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.

INGREDIENTS
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

STEPS

  • 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.
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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!

INGREDIENTS
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

STEPS

  • 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.

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.

INGREDIENTS
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)

STEPS

  • 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!

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.

INGREDIENTS
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)

STEPS

  • 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!

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. 

INGREDIENTS
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

STEPS

  • 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!

https://divadicucina.wordpress.com/recipe-box/ 

Recipe—Oreo Truffles

This year for my birthday a very fabulous friend of mine made these for me after she heard me mention that Oreos were my favorite cookies. They were delicious! Eating these is like eating Oreos dipped in milk. They are rich, creamy, and addictive! They are incredibly easy to make and best of all require no baking! Be sure to keep them refrigerated since they have the cream cheese mixed in. If you are an Oreo addict like me, you will love these! Heck, even if you aren’t, you will still probably love them. Best of luck trying to only eat one!

Note: I used candy wafers for dipping because I think they harden up nicely. If you are unable to find the candy wafers at the store try white chocolate chips. Chocolate chips can be melted in a double boiler or in the microwave. If melting in the microwave heat in 30 second increments stirring with a fork between each heating session until smooth. If the chocolate is too thick for coating add a teaspoon of melted butter and mix in.

INGREDIENTS
1 package Double Stuffed Oreos
4 oz cream cheese, softened
12 oz vanilla flavored white candy wafers

STEPS

  • Using a blender or food processor chop the Oreos adding a handful at a time until the entire package is finely crumbled.
  • Set aside about 4 tablespoons of the finely chopped Oreos to be sprinkled on top for garnish.
  • In a medium bowl mix the cream cheese and Oreos until thoroughly combined. (Add more cream cheese if the dough isn’t sticking together.)
  • Roll the dough into balls about 1” in diameter and place on a wax paper covered baking sheet.
  • Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for 15 minutes allowing the truffles to chill.
  • After the balls are firm melt the wafers according to the package instructions.
  • Dip each ball into the melted wafers and turn until evenly coated and place back on the wax paper covered baking sheet. (I find using a fork works great to remove the balls from the melted wafers so that the extra chocolate can drip off between the prongs.)
  • Sprinkle the dipped truffles with the extra crushed Oreos that you set aside before the coating hardens.
  • Place the cookie sheet in the fridge to set.
  • Pour yourself a big glass if milk and enjoy!

Recipe—Creamy Mushroom Artichoke Chicken

This is a quick and simple chicken recipe that is easy enough to enjoy mid-week after work and impressive enough to serve up at a dinner party. Every time I have made this, my guests and family have “cleaned” their plates. It is a lovely creamy comfort dish that has loads of flavor. The Italian dressing from the marinated chicken and the capers give the dish a nice little zest and goes with the earthy mushroom flavor nicely. I love it served with rice or potatoes. You just will want to put this rich sauce over everything on your plate. Mmmmmm… If you actually have any leftovers they are great for lunch the next day! My work days always seem better when I know I will have a yummy lunch to enjoy later.

Note: If you are short on time you can cut the chicken into 1” cubes and it will cook much quicker.

INGREDIENTS
1 c Italian dressing
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 
tbsp butter, divided
8 oz white mushrooms, sliced
3 
tbsp rice vinegar
1 pt whipping cream
3 
tbsp capers, drained
1/4 
teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6.5 oz jar artichoke hearts, drained

 STEPS

  • Marinade your chicken breasts in the Italian dressing for at least 1 hour.
  • Using a large skillet melt 1 tbsp of the butter over medium-high heat and cook mushrooms until brown and tender, about 5–10 minutes.
  • Remove mushrooms from skillet and place to the side.
  • Add the remaining 2 tbsp of butter to the skillet and add the chicken breasts.
  • Cook the chicken for 10–18 minutes or until no longer pink, turning occasionally.
  • Transfer chicken to a serving dish and cover with foil to keep warm.
  • Remove skillet from heat and add the vinegar, stirring to loosen all the browned bits in the bottom of the skillet.
  • Return skillet to low heat and stir in cream, capers, and pepper.
  • Bring sauce to a boil and cook uncovered until thickened, about 4–6 minutes.
  • Return mushrooms to skillet and add artichoke hearts heating through.
  • Pour the creamy sauce over your chicken breasts and serve immediately. 

Recipe—Fancy Man Grilled Cheese

I recently received a cookbook with 50 different grilled cheese sandwiches. Eventually I will try them all! The sandwiches were not named; they were just referenced as Grilled Cheese #1 and so on. I told my husband to pick any one of them out for me to cook and he picked one that had roast beef, Dijon mustard, caramelized onions, and Brie. Go figure, a man picked one that was made with beef. Brie is a fairly elegant cheese so I decided to name this one the Fancy Man Grilled Cheese. Suiting right?

This sandwich turned out to be absolutely delicious! The Brie was lovely and it melted to be just the perfect amount of gooey. It was a very nice pairing with the sweet caramelized onions and the heartiness of the roast beef. I really want to try this sandwich again but substitute the roast beef for some green apple slices. I love apples with Brie and think it would be a delicious pairing as well. The sandwich was a hit with the whole family and we will most certainly be making it again. It truly is ooey gooey goodness!

Note: I found spreadable Brie by Président that worked fabulously. I didn’t have to deal with the white rind so it was very quick and easy to work with. I’m sure regular Brie would work just as well. This recipe is written for two large sandwiches.

INGREDIENTS
1 yellow onion, sliced
2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 large slices of sourdough bread
2 tbs butter, softened
Dijon mustard
spreadable Brie (I used most of a 4.4. oz container)
1/2 lb of sliced roast beef

STEPS

  • Heat a heavy nonstick frying pan over medium heat and add the oil.
  • Once the oil is nice and hot add the sliced onions and stir them immediately so each onion slice is coated in the oil.
  • Allow the onions to cook stirring every 30 seconds or so. Once the browning begins, lower the heat to decrease your risk of burning the onions.
  • Continue to stir the onions every couple of minutes until they are a golden or deep brown. This will take at least 10–20 minutes.
  • Remove the onions from the pan and place in a bowl to the side.
  • Carefully wipe out your skillet with a paper towel to remove any residual bits.
  • Spread one side of each piece of the bread with butter.
  • On two on the pieces of bread spread the opposite sides with Dijon mustard and then a thin layer of the Brie.
  • Place the bread butter side down in the pan and cook over medium high–heat.
  • Top the bread in the pan with the sliced roast beef and add your caramelized onions. Spread the dry sides of your two reaming pieces of bread with a layer of Brie and top your sandwich with them butter side out.
  • Cook for approximately 3 minutes or until the bread is a toasty brown.
  • Turn and repeat.