Side Dishes

Recipe—Mexican Red Rice (Arroz Rojo)

I am pretty sure I have mentioned before how much my family and I love our Mexican. Absolutely love it! In my opinion, a Mexican dish is truly not complete without a side of rice. This foolproof red rice goes fantastic with any Mexican dish. It’s not spicy but it is flavor packed so it’s perfect for everyone. The rich tomatoes complement the garlic and onion nicely and the warm cumin and chili powder give it just the right amount of oomph. Your family will think it was made in a restaurant. It is so simple to make and is much better than the packaged Mexican rice you get at the store. Give it a try!

Note: If you are someone that likes rice with a spicy kick, try adding a touch of cayenne pepper.

2 tbsp oil
1 c white or brown rice, uncooked
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped or a 15 oz canned petite diced tomatoes
1/2 c tomato sauce
1 c chicken or beef broth (pick based on what you are serving your rice with)
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp salt


  • In a large skillet heat your olive oil.
  • Add the rice and cook over medium high heat until the rice is a golden brown making sure to stir frequently. This will take a few minutes.
  • Mix in the garlic and onion sautéing until the onion begins to brown.
  • Add in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, broth, chili powder, cumin, and salt.
  • Bring to a boil, lower heat, and cover.
  • Allow to simmer for 20–25 minutes.
  • Remove the skillet from stove and allow to sit covered for 5–10 minutes.
  • Fluff with a fork before serving.
Brunch, Sweet Treats

Recipe—Peaches & Cream Cheesecake Bars

The last few trips to the grocery store I have been overwhelmed with the smell of fresh peaches in the produce section. It’s peach season in California! Every summer I like to bake peach crisp and serve it a la mode. I love the combination of the sweet baked peaches with the creamy vanilla ice cream and the crispy strudel topping. I decided to mix it up this year with a new peach dessert that had all those same qualities.

This is a cool and refreshing peach dessert that combines the best of two worlds, a peach crisp and one of my other favorites, cheesecake! This was so quick and easy to put together. While it is rich enough to be a dessert I personally think it is equally perfect as a brunch item. It almost has the qualities of a peach danish, so why not have dessert for breakfast? You only live once!

1 box dry yellow cake mix
1/3 c butter, room temperature
2 eggs
3 ripe peaches, sliced and peeled or one 29 oz can sliced peaches, drained
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla


  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • Spray a 7” x 11” baking dish with nonstick spray.
  • In a large bowl combine cake mix, butter, and 1 of the eggs.
  • Mix with a fork until nice and crumbly.
  • Set aside 1 1/2 cups of the mix for your topping.
  • Evenly distribute the remaining crumb mixture in the greased pan and press into the bottom to make a crust
  • Bake for 10 minutes.
  • Evenly distribute peach slices onto partially baked crust.
  • In a large bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and the 1 remaining egg.
  • Beat using a mixer until creamy.
  • Pour mixture over the peaches and use a rubber spatula to help spread it evenly.
  • Sprinkle the reserved crumbs over the top.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until crumb topping is a nice golden color.
  • Allow to cool completely at room temperature.
  • Place in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.
Dinners, Sandwiches

Recipe—Crock-Pot French Dip Sandwiches

When I was a very young girl I wasn’t a picky eater, but I certainly had my favorites. Whenever we went to a deli I ALWAYS ordered a ham sandwich with mayo on white bread. Yeah I was pretty adventurous. One day my dad took me to an Italian deli and I was devastated when they told me they didn’t have ham or white bread. I know what you are thinking, a deli with no ham or white bread?!? I looked at my dad with big eyes and I was at a complete loss as to what I should order. My dad made a decision and ordered me a French dip. I ate the whole thing in record speed and it was delicious! From that day on I had a new favorite sandwich.

If you have never had a French dip then you are missing out! A French dip is a hot sandwich made up of tender thinly sliced roasted beef on a roll and served with a cup of flavorful juice called au jus. You dip each bite of the sandwich in the au jus and take a bite of the juicy flavor packed beefy sandwich. Oh my goodness, my mouth is watering as I write this! This recipe takes my favorite popular sandwich and makes it cheap, easy, and convenient by cooking it in the crock-pot. The meat is incredibly flavorful and tender. It was a huge hit with my family. My hubby actually went back for seconds and then tried to snag our toddlers leftovers too. And I will say, my son was not having it. I only wish I made more because I would have loved to have some leftovers the next day.

2 1/2–3 lb chuck roast
garlic powder
Kosher salt and pepper
3 c beef broth
1 (10.5 oz) can condensed French onion soup
3/4 c red wine
French rolls
sliced provolone cheese (optional)


  • Trim any excess fat from the meat.
  • Season the roast with garlic powder, kosher salt, and pepper.
  • Spray crock-pot with non-stick cooking spray. (This makes clean up a breeze!)
  • In the crock-pot stir together broth, French onion soup, and red wine.
  • Add the seasoned roast to crock-pot.
  • Cook on low heat for 7–8 hours.
  • Remove roast from crock-pot and place on a cutting board.
  • Allow roast to sit for 10 minutes.
  • Using a ladle transfer half of the liquid (au jus) to a small saucepan.
  • Slice the roast (mine was falling apart tender so I ended up shredding it with a large fork) and return meat to crock-pot.
  • Continue to cook on low heat for an additional 30 minutes while the meat soaks up some of the flavor packed juices.
  • Heat the au jus you removed from the crock-pot in the saucepan over low heat.
  • Lightly toast your rolls in the oven while meat is soaking and au jus is heating.
  • Using tongs squeeze excess juice from the meat and place on toasted rolls.
  • Top with cheese if desired.
  • Serve sandwich with a side of the au jus in a small bowl or ramekin for dipping.
  • Enjoy while hot and juicy!
Side Dishes

Recipe—Cheesy Mac Attack A.K.A. Macaroni N’ Cheese

When I think classic comfort food, I think of macaroni n’ cheese. Not the orange powdery stuff in a box that one might consider to be cheese, I’m talkin’ the real deal here. I’m talkin’ down right delicious oven baked mac n’ cheese that has a perfectly crunchy topping covering ooey gooey cheesy noodle goodness. If you are on a diet, do yourself a favor and don’t make this! You will not have the self-control to only eat one bite let alone resist it. Once you try this macaroni n’ cheese you will never need or want another recipe ever again. It is so good! It has now even become a regular item at our holiday dinners so keep it in mind come the holidays. I hope you and your family enjoy this favorite recipe of mine.

Note: I will warn you, this makes A LOT of ridiculously divine macaroni n’ cheese. It’s not a bad thing, just be warned! I actually follow the recipe and then split it into two 9”x 9” dishes and freeze one since it freezes great! The disposable foil containers you get at the grocery store are perfect for this and I love that they fit in the seal o’ meal bags allowing them to last well over 6 months in the freezer, not that it will last that long, but it could.

1 lb pasta of choice (I like rotini because the cheese sticks to it really well)
2 c small curd cottage cheese
1 c sour cream
2 eggs
1 c Swiss cheese, shredded
3 c cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp pepper
1 c bread crumbs (I like crushed croutons)


  • Preheat oven to 375º.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta noodles al dente according to package instructions.
  • While pasta is cooking combine cottage cheese, sour cream, eggs, cheeses, and seasonings in a large bowl.
  • When your pasta is done cooking add it to the cheesy mixture and stir well.
  • Place macaroni n’ cheese in a 9” x 13” baking dish, or two 9” x 9” dishes if you wish to freeze one for later.
  • Top with breadcrumbs.
  • Place in oven and bake for 25–30 minutes or until bread crumbs are lightly browned on top.
  • Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving. (Good luck waiting that long!)


Behind the Scenes

About a year ago my son became fascinated with how frequently my husband and I took pictures, primarily of him. We caught him a few times trying to get out one of our digital cameras. In a flash of genius I decided to occupy him with an unused disposable camera I had on hand. He loved it! He started going around the house taking pictures of the dog, his toys, us, you name it. We thought it would be funny to get the pictures developed to see things from his perspective.

A year later he still has a disposable camera that he whips out every so often. He has caught onto the fact that I also frequently photograph food and has become fascinated by it. I actually caught him one time lying on the kitchen floor on his belly trying to take a picture of the dog’s bowl of kibble. I had a good laugh over that one. So this week I received my usual produce delivery and got it arranged on the kitchen table to snap a photo of it for my blog’s Facebook page. He saw me doing this and he quickly went running out of the kitchen to get his camera yelling, “I take picture too!” This is a quick shot I got of my 2 year old photographing our produce on the kitchen table. I just thought it was cute and had to share. It certainly put a smile on my face. That’s my boy!

Brunch, Dinners

Recipe—Chard and Mushroom Frittata

By now you probably know, or have read that, I recently signed up for organic produce delivery. It’s always fun trying to come up with recipes that utilize as many of the ingredients as possible. I feel like I’m on an episode of Food Network’s Chopped. One of my latest boxes included red chard, crimini mushrooms, and green onions. As soon as I saw the produce I knew I had to make a frittata.

A frittata is an Italian version of an omelet and it somehow seems much fancier. Rather than having the ingredients as a filling like an omelet, a frittata’s ingredients are mixed into the eggs. Frittatas are typically started on the stovetop, finished in the oven, and served as slices. While it is typical to cook a frittata in a cast iron skillet I use a pie dish. Frittatas are fabulous in that they can be served for any meal and they are great for reheating. A frittata can be made up of any combination of ingredients so have some fun and get creative.

One of the many benefits of a frittata is that it’s a great way to get in some vegetables. Frittatas are low carb and are a healthy alternative to a cheesy omelet. I made this for dinner along with some sourdough toast and it was so quick and easy. Swiss chard is one of my favorite leafy vegetables and it is a fabulous source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. It goes great when sautéed with garlic and is a wonderful complement to the earthy flavor of crimini mushrooms. I was very pleased with how this recipe turned out and will most certainly be making it again.

 Note: If chard is not available, spinach is a great substitute. 

2 tbsp olive oil
2 c crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 bunch red chard, thoroughly washed
8 eggs
2 tbsp milk
2 green onions, sliced
salt and pepper
1/2 c Parmesan cheese


  • Preheat oven to 375º.
  • Separate the stems from the leaves of the chard.
  • Roll the leaves of the chard up together and slice into strips about a 1/2” wide.
  • In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
  • Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook until mushrooms are soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
  • Add the chard to the skillet and cook until limp but still a bright green color, about 4 minutes.
  • Remove skillet from heat and transfer veggies to a greased pie dish making sure that the veggies are distributed evenly.
  • In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, milk, green onions, and salt and pepper.
  • Pour the egg mixture over the veggies making sure that the mixture covers the dish completely.
  • Bake for 20–25 minutes or until eggs appear set.
  • Sprinkle with the cheese and finish under the broiler for an additional 3 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool for a minute.
  • Cut into slices and serve.

New Feature—A Recipe Box!

Good morning and Happy Saturday! I just wanted to point out a new feature on the Diva di Cucina blog page. I have recently added a Recipe Box! I hope it makes navigating the recipes I share easier for you. If you are on the main Diva di Cucina page on the right side under Features you will see a link for the Recipe Box. Just click on it and it will take you there. All recipes are categorized and listed alphabetically. You can also use the link below. Let me know what you think. Hope it makes browsing much more of a breeze for you. Have a fabulous weekend everyone!