Beverages

Recipe— Knock You Off Your Saddle Lemonade

Knock You Off Your Saddle LemonadeA couple of weeks ago for my Family Theme Night—Country Hoedown I mentioned that I made a big pitcher of Knock You Off Your Saddle Lemonade. It was exactly what I needed at the end of the week. This grown-up version of lemonade has a little hint of ginger, the perfect amount of bubbles, and then of course a nice vodka kick. It was so refreshing! It makes a generous amount so I actually ended up delivering mason jars to the doorsteps of some of my favorite local moms on that Friday night. Pretty sure we all needed it and I may or may not have had a few glasses myself that night as well.

Since the recipe makes a whole pitcher, it is perfect to sip on throughout a warm summer day in the garden or by the pool, or to serve up at your next BBQ.

Note: If you want to make this ahead of time, combine the ginger water, lemonade, and vodka in advance but hold off on adding the ginger ale, sliced lemons, and ice to the pitcher until right before serving. You don’t want it getting watered down or for your ginger ale to go flat.

INGREDIENTS
small piece of fresh ginger (about 2″ in length), peeled and thinly sliced
2 c water
1 can (12 oz) of frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
4 1/2 c ginger ale
1 1/2 c vodka
lemon slices
ice

STEPS

  • Put the sliced ginger and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
  • Cover the saucepan and remove from heat.
  • Allow the water and ginger to steep for 30–45 minutes.
  • Remove the ginger and set the ginger flavored water aside.
  • In a large pitcher, combine the ginger water, lemonade concentrate, ginger ale, and vodka and stir well.
  • Add in the lemon slices and a generous amount of ice.
  • Serve and enjoy!
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.

 

 

Salads

Recipe—Panzanella Salad

Panzanella Salad

Panzanella salad is essentially just an Italian tomato and bread salad. This is one of my all-time favorite summertime dishes. It is so easy and comes together in minutes. You can make this with pretty much any tomatoes, just make sure they are juicy and ripe. Heirloom are always a good safe bet. Traditional panzanella salads don’t have mozzarella but I am a girl who LOVES her cheese. Call me a rebel. This salad is all about taking simple ingredients and bringing them together to create a fresh and flavorful dish perfect for those warm spring and summer nights out on the patio.

Note: This salad pairs perfectly with grilled steak and some red wine. My favorite is the Rombauer Vineyards Barbera. 

INGREDIENTS

4 c tomatoes, chopped
1/2 c fresh basil, chopped
1/4 c shallots, thinly sliced
8 oz mini mozzarella balls
4 tbsp butter
1 tsp garlic, minced
4 c sour dough bread, cut into cubes
1 tbsp olive oil
balsamic glaze
salt and pepper

STEPS

  • Place your chopped tomatoes, basil, shallots, and mozzarella balls in a large bowl.
  • Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat and add garlic cooking until the garlic is nice and fragrant.
  • Add the bread cubes to the skillet and toss to coat in the melted garlic butter.
  • Toast the bread cubes on all sides until they are golden and crispy on the outside.
  • Add the toasted bread cubes to the bowl.
  • Toss the “salad” and season with salt and pepper.
  • Drizzle with a little extra olive oil and finish with some balsamic glaze.
  • Serve and enjoy!
Dinners

Recipe—Ground Pork Tacos with Corn Salsa & Cilantro Lime Crema

Okay, here we go, first recipe post of 2020! I feel like it should be something super extreme and mind blowing since you have all been waiting for so long but here we are in the middle of a pandemic and that just seems unrealistic. How are you all doing? Are you cooking at home more than ever? I know I am. I’m trying to use this as an opportunity to eat at home more and save some moolah.

These pork tacos were one of the first meals I made when we went into official “lock down” a couple of weeks ago. When all this really started I did an inventory of what we had in our box freezer and noticed we had TONS of ground pork so I wanted to do something different with that. Ground pork is just not a typical protein to cook with since it has such a different flavor compared to ground beef or ground turkey.

Not to go tooting my own horn or anything, buuuuuut these turned out so freaking good! There are so many great flavors wrapped up in the tortilla. You have the sweet corn salsa, the tangy cilantro lime crema, and then the savory pork cooked in a tomato sauce that has a nice little kick to it thanks to the jalapeño. Nothing too crazy heat wise, my ten-year-old chowed down on them. If you are looking to spice up your typical “Taco Tuesday” give these a try.

Hang in there folks! We are all in this together! Huge virtual hugs (and more recipes) coming your way! xoxox—Diva di Cucina

INGREDIENTS FOR THE CORN SALSA
1 tbsp olive oil
15.25 oz canned corn
2 tbsp red onion, finely chopped
1/3 c cilantro, chopped
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tbsp lime juice
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

INGREDIENTS FOR THE CILANTRO LIME CREMA
1/3 c sour cream
2 tsp lime juice
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp water

INGREDIENTS FOR THE PORK
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground pork
1 jalapeño, thinly sliced
1/4 c red onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp garlic, minced
6 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp cumin
1/3 c water
salt and pepper

OTHER INGREDIENTS
tortillas (I loved these with white corn tortillas)
cotija cheese
cilantro, chopped

STEPS FOR CORN SALSA

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat and add the corn.
  • Cook the corn for about 5 minutes stirring every minute or so.
  • Transfer the corn to a medium sized bowl and add the remaining corn salsa ingredients.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Stir and set aside.

STEPS FOR THE CILANTRO LIME CREMA

  • In a small bowl, whisk together all the cilantro lime crema ingredients and set aside.

STEPS FOR THE PORK

  • Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan the corn was cooked in and turn up to medium-high heat.
  • Add the pork to the skillet and break apart using a spatula.
  • Once the pork has started to brown, add in the jalapeño, red onion, and garlic.
  • Continue to cook until the pork is all brown and cooked through and the onion and peppers are tender.
  • Mix in the tomato paste, cumin, and water and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Cook for another 2–3 minutes allowing the sauce to thicken up.

TACO ASSEMBLY

  • Warm up your tortillas and top each one with a scoop of the meat, a scoop of the corn salsa, a drizzle of the cream, some cotija cheese crumbles on top, and finish it off with a sprinkling of cilantro.

Enjoy!

Appetizers, Beverages

Recipe—Bloody Mary Shooters

Bloody Mary Shooters

I recently hosted a bridal shower brunch and of course we had bottomless mimosas but I also made these super cute bloody mary shooters that are the adult equivalent of grilled cheese and tomato soup. I used a spicy bloody mary mix so it had a nice kick but then you take a bite of that crispy mozzarella stick to cool down your mouth. Just the best combination ever! Plus, how cute are they?!?!

This recipe makes 12 but I recommend you make double from whatever you think you will need. Just trust me on this one. These will disappear!

Bloody Mary Shooters

Note: I made these using 2 ounce shooter glasses. If you use 2 ounce glasses this recipe will make 12 portions. You can find the mozzarella sticks in the freezer section of your local grocery store.

INGREDIENTS
12 mozzarella sticks
14 oz your favorite bloody mary mix
10 oz vodka
celery greens

STEPS

  • Bake the mozzarella sticks per the package instructions.
  • In a pitcher, mix together bloody mary mix and vodka.
  • Distribute the mix evenly among the shot glasses.
  • Garnish with a sprig of celery greens and lay a mozzarella stick across the top.
  • Dip, bite, sip, repeat.
Beverages

Recipe—Apple Cider Sangria

Recipe—Apple Cider Sangria

Tis the season for apples and cinnamon! If you are having a hard time transitioning into the fall season and all that goes with it, then make yourself a big batch of this apple cider sangria, get out your pumpkin pie candle, and slip on a cozy flannel.

I made a double batch of this recipe for Thanksgiving last year and it was gone before I knew it. It went down just a little too easy. If you could take all that is fall and contain it in a drink, this would be it. It is literally the perfect drink for all your fall festivities, or even just a lazy fall Sunday.

Note: This recipe is best when made right before serving as the champagne and club soda can lose their fizz and the apples can brown.

INGREDIENTS
750 ml bottle champagne
2 1/2 c apple cider
1 c club soda
1/2 c Disaronno or Frangelico
2 apples, sliced
cinnamon sticks

STEPS

  • In a large pitcher or serving container, combine the champagne, apple cider, club soda, and Disaronno or Frangelico.
  • Add in the apples and cinnamon sticks.
  • Stir and serve over ice.
Salads, Side Dishes

Recipe—Mexican Street Corn Salad

 

Recipe—Mexican Street Corn Salad

I made this salad last month for a final end of summer hoorah BBQ and let me just tell you, it was delish! The olive oil mixed with vinegar and lime juice creates a zesty vinaigrette dressing and just pairs so nicely with the sweetness of the corn and the saltiness of the quest fresco and then don’t forget the smoky flavor from the paprika. It hits all those flavor points your mouth desires.

This recipe goes great with grilled meats or any Mexican dish. Tacos, enchiladas, you name it. It is cheap, easy, and so quick to make. Like really quick. This recipe literally took me 5 minutes from start to finish.

Note: You can make this with fresh corn on the cob or canned. It is great both ways. If you are using fresh corn you will need about 6-8 cobs of corn. Cook them as you normally would, whether that be on the grill or in a pot of water. Then allow the cobs to cool completely and cut the kernels off the cob and prepare the salad as directed. 

INGREDIENTS

3 (15.25 oz) cans whole kernel corn, drained
1 c cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 c green onions, chopped
2 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lime juice
1/2 c queso fresco, crumbled
paprika

STEPS

  • Place the corn kernels, tomatoes, and green onions into a serving bowl.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, and lime juice.
  • Pour the dressing over the corn and stir to coat.
  • Top with the queso fresco and a sprinkling of paprika.
Dinners

Recipe—Italian Chicken Dinner

Italian Chicken Dinner

I first tried this recipe about two months ago and have since made it at least 6 times tweaking it a little bit each time. IT HAS BECOME ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVES! We are actually having it again this week. It is perfect for this summer fully utilizing all those fresh tomatoes and basil. Most of my recipes are for a main dish or a side dish but this one is actually an entire meal. All of the components of this dish are just amazing! You have a flavorful juicy roasted chicken breast, sweet caramelized tomatoes that are literally bursting with flavor, and then the salty creamy fresh mozzarella with a nice little kick of heat from crushed red peppers, and then of course to balance it out you have some hearty brown rice simmered in chicken broth. Is your mouth watering now? Mine is! All these flavors are just so amazing together! Depending on the brown rice you get, this dinner takes about 45 minutes from start to finish and it is worth every minute of it!

Italian Chicken Dinner

Note: You can use fresh mozzarella in any form. I have used both the sliced mozzarella log as well as the little mozzarella balls. This makes a dinner that will serve 3–4 people. 

INGREDIENTS
1 c uncooked brown rice
2–2 1/2 c chicken broth (amount depends on the brown rice you purchase)
3 c cherry tomatoes
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
Italian seasoning
salt & pepper
8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 c fresh basil leaves, chopped

STEPS

  • Cook the brown rice per the package instructions but substitute chicken broth for water.
  • While the rice is cooking preheat the oven to 400º.
  • Place the cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Toss to coat.
  • Season both sides of the chicken breasts with Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper and place on the baking sheet
  • Bake the tomatoes and chicken for about 25 minutes or until the tomatoes have just started to burst and the chicken is done.
  • While the rice, chicken, and tomatoes are cooking prepare the mozzarella.
  • Place the mozzarella in a small bowl and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with red pepper flakes and salt.
  • Once all the components of the dish are ready, plate the rice, chicken, blistered tomatoes, mozzarella, and top with chopped basil.

 

Recipe adapted from Delish. 

Salads, Side Dishes

8 Must Try Summer Salads

8 Must Try Summer Salads

Summer is the season of BBQs and potlucks and that means delicious side salads are a must! I have compiled my eight favorite salad recipes from my blog including pasta, potato, and even some veggie-based ones. I could eat these for lunch or dinner all summer long. All of these salads will be having your friends and family coming back for seconds!

Asparagus and Feta Salad

Asparagus and Feta Salad
Grilled asparagus tossed in a lemon olive oil dressing and topped with feta cheese.

 

Italian Pasta Salad

Italian Pasta Salad
Rotini noodles and lots of veggies tossed in Italian dressing.

 

Classic Macaroni Salad

Classic Macaroni Salad
A summer classic! Macaroni noodles and crunchy veggies tossed in a creamy dressing.

 

Broccoli Salad

Broccoli Salad
This broccoli salad is the perfect balance of crunchy and creamy, and sweet and salty. Broccoli tossed with bacon, craisins, and sunflower seeds.

 

Crunchy Pea Salad

Crunchy Pea Salad
Peas tossed in a creamy dressing with bacon, craisins, and peanuts.

 

Orzo Pesto Pasta

Orzo Pesto Pasta
One of my all time favorites! Cooked orzo pasta tossed with pesto, cooked zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and feta.

 

Potato Salad

Potato Salad
This potato salad has the perfect amount of creaminess and best of all BACON! Sort of like a loaded baked potato but in a salad.

 

Crunchy Apple Bacon Coleslaw

Crunchy Apple Bacon Coleslaw
Sweet + Salty+Tangy + Crunchy = Delicious and Unique Coleslaw

Appetizers

Recipe—Steak & Goat Cheese Crostini with Pesto

Steak and Goat Cheese Crostini with Pesto

Last weekend I hosted a wine tasting party, which is so much fun by the way! Each person brought an appetizer and a bottle of wine so it was minimal preparation required on my part and didn’t break the bank. Thanks to all my amazing friends that came if you are reading this! It was such a blast! We had a total of 13 bottles of wine and an amazing spread of food.

Since I was holding the party around dinner time I knew I needed an appetizer that was hearty and filling. Steak came to mind since it would pair so nicely with a good hearty red blend. These appetizers may look very simple but the flavors were so amazing. The goat cheese is whipped together with cream cheese, olive oil, and red pepper so it is creamy and smooth with a mild kick. I was able to prepare everything earlier in the day and then assemble right before anyone arrived. And let me tell you, they were pretty darn popular among the ladies.

Steak and Goat Cheese Crostini with Pesto

Note: These can be served hot or cold. I served them cold for the sake of convenience. I was able to do all the prep in the morning, stored the cooked steak and goat cheese spread in the fridge, and put the toasted crostini in an unsealed Ziploc bag. I then assembled them right before the party.

INGREDIENTS
1 baguette, cut into 1/4 slices
10–12 ounce New York strip steak
4 oz goat cheese, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
olive oil
salt & pepper
chili powder
garlic powder
1/2 c pesto

STEPS

  • Preheat the oven to 425º.
  • Place the baguette slices on a parchment paper lined baking sheets.
  • Brush each slice with olive oil and season with a light sprinkle of salt. Flip each slice over and repeat.
  • Toast the baguette slices for 12–15 minutes or until they are a nice golden brown.
  • While the baguette slices are toasting, season both sides of the steak with salt, pepper, a sprinkle of chili powder, and garlic powder.
  • Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat and add the steak.
  • Cook the steak for 4–6 minutes, flip, and continue to cook for an additional 4–6 minutes.
  • Remove the steak from the pan and allow it to sit for 10 minutes.
  • While the steak is resting, use a hand mixer to whip together the goat cheese, cream cheese, red pepper flakes, and two tablespoons of olive oil.
  • Thinly slice the steak and set aside.
  • To assemble, spread about one teaspoon of the whipped goat cheese on a slice of toasted bread, top with a slice of steak, and a dollop of pesto.
  • Enjoy!

 

Recipe adapted from Domesticate Me.