Diva Tasting: 5 Star Roasted Chicken….

Ingredients

  • 1 (4-5 Pound) Whole Chicken

  • 1 Cup Butter, Softened

  • 2 Tablespoons Mrs Dash® Garlic Seasoning

  • 1 Teaspoon Coarsely Ground Black Pepper

  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme

  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Parsley

  • 1 Pinch Dried Rosemary

  • 1 Lemon Zested and Halved

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. Rinse and pat chicken thoroughly dry with paper towels. Mix butter, garlic season, black pepper, thyme, parsley, and rosemary in a bowl and rub the outside of the chicken thoroughly with the margarine mixture. Place any remaining butter mixture into the cavity of the chicken. Place chicken into a glass baking dish. Place the halved lemon in the cavity and sprinkle the zest over the top.

  3. Bake chicken in the preheated oven until browned and the juices run clear, about 2 hours. An instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh, not touching bone, should read at least 160 degrees F.

  4. Serve with Green Beans, Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes and Dinner Rolls.

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Diva Rambling: No Negativity for the Holidays….

12 Habits of Unhappy People (and How to Avoid Having Them)
I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.” ­– Martha Washington, wife of 1st U.S. President George Washington
Happiness is something that we all strive to attain. As human beings we can accept the fact that: (a) life is short, and (b) unhappiness makes our lives difficult. As is common knowledge, our habits have a big impact on the quality of life that we live; specifically, these habits directly impact our happiness (or lack thereof). To make a clear distinction, there is a strong difference between clinical depression and chronic unhappiness. Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain, while unhappiness is a disposition that is often acquired through how we choose to live our lives. Similar to depression, however, unhappiness can be diagnosed and treated.
HERE ARE 12 HABITS THAT CAN CAUSE UNHAPPINESS, ALL OF WHICH CAN BE AVOIDED.
1. CHRONIC COMPLAINING
Happy and successful people do not complain much. On the other side, it seems that chronic complainers always have something negative to say… even when those around them are happy! The bottom line: we all have different circumstances that we are given in this lifetime, but in the end these circumstances are ours – fair or unfair, wanted or unwanted. Instead, seek solutions to problems instead of complaining, which leads to nowhere.
2. BEING CRITICAL – OF SELF AND OTHERS
How we talk to ourselves shapes our self-image, for better or worse. Self-worth is an essential component to our happiness, and feeling good about ourselves is a right that we all have. Realize when mistakes are made, accept them, and move on…don’t engage in negative self-talk. Further, respect the inherent differences of others and recognize their right to live happily and without undue criticism.
3. LIVING BEYOND MEANS
We live in a materialistic society, one where we are constantly bombarded with advertisements for the latest car, gadget, or credit card; all promising an easier, more fulfilling existence. Don’t believe it for a second. While purchasing a new product may provide a needed emotional boost, it doesn’t last. Ever heard the term “buyer’s remorse”? It exists for a reason. Instead, seek out something to do that doesn’t involve whipping out a piece of plastic – exercise, reading, sightseeing, etc. – anything brings satisfaction without the debt.
4. NEGATIVE ADDICTIONS
Most things are good in moderation – food, a drink or two, entertainment… it’s when these things take center stage in our lives that it becomes a problem. Unfortunately, many good people have met their end through addictive habits, especially through dependence on alcohol and drugs. A great preventative measure and remedy to these addictions? Finding and living our passions to the greatest extent possible (see #8).
5. REGRETTING THE PAST
Regret is not only useless, it can be extremely harmful. Research continues to show that repetitive, negative thoughts about decisions made in the past in often a precursor to chronic stress and depression. According to Psychology Today, there are four ways to cope with regret: (1) learn from mistakes but don’t dwell, (2) if nothing can be changed about the situation to let it go, (3) make sure too much blame is not being undertaken, and(4) reframing the situation more positively.
6. WORRYING ABOUT THE FUTURE
We only have so much say in what our future holds. This is not meant to disempower (quite the opposite); rather it is stating simple truth. What we can do is live in the present while fully exercising our God-given abilities and talents, enabling and empowering us to live a happier existence. There’s that phrase again: living in the present. Face difficulties as they arise and let them go. Enjoy the beautiful things in life and experience them fully…be present.
 7. BEING DRIVEN BY FEAR
Yes, fear can be an enabler to unhappiness. To fully understand this, we have to again go back to being present. Quite simply, we can’t allow fear of the unknown (and/or the unavoidable) to cripple our quality of life. Fear is a negative thought process that is often on auto pilot. Remember: we are not our negative thoughtsWe are not fear, worry, anxiety, or any other negative thought process.
8. DELAYING GOALS AND DREAMS
It’s relatively easy and effortless to get caught up in the routine of life: working, eating, sleeping, maybe even a day or two of doing something fun or relaxing. But here’s the thing: by not directing our talents and passions toward a positive and tangible goal, we potentially discard something great before its realization. The hardest part of living out our goals and dreams is taking the first step. After building a game plan taking that first step, only then can we see the possibilities.
 9. GOSSIPING
Nothing exudes unhappiness and insecurity more than negative small talk about someone else. After all, why would a happy, confident person engage in something that is of no benefit? They wouldn’t. Gossip is something to be left to the kids at recess, not to adults attempting to make their lives (and others!) better.
10. HOLDING GRUDGES
Similar to other negative emotions, animosity is a needless weight on our backs. We are all witness to the negative behaviors of other people and can become (sometimes justifiably) angered as a result. But remember: this isn’t about their ignorant behavior; it’s about your happiness. Either forgive, forget, or ignore… and move on with your life.
11. EATING POORLY
Ingesting nutritionally-bankrupt food is all about immediate gratification. It’s certainly not about feeling good long-term, as eating poorly can result in bad health, weight gain, depression, lack of energy and decreased productivity; while having a well-balanced diet results in an entirely opposite effect – more energy, a healthy weight, mental alertness, and increased productivity. Eat right, look great, and feel great.
12. EXPANDING OUR PROBLEMS
When we experience unhappiness and discontent, our first reaction is almost entirely emotional. In other words, we blow things completely out of proportion. After all, we still have that darned “lizard brain” (amygdala) – the epicenter of negative emotions. Instead, just take a step back, look at the problem objectively (with minimal emotion), and focus on a solution!
Once aware of these habits, you can make sure to keep them at bay by following the advice mentioned above.
Join the discussion:  What negative habits do you try to avoid?

 

Diva Tasting:

Mediterranean Meatballs
Ingredients
  • 2 Pounds Ground Steak Or Lamb
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley
  • 4 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Onion
  • 1 Cup Crumbled Feta Cheese
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Smoky Paprika
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Green Olives
  • 2 Eggs Lightly Beaten
  • 1 Teaspoon Italian Seasoning
Directions
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees
  2. In a large bowl, mix together ground lamb or beef with parsley, onion, feta cheese, green olives, eggs, Italian seasoning, garlic powder and paprika. Shape into 24 meatballs, and place 2 inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  3. Bake until browned. Turn over, and set broiler and broil on the other side for 2 minutes until browned on top.
  4. Serve in pita pockets with Greek yogurt and tomato topping…. or over pasta olive ole
VARIATION: For a vegetarian twist to this recipe use 3 cans of garbanzo beans drained and pulsed in a food processor instead of the meat option. You may also pulse 2-3 Portobello Mushrooms in if you desire.
Simple PASTA:
SIMPLE MEDITERRANEAN OLIVE OIL PASTA#11.21.17bbcc cr11.22.17
Ingredients
  • 1 Lb Thin Spaghetti
  • 1/2 Cup early Harvest Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 Garlic Cloves, Crushed
  • Salt
  • 1 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • 12 Oz Grape Tomatoes, Halved
  • 3 Scallions (green Onions), Top Trimmed, Both Whites And Greens Chopped
  • 1 Tsp Black Pepper
  • 6 Oz Marinated Artichoke Hearts, Drained
  • 1/4 Cup Pitted Olives, Halved
  • 1/4 Cup Crumbled Feta Cheese, More If You Like
  • 10-15 Fresh Basil Leaves, Torn
  • Zest Of 1 Lemon
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, Optional
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Follow package instructions to cook thin spaghetti pasta to al dente (mine took 6 minutes to cook in plenty of boiling water with salt and olive oil).
  2. When pasta is almost cooked, heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Lower the heat and add garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook for 10 seconds, stirring regularly. Stir in the parsley, tomatoes and chopped scallions. Cook over low heat until just warmed through, about 30 seconds or so.
  3. When the pasta is ready, remove from heat, drain cooking water and return to its cooking pot. Pour the warmed olive oil sauce in and toss to coat thoroughly. Add black pepper and toss again to coat.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and toss one more time. Serve immediately in pasta bowls, and if you like, top each with more basil leaves and feta. Enjoy!
  5. A COUPLE OF TIPS FOR THIS OLIVE OIL PASTA
First, this dish makes a feature of extra virgin olive oil and relies heavily on its flavor.  The oil is briefly heated through, but not cooked. That’s why, you’ll want to use the best quality extra virgin olive oil you can afford.
Remember, oils that are simply labeled “pure” have usually been heat-treated and refined by mechanical means and, consequently, lack character and flavor.

Diva Rambling: Fresh Dairy Products….

Here at the holidays I line to take the time to have some fresh dairy products in the house to control the quality of what we get.  Actually I like to all year round.  These are such simple methods of doing what is good for the recipes all year round.  
How to Make Crème Fraîche (in One Easy Step!) Recipe
Ingredients
1 Pint Heavy Cream
2 Tablespoons Cultured Buttermilk
Directions:
Combine buttermilk and heavy cream in a non*reactive container. Cover and allow to rest at room temperature until thickened to desired texture, about 12 hours. Store in refrigerating for 2 weeks.
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Fresh Ricotta RECIPE:
INGREDIENTS:
2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar or lemon juice (I recommend the vinegar)
DIRECTIONS:
Line colander with four layers of cheesecloth or 2 layers of food-safe paper towels and set over large bowl. Combine milk, salt, and vinegar or lemon juice in microwave-safe glass 1-quart liquid measure. Microwave on high heat until lightly bubbling around edges, 2 to 4 minutes (milk should register about 165°F on an instant-read thermometer). Remove from microwave, and stir gently for 5 seconds. Milk should separate into solid white curds and translucent liquid whey. If not, microwave for 30 seconds longer. Repeat until fully separated.
Using slotted spoon or wire skimmer, transfer curds to prepared colander (lined with paper towels). Cover exposed top with plastic wrap, and allow to drain until desired texture is reached. Store in covered container in refrigerator for up to 5 days.

 

Diva Tasting: Roasted Chicken with Roasted Asparagus and Rolls…

Here is a great chicken or roasting hen recipe for the holidays.  

Chicken Supreme

Ingredients

  • 1 (5.0 pound) whole chicken

  • salt and ground black pepper to taste

  • 1 lemon, halved

  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled

  • 1 bunch fresh thyme

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, or as needed – divided

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 cup creme fraiche OR (Sour Cream)

  • 1 tablespoon peeled and grated shallot

  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce

  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce

  • lemon juice, or to taste

  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

  • 3 chives for garnish, chopped (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat an oven to 450 degrees F.

  2. Season inside of chicken cavity and the back generously with salt and black pepper. Squeeze lemon halves into cavity and drop squeezed peels inside. Stuff cavity with garlic cloves and fresh thyme; add a bay leaf to cavity.

  3. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil into a heavy roasting pan. Place sourdough slices into pan and press slices lightly into olive oil to help coat bottom of bread. Drizzle 1 more tablespoon olive oil on top of bread slices. Place chicken in roasting pan, tie legs together with kitchen twine. Brush outside of chicken with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season entire outside with salt.

  4. Bake chicken in the preheated oven for 1 hour.

  5. Mix creme fraiche, grated shallot, and hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce together in a small bowl. Stir 2 tablespoons lemon juice and lemon zest into sauce. Refrigerate until needed.

  6. Generously brush the outside of the chicken with creme fraiche sauce, putting enough on to drip down.

  7. Return chicken to oven and bake for 15 more minutes to brown the glaze. Repeat, brushing more creme fraiche sauce generously onto the chicken. Bake 10 more minutes. Remove chicken from oven and let stand for 10 minutes. An instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh, not touching bone, should read 165 degrees F.

  8. Pour remaining creme fraiche glaze into a small skillet, place over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Stir constantly, cooking until the shallot is cooked and sauce reduces slightly, 1 or 2 minutes. Turn off heat.

  9. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and cut bread pieces in half crosswise. Cut chicken up into 8 serving pieces (drumsticks, thighs, wings, and breasts). Drizzle thickened creme fraiche sauce over chicken and garnish with chopped chive.

  10. Serve with Roasted Asparagus and Quick Dinner Rolls.

Diva Tasting: Creamy Baked Pasta…

Creamy Baked Pasta 
Ingredients
  • 1 (16 ounce) package bow tie pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 (6 ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch white sugar
  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 small bunch fresh basil, finely chopped
Directions
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender yet firm to the bite, about 10 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of cooking water.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook onion until soft and translucent while penne is cooking, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds. Stir in tomato sauce and tomato paste and cook until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Add cream and Parmesan cheese and season with salt, pepper, and sugar.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a baking 9×13in baking dish.
  4. Add some pasta cooking water to sauce and stir in cooked pasta. Remove from stove and stir in cherry tomatoes and basil, 1/2 the mozzarella cheese. Pour penne mixture into the prepared baking dish and cover with remaining mozzarella cheese.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until cheese is melted, about 20 minutes.
  6. Serve with Arugula Salad and Lemon Vinaigrette and garlic bread.
VARIATION: You may add 3 Cups of chopped turkey or rotisserie chicken to sauce if desired.

Diva Tasting: Stuffed Chicken….

Stuffed Chicken Milano

Ingredients

  • 4 Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breast Halves
  • 4 Slices Of Prosciutto
  • 1 Cup Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Herb de Provence Or Tuscan Spice
  • 4 Tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 (6 Ounce) Jar Roasted Red Bell Peppers, Drained & Chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Chives
  • 6 Tablespoons Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • Salt And Pepper To Taste
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter Melted
  • 1 Lemon Juiced

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Slice a chicken breast in half lengthwise, leaving the halves attached on one side: opened and laid flat, the chicken breast should resemble a butterfly. Place between two sheets of plastic wrap, and pound flat. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts.
  2. Combine Ricotta, Parmesan cheese with Herbs de Provence seasoning, chives, and Chopped Red Pepper; mix well. Spread dollop over chicken breasts. Top with 1 tablespoon shredded cheese and 1 slice of prosciutto. Roll each breast up, starting on the side. Insert a toothpick in each roll to prevent unrolling. Place in prepared baking dish. Season chicken rolls with salt and pepper to taste, Emulsify the olive oil, lemon juice and melted butter in a small bowl. Drizzle over the chicken.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Set oven to broil, and continue cooking for 5 -7 minutes. Remove from oven, slice to display the colorful filling, and serve.
  4. Serve with Sauteed´ Asparagus, Mediterranean Salad and Garlic Bread