Cilantro Rice with a Touch of Lime

Diva Entertains Cilantro Rice

One of the great cooks on the recipe site I frequent lauded the beautiful look of this dish as well as its wonderful taste! Its a perfect summer recipe whether served hot or cold.  Easy to make too!  You just need a blender or food processor (well, I’m sure you could also make it by hand – just chop up the ingredients as finely as you can).  Then add it to cooked rice and stir to incorporate the cilantro mixture throughout the rice.

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Blackberry Apple Turnovers

Diva Entertains Blackberry Apple Turnover open

I love anything surrounded by dough.  A turnover with a tender, flaky crust definitely fits the bill.  However, it was more than just the pastry that drew me to this recipe.

First and foremost,the filling: a combination of chopped Pink Lady apples and blackberries.  I would have never thought of that combination yet it worked beautifully.

Second, this crust is not your usual pastry crust.  It is a much easier and forgiving dough than typically used for pie, one that incorporate cream cheese (I think that’s where the ‘forgiving’ part comes in – the cheese makes it much easier to handle.  However, if you are short on time ,don’t hesitate using purchased puff pastry as the dough for these turnovers.  They will still be scrumptious and it will save you quite a bit of time and effort.

Diva Entertains Blackberry Apple Turnover

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Caprese Pasta Recipe

Diva Entertains Summer Pasta

My husband and I make this caprese pasta umpteen times each summer, especially in July and August when we can get homegrown tomatoes (ours or a nearby farm).  It’s light, delicious and, aside from a bit of chopping, easy to make.  The ‘caprese’ part of the pasta (everything except the pasta) can be made earlier in the day and kept in the refrigerator.  Just make sure that you bring it to room temperature (30 minutes to an hour) before adding it to the pasta.

In my (humble) opinion, the original recipe used too much olive oil and not enough mozzarella cheese, so I’ve amended the recipe.  However, you may want to play with the measurements a bit until you get it to your exact liking (the recipe called for 1 cup of olive oil and 1 lb. of mozzarella).

Caprese Pasta (adapted from Food & Wine, May 1997)

  • 1 1/2 lb. fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small dice
  • 8 medium tomatoes, cut into small dice*
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup olive oil (and up to 1 cup)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/2 lb. pasta (bow ties, spaghetti, fettucini, orecchiette …your choice)
  1. In a bowl, toss the mozzarella with the tomatoes, garlic, oil, basil and salt.  Season generously with black pepper and crushed red pepper**.  Let stand 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a stockpot of water to boil.  Salt the water and stir in the pasta.  Boil, stirring occasionally, until al dente (look to your pasta package directions for timing); drain well.
  3. Return the pasta to the pot; let sit one to two minutes.  Then add the tomato and mozzarella mixture to the pot and toss very well.  Serve hot or at room temperature.  Enjoy!

*firm tomatoes like Romas and Juliettes are great – but any tomato is fine to use!

**you don’t have to use the crushed red pepper liberally if you’d prefer not to.  But do use at least a bit – it really adds to the dish.

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Goat Cheese Tomato Tart – Divine!

Diva Entertains Tomato Goat Cheese Tart

When our dear friends, Vic and Scott, walked in on July 4th with this amazing Goat Cheese Tomato Tart, my eyes popped wide open.  It looked so gorgeous and I knew it would be divine.  After all – it’s made with puff pastry, goat cheese and roasted tomatoes!

If you’ve never roasted tomatoes before, I bet you will often after you try this recipe.  Roasting brings out the natural sugars in tomatoes and ups their flavor.  They are wonderful added to pasta or as a bruschetta topping.  And very simple to make.

Learning how to make the tart base will be an ‘ah-hah’ moment – you can use it over and over again with other sweet or savory fillings.

This tomato and goat cheese appetizer could also be served as “lunch” if paired with a salad dressed in a light vinaigrette.

Diva Entertains Tomato Goat Cheese Tart with Basil

Just before serving, top the tart with fresh herbs such as the Basil we showed above.  Chopped kalamata olives would also be a great addition to the tart (add before baking).

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Gazpacho Soup

Diva Enertains Gazpacho

Forgive me my indulgence for this and the next two posts.  But it IS tomato season and it lasts such a sweet, short time.

This recipe for Gazpacho Soup comes from Thomas Keller of  “The French Laundry” restaurant, perhaps one of the most coveted reservations in our nation.   I’m not sure Chef Keller would appreciate the liberties I’ve taken with his recipe but we love it!  The two parts I’ve left out are: 1) Keller calls for blending all the ingredients in a blender prior to serving it which is the way it is prepared in its country of origin, Spain.  However, as you will find it on many menus in the U.S., we like ours with texture so we skip the blending. (That being said – you could do most of the prep work, chopping, in a food processor)

Diva Enertains Gazpacho Side View

2) He calls for a Balsamic reduction to “dot’ over the top of the soup.  We have done it and it is both delicious and beautiful.  But not something we want to do every time we make this recipe – it’s a lot of work and time (it requires close monitoring and a ‘diffuser’ function on your range).  I’ve included instructions for the glaze in case you would like to make it!

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Lemon Blueberry Bars

Diva Entertains Lemon Blueberry Bars

Sometimes you don’t know what you have until you actually have it.  And in this case by ‘have it’ I mean taste it. And so it was with this recipe for Lemon Blueberry Bars.  Loved mixing lemon and blueberries together but was kind of put off by the sweetened condensed milk (I think it has a bit of a floury taste to it – although it does tend to disappear once baked.).  But the picture of the bar looked so delicious that I had to try it.  Thank goodness for that picture.  Because these bars are killer thanks to the luscious creamy layer (mainly egg yolks and the sweetened condensed milk) that bakes into the blueberries.

Although the recipe calls for 2 cups of fresh blueberries, I’ve made them with frozen blueberries with great success.  Use them in their frozen state, tho, do not thaw.  Also, I often freeze leftover bars (if there are any:) – the results have been great!

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Homemade Fruit Popsicles

Diva Entertains Blackberry Popsicle

Quite honestly, it never crossed my mind to make popsicles.  I tend to be a chocolate, dough or frosting fiend so popsicles didn’t naturally ‘call to me’.  But then I came across this recipe and something about it told me I just had to make it.  I think it was the mix of blackberries and honey but then again, it could have been the yogurt mixed in.  Whatever it was I’m glad that I did.  Because they are, in a word, delicious!

However, if blackberries aren’t your thing, or perhaps you want to try them with several other flavors, substitute 18 ounces of any fruit that you would like!

I found popsicle molds at my grocery store, however, I’ve also seen them at craft stores and retailers such as Target, K-Mart and Walmart.

Blackberry, Honey and Yogurt Popsicles (Bon Appetit, Summer 2010)

Makes 10 popsicles

  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 (6 oz) packages of Blackberries
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (I used “Greek Style”)
  • 5 tsp. honey
  • 4 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • ice pop molds for 10 pops
  • 10 ice pop or lollipop sticks, if not included with molds

  1. Bring 2/3 cups water and sugar to boil in small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Transfer simple syrup to small bowl and chill until cold, about 1 hour.
  2. Place blackberries in processor; puree until smooth. Pour blackberry puree into strainer set over medium bowl. Using rubber spatula, press on solids to extract as much puree as possible. Discard seeds in strainer. Measure 2 cups blackberry puree and place in another medium bowl for pops (reserve any remaining puree for another use). Add chilled simple syrup, yogurt, honey, and lemon juice to puree; whisk to blend.
  3. Divide mixture among 10 molds (each about 1/3- to 1/2-cup capacity). Top with mold cover, if available, and insert stick into each. (If cover is not available, cover top of mold with plastic wrap, pulling taut; freeze until partially frozen, then insert stick into center of plastic wrap and into pop mixture in each.) Freeze pops until firm, at least 8 hours or overnight.
  4. Dip bottom of mold into hot water 10 to 15 seconds to loosen pops. Remove pops from molds and serve.

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Sweet Corn Grilled – Served Two Ways!

Diva Entertains Grilled Corn

Until I tried this recipe I had never had corn cooked on a grill.  I had come across recipes for it, seen pictures of it (and the lightly charred kernels looked delicious), even had it offered at outdoor parties.  But I had never taken the plunge.  Ah…what a fool.  Because let me tell you, it’s darn good!  Easy too (although I’m not exactly against complicated, time consuming recipes occasionally …I’m surely for easy recipes that taste outstanding!).

I tried this recipe based on the recommendation of one of the outstanding cooks on the recipe website I frequent.  It called for rubbing husked corn with oil, salt and a bit of chili powder.  Then cooking on an oiled grate.  Then slathering it a delicious, creamy ‘sauce’.  And the ‘two ways’ came about because although it is a wonderful slathered in the Mexican style sauce – it is also fantastic straight off the grill!

Diva Entertains Grilled Corn with Sauce
Sweet Corn Grilled – Served Two Ways (Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, Sept. 2009)

Serves 6

  • Vegetable oil for grate
  • 1/4 cup regular or light mayonnaise*
  • 3 Tbsp. sour cream
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 3/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 4 tsp. juice from 1 lime
  • 1 ounce Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup) or the same amount of Parmesan.**
  • 4 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt or 1/4 tsp. table salt
  • 6 large ears of corn, husks and silk removed

  1. Heat grill (charcoal or gas).  Scrape grate clean with grill brush.  Dip wad of paper towels in vegetable oil; holding wad with tongs, wipe cooking grate.
  2. While grill is heating, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, cilantro, garlic, 1/4 tsp. chili powder, black pepper, cayenne (if using) lime juice, and cheese in a large bowl; set aside.  In second large bowl, combine oil, salt and remaining 1/2 tsp. chili powder; add corn and toss until coated evenly.
  3. Grill corn, turning occasionally, until lightly charred on all sides, 7 to 12 minutes total.  Remove from grill and either serve as is or place in bowl with mayonnaise mixture; toss to coat evenly.  Serve and enjoy!

*If you would prefer to lighten this dish, try substituting plain, Greek yogurt for the mayonnaise.  You can even substitute the sour cream with it.  It will give the sauce all the richness without the fat or calories.

**If you can find queso fresco or Cotija, you can substitute for the Pecorino Romano.

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Ravigote Sauce for Fish

Diva Entertains Ravigote Sauce for Fish

When onions and tomatoes abound at the farmer’s market (or in our own garden), this is a recipe we frequently make.  Ravigote sauce is usually made with onions, capers, fresh herbs infused with olive oil and vinegar.  But this Ravigote recipe is a bit different.  It calls for the addition of tomatoes, one or two types of cured olives, and lemon juice instead of vinegar.

This “no bake’ recipe is basically some chopping of vegetables and herbs and a bit of seasoning.  It’s fantastic with any type of fish (salmon, tuna, grouper, snapper, etc.) whether poached, baked, grilled or sauteed.  Make it earlier in the day and keep it refrigerated until you need it – allowing for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour for it to come to room temperature before serving.

One last thing.  The recipe below is more a concept than written in stone.  If you want to add an ingredient, delete an ingredient, up the amount of an ingredient based on your tastes – by all means do so!

Ravigote Sauce for Fish

Serve 4

  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion*
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped parsley
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 plum tomatoes** – halved, seeded and cut into 1/4″ dice
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped cured olives
  • 1 Tbsp. drained capers***
  • 1 large garlic cloved, minced
  • 3 to 4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

  1. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients through the olive oil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Let stand at least 30 minutes at room temperature prior to serving.
  2. To serve, either spoon a portion of the Ravigote sauce over each piece of fish or bring the sauce to the table and let others serve themselves.

*You can use any time of onion here.  Spring onions or red onions are what we usually use.

**Plum tomatoes are recommended because they are firm and hold up to chopping best.  But use whatever tomato you prefer or have available.

***Capers are very salty.  I like to rinse them first to remove a bit of it and then season to my taste with salt and pepper once all the ingredients have been added.