Recipe—Blueberry French Toast Casserole

Blueberry French Toast Casserole

I run a household that always seems to be full of friends and family who come to visit on the weekends. I absolutely love entertaining and cooking delicious meals for my visitors. What I don’t love is when I’m in the kitchen for hours on end. It means I am missing out on valuable time with them. This is a breakfast dish that is perfect for when you are entertaining, or heck, even if you just want an easy breakfast in the morning for the family. You prepare this in advance before your company even arrives, and then just pull it out and pop it in the oven in the morning. And by make it in advance is that you literally take the ingredients, plop them in a dish (in an orderly fashion of course) and refrigerate. How much more easy could it get? Easy to prep and easy to bake. That is my kind of breakfast!

INGREDIENTS
12 slices French toast bread, cut into 1” cubes
16 oz (2-8 oz blocks) cream cheese, cut into cubes
2 c blueberries
12 eggs
2 c milk
1/2 c syrup
1 tsp vanilla

STEPS

  • Grease a 9” x 13” baking dish.
  • Spread half of the bread cubes into the bottom of the baking dish.
  • Sprinkle about three quarters of the cream cheese cubes over the bread.
  • Sprinkle about three quarters of the blueberries into the dish.
  • Top with remaining bread, cream cheese, and blueberries.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, syrup, and vanilla.
  • Pour the egg mixture over the entire dish.
  • Using your fingers or the back of a spatula gently press all of the bread pieces down into the egg mixture.
  • Cover the baking dish with foil and place in the fridge 8 hours or overnight.
  • When ready to bake remove the dish from the fridge and allow it to sit on the counter for about 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • Keep the dish covered in foil and bake for 45 minutes.
  • Remove the foil and continue baking until the top is s nice golden brown and the egg mixture is set, about an additional 20–30 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and allow it to cool for 5 minutes.
  • Cut and serve.
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Recipe—Busy Mom’s Beef Wellington

Busy Mom's Beef Wellington

Traditional beef wellington has got to be one of the most glamorous meals ever prepared. It is so rich and attractive but certainly not something you want to be making Monday–Friday. It is a wonderful dish but it is a lot of work! Certainly not in the regular rotation for this busy momma! I saw this recipe the other day for a beef wellington made from ground beef and had to give it a try. It was absolutely delicious! It was relatively easy to throw together and the flavors were very close to that of traditional wellington, just with some added veggies, which are always welcome in our house. This will most certainly be a go to recipe for me from here on out.

Busy Mom's Beef Wellington

Note: Try to dice your veggies so that they are all about the same size. This will help them to cook evenly. This will make two wellington “logs”. Each log will feed 2–3 people. If you don’t think you will eat both, place one prepared and uncooked “log” on a wax paper lined baking sheet and freeze for 2–3 hours. Transfer to an airtight bag or seal o’ meal pouch and freeze for a future dinner. (See Steps below for cooking a frozen one.)

INGREDIENTS
2 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 potato, cubed
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 portobello mushroom or 5 baby portobello mushrooms, chopped
2 tsp thyme
1 lb ground beef
salt and pepper
1 package puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed
flour for dusting and rolling
1 egg

STEPS

  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add the onion, carrot, potato, garlic, mushrooms, and thyme to the skillet and sauté until your vegetables are fork tender and onions are translucent, about 8–10 minutes.
  • Transfer your cooked veggies to a bowl and place in the freezer for 10–15 minutes to cool.
  • While your veggies cool preheat the oven to 350º.
  • Remove the veggies from the freezer and add in the ground beef, salt, and pepper.
  • Mix everything together until well combined. (I recommend just getting in there and using your hands.)
  • Set your meat mixture to the side.
  • Dust a large cutting board with flour and unfold your pastry. Dust the side of the dough facing up with additional flour and roll out to 1/4″ thickness.
  • Divide your meat mixture into two portions and shape one of those portions into a log in the center of the dough.
  • Wrap the dough around the meat “log” like you would a burrito, making sure to tuck in both ends.
  • Place seam side down on a baking sheet.
  • In a small bowl whisk the egg until broken up.
  • Brush the egg wash over the entire outside of the prepared wellington.
  • Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes until it is a nice golden brown.
  • Transfer the baked wellington to a cutting board and allow it to sit for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
  • Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Jaime Oliver.

Recipe—Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars

 Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake Bars

As I announced a few weeks back after my break from blogging I started a new job back in August. It’s always a rough transition moving out of your comfort zone into something totally new. New environment. New responsibilities. New coworkers. Eek! It can be kind of nerve racking! Well the way I deal with nerves is food. Yes, I am an emotional eater! So I made a batch of these wonderful delicious bars but I couldn’t bear to eat them all so what did I do, I took them to work to share with my new co-workers. Way to bond and score some points at the new gig, right? Well these were a hit and I apologize that the recipe is 5 months late getting to you. Good news is I am still at my job so I must have made quite the impression with my tasty treats or maybe it’s my mad skills.

GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 c graham cracker crumbs
2 tbsp sugar
5 tbsp butter, melted

CHEESECAKE INGREDIENTS
12 oz cream cheese, softened
1 large egg
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

COOKIE DOUGH INGREDIENTS
5 tbsp butter, softened
3 tbsp sugar
1/3 c brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c flour
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 325º.
  • Line a 8” x 8” baking dish with foil making sure there is enough to go up all four edges of the pan.
  • In a medium bowl mix together all of the graham cracker crust ingredients.
  • Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the baking pan using a spoon or backside of a spatula making sure that it is firmly packed.
  • Bake for 5 minutes and remove from oven.
  • While the crust cools beat together all of the cheesecake ingredients on low speed until smooth.
  • Pour the cheesecake mixture into the baking dish and set aside.
  • In a large bowl beat together the butter, sugars, vanilla, and salt until well combined and smooth.
  • Add in the flour until well incorporated.
  • Fold in the chocolate chips.
  • Sprinkle small clumps of the cookie dough over the top of the cheesecake mixture making sure to cover most of the dish.
  • Bake until the cookie dough looks cooked and the cheesecake has set, about 25–30 minutes.
  • Move the dish to a cooling rack and allow it to cool completely.
  • Chill in the fridge for a few hours.
  • Remove the entire “bar” from the baking dish by holding onto the edges of the foil and lifting it from the pan.
  • Slice into small squares and eat up.

Recipe—Creamy Cheesy Broccoli Soup

Creamy Cheesy Broccoli Soup

It is FINALLY starting to feel like winter in California! We have been having 60–70 degree days in December and January. Not normal! Don’t get me wrong, I love nice weather but one of my favorite things about Cali is that we usually have 4 very distinct seasons. I love being bundled up with a cozy scarf and boots on a cold winter day with a big bowl of soup and it has just not been that kind of winter. Well we just got our first spell of rain in what feels like months! This led me to go into full on soup mode.

Broccoli cheddar soup has always been one of my all time favorite soups. It is so rich, creamy, and filling. (Exactly what you need after you made your new year’s resolutions right?) Well give yourself a cheat day and serve this up with an old-fashioned grilled cheese sandwich for a real winter treat. A perfect warm up for a cold winter day!

INGREDIENTS
1/4 c butter
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, diced
1/4 tsp thyme
3 tbsp flour
3 c milk
3 c chicken broth
1 c heavy cream
2 heads broccoli, chopped
1 c cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 c parmesan, grated
salt
white pepper

STEPS

  • Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  • Add the garlic, onion, and thyme and cook stirring occasionally until the onion is translucent, about 4–5 minutes.
  • Add in the flour and mix until well combined and it starts to brown, about 1 minute.
  • Gradually whisk in milk, broth, and cream.
  • Stir in the chopped broccoli and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the broccoli is tender, about 8–10 minutes.
  • Add in the shredded cheeses and stir until smooth and melted, about 2 minutes.
  • Season to taste with the salt and white pepper.
  • Serve and top with additional shredded cheddar if desired.
  • Serve immediately.

Recipe—Shrimp Po Boys

 Shrimp Po' Boys

Hey ya’ll! One of my best friends is a true southern belle. I’m talking straight out of Alabama. I love the ways she says ya’ll and ma’am, and she calls a shopping cart a buggy, she makes banana puddin’ (one of may favorite desserts of all time), and that she drinks sweet tea. Okay, I love everything about her. She is just down right fabulous, a true belle. Since hanging out with her I have been channeling my own southern diva and trying some of the foods I hear her talk about. Made cheesy grits with shrimp for the first time ever the other day. Those things are dangerous by the way!

Well awhile back my friend and I were at some food trucks for lunch and she ordered a fried catfish po’ boy sandwich. It looked amazing! Po’ boy sandwiches are essentially a sub sandwich loaded up with some sort of fried fish. I knew as soon as I saw this sandwich that I wanted to try and whip up some of my own po’ boys at home for dinner. I am a huge shrimp fan so I opted to make shrimp po’ boys and well I declare, they were amazing! The crispy shrimp are just awesome, and make sure you don’t skip the remoulade sauce. The sauce is what makes these over the top delicious. I hope you and the fam enjoy these loaded sandwiches as much as we did!

INGREDIENTS FOR SHRIMP
3 tsp salt
3 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 cup panko bread crumbs
3 eggs
1 1/2 lbs medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
vegetable oil for frying

INGREDIENTS FOR REMOULADE
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbs. dill pickle relish
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. pickle juice
1/8 tsp. Tabasco Sauce
1 clove garlic, minced

ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS
4 sandwich rolls
2 tomatoes sliced
green lettuce, shredded
red onion, sliced

STEPS

  • Combine all remoulade ingredients in a small bowl and chill until ready to serve.
  • Combine the salt, cayenne, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and panko in a shallow dish.
  • Whisk the eggs in a small bowl.
  • Dip the shrimp in the egg wash and then dredge in the seasoned panko mixture.
  • Fill a large skillet halfway up with oil and heat over medium-high heat.
  • Fry the shrimp in batches until they are a nice golden brown, about 3-4 minutes, and transfer to a paper towel lined plate. (Note: If they are turning dark too quickly remove the skillet from the burner and turn down the heat.)
  • Once all the shrimp are done fill each roll with lettuce, tomatoes, and red onion.
  • Place the shrimp in that bad dog and drizzle with the remoulade sauce.
  • Dig in!

Recipe—S’More Snack Mix

S'More Snack Mix

S’more snack mix please! Last year I made a Valentine’s Day Snack Mix that was a total hit with my followers and also my little man’s little buddies at school. Well it’s that time of year again and I was trying to come up with something fun. All kids love Teddy Grahams so those were a given ingredient. What goes better with graham crackers than M&M’s and marshmallows? This was a no brainer! I had to make s’more snack mix. This is a perfect treat whether or not it’s Valentine’s Day. I’m thinking I will make a big batch for our next summer camping trip (with traditional M&M’s of course). You can just serve it in a large bowl (perfect for a party) ORRRRR you can make your own Valentine’s Day snack bags to pass out!

DivaDiCucina_SMoreSnackMix3

Last year I had a couple people contact me requesting that I share my valentine snack bag design so that they could print and make their own. This year I thought I would just go ahead and include it right here on my blog. That’s right! You can download a pdf of the cute cards I designed and print and make your own! How fun is that?!? A special homemade bag of snack mix for the kiddos to share with their friends! You’re welcome.

Click to Download PDF

Click to Download PDF

I hope you enjoy this fabulous mix as much as me and my munchkin do! I wish all of my followers a wonderful Valentine’s Day filled with lots of love and happiness.

xoxox
The Diva

S'More Snack Mix

Note: This recipe makes enough to fill 24–26 snack size Ziploc bags or 1 large bowl. IF you don’t want to print and trim these on your own just take the pdf file to Kinkos or Staples and they can do the work for you. 😉

INGREDIENTS
3 (8 oz) bags Honey Teddy Grahams
10 oz bag mini marshmallows
2 (12.6) oz bags Valentine’s M&M’s

STEPS

  • Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix.

STEPS TO CREATE THE VALENTINE’S DAY SNACK BAGS

  • Make snack mix as directed above.
  • Distribute mix into snack sized ziplock bags.
  • Click on the above picture of the Valentine’s Day tabs.
  • Save the pdf to your computer.
  • Print out however many pages you will need to a heavy card stock.
  • Cut out the valentines along the black trim marks.
  • Fill in the “To” and “From” portion of the valentine.
  • Fold each valentine in half.
  • Staple along the top of the ziploc bag.
  • Wellah!

 

If you like this recipe, perhaps you will LOVE this!

Valentine's Day Snack Mix