Sweet Treats

Recipe—Cannoli Dip  

Recipe—Cannoli Dip

Yesterday I did my first ever Instagram Live Cooking Demo. Did anyone catch it? If so, what did you think? Any feedback? I know there was certainly areas for improvement but I had fun and know what I can do better next time! If you want to view it you can do so here.

This was my first time ever doing any sort of live cooking demo so when Sac State UNIQUE Programs asked me if I would be willing to be a part of their summer virtual programming I jumped at the opportunity. I have never done any sort of cooking demo or Instagram Live video so I was absolutely stoked to do something outside my comfort zone. After all, virtual programming and activities have become such a big part of life these last several months.

For the cooking demo I was given a 1-hour timeslot and could make anything I wanted. I thought about it for a couple of days and knew I wanted to do a dinner and dessert. My go to favorite meal these days is my Italian Chicken Dinner. (It is so freaking easy and it is an entire meal!) Once I had that established, I decided to commit to an Italian theme. My first thought for dessert was tiramisu or cannolis. However, both are relatively time consuming and complex and since this was my first time cooking live I wanted to be sure it was something I could pull off. I decided to try and do a quick adaptation of cannolis and came up with this cannoli dip. Dessert dips are kind of my thing. You may recall that I have also posted recipes for Funfetti Cake Batter Cookie Dip, Sweet Cherry Chip Dip, Toffee Apple Dip, and a Sweet Cream Dip with Strawberries.

For those of you that may not know, a cannoli, it is a traditional Italian dessert that is a fried pastry tube filled with a sweet cream made with ricotta cheese as the base and then the ends are traditionally dipped in assorted garnishes, pistachios, chocolate chips, cherries, etc. If you have never had a cannoli, you may be thinking ricotta cheese in a pastry? The answer is, YES! YES! YES! Ricotta is a cheese that can be used in both savory or sweet dishes. The fluffy ricotta cheese is completely transformed in this recipe to a light and sweet cream filling that you could eat by the spoonful. This recipe is fantastic to take to a party or just to serve up for the family for a night in. I served it with broken waffle cones but it also goes great with strawberries, graham crackers, and Nilla wafers. The possibilities are really endless!

INGREDIENTS
1 c ricotta cheese
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c powdered sugar
1 c mini chocolate chips
box of waffle cones, broken up into chip sizes

STEPS

  • Place the ricotta, cream cheese, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and beat using a handheld or standing mixer on medium speed for 3–5 minutes or until smooth.
  • Add in the powdered sugar and continue to mix for another 1–2 minutes making sure it is all evenly incorporated.
  • Add most of the chocolate chips to the bowl and fold in using a rubber spatula or spoon. (Be sure to save a small handful to sprinkle over the top as garnish!)
  • Transfer the dip to a serving dish, garnish with remaining chocolate chips, and serve along with the broken waffle cones.
Dinners, Sweet Treats, Uncategorized

The Diva is Going Live!

I have some very exciting news to share with all of you! Coming up on Wednesday, August 5 at 12:00 pm PST I will be doing my first ever cooking demo on Instagram Live as part of Sacramento State UNIQUE Programs’ summer virtual programming series. I would love for you to join me! This will be a completely FREE virtual event where you can tune in on Instagram and learn how to make an Italian Chicken Dinner and Cannoli Dip. That’s right, essentially a completely free one-hour cooking class! First thing is first though, go follow me on Instagram so you don’t miss out!

Diva di Cucina Cooking Demo

When UNIQUE Programs approached me about doing a cooking demo earlier this summer it was a no brainier. This is something I have always wanted to do so this offer was the push I needed to finally commit to a live cooking demonstration. Not gonna lie, I am pretty nervous but I am super excited to share a couple of my favorite recipes with everyone.

UNIQUE Programs is all about bringing innovative quality entertainment to the campus community at Sacramento State but with their events now being virtual they are able to expand their audience to a global level. How awesome is that!? Speaking of awesome, what do you think of these digital graphics their design team created to market the event? I love them! It was so funny to see me and my dishes illustrated.

The Italian Chicken dinner I will be making is one of my favorite go to recipes. It is super quick, easy, healthy, delicious and also so importantly, affordable! I am talking a delicious gourmet meal that can feed four for under $20! (That is assuming you have the pantry essentials such as olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and seasonings.) I know dinner parties are on hold but this is a great dish to make for guests once we are back to socializing or even for yourself if you want to meal prep for the week. You literally throw it all in the pan and bake it leaving you free to entertain guests, or in my case, make a dessert!

Italian Chicken Dinner

When selecting what dessert to make for you, I knew I wanted to stick with the Italian theme so I am taking my love for cannolis and my love for dessert dips and we will be making a Cannoli Dip! That’s right, a delicious creamy sweet dip with waffle cones for dipping! You know I had to put my own twist on things. This will literally take a couple of minutes to make and is so fun to eat.

Cannoli Dip

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! Below you can find ingredient lists for the Italian Chicken Dinner and Cannoli Dip in case you want to get all the ingredients ahead of time. If you are at work or unable to cook live with me that is absolutely okay too! Just tune in and be entertained and get some tips for when you want to make these awesome dishes another time!

I really want to connect with my followers in a more personal way so I truly hope you will tune in on Wednesday to join me in my first ever Instagram Live Cooking Demo. At the very least pop in and say hello! Make sure you go follow me on Instagram if you don’t already so you get a notification reminder that day when I go live. I look forward to chatting with you all and answering any questions you may have as we spend an hour together! See you then! Ciao!

Diva di Cucina Cooking Demo

Diva di Cucina Cooking Demo

 

Salads, Side Dishes

Recipe—Summertime Marinated Tomatoes

Summertime Marinated Tomatoes

Summertime means my garden is going nuts and producing more tomatoes than we can get through in a day. No joke. I am sometimes getting 4–5 huge ripe tomatoes a day! I love it! You just can’t beat the smell and flavor of a tomato that has been able to fully ripen on the vine. Even if you go to the grocery store or farmers market, the smell of fresh tomatoes wafts through the air. That is the smell of summer!

The other day I was looking at a pile of 10–12 tomatoes on the counter that needed to be eaten within the day and I knew just what to do with them. Marinade them! The marinade for this recipe is out of this world! The red wine vinegar really brings out the flavors of the tomatoes and then you get all these great flavors from the fresh herbs and garlic. I mean seriously, just look at that layer of herbs over the top of the tomatoes!

Summertime Marinated Tomatoes

These make for a great side dish with some grilled meat or even as a salad. I served it with some garlic bread and it was so good to soak up all those yummy tomato juices, olive oil, and vinegar with the bread. This recipe is for sure a summertime staple as it is so easy to make and I am all about cooking with what is in season.

Notes:

  • The key to this recipe is making sure to marinade the tomatoes at room temperature for at the very least 2 hours. You MUST let them marinade! The tomatoes need time to soak up all the red wine and herb flavors.
  • Do not refrigerate as the texture and natural flavor of the tomatoes will change.
  • Consume within 6–8 hours of marinating.
  • If you want to prepare in advance, just make the marinade ahead of time and store in a jar in your refrigerator until 3 hours before you plan to serve. Then pour the chilled marinade over the tomatoes.

INGREDIENTS
5 or 6 extra-large tomatoes, cut into 1/2″ slices
2/3 c extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 c red wine vinegar
4 tbsp red onion, minced
2 tbsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
2 tbsp basil, chopped
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

STEPS

  • Arrange the sliced tomatoes in a shallow serving dish.
  • Combine all the remaining ingredients and mix to combine.
  • Pour the marinade over the tomatoes.
  • Cover the dish with a lid or saran wrap.
  • Allow the tomatoes to rest/marinade at room temperature for 2–3 hours.
  • Enjoy!
Side Dishes

Recipe—Mushroom Garlic Couscous

Recipe—Mushroom Garlic Couscous

We are a family who is always on the go and frequently need a quick and easy side dish. If I am having the hubby throw some steaks on the grill there are times I want a side dish that is quicker than a baked potato and easier than mashed potatoes. This mushroom garlic couscous is so easy to make and takes 15 minutes max. I know plenty of folks that get tired with the same ol’ side dish and this one is a great addition to any meal, just add a cooked protein! Plus couscous seems fancy. 😉

Recipe—Mushroom Garlic Couscous

Notes: You can make this with any couscous. The recipe is written using the measurements of a 5.8 oz box of Near East couscous which is my favorite. (This is not a sponsored post or ad.) Keep in mind if you use a different brand that the amount of chicken broth and olive oil required may vary. Adjust accordingly. You can also make this recipe with brown rice or quinoa for an equally delicious side dish. Just prepare the preferred grain per the package instructions using chicken broth, and stir in the sautéed mushrooms and parsley when done cooking.

INGREDIENTS
1 tbsp butter
2 c cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp garlic, minced
2 c chicken broth
1 tbsp olive oil
5.8 oz box of couscous (I love Near East)
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

STEPS

  • In a medium skillet melt the butter over medium high heat.
  • Add the mushrooms to the skillet and cook for 8–10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add the garlic to the skillet and continue cooking for another 2 minutes.
  • Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper. When done, remove from heat.
  • While the mushrooms are cooking, in a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth and olive oil to a boil.
  • Once boiling, stir the couscous into the saucepan, remove from heat, and cover.
  • Allow the couscous to sit covered for 5 minutes.
  • Fluff the couscous using a fork.
  • Stir in the cooked mushrooms and parsley.
  • Serve and enjoy!
Appetizers, Side Dishes

Recipe—Creamy & Spicy Garlic Edamame

Creamy & Spicy Garlic Edamame

You know how you have some food items that you literally just cannot get enough of? Like, you would eat every bit of it if you weren’t sharing and then when it is all gone you are using your fingers to get every last drop out of the bottom of the dish. That is me with this Creamy & Spicy Garlic Edamame. I literally would lick the bowl clean like a 5-year-old does with their ice cream bowl if I could get my tongue to the bottom of it. Too graphic? Sorry! The sauce is just so freaking good! It has just the right amount of heat that you feel a little burn but the creaminess of the sauce helps to tame it and you just keep going back for more.

I have been making this recipe a lot lately. It is a quick (I am talking less than 10 minutes start to finish) and easy side dish that goes great when I am making a stir fry or big batch of ramen but it also makes an awesome snack. Edamame is high in protein and fiber and is rich in vitamins and minerals, plus it is just fun to eat. It is probably a good thing that they have a shell because that is the only thing that slows me down when I have a bowl of these in front of me. 😉

INGREDIENTS
14 oz bag of frozen edamame in pods
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp chili paste (Sambal Oelek is my go to)
1/4 mayonnaise
1 tbsp soy sauce
sea salt

STEPS

  • Prepare the edamame per the package instructions, drain, and transfer to a large bowl.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the garlic, sesame oil, chili paste, mayonnaise, and soy sauce.
  • Pour the sauce over the edamame and toss to coat.
  • Transfer to a serving dish a sprinkle with a little sea salt.
Appetizers, Dinners

Recipe—Loaded Korean Beef Fries

Recipe—Loaded Korean Beef Fries

If your mouth isn’t watering just looking at this pic, then you must be dead. And if you are doing everything you can to keep from drooling on your keyboard or phone, then please, give this recipe a try. You will have no regrets. Absolutely calorie worthy.

This is actually a copycat version of the Loaded Korean BBQ Beef Fries from my favorite local food truck, Turnt Up Tacos and Tortas. The first time I had them, I was HOOOOOOKED!

I start off with a base of thin crispy fries and cover them in finely shredded jack cheese and then pile on a mound of my sweet and spicy Korean Beef and then top that with a cabbage and carrot-based coleslaw made with a creamy sesame ginger sauce and then don’t forget about that spicy sriracha drizzled over the top to give it a kick. The flavors are so freaking good, I tell ya! Mmmmm… mmmmm… mmmmmmmmm!

I have actually started serving this as a meal in my house with each person getting their own plate of loaded fries (yes, loaded fries as a meal, it even has most of the food groups) but you could absolutely make one big pile of loaded fries and share them with friends as an appetizer or shared plate.

Note: The sesame oil and ginger paste go in both the Korean beef as well as the creamy sesame ginger sauce so pay close attention when preparing.

INGREDIENTS
bag of frozen french fries
1 lb ground beef
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c soy sauce
1 tbsp & 1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger paste, divided
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
salt and pepper
3 c green cabbage, shredded
1/2 c carrots, shredded
1/2 c mayonnaise
1 tsp white sugar
1/4 c milk
2 c jack cheese, shredded
Sriracha sauce
2 green onions, chopped
sesame seeds

STEPS

  • Bake or fry the French fries according to the package directions.
  • While the fries are baking, cook the ground beef over medium high heat breaking it apart as it cooks.
  • Once the beef is cooked through, drain off most of the fat.
  • Add in the brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic, 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil, 1/2 teaspoon of the ginger paste, red peppers, salt, and pepper.
  • Simmer over medium heat for a 4–5 minutes stirring occasionally.
  • While the beef is cooking, put the cabbage and carrots in a medium bowl and set aside.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, white sugar, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, the other 1/2 teaspoon of ginger paste, and the milk to make the creamy sesame ginger sauce.
  • Toss about 3/4 of the creamy sesame ginger sauce with the cabbage and carrots and set aside the rest to drizzle over the top.
  • When the fries are done transfer them to the plates.
  • Top each pile of fries with the jack cheese, cooked Korean beef, and the coleslaw.
  • Drizzle the remaining creamy sesame ginger sauce and sriracha sauce over the top.
  • Sprinkle with sesame seeds and finish off with green onions.
Beverages

Recipe—Dalgona Coffee

Dalgona Coffee

Unless you have been living under a rock these past few weeks, you may have seen posts about Dalgona Coffee, the viral coffee drink popping up all over the internet. Dalgona Coffee is a whipped coffee drink that started in Korea and has taken the internet by storm. After seeing the beautiful drink posted to my friend’s social media I knew I had to give it a try. After all, it has been about 5 weeks since my last Starbucks drink so I have just been drinking the good ol’ drip and this looked like something I could pull off at home relatively quickly and easily.

You essentially just whip together instant coffee, sugar, and hot water until it becomes a beautiful fluffy little cloud of sweetened coffee and put that over some iced milk. While most of the recipes call for instant coffee I am a girl who likes REALLY dark and bold coffee so I went with instant espresso instead. It’s the Italian in me! Let me just say, it gave me perfect little mid-day jolt I needed.

Note: The total time to prepare is about 3 minutes. Way quicker than if I got my espresso machine out and fired it up.

Instant Coffee

INGREDIENTS
2 tbsp instant coffee or espresso
1–2 tbsp sugar (depends how sweet you like it)
2 tbsp hot water
milk (or milk substitute of choice)
ice
cinnamon or sweetened cocoa to sprinkle on top (optional)

STEPS

  • In a mixing bowl, combine the instant coffee or espresso, sugar, and water.
  • Using a stand-up mixer or hand mixer on medium speed, beat together until it is nice and fluffy and holds some shape. (Took me about 3 minutes.)
  • Fill a glass about half way up with ice and milk.
  • Add the whipped coffee to the glass and finish with some cinnamon or sweetened cocoa.
  • Sip and recharge.

 

 

Family Theme Nights

Family Theme Night—Take Me Out to The Ball Game

I don’t know about you, but my family is going through some serious baseball withdrawals right now. In early April we were supposed to be in LA celebrating my husband’s  birthday and cheering on our boys in blue down in Dodger Stadium. This time of year, I am supposed to be carting my kid around to late night baseball practices and be spending my weekends in the bleachers cheering him on. But we are obviously not, and we are trying our best to be okay with that. It is in everyone’s best interest that we are instead, safe at home. So why not make the best of it and satisfy those ball park cravings from the comfort of our own home.

For the second installment of Family Theme Night we went with a “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” theme and I’m not gonna lie, it was a pretty fantastic way to spend Friday. The best part of all, it was simple and cheap. You do not have to spend a fortune and spend hours prepping to incorporate a family theme night into your week.

Family Theme Night—Take Me Out to The Ball Game

We had some popcorn, lemonade, a hot dog bar, and watched Little Big League while sitting in lawn chairs in our living room. It was anything but fancy but my guys LOVED it! It was the perfect ending to another week in quarantine.

Hot Dog Bar

Family Theme Night—Take Me Out to The Ball Game

If you do participate in any of the theme nights please be sure to post your pics and tag me on Instagram @DivaDiCucina and use the hashtag #DivasThemeNight. I would love to see how you and your family incorporate any of the themes and put your own twist on them. Please also share any other ideas you have or links to other baseball themed recipes you enjoy in the comments below.

I hope you have as much fun with this as my family and I!

FOOD IDEAS
Click on the name of the food item below to be directed to a page with that recipe. Please note some of these link to recipes shared by other awesome food bloggers which will redirect you to their sites.

Appetizers
Garlic Parmesan Wings
Pizza Rolls
Hot Soft Pretzels

Drinks
Fresh Squeezed Lemonade

Main Course
Philly Cheese Steak Sloppy Joes
Crock-Pot Shredded Chicken Jalapeño Popper Sammy
Chicken & Waffle Sliders
Crock-Pot Pale Ale BBQ Chicken Sandos
Hot Dogs
Nachos
Loaded Garlic French Fries

Dessert
Churro Chex Mix
Copycat Cracker Jacks
Churros
Snow Cones
Ice Cream

Family Theme Night—Take Me Out to The Ball Game

Dinners

Recipe—Crock-Pot Italian Pot Roast and Parmesan Risotto

Italian Pot Roast and Parmesan Risotto

The first time I actually made this recipe was Christmas Eve. Some of you might be thinking, who makes a crock-pot meal on Christmas Eve? The answer is, this lady! Why is it that people feel the need to spend half the day in the kitchen and half their paychecks on holiday dinners? You can have an amazing meal with minimal time in the kitchen and by spending less than $25. Thennnnnnn you can use that money you saved on groceries and buy some nice red wine that will compliment this dinner perfectly.

That Christmas Eve I just wanted to be able to fully relax and enjoy the day with my family. I didn’t want to be in the kitchen for most of the day slaving over the oven. And guess what, this dinner was just as good as many of the dinners I spent the entire day making. And best of all, my family loved it!

The meat had so much flavor and was so juicy! The sauce is a very mild tomato-based sauce that goes so fabulously with the parmesan risotto. This is probably in the top 5 recipes I have ever made. It is so filling and hearty. A perfect comfort meal for the cooler weather. I love that this recipe is “fancy” enough for a special occasion or a holiday but is quick and easy enough that you can pull it off on a Thursday night after a long day of work. Literally an all occasion dinner.

POT ROAST INGREDIENTS
3 lb beef chuck roast
1 tbsp dried minced onion
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1 (.6 oz) package au jus mix
1 (.7 oz) package dried Italian salad dressing mix
2 tsp black pepper
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 1/2 c tomato juice (like V8)

RISOTTO INGREDIENTS
3 tsp olive oil
1 lb arborio rice
6 c chicken broth, room temperature
1 c parmesan cheese
1 tsp onion powder
ground pepper

GARNISH INGREDIENTS
1/2 c parmesan cheese
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

STEPS

  • Spray your crock-pot with cooking spray.
  • Place the pot roast in the crock-pot.
  • In a bowl, whisk together all the remaining pot roast ingredients.
  • Pour the tomato mixture over the top of the roast.
  • Cook on low heat for 8–10 hours, or high heat for 5–6 hours.
  • When the roast is done cooking, transfer it to a cutting board and allow it to rest for 5 minutes.
  • Using two forks, shred the roast and place back into the crock-pot.
  • Cover the crock-pot and keep on low.
  • While the meat is soaking in all that yummy sauce, begin to prepare the risotto by putting the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat.
  • Add the rice and stir to evenly coat the rice with the oil.
  • Cook for about 2–3 minutes.
  • Add 1 cup of the broth and simmer, stirring constantly, until the broth has completely reduced and the pan is nearly dry, about 3 minutes.
  • Repeat the above step incrementally using 1 cup of broth at a time. The gradual addition of broth is key to getting the rice to develop a nice and creamy sauce.
  • Once all the broth is cooked down, stir in the cheese and onion powder and season with pepper.
  • Scoop a large spoonful of risotto into a serving dish and top with the shredded meat, additional parmesan cheese, and some parsley.

 

Recipe adapted from Plain Chicken.

Dinners

Recipe—Crock-Pot Pork Ramen Bowls

Recipe—Crock-Pot Pork Ramen

Last year for our anniversary dinner, my husband took me to this swanky restaurant in downtown Sacramento. Their special of the night was a spicy pork ramen bowl. It is totally not something I would typically order but that chilly October night, it just sounded so good. And it was. The spicy broth warmed me right up and it was just so rich and flavorful. Not at all what I had expected. I thought it would be similar to a beef broth but it had so much depth to it.

Ever since then, I have been experimenting with perfecting my version of a pork ramen bowl. I think I have the delicious meal pretty much dialed in. The broth is flavorful and the meat so juicy and tender. This dish warms you from the core out and is a perfect dinner as evenings start to cool with the seasons.

Note: This recipe will make between 4–6 ramen bowls.

Recipe—Crock-Pot Pork Ramen

INGREDIENTS
3 lb boneless pork shoulder
salt and pepper
6 c chicken broth
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp miso broth concentrate
8 tsp chile garlic sauce (4 for the broth, 4 for finishing)
2 tsp ginger paste
2 c shiitake mushrooms
large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
3 (3 oz) packages ramen noodles (dispose of flavor packets)
4-6 boiled eggs, peeled and halved
1/2 c green onions, chopped

STEPS

  • Season the pork with salt and pepper and place in a crock-pot.
  • In a large bowl whisk together the broth, soy sauce, miso broth concentrate, 4 teaspoons chile garlic sauce, and the ginger paste.
  • Place the mushrooms and sliced onions around the pork shoulder in the crock-pot.
  • Pour the broth mix into the crock-pot.
  • Cook on high for 4–5 hours or low for 7–8 hours.
  • When ready to serve, carefully transfer the pork from the crock-pot to a cutting board.
  • Allow the meat to rest for 5 minutes and then shred using forks.
  • While the meat is resting, cook the ramen per package instructions and drain completely.
  • Distribute the noodles among 4–6 bowls.
  • Top each pile of noodles with a scoop of the shredded pork.
  • Using a slotted spoon, remove the onions and mushrooms from the crock-pot and place around the bowls.
  • Using a ladle, top off each bowl with broth from the crock-pot.
  • Add two boiled egg halves to each bowl.
  • Place a teaspoon of the chile garlic sauce on the top of each pile of meat.
  • Garnish with green onions.
  • Serve with chopsticks and enjoy!