Recipe—Asparagus Ham Rolls

Asparagus Ham Rolls

This was a side dish I recently made for Sunday brunch. It was easy, delicious, and made for a great presentation. Ham and asparagus has always been a classic combination and when you have the nice mild bite of Dijon mustard along with a creamy cheese sauce it’s suddenly even a little more fabulous. Be sure to bookmark this recipe if you are like me and always looking for brunch ideas. It is sure to be a great addition to any menu. Perhaps a Father’s Day brunch item?

Note: I prepared the asparagus rolls the night before and refrigerated them ahead of time. Then the morning of I just had to put together the sauce and bake it. One less thing to be dealing with in the morning.

INGREDIENTS
24 asparagus spears
8 slices deli ham
dijon mustard
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1 c milk
salt and pepper
1 c cheddar cheese, shredded
3 green onions, thinly sliced
paprika

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Trim off approximately 1″ from the cut ends of the asparagus.
  • Steam the asparagus for approximately 3 minutes or until crisp tender.
  • Season the asparagus with salt and pepper.
  • Spread a tad of the Dijon mustard on one side of each slice of ham.
  • Place 3 spears of asparagus on each slice of ham and roll up. As you finish each one place them seam side down in a greased baking dish.
  • Once you have prepared all the rolls get started on the sauce by melting the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat.
  • Mix in flour until well combined.
  • Slowly whisk in milk, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil.
  • Cook for 2 minutes until it begins to thicken.
  • Stir in the cheese and green onions until cheese melts.
  • Pour the sauce over the asparagus rolls and sprinkle with a dash of paprika.
  • Bake for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and serve.

Recipe adapted from a Taste of Home.

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Recipe—Pistachio Bread

Pistachio Bread

When it comes to the classic Jell-O one of my favorite flavors has always been pistachio. I know, I’m kind of a freak. Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate but there is just something about the pistachio that is pretty fabulous too. When I saw this recipe for pistachio bread that called for my favorite tasty green pudding I knew I had to give it a try. I served this bread as a brunch item but with it’s cake base it could easily be a dessert. It ended up super moist, fluffy, and had just the right amount of nutty pistachio flavor. My four-year-old son got a kick out of making and eating green bread. It is so easy to make that I recommend putting the kiddos in the kitchen and letting them help. Such a fun recipe to make together!

Pistachio Bread

INGREDIENTS
15 oz box yellow cake mix
4 eggs
1/4 oil
3/4 c water
3.4 oz package instant pistachio Jell-O pudding, unprepared
1 c sour cream
10 drops green food coloring
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 c pistachios or pecans, chopped

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Grease two bread loaves.
  • Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl until well combined.
  • Divide the batter among the two loaf pans.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.
  • Cool 10 minutes and remove from bread pans.
  • Allow to cool an additional 15 minutes or more before slicing.

Recipe—Pesto Chicken Kabobs

Pesto Chicken Kabobs

Over the past year or so I have been using pesto more and more. Last summer we got a massive amount of basil from our garden, which yielded lots and lots of tasty homemade pesto. I was able to freeze tons and use it throughout the whole year. Awesome! I have found that pesto actually makes a really great marinade. Recently I am totally hooked on pesto chicken kabobs. Not only are they super fun to eat but they cook in a fraction of the time. Perfect meal for this coming summer.

Pesto Chicken Kabobs (Uncooked)

Tip From the Diva: When using wooden skewers, soak them in water for about 10 minutes before putting all your goodies on them. It keeps them from catching fire and are much easier to handle. Genius right?

INGREDIENTS
3–4 chicken breasts, cut into 1” pieces/cubes
salt and pepper
1/2 c pesto
half of a red onion, cut into 1” squares
red bell pepper, cut into 1” pieces
yellow bell pepper, cut into 1” pieces

STEPS

  • Season the cubed chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Place in a container and toss with the pesto.
  • Allow chicken to marinade for at least 30 minutes. (I like to let mine soak up all the flavors for 7–8 hours.)
  • Thread the meat and the veggies onto the skewers making sure to alternate and discard the leftover marinade.
  • Grill skewers for 10 minutes, turning as needed, or until meat is cooked through and vegetables are tender.

27 Cookout Recipes

Cookout Banner

This weekend is Memorial Day weekend and in my mind that is kickoff weekend for the start of outdoor BBQs, cookouts, and potlucks. I have put together 27 of my favorite summertime recipes for you to try. You will find everything from drinks to desserts. Now get outside and have some fun with friends and some fabulous food. Enjoy!

REFRESHING BEVERAGES

1. Fresh Squeezed Lemonade
2. Blended Mango Margaritas
3. Summertime White Sangria

 

APPEALING APPETIZERS

Summertime Appetizers

1. Bacon Jalapeño Cheese Ball
2. Off the Chain Cheddar Crackers
3. Creamy Chicken Enchilada Roll Ups
4. Garlic Parmesan Wings
5. Queso Fundido
6. Creamy Smoked Salmon Dip

 

MUST HAVE SIDE DISHES

Summertime Side Dishes

1. Broccoli Salad
2. Classic Macaroni Salad
3. Crunchy Pea Salad
4. Italian Pasta Salad
5. Chili (The Classic Kind)
6. Potato Salad

 

THE MAIN DISH

1. Crock-Pot Pale Ale BBQ Chicken Sandos
2. BBQ Bacon Wrapped Pork Chop with Grilled Onions
3. Chicken and Cheese Stuffed Sammy
4. Mexican Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa
5. Classic Chicken Salad Sandwich
6. Rio Grande Spice Rub Steak with Grilled Red Onions

 

SWEET TREATS

1. Banana Split Pie
2. Funfetti Cake Batter Cookie Dip
3. Individual Blueberry Cheesecakes in Mason Jars
4. Triple Chocolate Parfait
5. Strawberry Pie
6. Personal Pineapple Upside Down Cakes

Recipe—Stewed Italian Sausages with Peppers

Italian Sausage with Peppers

Perhaps it’s the Italian in me but I absolutely LOVE a good Italian sausage with peppers and onions. Ta-sty! This is a recipe I tried awhile back when I was trying to trim down on my carb consumption. You can use any Italian sausages but I really like Aidells Italian Style Chicken Sausages. They are flavor packed and the chicken helps cut down on some of the calories from the traditional pork or beef. The whole family loved this recipe! For those not watching their carbs, I served it with some crusty French bread and it was a perfect meal! Quick, easy, and delicious. That’s my style!

Note: The sausage and veggies are absolutely awesome in a sandwich too. Just grab a pack of sandwich rolls, load ‘em up, and chow down!

Aidells Italian Sausage

INGREDIENTS
2 pounds Italian sausage (I love Aidells Italian Style Smoked Chicken Sausage with Mozzarella)
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 red bell peppers, chopped
2 yellow bell peppers, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped
salt
1 c dry red wine
1 c fresh parmesan, grated

STEPS

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
  • Add the sausage and cook turning frequently until they turn a nice golden color and are cooked through, about 15 minutes.
  • Transfer to the sausages to a large plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
  • Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil to the skillet along with all the veggies.
  • Cook stirring occasionally until the vegetables are softened, about 12–14 minutes.
  • Season the veggies with salt and add the sausages back into the skillet.
  • Add the wine to the skillet and bring to a simmer.
  • Continue to cook for about 4 minutes or until the wine has reduced by about half.
  • Sprinkle with the grated parmesan and serve.

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine.

 

Recipe—Asparagus and Feta Salad

Asparagus and Feta Salad

California is one of the leading producers of asparagus in the United Stated. Asparagus is so big in California that the city of Stockton even throws an entire festival in honor of asparagus. True story! I grew up eating asparagus on a regular basis. (By the way, I am 33 and still crack up that it gives you stinky pee. I don’t think I will ever grow up.) I could eat asparagus every day. There are just so many ways to prepare it but I think I have found my favorite way to eat the lovely green spears, grilled asparagus and feta salad. Man this was awesome! My husband and I devoured the whole bowl so if you are cooking for more than 2 people just go ahead and double or triple the recipe. Trust me you will eat it all! There was just so much flavor in the salad and it was so light and refreshing. Perfect for spring or summer. We just served it with a simple grilled chicken breast seasoned with nothing more than salt and pepper and it was the perfect complement. This my friends, is good eating.

Want to know more about asparagus? Then check out this old post and you will be an asparagus pro!

Asparagus and Feta Salad

INGREDIENTS
1 bunch thick asparagus, ends trimmed
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper
zest from one lemon
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 c crumbled feta cheese

STEPS

  • Preheat the grill to about 325º.
  • Place the asparagus in a baking dish and coat with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and then season with salt and pepper.
  • Place the asparagus on the grille making sure that they are perpendicular to the grates so that they don’t slip through.
  • Close the grill and cook for 3 minutes.
  • roll the asparagus over and cook for another 3 minutes.
  • Remove the asparagus and transfer to a cutting board.
  • Allow the asparagus to cool for 5–10 minutes.
  • Cut the spears into 1–2” pieces.
  • Place the cut asparagus into a medium bowl and toss with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, and half of the feta.
  • Top the salad with the remaining asparagus and serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe adapted from Once Upon a Chef.

Recipe—Creamy Jalapeño Shrimp Over Linguine

Creamy Jalapeño Shrimp Over Linguine

Ever since my friend prepared me jalapeño mac n’ cheese (which was absolutely phenomenal by the way, and I hope to have that recipe very soon, *wink wink* Nicole. ;) I have been craving jalapeños and pasta with some sort of creamy sauce. Then low and behold I stumbled upon a recipe on another blog for shrimp in jalapeño cream sauce. That blogger made her recipe and served it over rice but I knew I wanted to put my own twist on it and go with a pasta. All I have to say is AWE-SOME! Think of this as a decadent jalapeño popper but as a main course. It wasn’t over the top spicy but it just had the perfect little bite to it. And you know what else I loved about this recipe? It took barely 20 minutes from start to finish! It was exactly what I needed after my insanely busy day. Even if you are sitting there all sketpical about this recipe, open your mind and give it a try. It may sound weird but oh heavens, it is delicious!

INGREDIENTS
1 lb shrimp, deveined and peeled
salt and pepper
4 tbsp butter, divided
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 c white wine
1 c heavy whipping cream
6 canned jalapeño slices, chopped
1 tbsp pickling juice from jar of jalapeños
1/4 c sour cream
linguine, cooked per package instructions

STEPS

  • Season shrimp with salt and pepper.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of the butter a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Melt the butter until it turns a light brown making sure not to burn it.
  • Add the shrimp to the pan and sauté for 5 minutes until the shrimp are firm and pink.
  • Transfer the cooked shrimp to a bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.
  • Add the remaining two tablespoons of butter to the skillet and melt.
  • Place the sliced onions in the skillet and cook over medium high heat until tender, about 4 minutes.
  • Add the wine and bring to a boil.
  • Cook down the wine for about 4 minutes.
  • Add the cream and chopped jalapeños and bring to a simmer.
  • Reduce heat to medium low and simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes or until reduced by one-third.
  • Stir in the pickling juice and sour cream until well combined.
  • Season sauce with salt and pepper and add the shrimp back to the pan.
  • Allow shrimp to heat through, about 3–4 minutes.
  • Serve over cooked linguine.

Recipe—Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Cups

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Cups

If you have been following me for a while now then you have probably caught onto the fact that I love anything with buffalo sauce. If you haven’t caught onto that yet then pay attention! I’ve shared recipes for buffalo cauliflower bites, buffalo baked chicken, buffalo chicken tacos… you catch my drift? Okay, I may even call myself a buffalo sauce fanatic. I don’t know what it is about the spicy sauce that I enjoy so much but anything doused in Frank’s is good in my book.

Well I recently saw a recipe for crock-pot buffalo chicken wraps and I knew I had to try them. So I went to the store, got all my ingredients, and then…I forgot the whole preparing the crock-pot aspect that went along with the recipe. Whoops! Welcome to my life. No worries, I improvised. I just boiled the chicken along with the veggies, shredded it, and was back on track!

These turned out absolutely awesome! They were fairly quick and easy to put together and best of all they were light and refreshing. You have the nice crisp lettuce wrapped around the spicy tender chicken and then top it off with the rich blue cheese and some crisp veggies. Mmm… mmmmm… perfectly balanced!

INGREDIENTS
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 celery ribs, sliced
Small yellow onion, chopped
4 tbsp butter
1/2 c buffalo sauce (I love Franks’s)

FIXINGS
Large lettuce leaves (butter, romaine, green leaf, or iceburg)
Carrots, shredded
Celery, chopped
Blue cheese dressing
Blue cheese crumbles

STEPS

  • Place the chicken breasts, celery, and onions in a large pot.
  • Top off with water making sure everything is submerged.
  • Bring pot of water to a boil over high heat and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Pour the entire pot into a colander and remove the chicken breast.
  • Using two forks shred all of the chicken.
  • Using the pot you boiled the chicken in, melt the butter over medium-high heat.
  • Add the buffalo sauce and stir to combine.
  • Toss in the shredded chicken and the cooked veggies from the colander and mix to combine.
  • Place a scoop of the chicken in a lettuce cup and top with fresh carrots, celery, blue cheese dressing, and blue cheese crumbles.
  • Grab a napkin and enjoy!

Recipe—Off the Chain Cheddar Crackers

Off the Chain Cheddar Crackers

A couple of my totally awesome work buddies are trying to kick off one of the greatest businesses Sacramento could ever gain (that is of course, in my opinion). It is called Off The Chain Bike Bus Tours. Bike buses are growing in popularity and I would LOVE to see one brought to Sacramento! Come on, riding a pedal powered bike throughout Sacramento with 15 of your closest friends, making stops at your favorite bars and restaurants, enjoying the scenes, all while burning calories. How much better could it get!?!?

This my friends, is a bike bus. Rad, right?

This my friends, is a bike bus. Rad, right?

If this company takes off they will look to expanding to several other cities around the United States. Support them and you may see one pop up in your neighborhood!

If this company takes off they will look to expand to several other cities around the United States. Support them and you may see one pop up in your neighborhood!

Since this business will launch in November I am already planning my first bike bus outing. I envision a day of hopping from bar to bar and peddling around town with all my best friends. Being the experienced drinker I am, I know that will require some solid carbs, such as these fabulous homemade cheddar crackers. I made these the other day and they went perfectly with ice-cold beer. (I’m sure they’d go great with a soda pop or water too if that’s your cup of tea.) These crackers are light, fluffy, buttery, and cheesy and are absolutely perfect if you are just sitting around having drinks with family and friends or even for a picnic, Sunday hike, or beer bus tour around Sacramento.

BikeBusFun

Can’t you just see yourself cruising around town on this?!?!

 

INGREDIENTS
3/4 c sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 c butter, softened
1 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
dash of paprika

STEPS

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
  • Cover and refrigerate dough for 45 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 375º.
  • Shape the dough into 1″ balls and place a couple of inches apart on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Press down with a fork leaving hatch marks on top.
  • Bake for 12–14 minutes or until the edges just start to turn a nice golden color.
  • Leave on baking sheet to cool for 10 minutes.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Note: These crackers will stay fresh in an airtight container for several days.

Recipe adapted from Chef in Training.

Recipe—Triple Chocolate Parfait

DivaDiCucina_TripleChocolateParfait

Last weekend we celebrated the hubby’s 35th birthday. (Happy birthday babe!) I wanted to make him a fabulous dessert but he is not much of a cake guy. You may remember this from last year when I shared a recipe for Snickers Cake. He does however like chocolate so I threw together these triple chocolate jars of goodness and they were a real hit! You have the nice cakey layer from the Oreos, a thick rich chocolate pudding layer, and then the Cool Whip combined with pudding creates a lite and airy chocolate mousse. Layer upon layer of tasty goodness! And I am totally loving desserts in mason jars. One of our guests couldn’t finish hers so we just threw a lid on it and she took it home for later. Super convenient and and so cute!

Note: This recipe will make enough to fill four 12 oz mason jars (pictured) or six 8 oz mason jars. These can be made a full day in advance. The Oreos take on a nice cake like consistency the longer they sit. 

INGREDIENTS
5.9 oz box instant chocolate fudge Jell-O pudding
3 1/2 c milk
8 oz container Cool Whip
20 Oreos, crushed

STEPS

  • Prepare instant pudding per package instructions using the milk.
  • Place pudding in fridge and chill for 20 minutes.
  • In a large mixing bowl stir together the container of Cool Whip and about half of the prepared pudding until well combined.
  • Place a heaping spoonful of the crushed Oreos in the bottom of your serving dishes and then top with a couple of tablespoons of the pudding, followed by a couple tablespoons of the Cool Whip mixture.
  • Repeat until the containers are full making sure to finish off with the crumbled Oreos.
  • Chill until ready to serve.