my friend, for sharing your recipe with me and my readers.  I wish I could be with you tonight in your lovely home, sharing a dish of this and a glass of Polish beer or sweet wine.

Note:  As stated, all photos and the recipe were used with permission.