Diva Tasting: TWICE BAKED POTATO CASSEROLE…

TWICE BAKED POTATO CASSEROLE…

Ingredients

  • 3 Pounds Red Potatoes, Or 15 Medium Potatoes Chopped
  • 3 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt, Or To Taste
  • 4 Slices Bacon, Cooked And Crumbled, Divided
  • 1 Cup Half & Half
  • 2 Cups Sour Cream
  • 1/2 Cup Butter, Melted And Cooled
  • 2 Cups Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Divided
  • 1 Cups Shredded Asiago Cheese, Divided
  • 5 Green Onions, Sliced
  • 3 Teaspoon Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper, Freshly Ground
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Scrub potatoes, Chop and Place on a baking sheet lined with foil. In a zip lock bag toss the potatoes with olive oil and salt and pepper, bake until tender about 30 min. until golden brown.
  2. Combine cheeses in a small bowl and toss
  3. Cook bacon until crispy, drain on paper towels. Crumble when cooled.
  4. Place potatoes in a large bowl and toss with 1/2 of the cheese mix, half of the bacon, and half of the green onions..
  5. Butter a 9×13-inch-inch baking dish.
  6. Combine the half and half, sour cream, and the melted butter. Add the parsley, kosher salt, and pepper.
  7. Pour the sour cream mixture over the potatoes and toss.
  8. Place the potato mixture in the baking dish, cover with foil, and bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes.
  9. Remove foil and top with remaining ½ of shredded cheeses and bake for 5 minutes until the cheese has melted.
  10. Garnish the top with remaining bacon and green onions.
  11. Serve with beef entrees, summer salad with vinaigrette, sauteed green beans. Serves 12-15.
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Diva Rambling: The Corporate Easter Egg Hunt…

The Corporate Easter Egg Hunt

Many years ago I was running the largest training department in the country. The management couldn’t understand why everyone loved to spend a week at the home-office training department, in the winter, in New York.
We trained all 5000 employees in America and many from our global offices around the world.
It was my belief that if we wanted people to buy into the training we had to make it fun. I always tried to do that. Learning experiences included role play, dungeon and dragon tasks, scavenger hunts and many other creative experiential learning tools.

We also like to make it fun for the people stuck at home office year round. One spring I bought 50 dozen plastic Easter eggs. The staff and I would sit and fill them with candy and treats during our lunch hours for about two months. In many of the eggs we placed prize tickets telling the finder that they could come to the training center and claim a prize. We had the prizes numbered so when they came they received a gift.

At that time I reported to the company CEO. He came in the morning we hid the eggs and called me to his office. He said I drove into my executive parking space this morning and observed half of the people at home-office out pecking in the lawn like chickens. I even saw a couple fighting for the plastic eggs they picked up. My first thought was it could only be the Queen Of The Cosmos that orchestrated this party. Did I get that right? “Yes, Sir, I replied “. He then stated that I got away with more in corporate America than he’d ever seen anyone get away with. But, he liked it and told me to keep up the good work.

Again, my point is, if you get the urge to do something that’s a specialty of yours; do it. You must have respectful irreverence at all times. You must know your audience and have good instincts. You must especially know your boss. Take a chance! Make peoples days a little brighter. Sometimes the payback is more wonderful than you can imagine.

More about pampers in the board room later… Namaste, The Queen Cronista

Diva Tasting: Coconut Cashew Tuna Tartare…

Coconut Cashew Tuna Tartare 

Ingredients

  • 8 Ounces Ice-Cold Sushi-Grade Yellowfin Tuna Steak, Diced

  • 1/4 Cup Coconut Milk, Or To Taste

  • 2 Tablespoons Chopped Cashews

  • 3 Tablespoons Sliced Red Onion

  • 1 Tablespoon Minced Serrano Pepper

  • 2 Tablespoons Torn Cilantro Leaves

  • 2 Teaspoons Grated Fresh Ginger

  • 1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt Or To Taste

  • 1 Lime, Juiced

  • 1 Pinch Red Pepper Flakes

  • 2 Avocados Pitted And Halved

Directions

  1. Stir tuna, 1/2 of the coconut milk, cashews, red onion, Serrano pepper, cilantro, ginger, and salt together in a bowl; add lime juice and stir. Drizzle in remaining coconut milk until desired consistency is reached. Transfer tartare to avocado halves and sprinkle red pepper flakes over the top.

  2. Serve with pita chips or water crackers.

Diva Musing: Say What’s On Your Mind…

Say What’s On Your Mind By The Queen of the Cosmos..

For the last 25 years I have been coaching corporate executives and helping them troubleshoot problem departments. Back in the day I worked for the fortune 500 companies. My job interviews were easy because executives that I knew went to new companies and tried to bring me with them. I, however, did not escape the human resource task of interviewing with several people. What I found was that it was always important to say what was on my mind. That way if they hired me I knew they were people I could work for. If I fed them the usual corporate “puke phrases” then I knew that neither of us had an understanding of the other.

Some of them would ask odd questions. For example …what do you feel is your greatest achievement. I would always answer, my children. I’ve raised two good citizens. I have a killer in a comic. Then I’d watch their faces. My daughter is a famous TV show host and my son has served his country in the military for 20 years.
Another question that was sometime asked was…” what is most important to you”. My response to that was always my integrity. And I would tell them if you asked me to do anything that is against my personal integrity I would have to quit. So just don’t hire me in the first place. I would end that by saying that my father is the most respectable man I’ve ever known. I would never do anything to tarnish my upbringing and disappoint him.
Once I was asked…”what I pretend.” I laughed and said not a lot. …one thing I do not have to pretend is that I am Queen. That always got an eyebrow raised.

My interviews with presidents and CEO’s of these companies usually lasted an hour or two. I would find out later that they always told human resources that they hired me within the first three minutes but just stayed and wanted to have fun with my craziness.
I was told by at least three bosses that they didn’t hire me just because of my experience, they hired me because of my crazy sense of humor. They told me they hired me as entertainment!
I went to an executive dinner once and had to get up and give a speech. My boss got up after me and said he didn’t feel it was fair that he should have to get up and speak. He said it was like coming on after the most popular show on television. Which, at that time, I think, was “FRIENDS”.


Another time I had to speak before a large group of trial lawyers and presiding judges in Southern California. The keynote speaker, a prominent judge, had to get up after me. He told the audience it wasn’t fair that he had to speak after me because his speech was going to be so boring and no one would listen after my performance.  My point is not to toot my own horn, but to encourage you to always be yourself. I’m crazy and unpredictable. However, I am extremely professional and outspoken. People can take me or leave me that includes corporations. My teams have always delivered results as number one in the company and always got the largest bonuses and raises. You can be crazy, be yourself, and still be the professional you want to be. Don’t short change yourself ever.

I’ll tell you about my corporate Easter Egg hunt later!

Diva Tasting: Chicken Madeira …

Chicken Madeira

Oven: 375 F.

4 Lg Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast

1 Lg Bundle Of Asparagus

1 Large Pkg Cremini Mushrooms

6 Cups Water, Bring To A Boil

4 Tablespoons Butter

3 Tablespoon Canola Oil

1 Lg White Onion Rough Chopped

4 Garlic Cloves Minced

1/2 Pepper

1/2 Sea Salt

2 Tablespoons Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley Chopped

1 Cup Chicken Stock

2 Cups Madeira Wine Or 1 Cup Balsamic Vinegar

1 Cup Heavy Cream

1 Cup Parmigiano-Reggiano Shredded

Ingredients:

1. To blanch asparagus: Remove fibrous stems from asparagus by snapping them off . To blanch asparagus, fill a medium pot with 6 cups water, bring to a boil and add 1 Tbsp salt. Add asparagus and boil uncovered until crisp tender and bright green (2-3 minutes then remove immediately from hot water and set aside).

2. Place a large oven proof pan over medium/high heat and melt in 2 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp oil. Add thickly sliced cremini mushrooms and cook 5 minutes until soft. Stir in diced onion and cook 3 minutes. Add minced garlic cloves then season with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper and 2 Tbsp fresh parsley. Cook another 2 minutes then remove mixture to a plate and wipe skillet clean with wet paper towel.

3. Slice chicken breasts in half lengthwise and pound each cutlet between plastic wrap until no more than 1/4″ thick. Season chicken breasts all over with tsp salt and black pepper. Place same pan over medium/high heat and add 3 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp oil. When butter is finished foaming, add chicken breasts and saute 3 to 4 minutes per side or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove chicken from pan to the same plate as mushrooms.

4. In the same pan, add 2 cups Madeira wine or 1 cup balsamic vinegar and boil until reduced by half (5 minutes of vigorous boiling), scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Add 1 cup chicken stock and boil until 2/3 cup liquid remains or about 1/4 of it’s original volume (10 min). Reduce heat to medium, add 1 cup cream and simmer until sauce thickens (2 min). Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste and turn off heat.

5. Return chicken to the pan, turning it to coat in the sauce. Top with mushrooms, asparagus and sprinkle 1 cup of mozzarella cheese over the top. Bake in 375 F. Oven 3-4 minutes or until cheese is melted. Remove from oven, garnish with fresh parsley.

Diva Rambling: Queen’s Irreverent Rules of Engagement…

Several years ago one of the students went to our kitchen and took a lunch item I had warming in the convection oven out and put a note that foil could not be used in this oven!!!!!! The person was 18 years old and did not know the difference between a convection oven and a microwave.  I had to laugh because it was on a metal rack and the oven had metal sides???  Since I didn’t get my lunch I was testy when the students got to my classroom and I went on a rant about being careful who you date.  Someone who didn’t know the difference between the two kitchen items was definitely a high maintenance person who would be trouble on a good day. As I ranted I told them they had forced me to write the “Queen’s Respectfully Irreverent Rules of Engagement.” I did that for both males and females.  Below is the result of my rant….Namaste The Queen Cronista.

Queens’s Respectfully Irreverent Rules of Engagement

Gentlemen do not marry or even date the following females:

  • Someone who does not know the difference between a microwave and a convection oven (Hint knows no science or basic home economics)

  • Someone who is clingy or high maintenance; Arm candy can be bad for your health

  • Never consider someone who just giggles and pushes food around on a plate

  • Attempts to make you choose a profession that suits them

  • Who won’t watch a comic hero or war movie with you

  • Talks more about fashion and hair than current events or life in general

  • Won’t let you have time with the boys

  • Hand them the remote. If all they tune into is the Romance Channel run like crazy

  • Is extremely jealous and insecure

  • Endlessly Engages in inane chatter

  • Doesn’t like dogs

Gentlemen do not get married until you are 30 years old. You may know what you want by then

If she participates in one or more of the above behaviors…”Off with their head”

However the following females can be given serious consideration as a future date or spouse if…..

  • They are spiritually grounded (Same Intrinsic Values as you)

  • Can do one of the following…hunt, fish, handle some weapon or clean game

  • Opposites attract (Pareto’s the 80/20 rule applies/ see attached); if 80% of your intrinsic values are the same you’ve found a good match. If you argue about intrinsic values even 20.5% it’s time to cut bait.

  • Will gladly make food and let you watch a game with friends, and even occasionally attend a sports event with you with no complaining

  • Can deck an intruder or hug a baby with equal proficiency

  • If she is willing to learn to change the oil in the car or mow the lawn so you can spend more time with her

  • Is she as adept in the upkeep of the property, as in the kitchen, and glad to assist with either?

  • Would rather spend time on a walk with, you or watching a movie with you than shopping

  • A “man’s woman” who thinks it’s OK to have time with the boys, play video games, or have needed downtime as long as you don’t take advantage

  • Loves a strong, honorable man just the way you are

  • Loves you the sun, moon and stars but loves God more

  • Happy wife; happy life

Queens’s Respectfully Irreverent Rules of Engagement Ladies

Ladies do not marry or even date the following men:

  • Someone who does not know the difference between a microwave and a convection oven (Hint he knows no science or basic home economics)

  • Someone who is high maintenance; whiners need not apply

  • Muscle Mass can be bad for your health. Only thinks of sports and their body

  • Never consider someone who only eats meat and expects you to cook it for them all the time

  • A man who does not attempt to make you choose a profession that suits them. If you choose stay at home mom you have a great profession.

  • Someone who won’t watch a chick flick with you occasionally

  • Spends more time looking in a mirror, than in intelligent conversations

  • Only engages in macho conversations and postures his testosterone constantly

  • Won’t let you have time with the girls or your own down time

  • Is extremely jealous and insecure

  • Won’t babysit children or consider changing a diaper

  • Believes all household chores and children are a woman’s job

  • Doesn’t like dogs

Ladies do not get married until you are 30 years old. You may know what you want by then.

If he participates in one or more of the above behaviors…”Off with their head”

However the following males can be given serious consideration as a future date or spouse if…..

  • They are spiritually grounded (Same Intrinsic Values as you)

  • Someone who can deck an intruder or hug a baby with equal proficiency

  • Is proficient with some weaponry

  • Can do the following…change oil in a car, use power tools and kitchen appliances competently and likes doing it all most of the time

  • Opposites attract (Pareto’s the 80/20 rule applies); if 80% of your intrinsic values are the same you’ve found a good match. If you argue about intrinsic values even 20.5% it’s time to cut bait.

  • Will ask you to occasionally attend a sports event with him if you choose

  • Is he as adept in the upkeep of the house, as in the kitchen, and glad to assist with either?

  • Hand them the Sunday paper if the first thing they grab is the sports page run like crazy

  • Would rather spend time on a walk with you or watching a movie with you than playing video games

  • Loves a strong, beautiful, Diva just the way you are

  • Knows that a happy wife means a happy life

  • Loves you the sun, moon and stars but loves God more

Diva Musing: Friends…

I’m thinking about my friends today.  I’ve lived in eight states and traveled the world.  As a result I have friends everywhere, and each is a blessing.  Especially those of you who read our blog from everywhere.  I share a gifted poet with you on that subject today. Love you our Divas.                                                                                                                                Namaste, The Queen Cronista

Friendship – Poem by Henry David Thoreau

I think awhile of Love, and while I think,
Love is to me a world,
Sole meat and sweetest drink,
And close connecting link
Tween heaven and earth.
I only know it is, not how or why,
My greatest happiness;
However hard I try,
Not if I were to die,
Can I explain.
I fain would ask my friend how it can be,
But when the time arrives,
Then Love is more lovely
Than anything to me,
And so I’m dumb.
For if the truth were known, Love cannot speak,
But only thinks and does;
Though surely out ’twill leak
Without the help of Greek,
Or any tongue.
A man may love the truth and practise it,
Beauty he may admire,
And goodness not omit,
As much as may befit
To reverence.
But only when these three together meet,
As they always incline,
And make one soul the seat,
And favorite retreat,
Of loveliness;
When under kindred shape, like loves and hates
And a kindred nature,
Proclaim us to be mates,
Exposed to equal fates
Eternally;
And each may other help, and service do,
Drawing Love’s bands more tight,
Service he ne’er shall rue
While one and one make two,
And two are one;
In such case only doth man fully prove
Fully as man can do,
What power there is in Love
His inmost soul to move
Resistlessly.
Two sturdy oaks I mean, which side by side,
Withstand the winter’s storm,
And spite of wind and tide,
Grow up the meadow’s pride,
For both are strong
Above they barely touch, but undermined
Down to their deepest source,
Admiring you shall find
Their roots are intertwined
Insep’rably.