Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sparkling up the town!

I FINALLY had a chance to wear my sequin Torrid tunic.  Mr, Diva and I went to see the Portland Gay Men's Chorus "Motown"-themed show.  I knew it was going to be a fun and utterly fabulous event, so I decided to go sparkly.  When is going sparkly a bad idea anyway?

I managed to not get a full body shot of my whole outfit....I usually don't, but I LOVE the Lane Bryant jeans I was wearing too.  So next time I will try harder to get some better pictures.

Me, before heading out into the rainy Northwest weather

Mr. Diva and I

Diva In The Kitchen: Crash Hot Potatoes

The Pioneer Woman is a true goddess!  This recipe is from her site and has been my all-time favorite potato recipe.  It is just simply divine!  The potatoes get really crunchy and the fresh herbs add a spectacular flavor.  They are super easy too!  MAKE THEM NOW! You will not regret it.

12 whole New Potatoes (or Other Small Round Potatoes)
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Kosher Salt To Taste
Black Pepper To Taste
Rosemary (or Other Herbs Of Choice) To Taste (Diva's Note: I always add rosemary and thyme)

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add in as many potatoes as you wish to make and cook them until they are fork-tender.

On a sheet pan, generously drizzle olive oil. Place tender potatoes on the cookie sheet leaving plenty of room between each potato.

With a potato masher, gently press down each potato until it slightly mashes, rotate the potato masher 90 degrees and mash again. Brush the tops of each crushed potato generously with more olive oil.
Sprinkle potatoes with kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper and fresh chopped rosemary (or chives or thyme or whatever herb you have available.)

Bake in a 450 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Diva In The Kitchen: Easy Pimento Cheese

I'm from the South, so I grew up on pimento cheese.  We always had it in the house.  We frequently had pimento cheese sandwiches.  It was just something that was always there.  A few weeks ago I was CRAVING pimento cheese and decided to make some for the first time.

I decided to use a combination of Sunny Anderson's Easy Pimento Cheese recipe and Paula Deen's Bobby's Pimento Cheese recipe.  There were definite flavors I wanted from both, like the cream cheese from Paula's and the onion and paprika from Sunny's.

The combination would have been tasty.  The only issue I had was that the onion I used was insanely strong and kind of overpowered the whole thing.  So in the future I will use an onion I know for sure is not as strong.  I might try a sweet onion instead of a red onion.  Otherwise, it was great!

Easy Pimento Cheese

1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup grated sharp cheddar (1/2 pound)
1 cup grated Monterey Jack (1/2 pound)
1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimentos, plus 2 tablespoons juice
1/2 red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground celery seed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 loaf white sandwich bread, sliced into diagonal pieces

Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth and fluffy. Add all of the remaining ingredients and beat until well blended. It can be used as a dip for crudite or as a sandwich filling.

Diva In The Kitchen: Mustard-Roasted Potatoes

This recipe came from Smitten Kitchen.  There are so many fantastic recipes over there, I truly don't know if I will ever get through them all.  I was a little skeptical of these because I am not a huge mustard fan;  I do like the spicier, whole grain ones or honey mustard though.  This has become one of my go-to recipes for making a potato dish.

Adapted from Gourmet, December 2007

Makes 10 servings

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1/2 cup whole grain Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick or 1/2 ounce) butter, melted
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
3 pounds 1- to 1 1/2-inch-diameter mixed unpeeled red-skinned and white-skinned potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch-wide wedges

Position 1 rack in top third of oven and 1 rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 425°F. Spray 2 large rimmed baking sheets with nonstick spray. Whisk mustard, olive oil, butter, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, lemon peel, and salt in large bowl to blend. Add potatoes; sprinkle generously with freshly ground black pepper and toss to coat. Divide potatoes between prepared baking sheets, leaving any excess mustard mixture behind in bowl. Spread potatoes in single layer. Roast potatoes 20 minutes. Reverse baking sheets and roast until potatoes are crusty outside and tender inside, turning occasionally, about 25 minutes longer.

Transfer potatoes to serving bowl.

Do ahead: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand on baking sheets at room temperature. Rewarm potatoes in 425°F oven 10 minutes.

Diva In The Kitchen: Vegetable-Stuffed Portobellos

I LOVE mushrooms!  Using portobellos in places of meat is so fun to do.  I've made some tasty portobello mushroom burgers in the last year.  I saw this recipe in my Taste of Home Healthy Cooking magazine and knew I had to try them out.  The white bean puree has a great flavor and the zucchini mixture is very tasty.  You could really do any veggies you wanted in it and really make it your own.  I imagine eggplant or parsnips, carrots, and the like would be very good in it.

1 can (15 ounces) white kidney or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1 garlic clove, peeled and halved
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 large portobello mushrooms (4 to 4-1/2 inches), stems removed
1 medium sweet red pepper, finely chopped
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 medium zucchini, finely chopped
1/2 cup shredded pepper Jack cheese

In a food processor, combine the beans, 1 tablespoon oil, water, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper. Cover and process until pureed; set aside.

Place mushrooms on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil 4 in. from the heat for 6-8 minutes on each side or until mushrooms are tender.

Meanwhile, in a small nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, saute the red pepper, red onion and zucchini in remaining oil until tender.

Spread about 1/3 cup reserved bean mixture over each mushroom; top with 1/2 cup vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Broil 2-3 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Yield: 4 servings.

Nutrition Facts: 1 stuffed mushroom equals 252 calories, 12 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 15 mg cholesterol, 378 mg sodium, 26 g carbohydrate, 7 g fiber, 11 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 lean meat, 2 vegetable, 1 starch, 1 fat.

Diva In The Kitchen: Quick Pickled Apples and Onions

This is another Rachael Ray recipe.  These go fabulously with the Pork Chops with Beer and Bacon Gravy.  All the flavors meld together so well.  Very tasty!  You could make this for any pork dish or put it on top of grilled pork to add something special.

2 green apples
1/2 lemon
1 small to medium red onion, very thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped dill
1 teaspoon salt
About 1/3 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups cider vinegar
4 fresh bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

Quarter the apples then cut away core and thinly slice. Add them to a medium bowl, douse them with a little lemon juice and add the onions and dill.

In a small pot over medium heat add the vinegar, bay leaves, peppercorns, salt and sugar. Stir and heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Pour evenly over the apples and let stand 20 minutes, turning occasionally. Serve or cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Diva In The Kitchen: Pork Chops with Beer and Bacon Gravy

This recipe is from Rachael Ray.  As with every Rachael recipe I have tried, this is pretty darn tasty.  But it has bacon and beer, so what's not to love?  I don't make sauces or gravy all that often in my meals, so it was also fun to have something like that.

4 bone-in pork chops, just over 1-inch thick
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus a drizzle
2 thick slices smoky bacon from deli counter, diced 1/4-inch
1 medium onion, diced 1/4-inch
1 rounded tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 bottle amber to dark German beer
1/2 cup stock
Chopped parsley, for garnish

Season the chops liberally with salt and pepper. Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil smokes, add the chops and cook, turning once, until caramelized and the meat is just turning firm, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove to a platter and cover with foil, reserve.

Add a drizzle more oil to the pan, add bacon and brown for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the onions and saute over medium heat with the bacon until soft, 6 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle in flour, stir for 1 minute, then add the beer. Cook until reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes more, then whisk in the stock. Remove from the heat and season with pepper. Pour the gravy over the chops, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Diva On A Budget: Torrid Flats

As much as I love a good deal and usually wait for the Torrid 50% off all clearance sale, I didn't want a repeat of last week.  Last week I noticed that a super cute pair of purple, ruffle-trimmed flats went on clearance for $20.  They had my size and everything, but I was stubborn and thought I would wait until the next Torrid Clearance sale to get them.  Well, guess what?  Two days later, those shoes were OUT of my size.  (Size 11, FYI)  So when I saw these cute flats IN MY SIZE on CLEARANCE, I didn't hesitate to purchase them.

I really love Torrid flats because they are wide and fit me really well.  I have a pair of metallic flats and a glittery bronze pair from Torrid as well.  Check out the Clearance and see if there is anything you need!


FREE Starbucks Petite Dessert with drink purchase!

Celebrate Starbuck's 40th Birthday!

Head on over to your local Starbucks today (Thursday), Friday, and/or Saturday from 2pm to 5pm to try a Free Petite Dessert with any handcrafted drink purchase.

I try to only have a Skinny Caramel Macchiato these days.  (The grande size is only 140 calories!)  SO I didn't feel so guilty about having the Salted Caramel Sweet Square today.  YUM!

They are also offering Birthday Cake Pops, Rocky Road Cake Pops, Tiramisu Cake Pops, Red Velvet Whoopie Pies, Peanut Butter Mini Cupcakes, Lemon Sweet Squares, and Carrot Cake Mini Cupcakes.

They all look tasty! So what are you waiting for?  

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Diva In The Kitchen: Sour Cream Enchiladas

This is a delicious recipe from The Pioneer Woman.  They are very filling and I had larger tortillas and therefore my enchiladas were more chimichanga size...but they were creamy and cheesy and tasty!  The only thing I changed up was that I added a sprinkling of cilantro on top.

The process of frying the tortillas was very messy, but fun and made for super yummy enchiladas!


12 whole Corn Tortillas
Canola Oil, For Frying
1 can (20 Ounce) Enchilada Sauce
2 cups Sour Cream
3 cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Grated
1 cup Sliced/chopped Green Onions
½ teaspoons Ground Cumin
¼ teaspoons Cayenne Pepper

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix together sour cream, green onions 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar, cumin, and cayenne pepper.

Heat canola oil in a skillet over medium heat. Heat enchilada sauce in a separate skillet or saucepan.

Using tongs, fry tortillas one at a time, for only about five to ten seconds per side (don’t allow to crisp.) Remove from oil, then dunk tortilla in enchilada sauce. Lay tortilla on a plate, then spoon a good two or three tablespoons of the sour cream mixture in the middle. Roll tortilla, then place face down in a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Repeat with remaining tortillas and sour cream mixture.

(If there’s any sour cream mixture left over, use it as a dip for tortilla chips!)
Cover the dish with the remaining cheese, then bake for 15 to 20 minutes until bubbly.
Serve immediately. Place a dollop of sour cream on each serving, then sprinkle on sliced green onions.

Simply Be Fashion Picks

I have recently been turned on to the great fashion over at Simply Be.  They are a UK based company that carries sizes 14 to 32.  They now ship to the US as of mid-2010.

Here are some of my picks from their new spring stuff:

Joe Browns Dip Dye Tunic
Joanna Hope Sleeveless Beaded Tunic
Grazia Lace Trim Tunic
Changes Boutique Beaded Dress
Tiered Lace Trim Tunic
Changes Boutique Lace Trim Dress
Frock and Frill Lace Dress
Sequin Fringe Dress
Changes Boutique Lace Dress
They also have some really cute shoes as well, but they seem to only go up to size 9 or 10 and I wear an 11 so I don't even look at the shoes anymore.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Diva In The Kitchen: Breakfast Tart

Hello, dahlings!  I am SO EXCITED to share this recipe with you.  I came across it during a Google Reader session.  A blogger posted about another blogger who had featured this recipe in a Brunch Menu post.  I cannot, for the life of me, find either blog post or the pictures that accompanied it.  I apologize to both bloggers for that, BUT I am incredibly appreciative that they posted about this recipe.

The Breakfast Tart recipe can be found on the Williams-Sonoma website.  It is SO delicious!  My husband loved it so much, he thought about it during the week and picked up the stuff for me to make it again the following weekend. The flavors go together so well and the Gruyère cheese is insanely delicious and creamy and wonderful.

The first time I made it, I stuck to the recipe but added an extra egg and substituted green onions for chives.  The second time around, I sprinkled fresh chopped rosemary on top of the cheese mixture.  It was a lovely addition.  In my search for the blog I saw this on originally, I also saw many people mix chopped spinach in the cheese mixture or add pancetta in place of the bacon.  There are many great variations you could do!

Without further ado, here is the recipe:

Breakfast Tart

1 sheet puff pastry dough
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tsp. water
3 oz. crème fraîche (NOTE: You can use Crema Mexicana if you can't find crème fraîche and I have also read reviews where people used sour cream instead and was great.  I used Crema Mexicana.)
2 oz. shredded Gruyère cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
8 bacon slices, cooked until crisp
3 eggs
10 fresh chives, cut on the bias into 1/2-inch lengths

Thaw the puff pastry dough according to the package instructions.

Preheat an oven to 425°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet.

On lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to 1/4-inch thickness and cut into a 10-by-8-inch rectangle. Place the pastry on the prepared baking sheet. Using a paring knife, score a border 1/2 inch in from the edge of the pastry. Using a fork, prick the center of the pastry. Brush the border with the egg wash and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

In a small bowl, stir together the crème fraîche and cheese, and season with salt and pepper.

Spread the crème fraîche mixture on the pastry, keeping the border clean. Lay the bacon on top, slightly overlapping the slices. Bake the tart for 14 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and place it on a level heatproof surface. Using a fork, prick any large air pockets in the pastry. Crack the eggs onto the tart, spacing them 2 inches apart. Bake until the egg whites are set and the yolks are still soft, 7 to 10 minutes.

Transfer the tart to a platter, garnish with the chives and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Williams-Sonoma Kitchen

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