Uncategorized

Recipe—Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies

This here is a recipe I have been sitting on for a while now. How selfish of me, I know! It takes two amazing desserts, oatmeal whoopie pies and carrot cake, and combines them into one fun one. I made these for a baby shower but they are also a perfect addition to any Easter brunch. The filling has the rich creaminess of cheesecake frosting and a nice fluff with the marshmallow mixed in. And if the filling alone isn’t enough to try this recipe, all that yumminess is sandwiched between two soft cookies (almost cake like) that have a perfect hint of spice mixed in from the cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.

COOKIE INGREDIENTS
1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c quick oats
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4  tsp ground ginger
1/8  tsp nutmeg
1/4  tsp salt
1/2 c butter, softened
1/2 c sugar
1/2  c packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 c finely grated carrots

FILLING INGREDIENTS
4 oz cream cheese, softened
4 oz marshmallow fluff
4 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 c powdered sugar

STEPS

  • In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt and set aside.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  • Mix in the egg and vanilla and continue mixing until well combined.
  • Slowly add in the dry ingredients and continue to mix.
  • Fold in carrots and place the mixing bowl in the fridge for 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350º and line your baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Take about 3 tbsp of the cookie batter and roll into dough balls.
  • Place the balls about 2 inches apart on the lined baking sheets.
  • Bake for about 11–12 minutes or until the centers are set.
  • Allow the cookies to sit on the baking sheet for a couple minutes after removing from the oven and then carefully transfer to a wire cooling rack.
  • Once all the cookies have completely cooled beat together the cream cheese, marshmallow fluff, butter, and vanilla.
  • Beat in the powdered sugar until nice and creamy. If the filling seems to soft add in additional powdered sugar.
  • Transfer the filling to a piping bag or a ziploc bag with the corner cut.
  • Pipe the filling onto the underside of one of the cookies and place another one on top.
  • Eat immediately or place in the fridge covered until ready to enjoy.
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Dinners

Recipe—Beef and Broccoli Ramen

I don’t know why I am so late to the game but I recently discovered a love of ramen. Not just the generic pack of dry noodles, but meat and veggie packed delicious ramen. It’s like Top Ramen on flavor packed steroids. I have a couple different recipes that I have been trying out but this one is the most recent one I have come to enjoy. It takes a bit of time to prep in the morning, but then it comes together in about 15 minutes when you get around to cooking it all up. Perfect for all those with busy lives who want a fast and tasty quality meal. By the way, you won’t believe how amazing the marinade smells. I think my mouth was watering the entire time I was making this recipe. Heck, my mouth is watering just writing about it.

Note: I made this recipe using new york steaks and it yielded a very tender meat. You can certainly use a one-pound flank steak for a more budget friendly recipe. If you are short on time in the morning (I mean who isn’t), you can prepare the marinade and slice the meat the night before keeping them separate and then add them to the ziploc bag in the morning. Just don’t marinade the meat overnight.

MARINADE INGREDIENTS
1/4 c vegetable oil
3 tsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 c honey
1/2 c soy sauce
1 tbsp parsley (dried or fresh with both work
2 new york steaks, fat trimmed

OTHER INGREDIENTS
3 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp sesame oil
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp grated ginger
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 c beef broth
1/4 c worcestershire sauce
3 c broccoli florets, chopped
3 (3 oz) packages ramen noodles
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 c green onions, chopped

MARINADE STEPS

  • Mix together all the marinade ingredients (except the meat) in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Cut the meat against the grain in 1/4-inch-thick strips.
  • Place the meat in a ziploc bag and poor the marinade into the bag.
    Seal up the bag and place in the fridge to marinade for at least 2–8 hours (no more than 12 hours).

COOKING STEPS

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the ramen for 2 minutes.
  • Strain the noodles in a colander and rinse with cold water.
  • Cut off a bottom corner of the bag over the sink and allow all the marinade to drain out.
  • Transfer the meat to a small bowl and toss with the cornstarch.
  • In a large skillet heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat.
  • Add in the meat and sear on both sides until the meat is cooked but still tender, about 2 minutes.
  • Transfer the steak to a plate.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add the sesame oil, brown sugar, ginger, soy sauce, beef broth, and worcestershire sauce to the skillet and bring to a simmer.
  • Stir and cook uncovered until it thickens, about 5–7 minutes.
  • Add the broccoli to the skillet and cover with a lid cooking it for 3 minutes.
  • Remove the lid and add in the meat and pasta.
  • Toss everything to coat and heat for an additional 1–2 minutes.
  • Transfer to bowls or plates and season with crushed red peppers and green onions.

 

Recipe adapted from Chelsea’s Messy Apron.

Beverages

Recipe—Red Wine Sangria

The big question is, when you take a two-year break from blogging, what do you post? It has to be something amazing, right? Something you are known for by your family and friends.

Is it bad that my mind went right to sangria? LOL What can I say, I have a busy life and this girl loves her wine. One of my favorite things to do on the weekend is have friends over for a relaxing dinner where we can all just sit around and laugh over our crazy lives and yes, wine is almost always involved. Many of my friends have come to know me for my sangria. I make a bomb sangria and it is so easy! So here you have it folks, the Diva’s go to sangria recipe. And guess what, I have one for each season. Here is my summer one if you want to take a peek at that.

Note: I like to let my sangria sit in the fridge for a couple of hours with the fruit. It really allows the sangria to take on some nice flavors from the fruit and allows the fruit to soak up some of the boozy goodness.

INGREDIENTS
750 ml bottle of your favorite red wine
1/2 c brandy
1/2 c orange juice
1/2 c sugar
fresh fruit, sliced (I like oranges, limes, and blackberries)
12 oz can of gingerale or sprite

STEPS

  • In a large pitcher mix together the wine, brandy, orange juice, and sugar until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Add in the majority of your prepared fruit. (Set some aside for a nice garnish).
  • Place in the fridge and allow it to set for a couple of hours. (Or drink it now if you don’t have time. It will still be delicious either way.)
  • Add in the 12 oz can of soda right before serving.
  • Pour over ice and garnish.
  • Drink up!
Uncategorized

The Diva is Back!

Hello Diva di Cucina followers! It’s been awhile. Almost 2 ½ years to be exact. Yikes! My sincere apologies for the complete lack of posting. You may be wondering why such a long hiatus. Well the truth is, life happened. I work full time and try to be the best wife and mom for my family as I can. That will always take precedent as much as I love being able to blog. In addition to those roles my son plays sports about 10 months out of the year. I coach two of his teams and am team parent for three of his teams. Plus, I took on the role of room parent in his class last year. I have no idea what I was thinking! I am crazy. So yeah, no exciting stories, I’ve just been living life and trying to be as involved in it as I possibly can be. Life is too short to half ass it, I try to take on an “all in” approach. It certainly makes for a busy life, but it also makes for a really rewarding one.

When I started this blog over 6 years ago I originally intended it to just be a way to share recipes with families and friends. I had no idea that within a short time I would have over a thousand followers. I loved that I had found a way to connect with so many amazing people and from all over the world. I am looking forward to getting back to that.

I have never been one to make resolutions at the start of a new year but this year I wanted to make a commitment to myself, a commitment to try and get back to blogging on a more regular basis. Why you might ask, because I truly love it. I love connecting with people over the love of food and cooking. So there you have it. I may not be able to keep up at the pace I did when Diva di Cucina originally launched, but I will certainly do my best to share quality recipes and posts with you… more than every 2 years. I kid!

I knew I couldn’t come back to the same old blog. It had to be refreshed, a new look and feel. I created a brand-new logo and revamped the entire website. I wanted a look that reflected my style, something feminine and rustic. Working on the redesign got me excited about the relaunch of Diva di Cucina, a fresh start per say. The look of the page is much cleaner and I have improved the navigation. I hope you all like it!

My apologies for the long write up, I just felt that in coming back after such a long break I owed you all an explanation. I am looking forward to the future of Diva di Cucina and I hope you are too!

If you like following along on my adventures in the kitchen, perhaps you would like to also consider following me on Instagram and Facebook. On both pages you will see more frequent quick posts and it gives me an opportunity for some fun chats in the comments.

Appetizers

Recipe—Spicy Black Bean Dip

I might as well take on the title as Queen of Appetizers. It’s just what I do. I personally just love appetizers and finger foods and no party is complete without a nice spread. When it comes to throwing a party a good dip is a must on the appetizer menu. There is no need to spend hours slaving away in the kitchen to come up with something everyone will love. This recipe literally takes five minutes to make and is so easy! You spend more time measuring out the seasonings than anything else. Just toss it all in the blender and voila! You have a delicious bean dip ready to serve!

The flavors in this dip are amazing. It might look sort of blah but then you take one bite and zap, bing, bang! Flavor explosions happening right in your mouth! You have a nice kick from the jalapeños, a little zest from the lime and lots of other great flavors from all the seasonings. The first time I made this I was (no joke) licking it off the rubber spatula. This is great at room temperature, warm, or even right out of the fridge. Talk about diverse! Next time you are throwing or attending a party make this recipe. You will have lots of people asking for the recipe. No need to tell them it took less than five minutes to make. That can be our little secret.

INGREDIENTS
2 large cloves of garlic
1 jalapeño, deseeded, deveined, and chopped
1/2 c fresh cilantro
1 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp black pepper, ground
1 1/2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
water

GARNISHES
cotija cheese, crumbled
a couple of slices of fresh jalapeño

STEPS

  • Place all of the main ingredients except the water into the blender or food processor and blend until well mixed.
  • Add 4 tablespoons of water and continue blending until nice and smooth. If necessary, continue adding water 2 tablespoons at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.
  • Transfer to a bowl and garnish with some crumbled cotija cheese and slices of fresh jalapeños.
  • Enjoy with some tortilla chips now or place in fridge until ready to serve.
Sweet Treats

Recipe—Mini Key Lime Pies

I have never eaten nor have I ever made key lime pie. However, I always think it looks beautiful and absolutely delicious! You may recall in one of my last posts that I mentioned for Easter I went with a tea party theme and did small bites. I wanted something very festive so I decided to finally wing it and do something totally different. I ended up with the cutest and most delectable little key lime pies. They were amazing! They were perfectly tart and had just the right amount of creaminess. And they were just so cute! If you follow my lead and get the premade crusts and whip cream this recipe takes no longer than 3 minutes to make and 15 minutes to bake. Who doesn’t have time for that? With summer warming up this really is the perfect refreshing dessert to enjoy on a warm day.

Note: I opted to make mini pies but you can just as easily make one big pie with this recipe. Adjust the baking time to 23–25 minutes.

INGREDIENTS
12 mini graham cracker pie crusts (I found Keebler ones in the baking aisle)
4 egg yolks
3/4 c key lime juice
zest from one lime
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c sour cream
whipped cream
1 lime sliced and then cut into quarters (optional)

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • In a medium bowl combine the egg yolks, lime juice, zest, condensed milk, and sour cream and whisk until well smooth.
  • Place the pie crusts on a large baking sheet and top off each with the filling.
  • Bake pies for 18–20 minutes and allow to cool before moving to the refrigerator.
  • Chill the pies in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before serving.
  • When ready to serve top each pie with a dollop of whip cream and a little slice of lime.
  • Enjoy! (And good luck eating just one!)
Salads

Recipe—Fiesta Salad

When most people think of salads they think of a big pile of greens topped with a handful of other veggies and dressing. Well this is not your ordinary salad. It consists of avocados, tomato, cilantro, and a sweet onion all tossed in a lime olive oil dressing. No lettuce here! I always make this with my Rio Grande Spice Rub New York Steaks and Cornbread Muffins. Seriously amazing! I also love this recipe with a nice piece of grilled fish. This simple salad is made up of fresh summer ingredients and is so light, and refreshing. Perfect for those nights you want a quick and easy side dish but just don’t want to fire up the oven.

Note: Since avocados can become mushy and brown quickly, wait to add the avocadoes until right before serving.

INGREDIENTS
2 c cherry tomatoes, cut in half OR 2 large tomatoes, chopped
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1/4 c cilantro, chopped
kosher salt to taste
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c lime juice
2 avocados, chopped (see note above)

STEPS

  • In a medium bowl combine the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, salt, olive oil, and lime juice. Toss to combine.
  • Add the avocado last and gently stir it in.