Recipe—Lamb Meatballs Over Couscous with Feta

Lamb Meatballs Over Couscous

Some of you may remember from my Lamburger post quite some time ago about my dad living next to a sheep farm. (If not, go check it out, seriously amazing recipe and a fun little story.)

Well as a house-warming gift my incredible dad and stepmom gave us an ice chest full of all sorts of wonderful cuts of lamb and even some pork! That is probably the best and most practical housewarming gift you could give a person right? Okay, maybe the best housewarming gift you could give a foodie. Daddy knows me all too well. Thankfully there was lots of ground lamb in the mix so I have been able to make this awesome dish a couple of times recently.

The lamb meatballs have a super unique flavor with the chopped up bits of apricot which keeps them super moist. I serve them over a bed of couscous with a little Athens salad made up of cucumber, tomatoes, and red onion. I love how light and refreshing the entire meal is! Seriously a fave recipe of mine and it just looks so darn pretty on the plate! Plus this recipe takes less than 25 minutes to make. #winning

INGREDIENTS
1 lb ground lamb
1/3 c dried apricots, chopped
1/2 tsp coriander
1 small red onion, half finely chopped and half thinly sliced
kosher salt and pepper
1 cup couscous
4 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp lemon juice
2 tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cucumber, sliced
1/2 feta, crumbled

STEPS

  • Turn the oven on to broil.
  • In a bowl combine the ground lamb, apricots, coriander, the finely chopped red onion, salt, and pepper and mix until well combined,
  • Form the meat into 1 1/4″ balls and place them in a baking dish.
  • Place the dish in the oven on the middle rack and cook for 8–10 minutes.
  • While the lamb meatballs are cooking, prepare the couscous per package instructions.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, and some salt and pepper.
  • Once the meatballs are couscous are done it’s time to plate.
  • Place a nice size scoop of the couscous in the center of the plate and top with 3–5 meatballs.
  • Place the sliced tomatoes, cucumber, and red onion on the plate next to the couscous.
  • Drizzle the lemon olive oil dressing over everything on the plate and then finish off with the crumbled feta cheese.
  • Dinner is ready to serve!

Recipe adapted from Real Simple.

Kitchen Tip—Fun Individual Veggie and Dip Cups

Veggie and Dip Cups

Back in December I threw a little party for my son. We invited over a couple of his closest friends. Keep in mind this was a group of 4–5 year olds. I wanted to have kid friendly food that they would enjoy. I made mini burgers, little fruit kabobs with marshmallows, a fun neon green punch, and a couple of other things. Now being a mom who insists on a balanced meal I knew I needed to get some veggies in there. I wanted to do something different so that the kids would actually want to eat them. So here you have Individual Veggie and Dip Cups!

The kids thought they were awesome! They loved having their own little cups. I bought a pack of these small plastic cups at a local party store, did a little squirt of ranch in the bottom and added in sliced carrots, cucumbers, and celery. How great, right?!?! Not only were these fun to eat but it also prevents the kids from double dipping. Have you ever watched kids go to town on a table of appetizers? They will bite and dip and repeat. Heck, I have even caught adults doing that! So regardless of the age of your party guests this is a fun and great way to serve veggies as an appetizer. A crowd pleaser for all ages!

If you like this idea you should check out this one too!

DivaDiCucina_IceCreamScoops

Pre-Scooped Ice Cream—A Party Time Saver

Recipe—Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Summer is approaching and that means its BBQ and party season! Whoop whoop! We seem to attend and host so many great BBQs and parties throughout the summer and I am always jumping at the chance to make something that will really wow people. However, I don’t always have the time to throw together a fancy smancy dish. This black bean and corn salsa has been a go to recipe of mine for years now and people always love it! It is completely different and super easy to make.

I pretty much keep all the canned ingredients in my pantry year round because you never know what will come up and when you may suddenly need an appetizer to bring. And a huge plus is it makes a lot, so I always leave a little extra at home to keep for myself for later on. I’m greedy like that. And if I haven’t already convinced you to try it, another plus is it stays good for at least a week in the fridge.

This salsa goes great just served with some chips but I have also found it is amazing in a baked potato, in a quesadilla, stuffed in an omelet, or even along side some grilled chicken or steak. Seriously, super versatile. Okay, now I am getting hungry and need a reason to go make some of this. Fiesta anyone?

I hope you enjoy this awesome recipe as much as I do!

INGREDIENTS
2 (8 oz) cans of Rotel Tomatoes and Chilies
1 (14 oz) can of Mexicorn (Mexican style corn)
1 (16 oz) can black beans
1 (4 oz) can green chilies
1 c diced sweet onion
1/2 c cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
salt and peppers to taste

STEPS

  • Add all ingredients in a large bowl and stir.
  • Store in refrigerator until ready to serve. (Yes, it is seriously that easy.)

Recipe—BBQ Chicken Calzones

 BBQ Chicken Calzones

One of my favorite pizzas has got to be the BBQ Chicken pizza from California Pizza Kitchen. I know I know it is totally not traditional pizza. I guess I just like how light it is and that it is completely different. They have this perfectly thin crust, light on the cheese, and then you get a flavor packed punch from all the BBQ sauce and then the unexpected cilantro. Somehow it just works!

I decided to try and duplicate this recipe but opted for calzones just for something different. They were awesome! And best of all the recipe made more than enough for the three of us so I was able to freeze them and had another nights worth of dinner for later that month.

This recipe was incredibly easy to make and I even brought my little guy in the kitchen to assist. He had a blast helping to assemble them! I don’t think this recipe took us more than 40 minutes. I spent about 20 minutes prepping and putting them together and another 20 to bake them. While they are baking throw together a quick salad and dinner is done!

 BBQ Chicken Calzones

Note: If you plan on freezing some, be sure to freeze them uncooked. I place the uncooked calzones on a wax paper lined baking sheet and put them in the freezer. Once they are frozen solid I place them in an airtight Ziploc bag. This keeps them from sticking together. When you are ready to enjoy them just place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake at 375º for about 20–25 minutes.

INGREDIENTS
1 can refrigerated pizza dough (I like Pillsbury)
1 c bbq sauce
1 rotisserie chicken shredded
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 c mozzarella, shredded
1/4 c cilantro, chopped

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 375º.
  • Cut your pizza dough into 6–8 pieces.
  • Lightly flour a cutting board and roll a piece of the dough out into a nice even circle. You want to get it pretty thin.
  • Add a spoonful of the BBQ sauce to the rolled out dough and evenly spread it around using the back of a spoon. (Avoid the edges so that the dough will stick to itself when you go to close them up.)
  • Add a nice little pile of the chicken to the center of the rolled out dough and top with a few slices of the red onion, a sprinkling of the cheese, and a couple pinches of the cilantro. (Make sure none of the filling is near the edges.)
  • Carefully fold the calzone in half and go around the outside edge rolling it up tightly so none of the toppings come out when baking.
  • Place the assembled calzone on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Continue assembling the rest of the calzones and placing them on the baking sheets. (Note that you will probably need two sheets to hold all of them.)
  • Once they are all assembled and loaded up on the baking sheet, bake them for 15–20 minutes or until the crust is a nice golden brown.
  • Remove the sheet from the oven and allow them to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
  • Optional: Serve with an extra side of BBQ sauce or ranch if you’d like.
  • Enjoy!

If you like this unique pizza recipe then you should give this one a try too!

Shrimp and Pesto Pizza

Shrimp and Pesto Pizza 

Recipe—Sweet Cherry Chip Dip

Sweet Cherry Chip Dip

Does anyone else have a weakness for fruit and chocolate besides me? I love the combination. I will eat chocolate covered bananas, strawberries, mandarins, apples, cherries, you name it. I wont discriminate. Now add in cream cheese, mind blown!

This dip combines the sweet creaminess of a cheesecake with the flavor of cherries and the crunchiness of chocolate chips giving you the best dessert dip ever! I warn you though, if you are like me you will be eating this by the spoonful. (I can sometimes be a pig like that.) I like to serve this with chocolate graham crackers but you can serve it with anything you want. Nilla wafers, animal crackers, Oreos, etc. Go crazy with your dipping vessles! It is perfect to bring to a party and your friends will appreciate the unique dessert that is easy to serve and sure to be enjoyed by all!

Sweet Cherry Chip Dip

Note: This will thicken up once refrigerated. I like to take it out about a half hour before I serve it so that it isn’t so firm that it breaks the crackers when dipping.

INGREDIENTS
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 c butter, softened
1/2 c maraschino cherry juice (the liquid from the jar of cherries)
2 1/2 c powdered sugar
1/2 c maraschino cherries, chopped
1 c mini chocolate chips, divided
Chocolate graham crackers or similar item for dipping

STEPS

  • In a large mixing bowl beat together the cream cheese and butter until well combined.
  • Add in the maraschino cherry juice and powdered sugar until well combined and smooth.
  • Fold in the chopped cherries and 3/4 cup of the mini chocolate chips.
  • Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the remaining chocolate chips.
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Recipe adapted from Shugary Sweets.

If you like that, then maybe you will love this!

Funfetti Cake Batter Cookie DipFunfetti Cake Batter Cookie Dip

Brunch Ideas for Mother’s Day

Mothers Day Brunch Ideas

Mother’s Day is just around the corner! While going out to brunch is great, I personally think an elegant brunch with my family at home is the best way to spend the day. This time of year we have such fabulous weather in California so sprucing up a table on the patio with some nice linens and flowers can be just as nice as going out to eat. If you are planning on cooking brunch for Mother’s Day for your mom, or perhaps even your wife (hint, hint spouses) here are some of my favorite recipes that any mom would be sure to enjoy. Happy Mother’s day to all the moms out there!

Mothers Day Brunch Ideas

  1. Asparagus Gruyére Tart
  2. Moist Banana Nut Bread
  3. Breakfast Portobellos
  4. Individual Blueberry Cheesecakes in Mason Jars
  5. Hot Ham & Swiss Sammies
  6. Breakfast Potatoes
  7. Blueberry Cream Cheese Danishes
  8. Peaches & Cream Cheesecake Bars
  9. Sausage Gravy
  10. Almond Poppy Seed Bread
  11. Broccoli & Cheddar Egg Bake
  12. Spiced Carrot Bread
  13. Blueberry French Toast Casserole
  14. Strawberry Pie
  15. Raspberry Turnovers
  16. Leek Quiche

Looking for more brunch ideas or perhaps you are thinking of cooking a nice dinner instead? Check out my recipe box. There are lots of great ideas listed by category there!

Recipe—Tangy Shrimp Tacos with Chipotle Cream

Tangy Shrimp Tacos

I am a sucker for tacos! I love tacos. Doesn’t matter what you fill them with, it is all good in my book. If there is meat and some sort of fresh produce in the tortilla you really can’t go wrong.

These are some of my favorite tacos during the summer because they are relatively easy to make and they are so light and refreshing! The tangy citrus slaw goes great with the spicy chipotle cream. I have made these when having company over for dinner and served them with my cilantro lime rice and some black beans for an awesome dinner. Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner so be sure to mark this recipe and give them a try. And for the ultimate meal, don’t forget the mango margaritas!

Note: The shrimp can be cooked in a skillet or over the grille. It is personal preference. If you decide to grille just skewer the shrimp on a kabob and cook for 3–5 minutes at 400º.

SHRIMP INGREDIENTS
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp lime juice
1/2 c tequila (I prefer white)
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder
2 lb shrimps, peeled and deveined

COLESLAW INGREDIENTS
1/4 c lime juice
1/4 c orange juice
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp dijon mustard
4 c red cabbage, chopped
salt and pepper

CHIPOTLE CREAM INGREDIENTS
1 c sour cream
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

ADDITIONAL ITEMS
10–12 corn tortillas (I am a huge fan of white corn)
Avocado
Cilantro

STEPS

  • Place the shrimp in a large bowl whisk together the kosher salt, honey, lime juice, tequila, garlic, cumin, chili and powder.
  • Once the marinade is well mixed add the shrimp and toss to coat.
  • Place the bowl of shrimp in the fridge to marinade for 30 minutes.
  • While the shrimp is marinating prepare the coleslaw by whisking together the lime juice, orange juice, olive oil, and mustard.
  • Add the red cabbage to the dressing and mix until well coasted.
  • Season the coleslaw with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Place the coleslaw in the fridge.
  • While you are waiting on the shrimp to finish marinating prepare the chipotle cream sauce by placing the sour cream and chipotle peppers into a blender and blend until you have a nice creamy sauce with no chunks. (If you like your food more on the spicy side taste the sauce and add more peppers accordingly.)
  • After the shrimp is done marinating, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add the shrimp and all the marinade from the bowl to the hot skillet and cook for 3–5 minutes stirring occasionally until all the shrimp are opaque all the way through and are pink/orange in color.
  • Warm the corn tortillas either one by one in hot skillet or all at once in the microwave.
  • To assemble the tacos place a scoop of the coleslaw and 3–5 shrimp (depends on size) in each tortilla.
  • Top each taco with some of the diced avocado.
  • Finish off each taco by drizzling some of the chipotle cream over the top and topping of with a little of the fresh chopped cilantro.
  • Serve with a lime wedge and enjoy! Tacos up!

Looking for more recipes like this? Maybe you will love these!

Shrimp Tacos

Shrimp Tacos

DivaDiCucina_ShreddedBeefTacos

Crock-Pot Shredded Beef Tacos

DivaDiCucina_ShrimpEnchiladas

Shrimp Enchiladas with Jalapeño Cream Sauce

I’m Back, and in a New Kitchen!

The last several months have probably been the craziest of my life so I apologize that my posts have been non-existent. I am working on getting back into the swing of things and promise more recipes coming soon!

Why has my life been so crazy you ask? My family and I bought a new house! A beautiful house that I can say without a doubt is my dream home! I will live and die in this house. If not because I love it, because moving is such a pain!

It really did all happen in a whirlwind. We went and looked and a house just for fun and fell in love at first sight. We weren’t really in the market for a new house we just happened to drive by it one day after having lunch and thought it would be fun to look. Within 3 days we were signing papers on it. The house was not even a finished house. As a matter of fact it was only framed.

This is what it looked like when we bought it. Crazy, right?

House

Over the next four months we worked hard on fixing up our old home, staging it, getting it on the market, packing up all our possessions and moving up the road to our new home. And keep in mind this was all going on throughout the holidays. It was so worth it but oh my goodness! Moving is a pain and you don’t realize how much stuff you have until you have to box it all up and move it from Point A to Point B.

We have now been in our home for 6 weeks and it finally feels like life is getting back to normal. Hallelujah!

Now onto what really pertains to this blog. My kitchen! My glorious beautiful kitchen! I am in love! The kitchen has granite countertops with full backsplashes, is equipped with stainless steel Whirlpool appliances, including a microwave, TWO ovens (yes, two!), a 5 burner gas range, a beautiful new side by side refrigerator, and more cabinets than a gal knows what to do with.

Kitchen

Oh yeah, and it even came with an incredible view! This is the view from the kitchen and dining room. Not too shabby, eh?!? (Never mind the landscaping, that is still a work in progress.)

View

Here is the funny thing, I was in love with my kitchen from the moment I saw it. However, I was completely intimidated by it. I didn’t cook in it for a week because I didn’t want to mess it up. It was too perfect! So the first time I went to use the digital high tech oven it took me five minutes to figure out how to turn it on. I am not even kidding! All I wanted to do was toast garlic bread for Pete’s sake!

Now I am much more comfortable in it and this past weekend I even hosted my first party with great success. The new kitchen is so much better equipped for entertaining.

Anyways, my sincere apologies the non existent posts the last four months. I hope you can all forgive me and will continue to check in for more regular recipe posts. I’m sure I will have some great and humorous stories of my adventures in my new kitchen over the next few months.

I have missed my regular blogging and am looking forward to getting back into the groove of things. Stay tuned!

XOXOX

Diva di Cucina

Recipe—Easiest Beef Enchiladas Ever

Easiest Beef Enchiladas Ever

Over the summer the wonderful people at Del Real sent me a massive party box of all sorts of wonderful goodies to try out. One of the items was a package of seasoned shredded beef (carne deshebrada). As soon as I saw it I thought to myself, “wow, having cooked and seasoned meat all ready to go would make enchiladas a total breeze!”

Del Real Shredded Beef

I decided to try and simplify the usually overly complex enchilada process. The name of this recipe describes it to a “t.” I am a huge fan of enchiladas. I make them fairly regularly but when I do the kitchen ends up in total disarray because of all the work that goes into them. This recipe uses only 5 ingredients but makes enough food to feed a small army.

Note: This recipe makes about 12 enchiladas. Since there are only 2 1/2 people in our household I cooked 4 that night and then put the rest into two 8” x 8” foil containers and froze them. That is 3 nights worth of dinner for about $5 a meal. Who can beat that? Cheap and easy. That is my style.

Easiest Beef Enchiladas Ever

INGREDIENTS
32 oz package Del Read Shredded Beef
12 soft taco sized flour tortillas
2 (28 oz) can Las Palmas Enchilada Sauce (red or green)
4 c jack cheese, shredded
1 c black olives, sliced

STEPS

  • Heat the meat per package instructions.
  • Preheat oven to 425º.
  • After the meat is done cooking transfer it to a large bowl and toss with 1 1/2 cups of the enchilada sauce.
  • Spray your baking dish(es) with a non stick spray or lightly grease.
  • Pour enough enchilada sauce in the bottom of your baking dish(es) to cover the bottom.
  • On a large cutting board, lay a tortilla out flat and add a scoop full of meat and sprinkle with cheese and a few of the sliced olives.
  • Roll up the enchilada and place seam side down in your “sauced up” bake dish and repeat until you are out of ingredients.
  • Pour the remaining sauce over the tops of the enchiladas.
  • Sprinkle with remaining cheese and olives.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Remove foil and finish off in the oven for another 10–15 minutes or until the cheese is nice and melted and just starting to brown.
  • Allow the enchiladas to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
  • Top with sour cream or guacamole if desired.

A huge thank you to Del Real for giving me the opportunity to try out several of your products. I love them all! You guys rock!

Recipe—Italian Cheese Rolls

Italian Cheese Rolls

Sometimes you just need to spruce up the ordinary with a little pizzazz. While there is nothing wrong with plain garlic bread or even simple dinner rolls but sometimes it is fun to take those sides dishes to the next level. I have seen these cheese filled Pillsbury rolls popping up all over Pinterest and decided to come up with some yummy rolls of my own. I went with an Italian version to go with all the pasta dishes I make, a great substitute for the traditional garlic bread.

Italian Cheese Rolls

INGREDIENTS
1 container of Pillsbury Grands Flaky Biscuits
block of mozzarella, cut into eight 1.5” x 1.5” cubes
1/4 c butter, melted
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 c Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp Italian seasoning mix
salt

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • Open the tube of rolls and flatten each one using the palms of your hands.
  • Position a cheese cube in the center of each flattened roll and wrap the edges of the roll up around the cheese cube making sure they are sealed up tight.
  • Place seam side down on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Repeat until all the rolls have been assembled.
  • Mix together the melted butter and garlic.
  • Brush each roll with the garlic butter.
  • Sprinkle all the rolls with the Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, and a little salt.
  • Bake the rolls for 16–18 minutes or until they are golden on top.
  • Let the rolls cool for about 3 minutes before serving. That cheesy filling can be nuclear.