Recipe—Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

DivaDiCucina_CrabStuffedMushrooms
Are you looking for a classy appetizer to serve at your New Year’s Eve party tomorrow or any other night of the year? Search no further! These crab stuffed baby portobello mushrooms are easy, can be made ahead of time, are really elegant, and of course delicious. These will be a hit with all your guests. The crab filling is creamy with a nice little kick to it thanks to the Tabasco and the breadcrumbs give them the perfect little crunch. If you are serving a steak for a main course these can also be the perfect complementary side dish. Either way enjoy this fabulous recipe as you ring in 2013! Happy New Year everyone!

Note: You can completely make and assemble the stuffed mushrooms a half day in advance and store in the fridge until ready to bake.

INGREDIENTS
1/4 c olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp shallot, chopped
10–12 baby portobello mushrooms, washed and destemmed
salt and pepper
3 tbsp red bell pepper, chopped
8 oz lump crabmeat
1 tsp hot sauce (I like Tabasco)
1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp old bay seasoning
1/2 c breadcrumbs

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • In a medium sauté pan heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat.
  • Add the garlic and shallot and sauté for 2 minutes.
  • Add the mushroom caps and season with salt and pepper.
  • Sauté the mushroom caps for 2 minutes.
  • Remove the mushroom caps from the skillet and place them upside down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Add the chopped bell pepper to the skillet and sauté for 1 minute.
  • In a medium bowl mix together the crabmeat, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, mayonnaise, mustard, old bay seasoning, and a dash of salt and pepper.
  • Stir in the sautéed veggies and mix well.
  • Stuff each mushroom cap with the crab mixture and top with breadcrumbs.
  • Bake for 12–14 minutes or until the breadcrumbs start to brown.
  • Allow mushrooms to cool for a couple of minutes before serving.
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Recipe—Chili (The Classic Kind)

It’s finally cooling off here in California and that means I am cooking up lots of soups and one of my favorite winter comfort foods, chili, the classic kind. This is the good stuff, heavy on meat and beans, light on veggies. That’s how I like my chili. What better way to warm up at the end of a cold day then a big bowl of chili? This recipe really is perfect, it’s not too spicy, not too mild, it’s just right. Something Goldilocks would love, probably Momma, Daddy, and baby bear too. This recipe does take a couple of hours to cook but that’s what makes it so good. All those flavors get cooked into the meat giving you a really hearty and flavorful chili you are sure to enjoy.

Note: If you are someone that likes chili with a little more kick, just add in a couple dashes of cayenne pepper.

INGREDIENTS
2 lbs ground beef
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 c chili powder
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes
2 (15 oz) cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
15 oz can tomato sauce
1–2 c beef broth

GARNISHES
shredded cheddar
sour cream
green onions, chopped
fritos
diced avocadoes

STEPS

  • In a large pot cook the beef, onions, and garlic over medium-high heat until no longer pink.
  • Drain off most of the fat leaving about 2 tbsp in the bottom.
  • Stir into the pot the chili powder, flour, oregano, cumin, sugar, and salt.
  • Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 1 hour stirring every 15 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes, beans, sauce, and 1 cup of the broth to the pot.
  • Cook for an additional 45–60 minutes stirring occasionally.
  • Add more broth if you want a soupier chili.
  • Ladle the chili into a bowl and have fun garnishing it with your favorite toppings.

Recipe—Hot Ham & Swiss Sammies

I think I have mentioned before that ham and mayo on a croissant was my favorite sandwich as a kid. And by favorite I mean that was one of the only sandwiches I would eat. I have grown up haven’t I? Well this is my favorite childhood sandwich on steroids, and it is AWESOME! I know you may look at the poppy seed sauce and wonder what that’s all about. Well the sauce bakes to the top of the croissant making an ordinary croissant extraordinary. It does not leave the croissants soggy. It actually gives them a nice caramelization and lots of added flavor. Since these make a good size batch and they can be assembled ahead of time they are perfect for a luncheon or shower. These may be my ultimate in comfort food sandwiches this winter, just throw in a bowl of soup and call it dinner.

Note: These can be assembled and kept in the fridge up to 24 hours before baking. How handy is that?!?

SANDWICH INGREDIENTS
9 medium sized croissants cut in half
1 lb thin sliced deli ham
9 square slices of Swiss, cut in half horizontally
mayonnaise

POPPY SEED SAUCE INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 tsp poppy seeds
2 tsp yellow mustard
4 tbsp butter, melted
2 tsp yellow onion, finely minced
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • Spread each half of the croissant with a thin layer of mayonnaise.
  • Place a piece of Swiss on the bottom half of the croissant.
  • Evenly distribute the ham among the nine sandwiches.
  • Top the ham with a second piece of Swiss cheese and then the croissant top.
  • Place the finished sandwiches edge to edge in a large baking dish or on a cookie sheet. It’s okay if they are snug.
  • In a small bowl whisk together all the poppy seed sauce ingredients.
  • Spoon the sauce over the top of each sandwich and allow the sandwiches to sit for at least 10 minutes.
  • Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 15–18 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
  • Remove the foil and allow the sandwiches to cook uncovered for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Serve warm and enjoy!

Recipe—Homemade Marshmallows

DivaDiCucina_HomemadeMarshmallows

I was trying to come up with a cute idea for a Christmas gift for my son’s teachers and came up with the idea of making hot cocoa gift baskets. You know, a mug, some hot cocoa, some homemade cookies, and marshmallows. Well I am never the person to take the easy way out by just buying an actual bag of jet puffed marshmallows at the store, I wanted these gift baskets to be special, made from the heart. So I decided to attempt to make my very own marshmallows. Gourmet marshmallows seem to be all the rage this season but unfortunately they can cost a fortune. With this recipe you can make your own at home. They are a little bit of work, and one might by intimidated, but they are actually easy. I think the hardest part was waiting for them to set! These homemade marshmallows put store bought marshmallows to shame and are so totally worth making on your own. If making your own marshmallows isn’t on your bucket list it should be. Give these a shot. They will take your hot cocoa on a cold winter night over the top!

I forgot to snap a pic of the marshmallows in use so this  image is provided by my son's fabulous teacher Mrs. Courtney. Thanks Courtney!

I forgot to snap a pic of the marshmallows in use so this one was provided by my son’s fabulous teacher Mrs. Courtney. Thanks Courtney!

Note: The original recipe I followed called for using a stand up mixer but I used a hand mixer. You can use either. The marshmallows can be very sticky and difficult to handle so the trick to cutting them is to constantly coat them in powdered sugar after every slice of the knife.

INGREDIENTS
3 c sugar
1 1/4 c light corn syrup
water
4 envelopes Knox unflavored gelatin
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 c powdered sugar

STEPS

  • Combine sugar, corn syrup, and 3/4 cup water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • While sugar water is heating up add 3/4 cup water to a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the 4 packs of gelatin over the top. Set aside.
  • Bring the sugar water mixture to a rolling boil and boil for 5 minutes or until a candy thermometer reads 235º.
  • Carefully pour the hot sugar water into your mixing bowl with the water and gelatin and mix on low.
  • Add the salt and increase mixer speed to high.
  • Beat the sugar mixture on high for 5 minutes and than add vanilla.
  • Continue beating the mixture for another 5 minutes.
  • When you are done, pour the marshmallow cream into a greased 9” x 13” pan.
  • Smooth the top and gently tap to release air.
  • Leave the dish on the counter for at least 10 hours.
  • After the waiting is up sprinkle the entire top of your marshmallows with powdered sugar making sure it’s coated and place a cutting board over the top of your dish.
  • While holding the cutting board and dish together carefully flip the dish and cutting board upside down simultaneously releasing the marshmallows onto the cutting board. (Your set marshmallows will now be upside down on the cutting board.)
  • Lift the baking dish and sprinkle all of the exposed marshmallow with powdered sugar making sure there are no exposed areas.
  • Using a large sharp knife cut into 1” strips and coat each exposed side with powdered sugar.
  • Cut those strips into 1” cubes making sure you coat each cut side with powdered sugar.
  • Once done, sprinkle all of the marshmallows with the remaining powdered sugar making sure there are no exposed sticky areas.
  • Enjoy in a big mug of hot cocoa!

Recipe—Savory Herb Bread Pudding

DivaDiCucina_HerbBreadPudding

A couple months back my family and I went to Disneyland for a few days. During our stay at the Hilton we ended up ordering room service for dinner because we were just too pooped from all the fun to actually go out. One of those nights I ordered roasted chicken, which came with a savory bread pudding. The bread pudding was phenomenal! So phenomenal, that I ordered the same dish a second time during our visit. Yes, it was that good! The bread pudding was flavor packed and went perfectly with the chicken. This last weekend I tried to replicate the recipe to go with my roasted turkey because I didn’t want to do the same old stuffing I had just had a couple of weeks prior at Thanksgiving. I think it turned out fantastic! One thing I love about this recipe is that it is super easy, can be made in advance, and goes with any type of meat! This Christmas I will be making this bread pudding along with my prime rib. Whether you are cooking a ham, turkey, or a fine cut of beef at Christmas this will be the perfect side dish that will have everyone talking. It is a perfect substitute for those plain dinner rolls or even mashed potatoes.

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Note: The bread pudding can be assembled up to a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Remove baking dish from fridge at least one hour before baking and bring to room temperature. If you have a smaller group of people this recipe is easy to halve. Just use an 8″ x 8″ baking dish.

INGREDIENTS
2 large sourdough rounds, cut into 1” cubes
1/2 c fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 c fresh sage, chopped
2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
salt and pepper
6 tbsp butter
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1/3 c chives, chopped
8 eggs
2 c chicken broth
2 c heavy cream

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 325º.
  • In a large bowl combine the bread, parsley, sage, thyme, salt and pepper.
  • In a small skillet melt the butter over medium-high heat and add the garlic cooking until tender. Do not burn the garlic!
  • Add the chives to the skillet and cook for 3 minutes.
  • Drizzle the melted butter over the bread and toss to coat.
  • In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, broth, and heavy cream.
  • Pour the liquid mixture over the bread and stir until evenly coated.
  • Transfer the bread mixture to a greased 9” x 13” baking dish.
  • Gently press the soaked bread into the pan.
  • Bake for 50–60 minutes or until center is set.
  • Tent dish with foil until ready to serve.
  • Slice into squares and enjoy!

I’m a Guest Blogger!

Good morning Diva di Cucina fans! For the first time ever I had the opportunity to be a guest blogger on a wonderful site, Rantings of an Amateur Chef. Rantings of an Amateur Chef is made up of the creative bloggings of Pat Geyer, and amateur chef from the Cleveland, Ohio area. I shared a fabulous recipe for Garlic Shrimp and White Beans with him and his followers. I would love it if you would stop by Pat’s site and check out my recipe along with some of the great ones he has shared. You won’t be disappointed!

DivaDiCucina_GarlicShrimpAndWhiteBeans

Here’s a little visual tease of my recipe for Garlic Shrimp and White Beans. Get the recipe here.

Recipe—Confetti Cake Batter Cookies

DivaDiCucina_ConfettiBatterCookies

Awhile back I posted a recipe for lemon crackle cookies. It was a cookie recipe that is primarily made from a box of cake mix. I love the concept of taking cake batter and sprucing it up with a few extra ingredients to make one heck of a fabulous cookie These types of cookies always come out really light and super moist and best of all they are quick and easy to make. Well ‘tis the season for complete chaos and busy schedules so what better time to share a recipe for super quick and scrumptious confetti cake batter cookies. I used red and green sprinkles to make them festive for Christmas but keep this recipe in mind throughout the year. Just change the sprinkle color for the appropriate holiday. Perhaps pink and red for Valentine’s Day?

INGREDIENTS
1-18.25 oz box of white cake mix
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1/3 c vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2–3/4 c sprinkles

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • In a large bowl mix together the dry cake mix and baking powder.
  • Whisk together the eggs, oil, and vanilla.
  • Add the egg mixture to the cake mixture and stir until all ingredients are combined.
  • Fold in the sprinkles but be sure not to over mix or the dye will stain the batter.
  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or grease it.
  • Drop 1” balls of dough onto the baking sheet leaving approximately 2” apart.
  • Bakes cookies for 9–10 minutes making sure they don’t brown.
  • Allow the cookies to cool on the sheet for about 3 minutes.
  • Use a spatula to transfer the cookies to a cutting board or cooling rack.

Recipe—Homemade Spiked Eggnog

DivaDiCucina_Eggnog

What’s Christmas without a glass or three of spiked eggnog? It is a must have item in our family. I am not a huge eggnog fan but I will drink the occasional glass here and there. However, my sister really loves the stuff so I wanted to be sure and have some on hand for her while we celebrated the holidays early this year. Unfortunately, this eggnog comes with a sad story.

This year I thought I would be adventurous and make my own eggnog. It turned out incredible and was actually really easy to make! This was by far the best eggnog I have ever had. I was so excited to share this fabulous concoction with my sister because I knew she would feel the same way. After slaving over the oven all day (okay I’m exaggerating, more like 20 minutes, this recipe is actually really quick to make) I had the eggnog done and poured it into my brand new glass pitcher. It was a gorgeous site! My mom, sister, husband, son, and I went and walked through a Christmas light display at our local zoo. The perfect end to the evening would be a homemade glass of eggnog. I poured the first glass and then went to pour the second when crack! The handle on my new pitcher literally fell off and the entire batch of eggnog shattered on my counter and went everywhere! I was on the verge of tears. However, the one lonely glass you see above survived. Thank goodness! So we all shared this one lonely glass of eggnog and it was the best glass of eggnog ever!

If you have never had homemade eggnog I highly recommend you give it a try. One thing that I absolutely love about this recipe is that the eggs are par cooked in the hot milk rather than raw, giving this a less eggy flavor. It is the perfect holiday beverage and takes on a superior quality being homemade.

Note: If you want virgin eggnog just omit the rum for a family friendly version. 

INGREDIENTS
3 1/2 c milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cinnamon stick
pinch of ground cloves
6 egg yolks
3/4 c granulated sugar
1 c rum
1 c heavy cream
1/4 tsp nutmeg

STEPS

  • In a large saucepan heat the milk, vanilla, cinnamon, cinnamon stick, and cloves over medium heat.
  • Bring to a gentle boil and remove from heat.
  • Allow the milk to set for about 2 minutes while the cinnamon stick seeps.
  • While the milk is cooling, beat the egg yolks and sugar in a large mixing bowl until it’s pale yellow and fluffy.
  • Remove the cinnamon stick from your milk and slowly pour into the egg mixture.
  • Beat on low until well incorporated.
  • Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and heat on medium/medium-low heat for 5 minutes until thick and creamy. DO NOT LET IT BOIL OR THE EGGS WILL CURDLE!
  • Remove the saucepan from heat and stir in the rum, heavy cream, and nutmeg.
  • Allow the eggnog to cool on the counter for at least an hour.
  • Transfer the eggnog to a pitcher or serving dish and refrigerate for 8–10 hours.

Recipe—Leek Quiche

DivaDiCucina_LeekQuiche

I recently started following this fabulous gourmet blog called C’est la Vie Cuisine. On the day I found out I would be receiving leeks in my next produce box Lucie posted a recipe for leek quiche. I knew it was meant to be! I adapted her recipe (see the original here) based on what I had on hand and by adding in some extra eggs and cheese to accommodate a deeper pie dish. This recipe turned out great! I served it for dinner with some breakfast sausage and toast but it can be enjoyed for any meal. One of the many fabulous reasons I love quiche! This recipe was so easy and really tasty! The caramelized leeks and onions take on a nice sweet flavor making it a fabulous complement to salty breakfast meat like sausage or bacon.

Leeks are a part of the onion family and are very mild and sweet in flavor. The leek basically looks like a HUGE green onion. Leeks are known for being very low in calories and having wonderful health benefits. They are high in dietary fiber, potassium, iron, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, folic acid, and vitamins A, B, C, and K.

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Notes: Leeks can have a large amount of soil and dirt between the layers so after you slice them make sure to wash them thoroughly. I submerge them in water and use my hand to swish them around. The leeks float to the top and the dirt sinks to the bottom. I then use a salad spinner to help remove all the excess water.

You can omit the piecrust all together to create a low-carb version of this recipe. To do this, grease your pie dish and whisk the mozzarella in with the egg mixture. Bake time will be the same.

INGREDIENTS
3 tbsp butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced (see above note about washing)
1 tbsp garlic
1 sheet of refrigerated piecrust at room temperature
salt and pepper
9 eggs
1/2 c half and half
1 c mozzarella

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 400º.
  • In a larger skillet melt the butter over medium-high heat.
  • Add the onion, leeks, and garlic to the skillet.
  • Cook stirring frequently until the onions begin to caramelize, about 15 minutes.
  • While the leeks and onions cook gently press the crust into your pie dish.
  • In a medium-mixing bowl whisk together your eggs and half and half until well incorporated.
  • When the leeks are done cooking season with salt and pepper and gently fold the cooked veggies into the egg mixture.
  • Sprinkle half of the mozzarella into the bottom of your pie dish.
  • Add the egg mixture to your pie dish and top with remaining mozzarella.
  • Bake the quiche in the oven for 30–35 minutes or until the middle is firm.
  • Allow quiche to cool for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Adapted from C’est la Vie Cuisine.

Recipe—Sweet and Sour Meatballs

DivaDiCucina_SweetNSourMeatballs

I have always been a lover of Chinese food. I mean come on, who isn’t? I remember as a kid that whenever we went out to eat Chinese food or ordered it to go that we got sweet and sour pork. I just love the tangy sweet sauce and the pineapple. Oh, that sweet yummy caramelized pineapple! When I saw this recipe on one of my favorite blogs, Recipes Happen, I knew I had to give it a try.  I LOVE Chinese food and I LOVE meatballs! This recipe turned out awesome and was enjoyed by the whole family. My husband even went back for thirds! (I don’t know where that guy stores all the food he can consume.) I highly recommend serving this over white rice. It really soaks up the flavors of the sauce. We will certainly be making this again and again because it was super easy and absolutely delicious! Thanks Bonnie for posting this wonderful recipe, my family and I loved it!

Note: Bonnie’s recipe calls for breadcrumbs but I adapted it slightly and used panko since I had it on hand and I thought it went well with the Asian inspired dish. I bet this would also be great made with ground turkey or chicken to help cut a few calories. 

INGREDIENTS
1 egg
1 tbsp dried onion flakes
1 tbsp milk
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c panko
ground pepper
1 lb ground beef
20 oz can pineapple chunks
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1/4 c brown sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 c sliced carrots
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 tsp cornstarch
2 tbsp water

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine the egg, dried onion, milk, ginger, salt, panko, pepper, and ground beef. (I recommend using your hands to thoroughly combine everything.)
  • Shape the beef mixture into 1” balls and place in a large baking dish making sure there is space between them.
  • Bake the meatballs for 30 minutes or until cooked through.
  • While the meatballs are cooking drain the pineapple juice into a measuring cup and set the pineapple aside.
  • If needed, add water to the juice so you have 1-cup worth of liquid.
  • Pour the juice mixture into a large skillet or wok and add in the vinegar, brown sugar, and soy sauce.
  • Over medium-high heat bring the liquid to a simmer and add in the carrots.
  • Simmer until the carrots are just barely fork tender and then add in the bell peppers and pineapple chunks.
  • Cook for approximately 4–5 minutes.
  • In a small bowl mix together the cornstarch and water until smooth.
  • Pour the cornstarch mixture into your skillet and stir constantly until incorporated.
  • Remove the meatballs from the oven and transfer them to the skillet making sure to leave the meat drippings in the baking dish.
  • Toss the meatballs to coat and simmer in the sauce for 2 minutes.
  • Serve over cooked rice and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Recipes Happen.