Kitchen Tips

Spring Produce

It’s the first day of spring and to celebrate I have a very special post, a new feature per say, focusing on the seasonal fruits and vegetables throughout the year.

I am a firm believer that you should eat “seasonally,” or include foods in your meals that are grown at the same time of the year you eat them. For example, that means strawberries in the spring and summer, and pears in the fall. Eating seasonally is important, and carries benefits to your health and your wallet.

At first glance, eating seasonally may seem simple—you eat foods that are in season, or being grown and harvested at the time of the year when you buy them. But there’s more to it than just being a trendy food movement. There are real benefits to eating foods that are available at their peak right now.

Perhaps the biggest tangible benefit of eating seasonally is that you’ll save money at the grocery store and farmer’s markets. When you buy what’s in season, you buy food that’s at the peak of its supply, and costs less to farmers and distribution companies to harvest and get to your grocery store. It may seem like common sense, but it’s one of those things many of us ignore when we’re shopping.

However, the best consequence of eating seasonally is that you get the best tasting, healthiest produce available. The same reasons that keep the cost of seasonal food down also drive its quality up: The food is grown closer to you so it doesn’t spoil on its trip, it’s harvested at the peak of its season, and sold during its season, before it spoils. Ideally, this means you’re getting fruits and vegetables that haven’t had time to lose their flavor or their health benefits by sitting in a shipping container for a trip across the ocean.

Please feel free to print this little “cheat sheet” and post in on the fridge as a reminder of what to look for at the grocery store this spring.

Sources: Life Hacker and United States Department of Agriculture


Recipe—Rustic One Pot Veggie Pasta

Are you noticing a trend with all my new recipes? I think quick and easy has become my thing. As you may recall reading on my post, “The Diva is Back,” my blog fell to the wayside for a couple of years because life was just too crazy. Juggling work, youth sports, and well… just life, I have been all about quick, yet quality, meals. Don’t get me wrong, I still love spending time in the kitchen cooking for hours but 5 days a week I find myself short on time and energy at the end of the day.

This recipe is great for so many reasons. It only takes about 20 minutes from start to finish and you end up with a veggie packed delicious dinner. This isn’t one of those “one pot” recipes where you cook something in a pot, transfer it to a plate, cook something else, transfer it back to the pot, you catch my drift. You literally throw almost all the ingredients into one pot and cook it all together. So to recap, you eat a delicious dinner and then have almost no dishes to wash. Win win! Now you can spend that extra time cozied up on the couch with a glass of wine (or beer) and unwinding from your crazy day.

1 lb spaghetti noodles
2 c white mushrooms, sliced
2 zucchini, thinly sliced and halved
2/3 c frozen peas
2 tbsp garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
salt & pepper
1/2 c grated parmesan
1/2 c heavy cream


  • In a large pot combine noodles, mushrooms, zucchini, peas, garlic, thyme, and 4 1/2 cups of water.
  • Season the water with salt and pepper.
  • Set the stove to high heat and bring the water to a boil.
  • Once boiling reduce the heat to medium high and simmer uncovered until the pasta is cooked through, about 9–11 minutes, making sure to stir every couple of minutes.
  • Once the pasta is cooked, remove the sprigs of thyme.
  • Stir in the parmesan and heavy creamy until well combined and the cheese melted.
  • Serve immediately topped with some extra parmesan.


Recipe adapted from Damn Delicious. 


Recipe—Quick and Easy Korean Beef

I recently got my first ever taste of Korean beef when it came served over a heaping pile of fries with sweet and creamy coleslaw. Sounds amazing, right?!?! It was, I promise.

I absolutely loved the sweet flavors of brown sugar, ginger, garlic, sesame, and just a little bit of heat simmered through the meat. I instantly went to Pinterest looking for some more Korean beef recipes and found this one. It. Was. Ah-MAZING! It checked all the boxes. Yummy? Check. Quick? (Uh yeah! It took 15 minutes.) Check. Budget friendly? Check. It’s a recipe every busy parent dreams about!

I have made it a few times now and it has never disappointed.

Note: If you are looking to add some veggies, it pairs great with some steamed broccoli.

1 lb ground beef
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
salt and pepper
2 green onions, chopped
cooked rice


  • Cook the ground beef over medium high heat breaking it apart as it cooks.
  • Once the beef is cooked through, drain off most of the fat.
  • Add in the brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, red peppers, salt, and pepper.
  • Simmer over medium heat for a 4–5 minutes stirring occasionally.
  • Serve over a bed of rice and top with chopped green onions.


Recipe adapted from Six Sisters’ Stuff. 

Dinners, Soups

Recipe—Crock-Pot Green Chicken Chili

A while back I had plans with my aunt to come over for dinner on a Friday night. She wanted to make a special request for dinner and had asked me to make a chicken chili. Since I had to work that day I figured something in the crock-pot would be ideal. Less time slaving in the kitchen, meant more time for drinking wine and schmoozing. Besides chopping up the veggies this recipe really requires almost no prep. I found a few different recipes and merged them all together to make this one delicious one. You might look at the ingredients and go “Oh boy, that is gonna be spicy!” I promise you it is not. If you deseed and devein the jalapeños you get a real nice mild and tangy flavor. The big chunks of chicken, all those green veggies, white beans, and spices make for one delicious belly warming meal. I highly recommend serving this with some cheese quesadilla wedges or cornbread to round out dinner. It was a total hit in my household. So if you are doing your meal prep for next week be sure to add this recipe to your menu.

Note: When I made this recipe, I chopped up the tomatillos, chiles, jalapeños, onion, and garlic and put them all in a one gallon Ziploc bag the night before to save time the next morning. It literally took me about two minutes to throw it all in the crock-pot.

2 (15 oz) cans cannellini beans, drained
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 c tomatillos, chopped
4 anaheim chiles, seeded and chopped
3 jalapeños, seeded, deveined, and chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp coriander
4 c chicken broth
1/3 c masa harina
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

shredded cheese
sour cream
green onions, chopped
lime wedges


  • In a large crock-pot combine the beans, chicken breasts, tomatillos, anaheim chiles, jalapeños, onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, coriander and broth to the slow cooker. (Do not stir)
  • Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.
    Remove the chicken breasts, shred, and put back in the pot.
  • Add in the masa harina, salt, pepper, and the juice of one lime and stir.
  • Continue cooking for another 30 minutes.
  • Serve in a bowl and top with garnishes of your choice.

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.

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

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


  • 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.

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.

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

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


  • 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).


  • 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.


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.

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


  • 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!