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

 

Beverages

Recipe—Best Ever Piña Coladas

Recipe—Best Ever Piña Coladas

Back in April I posted some ideas for a family theme night to help liven up life at home during the quarantine. One of the first theme nights that we did was a Tropical Beach Party. Of course, no beach party is complete without a tropical drink of some sort. I made these amazing piña coladas and they were so easy! (A virgin one for the kiddo of course!) For a brief moment I was able to kick up my feet, close my eyes, sip my piña colada, and pretend I was on an island far far away.

What sets these apart from a lot of other piña colada recipes is, in lieu of some of the ice, I used frozen pineapple chunks. This keeps them thick and frosty while giving them a nice creamy texture and keeps them from getting as watered down as they melt. With only a couple of months left of summer, it is time for you to get out the blender, and whip yourself up a batch of these delicious piña coladas!

Notes: This recipe makes 3–4 drinks. For a little extra kick, pour a floater of Malibu Rum over the top. For a virgin/nonalcoholic option, just replace the alcohol with extra pineapple juice. You can find bags of frozen pineapple chunks in the frozen fruit section of your grocery store.

INGREDIENTS
3 c ice
1 cup pineapple chunks, frozen
4 oz pineapple juice
4 oz coconut cream
3 oz white rum
2 oz dark rum

GARNISHES (OPTIONAL)
shredded coconut
pineapple slices
maraschino cherries

STEPS

  • Put all the ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. Add extra pineapple juice if needed.
  • Pour into a glass and garnish with the shredded coconut, a pineapple slice, and maraschino cherry.
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!
Family Theme Nights

Family Theme Night—Country Hoedown

Family Theme Night—Country Hoedown

Yee haw! It is time to round up the family for another installment of Family Theme Night. This week I am giving you all the deets you need to throw together a Country Hoedown for the family. Until I sat down and started planning out our own menu for a western themed feast, I had NO idea how many recipes I actually had on my blog that leant themselves to this theme. A western theme is always a great reason to fire up the BBQ but if you are not the grilling type, or you want something that can be done in the kitchen, don’t worry! I still have so many great recipes for you to try. Just check out the fabulous list I compiled for you below.

Family Theme Night—Country Hoedown

For our western night we had fun doing target practice with Nerf guns and playing cards. We sipped on good ol’ fashioned root beer and drank Knock You Off Your Saddle Lemonade (recipe coming soon!) from mason jars. I danced to country music in my kitchen while cooking my Jalapeño Popper Mac N’ Cheese in a cast iron skillet and served it up in a metal pie dish with some of my homemade chili, corn on the cob, and ribs. And then of course finished it off with some cherry pie, because why not. I am still working that meal off but it was so worth it!

Knock You Off Your Saddle Lemonade

Jalapeño Popper Mac N’ Cheese

Country Feast

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 country or western themed recipes you enjoy in the comments below.

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

Family Theme Night—Country Hoedown

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
Bacon Jalapeño Cheese Ball
Bacon Jalapeño Poppers Wrapped in Puff Pastry
Spicy Black Bean Dip
Southwest Turkey Meatballs with Creamy Cilantro Lime Sauce
Western Bacon Jalapeño Poppers

Drinks
Fresh Squeezed Lemonade
Red Wine Sangria
Summertime White Sangria
Western Sling
Root Beer or Sarsaparilla

Main Course
Crock-Pot Pale Ale BBQ Chicken Sandos
Big Ol’ BBQ Meatballs
Oven Roasted Tri Tip with Veggies
Peppercorn Crusted Steak with Bourbon Cream Sauce
Bacon Cheddar Chicken
Crock-Pot Shredded Chicken Jalapeño Popper Sammy
BBQ Bacon Wrapped Pork Chop with Grilled Onions
Pork Tenderloin Sammy with Red Cabbage Coleslaw and Sriracha Sauce
Crock-Pot Ranch Pork Chops
Easy Oven Baked Ribs

Side Dishes
Cracked Corn and Cheese Cornbread Muffins
Chili (The Classic Kind)
Jalapeño Popper Mac N’ Cheese
Broccoli Salad
Classic Macaroni Salad
Crunchy Apple Bacon Coleslaw
Crunchy Pea Salad
Potato Salad
Jalapeño Cheddar Corn Bread Muffins
Macaroni N’ Cheese
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili
Loaded Baked Cauliflower

Dessert
Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars
Banana Split Pie
Blackberry Ice Cream
Individual Blueberry Cheesecakes in Mason Jars
Strawberries & Cream Poke Cake
Strawberry Pie
Apple Pie Bites
Individual Peanut Butter Mousse Pies in Mason Jars

 

Always drink your whiskey with your gun hand to show your friendly intentions.

Family Theme Night—Country Hoedown

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

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!
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—One Pot Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya

One Pot Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

Every once in awhile you find a recipe that is perfect for entertaining, this is it! There is nothing fancy about it but it is delicious and it will feed an army. No joke, this recipe can feed anywhere from 6-8 people. Or in my case, made 2 dinners for 3 of us, which I have no complaints about. I would eat leftovers of this recipe every day. The flavors just get better and better while all those yummy flavors fuse together. This recipe is so filling and hearty which is great PLUS it all comes together easily in one large pot which means fewer dishes to wash. And who is going to complain about having fewer dishes? NO ONE!

Just serve this dish along with a big green salad and you will have some happy and lucky folks sitting at your table.

INGREDIENTS
olive oil
1 lb chicken, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
12 oz andouille sausage, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
salt & pepper
large yellow onion, chopped
red bell pepper, chopped
yellow bell pepper, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
6 oz can tomato sauce
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
2 1/2 c long grain white rice
32 oz chicken broth
3 green onions, chopped

STEPS

  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large pot and add sausage.
  • Cook sausage for 3–4 minutes and then add chicken.
  • Continue cooking for 8–10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Transfer the cooked sausage and chicken to a bowl or plate and set aside.
  • Add another 1 tbsp of olive oil to the pot and add in the onion, bell peppers, celery and garlic.
  • Cook the vegetables for 6–8 minutes or until they are tender.
  • Place the chicken and sausage back in the pot and add in 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, thyme, basil, cayenne pepper, Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, rice, and chicken broth.
  • Stir the pot and bring to a boil.
  • Once the pot starts to boil, cover with a lid and reduce heat to low.
  • Allow the jambalaya to simmer for 30–40 minutes. (Check it after 25 minutes and add an additional 1/2 c of water or broth if all the fluid is already absorbed and give it a good stir to ensure it isn’t burning to the bottom of the pot.)
  • Remove the jambalaya from heat and allow it to sit for 3–5 minutes.
  • Transfer a heaping spoonful to a plate or bowl and topped with the chopped green onions.
Dinners

Recipe—Italian Chicken Dinner

If you have tried this recipe before you may have noticed an update. After making this recipe dozens of times I recently started adding Italian sweet peppers and it really takes this to the next level. I have updated the photo and recipe to reflect this change. Hope you enjoy!

Recipe—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!

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
10–12 Italian sweet peppers, tops cut off
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 and peppers in a large baking dish 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 in the baking dish.
  • Bake the tomatoes, peppers, 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, peppers, 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