Saturday, February 28, 2009

Love Salad? Try Wrapping it up!

The Diva here to share one of my favorite lunch recipe secrets! Now, we all love salad, well maybe not all of us, but we know it's super great for us, but eating the same old boring salad over and over again gets old fast. So I love to wrap it up! That's right, you can turn any salad into a lovely wrap for lunch. This is a healthy, portion-controlled choice! I love eating my wraps with soup. My favorite wrap to make is a version of a Greek salad. I use a goat feta cheese combined with lettuce, tomato and bell pepper, but you can add any veggies you want. Or, for a protein boost, you can add turkey. The key to this recipe is warming the tortillas and the lemon juice & olive oil. So wrap it up and give it a try! Here's my recipe:

Domestic Diva's Greek Salad Wrap

1 whole wheat tortilla (I use my fav spelt tortillas)
1 tbsp hummus
1/4 cup lettuce

1/4 cup cherry tomatoes
sliced in half
1/4 cup bell pepper diced
1 tbsp goat feta cheese

1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice

salt and pepper


Warm the tortilla in a cast iron pan or other pan.

Remove from heat and place on a plate. Spread the hummus on the wrap.

Top with the lettuce, tomatoes & bell pepper.

Crumble the feta cheese on top. Then, squeeze the lemon juice over the veggies, drizzle the olive oil and had a pinch of salt and pepper.

Wrap it up, securing the sides with toothpicks. Slice in half and enjoy!

Can Pasta Save the Environment?

Hey Divas, I read an interesting New York Times article (click here) that asks the $50,000 culinary question, what do we use so much water to cook a comparably small amount of pasta? After all, it's a lot of work filling up the pan, lugging the heavy thing over to the stove, then waiting impatiently for it to boil, not to mention finally pouring the scalding hot water down the drain while trying to avoid inflicting third degree burns on yourself and the Adorable Monster curled up at your feet! OK, I know I sound like a culinary coach potato. I mean, who complains about boiling pasta, one of the easiest homemade meals known to mankind, ranking above frying an egg, but below casserole? Even my cooking-challenged friends can deftly whip up a box of Mac N Cheese!

Well, the author of this article shares my sentiments, reasoning that boiling pasta in less water shouldn't have a negative effect. In practice, I have to agree with her, even if my Italian grandmother is currently rolling around in her grave. See, I regularly turn a blind eye to the directions on the pasta box, and pour only enough water to easily cover the pasta. It heats quicker, is easier to drain, and truthfully, it's better for the environment (small steps count, people!). The only downside seems to be that you have to stir the noodles a little more frequently to discourage clumping or sticking to the bottom of the pan. In her research and experiments she comes to the same conclusion. Pasta needs a minimum amount of water to cook properly, but not the excessive amount usually demanded on the packaging. So go ahead, reduce your carbon emissions, one box of pasta at a time!

Leftover Breakfast: Shrimp Etouffee with Eggs

This Diva loves nothing more than a fab bfast to start the day out right! After making DD's Shrimp Etouffee with Collard Greens & Cornbread (click here) for dinner, I had a small amount of leftover shrimp etouffee. What to do? Eat it for breakfast of course! I love mixing seafood with eggs, the richness of both foods tastes amazing together. I scrambled the shrimp etouffee with chard and eggs and served it with cornbread! Give it a shot if you try my recipe!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Shrimp Etouffee with Collard Greens & Honey Cornbread

The Diva here with another divalicious Supper Secret Recipe! As promised, in honor of Mardi Gras and the (weak sauce) Top Chef Finale, I made a Creole inspired dish called Shrimp Etouffee, literally shrimp smothered in gravy. This is a spicy, rich Southern dish that's traditionally served over rice. To add a fun spin on the dish, I served mine over collard greens and homemade honey cornbread. Note: While this dish does use some butter, rendering it not the healthiest, eaten in moderation it should be just fine. Remember, my BDFF's, portion size is the key to eating great food and staying healthy. Check out my pictures to see the amounts I'm serving!

My shrimp etouffee recipe calls for shrimp stock. I recommend buying shrimp with the shells on them. You can use them for make a quick stock before you cook your dish (great way to make everything go to use!). Otherwise, you can substitute vegetable broth.

Domestic Diva's Shrimp Etouffee with Collard Greens & Honey Cornbread

Cornbread Ingredients:

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp honey
1 egg
1 cup milk (I subbed Rice Milk in mine)
1/4 cup butter

Cornbread Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl (cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder).

In a separate bowl, beat the egg. Then mix the wet ingredients with the beaten egg (honey, milk, butter).

Pour the wet ingredients in the dry ingredients, mixing until combined, being careful not to over beat the mix.

Grease a pyrex dish. Pour the mix into the dish and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Shrimp Etouffee Ingredients:

1 cup shrimp shells

1 carrot

1 celery rib

1 onion

1 tsp peppercorns

4 cups filtered water

Shrimp Etouffee:
2 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1/4 cup onion
1/4 cup celery
1/4 cup bell pepper
dash hot sauce
1 bay leaf
1 tsp
worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup tomatoes
1 1/2 cups shrimp stock (or vegetable stock)
1 lb shrimp (I used Wild Key West Pink Shrimp) peeled and deveined
1 tsp cajun seasoning
1 tbsp lemon juice

Stock Directions:

While the cornbread is cooking, whip up a quick batch of shrimp stock. Using your shrimp shells from peeling your shrimp, toss them into a pot with the vegetables and peppercorn. Note: to make use of everything, I used my carrot and celery tops and onion shells that I would normally have tossed out for my stock. Bring to a boil and then simmer for at least an hour. Presto Chango, you have your own wonderful shrimp stock!

Shrimp Etouffee Directions:

For this classic Creole dish, you to first make a Blond Roux (hello Top Chef fans!). A roux is fat mixed with flour and it's used to thicken sauces. So begin by melting the butter in the bottom of a heavy bottomed pan. I used my braising pan that I use for everything! Whisk the flour into the butter, stirring constantly over low heat for about 10 minutes. Take your time with your roux!

Then, add the onion, celery and pepper, sauteeing until soft, about 5-6 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, stock, hot sauce, bay leaf and worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20-25 minutes.

The flour will begin to thicken your sauce into a gravy.

Meanwhile, dust your shrimp with the cajun seasoning. I made my own version using paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.

Once your sauce has achieved thickness, add the shrimp. It should cook quickly and release water as it cooks, bringing your sauce to the perfect thickness. Add the lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Collard Greens Ingredients:

3 cups collard greens
2 tbsp shallots diced

1 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

Collard Greens Directions:

In a saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the shallots and cook for 1 minutes.

Then, add the collard greens.

Saute the greens until cooked, about 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Plating Directions:

To plate, cut a square piece of the cornbread and then cut it in half. Place both halves in the bottom of the dish with the middle facing up. The cornbread should soak up excess gravy!

Then, place some of the collard greens on top of the cornbread.

Top with the Shrimp Etouffee. Enjoy!

Wine Pairing Notes: Altocedro 2006 Malbec Reserve

With this spicy dish, Kuzak selected an Argentinian Malbec. If you've never had malbec, it's a wonderful grape, and the resulting wine stands up great to big food and is generally affordable. This is a very drinkable wine with raspberry and blackberry fruit and earth and tobacco. The wine opened up well, developing personality and a smooth finish. Can be purchased for around $25. Robert Parker rated it a respectable 90 points. So if you're looking for value, this bottle is a great choice!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Rustic Broccoli Soup

The Diva here to share another Super Supper Secret Recipe! Ever have a bunch of leftover broccoli and no idea what to do with it? That's what happened to me, and I came up with a delicious way to turn it into a filling, healthy soup! Broccoli is one of the best foods in the world for you, loaded with calcium, vitamins and cancer-fighting compounds, so any way to get more of it into your diet is fantastic. Paired with a lovely salad, this could be dinner, or it could be served for lunch or as a starter before a main course. So give this recipe a try - you'll be singing broccoli's praises in no time! Even self-proclaimed broccoli hater George Bush (the original) will be jealous!

Domestic Diva's Rustic Broccoli Soup

1 yellow onion
1 garlic clove chopped
5 small yukon gold potatoes chopped (I retained the skins to boost the vitamin content of the soup, but you can peel them if you'd like)
1 1/2 cups leftover broccoli (can use fresh broccoli too!)
4 cups vegetable stock
1 tbsp Italian parsley
salt and pepper


Heat the olive oil in the pan. Saute the onions over medium heat until translucent (about 8 min). Then, add the garlic and saute for 1 minute.

Add the potatoes and stock. Also, if you're using fresh broccoli, add it now. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Pour into a blender along with the leftover broccoli and puree the mixture until smooth (for a great blender, see my Amazon store).

Return to a pan and warm. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, I added a cheddar cheese crouton to the soup. Then I sprinkled the soup with parsley and drizzled some good olive oil on top. Enjoy!

Top Chef Finale = Weak Sauce!!!

Hey Divas! Inspired by the New Orleans setting of the Top Chef Finale, I raced home from my after school volunteer tutoring program and brainstormed a divalicious Creole dish! While I waited for my boyfriend, Kuzak, to make his trek home from his office, the Adorable Monster followed me around the kitchen while I made dinner. For tonight's meal, I settled on preparing my version of Shrimp Etouffe served over collard greens and honey cornbread. With this spicy dish, we paired a lovely bottle of Malbec, a wine big enough to stand up to the Cajun spice! Everything turned out divalicious, but I wish I could say the same thing about the Top Chef Finale.

As far as culinary highs and lows go, the Top Chef Finale was a terrible, under seasoned dish that I'd like to send back to the kitchen! Three competitors - Carla, Stefan and Joseah - competed in the finale by cooking the best 3 course meals of their lives. Unfortunately, none of the food dazzled, and the sombre tone of the judges indicated that they felt much the same way I did, ultimately declaring Joseah the winner more by default than by choice. In fact, I can't name one dish that inspired me to want to cook more! Compared to past seasons, overall this year's competitors seemed tepid and pedestrian, and the finale proved no exception. Even Carla, who had emerged in recent weeks as my favorite competitor, seemed to buckle under the pressure of the final episode, producing sub par food. A disappontment to say the least. I only hope they'll have better casting next year. Sadly, even the Monster thought Top Chef sucked, requesting emphatically that he be removed from his comfy spot on the sofa in front of the TV and placed in his pen, where he could bury his fury head in shame under his bed!

So even though Top Chef was weak sauce tonight, the Domestic Diva's dinner delivered! Stay tuned for the Domestic Diva's Shrimp Etouffee with Collard Greens and Honey Cornbread Recipe! Coming soon to a blog near you...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Do you watch Top Chef?

GO CARLA!!!!! You know, I'll be watching the finale tonight! I hope we're all in store for some great food. I plan to be on the sofa with The Adorable Monster, ready to take it all in on my circa 2000 ancient TV! In honor of tonight, I'm going to name her a Domestic Diva! After all, she does it all! C'mon, sister, bring it on home!

Tune in later tonight - for those fans, I'll be blogging about the finale and posting my thoughts!

Divalicious Sunday Night Dinners: Spaghetti Bolognese

Now that we've all plunged back into the week, here's a little weekend comfort food for you! I love making hearty, happy dinners on Sunday nights, something to carry us into the week with a full belly and a joyous heart!

Last Sunday, while the Academy Awards droned on in the background, I whipped up my divalicious Spaghetti Bolognese! Nothing says comfort like pasta. Growing up, my mother used to make spaghetti for us kids. My two brothers and I would crowd around her in the kitchen, waiting with watering mouths for her to finish cooking. "Is the spaghetti ready?" we'd chant over and over again. Then, we'd pile on parmesan cheese, wolf down our food, and fight over seconds like it could be our last meal. Even to this day, when my father's had a tough day at work, my mother makes him pasta, the only surefire way, aside from a Red Sox win, to cheer him up! And let's just say, my Mom doesn't have much pull in Boston.

Now, in recent times with the low carb craze, pasta has fallen out of favor in many households. While it's true that a lot of white flour laden noodles will pad your midsection, if prepared using my tips and recipe, this is wonderfully healthy dish! When you combine tomatoes with olive oil, like in pasta sauce, something magical happens, allowing your body to more readily access the cancer-fighting compounds in the tomatoes. Additionally, using a whole wheat pasta adds healthy fiber and vitamins, and keeps your waist slim! I chose a whole grain Vita Spelt Pasta, made from spelt flour instead of wheat flour. For the protein in my sauce, I used an organic, grass-fed ground beef from Whole Foods. It cost less than $4 for my half a pound. Don't eat red meat? You can substitute sausage or ground turkey for the beef. I served my Spaghetti Bolognese with a side of organic steamed broccoli (make sure you get your green veggies!).

Two other tips great tips are to serve proportionately a higher sauce to pasta ratio, keeping the carbs in check, and to use a fine dusting of a high quality parmesan reggiano instead of a ton of icky cheese. In other words, please banish any parm that comes in a can, bright green or otherwise! I highly recommend buying a block of parmesan reggiano and investing in an inexpensive microplane grater (see DD's Amazon Store). I use this cheese for everything from arugula salad to topping soups and frittatas!

While my sauce cooked, I even managed to give my puppy, The Adorable Monster a bath! While the monster raced around the house like a whirling dervish trying to dry off, I finished my dinner and chowed down with Hugh Jackman singing his head off like a crazed opera singer. So even though the Oscars left me feeling unsatisfied on Sunday night, my dinner sure didn't!

Domestic Diva's Spaghetti Bolognese

1 yellow onion chopped
1 carrot peeled and chopped
1 celery rib chopped
1 garlic clove chopped
1/2 lb organic ground beef (can sub sausage or ground turkey)
1 box whole wheat spaghetti
28 oz can tomatoes
bunch of thyme
bay leaf
1/2 cup red wine
2 tbsp olive oil
parmesan reggiano
1 tbsp Italian parsley
salt and pepper

Optional: 1 jalapeno or 1 serrano pepper
seeded and diced (to add some spice)


In a stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrot and celery and saute until onion is translucent (about 8 minutes). Then, add the garlic and pepper, stirring for one more minute.

Add the beef and stir around, breaking it up into small pieces.

Continue cooking until the beef is cooked through! Please note that grass fed beef will cook faster than regular beef due to it's lower fat content.

Add the wine, and turn the heat up, simmering until it reduces (about 4 minutes). You can buy red cooking wine, or whenever Kuzak and I don't finish a bottle, I stash it in my fridge to use as cooking wine later. Preserved with a vacuum sealer, it can keep for a long time (see my Amazon store for the best wine stopper!).

Meanwhile, in a food processor or a blender (I use my mini chop, also in my Amazon store), puree the tomatoes.

Add the pureed tomatoes to the pan, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add the herbs and then cover partially with the top. Cook for at least 40 minutes. Once the sauce is cooked, season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cook, straining when finished and tossing with olive oil.

To serve, put some noodles in the bottom of the plate. Top with a generous portion of sauce. Then, shave parmesan onto the top and sprinkle some chapped parsley. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Breakfast of Champions: Greens & Eggs!

Did you know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Those who eat breakfast actually lose weight and have more energy throughout the day. Experts agree that having a balanced early morning meal, including a protein source, will cause you to eat less the rest of the day. Tired of the same old thing, here's what I had for breakfast this morning! An organic, omega-3 egg fried over Domestic Diva's Sauteed Kale (click here for recipe). I added a piece of sprouted whole grain Ezekiel toast for a complete breakfast. Try it out - it's positively divalicious!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Diva Dinner Dates Pt. 4: Kuzak's Wine Flights

Now, what Diva Dinner Date would be complete without divalicious wines? This Saturday, Kuzak went all out, pulling some nice wines from his cellar. We drank four different wines, and they all paired beautifully with the food.

Franck Bonville 2002 Champagne Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs

Kuzak chose this bottle to jump start the evening. Nothing gets a party started like a crisp, delicious bottle of champagne! Something about popping the cork and sipping the bubbly makes it feel like the party has officially commenced. This is one of our favorite champagnes. It's a terrific bargain. We purchased our bottle from K&L wine merchants, a wine store with a great selection of champagnes. They have a location in Los Angeles, or you can order online from them. This wine has a lovely crisp, clean, earthy taste that reminds me of a chablis. Great nose and fruit on the tongue. It paired beautifully with the light flavors of DD's Yellowtail Tuna and White Bean Salad.

Mibal Ribera del Duero Seleccion

As Kuzak put it at dinner, "some Spanish dude made this wine in his garage." We all laughed politely at his joke, causing him to add. "No, I mean literally, it was made in a garage." He went on to tell us he read about it on one of the wine blogs he frequents and figured he'd toss caution to the proverbial wind, or wine in this case, and give it a shot. Well, all joking aside, it could have been made in a gas station restroom for all I care because it was delicious! Made from 100% tempranillo, this wine had great flavors of blackberry, raspberry and nice tannins. Paired with DD's Seafood Paella, it stood up fantastically to the flavorful food! I highly recommend trying to track a bottle of this down. Robert Parker has recently rated these wines 90-93 points.

Copain 2006 Thompson Syrah

You'll hear me blog about Copain often. This is one of Kuzak and my favorite California wineries. I'm so in love with their syrah, I want to marry it! Winemaker Wells Guthrie seems to find the best grapes from the best vineyards from which to make his syrahs and pinot noirs. This is a bold wine with flavors of blackberry, leather and chocolate, and holds up magnificently to bold food. The 2006s drink great even at their young age. Kuzak's on their mailing list and we buy cases direct from Copain. If you crack a bottle of Copain, it will pull a disappearing act on you, vanishing from your glass before you're ready to say goodbye.

Castelnau de Suduiraut 2001 Sauternes

Ask anyone who knows me, and they'll tell you I'm an avid enthusiast of dessert wines, and of all the ones in the world, Sauternes are my favs! Wonderfully sweet and peppery, full of honey and apple flavors, they're the perfect way to end any great meal. 2001 was a great year for Sauternes, and this wine is no exception, exhibiting all the classic flavors and pairing well with DD's Macaroons. If you've never tried a Sauternes, give yourself a treat and pick one up, or order one next time you're out to dinner. I promise you'll be a convert in no time!

Diva Dinner Dates Pt. 3: Coconut Macaroons

Whew! So you made it through the appetizer, and your eyes have feasted on the main course, and now you're ready for dessert! For my Diva Dinner Date, I decided to make one of my all time favorite desserts: Macaroons. These little beauties are on healthier than most dessert fare and perfect if you're trying to avoid wheat, since they contain very little. I served mine with gorgeous organic blackberries! My BDFF's loved my macaroons so much, they asked for some to go! Shout out goes to Momma D for inspiring this recipe.

Coconut Macaroons

4 egg whites whipped to soft peaks
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp flour
14 oz shredded coconut


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add egg whites to a stand mixer, or whisk by hand, until they have soft peaks. Then, add the sugar and flour, mixing into the egg whites, followed by the coconut.

On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, spoon 1 tbsp mounds.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until nicely toasted. Using a spatula, transfer to a rack or plate to cool.

Serve with fresh berries.