Chive Mashed Potatoes with Yogurt

What’s so special about these chive mashed potatoes?  It’s the Greek yogurt that is used as a replacement for sour cream.  Greek yogurt tastes sinfully rich and luscious and adds depth of flavor to the typical sour cream mashed potato recipe.

Another flavor profile added to this recipe is garlic, but with a very light touch.  You actually infuse the milk used to make the mashed potatoes with a bit of garlic flavor by heating it (the milk) with two smashed garlic cloves.  You then strain the milk when adding it to the potatoes so you don’t have any over powering hits of garlic!

I use a potato ricer when making mash potatoes – it makes the lightest, fluffiest potatoes imaginable.  But if you don’t happen to have one – simply mash the potatoes like you normally do whether you mash by hand or in a mixer.

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Polenta Fries (The Easy Way)

Diva Entertains Polenta Fries

I love polenta but I make rarely make it because my husband thinks he doesn’t like it.  But that all changes when we are talking about polenta fried!  Like me, he can’t resist the crisp, golden crust that forms.  But don’t think high fat or calorie-laden, this recipe is oven-fried.

This recipe uses prepared polenta that you find in the Italian aisle of your supermarket.  If you can purchase fresh, prepared polenta (in the refrigerated section) of your supermarket – all the better.  If its the former you are working with – a word to the wise: “don’t salt prior to serving”.  The prepared package already has more than enough sodium.  A little pepper, however, is delicious with it!

You may also like to top each polenta with a bit of grated parmesan prior to going in the oven.  Or, when the polenta comes out – give it a spritz of lemon juice from a lemon wedge.

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Baked Gnocchi Recipe

Just in time for family gatherings.  This decadent gnocchi ‘pasta’ is really the gnocchi equivalent of mac ‘n cheese.  But this is so much more sophisticated (and better tasting)!

This gnocchi sauce recipe combines Fontina, Gruyere and Parmesan cheese; it’s a delicious combination.  And the gnocchi cheese sauce quickly comes together by first creating a roux and then adding the grated cheese (fontina and Gruyere) to it.  Before the dish goes into the oven it is topped with the grated Parmesan.  In the words of my dear mother, “Yum Yum”!

One word of advice:  if you use a heavy hand with the cheeses like I did, you may need to blot off a little liquid from the top of the gnocchi before serving (similar to cheesy pizza).  Simply blot excess with a paper towel.

* Typically found in the Italian aisle of your supermarket.

** You’ll want to use a metal skillet so that you don’t ruin a nonstick finish with the whisk (unless you have a nonstick whisk).

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Spinach and Feta Muffins

These feta muffins, also filled with spinach and roasted red peppers, were a great find.  Something a little different, a little ‘fancy’, delicious and….they took just minutes to make.  Now I call that a heck of a recipe!

With just a large bowl and a whisk, the batter comes together very quickly.  Then fold in your spinach, feta and red peppers – that’s all there is to it.

Although I love the combination of this savory muffin recipe, I can see myself playing with it in the future.  Maybe swapping out feta for goat cheese and adding chopped kalamata olives.  Blue cheese and pear with a touch of honey in the batter?  The sky’s the limit!

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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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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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Delicious, Moist Cornbread Recipe

Diva Entertains Corn BreadMy mother, who is a fabulous cook,  has been making this recipe for years.  And so have I.  It is so much moister than the cornbreads I’ve had when eating in restaurants – the latter always seem to disappoint.  But this moist cornbread recipe won’t.  It only takes minutes to mix and no need for beaters or a stand mixer; simply mix by hand.

This recipe easily doubles.  If you decide to make a double batch, bake it in a 9″ x 13″ baking pan.  You can even freeze the left overs!

Delicious, Moist Cornbread

Makes one 11″ x 7″ pan of cornbread

  • 1 (8.5 oz) pkg. corn muffin mix (I use Jiffy)
  • 1 (8 oz) can of cream style corn, (drain partially but leave some liquid)
  • 1 (8 oz) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (8 oz) container sour cream
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter (I prefer unsalted)
  • 2 large eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Stir together all ingredients and pour mixture into a greased 11″ x 7″ baking dish.   Bake for approximately 35 minutes or until top is lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  3. Serve and enjoy!  (I told you it was easy!)

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Chive Potato Cakes

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A friend shared this wonderful recipe with me and it has fast become a family favorite.  Although the recipe calls for Manchego cheese, you can substitute an easier-to-find, less expensive substitute such as Gouda or Fontina.   You can also use  a softer cheese such as crumbled goat cheese, simply mix the other ingredients first and then fold the goat cheese in.

You can also shape them into large cakes (as shown here) or smaller, thinner cakes.  I like the smaller ones the best.

Chive Potato Cake (Cafe Pasqual’s cookbook, circa 2003)

Makes 6 ‘large’ potato cakes or 12 small ones

  • 2 whole bulbs garlic
  • 5 medium-large russet baking potatoes
  • 1/2 cup grated Manchego cheese (or gouda, fontina, etc.)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh chives
  • salt and pepper
  • butter for frying
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Trim and roast the garlic cloves by cutting off tips, then placing the whole heads, cut side up, in a small baking pan.  Fill the pan with enough water to go 1/2 way up the side of the bulbs.  Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour.
  3. Place the unpeeled potatoes in a saucepan, add water to cover, and bring to a boil.  Boil until tender, 25 to 35 minutes; test for doneness by piercing with a fork.  Drain the potatoes and let them cool until they can be handled.  Then, grate them into a large mixing bowl, skin and all, using the largest holes on a hand-held grater (I found that the skin easily comes off while grating).
  4. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves from their skins onto the grated potatoes.  Add the cheese, egg and chives and mix well.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Form the mixture into 6 cakes 1 1/2″ thick or 12 cakes, 3/4″ thick.  Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or for up to 24 hours before cooking.
  6. Melt the butter in a 12″ inch skillet and fry the cakes until golden, about 4 minutes per side.

Jacques Pepin’s Yukon Gold Potatoes

Jacque Pepin's Potatoes

My understanding of the origin of this recipe is that in 2007 Jacques Pepin made this delicious Yukon Gold potato recipe on Rachel Rays show.   They quickly became famous.  And I can tell you why:  they are damn good! Seriously.

What makes them so good?  They simmer in chicken stock and butter  and those ingredients are absorbed into the potatoes giving each little tot incredible flavor.  Then they are browned on each side – add more to the dish’s flavor profile.  But let me tell you this:  Should you decide you don’t want to go through the second step of browning the potatoes, you will still be rewarded with a wonderful potato side dish.  Known forever as Jacques Pepin Potatoes.

Diva Entertains Potatoes Cooking

*If you use regular chicken broth, taste the dish before you salt it.  It may not need additional salting.

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Crispy Smashed Potatoes Recipe

Diva Entertains Smashed Potato Final

I’m always looking for new ways to serve potatoes.  My husband, J, is not a potato lover so sometimes it takes some creativity.  And all the better if there is a crispy crust to it.  This he will eat.  Happily.  And this crispy smashed potatoes recipe delivers on that!  Best part is it isn’t fried.  So although it feels like an indulgence it is actually isn’t.  Love that!

These smashed potatoes are easy to make although it is a two-step procedure.  You first simmer baby Yukon gold potatoes until they are tender.  Drain and cool.  When cool enough to handle you gently ‘smash’ them (too hard and you will have ‘mashed’ them…definitely not the goal).  Then bake them in a very hot oven for 45 minutes or so until nicely browned and that’s it!

Diva Entertains Baby Yukons

Crispy Smashed Potatoes (loosely adapted from a Fine Cooking Magazine issue, 2007)

Serves 4

  • 12 to 15 baby Yukon Gold potatoes (yellow potatoes)
  • 2 T. Olive Oil
  • kosher salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F.
  2. Add the potatoes to a medium pan and cover with cold water by 1 inch.  Bring the water to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer.  Cover and cook 15-20 minutes until tender.  Drain and let potatoes cool for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Spray a large knife or bottom of a pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Place a potato on a cutting board and press down with the knife (as shown below) or the pan until it is partially smashed.  The idea is to create more flat surface to crisp (not to flatten the potato completely).  Don’t worry if some break apart – they will still be *delicious*!
  4. Spray a large, rimmed baking sheet pan with non-stick spray.  Drizzle the olive oil over the pan.  Add the potato, one at a time, swirling it in the olive oil on one side and then turning it over so that both sides of the potato are lightly oiled. (If you need a little more olive oil go ahead and drizzle some more over the potatoes.) Bake for 20-25 minutes until nicely browned on the bottom.  Turn the potatoes over and cook the other side for another 15 minutes or so until browned.  Remove from oven, salt and serve.
Diva Entertains How to SmashDiva Entertains How to Smash1Diva Entertains Smashed Potato