Sweet Treats

Recipe—Cherry Chip Shortbread Cookies

We are on Day 3 of 5 of my Christmas Cookie Week! That’s right, this week I will be posting 5 of my favorite Christmas Cookie recipes!

Cherry Chip Shortbread Cookies

If you have been following me for a while now, you know fruit and chocolate are kind of my thing. Bananas and chocolate, strawberries and chocolate, cherries and chocolate… you catch my drift. Add in the melt in your mouth buttery flavor of a shortbread cookie, and you have one of the best tasting cookies ever! Not only do they taste amazing but they are also so pretty! I love the pops of red that the cherries add.

If I will give you any advice about this recipe, it is to double the recipe. One batch for you, and one batch for sharing. They really are that good!

INGREDIENTS
1 c butter, softened
1/2 c powdered sugar
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 c maraschino cherries, chopped and patted dry
1 c chocolate chips

STEPS

  • In a large mixing bowl beat together the butter, sugar, and vanilla.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and salt.
  • Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture until it is all combined.
  • Gently fold in the cherries and chocolate chips until evenly distributed.
  • Lay out a long strip of plastic wrap and form the dough into a log in the middle of it. I try and make my log about 2” in diameter.
  • Wrap the log up in the saran wrap and chill in the fridge for an hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 350º.
  • Once the log has firmed up, remove it from the saran wrap and cut it into approximately 1/3” slices.
  • Place the slices about 1” apart on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Bake the cookies for about 10–12 minutes or until they just start to turn golden around the edges.
  • Allow the cookies to cool for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
Sweet Treats

Recipe—Butter Pecan Thumbprint Cookies with a White Chocolate Carmel Center

We are on Day 2 of 5 of my Christmas Cookie Week! That’s right, this week I will be posting 5 of my favorite Christmas Cookie recipes!

Butter Pecan Thumbprint Cookies with a White Chocolate Carmel Center

This is probably my most requested holiday cookies and definitely one of my faves. If this cookie is in my house, I will eat it. All self control goes out the window. This is a little more advanced than some of my other cookie recipes just because of the number of steps, but they are so worth it! The primary cookie part is not overly sweet, it has a delicious buttery roasted pecan flavor and where the real sweetness comes in is that creamy white chocolate caramel center. These cookies are a total show stopper. They look so pretty and are perfect for the holiday season!

Note: For this recipe I recommend you put the white chocolate caramel sauce into the center of the cookies using a piping bag or Ziploc. I usually just use a quart size Ziploc and cut the corner of the bag off once I have the sauce in it. I find this to be easiest for me and then I can just toss the sticky bag when I am done. However, you can also use a spoon to fill the cookies with the sauce if that is easier for you. The sauce will be very hot on your hands when it comes off the stove which is why I let mine sit to cool for a few minutes before transferring it to the bag. The sauce will harden up as it cools.

INGREDIENTS
1 1/4 c butter, softened
1 1/2 c pecans, chopped
2/3 c powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 c flour
3/4 c caramel sauce (the kind you would put on ice cream sundaes)
1 1/2 c white chocolate chips

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • Stir together the chopped pecans and 1/4 cup of the butter.
  • Spread the nut and butter mixture evenly on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Bake the pecans for 10–15 minutes making sure to stir them around half way through.
  • Remove the roasted pecans from the oven and allow them to cool.
  • While the pecans are cooling, using an electric mixer, beat together the remaining 1 cup of butter, powdered sugar and vanilla until nice and smooth.
  • Mix together the flour and roasted butter pecans.
  • Gradually add the flour and pecan mixture to the butter and sugar mixture until well combined.
  • Roll the dough into 1 1/2″ balls and place about 2” apart on parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Bake the cookies for 10 minutes and remove from oven.
  • Using your thumb, or something of a similar size (I use the end of a cocktail muddler but the back of a teaspoon would work too) make a deep indentation into the center of the cookie.
  • Place the cookies back into the oven to continue baking for another 6­–8 minutes.
  • Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and allow to cool.
  • In a small sauce pan, heat the caramel sauce over medium low heat.
  • Gradually add the white chocolate chips while stirring with a small whisk or fork allowing them to fully melt. Make sure you do not burn the sauce!
  • Once the chips are fully melted and your sauce is a nice smooth consistency, remove the pan from the heat.
  • Allow the sauce to cool for 5-8 minutes and transfer to a piping bag or Ziploc bag. (If using a Ziplock bag, you will want to cut a small tip off one corner.)
  • Pipe the white chocolate caramel sauce into the center of each cookie making sure not to overfill them.
  • Allow the cookies to rest for an hour so that the filling will fully set.
Sweet Treats

Recipe—Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Here we go! We are on Day 1 of 5 of my Christmas Cookie Week! That’s right, this week I will be posting 5 of my favorite Christmas Cookie recipes!

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Every year I pick one day in December and spend the entire day just baking up a storm and listening to Christmas music. I typically bake 4–7 different types of cookies and then make assorted platters to share with coworkers and friends. This is a tradition I picked up from my mom who was also big on spreading holiday cheer in the form of baked goods.

I love these mint chocolate chip cookies for many reasons but the top reason is because they are like eating my favorite type of ice cream (mint chip) in a cookie form. There is just something about the combination of mint and chocolate that does it for me. Plus, mint and Christmas just go hand in hand, do they not? I also love that these add a nice little pop of color to my assorted cookie platters. This recipe is very straight forward and easy to make, so what’s not to love?

Note: If you don’t have Andes chocolate mints you can absolutely substitute chocolate chips in this recipe. You will get enough of the mint flavor just from the extract alone. I personally just love the way the Andes look in the cookies.  

INGREDIENTS
2 3/4 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c butter, softened
1 1/2 c sugar
1 egg
1 tsp mint extract
10–15 drops green food coloring
4.67 oz pack of Andes mints (unwrapped and chopped)

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt
  • In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until smooth.
  • Add the egg and mint extract to the butter mixture.
  • Gradually start to fold in the dry ingredients.
  • Add green food coloring five drops at a time and mix until it has reached your desired shade of green.
  • Fold in the chopped Andes.
  • Form small balls with the dough and place at least 2 inches apart on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Bake for 8–10 minutes or until they just start to get a light golden color on the bottom.
  • Allow cookies to sit on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cutting board or cooling rack.
Uncategorized

How is it December?!?

Happy December 1! Can you believe Christmas is in just a few short weeks! Yikes! But yay! We have officially entered the last month of 2020. Phew!

So I have to ask, who is ready? I am slowly getting there. The tree is up, most gifts purchased (but not wrapped), holiday music has been blaring, and my oven has been working overtime with holiday baking. Now we just need to get those Christmas lights up. *wink wink* husband dearest. 😉

In honor of the holiday season I have some exciting things happening. Next week I am kicking off my first ever Christmas Cookie Week! I will be posting one cookie recipe a day, all next week. That’s right! FIVE new cookie recipes! These will all be my tried and true Christmas cookie recipes that I have been making for years! They are friend, family, and Santa approved. Make sure you head to the store and stock up on all the baking essentials because you are gonna want to preheat the oven as soon as they hit your inbox.

Cherry Chip Shortbread

Also, from now through 9:00 pm on Wednesday, December 2, you can get 15% off your entire purchase totaling $25 or more from my Etsy shop! I have added some amazing holiday items that make great gifts. I have the most amazing coffee mugs, towels, oven mitts, and more! Make sure to check it out and save yo self some money! Happy shopping!

Gnome Mug

Reindeer Oven Mitt

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry Towel

I Tried Koozie

Sweet Treats

Recipe—Individual Pumpkin Pie Mousse Cups

Pumpkin Pie Mousse Cups

As soon as the summer heat starts to die down and mornings become cooler, my body literally craves pumpkin spice. Yes, I am a pumpkin spice loving, leggings, Ugg, scarf, and sweater wearing, momma. I can’t help it! There is just something about indulging in all things pumpkin that allows me to fully transition into fall.

While I absolutely love a homemade pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, I don’t always have the time, energy, or space in my oven, to make anything besides the turkey and all the fixings. I absolutely love this dessert because it is quick, easy, and no bake! You get all the flavors of pumpkin pie with the pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice but it is a creamy, light, and fluffy mousse! Plus, you can make it a day or two in advance so you have one less thing to deal with on the big T-Day.

If you are making dessert and then going somewhere one of the most cumbersome tasks is transporting a pie. It slides everywhere and I hate covering pies with foil because it never fails, when you go to uncover it, your crust becomes a crumbly mess and never looks as good as when it came out of the oven. These are great because you can assemble them in mason jars, leave a little air space at the top, and just screw on the lid. Easiest dessert for traveling ever! If you are making these to be served in your home, they look super cute in wine glasses too.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 c graham crackers
4 tbsp butter, melted
3/4 c granulated sugar, divided
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c powdered sugar
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 c pumpkin puree
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

STEPS

  • Prepare the crust by stirring together the graham crackers, melted butter, and 1/4 c of the granulated sugar in a small mixing bowl until well combined.
  • Set aside 1/4 cup of the graham cracker crumb mixture to serve as your garnish.
  • Distribute the remaining graham cracker crumbs evenly among 6–8 individual serving dishes.
  • Using the back of a spoon, gently press the graham crackers down into the bottom of the dishes.
  • Combine the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a mixing bowl and beat until the whip cream thickens up.
  • In another mixing bowl blend together the cream cheese, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and the remaining 1/2 cup of granulated until well-integrated.
  • Fold in 1 cup of the whip cream into the pumpkin mixture.
  • Evenly distribute the pumpkin mousse into each of the dishes.
  • Garnish each cup with the remaining whip cream and top with the graham crackers crumbs you previously set aside.
Cooking Demos

Diva is Going Live with Another FREE Cooking Demo!

Hey everyone! With weather finally cooling down and Thanksgiving just around the corner, is everyone finally feeling those fall vibes? I know I am! You may recall that over the summer I partnered up with UNIQUE Programs and did an Instagram Live cooking demo. Apparently it went well because they have asked me back to do another! So with that said, I am excited to announce that coming up on this Wednesday, November 18 at 12:00 pm PST I will be going live once again and this time making a fall feast! This will be a completely FREE virtual event where you can tune in on Zoom and learn how to make my Apple Pie Pork Chop and Individual Pumpkin Pie Mousse Cups. That’s right, essentially a completely free one-hour cooking class! 

You can tune in via Zoom using this link (https://csus.zoom.us/j/86190043772) our you can enter the Zoom ID from the graphic below. There is no need to sign up or create an account.

Fall Cooking Demo

There will be no cooking show foolery here, I will be cooking in real time so you can make both these dishes right along with me! I have provided a list of the ingredients below for both dishes if you want to make sure you have everything on hand. If you are at work or unable to cook live with me that is absolutely okay too! Just tune in, say hi, be entertained, and get some tips for when you want to make these awesome dishes another time!

The pork chop recipe I will be making has all the staples of a tasty fall dish. It is a pan seared herb crusted pork chop topped with apple pie filling and stuffing and finished off in the oven to give the stuffing just a little bit of crunchiness. I use a little bit of cinnamon and rosemary to bring in some bold flavors. It’s like having apple pie with a side of pork for diner. What’s not to love!?! I have been making this recipe for years! Not only is it delicious but it is super affordable.

My pumpkin pie mousse cups aren’t even on the blog yet so you are going to be the first to get the recipe. (Don’t worry, it will be posted soon!) This dessert is so easy to make and has all the flavors from a traditional pumpkin pie. I love it though because it is light and fluffy and doesn’t require any baking.

GIVEAWAY ALERT! Also, UNIQUE Programs will be doing an awesome giveaway on Tuesday so make sure you go follow them and me on Instagram if you don’t already. You may just be able to get your hands on some kitchen products from my new online boutique! 😉

I really love connecting with my followers in a more personal way so I truly hope you will tune in on Wednesday to join me. At the very least pop in and say hello! I look forward to chatting with you all and answering any questions you may have as we spend an hour together! See you then!

Apple Pie Pork Chop

Pork Chop Recipe

  • boneless pork chops
  • garlic, minced
  • fresh rosemary, chopped
  • salt & pepper
  • butter
  • Stove Top pork stuffing
  • olive oil
  • apple pie filling
  • cinnamon

Pumpkin Pie Mousse

Pumpkin Pie Mousse Cups

  • graham cracker crumbs
  • butter
  • sugar
  • heavy whipping cream
  • vanilla
  • powdered sugar
  • cream cheese
  • pumpkin puree
Uncategorized

Diva Did What?!?

You may have noticed the recipes and posts have been pretty thin the last couple of months. I promise you, I have a good reason for it and the recipes will be back! I’ve been a little busy with a very exciting project.

I am someone who is always looking for ways to grow and improve in everything I do and provide the best to my followers and cooking enthusiasts of the world. So, I have been very busy working on something really big. Like really big! Let me start from the beginning…

A few months back it was late on a Friday night and I had a few glasses of wine to drink and I was working on planning my meals for the upcoming week. I know! I am living a wild and crazy life!

I have a custom meal planning sheet I designed that I have been using for years. (You may recall a post about it from several months back.) That night I thought to myself, “It sure would be great to have a whole note pad of these so I don’t have to print them out every month. If I had notepads of these custom printed, I bet other people would use them too.” So in that moment I decided I am going to sell my meal planning notepads!

Meal Planning Notepad

I started thinking about how I could sell them. How can people order them? How can I accept payment? The whole ecommerce side of things was a lot to take on just to sell notepads. Then I thought, if I am going to put in all this work to sell notepads I should totally sell other things too! That night I got out a spiral bound notebook and went down a brainstorming rabbit hole and I just started listing out all the things I wanted to design and sell. Wine glasses, coffee mugs, towels, aprons, the list went on and on. I decided in that moment I was going to open my very own online kitchen boutique! So crazy, right?!?

As many of you may know, I am a graphic designer by day and a blogger by night. Designing is my passion and something that makes me so happy, and so is cooking. I had found a way to combine two things I really loved and the prospect of that was so exciting!

I spent evenings and weekends over the next two months in my home office putting my all into this, and I loved every single second of it! I designed, I researched, I came up with a business plan, I looked at so many different coffee mugs and wine glasses and towels. If it was going to have my name on it, it had to be something I would swoon over myself and it had to reflect my personality and style. Both classy and hilarious. I didn’t want the same generic mug you can find anywhere else, I wanted my stuff to stand apart and to really feel like it had come from a specialty kitchen boutique.

Boss Lady Coffee Mug

While cooped up in my home these last several months, working on this online kitchen boutique has been my saving grace, my creative outlet. And so, I am so excited to tell you all that as of yesterday, Diva di Cucina has expanded to not only be a go to resource for recipes and inspiration in the kitchen, but has branched out and now also includes a line of unique and quality kitchen products all designed by me!

So, if you want some amazing items for your kitchen, or are looking to do a little holiday shopping, perhaps you will consider checking out my online kitchen boutique. (I have some great stocking stuffers!) You can access my shop by selecting Etsy from the drop-down menu if you are on a mobile device or by clicking on the E in the yellow circle above if you are on a computer.

Bamboo Serving Ware

If you have taken the time to read to the end of this, thank you from the bottom of my heart. It is difficult to put into words how exciting of a time this is and how much your support means to me as I embark on this new adventure. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

With gratitude,

Diva di Cucina

Home is Where you Hang Your Broom Towel

Beer Magnet Set

Corks are for Quitters Wine Glass

Brunch, Dinners

Recipe—Sausage & Cheddar Quiche

Sausage & Cheddar Quiche

I love breakfast! Yes, I do! I love breakfast! How about you!? 

I will say however, that breakfast is a meal I don’t get to really prepare and enjoy often enough. Monday–Friday usually consists of something quick and on the go so sometimes I make breakfast for dinner just to get that breakfast fix. One thing I love about quiche is it is really perfect for any meal, breakfast, lunch, or dinner! Add some fruit and potatoes, you got breakfast. Add a green salad, now it’s lunch or dinner. 

This quiche is really as easy as they come, especially with a premade piecrust. I know quiche might seem intimidating to make but I promise there is no need to be scared! It really isn’t complicated and is well worth the effort it takes to make. Plus, sausage and cheddar are just a classic breakfast combo that you can’t beat.

Sausage & Cheddar Quiche

INGREDIENTS
1 sheet of refrigerated piecrust at room temperature
8 oz mild or spicy breakfast sausage
5 green onions, thinly sliced
2 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 c half and half
6 large eggs
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground mustard

STEPS

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. 
  • Unroll your piecrust and line a pie dish with a single sheet and set aside
  • In a non-stick skillet, over medium-high heat, cook the sausage until no pink remains. 
  • Add the green onion to the skillet and cook for another minute. 
  • Drain excess fat from pan.
  • Spread half of the sausage mixture in the pie crust and sprinkle with half of the cheese. 
  • Spread the remaining sausage mixture over the cheese.
  • In a medium bowl whisk together the half and half, eggs, salt, pepper, and ground mustard.  
  • Pour the egg mixture evenly over the sausage and sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese. 
  • Place the quiche into the oven and bake for 45–50 minutes or until the center is set when gently shaken. 
  • Remove the quiche from the oven and allow it to rest for 15 minutes before cutting into it and serving. 
Dinners

Recipe—Grilled Hawaiian Sticky Chicken & Pineapple

Grilled Hawaiian Chicken & Pineapple

Aloha! Summer is coming to a close and most vacations are currently on hold. So if you can’t get to a tropical island, then let’s bring the island life to you!

Back in April when we were about a month into sheltering in place at home, my family and I came up with an idea to do a weekly family theme night. We were doing them every Friday just so we had something fun to look forward to at the end of the week. The first one we did was a Tropical Beach Party. The primary focus of our theme nights was our menu but we found lots of other fun details to incorporate. We ended up watching Lilo and Stitch while sprawled out on beach towels on our living room floor.

For this specific dinner I made my Grilled Hawaiian Sticky Chicken and Pineapple. It was so good! The key is definitely marinating the chicken for the entire day to really let all those flavors soak into the meat. You get this delicious combination of salty, sweet, and smoky. Cooking it low and slow on the grill gives the chicken and pineapple a nice caramelized exterior and then you brush them with honey at the end so you end up with this sweet sticky exterior that brings out so much flavor. The pineapple manages to get even sweeter and even picks up a bit of a smoky flavor from the grill. My mouth is literally watering just thinking about it. I served it up with some of my Tropical Macadamia Nut Ricewhich is packed with island flavors of toasted coconut and macadamia nuts. If you really want to take this meal to the next level then break out the blender and try my Best Ever Piña Coladas. So, for now, home may not be as good as Hawaii but at least with this meal, the only thing you will be missing is the sand between your toes.

Grilled Hawaiian Chicken & Pineapple

Note: The trick with grilling this recipe to is to do it over a lower indirect heat and making sure not to have it directly over the heat source. The glaze can easily burn if you try and cook it hot and fast. If you are not the grilling type then you can absolutely cook it in a pan on the stove top.

INGREDIENTS
4 chicken breasts
1/4 c pineapple juice
1/4 c soy sauce
1/4 c brown sugar
3 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
fresh pineapple, cut into long spears
1/4 c honey
green onions, chopped

STEPS

  • In a small bowl whisk together the pineapple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, ketchup, garlic, and olive oil.
  • Place the chicken and marinade in a large Ziploc bag and mix to ensure all the chicken breasts get covered with the marinade.
  • Marinade in the refrigerator for 2–24 hours.
    About 30 minutes before cooking, remove the marinated chicken from the bag and place in a shallow dish. Allow the chicken to rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes before grilling.
  • Preheat the grill to 350º.
  • Add the chicken to the grill making sure you cook it over indirect heat. (See above note.)
  • Cook the chicken for 7–10 minutes per side or until the internal temperature reaches 160º.
  • During the last 10 minutes of the chicken cooking, add the pineapple spears to the grill also making sure to cook it over indirect heat.
  • Turn the pineapple every 2–3 minutes making sure to get some nice grill marks on them.
  • When the chicken and pineapple are done, transfer them to a serving dish and lightly brush with the honey, and sprinkle with the green onions.
Beverages

Recipe—Strawberry Sangria

Recipe—Strawberry Sangria

We have had a hot streak out here in California with every day last week being over 100º and being that it is strawberry season I figured it was time to whip up a batch of refreshing sangria using some of my favorite seasonal fruit! This sangria is so perfect for sipping on in this summer sun. It is light, refreshing, and ridiculously easy to make! You just stir together a bottle of wine, some silver rum, a little sugar, and a splash seltzer. You can certainly make it and drink it right away but I like to let mine sit in the fridge for about an hour so that the wine really takes on those strawberry flavors. Mmmm…mmm… tastes like summer in a glass!Recipe—Strawberry Sangria

And if you like this recipe then be sure to also check out my Red Wine Sangria or Summertime White Sangria.

Notes: 

  • If you are watching your carbs or don’t like drinks that are too sweet, feel free to leave out the sugar all together. I made it that way the other day and it was still delicious! You get lots of natural sweetness from the fruity wine and fresh strawberries.
  • For the white wine I used Pomelo’s sauvignon blanc (one of my favorite summer wines). It has a nice refreshing grapefruit flavor. Anything with citrus notes will give you wonderful results. I recommend using a pinot grigio, rosé, or sauvignon blanc for this recipe. Something fruity and light.

INGREDIENTS
750 ml bottle of sauvignon blanc (see above note)
1/3 c silver rum
1/4 c sugar
1 lemon, sliced
2 c fresh strawberries, sliced
1 1/2 c seltzer

STEPS

  • Pour the wine, rum, and sugar into a large pitcher.
  • Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Add the sliced lemons and strawberries to the pitcher and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • Add the seltzer right before serving.
  • Pour over ice and enjoy!