Cooking and Chef Recipes

Divas of Dish: Summer Fruit Salad with Fresh Mint Dressing

Divas Fruit Salad

Eat your fruits and veggies – mom's advice sticks with us, so return the favor and serve her a bowlful of yum that's sweet, tart and full of good health.

It's blueberry, cantaloupe and peach season in Florida, so look for locally grown goodies to chop and toss in this super-easy salad – the recipe comes from "Field to Feast, Recipes Celebrating Florida's Farmers, Chefs, and Artisans," (co-authored by diva Pam Brandon). Buttery Bibb lettuce provides a backbeat that lets the fruit sing.

The delightful dressing brings in more goodness with fresh mint and limes. Just don't overdress – another bit of mom advice, but this time we mean the salad, not you.

Southwestern Chili Dogs for Cinco De Mayo

Divas chili dog

April showers bring May flowers, as well as several other reasons to celebrate glorious spring. Like Cinco de Mayo, a favorite excuse to drink and devour all things divinely Mexicano.

Mustard your courage, relish something new and ketchup with old friends. Here's a dog that's muy caliente. Like the burger, creative cooks are desperately seeking new tricks for old dogs, dressing buns in big, fat style with spicy southwestern chili, chopped avocado, cheese, 'maters, scallions and a handful of crushed tortilla chips. To round out this fabulous fiesta, serve with chilled gazpacho and ice-cold cerveza.

Sesame Sriracha Roasted Cauliflower

Divas cauliflower

We didn't like it when we were kids. It was one of those veggies completely misunderstood by the mid-century modern cook (you know who you are).

That is, until cauliflower's super power was revealed. Crunchy, cruciferous and creamy in color, the hard-headed orb makes for tasteless crudités (please pass the fat-laden dip), but give it a blast of heat from a spicy sriracha-sesame marinade and a 400°F oven, and the makeover is undeniable. Crisp and golden at the edges, the once hard-to-love veggie is now thoroughly forgiven.

Divas of Dish: Spring Greens with Strawberries, Toasted Almonds, and Farmstead Stilton

Divas strawberriesPhoto by Matt Stroshane

If you’re looking for a lovely salad for Easter brunch, this is it – a modern riff on that classic strawberry-spinach salad with overly sweet poppy seed dressing that we all grew up eating. This lively salad is the essence of springtime in Florida, a special treat we found at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.  

It’s super easy to toss together, and you can still find Florida strawberries in their glory. Or  take the day and head to the Epcot festival at Disney World, open daily through May 18, and try it at the Buttercup Cottage Outdoor Kitchen in the United Kingdom in World Showcase, one of 11 spots for a delicious bite set among millions of beautiful blooms. You’ll find everything from barbecue to tacos and sushi, each with a gorgeous garden showcasing something you can taste.

Show Us the Shakshuka


Eggs, those humble orbs of life-sustaining protein, omega 3s and just plain comfort, can hold their own during any mealtime. We couldn't help but swoon for this spicy tomato stew bejeweled with delicately poached eggs. 

Originating in Jerusalem, shakshuka is a popular dish devoured hungrily from marketplace food stalls. Our somewhat loose interpretation of this healthful, low-carb beauty positively bursts with flavor and flavanoids, coming together in a single, satisfying skillet. Serve as brunch with warm pita and pomegranate mimosas, or a quick and yummy supper with a chopped veggie salad. 

Show-off Shrimp and Penne

Divas of Dish

Diva shrimp and pasta

For some, March Madness might refer to college basketball – for the divas, it’s a time of year when we’re pulled in a dozen directions. And when there’s not even time to dash through the grocery’s express lane, here’s a quick one-dish dinner you toss together with staples every diva should have on hand. (A well-stocked pantry beats the drive-through any afternoon.) 

Stock up on dry pasta, canned tomatoes, olive oil and fresh garlic. Keep a stash of kalamata olives, feta cheese and decent bottle of white wine in the fridge. In a pinch you could forego the frozen shrimp, but they elevate this dish to star status. The only ingredient you need to grab fresh is parsley or basil, which easily grows in a back-porch pot.  

This is a breezy recipe to double if you need to cook for a crowd.  You may want to add a few tablespoons of your best-quality olive oil just before serving, or some extra feta cheese.

Divas of Dish Pucker Up to Kiss February Goodbye with Simple Lemon Curd

simple-lemon-curd copy

Pucker up, it’s Valentine’s Month. For the divas, February is a month for romance – not just one day, but all 28. 

And while we shared a hot chocolate with tequila for Valentine’s Day, this sweet ending hits the other end of the dessert spectrum with tart Florida lemons to wow your love’s taste buds (and cause a little pucker).    

This recipe comes from “Field to Feast, Recipes Celebrating Florida’s Farmers, Chefs, and Artisans,” shared by Central Florida farmer Dale Volkert from Lake Meadow Naturals. His farm-fresh eggs are the base for this simple lemon curd. You can add more sugar if you prefer a sweeter taste, but we like the tang. Use any leftover lemon curd the next day on your morning toast.

Sexy-Mexi Haute Chocolate with Tequila

Sexy Mexi

Originality is always a challenge for Valentine's Day. Those 24 hours to express our love, libido and a weakness for chocolate. No one could say no to Champagne and two dozen long stems, but kudos go to the guy (or gal) who can think outside the heart-shaped  box.

Consider a hot and sexy cocktail to wow the current love of your life. Mexican hot chocolate, spiked with cayenne, cinnamon and tequila is sure to breathe fire into any Valentine's Day rendezvous. This steamy, adults-only version of haute cocoa creates the ultimate mini-picnic idea. Pack a thermos and take a dreamy stroll along the shoreline. Or cuddle up at home and let passions burn before a roaring fire. To amor!

Moroccan Harira from Divas of Dish

Divas Harira

It wouldn't be January without a healthy recipe to celebrate the new you in a new year. A trendy fusion of all things super-food, perhaps from an exotic place redolent with warm, earthy spices served up in a warm, earthen bowl. 

Crafted to feed the hungry souls after the day-long fasts of Ramadan, Harira is a satisfying Moroccan soup of colorful red lentils and chick peas. This flavorful, fiber-rich version, retro fitted to suit ingredients available here at home, comes together in about an hour. Its lemony, tomato broth is spiked with fresh cilantro and parsley, as well as vermicelli to add a bit of bulk. Ground cumin, golden turmeric, cinnamon and ginger lend complex flavors with a simple teaspoon or two, as well as life-affirming antioxidants. Pass with a basket of warmed wholegrain pita. 

Divas Get Mean, Green to Fight Fudge Pudge

Diva Smoothie

Post-holiday pudge is part of the New Year for the divas, but we’ve got a powerful weapon to fight back in a ladylike manner: our kitchen blender. 

Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried sipping a meal instead of using a fork or spoon. A blender packs a mighty punch when it’s full of vitamins, minerals and live enzymes from fresh fruits and veggies. Each day we substitute a meal on a plate, usually breakfast or lunch, with a meal in a glass and feel surprisingly satisfied (and a tad slimmer).

And don’t let the green scare you – this drink packs a punch with kale, but the apple, orange and lemon juice give it a sweet sparkle. 

Here’s an easy start to 2014. 

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