Cooking and Chef Recipes

Divas' Sweet Potatoes Make a Smashing Side Dish

sweet potato smashSpecial occasions call for a bit of glam—some extra smoke and sass to elicit oohs, ahhs and requests for third helpings.
Make over ordinary mashed sweet potatoes with crisp, smoky bacon and red onions caramelized in balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. The result is colorful, decadent  ‘taters with a slight crunch and a tantalizing sweet-and-sour edge.
The perfect compliment for roast turkey, ham or even grilled fish—with nary a marshmallow in sight. Yam-amazing.

No Cluster Fuss -- Easy No-Bake Cranberry and Almond Treats

cranberry almond clusters‘Tis the season for visions of sugar plums, but we prefer the cranberries in this easy trio of healthful almonds, dried berries and dark chocolate – and you can have a guilt-free batch ready to share in a matter of minutes without ever turning on the oven.

Each nibble is a lusty combo of anti-oxidants and yum. With a dash of protein from the almonds, Vitamin C and fiber from the cranberries, and energy from the dark chocolate, you don’t need an excuse to enjoy one. Or two. Everything in moderation. 

Protect your flanks with this stuffed steak from the Divas of Dish

A star is born. Flaunt this flashy flank, dressed to the nines in a standout sausage stuffing that defies all limits ofstuffed flank steak self-control.  

You also can use this fabulous concoction of caramelized onion, mushrooms, sweet Italian sausage and fresh tarragon to stuff a roasted chicken or turkey, or use in a frittata, omelette or scrambled with eggs and fresh spinach for an easy, delicious brunch. Make the stuffing with or without the bread crumbs depending on your current relationship with carbs—both are lip-smacking bliss.

Spinach raita - a new way to look at yogurt from the Divas

spinach raitaSometimes we wonder if we’ve gotten it all wrong when it comes to yogurt. Oh sure, there’s low fat, no fat, fruit on the top and fruit down below. Yogurt for babies, in tubes or to pour in a glass, the creamy, dreamy custard dressed up as tiramisù or chocolate cream pie.
Flipping through Indian, Greek and Middle Eastern cookbooks, we realize Americans are missing out on a slew of savory yogurt creations. Basically, you can go crazy with yogurt as a base, mixing in our favorites such as carrots, cukes, spinach, nuts, raisins, ginger and roasted onions. Look for Greek-style, whole-fat plain yogurt and have a squeeze of fresh lime on hand to balance flavors.

Updating the roast turkey -- with a yogurt marinade

tandoori turkeyThe Pilgrims weren’t afraid of change, so why are you? Since the first Thanksgiving way back in 1620, we’ve had, oh, around 390 years to get it right. How the original menu of fish, fowl, pumpkins, berries and nuts morphed into kitschy melted marshmallow sweet potatoes, green bean casserole and quivering mounds of canned cranberry reflects a culinary saga as bold and twisted as our American history.

Just this once, in the rebellious spirit of our ancestral pilgrims, try something new.

What sets this turkey apart is the yogurt marinade. As the bird languishes overnight in the savory brew, the yogurt’s live cultures and lactic acids tenderize the meat and, when roasted, create an incredibly crisp, golden, caramelized skin to truly give thanks for.

To go with, try a cranberry chutney and mix ground coriander and butter into smashed sweet potatoes. Scald mustard seeds in a bit of vegetable oil to add an exotic edge to steamed green beans or corn.  

Divas Dish an aromatic Bolognese

True aromatherapy has absolutely nothing to do with iddy-biddy candles or bubble baths. It’s about food. A fragrant mirepoix gently sweating in fruity olive oil until sweetly soft and tender, finely minced garlic, a savory mix of veal,Spaghetti bolgnese pork and beef, red wine, tomatoes, and, yes, milk set to simmer for, oh, around 3 hours? You cannot imagine the heady olfactory foreplay.
Bolognese sauce, the famous ragù from Bologna, Italy, has many versions—some without milk, some with pancetta or porcini mushrooms – but it need not be complicated. The star ingredient here is time. Forget the jar and spend a lazy Sunday afternoon crafting the ultimate sauce for pasta.

Another taste of Epcot's International Food & Wine Festival, courtesy of the Divas

Diva nirvana is sipping and noshing our way around the globe, and what better in these flimsy economic times than a day at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival: French escargot with Pinot Noir, American lobster rolls with a lager, Spanish crema catalana with sparkling wine. (The annual fest runs for 6 weeks each fall and wraps up Nov. 8.)  

Our favorite taste was this sensuous stew from Rio de Janeiro that perfumes the kitchen with garlic, lime, cilantro and coconuts.  Put on a little samba music, sip a sweet caipirinha, chop to the rhythm and pretend it’s suppertime after a day on the beach at Ipanema. 

Halloweeni-tahini dippers from the Divas

divas halloween dipDig deep into your soul, consult your moral compass and repeat after us: stealing your kiddies’ Halloween candy is wrong. So ignore the maniacally grinning plastic pumpkin—back far, far away from the beckoning orange beacon of diet suicide and scary elastic waistbands.  

One healthier alternative is a picture-perfect platter of festively colored crudite to plunge in a satisfying dip of pine nuts and creamy tahini, a rich, nutty paste made from ground sesame seeds. Loaded with B vitamins, calcium and iron, our Halloweeni- Tahini dip offers a more sophisticated snacking experience—and, well, let’s just say it’s prettier than getting your Halloween freak on with fun-size candy bars.

Tasty Thai Tuna from the Divas of Dish

Hey, don’t knock it ‘til you Thai it. thai tuna salad

We love the bright flavors of this spicy tuna mélange tossed with fresh chilies, crunchy peanuts and fresh lime juice. Fish sauce, the pantry staple for all things Thai, along with fresh ginger paste, replaces the calorie and fat-laden mayo of yesterday’s tuna salad while providing an entirely new lease on lunch.

With economy and skinny-mini style in the bag, you’re the Ms. Smarty Pants of the break room. Consumed with rampant, recession-born Brown Bag Envy, hungry co-workers shall beg you to share. Of course, this is entirely up to you. Yet, in the spirit of loaves and fishes, we recommend you divvy it up with whole-grain pita or Indian naan.

Divas's blackened tilapia is the bomb

blackened tilapiaJump-start the dinner hour with a lip-searing rub of Cajun spices. Paired with mild-mannered tilapia, then heaped with an ooey-gooey mound of caramelized onion relish, this unlikely duo brings down the house with each magnificent mouthful.

Make the relish ahead of time, then reheat as you sauté the tilapia for a luscious quickie dinner.  Serve with thick sliced, perfectly ripened tomatoes drizzled with your best-quality olive oil, or smashed potatoes for a more robust pairing.

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