Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Diva Delights of the Decade!

I'm shocked that another decade is about to close on the calendars. Everyone is ringing in with their favorite lists and why shouldn't I!!! In no particular order, here are my favorite discoveries and in some cases reruns of the decade:

1. Harry Potter

2. Devil Wears Prada

3. Carrie Underwood

4. Indian Food: Rasika and Naan & Beyond Not new to the decade, but worth mentioning because it's OH so tasty!

5. Gilmore Girls


7. Top Chef, which lead to my love of

8. Tommy C

9. Justin Timberlake

10. Batman Begins and The Dark Knight

Friday, December 11, 2009

A few weeks ago, I was flipping through Everyday Food (what can I say, I'm a glutton for punishment) and fell upon Emeril's recipe for Turkey Bolognese. My inner Betty Crocker has always wanted to make great pasta sauces, but this culinary genre is just not one I'm meant to conquer. I mean this particular sauce was tasty and so have many other tried recipes; however, Harris Teeter's Arrabbiata sauce always delivers. It's plops right out of the jar and is a big Diva House winner everytime. In the spirit of saving time and energy, I've just embraced the jar goodness. Go out and pick up a jar!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bombing Bourbon Balls

Bourbon is a big time staple at Diva Central. Mr. Diva loves the sweet nectar from the barrel! Bourbon Balls have always been a big cocktail party hit, but I've never made them. Well I took to the challenge and proved yet again that I'm a better cook than baker. My kitchen, hands and clothes were covered in a gooey chocolate bourbon mess. The dessert treats were definitely intoxicating, but not deliciously addictive. I used a recipe from my Mom's massive collection, but might need to start with another one. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bread Baker's Challenge: Recipe 4

So it's been awhile since I've written about the Challenge because I'm still working on perfecting the English Muffins. I'm still tweaking the recipe and hope to have a winner in the next week or so. In the meantime, I made a mean Raisin Bread from the book. I followed the recipe and used all of Peter's tricks to perfection! The real delicious kicker for this bread is the cinnamon sugar crust...mmm tasty! I'll definitely be making this bread again.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Breakfast Casserole

Here at Casa Diva it's the holiday season started off with a delicious smoked turkey, a house full of friends and family and lots fun! I love to cook up a yummy breakfast for house guests and while waffles & bacon are always a classic, I like to try out new recipes. As always, Southern Living delivered a great dish. It looks like a quiche, but with more bready than eggy and was even good the next day. I loved the combo of ham, swiss and croissants, which was like a mixed up breakfasty sammy! Oh so tasty! Good ahead and put this on your list for a delicious Christmas morning breakfast!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Diva Delight

Who isn't getting excited about all the holiday fun that is about to be upon us! I love all the family, food and fun that encompasses the holiday season. In the December Glamour issue, I came across a great article about the 31 days of giving. It's a great way to start off the season of giving and thankfulness! Some suggestions won't even cost you a thing except your time.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bread Baker's Challenge: Recipe 4

Note: Just noticed this post never went up! In the words of Homer Simpson, D'oh! Read on for more bread goodness!

With week 4 of The Bread Baker's Challenge safely tucked under my divalcious kitchen apron,I'm starting to feel like a bonafide baker. This challenge has really helped me with the fundamentals/techniques of bread baking. I've learned the importance of letting your starter/sponge sit over night to intensify the bread's flavors and creating a steam filled environment for the early stages of baking. While I might not lust after every recipe in this book, I definitely have found a few new favorites. I never would've guessed that I would make yummy bagels of my own. (Diva Note: I promise to update you once I make Cheddar Jalapeno bagels...mmm).

This week I tested brioche, which was as buttery and flaky as promised. The recipe made enough for 3 loaves, so I made 2 traditional white loaves and 1 cinnamon sugar swirl loaf. All breads were very tasty, but I'm more into texture (like the anadama) and less into the buttery/flakiness of the traditional loaf. The real winner was the cinnamon sugar loaf, which is an absolutely salacious start to cinnamon rolls. (Diva Note: I'll be tackling cinnamon rolls in a few weeks. MMM I can't wait).

Next Up: I've decided to venture off course and hit my second favorite bread, the English Muffin! I can just taste the breakfast sammies that I'll make with these.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Smoking Hot

We had a delicious BBQ at Casa Diva over the weekend and oh man did Mr. Diva deliver! He smoked up a fabulous pork shoulder while the rest of us provided some killer sides: Gouda Grits (below), Spinach Balls, Artichoke Dip and Pumpkin Dessert Squares to name a few. Next up for the smoker: Thanksgiving Turkey!


1 c quick grits

2 c Gouda cheese (or sub your fav cheese)

1 c sour cream

3 eggs

1 stick butter


Preheat oven to 350. Cook grits on stove top. Once cooked, add all the other ingredients and stir until melted. Pour into baking dish and bake for 45-50 minutes.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Burrito has landed...almost!

Chipotle West End is set for an official opening on Friday and of course, everyone, all two of us, here at Casa Diva is thrilled. Even more exciting is the fact that this Chipotle is offering free burritos from 11:00 AM-7:00 PM. It really doesn't get much better than that!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Diva Updates

A few updates from the Diva:

1. I'm really wanting to give Thomas a run for their money, but I'm just not there yet! I'm 2 batches in on the BBA's English Muffins, but still feel like they need a little work. I'm hoping to try a 3rd batch, which will include delectable honey, a little later this week. I'm so ready to scream VICTORY! If you're close to Casa Diva, feel free to stop by and weigh in on the current batch.

2. Mr. Diva hit the smoker this past weekend to raving reviews. If you're lucky, I might just post a few pics from the experience as well as some tasty side dishes that were served up!

3. Finally, a little plug. I'm working on a fabulous new Nashville-based website, Glossed and Found. Please check us out if you haven't and feel free to follow us on twitter, @gfnashville.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Diva Delight: Red Stamp

It seems these days there is always someone getting married, having a baby or just needing to celebrate themselves. I have absolutely no problem with that and love any reason to toast my diva-rifc friends. Earlier this summer, I stumbled upon the folks at Red Stamp, who offer amazing customer service and fun products. I always get rave reviews from fellow party goers. Who doesn't love that! Check them out the next time you need to be stylize your posts and tell them the Diva sent ya!

Bread Baker's Challenge: Recipe 3

As many of you know, I'm a big time fan of cream cheese and anything that goes with it. It should come as no surprise that I heart bagels. My all time favorite is the Asiago Cheese at Panera. I just love the cheesy goodness slathered with loads of cream cheese. Well this week's bread challenge recipe didn't disappoint. The challenge was to make a plain white bagel, but I veered slightly off course with cinnamon raisin bagels. I'm a big fan of using golden raisins in lieu of the brown shrunken kind. They just plump up better and plump they did with this recipe. These holes of bread genius were great plain or with cream cheese. Next time, I'm going to try and get the exterior a little more crisp, but other than that they were a hit! I've also found an alternative recipe: Jalapeno Cheddar, so watch for that update. Up next: Brioche!

Side note: Mr. Diva was off with the camera, so sadly, you'll just have to take my word that these looked and tasted delicious!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Diva Delight: Diva style recycling

Here at Casa Diva we love the latest in cell phone gadgetry, which means we always have a few old phones and accessories floating...until a few months ago. I discovered, where you can sell your cell phone, accessories, etc. for a check or gift certificate. If you still have the box, manual and/or charger, you'll make more. It's a win-win situation for those who like to make money and hate clutter. Check it out and tell them the Diva sent ya!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bread Baker's Challenge: Recipe 2

This week's challenge was Greek Celebration Bread and of course, I had to visit a local Greek restaurant to get me in the mood! Who doesn't love hummus, pita and taziki!

We had the option of making a traditional loaf or adding fruits & nuts. I opted for golden raisins and craisins because they always rock when plumped up. I also decided to tweak the main recipe a bit to accommodate my likes (i.e. substituted vanilla extract for almond and omitted cloves and). From the word dough, I knew that this bread was far better than week 1's anadama bread. The fruit definitely gave it a little zing!

In my haste, I forget a few of my fundamentals, like the cast iron steam bath. Plus, my afternoon got a little away from me and the final proofing went a little long. See the massive dough! I was suppose to do a semi-elaborate braid on top, but crafty I'm not. So I just dealt with the blob bread. Looks aside, the bread was tasty, but left me wondering if it wouldn't be just as good done in a loaf pan.

Next up: BAGELS aka Cream Cheese's best friend! I see more tweaks in my future as of course, I'm not going to make plain white ones.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Holy deliciousness! When I moved back to TN, my cravings for caramel cake came back in full force. The home of my favorite source is now out of business, so I was left in a serious predicament. Thankfully, my marvelous godmother stepped up to the recipe challenge and delivered a truly delectable dessert. I actually prefer the cake in this recipe to the original obsession. Of course the crowning jewel is the icing. It will be hard not to eat the whole pot before icing the cake!

Caramel Cake

1 box white cake mix

1 c whole milk

1 stick butter, melted

3 large eggs

2 t vanilla

Grease 2 9-inch cake pans. Mix cake mix, milk, melted butter, eggs and vanilla on low speed for 1 minute. Scrape down sides. Beat another 2 minutes at medium speed. Divide batter between both pans and bake at 350 for 27-29 minutes. Cool on wire racks. This cake can be made into cupcakes or a sheet cake.

Caramel Icing

1 stick butter

½ c packed light brown sugar

½ c packed dark brown sugar

¼ c whole milk

2 c confectioners sugar, sifted

1 t vanilla extract

In medium saucepan, melt butter and sugar over medium heat until boiling (about 2 minutes). Add milk, stir and bring mixture back to a boil. Remove from heat. Add confectioner’s sugar and vanilla. Beat with wooden spoon until all lumps disappear. This could take a bit. Frost the cake.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bread Baker's Challenge: Recipe 1

After reading over 100+pages, I came to the first recipe in the challenge...the Anadama Bread. The initial pages of this book are filled with lots of insight regarding ingredients, tools and the baking process. I would've liked to see a little bit more about the kneading experience, but all in all lots of good info. Armed with my new superior knowledge, I set to work on the Andama Bread (side note: I won't be posting these recipes based on the rules of the challenge. I'm sure you can Google around to find it or better yet buy your own copy if it sounds really tasty. SPOILER ALERT: It definitely won't happen with this recipe.)

Step 1 was to create a soaker the night before. I've done this step with other breads and definitely agree that it helps to intensify the bread's flavor.

The next day you add more ingredients: flour, water, salt, etc. Then, you let it sit for about an hour. The lame picture above is after the first proofing. You can see the gluten bubbling it's away to bread gooeyness. Clearly, I'm going to need to channel my inner Ansel Adams to improve my photos, but hey, a girl is trying!

Next up, you're to add the molasses and more flour. As you can see in the photo, the dough is now a dark, malty color.

I won't bore you with too many details. The rest of the process is like any other bread recipe with a few tweaks from Reinhart's bag of tricks. The key here is what does it taste like. I had members of the Diva Mob over last night to give it a go. We were all impressed with what the bread experts call the crumb. The texture of this bread is chewy and nicely paired with apple butter. Will I make it again? Doubtful. I wasn't completely crazy about the taste, but perhaps I could find away to tweak the flavor to keep the crumb. Up next: Greek Celebration Bread.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Bread Baker's Challenge

As many of you know, last summer I took on the challenge of conquering homemade bread. After at least 6 failed attempts, I discovered a delicious recipe in an old book secured from the fabulous Capitol Hill Books. (Seriously it's worth a visit to see what's hidden in there!) Well last week I was catching up on my beloved WaPo food section and discovered this great article on online cooking clubs! If only I had this large group of experts at my disposal a year ago...not to mention that Peter Reinhart is a heck of bread teacher! His book TheBread Baker's Apprentice is full of everything from English Muffins to Focaccia, so I've decided to join the challenge. I've already started reading the initial prep pages (There's over a 100 pages before you hit a recipe) and I already feel like a better baker. Hopefully, I'll be able to tackle a recipe a week like most members of this challenge, but regardless, I'll definitely post my experiences. If the recipes sound tasty, you'll just have to go out, buy your own book and see if you are up to the CHALLENGE!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Training for my own kind of Marathon

Seriously, how did shows survive in the days before the marathon!?!? I’ve fell in love with many a show after spending a few unproductive hours glued to some series I had never set eyes on before. Case in point, I would never have discovered that I actually like Tori Spelling had Oxygen not recently run a Season 2 marathon of Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood. It's too bad that the big 4 players can't/won't take this approach to some of their fan favorite kind of shows (Dirty Sexy Money or Arrested Development anyone...anyone?). At least, the summer drought is almost over and I have a whole new arsenal of shows to love/hate. Synchronize Swatches, Tune in Your Tivo, it's time for my kind of fall madness.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Put your hand on my hip, when I dip you dip we dip!

I love me some dip! It's great paired with veggies, chips or if the consistency is right a sandwich spread. A few weeks ago I was craving some Greek flavors and came upon this fabulous Feta Spread from Cat Cora. It's also in her cookbook, Cat Cora's Kitchen, which she just happened to share with me back in my Food Network hay days. There are lots of tasty treats to enjoy and it just might get me through my Greek Deli withdrawals until my next trip back to DC!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ice Cream Crumbles

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of spending several mostly sunny filled days on Kentucky Lake. I’m a girl who loves the water and all things that come with it…mainly day drinking, so I was very chipper! While there, we ate some tasty treats…homemade adult slushies, cornbread salsa, stuffed sandwiches and the most tasty summer ice cream dessert. There’s just something about eating delicious treats after a day of sun-filled fun. Of course, I went right to work trying to recreate some of the immediate favs, certain that they would be binder worthy. My first attempt was affectionately known as Crumbles to the lake crew. I did a little internet sleuthing and came up with my own version. The recipe is very straight forward and quite tasty. If you feel saucy like me, I did one side caramel and the other strawberry (for Mr. Diva). Of course, you could do a combo of chocolate, butterscotch, or whatever your favorite might be. Good luck picking and happy eating!

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup butter, melted
2 jars ice cream topping (pick your favorite: caramel, chocolate or strawberry)
2 quarts vanilla ice cream, softened
Mix sugar, nuts, butter, flour and oatmeal together. Pat onto cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes (lightly browned). Crumble 1/2 while still warm into 9 x 13 inch pan. Drizzle 1 jar of caramel over; spread vanilla ice cream and drizzle the other jar of caramel on top. Crumble remaining crumb mixture on top and freeze. Remove from freezer 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Diva Delight

John Williams is a genius. This discovery isn't a new one, but something that needs to be proclaimed from time to time. With just a few notes, he makes you want to crack a whip like Indiana Jones, fly the Millennium Falcon like Han Solo , or as we'll hear in theaters late tonight/tomorrow play a mad game of Quidditch at Hogwarts. I mean seriously, I just have to hear that melody and I feel like I'm taking classes with Harry, Hermoine and Ron! Get your tickets early because I'm no wizard, but I know this movie will be the biggest blockbuster of the summer.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Wok it Out!

I've begun the slow process of replacing my non-stick pots with stainless steel. There's something about seeing your pan fleck away into your food that's not very appetizing. After acquiring both a large saute pan and saucepan, it was time to replace my wok, a big time staple for me! My fabulous sister hooked me up with the Carbon Steel model from the Wok Shop. This store is a great source for anyone in need of a little wok action whether your new to Asian cooking or a black belt in dim sum! After seasoning the pan (a very simple task), I tried one of my favorite dishes, Pad Thai. It was just as delicious as before, but with the added flare of a truly fabulous wok!

Pad Thai

½ lime

1 egg

4 t fish sauce

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ g ground cayenne pepper

Ground pepper to taste

¼ quarter onion, diced

2 T sugar

2 T White vinegar

Dash red pepper flakes (to taste)

1 pkg Thai rice noodles

2 T vegetable oil

½ lb shrimp or chicken

Prepare noodles according to the package.

Use a wok. If you do not have a wok, any big pot will do. Heat it up on high heat and pour oil in the wok. Add onion and garlic and stir them until they start to brown. The noodles should be flexible but not expanded at this point. Add white vinegar, sugar, fish sauce, and chili pepper. Drain the noodles and add to the wok. Stir quickly to keep things from sticking. The heat should remain high. If your wok is not hot enough, you will see a lot of juice in the wok at this point. Turn up the heat, if it is the case. Make room for the egg by pushing all noodles to the side of the wok. Crack the egg onto the wok and scramble it until it is almost all cooked. Fold the egg into the noodles. Add shrimp and stir. Stir a few more times. Squeeze in ¼ lime. The noodles should be soft and very tangled.

Pour onto the serving plate and sprinkle with peanuts and a wedge of lime on the side.

Serves 2-3

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Oh Yeah?

There was a time not that long ago (2004 to be exact), where this theme song got me giddy about the next 30 minutes of programming. What's not to love about 5 Hollywood types roaming the hills searching for fun, booze and a few random chicks! In hindsight, it could have been that I needed a rebound from my recently departed HBO mainstay, but for whatever reason Ari and the gang stuck with me. Over the past 2 seasons, my love has wane and with the debut of season 6 slated for tonight the stakes are high! I'm hoping that Vinnie returns to A-list status and that lots of fun summer parties and phatastic houses are in his future. If not, there's a strong chance that this relationship is as over as Medellin!

Monday, June 22, 2009

I'll take an order of strawberries and cream!

It's time for my absolute favorite event in tennis. Pretty easy when there are only 4 Grand Slams, but still!! Wimbledon is upon us. Grab your tennis whites, a bottle of champers and some strawberries. Next park yourself in front of your big screen and watch some tennis. It's no secret that I'm hoping R Fed returns to his grass court glory, but whoever you're rooting for, it's bound to be a good tourny. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Chipotle makes Nashville Move!

It's been a hard few months for Mr Diva living in a city sans Chipotle. Well the drought is almost over. According to multiple sources, Chipotle has acquired property on West End and expects a October/November opening! Whoohoo burrito bowls and salty chips!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Happy Hour Cake

Just like the characters in The Rum Diary, my rum cake will get you schnockered....okay maybe a little more like a light happy hour buzz! The first time I made this cake, I took it into the office for a little taste test and the rum was so in your face that everyone felt like they had just drank on the job. I've since tweaked the recipe, but don't worry I left the booze amount intact.

Cake Ingredients:
1 package yellow cake mix
1 package instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 c milk
1/2 c vegetable oil
1/2 c dark rum
1/2 c butter

Glaze ingredients:
1/4 c water
1 c white sugar
1/2 c dark rum

1. Preheat oven to 325. Grease and Bundt pan.

2. Sift pudding and cake mix into a large bowl. Then mix in eggs, milk and 1/2 c rum. Pour batter into pan.

3. Bake for 60 minutes. Let cake rest for 10 minutes. While it rests, make glaze.

4. In a saucepan, combine butter, water and sugar. Bring mixture to a boil and continue to boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Remove from heat and stir in remaining rum.

5. Invert cake onto plate or stand. Then brush on the glaze until it is fully absorbed.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Diva Delight

If you know me, it comes as no surprise that I love me some spice! Last night Mr. Diva and I had the treat of hitting a Nashville pasta institution, Cafe Nonna. The pasta is homemade and ever so tasty. Not unexpectedly, I gravitated towards the Arrabiata sauce and the waiter suggested pairing it with the Agnolotti. In the words of Trace Adkins, this dish was One Hot Mama! I loved every bite of this amazing homemade spicy sauce, which I think is laced with a little chipotle. If try to pass it off as your own at your next dinner party, which would be a huge hit, head over to Nonna's Gourmet website. Feel even better about yourself because all the proceeds go to charity.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Summer Reading

When I was little, there was nothing better than completing the library's summer reading list (Okay yes, I was a tad bit dorky back in the day AND yes, even back then I was obsessed with finishing my lists!) As I grew up, I got those awful required summer reading lists. One such summer I did a quick speed read on Tess of the d'Urbervilles. Big mistake, I missed the whole part where she got knocked up! Opps! Thankfully, I've since figured out how to speed read much better...thanks Uncle D!

Now that I get to pick me poison again, I love a little mix of chick lit and thriller. There's nothing better than sitting poolside, beach side, or just about anywhere soaking up some rays and losing myself in the frivolity of a good book. Since I've polished off the Twilight series (damn you imprinting!), I had to go on a hunt. Here's what is on my short list for the summer:

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: This one has been on my list for quite awhile. I'm slowly but surely working my way to #1 at the library!

The 8th Confession
: This series is my absolute favorite from James Patterson, especially after Alex Cross started to freak me out!

Not Becoming My Mother
: I love everything by Ruth Reichl. If you've never tried her stuff, start with Garlic and Sapphires. She's soo fab and each chapter ends with a delicious recipe! That's where I found the ever fabulous Channing Way Shrimp Curry.

The Lost Symbol
: Okay it's not coming out until September, but man oh man I'm as excited to read this book as I am to see the next Harry Potter movie!

Got anything I'm missing?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Diva Delight

So I decided to add a new feature to the blog. It's cleverly named (thanks Ken!), Diva Delight. My first delight is the French Open. For me it's teaser that Wimbledon is just weeks away, but man I love me some tennis! Here's to hoping that Fed kicks his bad luck on clay and returns to the top of his game!

Friday, May 15, 2009

You scream, I scream, but we won't scream for this ice cream!

If the constant down pours in Middle Tennessee ever stop, I might begin to believe that summer is almost here. I love all things summer: pool, flip flops and of course ice cream! If you're lucky, I might share my classic Bourbon Ice Cream recipe with you one day, but for now, we're focusing on the Lee Brothers Banana Pudding Ice Cream. The Lee Brothers wrote a large tome devoted to Southern Cuisine. If you're curious about checking out but weary about purchasing, check out your local library because I'm sure they have it (at least they do in the VA!) Since my last big success with bananas, my stomach had it's heart set on another winning recipe. Sadly, this guy tasted like really cold banana pudding...not really the mix of frozen concoction and savory dessert that I had envisioned. At this point, I would stick with a normal banana pudding or the pie. For my next trick I wonder if I could recreate my favorite Ben & Jerry's now defunct flavor...Blackberry Cobbler. Stay tuned you never know what might hit my kitchen or your taste buds!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Attack of the Killer Tomato Bread

My sister and I are big fans of all things tomato...with basil, noodles or just straight up. When this recipe came up on my favorite bread blog, I immediately put it in the hopper. Now that the boxes are unpacked and pictures hung, I've begun tackling the surplus of recipes. I've tried a few recipes from the Kneader before, but nothing blog worthy...until now. I really loved this bread. As these loaves bake, it smells like a delicious Margherita style pizza heating up. I slightly altered the recipe to accommodate my larder. I just went with regular AP flour instead of bread flour and I replaced the thyme with basil in the tomato spread since I've got a plentiful stash in my herb garden. Next time, I want to add a little mozzarella to perfect this already tasty to recipe. I think cheese makes everything just a little better!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Eat Your Mail

Whether it be the e variety or the the kind from the Postman, I love me some fun mail. Postcards will find their way to my fridge. Greeting cards might find their way into a frame, but some unlucky notes might just end up in the recycle bin. Well lucky me, when fabulous NYC Diva sent me an edible greeting card. It came as a very outstanding tasty surprise yesterday. Send it to your Mom, friend with a bday or yourself just for the heck of it!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Saving Benjamins

While I continue to rock out funemployment, I've been cruising some new blogs. I've found a lot of people blogging about ways to save money at the grocery and pharmacy. It takes a little time to weed through all the options, but after I did last week, I saved $40 at Publix maximizing in-store sales with coupons. It takes a little planning and might not always be the ideal solution for a cook who is a little more whimsical with their menus like me, but it definitely pays off for the basics (Bisquick, cleaning supplies, and the like).

Here are a few blogs I like at the moment:

Frugal in Franklin

Coupon Cravings

Southern Savers

There are probably some in your area, so it might be worth hunting down to save you some pennies for the important stuff.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Affairs of my Media Heart

The old adage is true…absence makes the heart grow fonder. There are people that consider my love affair a low down dirty shame…a waste of time, but I’ve got to tell you that my love continues to grow and quite honestly will never wane. I’m a big time TV lover and I’m proud of it!

While Mr. Diva and I were in transition from DC townhouse to Nashville Cape Cod, we took a television hiatus. Actually, we were generously put up in a fabulous place…the only hiccup was NO CABLE except a lonely CBS station. Now some people would love to live life without TV and probably already do. Well, let me tell you that it was a tough 5 weeks for this Diva, but I survived and have the koozie to prove it. Kids, the world without TV is far meaner than any Real Housewife, more disturbing than a case on The Closer and could easily use a comical dose from my boy Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother!

I learned that no matter what Harry tries to say, I just can’t stand The Early Show. It’s clear that he’s living his own personal Groundhog Day hell. I definitely missed my quick jolt of GMA before I simmered down with Regis and Kelly. I did learn that when it comes to TV or no, I’ll watch the local news and fain interest. Did you know that you can buy groceries on auction?!?!

Now that my sabbatical is over, I look forward to no longer watching my favorites shows on my laptop, to restocking my TIVO and to checking out the ridiculous new creations out there. TV is an important part of my life. It’s like classical literature to some. I live for Cappy and Casey to finally reunite. I long for Monk to discover his wife’s killer. I yearn Michel Weston to find out who burned him. I live for TV. It makes me a funnier, more inquisitive and down right happier person. So do yourself a favor, click on your Sammy, Toby or Sylvia and find your favorite program…sit back with a glass of something tasty and enjoy because without TV life would just be down right worthless.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Booberry Muffins

I’m not a big fan of Cooking Light. I haven’t been a regular subscriber in many years; however, when I was cleaning out my trial binder I found a recipe that looked promising. Yes, you can pick up a Martha White’s mix and add a few extra blueberries and there you go. I just have something for the homemade goodness…no prepackages in sight. Since I’m in transition, I had to use the supplies in my temporary kitchen and that meant mini Bundt pans instead of a muffin pan. I like idea of turning any muffin into a mini Bundt cake…feels a little more festive. Well the fun stops there. While these muffins were chock full of my daily antioxidant requirement, the flavor just wasn’t there. Oh well, just serves as a reminder that when life hands you a Cooking Light recipe, be prepared to add lots of butter!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Lick 'Em

There’s just something grating about a celebrity chef taking on the little guy. These small town businesses are already trying to create their niche amongst their neighborhood giants when like a school yard bully Bobby Flay comes into town trying to stomp on their turf. I’ve seen him compete against people who have been making their specialty for years. Does he really need to beat up on the little guy once a week? Thankfully, I’ve really only seen the episodes when he’s lost…and loose he should. On the plus side, these little guys are getting some great national press, especially when they whip ‘the master.’

I’m lucky to live in a city with one such winner, Las Paletas. Mr. Diva and I went for our inaugural visit today and found some interesting selections (rice, hibiscus, and yogurt with granola to name a few). We tried Strawberry/Blackberry and Banana Split. They were both excellent. The Strawberry/Blackberry was like a high end Dole fruit bar and the Banana Split a creamy treat filled with banana, pineapple, strawberry, and chocolate chunks. These guys really made me want to break out my Popsicle mold and make a few of my own. Maybe I’ll start with my favorite…Coco-Cola! Do you guys have any homemade favorites to share?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sous Vide Me

My love for Top Chef may have wane, but my obsession with Tommy C is still going strong! 2 season ago, we were introduced to the faux hawk hearing Richard Blaise, who was obsessed with the art of sous vide. It was my first real experience watching this cooking style and something I thought best left to the professionals. Well, in the words of Gomer Pyle...Surprse, Surprise! I tried it and it was a big hit!

As most of your know, I recently made a big move out of our Nation's Capital and during that process I was cooking up some crazy fare in an effort to clean out the fridge and pantry. I seriously felt like a human disposal. When I found this recipe, it fit right in with my current plight. I altered the recipe for one person. I did 2 eggs, 2 stripes of bacon, and a little sauteed onion. You could really use any veggies, meats or cheeses that you may have on hand. Let me tell you this omelet turned out so fluffy, perfect that I would easily make this recipe again. If conquering French cuisine is still on on of your to do list, give this recipe a try and you'll feel like a success.

Friday, March 6, 2009

South of the Border Drinking

The Mezcal tasting was very delicious. How's it different from tequila? The actual process of making mezcal is very different. They smoke the agave plant for 3-5 days in a cone shape hole in the earth, so the end results is very roasty fabulous. We sampled 7 from Del Maguey Mezcal and I was surprised to find 4 that I would drink on a regular bases. The big winner of the night was the Crema de Mezcal. All of these are available behind the bar at Oyamel or at a few select local vendors. Go out and try a glass or even a bottle...perhaps you'll dazzle your friends with your vast liqour expertise!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Guava Mama

I love a good cheese board. One of my favorite local sources is Cheesetique. Jill Erber, the owner, does marvelous classes if you haven’t tried them out. The classes typically consist of 10 cheese with a glass of red and white wine to accompany them. It's always fun seeing what goes best with different cheeses. Blue Cheese goes well with a Port. Camembert pairs nicely with Pinot Noir. Of course, it's really up to your palette. One of my fabulous friends just turned me onto another good cheese accompaniment, guava paste. This delicious treat can be found at Whole Foods or your local Latino markets. Rumor has it that this stuff is even delicious in bread pudding!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Heavenly Honey Rolls

There's a definitely difference between cooks and bakers. Cooks can throw together a good dinner with a little dash of this and a hint of that. Bakers are a little more precise with their concoctions. I consider myself a cook. I will happily peruse my larder and whisk up something for dinner, but a baker I'm not...or at least I'm working my way up the ranks to that classification. I've got a few great sweet dishes in my repertoire, but bread and I have had a rather tumultuous affair. Late last summer, I decided to mend this relationship. Poor Mr. Diva had to try some less than savory loaves of bread and lots of dry rolls. Thankfully, I found a good go to recipe for both homemade white and wheat bread, so yesterday, I decided to take on rolls. Let me tell you that this recipe smells, looks and tastes delicious. It was almost like the Hot Doughnuts Now sign was on when I popped these out of the oven. The honey butter accompaniment drives this recipe out of the park. It makes a whopping 28 rolls, but you can freeze whatever you don't eat. I suggest giving them to your friends, but like a Pringle once you pop, you just can't stop!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Spring Reawakening

I'm a huge fan of all things beauty...skincare, lip glosses, you name it! My favorite local source for trying new products is Bluemercury. Their staff is always top notch and loaded with lots of good beauty intel. They have just announced their Spring Makeover Parties to help you get a fresh face palette for the new season ahead. It's a great way to get ready for the season of patio drinks and sandals.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Get in Shape Girl

As a Tiger Beat reading school girl , I was obsessed with Get in Shape Girl's ribbon bands and hand weights. Who didn't love to twirl around their room pretending to be Olympic bound! Sadly, my talent should have been left at home. Thankfully, workout gear has come along way since then. Over Christmas, my sister introduced me to 10 minute solutions DVDs. Each DVD includes 5-10 minute sections, so you can either do all 5 or mix and match segments. My favorite is Slim and Sculpt Pilates, which comes with a resistance band that mimics the reformer and cadillac machines found in a pilates studio. Now, I doubt a Wheaties box is in my near future, but hey girl's got to aim high, right?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Chinese Take Out at Home

Mr. Diva and I had searched high and low for quality Chinese food delivery, but came up empty handed. So of course I went in search of a good a way to craft a quality staple dish, but found that most recipes were either a little runny or just lacked any zing. Lucky for me, I found the start to the recipe on and then tweaked it to fit our taste. I hope you guys enjoy it!

Classic Chicken and Broccoli


12 oz boneless chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces

3 T oyster or hoisin sauce

6 T soy sauce

3 T vegetable oil

2-4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 large onion, diced

½ c water

1 t ground black pepper

1 t white sugar

1 small head of broccoli, chopped

¼-1/2 red pepper chopped

Mushrooms, chopped

1 T cornstarch mixed with equal parts water

Sriracha to taste


In a large bowl, combine chicken, 2 T oyster sauce and 4 T soy sauce. (I like to add a little Sriracha sauce at this point). Set aside for 15 minutes. Heat oil in a wok over medium heat. Saute garlic and onion until soft and translucent. Increase heat to high. Add chicken and marinade, then stir fry until lightly golden brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in water, pepper, sugar, 1 T oyster sauce, 2 T soy sauce. . Add broccoli, red pepper and mushrooms. Cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Pour in cornstarch mixture, and cook until sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes.

Serve over rice.

Friday, February 13, 2009

One Tequila, Two Tequila, Three Tequila...Floor!

I'm a connoisseur of all things delish. I'm always on the prowl for a fun new food or booze inspired class. Last year, I was lucky enough to attend a tequila class at Oyamel. Now to some the word tequila evokes images of spring breaks gone bad, Jose Cuervo or rubbing alcohol, but let me tell you there's a world of sipable Mexican spirits out there. From March 2-15, Oyamel will be hosting their annual tequila and mezcal festival with tequila tastings, dinners, and cocktail specials. I'm all about hitting the mezcal tasting on March 5. Now don't ask me what mezcal is...just go taste it and see if it's worthy of your liquor cabinet.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Banana Banana calling Yum Yum!

Who doesn't love Banana Pudding? If you answered no, proceed to jail and do not collect your $200 bucks if you pass go! I'm a big time fan. It comes as no surprise that when I found this little gem inside my favorite magazine, Southern Living, I had to give it a try. Let me tell you I wasn't disappointed. I could easily make the Vanilla Wafer crust my go to staple for lemon bars, key lime pie, you name it! I'll warn you that this recipe is like making takes some serious dedication, but unlike bread, not as many mad skills. There's just a lot of cooling and chilling time, so plan it for a weekend or a day off. When I made this pie for Mr. Diva, he was very pumped. It made up for a week of bad recipe trials! This recipe gets high marks for finger lickin' good food and is definitely home in the winner's binder.

Indian Stew Blues

So after much deliberation, here I am...rocking the blogspot like a hurricane. At the moment, I'm enjoying fun-employment, which means I've got a lot of time on my hands. I decided to tackle the ever growing, ridiculously large amount of recipes in my trial binder. Yes, I'm a little Monk-like and have a carefully organized binder full of big time hit recipes (Ruth Reichl's Channing Way Shrimp Curry, Cook's Illustrated Lemon Bundt Cake, Martha's Pork Tenderloin, just to name a few). Then, there's the other fat guy that is busting at the seams full of all the recipes that I've been meaning to try. Some are as old as my Cooking Light subscription. I kicked that guy out a long time ago and continually shock myself that there are some recipes still lingering. No offense to all you avid CL fans, it's just not for me. I'm more of the Paula Deen the butter, love the fat. I just remember everything in moderation as my Dad always tells me!

So what recipe to start with? Well, I'll begin with the most recent. I'm on a big kick to ramp up my Indian cuisine. I'm lucky enough to have some great go to spots here in DC. Rasika being at the top of that list. I can't get enough of the curries, naan, and chutneys...yum! So when I saw this recipe in Everyday Food, I had to give it a try. I made it for lunch the other day and found myself ravenous after a few hours. The prep and cooking process were fairly easy, but the end result wasn't anything to share. So this recipe gets low marks in my book for flavor and sustainability! I'm sure that I could tweak the recipe a little bit to make it more to my liking, but why try, I've got a long list to work through and only winners will make it to the final round...the organized binder!
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