Unbelievable Chicken Marinade

Diva Enterains Grilled Chicken
I remember laughing at the name of this recipe when I first came across it.  But after just one bite I understood.  It is unbelievably delicious.  I think the original recipe was posted on Allrecipes.com and it called for a considerable amount of oil in the marinade (6 T.)   That much wasn’t necessary and, in my opinion, diluted the flavor of the marinade.  So in this version of the recipe I have brought the amount of olive oil down to 1 T.

The other thing I’ve changed is I call for chicken that has been pounded thin (1/4 inch or so) so that the chicken breasts cook evenly and quickly.  Once a breast is pounded I also typically cut it in two before adding it to the marinade.  That way there is more surface area to drink in the marinade and caramelize when it hits the grill.

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Little Touches: Balsamic Mushrooms

Diva Entertains Balsamic Mushrooms

Little things can bring such joy.  Like a simple recipe that takes minutes to make and tastes likes you spent hours.  Take these balsamic mushrooms.  This recipe elevates the humble and inexpensive button mushroom to impressive company fare.

There’s only one thing to keep at the forefront when making this dish.  As the mushrooms brown (caramelize) they develop wonderful flavor.  So when you add the mushrooms to the pan don’t be tempted to constantly stir them.  Do so a few times, not constantly. It is the prolonged contact with the pan that enables the mushrooms to brown and deepen in flavor.

Balsamic Mushrooms (adapted from Martha Stewart’s “Dinner At Home” cookbook)

Serves 4, 10 minutes total time

  • 3 T. olive oil*
  • 12 oz. white mushrooms, halved (quartered if large)
  • 3 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. red-pepper flakes
  • coarse salt and fresh pepper to taste

Spray large skillet with non-stick spray.  Add olive oil and heat over medium-high heat until just shimmering (not smoking).  Add mushrooms and cook until nicely browned on all sides, about 5 minutes.  Stir in vinegar and red-pepper flakes and cook 1 minute more.  Season with salt and pepper.  Transfer to serving dish or bowl and serve.

* Martha’s original recipe called for 1/4 olive oil.  I made the recipe using 3 T. of olive oil but I’m next time I’ll bring the amount down to 2 T.  You just need to watch  the mushrooms a bit closer to ensure they don’t burn.

Steak Tacos Recipe – A Real Treat!

Diva Entertains Taco Plate

I came across this recipe several years ago and it has been a staple in our house ever since.  It’s easy to make and wonderful as left-overs.

Steak Tacos (adapted from Cook’s Country, June/July 2006)

  • 1 flank steak (about 1.5), sliced very thin*
  • 1.5 chili powder
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1.5 tsp. coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 scallions, green and white parts cut into 1″ lengths
  • 1-2 jalapeno chiles, minced
  • 4 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup canned tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1.5 T. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. lime juice
  • 12 taco shells**, hard or soft

Mix chile powder, cumin, coriander, salt, garlic, scallions and jalapenos in medium-sized bowl.  Add steak to mixture and toss well to coat the slices with the spice mixture.

Mix tomato sauce, water, brown sugar and lime juice in small bowl; set aside.

Heat 2 tsp. oil in large skillet over high heat until shimmering.  Add half of steak mixture and cook, turning once, until just browned, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to bowl.  Repeat with remaining oil and steak, transfer to bowl.

Off heat, add the tomato sauce mixture, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon.  Also add any juice that collected in the bowl with the cooked meat.  Cook until reduced by half, about 6 to 10 minutes over medium heat.  Return steak to skillet and cook until meat is glazed, about 2 minutes.  Divide among taco shells and serve.

*One of the secrets to having the meat turn out incredibly tender is to cut it very thin and then quickly cook it.  To prepare the flank steak, cut the steak with the grain into 2 inch wide sections.  Then take each section and cut very thinly across the grain.

Diva Entertains Thin Sliced Beef

**I stuffed my tacos with meat in the picture – wouldn’t get the full 12 out of the recipe as indicated.

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Chocolate “Ganach-ed” Cream Cheese Brownies

Diva Entertains Brownie

Like your desserts light and delicate?  Then this post is definitely not for you (sorry – another time!).  Another name for these sinfully rich, over-the-top, incredibly decadent brownies would be “Sinfully Rich, Over-the-Top, Incredibly Decadent Brownies”.

They aren’t hard to make at all (they start off with a packaged brownie mix – how wonderful is that!?).  It’s just that they call for a few extra steps.  Please believe me when I say these are worth it.

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Little Touches: Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits

Diva Entertains Biscuits

True Confessions: I am lousy at breads and biscuits.  My many, many attempts usually aren’t even edible.  Over the years I’ve learned to shy away from such recipes because, well, repeated failure just doesn’t feel good.  But after having a scrumptious goat cheese biscuit at a restaurant in Chicago (recipe to come in the spring when I have fresh chives from the garden to add to the recipe) I decided that I just had to give homemade biscuits another try.

The goat cheese biscuits called for ‘self rising’ flour* – something I never used before.  So I bought a package and noticed on the back what looked to be an easy recipe for “Extraordinary Buttermilk Biscuits” and it was as if it was calling my name.   30 minutes later I discovered that the recipe was aptly named (although if I were in charge of naming them I probably would have chosen Best Damn Biscuits Ever).  A simple pat of butter and a drizzle of honey and I was in biscuit heaven.

Diva Entertains Biscuits with Butter and Honey

A few tips to ensuring buttery, flaky biscuits: 1) Make sure the butter is cold; use right from the fridge.  2)  Before adding the butter to the flour-sugar mixture, cut it into small pieces.  An easy way to do this is simply cut the butter into 1/2 T. thickness (use the measurements on the wrapper as a guide) and then cut each piece into 4 to 6 pieces.

Extraordinary Buttermilk Biscuits (adapted from the recipe from the back of the package of Gold Medal Self-Rising Flour)
  • 2 1/2 cups self rising flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into little pieces
  • 3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk

Heat over to 450F.  In medium bowl, stir together flour and sugar.  Using a pastry blender (see below) or fork, cut in butter until

Diva Entertains Pastry Tool
mixture is crumbly.  Pour in buttermilk and stir until dough leaves side of bowl.  If dough is dry, add an additional 1 to 2 T. buttermilk.

On a lightly floured surface, knead dough just until smooth (a minute or two at most).  Roll to 1/2″ thickness.  Cut dough with floured 2 1/2″ biscuit cutter**.  On ungreased cookie sheet, place about 1″ apart for crusty side, touching for soft sides.

Bake 10-12 minutes until golden brown.  Makes about 12 biscuits.

Easier: Use 1 1/4 cups buttermilk.  Do not knead dough.  Drop dough by rounded spoonful 2 inches apart.  These drop biscuits may not look as pretty but they’ll still be delicious!

*I used Gold Medal Self Rising flour.  Not only were the leaveners already in the flour but so was the salt.  Do not add salt to the recipe or you will have a biscuit that tastes like a salt lick.

**Don’t have a biscuit cutter?  No problem.  Use the mouth of a glass – it will work just fine.

Breakfast Croissant Casserole

Diva Entertains Casserole Slice

I ran across this recipe quite some time ago, but unfortunately I did not note where it came from (I always try to give credit to the source for my recipes).  Without making it I posted it on an online recipe-swap I belong to and said that I thought it looked good.  Fellow swappers started making it and raved about it.  Over and over again.  And still I did not try it (nor admit that I hadn’t on the swap).  But just a week ago another post was made about how fabulous it was. So…..I gave it a try.  And it was, in a word, “Fabulous”.  Other words that could also be used to describe it: Delicious, Decadent, Easy, Scrumptious, Really Easy.

You prepare it the night before and keep it overnight in the refrigerator.  If you decide, instead, to make it right before you serve it just make sure that when it is all assembled you press down on the tops of the croissant so that they are submerged in the liquid. Do it a few times (as soon as you take the pressure off the tops  they will rise again).  The goal is to have them saturated with the liquid ingredients of the recipe.

One other note.  I can’t really tell you the exact measurements of which baking pan to use.  What I can say is use one that lets you snugly fit in four croissants.  Don’t worry if they are beautifully laid out.  Even if you have to cut them up a bit – the point is to fit four croissants snuggly in a baking dish.

Diva Entertains Croissant Casserole

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Orange Beef Stir Fry – A Treat For Your Eyes & Mouth!

Diva Entertains Orange Beef

This dish is truly a feast for your senses.  Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients.  As long as you prep your ingredients prior to starting to cook you can pull off this scrumptious meal, from start to finish, in 30 minutes. (although if you want to serve it with rice, as I did in the picture above – you need to include cook time for the type of rice you use).

Orange Beef Stir Fry (adapted from CuisineAtHome.com), 4 Servings

  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup low-salt beef broth
  • 2 T. orange marmalade
  • 2 T. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 T. molasses
  • 1 T. rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 T. cornstarch
  • 12 oz. flank steak, sliced very thinly

For the Stir Fry

  • 2 T. canola oil, divided
  • 2 T. minced fresh gingerroot
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 8 oz. broccolini, trimmed*
  • 1 cup sliced red onion
  • 2 cups sliced shiitake and button mushrooms**
  • 2 cups sliced red bell pepper
  • 1 cup fresh or canned mandarin orange segments
  • 2 cups packed fresh spinach leaves

In a large bowl whisk all marinade ingredients, up to the flank steak, together.  Cut the flank steak across the grain as thinly as possible, as shown below:

Diva Entertains Thin Sliced Beef

(Cutting it so thinly requires only a very quick sear on both sides of the meat and you’ll be amazed how incredibly tender and flavorful the pieces are).  Add the beef to the marinade and toss to coat completely with marinade.

Coat wok or large skillet with non-stick spray.  Heat 1 T. oil in pan over medium-high heat.  When oil shimmers, add half the beef to the wok; stir fry until brown, 1 to 2 minutes.  Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining beef, reserving marinade.  Transfer the beef to the plate.

Add remaining 1 T. oil to wok.  Add ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes to skillet; stir fry 30 seconds.  Add broccolini and onion; stir fry 3 minutes.  Add mushrooms and peppers; stir fry 2 minutes.

Return beef to wok with marinade; heat until marinade thickens and boil.  Add oranges; stir fry 1 minutes.  Divide spinach among four plates; top with stir fry.

*If you can’t find broccolini you can substitute sugar snap peas or snow pea pods.

**The original recipe called for 3 cups shiitake mushrooms but that could be incredibly expensive.

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Mocha Buttercream Cupcakes with a Bit of Attitude

Diva Entertains Mocha Cupcake

Like so many others, I am taken with cupcakes.  I just love the thought of having my very own miniature cake all to myself.  Not a slice of something…but the thing itself!  And lately I’ve been having fun ‘dressing’ up my cupcakes by using fun liners such as leopard print liner in this pic.  It goes perfect with a mocha buttercream frosting.  And set upon a leopard print coaster and now you’ve really made a splash! (I came up with this when I was recently asked to help plan a leopard themed bridal shower)

And of course…nothing wrong with adding a bit of chocolate to top of this decadent treat!

Diva Entertains Mocha with Chocolate Drizzle

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Little Touches: Prosciutto Lollipops

Diva_Entertains_Proscuitto_Lollipops 1

Don’t you just love an appetizer that is: a snap to make (doesn’t need cooking), look beautiful and tastes great?  These Prosciutto Lollipops are all that.  Finger food at its best.

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