Recipe—Spicy Black Bean Dip

Spicy Black Bean Dip

I might as well take on the title as Queen of Appetizers. It’s just what I do. I personally just love appetizers and finger foods and no party is complete without a nice spread. When it comes to throwing a party a good dip is a must on the appetizer menu. There is no need to spend hours slaving away in the kitchen to come up with something everyone will love. This recipe literally takes five minutes to make and is so easy! You spend more time measuring out the seasonings than anything else. Just toss it all in the blender and voila! You have a delicious bean dip ready to serve!

The flavors in this dip are amazing. It might look sort of blah but then you take one bite and zap, bing, bang! Flavor explosions happening right in your mouth! You have a nice kick from the jalapeños, a little zest from the lime and lots of other great flavors from all the seasonings. The first time I made this I was (no joke) licking it off the rubber spatula. This is great at room temperature, warm, or even right out of the fridge. Talk about diverse! Next time you are throwing or attending a party make this recipe. You will have lots of people asking for the recipe. No need to tell them it took less than five minutes to make. That can be our little secret.

INGREDIENTS

2 large cloves of garlic
1 jalapeño, deseeded, deveined, and chopped
1/2 c fresh cilantro
1 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp black pepper, ground
1 1/2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
water

GARNISHES

cotija cheese, crumbled
a couple of slices of fresh jalapeño

STEPS

  • Place all of the main ingredients except the water into the blender or food processor and blend until well mixed.
  • Add 4 tablespoons of water and continue blending until nice and smooth. If necessary, continue adding water 2 tablespoons at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.
  • Transfer to a bowl and garnish with some crumbled cotija cheese and slices of fresh jalapeños.
  • Enjoy with some tortilla chips now or place in fridge until ready to serve.
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Recipe—Crock-Pot Shredded Chicken Jalapeño Popper Sammy

Chicken Popper Sammy

I swear, I take one look at this photo and I instantly start to salivate. Jalapenos, cheddar, and cream cheese coming together in the perfect combination. Add in some flavor packed shredded chicken on big warm bun and you will have a super tasty sandwich. Not only do I love this recipe because it tastes amazing but I also love it because it takes no more than 3 minutes to prepare and maybe 5 minutes to finish. Just throw together some greens for a salad or some fries in the oven and you have a meal ready to go. Perfect for us working folks who never seem to have enough time at the end of the day.

INGREDIENTS
2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
1 small onion, diced
2 tbsp garlic, minced
2 (10 oz) cans original Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 c heavy cream
2 oz cream cheese
1 c cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 c canned jalapeños, chopped
extra canned jalapeños for topping

STEPS

  • Place the chicken, onion, garlic, and Rotel in the crock-pot.
  • In a small bowl mix together the chili powder, cumin, and salt and sprinkle over all the items in the crock-pot.
  • Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.
  • Remove the cooked breasts from the pot and transfer to a cutting board.
  • Using two forks shred the chicken and place back into the crock-pot.
  • Cover the crock-pot and keep on low.
  • While the chicken is soaking up all those tasty flavors start the cheese sauce by heating the heavy cream over medium-high heat.
  • Allow the cream to come to a boil stirring constantly.
  • Whisk in the cream cheese until melted.
  • Add in the cheddar and chopped jalapeños and stir until smooth.
  • Assemble the sandwiches by placing a scoop of the shredded chicken onto the bottom of the bun (I use tongs to try and squeeze out the excess juice), then add a spoonful of the cheese sauce, add additional sliced jalapeños if desired, and top with the other half of the bun.
  • Chow down!

Recipe adapted from Food Fanatic.

Recipe—Creamy Jalapeño Shrimp Over Linguine

Creamy Jalapeño Shrimp Over Linguine

Ever since my friend prepared me jalapeño mac n’ cheese (which was absolutely phenomenal by the way, and I hope to have that recipe very soon, *wink wink* Nicole. 😉 I have been craving jalapeños and pasta with some sort of creamy sauce. Then low and behold I stumbled upon a recipe on another blog for shrimp in jalapeño cream sauce. That blogger made her recipe and served it over rice but I knew I wanted to put my own twist on it and go with a pasta. All I have to say is AWE-SOME! Think of this as a decadent jalapeño popper but as a main course. It wasn’t over the top spicy but it just had the perfect little bite to it. And you know what else I loved about this recipe? It took barely 20 minutes from start to finish! It was exactly what I needed after my insanely busy day. Even if you are sitting there all sketpical about this recipe, open your mind and give it a try. It may sound weird but oh heavens, it is delicious!

INGREDIENTS
1 lb shrimp, deveined and peeled
salt and pepper
4 tbsp butter, divided
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 c white wine
1 c heavy whipping cream
6 canned jalapeño slices, chopped
1 tbsp pickling juice from jar of jalapeños
1/4 c sour cream
linguine, cooked per package instructions

STEPS

  • Season shrimp with salt and pepper.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of the butter a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Melt the butter until it turns a light brown making sure not to burn it.
  • Add the shrimp to the pan and sauté for 5 minutes until the shrimp are firm and pink.
  • Transfer the cooked shrimp to a bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.
  • Add the remaining two tablespoons of butter to the skillet and melt.
  • Place the sliced onions in the skillet and cook over medium high heat until tender, about 4 minutes.
  • Add the wine and bring to a boil.
  • Cook down the wine for about 4 minutes.
  • Add the cream and chopped jalapeños and bring to a simmer.
  • Reduce heat to medium low and simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes or until reduced by one-third.
  • Stir in the pickling juice and sour cream until well combined.
  • Season sauce with salt and pepper and add the shrimp back to the pan.
  • Allow shrimp to heat through, about 3–4 minutes.
  • Serve over cooked linguine.

Recipe—Caribbean Baked Chicken with Mango

Caribbean Baked Chicken with Mango

While there is nothing quite like being on a tropical island getaway, there are ways you can bring the tropical flavors to your very own kitchen. This easy baked chicken recipe combines some great jerk flavors with the sweetness of mango, refreshing flavor of cilantro, and a little bite of jalapeno. Spicy and sweet are classic flavors in Caribbean dishes. This recipe is flavor packed and light, a dinner perfect for the warm summer months. Get lost in your own little island getaway with this fantastic recipe.

INGREDIENTS
2 jalapenos, deseeded and deveined
1 white onion
1 tbsp garlic minced
1 slice of ginger, 1/2″ thick
6 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
4 boneless skinless chicken breast
1 mango, peeled and chopped
1/4 c red onion, diced
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 450º.
  • In a blender or food processor combine the pepper, white onion, garlic, ginger, olive oil, vinegar, thyme, allspice, black pepper, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper.
  • Process the ingredients until smooth, adding more olive oil if needed.
  • Spread the blended pepper mixture over both sides of the chicken.
  • Place the chicken in a large greased baking dish and top with any remaining pepper mixture.
  • Bake for 35 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Transfer the chicken to plates and top each with some diced mango, red onion, and cilantro.

Recipe—Southwest Turkey Meatballs with Creamy Cilantro Lime Sauce

Southwest Turkey Meatballs with Creamy Cilantro Lime Sauce

Every couple of months I get together with a fabulous group of ladies for a book club meeting. I don’t know why we really call it a book club meeting because about 20% of the time is spent discussing the book we read and the other 80% is spent drinking fabulous wines, eating delicious foods, and catching up with some good old fashioned girl talk. Maybe wine and food club meeting would be more appropriate? Either way, we always end with an awesome variety of the most wonderful treats. Our last meeting was on a Friday night right around dinnertime so I wanted to bring something filling and yet low carb (I try and cut out carbs from the food when I know I will be consuming plenty in the wine.) These were absolutely wonderful! They were light yet completely filling. The meatballs were packed full of wonderful Mexican flavors and they really complemented the turkey nicely. The refreshing creamy cilantro lime sauce is actually from a recipe I shared a couple months back for shrimp taco cups. I LOVED that sauce and wanted to make it again. I could put that sauce on everything. So tasty!

CREAMY CILANTRO LIME SAUCE INGREDIENTS
1/3 c mayonnaise
1/2 c sour cream
2 tbsp milk
2 oz. canned diced green chilies
2 tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 c fresh cilantro, chopped

MEATBALL INGREDIENTS
1.25 lbs lean ground turkey
1 jalapeño, deseeded, deveined, and chopped
1 tsp garlic, minced
2 green onions, chopped
1/4 c cilantro, chopped
1/4 c panko or breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp oregano
salt and pepper

SAUCE STEPS

  • To make the sauce combine all sauce ingredients except the cilantro in a blender and puree until smooth.
  • Add in cilantro and pulse until combined.
  • Refrigerate sauce until ready to use.

MEATBALL STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 400º.
  • In a large bowl combine all meatball ingredients.
  • Using your hands mix well.
  • Using a large spoon, scoop a spoonful of the meat mixture and shape into 1”–1 1/4” round meatballs.
  • Place the formed meatballs into a greased baking dish making sure they don’t touch.
  • Bake for 16–20 minutes.
  • Serve hot with the cool cilantro lime dipping sauce.
  • Enjoy!

Recipe—Bacon Jalapeño Poppers Wrapped in Puff Pastry

Bacon Jalapeño Poppers Wrapped in Puff Pastry

Any recipe that has bacon, cheese, and jalapeños is a home run in my book. Wrap that up in a flaky delicate layer of puff pastry and it is a grand slam baby! These look like they would be heavy because they are good sized but the puff pastry is actually really light. These are the perfect appetizers for any occasion. The puff pastry takes what is an average appetizer and glamorizes them. Delicate enough for girl’s night in or macho enough for a guy’s night of watching sports. Either way, everyone will love them!

Bacon Jalapeño Poppers Wrapped in Puff Pastry

INGREDIENTS
9 jalapeños, halved lengthwise, deseeded, and deveined
1 package puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed
8 oz cream cheese softened
1/2 c bacon, cooked and chopped
1 c cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tsp garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1 egg
1 tbsp water

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 400º.
  • In a medium-mixing bowl combine the cream cheese, bacon, cheddar cheese, garlic, and some salt and pepper.
  • Stuff each pepper half with a heaping mound of the cheese filling and set aside.
  • Unfold the thawed puff pastry and cut each sheet into 9 squares.
  • Wrap each stuffed pepper in one of the pastry squares and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet as you finish them, making sure they are about an inch apart.
  • Whisk together the egg and water and brush the egg wash over the top of each popper.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until the poppers are golden brown on top.
  • Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe adapted from Reclaiming Your Castle.

Recipe—Mexican Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa

Mexican Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa

The 110º day in Sacramento a couple of weeks ago was a brutal reminder that the summer heat is in full swing! During the hot days I avoid using the oven whenever I can. I’d much rather send the hubby outside to operate the grill allowing me to enjoy a lazy evening. This is a quick and easy, flavor packed, and super refreshing salmon recipe, perfect for these warm summer nights. The salmon is seasoned with some of my favorite Mexican spices giving it a nice little oomph and the avocado salsa is cool and refreshing making this a perfectly balanced dish. It is light in calories and carbs, perfect for anyone looking for a great tasting and healthy meal.

FISH INGREDIENTS
2 lbs salmon filets
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp black pepper

AVOCADO SALSA INGREDIENTS
3 tbsp olive oil
2 limes
1 tsp salt
1 avocado, peeled, deseeded, and sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño, deseeded, deveined, and chopped
1/4 red bell pepper, deseeded, deveined, and chopped
1/4 yellow bell pepper, deseeded, deveined, and chopped
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped

STEPS

  • Pat the salmon dry and rub the meat side of the fish with the olive oil.
  • In a small bowl, mix together the salt, coriander, cumin, paprika, onion powder, and pepper.
  • Season the meat side of the filet with seasoning mix and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • While the salmon is chilling make the avocado salsa by whisking together 3 tablespoons of olive oil, juice from 2 limes, and salt in a small bowl
  • Combine the avocado, red onion, peppers, and cilantro in a medium bowl and pour the juice mixture over the salsa and gently stir to combine.
  • Refrigerate avocado salsa until ready to serve.
  • Preheat the grill to 325º.
  • Grill the salmon for about 4–6 minutes per side or until desired doneness.
  • Transfer the salmon to a cutting board and allow it to sit for 5 minutes before serving.
  • Place the salmon steaks on plates and top with the avocado salsa.

Recipe adapted from Laylita’s Recipes. 

Father’s Day Meal Ideas (My Hubby’s Top 12 Picks)

Fathers Day Menu Ideas

Father’s day is just around the corner and there are going to be some hungry men hoping to get a day off in the kitchen or on the grille. While many people may enjoy going out, my hubby is more partial to a nice home cooked lunch or dinner with the fam. Rather trying to guess what recipes I think the men in our lives would like I went straight to the source and got a male perspective. I asked my husband to sort through my entire archive of recipes and pick out his top 12 favorite recipes that I have featured on my blog. So if you are looking for some ideas on what to cook for dad this year, here are some great ideas that work for lunch or dinner. Give any of these a try and you will make the man or men in your life extremely happy.

Hubby's Top 12 Pick's

  1. Crab Cakes with Spicy Remoulade
  2. Western Bacon Jalapeño Poppers
  3. Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Truffles
  4. Toffee Apple Dip
  5. Crock-Pot Shredded Beef Tacos
  6. Limoncello Chicken
  7. Macadamia Nut Crusted Halibut
  8. Chicken and Cheese Stuffed Sammy
  9. Crock-Pot Pale Ale BBQ Chicken Sandos
  10. Cheesy Mac Attack A.K.A. Macaroni N’ Cheese
  11. Loaded Baked Cauliflower
  12. Mexican Grilled Corn on the Cob

Recipe—Bacon Jalapeño Cheese Ball

Bacon Jalapeño Cheese Ball

I have always loved the idea of cheese balls, but have been turned off by the fake processed taste of the premade ones you get at the store. Well cheese balls seem to be redeeming themselves with all the creative gourmet versions popping up all over the place. I recently threw my husband a little birthday bbq and wanted an appetizer that could be prepared ahead of time and then just set out once the party started. When I saw this recipe on Pinterest I knew it was exactly what I was looking for! My husband loves bacon, and of course loves the spice of jalapeños. (Don’t all men? Okay I guess vegetarians may be repulsed by the bacon but there are substitutes for that.) Once I had the bacon cooked and the jalapeños chopped this recipe came together in about 5 minutes. It was super quick and easy. A perfect recipe for any social events you may have coming up. By the end of the night I had several people asking for the recipe, which, in my mind, is a very good sign.

Note: This can be made a day ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

INGREDIENTS
8 oz cream cheese
3/4 c cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tbsp green onions, chopped
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
dash cayenne pepper
1 tsp lime juice
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 jalapeños, deseeded, deveined, and finely chopped, divided
6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled, divided
1/4 c pecans, chopped

STEPS

  • In a medium mixing bowl stir together the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, green onions, garlic, cumin, salt, cayenne pepper, lime juice, and Worcestershire sauce.
  • Fold in half of the chopped jalapeños and half of the crumbled bacon until well blended.
  • On a large plate combine the remaining jalapeños, remaining bacon, and the pecans and mix together.
  • Using your hands shape the cream cheese mixture into a large even ball.
  • Once you have formed the ball roll it in the pecan mixture until it is evenly coated.
  • Place the finished cheese ball on a plate and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
  • Serve with your favorite crackers.

Recipe adapted from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures.

Cinco de Mayo Menu Ideas

CincoDeMayo

Time to bust out your sombrero, and crank up the mariachi music, Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner! If you are looking to throw a fiesta, or even just cook a festive dinner for the fam, I have some awesome Cinco de Mayo menu ideas for you.  I hope you take the day to kick back, relax, enjoy a margarita (or three), and celebrate this Mexican holiday. ¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Refreshing Adult Beverages

Blended Mango Margaritas

Blended Mango Margarita

Grapefruit Margaritas on the Rocks

Grapefruit Margarita on the Rocks

Let’s Get this Fiesta Started!

DivaDiCucina_ShrimpCups

Shrimp Taco Cups With Creamy Cilantro Lime Sauce

DivaDiCocina_MangoSalsa

Mango Salsa

DivaDiCucina_QuesoFundido

Queso Fundido

Chubby Chicken Taquitos

Chubby Chicken Taquitos

Main Courses

DivaDiCucina_ShrimpTacos

Shrimp Tacos

DivaDiCucina_CheesyMexicanChicken

Cheesy Mexican Chicken

Jalapeño Cheddar Chicken Burgers

Jalapeño Cheddar Chicken Burger With Guacamole

DivaDiCucina_ShreddedBeefTacos

Crock-Pot Shredded Beef Tacos

DivaDiCucina_ChickenEnchiladas

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

DivaDiCucina_SweetPotatoBurritos

Sweet Potato Burritos

DivaDiCucina_ShrimpEnchiladas

Shrimp Enchiladas with Jalapeño Cream Sauce

Tasty Extras

Mexican Red Rice

Mexican Red Rice (Arroz Rojo)

DivaDiCucina_ChickenEnchiladaSoup

Crock-Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup

Mexican Grilled Corn on the Cob

Mexican Corn on the Cob

DivaDiCucina_JalapenoCornbreadMuffins

Jalapeño Cheddar Corn Bread Muffins

For the Sweet Tooth

DivaDiCucina_PinaColadaPie

Piña Colada Pie With Drunken Rum Sauce