CHOCOLATE RUGELACH BARS

December 25th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

This is a fairly new cookie that I’ve added to my holiday baking repertoire & quickly became one of my favorites. They had me at chocolate, currents & walnuts…enough said!
Enjoy!

3 ounces walnuts (1 cup)
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, plus 3 tablespoons melted for filling
8 ounces cream cheese
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
6 ounces roughly chopped semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup currants
Grated zest of 1 orange
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons sanding sugar, or granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread walnuts on a baking sheet; toast until golden and fragrant, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Place 1 1/2 sticks butter and the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the cream cheese is broken down but butter is still chunky. On low speed, add flour and salt, and mix until crumbly and just beginning to hold together, about 20 seconds. There should still be some small pieces of butter visible. Divide dough into two equal parts. Form each part into a flattened rectangle, and wrap in plastic wrap. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill 5 hours or overnight.

Place the chocolate in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the chocolate is very finely chopped, about 7 seconds. Transfer to a large bowl. Finely chop toasted walnuts by hand, and add to bowl. Add sugar, cinnamon, currants, zest, corn syrup, and melted butter, and combine by hand. Beat egg yolk with the water, and set aside.

Have ready a 9-by-13-inch baking pan lined with parchment paper. Place a rectangle of dough between two 9-by-13-inch pieces of waxed paper; roll dough into a rectangle the size of the baking pan. Line prepared baking pan with dough. Spread dough evenly with walnut mixture. Roll remaining rectangle of dough into a rectangle the size of the baking pan; place on top. Trim the edges of the dough so they are even. Brush the top of dough with egg yolk mixture, and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until golden, about 35 minutes, rotating halfway through. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into 50 to 60 rectangles, each 2 1/2 by 3/4 inches.

(recipe Martha Stewart)

BLACK BOTTOM CUPCAKES

December 20th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

If I had to choose only one sweet treat to make for the holidays,these cupcakes would be it. I’ve been making them since I’m a young girl. My love for these rich chocolate cupcakes with the chocolate cream cheese center hasn’t diminished one bit over the years. Check out the recipe. I’m sure you’ll feel the same way.
Enjoy!

Preheat oven 350 F

for cake
1 1/2 c flour
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa
1 c sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 Tbsp vinegar
1 c water
1 tsp vanilla

Sift together the flour, cocoa, sugar & baking soda. Then combine the oil, vinegar, water & vanilla with the dry ingredients & mix until completely incorporated.

for filling
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 c sugar
1 egg
1 c. chocolate chips
1/8 tsp salt

In a food processor combine the cream cheese, egg, sugar, salt & chocolate chips. Pulse until well combined. Set aside

Fill paper cupcake cups about 2/3 full with cake batter. Add a dollop of the cream cheese on top of the batter.

for mini cupcakes..bake for 20 minutes (Baking time will vary depending on the size of the cupcakes) Bake until cake is set.

RASPBERRY LINZER COOKIES

December 19th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink


I love this recipe. These cookies are light, flaky & nutty, with a touch of sweetness from the raspberry jam. It is no doubt the best linzer cookie I’ve made.
Enjoy!
(recipe Soo-Jeong Kang/The New York Times)

2 1/2 sticks, softened
⅔ cup sugar
2 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup finely ground, roasted almonds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup good-quality raspberry jam, preferably seedless
Powdered sugar for dusting

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking pans with parchment or silicone baking mats.
In a bowl or stand mixer, mix butter and sugar on medium speed until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, almond meal, cinnamon and salt. Slowly add dry ingredients, a half-cup at a time, to butter mixture.
Divide dough into 3 balls. Place each ball between parchment paper (nonstick works best) and roll into a thin circle, about 11 inches in diameter and just over 1/8-inch thick. Refrigerate flat for at least 15 minutes.
Working quickly with one sheet of dough, remove top layer of parchment, then flip onto a clean sheet and remove the bottom layer. Using a tree-shaped cookie cutter, cut 30 shapes for the bottoms of the cookies and place on prepared baking sheets. Reserve scraps to reuse for more cookies.
Bake cookie bottoms for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until the edges just begin to brown. Rest for a couple of minutes on the tray, then carefully transfer to a cooking rack. Repeat the process to create the tops, using a pastry tip or a straw to cut out 5 to 7 holes on the trees to resemble ornaments. Open any holes that close during baking.
Meanwhile, melt jam with 1 teaspoon of powdered sugar and boil lightly for about a minute. Cool slightly. Assemble cookies by flipping the bottoms, spreading them with a scant teaspoon of jam, dusting the tops lightly with powdered sugar and then gently pressing the tops onto the bottoms. Store airtight between layers of wax paper or parchment for 3 days. Freeze for up to a month.

HAZELNUT TOFFEE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

December 18th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

This is by far everyone’s favorite chocolate chip cookie. The difference between these & other cookies is these are loaded with toasted hazelnuts & bits of toffee.
Enjoy!
(recipe from Giada De Laurentiis)

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 ounces English toffee candy, finely chopped (recommended: Heath or Skor)
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and chopped
1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Line 2 heavy baking sheets with parchment paper. Finely chop the oats in a food processor. Transfer the oats to a medium bowl. Mix in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars in a large bowl until fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and stir just until blended. Stir in the toffee, hazelnuts, and chocolate chips.

For each cookie, drop 1 rounded tablespoonful of dough onto sheet, spacing 1 inch apart (do not flatten dough). Bake until the cookies are golden (cookies will flatten slightly), about 15 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely. (The cookies can be prepared 1 day ahead. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.)

PEANUT BUTTER NANAIMO BARS

December 17th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

These little Canadian born babies will make your mouth dance. They’re three layers of deliciousness. The bottom is graham cracker crumbs, coconut, almonds & cocoa. Next there’s a layer of peanut butter topped with chocolate ganache. They’re easy to make….and there’s no baking!
Enjoy,

recipe from Food Network Kitchen

Cookie:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1 large egg, beaten
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 cup finely chopped blanched almonds

Peanut Butter Filling:
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

Chocolate Glaze:
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Line an 8 by 8-inch baking pan or casserole with aluminum foil, with long flaps hanging over each edge.

For the cookie:
Put the butter in a heatproof medium bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with an inch or so of water to a very slow simmer over medium-low heat. Set the bowl over, but not touching, the water. Once the butter is melted, add the sugar and cocoa, and stir to combine. Add the egg and cook, stirring constantly with a whisk, until warm to the touch and slightly thickened (it should be about the consistency of hot fudge), about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in graham crumbs, coconut and nuts. Press the dough firmly into the prepared pan. (Save the pan of water for melting the chocolate.)

For the filling:
Beat the butter, peanut butter and confectioners’ sugar together in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until light. Spread over the cookie and freeze while you prepare the chocolate glaze.

For the glaze: Put the chocolate and butter in a medium heatproof bowl, and set over the barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. (Alternatively, put the chocolate and butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Melt at 50 percent power in the microwave until soft, about 1 minute. Stir, and continue to heat until completely melted, about 1 minute more.). When cool but still runny, pour the chocolate layer over the chilled peanut butter layer and carefully smooth out with an offset spatula. Freeze 30 minutes.

To serve, remove from the freezer and let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes. Pull out of the pan using the foil flaps and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 1-inch squares with a sharp knife. Serve cool or at room temperature.
Busy baker’s tips: Finished bars can be wrapped in the pan in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil and frozen for up to 1 month.

FUSILLI W/ SAUSAGE RAGU

December 11th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Everyone has a few go to recipes. This is one of mine. There hasn’t been one person who I’ve served this pasta dish to that didn’t love it. It’s so easy to make. You brown sausage..add tomato paste…white wine..a little cream at the end & it’s done. It’s easy enough for a week night meal & delicious enough to serve to dinner guest.
ENJOY!
(recipe by Mario Batali)

Makes 6 servings
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 large onion, diced
1 lb. Italian sausage, removed from casting
6 Tbsps. tomato paste
1/2 c. dry white wine
1/2 c. milk
salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 lb. fusilli (any hearty shaped pasta will do)

1) In a 12-14 inch saute pan, heat the olive oil & butter over high heat. Add the diced onion & cook until soft & slightly golden, 6-8 minutes. Add the sausage & cook until nicely browned & crispy; about 10 minutes
2) Put the tomato paste in with the sausage & cook until it’s a deep rust color: about 8 minutes. Add the wine & stir frequently, until it evaporates. Stir in the milk, season with salt & pepper, reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 15 minutes.
3) Meanwhile, bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot with 2 Tsps of salt. Drop in pasta into the boiling water & cook until al dente or your desired doneness.
4) Scoop out about 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water & set aside. Add the pasta to the sauce & until it’s completely coated. Add a splash or two of the reserved cooking water if necessary,to loosen the sauce.
5) Serve immediately with freshly grated Parmigiano.

RICOTTA STUFFED EGGPLANT BALLS

December 7th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

RECIPE

Eggplant balls or polpette as they’re called in Italy, are mostly found in Sicily & Calabria. In Sicily they add raisins & pinoli nuts. In some parts of Calabria a piece of caciocavallo cheese is tucked in the middle as a little cheesy surprise. In my version, I did a combination. I added the pine nuts & raisins to the eggplant then stuffed them with a filling of ricotta, pecorino & mozzarella.

Besides being delicious, eggplant is full of nutrition. Check out this great article on the “Well-Being Secrets” web page about all the health benefits eggplant has to offer.

27 Science-Based Health Benefits of Eggplant


ENJOY!

SICILIAN POT PIE

January 1st, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RICIPE)

On New Year’s Eve, we hosted a pot luck dinner with our closest friends. One of my friends brought individual chicken pot pies. She said, they were staples in her home growing up in Dublin, Ireland. This got me “a” thinking. Are pot pies an Irish thing? Do Italians have something similar? I didn’t research the answer like I normally do, instead I just grabbed one of my handy dandy notebooks (they are one of my obsessions) and started jotting down ideas on what I thought would be in an Italian pot pie.

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Right away I thought of eggplant, which got me thinking about Sicily, one of my favorite parts of Italy. I started to list some ingredients that are prevalent in Sicilian cooking like, eggplant, capers, tomatoes, peppers and olives. In the end I decided to slightly modified my favorite *CAPONATA recipe. Caponata is an eggplant based dish that also has capers, pine nuts, onion and green olives. It’s in a sweet and sour sauce called agrodolce, which is loved in Sicily.

To make the pot pie filling a little heartier, I added chunks of sausage. I then topped the pies with thinly rolled out pizza dough sprinkled with red pepper flakes. I never did find out if Italians have their own version of a pot pie, but it doesn’t really matter. I now have one that is reminiscent of the wonder flavors that I loved while in Sicily. I think they’d approve.

Enjoy,
D I V A

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PUMPKIN YOGURT BREAD PUDDING W/ MAPLE WHIPPED CREAM

December 23rd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)
Every Christmas morning, I host a brunch. Bread pudding is always on the menu. This year I’m planning to make pumpkin bread pudding with maple whipped cream. I love the idea that you could eat a food that’s considered both breakfast and dessert! Since I have a wee bit of a sweet tooth, this was perfect for me.

For this pudding recipe, I made a loaf of pumpkin bread that I cut into 2 inch pieces. The custard for the pudding is usually made by whisking together eggs, sugar, milk and/or cream. I switched it up a bit by using CHOBANL pumpkin flavored yogurt instead of cream. Even though CHOBANI’S pumpkin yogurt is seasonal, this recipe will work with any of their flavors.

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After I made the custard I poured it over the pumpkin bread and threw in some walnuts and chocolate chips. I set it aside for 1/2 hour, so the bread could absorb some of the pumpkin flavored custard. When it was baked and ready to serve, I topped each serving with maple syrup whipped cream. This pudding was extra yummy, thanks to the addition to the Chobani yogurt. The yogurt gave the pudding an extra kick of pumpkin flavor.

For more recipes using Chobani Yogurt click here

Enjoy!
D I V A
Merry Christmas!
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ROASTED BRUSSEL SPROUTS, SHALLOTS & CHESTNUTS w/ PANCETTA

December 22nd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink


(RECIPE)

You either love Brussel sprouts or you hate them. If you’re like me, a lover of sprouts, you’re going to love this simple side dish that’s seamless to make. In 25 minutes you have a fabulous vegetable dish, that’s delicious and satisfying.

I roasted Brussel sprouts, chestnuts, shallots and some pancetta with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Right before they’re served, I sprinkled some freshly grated parmiggiano cheese. If you want to kick it up further, use grated gruyere or fontina.

Enjoy!

CAPELLINI w/ ANCHOVY, NUTS & RAISINS (Christmas Eve pasta)

December 12th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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RECIPE

Every Christmas Eve was spent with my husband’s family. Being of Italian descent, pasta was always on the menu. My mother-in-law made not one pasta dish, but two! One was a tomato based sauce with lobster and crab. The other was a white anchovy and nut sauce. Every year all 20 some odd people would debate which one was better. It really didn’t matter, because we all ate both and enjoyed every bite.

Year after year, (there were a lot of years) I would help my mother-in-law Rose, prepare the dinner. I helped because it was huge undertaking to make a big meal for 20 or more people, besides I had an ulterior motive. I wanted to learn how to make her recipes. She didn’t have any of them written down. The only way I was going to learn, was by cooking along side of her.

We no longer have Christmas Eve dinner with my husband’s family, but I do make some of Rose’s recipes. The Anchovy-nut pasta is now part of my family’s holiday meal. I did however, make a few minor changes. If she ever knew, she would surely give me the malocchio. (all you Italian people reading this know what I’m talking about..the evil eye)

Rose’s sauce was basically anchovy and walnuts. I added hazelnuts, pine nuts and raisins. I love the addition of raisins. It added a touch of sweetness that balanced out the saltiness from the anchovy. Unlike my mother-in-law, I wrote down this recipe and all my others, in hopes that they carry on. If changes happen along the way, I promise there will be no malocchio from me! 😉

Merry Christmas or shall I say Buon Natale!
D I V A
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INDIAN SPICED VEGETABLE STEW

December 2nd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(POST)
Stews are one of the ultimate winter comfort foods. Here I posted a vegetable stew that’s loaded with aromatic spices that are common in Indian cooking. For the base of the stew I put warm spices such as, cardamom, garam marsala, cumin and turmeric into a coconut broth.

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In the broth there are chunks of butternut squash, eggplant, baby bella mushrooms and chopped tomatoes. These veggies are “meaty” enough to even satisfy hardcore carnivores. To top off the stew, I garnished it with red chili for heat, cashews for crunch and a dollop of yogurt to cool it down.

One of the great things about this recipe, besides tasting great, it’s vegetarian and vegan friendly. Just remove the yogurt. So, the next time you feel like eating something comforting, reach for this recipe and dare to try something new.

Enjoy!
D I V A
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TURKEY THANKSGIVING MEATBALLS

November 26th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)
Let’s face it, no matter how big or small our Thanksgiving turkey is, there’s always left overs. How many turkey sandwiches can you eat. Even though, we go out for dinner, I always make a turkey breast and stuffing. (dressing as some call it) I usually make turkey paninis or open face turkey sandwiches.
We love these, but I wanted to make something new.

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Meatballs were originally made with left over meat, so not to waste. Some people still use this method. I took that concept and tried it with left over turkey. I ground up the cooked turkey meat, added some stuffing, dried cranberries and eggs to bind. I rolled into small meatballs and fried them until slightly browned. They fry up quickly because the meat is already cooked, which makes it easy for a quick meal. I made made small meatballs to make sliders. I put them on dinner rolls, and top them with some cranberry sauce and gravy. They were a HUGE hit. These will definitely be part of my Thanksgiving left over repertoire. They’re a must try!

Enjoy,
Happy Thanksgiving!!
D I V A
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CHOPPED ANTIPASTI SALAD

November 26th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)

Italian’s are not known to serve small amounts of food. On holidays there was always an obscene amount. Our Thanksgiving meal took all day to eat; kid you not!!! We had to pace ourselves so we wouldn’t fall into a food coma. Not only did we have turkey and all the fixings, but some traditional Italian dishes were served as well.
Before we even got to the turkey, there was antipasti.. different types of cheeses, cured meats, olives, roasted peppers..etc…etc…etc..etc. Then came soup (a family recipe), ravioli & meatballs.

Over the years, as our older relative passed on, our Thanksgiving feasts were condensed with most Italian dishes eliminated.:( The one thing that did remain was the antipasti, with a few changes. My mother turned the antipasti into a salad. This seemed to be a much more manageable amount of food. We all loved it just the same.

Happy Thanksgiving,

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QUINOA STUFFED SQUASH

November 24th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)

The fall season is loaded with squash of all shapes and sizes. We bake them, roast them, mash them and even stuff them. In this post, I stuffed acorn squash with quinoa. Quinoa is a grain that doesn’t have much of a taste on it’s own, but it will take on the flavors of whatever you add to it.

I first took the squash and cut the tops off with the stems attached and deseeded them. I rubbed the cavity with olive oil, salt and pepper. While they were baking, I started on the quinoa. I cooked the quinoa according to the package and set aside. I sautéed chopped shallots in some olive oil. I put the shallots along with the excess pan oil, into the quinoa and mixed.

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Pecans, dried cranberries, cinnamon and fresh thyme is stirred into the quinoa to complete the filling. This quinoa recipe can also be used as a side dish, as well. When the squash is fork tender, I removed them from the oven and filled them with the quinoa mix. They were popped back into the oven just to heat the filling through. This couldn’t be any easier.

Enjoy!
D I V A
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AUTUMN RICE SALAD

November 19th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)

This recipe for AUTUMN RICE SALAD is an easy make ahead dish that can be served at room temperature or warm. I mixed together brown rice, walnuts, pistachios, mint and pomegranate seeds. If you don’t like brown rice, use what makes you happy. I also love to use wild rice, for it’s nutty toothiness. The real star of this dish is the dressing. It’s a pomegranate vinaigrette, made with pomegranate molasses, olive oil and a splash of lemon juice.

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The dressing is a little on the sweet side from the molasses, so it needs to be used sparingly. If you don’t want to buy pomegranate molasses that will probably sit in your pantry forever, substitute it for pomegranate vinegar. A key componet of this salad is the pomegranate seeds. They give you a little burst of fall flavor. Autumn Rice Salad is a perfect side dish.

Enjoy,
D I V A
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MEATBALL STEW

October 31st, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)

Beef stew is the ultimate comfort food. It fills your belly and warms your soul during those chilly winter months. There are hundreds of variations on this classic dish. Every country has their own version. There’s Beef Bourguignon in france; Ciambotta in Italy and Pichelsteiner from Germany, to name a few. Not only are there different stew recipes from around the world, they’re even regional. In the states we have Philadelphia pepper pot & New Orleans Gumbo and jambalaya.

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Here’s yet another take on this classic hearty winter dish of beef stew. I replaced the traditional chunks of beef with mini meatballs. I then simmered them with, mushrooms, onions, carrots and peas in a rich broth of red wine and beef stock. I served the stew on a huge hunk of crunchy rustic bread. It soaked up all the delicious broth that we couldn’t get enough of.

I’m sure you have your favorite stew recipe, but if you’d like to try something new, this is it. You won’t be disappointed.

Enjoy!
D I V A
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VIETNAMESE BEEF STEW (Bahn Mi Bo Kho)

October 17th, 2014 § 1 comment § permalink

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(RECIPE)

When the cooler weather rolls in, we want to feel warm and cozy. We not only look for this in big bulky sweaters and sitting in front of a fireplace, food is also a huge factor. Most of us think of soups and stews to make us feel all warm inside. This VIETNAMESE BEEF STEW will do just that.

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What makes this stew different than stews we may be use to, is the spices. I’ve added star anise, cinnamon and cloves, as well as Lemongrass, chili pepper and brown sugar. These spices and ingredients are what gives this stew a depth of flavor that’s both rich and satisfying.

Enjoy!

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LEMON MASCARPONE FIG TART

October 16th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)
Figs are one of my favorite fruits. You can roast them, bake them and eat them in savory or sweet dishes. My favorite way to eat figs is just the way God intended…as is. Whenever I see them in the market, they come home with me. I always put the grocery bag next to me in the front seat. This way I have easy access to the figs. After all, I need a snack for my long journey home (2 miles). I can never resist.

The other night we had friends over for dinner. It was a last minute thing, so I didn’t have much time to prepare dessert. My wheels were turning, then I saw those beautiful purple fleshed figs that I was selfishly saving for my morning breakfast. BUT, for the love of my friends and dessert, I used the figs to make this easy LEMON-MASCARPONE FIG TART.

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I rolled out and blind baked store-bought puff pastry that I fit into a rectangular tart pan. While it was baking, I added sugar and lemon zest to mascarpone cheese. When the crust was baked and cooled, I spread the cheese evenly into the shell and topped it with fresh, sliced figs. This tart is way too delicious to be this easy to make. I’m happy to say, it was a huge hit with our guest. The entire tart was eaten, except for the one piece I managed to hide for my breakfast the next day. I couldn’t wait until morning.

Enjoy!
D I V A
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MOFONGO RELLENO DE POLLO (mashed plantains & chicken creole)

October 9th, 2014 § 2 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)

What is mofongo, you ask. It’s mashed plantains with garlic and pork cracklings or bacon, as in the case of my recipe. It can be found gracing every table in Puerto Rico. It can be eaten as a side dish or with some sort of stewed meat or seafood, which is called mofongo relleno.

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My daughter was the one who told me about mofongo. Mashed plantains with garlic and bacon! Sound good to me.
Making mofongo was easier than I thought. In this post, I made MOFONGO RELLENO POLLO. I used the mofongo as a bowl and filled it with creole chicken. It was so damn good! This dish opened my eyes to the food of Puerto Rico, which I want to explore more. If you’ve never had mofongo, it’s a must.

Enjoy!
D I V A
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ROTOLO (pizza rolls w/ mortadella, ricotta & pistachios)

October 4th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)

Last week my husband and I went to visit my son in Philadelphia. For lunch we went to a place called,
Pizzeria Vetri.” Marc Vetri is a chef that has worked in some prestigious restaurants both in the U.S. and Italy. When he decided to open his own restaurant, he went back to his roots and settled in Philadelphia. He now has several restaurants in Philly…all which are fabulous. Pizzeria Vetri is one of his newest ventures. Being a big fan of his food, going to his pizzeria was a no brainer.

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I had read that the thing to order at Pizzeria Vetri is a “rotolo.” Vertri’s rotolo is pizza dough that’s rolled into a rectangle then layered with mortadella and ricotta cheese. After the meat and cheese is layered, the dough is then rolled like a jellyroll. Once formed into a big log, it’s cut into 3 inch rounds, like cinnamon buns. They’re then baked until crispy and golden. Before serving, it’s topped with a spoonful of pistachio pesto.

I’ve always understood rotolo to be short rolls of stuffed pasta. When I heard that it was being done with pizza dough, I was intrigued. As soon as we walked into the restaurant and before we sat, I ordered a rotolo. When I finally took that first bite, I hate to say this, but I was a little disappointed. 🙁 There was hardly any cheese. All I tasted was crispy dough. A few days later, I decided to make rotolo myself. I made it the same way as Vetri’s except, I added plenty of ricotta. This made all the difference in the world. It was so damn good. I hope you try this recipe, you won’t be sorry. Just remember, use plenty of cheese.

Enjoy!
D I V A
(If you would like to leave a comment, follow the link to the recipe)
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STROMBOLI

September 29th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)

In Philadelphia where I grew up, Stromboli could be found in every pizzeria. When I moved to the New York area, most of my friends didn’t know what it was or they didn’t think they knew. They called it pepperoni roll or pepperoni bread. I did a little research. According to my old friend Wikipedia, Stromboli is said to have originated in the Philadelphia area. So, I think it’s safe to say that Stromboli is the proper name.

Stromboli is basically, pizza dough that has been rolled out into a rectangle, layered with pepperoni (or in this case salami) and mozzarella, rolled like a jelly roll and baked till golden. It’s a great, less messy alternative to pizza. It’s easy to make and everyone loves it. Keep Stromboli in mind the next time your watching your favorite sports game or a kids birthday party. It’s great for those times when you need to feed a crowd.

Enjoy!
D I V A
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FLANK STEAK W/ PICKLED TOMATO SALSA

September 27th, 2014 § 1 comment § permalink

DSC_8154(RECIPE)
The star of this recipe is the PICKLED TOMATO SALSA. It’s so good, I could literally drink it. Like everything else I make, it’s simple to prepare. I brought white vinegar, brown sugar and salt to a boil in a small sauce pan. In a separate pan with hot oil, I put mustard seeds, cracked black peppercorns, as well as cumin, turmeric, cayenne and fresh ginger. I cooked them just until their aromas were released. The spices are then mixed with the vinegar and the chopped tomatoes, chili and scallions.

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In the meantime, I grilled the steak that marinaded in lime juice, cumin and cilantro. Once the meat was cooked to my liking, I put the salsa on top. In this post I put the salsa on flank steak, but it works just as well on chicken. I love to serve it along with basmati rice. I make sure there is plenty of basmati so it can soak up all the delicious salsa. Honestly, just give me the salsa and rice and I’ll be a happy camper.
Enjoy!
D I V A
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PAN SEARED PORK CHOPS W/RED WINE GRAPE SAUCE

September 17th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)

Grapes are harvested for wine in September and October. Since we’re in the middle of the harvest and the fact that I love wine, I thought it would be perfect to post a recipe that pays homage to the season.

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This recipe is a simple preparation for a dish with complex flavors. I pan roasted grapes, added shallots, red wine (of course) thyme, and orange zest for some brightness. I then poured the sauce on pork chops that I pan seared. This easy grape sauce is also great on chicken and especially duck.
Enjoy!
D I V A
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FONTINA STUFFED MEATBALLS ON POLENTA

September 10th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)

What most Americans don’t know, is that spaghetti and meatballs don’t exist in Italy. Italy has spaghetti, of course and they have meatballs, but they’re not eaten together. Meatballs are usually part of antipasti, which are appetizers. They’re fried and slightly flattened. In southern Italy, especially in Naples, they’re bigger, put in tomato sauce and eaten as a main course.

Meatballs in sauce is more of what we’re use to. This is because, years ago when there was a lot of migration to the states, the majority of Italians were from the south of Italy, like Naples. It was only natural that they brought their recipes with them. Another thing most people don’t know, is that meatballs were and still are by some, made with leftover cooked meat. This is done to prevent waste.

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Here in the States, using cooked meat isn’t common place. At least I don’t know anyone who does.
When I make meatballs, I use what I call the Holy Trinity of meats, equal parts of ground beef, pork and veal. I love the taste and texture they give the meatballs. I also use lots of grated parmesan cheese.

In the recipe I posted here, I stuffed the meatballs with a piece of fontina cheese to give it a surprise, gooey center. I put the meatballs in marinara sauce to absorb it’s goodness. When cooked through, I topped them with mozzarella and popped them in the oven to melt the cheese. I then placed them on a bed of cheesy polenta with lots of tomato sauce. Serve a crisp green salad on the side and you have a complete meal.

Of course, if you want to stick to the American way of spaghetti and meatballs, go right ahead. These meatballs are delicious no matter how they’re served.
Enjoy!
D I V A

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PEACH STREUSEL PANCAKE MUFFINS

September 9th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)

In my last post, I made chocolate chip pancake muffins. Since I had some pancake batter left over, I thought I’d try another flavor. I had some ripe peaches, so this recipe for peach crumble pancake muffins was born.
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Even though this recipe is just as easy as the chocolate chip, it has a few extra steps. I added fresh chopped peach and a bit of nutmeg to the pancake batter. I then topped the uncooked muffins with crumble, which is flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter. They were baked for 20 minutes and they were ready to be devoured.

Enjoy!
D I V A

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CHOCOLATE CHIP PANCAKE MUFFINS

September 7th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)

This a super easy recipe uses pancake batter in a new way. Instead of making pancakes the same old way, take them to a new level by turning them into muffins. Yes, muffins!! All you have to do is fill a cupcake tin with pancake batter and bake. It’s that easy.
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I added some chocolate chips to the batter and served them with a dollop of whipped cream. You’re kids will love for these and so will you! trust me.
Enjoy!
D I V A
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GUMMIE BEAR ICE POPSICLES

August 31st, 2014 § 2 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)

Just because summer will be over soon, doesn’t mean you can’t eat ice pops. We eat ice cream all year long; at least I do. These gummie bear ice pops are one of those treats that are fun to eat. There’s a chewy, fruity surprise in every bite. What kid doesn’t like gummie bears?! Even I like them.

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Besides being so damn cute, they’re easy to make. All you need is coconut “water,” gummies, a mold and wooden sticks. If you don’t have a popsicle mold, no big deal, use paper cups. I used mini parfait glasses that I had left over from a cocktail party.

If you have a fear of your kids bouncing off the walls from the sugar, you can make a healthier version. Substitute the gummies for blueberries or any cut up fruit you like.

Enjoy!
D I V A
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EGGS IN PURGATORY (eggs cooked in tomato sauce)

August 31st, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)
I went to brunch recently with my husband and daughter. We went to a Italian restaurant in the West Village of Manhattan, NY called, “Rosemary’s.” It’s a “hot spot,” right now in NYC and rightfully so. It has a great energy and the food is next level. They have a roof top garden and make everything in house. You can’t get any fresher than that! Rosemary’s was a perfect spot for brunch that morning.

I’m not much of a breakfast person. Although, I will admit (please don’t judge) IHOP pancakes are one of my guilty pleasures. When we sat down, I scanned the menu and saw eggs in purgatory, which is simply eggs poached in tomato sauce. When I was a kid, my mother would occasionally make this for my father. I use to think it was so gross!! I couldn’t wrap my head around eating eggs in tomato sauce!! Now, that I’m SOMEWHAT older, I have eaten poached eggs on just about everything, salad, asparagus, steak, pizza, pasta and even a hamburger.
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When the server sat the dish in front of me, I could smell the seductive aroma of garlic and tomatoes from the sauce. Looking up from the plate, were these two perfectly round yellow yolks that seemed to be winking at me. I picked up a piece of crusty Italian bread and scooped up as much as I could. It was pure pleasure! I enjoyed it so much, that I decided to make it at home and share the recipe with you. In Diva’s version, I added a few ingredients that Rosemary’s didn’t have, such as pancetta, thyme and lots of grated parmesan cheese. Even though eggs in purgatory may be my new favorite breakfast food, IHOP will still be my guilty pleasure.
Enjoy!
D I V A
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MOROCCAN CARROT SALAD

August 26th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)
If you read my last post, you know I bought a new kitchen gadget, the Spiralizer. This thing turns veggies into noodle shapes, like spaghetti and corkscrews, as well as slices. I promised myself, that I wasn’t going to bury it in the back of a closet with the rest of the poor, neglected, only used once gadgets.

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The first time I used the spiralizer, I made ZUCCHINI NOODLE PUTTANESCA, which turned out great. This time I decided to make carrot noodles for a MOROCCAN CARROT SALAD. I loved the way this recipe turned out. Besides the carrot strands, I used chickpeas, chopped dates, sliced almonds, coriander seeds, cinnamon, honey, lemon and mint. Sounds good, right?! Please don’t fret. If you don’t have a handy dandy spiralizer, an old fashioned box grater will do the trick.

Enjoy!
D I V A
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ZUCCHINI NODDLE PUTTANESCA (no pasta -paleo friendly)

August 10th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)

I bought a new kitchen gadget. Or should I say another kitchen gadget. This one is a vegetable spiralizer. It cuts veggies into curls, thin slices and strings. I had to have this! I ran to William Sonoma and bought the gadget that the sales woman told me that, “It was a no brainer. I must have this.!!” I already knew I was buying this thing before she tried to sell it to me. I went along with her, anyway.

I’ve been trying to eat PALEO at least 90% of the time. This diet was recommended by my doctor. It’s not just because it’s a fad right now. I’m not big on any kind of “diet,” but having developed some health issues, I thought is was important to follow my doctor’s orders. BTW. Having said that, the PALEO DIET eliminates all grains….NO PASTA. Being an Italian American, pasta is a huge part of “my diet.” I needed a substitute; zucchini was it.

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I opened the box of my brand new gadget that I know I’ll sadly never use again, and began to spin the zucchini into long strands. While I was cutting the zucchini, the sauce was simmering away. I added the uncooked zucchini noodles to the sauce and tossed until coated. It looked like spaghetti puttanesca, but how will it taste? That was the real question. The answer….it was great! Of course, it didn’t taste like pasta, but it was really delicious. I loved the way this dish turned out.

I hope this isn’t going to be just another box shoved in the back of a closet, along with the TWO pasta makers and the ice cream churner. Why I bought those “had to have” gadgets, I’ll never know. My family prefers boxed pasta for the toothiness and my husband and daughter can’t eat ice cream. Anyway, I really want to use this again, so I wrote down some ideas for the next time. We shall see!

Enjoy!
D I V A
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BLUEBERRY CRUMB CAKE

July 26th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)

Blueberries are the second most loved berries next to strawberries. These small, plump berries are full of antioxidants and vitamin C. So not only do they taste good, they’re good for you. I used these little purple gems to make a crumb cake. You get a little burst of sweetness with every bite.
Enjoy,
D I V A

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LINGUINE W/ ROASTED STUFFED TOMATOES

July 25th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)

Angela is a young woman, I met at the gym. Through our conversation I found out that her family is from Salerno, Italy, where she visits as often as possible. Of course being Italian, food became the topic of conversation. She told me of a dish that is a specialty of Salerno and one that her nonna prepares when tomatoes are at their ripest.

Angela was nice enough to tell me how her grandmother makes “Maccheroni con i pomodori ripieni.” What that means is, pasta with roasted stuffed tomatoes. The roasted stuffed tomatoes are placed on top of prepared pasta. When the tomatoes are cut into, their juices and the stuffing, become part of the sauce. This was all new to me, so I was excited to try.

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I hate to say this, but I changed a few things in the recipe. Hopefully Angela’s nonna won’t find out. She may give me the Malocchio (evil eye). She didn’t give me an actual recipe. Italian nonnas only cook by feeling and taste, never by the book. What Angela gave me was a list of ingredients and some instructions.

I used homemade breadcrumbs for the stuffing, because I think they produce the best results. I also added capers, gaeta olives, pine nuts, grated parmesan and fresh basil. The tomatoes are then stuffed and roasted. Angela told me that her nonna has even stuffed cherry tomatoes for this dish. That’s a little too ambitious for me. I opted for the larger, easier to stuff variety.

To season the pasta, I heated some olive oil in a pan and browned garlic, anchovy fillets and red pepper flakes. When the pasta was cooked, I mixed it with the flavored oil, as well as any juice that was in the pan from the roasted tomatoes. The tomatoes are then placed on top of the prepared pasta. I loved this!!!
I’m so glad, Angela was nice enough to share her grandmother’s recipe.
I love trying new recipes, especially when they’re part of a family’s tradition. It makes them that more special and delicious.
Enjoy!
D I V A
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LINGUINE W/ CRAB SAUCE

July 16th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)
When I was a kid, I spent my summers at the beach. My parents had a houseboat that I lived on. The dock where their boat was kept, was full of other boat owner, who just happen to be friends and relatives. Every weekend was a party. It was the dock that rocked. There was always tons of food, drink and endless echoes of laughter that bounced off the bay.

As you could imagine, there was plenty of fishing going on. I’m not a big fisher, but I did love to crab. We would throw crab baskets over the dock and the sides of the boats. Once we collected enough, my mother would cook them. Sometimes she would steam them in garlic and oil with plenty of red seed pepper or beer with Old Bay seasoning. We would sit all night just cracking those babies open and digging in for every little piece of their sweet meat. I could sit there for hours eating those things. I never seemed to get enough.

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Another way my Mom would cook crabs, is by putting them in tomato sauce that she would put over linguine. After slurping up every delicious crab flavored noodle, we would start on the crabs themselves. This was a messy affair. The sauce gets into every crevice of the crabs shell, so when you eat them, the juices drip all over your hands to make a delicious, yummy mess. This was all part of the eating experience.

My husband and I rented a little cottage at the beach for a few weeks. It’s the same beach were we both spent our childhood summer. Some of our friends were there too, so we invited them over to watch the sun set and have some dinner. Being at the beach where I spent my summers; the sound of the seagulls and the waves crashing on the shore; gave me the urge to step into my mothers shoes and try my hand at her recipe. After watching the remarkable sunset, we sat down to eat. The smell coming up from the plate brought me right back to those happy summers of my youth. When I took the first bite, I smiled. It was as though my mother had prepared dinner. I felt her presents in a place where she too, spent some of the happiest summers of her life.

Enjoy!
D I V A
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ITALIAN ROAST PORK SANDWICH W/ BROCCOLI RABE, PROVOLONE & HOT PEPPERS

July 14th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)

When it comes to Philadelphia street food, the cheesesteak is King and the roast pork sandwich is Queen. I was born and raised in Philly and have eaten my fair share of both of these belly busting sandwiches, some at 3am after being out dancing all night!
There have been many debates about the best place to get one of these sandwiches. As far as I’m concerned, the best roast pork is from, DiNic’s.

DiNic’s is a concession stand in The Reading Terminal, which is an indoor market in the center of Philadelphia. There are stalls that sell fresh vegetables and meats, mostly from the Pennsylvania Amish farmers. There are however, concession stands that sell some great food, like DiNic’s. Tommy DiNic’s has been in the Terminal since 1980, but has a long history in the food business. He specializes in classic Italian sandwiches, his roast pork being the most popular. This sandwich was even called “The best in America.”

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recently came upon Tommy DiNic’s Roast Pork recipe on Saveur.com. There was no way in hell that I was going to let this go. Two days later, I had a pork shoulder roasting in the oven. I knew of course, it wouldn’t taste exact, but we were not disappointed..at all!!! It was full of flavor, both the roast and it’s sauce. It’s first rubbed with garlic, fennel seeds, red seed pepper, thyme and parsley then roasted for about 40 minutes. I then put red wine, beef broth, onions and crushed tomatoes in the pan and roasted it for about 2 hours more. The meat was tender and juicy and the sauce was flavorful and addicting.

The way DiNic’s serves the sandwich, is by putting sliced pork on a long soft roll, topped with broccoli rabe and hot peppers, then ladled with the pan juices. It’s a spicy, garlicy, dripping mess of pure deliciousness. I’m getting hungry just writing this post!!

I think the Queen of sandwiches is about to over throw the King. At least in my eyes or shall I say, my tummy!
Enjoy!
D I V A

STEAMED MUSSELS W/ PANCETTA & LEMON

July 8th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)

As I’m writing this, I could imagine myself eating a big bowl of steamy mussels with a huge hunk of crusty, rustic Italian bread. It’s hard to imagine, that at one time Americans considered mussels as uneatable. Thank goodness that has changed.

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Mussels are still the least popular of all the other shellfish like, lobster, crabs and even clams. One of the good things about mussels, besides being delicious and easy to prepare, they’re less expensive than a lot of other seafoods.

This recipe is a simple one. I steamed “well cleaned” mussels in a broth of white wine, stock, shallots, garlic and lemon. I also added browned pancetta and a handful of pasta. These two ingredients can easily be eliminated without changing any of it’s goodness. There is however, one thing that’s mandatory….bread. You’re going to want something to soak up all the wonderful sauce at the bottom of the bowl. No wasting allowed.

Enjoy,
D I V A
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MUSEE DU LOUVRE IN PICTURES

July 7th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

The louvre in Paris is one of my favorite places to visit. I’m completely intrigued by it’s beauty and size. It’s the world’s largest art museum. It would take “at least” a full week to go through every hall. Every time I go to Paris, I like to spend at least one afternoon there.

I was in Paris last week for Men’s Fashion Week. My husband designs for a new ready to wear label, called Cifonelli. The day after the fashion show, we needed some much needed family time. We first had lunch at
Cafe Marley, which is right in the Louvre. We sat outside on the veranda overlooking the museum’s courtyard. After lunch we headed inside to do some exploring. It was a perfect afternoon.

Here are some photos from that afternoon.
Enjoy!
D I V A
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Cafe Marley

Cafe Marley

Roasted chicken breast with apricot marmalade & mustard.

Roasted chicken breast with apricot marmalade & mustard.

Croque Monsieur

Croque Monsieur

Nicoise Salad

Nicoise Salad

These 2 guys mean the world to me.  My husband, & son.

These 2 guys mean the world to me. My husband, & son.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE PHOTOS FROM THE FASHION SHOW FOLLOW THE LINK. (SHOW)

SPAGHETTI WITH A NO-COOK TOMATO SAUCE

July 6th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)

Sophia Loren was quoted as saying, “Spaghetti can be eaten most successfully if you inhale it like a vacuum cleaner.” I couldn’t agree more; especially when the pasta is as delicious as this recipe for SPAGHETTI WITH RAW TOMATO SAUCE. This is one of my favorite summer “go to” recipes. Since the tomatoes aren’t cooked, the recipe relies on them to be the freshest and ripest you could find.

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It best to make this recipe when tomatoes are at their peak when they’re juicer and sweeter. This recipe is a perfect way to highlight tomatoes natural flavor. I simply dice and marinade the tomatoes with good quality, fruity, extra virgin olive oil, garlic cloves, basil, and salt. I like to prepare the tomatoes in the morning and have it sit all day. The longer the tomatoes sit, the better the flavor will be. When dinnertime rolls around, all you have to do is toss the sauce with cooked spaghetti and twirl away.

Enjoy!
D I V A
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SPAGHETTI W/ ZUCCHINI & N’DUJA SALAMI

June 11th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)
N’duja (indueea) is a HOT, soft, spreadable pork salami. It’s a typical food of Calabria, Italy. As you can see in the photos, it has a bright orange red color. This is because the salami is made with lots of red chili peppers, which are grown all over Calabria.

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Every year on August 8th, in the small town of Spilinga, where it is said to have originated, there is a festival honoring this beloved salami. There are street vendors and restaurants serving up all types of food using n’duja. The festival always ends with the traditional Italian dance “tarantella” and fireworks. Calabrians take this very seriously.

N’duja isn’t easy to find. If you want to try this recipe and can’t find it, sub it with a hot spicy sausage.

I must warn you, if you use n’duja, it is spicy. Use as much as your palate could handle.

Enjoy,
D I V A
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PEACH & BLUEBERRY SALAD W/ GINGER DRESSING (paleo friendly)

June 2nd, 2014 § 1 comment § permalink

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(RECIPE)
I love combining sweet and savory in recipes, especially during summer in salads. In late spring and summer when there are so many wonderful fruits in season, I make loads of salads using fruit as the main attraction. I usually make them as a first course or as a light lunch, adding grilled chicken or shrimp.

I always mix the fruit with tomatoes, cucumbers, shaved beets or whatever other veggies that tickle my fancy that day. In the summer, I eat these types of salads often. They’re perfect for the warmer months when you want to eat lighter meals. Right now, the markets are full of peaches. I adore white peaches. I have no doubt that this juicy, sweet, flowery tasting fruit is handpicked by angles and tossed down from heaven. I refer to them as the fruit of the gods. They’re one of my favorites.

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We had friends over for dinner the other night. I was making a pasta dish for our main course, so I wanted to serve something lighter to start. It was time to make my first savory, sweet fruit salad of the season. I used both juicy, ripe yellow and white peaches; I didn’t want to discriminate. I added blueberries for another touch of sweetness. I also, love the blue-black color of blueberries. They always add some visual interest to a dish.

As for the savory part of the salad, I added cherry tomatoes, peppery arugula, red onion and fresh chopped basil. To pull it all together, I tossed in some ginger dressing. Ginger and peaches work so well together; they’re a perfect match. This salad was so good. I thought I made too much for 4 people, but I was wrong! Every last bit was eaten. Our guest loved it! That always makes me happy.

Enjoy!
D I V A
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PAN SEARED SEA SCALLOPS W/ MANGO SALSA (paleo friendly)

May 29th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)

On my resent visit to the doctor’s, I was told that my iron and vitamin D levels are low. She “suggested” that I try the “paleo diet.” I’m sure you all know what it is by now. Everyone is doing it or talking about it, so I’m not going to explain. She feels that it will force me to eat more protein. Also, with some resent health issues, it might be a good idea to cut our sugar. I laughed at the absurdity!! How dare she tell an Italian girl to stop eating pasta & Nutella!!! She’s irrational!

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As irrational as I may think she is, it’s something I need to do. I need to find out if this will help my health issues. I figure if I eat paleo at least 80-90% of the time, I’m still ahead of the game. Because of this change in my diet, you may on occasion find recipes posted on Diva Eats World that are paleo friendly, like this one.

The mango salsa is a great summertime dish. I love it paired with seafood, pork or as a dip. Since my husband isn’t eating paleo, I made him a side of coconut rice! It was all yummy!

Enjoy!
D I V A
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CHICKEN UNDER THE BRICK (paleo friendly)

May 23rd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)

Pollo al mattone, is Italian for chicken under the brick. It refers to a method of grilling, where a brick is placed on top of a whole chicken while cooking. The weight of the brick makes the bird have complete contact with the heat. This allows it to cook evenly and get nice and golden brown. It’s said that this method originated in a little town outside Florence, where they’re known for terra cotta tiles.

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Barbuto, my favorite restaurant in Manhattan, is known for their brick oven chicken that they serve with salsa verde. This is my take on their popular dish. My salsa verde is simply a sauce made from, extra virgin olive oil, capers, lemon zest and some chopped herbs, such as tarragon, basil and parsley. It’s that simple! Now that grilling season is upon us, go get yourself some clean bricks and grill away. It’s a must.

Gustatela!
D I V A
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NACHO BURGER

May 19th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)

Memorial Day. The unofficial/official start of summer. This means backyard BBQ’s will be in full swing. The number one food to slap on those hot coals are burgers. I have a whole notebook of burger ideas, (I promise I’ll share more) this one being one of my favorites.

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I joined together a burger and nachos that turned out to be a match made in burger heaven. I added chili powder, ground cumin, and ground coriander to the beef to give it a flavor kick. I then took all the makings of a plate of nachos; tortilla chips, guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream and sliced jalapeños and piled it high on top of the meat patty. It turned an ordinary burger into a fiesta!

This will be a Memorial Day meal you won’t forget. Unless you have too many of my spicy margaritas.

Enjoy!
D I V A
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MOROCCAN CHICKEN W/ SAFFRON COUSCOUS

May 13th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)

Moroccan cuisine is full of rich, beautiful, warm spices that are used in many of their dishes. Cinnamon, paprika, turmeric, coriander, saffron, ginger, mint and cumin can be found in every Moroccan kitchen. These are some of my favorite spices, which could be the reason why I love Moroccan food.

The recipe I posted here for MOROCCAN CHICKEN, is a simple representation of those warm flavors that are so distinctive in the cuisine. I made a rub with garlic, cinnamon, ground cumin, paprika and cloves. I then gave the chicken pieces a little massage with the spices. I let them stand for a few hours so the flavors could penetrate the meat. I didn’t want to lose any of the wonderful flavors.

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After browning and simming the chicken in stock, I added some other ingredients that are found in many Moroccan dishes; lemons, chickpeas and green olives. Couscous is another food staple. It often has the addition of saffron and dried fruit. The slight sweetness of the fruit offsets the warmth of the spices. I tried to use many of the traditional flavors in this recipe and I’m happy to say, I succeeded!
I love Moroccan food and I love this recipe. It’s one I make often. I hope you like it as much as I do.

Enjoy!
D I V A
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PINEAPPLE EGG STACKS

May 6th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)
It’s time to honor Mom on her special day. Where father’s day is BBQ’s and power tools, Mother’s day is flowers and breakfast in bed. Here’s a deliciously easy recipe that’s good eaten in bed or at a more formal family brunch. Either way, it’s sure to impress.

I baked puff pastry rounds until golden. I then stacked a slice of fresh sweet pineapple, crispy country bacon, and topped it with a poached egg. To finish it all off, I drizzled the stack with extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of fresh thyme.

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You may think this an odd mix, but trust me, it all works. When you cut into the stack and take a bite, you get a mouth full of sweet, salty creaminess that’s enhanced by the drizzle of fruity olive oil.
The puff pastry is there to soak it all up.

Turn this recipe into a special meal for an extra special lady.

Happy Mother’s Day!
D I V A
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Ode to Mom

May 6th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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I lost my mother 24 years ago. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her. When I was younger, I was told that I wouldn’t be able to have children; so, by some miracle, I became pregnant, she was the first person I called. I remember the both of us crying happy tears together. My daughter was only 6 months old when my mother passed. I’m grateful that she got the chance to see and hold her granddaughter.

The thing I miss most about not having my mother around, is not being able to share my children with her. There were no phone calls telling her little funny things they did. There was no sharing moments of pride, or calls of comfort when I was feeling overwhelmed. It saddens me that my kids were unable to feel her unconditional love, as I did.

One thing that my mother left me, was the gift of laughter. She had a great sense of humor and had the ability to make light of unpleasant situations. Her humor cured a lot of growing pains for me as a kid. She instilled this gift in all my siblings. Now, when we get together, there’s none stop laughing. Our laughter is like having a piece of my Mom with us.

She raised 5 kids totally sacrificing herself; not regretting one moment. Family meant everything to her. One of the last things she expressed to me, was how much she loves her family. Those words are what I seek comfort in when I’m missing her.

Not just on Mother’s Day, but everyday; honor your mother. Make time for her. A quick call, a text or a random get together. More importantly, don’t stop telling her you love her. Remember, she was your first love.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!
S A N D Y

OAXACA TLAYUDA with CHORIZO (Mexican pizza)

April 29th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)

Cinco de Mayo marks the victory of the Mexican army over the French, in the Battle of Puebla. It’s a day where Mexicans everywhere honor their culture. No matter if your Mexican or not, everyone loves Cinco de Mayo. The Mexican restaurants are packed and house parties are happening everywhere. Could it be the hip swinging music, the chips and guac or the tequila? Whatever the reason, it’s a fun celebration for all.

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This year, push aside the tacos and seven layer dip and serve up a couple of Mexican pizzas. You’re going to love this easy, delicious and fun recipe…party or not!
Oaxaca tlayuda, is a traditional street food snack, similar to pizza. Large disc of dough made from masa (corn flour) are cooked on a clay skillet or over hot coals. It’s traditionally topped with refried beans, cheese, tomatoes and cabbage.

In my version, I used store bought corn tortillas as the crust and spread it with mashed red beans, tomatoes, green peppers, pickled jalapeño, white onion, cheese and chorizo! I baked it for 10 minutes and out came a party on a plate.

Enjoy!
D I V A
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MAPLE, BACON, BOURBON CUPCAKES

April 10th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)
Maple, bacon and bourbon. I feel like I’m saying “dirty” words.
Bourbon is put into the batter of these cupcakes. The maple in this recipe comes from sweet, sticky maple syrup in the glaze. As for the bacon, I decided to top off the cupcakes with small pieces of crispy, smoky, salty pork. Together these three ingredients turned an everyday vanilla cupcake from child’s play to true adult food porn. They are sinfully delicious.
Enjoy!
D I V A

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CHEESECAKE W/ NUTTER BUTTER CRUST & NUTELLA GANACHE

April 4th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)

Happy Birthday to ME, Happy Birthday to ME, Happy Birthday Dear DIVA, Happy Birthday to ME!!!

When we’re kids, we would get so excited for our birthdays. We wanted so badly to be older, that we would go as far as telling our age in fractions…8 1/2, 9 3/4. As we “do” get older, our age becomes taboo. No one wants or likes to get older, but we have no choice in the matter. I use to dread when my birthday rolled around, but now I embrace it. Even though I embrace my birthdays, I still don’t tell my age.

On one of my milestone birthdays, I was so depressed, I cried all day. My poor husband tried so hard to make my day special, but I just wasn’t having it. The next day, I came to my senses. I realized HOW RIDICULOUS I was behaving! I shouldn’t be sad because I’m a year older, I should be happy that I lived another year. Another year of being with the people I love and doing the things I enjoy. From that point on, I decided not to attach an age to my birthday. I wanted it to be a celebration of life! After all, isn’t that what happens when we’re born?

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I now celebrate my birthday to it’s fullest. It no longer is just a birth”day”, but a series of celebrations.
On another milestone birthday, I actually wrote up a weekend long itinerary of activities for my friends to help me celebrate. My birthday celebration has become a thing my friends look forward to. They know there’s always something fun planned. So, if you’re like I was and dread your birthday remember, we can’t change the fact that we get older, but we can change the way we think about it. It makes all the difference in the world!
Happy Birthday to you.

Now, about the cake. One of my favorite, if not my favorite snack is peanut butter and Nutella. I can eat each one straight out of their jars. I love putting them together on graham crackers or smeared on a ripe banana. This year, I decided to use peanut butter and Nutella together in my birthday cake.

I made a rich, creamy cheesecake that has a peanut butter crust made with crushed Nutter Butter cookies. I then topped it off with a thick layer of chocolate-hazelnut Nutella ganache. One bite and I thought I heard angels sing..it’s that good! Not only is celebrating your birthday important, but celebrating with a great cake makes it that much sweeter.
Enjoy!
D I V A
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CINNAMON ROLL WAFFLES W/ CREAM CHEESE GALZE

March 28th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)
I have another use for that waffle maker that you used once and is now collecting dust in the way back of your cupboard. I’m going to tell you how to make CINNAMON ROLL WAFFLES WITH CREAM CHEESE GLAZE that your kids will love. Don’t worry, these waffles are easy to make. You don’t need to be an expert “cooker” or have any kitchen skills…at all. They’re literally as easy as 1,2,3.

All you need is
1) cooking spray,
2) a waffle maker
3) a can of Pillsbury Grand Cinnabon Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze.

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Here’s how;
1) Go grab your neglected waffle maker and give it a good dusting. Plug it in, heat it up and give it a good coating of cooking spray.

2) Give the can of cinnamon rolls a good whack on the edge of the kitchen counter. If you’re like me, no matter how many times you open one of these canisters, you get startled. Once you compose yourself, separate the rolls and put one on each waffle form. Close the lid and wait 2 minutes.

3) Remove the waffles, put them on a plate, drizzle with warm glaze and dig in!

You can serve these for breakfast or dress them up with a scoop of ice cream for dessert.

D I V A
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