Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken and Ratatouille

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You might remember last week we made grown up cheeseburgers with roquefort cheese, and one of our philosophies at The Gourmet Cocina is to let nothing go to waste.  We throw out so much food a year, and my goal is to minimize wastage as much as possible.

So this week when I was planning meals I realized we still had some of the roquefort cheese left. This is a more mild and creamy blue cheese, so it can stand up to a lot of different foods. I decided on roquefort stuffed chicken breasts wrapped in prosciutto. The prosciutto helped make these into perfect little packages for baking so the cheese stayed inside and didn’t ooze out until we cut into the chicken.

As for the ratatouille, well this was a personal challenge.  James had said to me he didn’t like it very much, so obviously, I had to prove him wrong… I am happy to report, I succeeded and he did like my spicy ratatouille. Sadly no animated mouse helped me make it, though if Kuda had thumbs, I am sure she would have helped!

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What you need for this dish:

  • 2-4 chicken breasts (depends on family size)
  • 1 package of prosciutto
  • wedge of roquefort cheese
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 squash
  • 1 small yellow onion minced
  • 2 garlic gloves minced
  • 1 box or small can of chopped tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Pre-heat your oven to 375F.

Take a knife and slice your chicken in half butterflying, but not cutting it into two separate pieces.

Put the cheese inside of each butterflied chicken breast and wrap them in 2-3 slices of prosciutto each.  Making sure to put the middle of the prosciutto slice on the edge with the cut sealing off the slice. *If blue cheese isn’t your thing, you could use feta, mozzarella, or a goats cheese as an alternative – or skip the cheese all together.*

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Season with salt and pepper and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, and I highly recommend cutting through it to make sure its done.

While your chicken bakes, slice up your zucchini into 1/8″ thick slices.  Thinner slices make it faster to cook through.

Heat 1 tsp of olive oil over medium heat and add your minced onion to the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Then add your garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant.

Add your chopped tomato and season with salt and pepper and red pepper flakes.

After 2-3 minutes add your zucchini on top.

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Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

Place in the oven with the chicken breast on a lower shelf, and cook for about 15 minutes.

The chicken and ratatouille should finish around the same time, and you are ready to eat. If you noticed the ratatouille is a little thick, add a bit of chicken stock to make it a bit saucier without diluting the flavor.

This dish is delicious and if you cut out the cheese quite healthy. The best part about it, is that we bought all of the veggies and chicken from local sources at farmers markets! I seriously never want summer to end!

Sunday Steaks

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There really is nothing like a perfectly grilled medium-rare steak.  You don’t need much else, and it is truly special. James being the big man that he is, really loves a good steak. We don’t make them every Sunday, but it is a really nice treat to have a nice bottle of cabernet and sit outside and enjoy these beautiful summer nights.

To go with our steaks and herb butter, we sliced up a couple of local heirloom tomatoes and seasoned them with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.  We decided to splurge and have some burrata cheese as well  – which if you’ve never had it, it’s just super creamy mozzarella. I only had a small bite because I am a little sensitive to dairy, but the pairing with tomatoes is spectacular.

We also added a little starch with our herb butter mashed potatoes to round out this delicious meal, and make it over all a bit less healthy.  Leave out the potatoes and cheese for a paleo solution, and add some asparagus or another veg of your choice.

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For our herb butter steaks you need:

  • 2 NY strip steaks
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp of chopped chives
  • 1/2 stick of unsalted butter
  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes
  • 1-2 pieces of burrata
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil for drizzle
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of low fat milk (for potatoes)

Allow your butter to get down to room temperature and soften.  Once it is soft, mix in the garlic and half of the chives and season with salt and pepper.

Peel your potatoes and cut into 2″ pieces. Put into a pot and cover with warm water.  Salt the water and set it on the stovetop to boil. Boil them for about 10 minutes, using a fork to check if they are soft and breaking apart.

Once your potatoes are done, drain them and put them back in the pot.  Pour in the milk, half of the herb butter, and season with salt and pepper. If the potatoes feel dry, you can add more milk or olive oil to give them some richness.

Slice up your tomatoes in 1/4″ thick slices, and season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on them for flavor.

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Heat your grill to medium high. Season your steaks with salt and pepper. Depending on the thickness of your steaks, you will cook them on each side for about 5 minutes to get the perfect medium-rare. Cook longer for more done steaks. Make sure not to flip them more than once, this can make steaks dry and tough.

Finally, wait for your family and enjoy all together!

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*Off camera Kuda was given a little bite of steak as a treat for being so patient while I got the sides on the table.

Avocado Pesto Pasta

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I eat almost half an avocado a day every day – I think soon, I might turn into one. When fall and winter come, I will be so sad to not be able to get them as much! However, while it is still summer (for at least another week), I will continue my creamy, delicious avocado addiction.

Though James is English, he has become an honorary Mexican as he too has adopted my favorites as his. Given that we feel avocados can never get old, I really love to experiment with flavor combinations to incorporate with avocados.

This avocado pesto is one of the most tasty pestos I’ve ever had, and it is really healthy.  There is absolutely no oil in this pesto, and the parmesan sprinkling on top is obviously optional.

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For the pesto you will need:

  • 3 cups of arugula
  • 2 avocados
  • juice from 1 1/2 limes
  • 1 heaping cup of basil
  • 2 garlic gloves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cherry tomatoes
  • fusilli pasta
  • 1lb peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

In a food processor add your arugula, avocados, basil, lime juice, garlic and salt and pepper.

Pulse until smooth and fully mixed.  Add more salt and pepper as needed, but it should not be too salty as you will be adding some salty pasta water to the finished dish.

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While your are blending your pesto, set a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. Follow the packaging directions for cook time.

Just when your pasta is about done, take a measuring cup and reserve about 1 cup of pasta water before draining your pasta.

Drain your pasta and mix your pesto into the cooked pasta adding small amounts of pasta water until you get a smooth, creamy consistency. You will likely only need about half of the cup, but if your pesto is too thick you may use more.

Slice your cherry tomatoes in half to mix in as well.

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While your pasta cooks, pat the shrimp dry and season with salt, pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes and drizzle with olive oil.

Use your hands to toss the shrimp and coat evenly in the oil and seasoning. *Cooks tip: I like to cook my shrimp on skewers as it makes it easier to have them cook evenly and flip quickly.*

Heat a grill pan on medium high, cook the shrimp on each side for about 2-3 minutes until pink and firm.

Top your pasta with your grilled shrimp and, if desired, some shaved parmesan.

This is healthy and delicious, and your family will love it!

Buen Provecho!

The Other White Meat

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If I relied on James to tell me what he wanted for dinner every night we would oscillate between steak, burgers, and chicken enchiladas verdes – throw in the occasional Indian, Thai, or Sushi delivery and he would be happy! Though this takes away all of the pressure of coming up with new recipes, it also takes all the fun out of cooking.

I love pork chops, but more often than not, they are over cooked and dry. You have to cook them through, but not necessarily to a point of approaching jerky! I mean as a Texan I definitely love my  jerky, but not in pork chop form…

This dish is a really tasty option with a really spectacular rich sauce with NO dairy. It is a pan cooked pork chop with a white wine dijon pan sauce served this time with sweet potato mash and green beans.

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One of our best wedding gifts was a cast iron pan.  I have to say it has been one of the most useful pans and the more you use it, the better everything tastes! Than pan is key to this dish as it retains heat really well and cooks the pork evenly.

For pork chops with white wine dijon sauce you need:

  • 1 inch thick cut pork chops 3-4 total
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp fresh sage
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary
  • salt and pepper

Season your pork chops with salt and pepper while heating your cast iron pan on medium high with about a teaspoon of olive oil.

Place your pork chops in the pan and cook 5-7 minutes per side.  Each side should brown nicely.

Once your pork chops are cooked, remove them and let them rest on a plate or cutting board.

Meanwhile, if there is too much oil or fat in your pan, soak up some of it in a paper towel or pour it into an empty jar for disposal. You want a small amount of the fat left in the pan along with any fond (cooked bits of pork) for the sauce, but not too much.

Reduce your heat to medium low, and add in your wine, chicken stock, mustard, and fresh herbs and cook down for 2-3 minutes until reduced. Season with salt and pepper.

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Add the pork chops back to the pan of sauce and cook for an additional couple of minutes spooning sauce over the chops during this time.

Finally plate your dish with your sides of choice and enjoy with the wine used in the sauce. It is so important to use a wine that you drink in sauces. Don’t buy cheap cooking wines as these really do affect the flavor. Honestly, do you really need an excuse to buy a nice bottle of white wine?… I didn’t think so!

Buen Provecho!

Beef Stir Fry

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We are big fans of Chinese food (all Asian food in fact) in the Burke house, but it isn’t always easy to find good quality and healthy Chinese food.  Obviously we are big fans of the fried dumplings, fried rice, and other culinary treats of pan-asian restaurants, but sometimes you want something a little lighter.

On our honeymoon, James and I had the most delicious fried rice of our lives. I still dream about it from time to time, and maybe soon I will attempt to recreate it. Until then though, I will continue to experiment with various other asian flavors finding healthy alternatives to some of our favorites.

Admittedly I am a total amateur to cooking Chinese food, but this is a simple recipe that turned out quite flavorful.

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Garlic and ginger are great ways to add a lot of flavor to asian dishes without adding a lot of calories.  Both of these flavors are strong and rich, so they are quite easy to work with.

  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 2 carrot sticks
  • half of a white onion
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1″ piece of ginger
  • 1 tbsp chili oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1-2 tsp chili paste (Sriracha is a great option)
  • 1lb of flank steak or other thin cut beef

Start by warming your chili oil and sesame oil in a wok or other large non-stick pan.

Finely chop your garlic and ginger, thinly slice or mince your onion, break apart your broccoli and slice up your carrots into 1/4 inch thick rounds. Slice your beef in to strips as well.

Add the onion to the wok and cook for 5-7 minutes until softened.

Add garlic and ginger to the oil and cook for 1-2min until fragrant.

Season the beef with salt and pepper before adding it to the wok. Add your chili flakes and chili paste to the pan and stir well.

Once your beef is mostly cooked through add your carrots and broccoli and cover with a lid.  Stir this intermittently and re-cover to steam your vegetables and seal in the flavor.

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Use a fork to test the vegetables doneness so they don’t get too soft.

Serve with a simple white or brown rice and enjoy!

Sriracha Lobster Roll

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Lobster rolls are a New England favorite in the summer.  These delicious and decadent treats are the perfect lunch or dinner on a nice summer’s day.  Up here they are paired with a good crispy potato chip to round out the whole meal.

Balance is such an important part of healthy eating, and “cheat” meals help keep us all sane!

I was recently on a super fun bachelorette weekend in Montauk for one of my best friends and lobster rolls were a-plenty. As the weekend progressed, we got even more adventurous in our lobster roll eating, and at one of the very cool hotels in the area, they had a warm sriracha lobster roll. Um… Yes please!

Most New Englanders will tell you that lobster rolls should be enjoyed cold, but as a transplant to the area, I was open to this warm option. Thank goodness I was, because yum!! James can now vouch that a warm sriracha lobster roll is pretty epic!

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Sriracha Lobster Roll:

  • 1/4 cup of Sriracha
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1-2 tbsp mayo
  • 1-2 whole cooked lobsters
  • brioche buns

De-shell your lobster and roughly chop the meat.

Let your butter reach room temperature and mix it with your Sriracha and mayo.  The mayo is only to help it have a smooth consistency, and feel free to use less Sriracha if its too spicy for you.

Mix your butter mixture with your lobster to coat it thoroughly.

Toast your buns on the grill or a grill pan to add a little flavor and build your lobster rolls.

These are the best with a summer rose or a good cold beer!

Tuna Tartine

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Growing up tuna sandwiches were a very easy go to lunch, and we really loved them. As I have mentioned before, I have never been the biggest fan of mayo, but tuna salad was always something I really liked.

As I got older and my tastes matured, I got exposure to tuna in a lot of different forms: on salads, tuna steaks, sushi…etc. When I moved to NYC one of my favorite lunch spots was Le Pain Quotidian (The Daily Bread). They have this fabulous tuna tartine – which is essentially an open faced sandwich. This tartine has a white bean hummus base and a simple tuna salad on top.

One of the challenges of eating well every day is finding things you like and having enough variety. There are a million different ways to eat tuna – it’s one of the most versatile foods, and as it’s pure protein, having it once or twice a week is a great option.

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For this tartine you will need:

  • Slices of good whole grain bread
  • 1 can artichokes in water
  • 1 can or jar of tuna in olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp mayo
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • plain hummus either home made or store bought
  • salt and pepper to taste

Toast your slices of bread to your desired level of browning.

Take the tuna out of the olive oil, letting the excess oil drip off.

Drain your artichokes and roughly chop about half of the can.

Mix your tuna, mayo, mustard, vinegar, artichokes, and the juice of 1/2 lemon and mix thoroughly. If your lemon isn’t very juicy, use the whole lemon.

Remove your toasted bread from the toaster and smooth on a thin layer of hummus.

Layer on your tuna and garnish with a lemon slice for presentation.

This tuna salad is so light and delicious and makes the perfect weekday lunch!

 

Grown Up Cheeseburgers

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I don’t know about you, but after a nice weekend with good food, good wine, and good friends, I am ready to tackle the week.

As I have said before, I believe in balance.  I love a good salad as much as anyone, but sometimes all you need is a decadent burger! James and I have a favorite burger in NYC – its The Spotted Pig burger down in the West Village. It is seasoned beautifully, served with roquefort cheese and rosemary and garlic shoe string potatoes.

This is a grown up cheeseburger, and one of the most delicious meals I have had the pleasure of eating. Given that we now live in Connecticut, it isn’t very realistic that we will make a Sunday evening trip down to the West Village. So I decided to recreate this decadent treat!

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For these burgers you will need:

  • 1lb grass fed ground beef
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 wedge roquefort cheese
  • brioche buns

Combine your beef, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper and use your hands to mix it all in together. Once well mixed, make patties.  Its up to you how large you want your burgers, so this can make 2-3 patties. Stick your thumb in the middle of the patty after you’ve formed it. This helps them stay together on the grill.

Heat your grill or grill pan to medium high and place patties down cooking 3-5 minutes per side depending on how well done you want your burgers.

After you’ve flipped your burgers, place buns on the grill as well.  This will give them a really delicious flavor!

Remove buns and burgers from the grill and put as much roquefort cheese as your heart desires.

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For the “fries” you will need:

  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1-2 sprigs of rosemary

Pre-heat your oven to 450F.

Its up to you if you peel your potatoes or just wash them really well, but I like to leave some skin on my french fries.

Thinly slice your potatoes into your fries, and thinly slice your garlic gloves, and roughly chop your rosemary.

Put them on a baking sheet and season them with salt and pepper and add the garlic and half of the rosemary.

Bake for about 30 minutes, tossing halfway through. If you want to make your fries extra crispy like ours, at the end of cooking turn on your broiler for about 2 minutes and let it toast your fries.

Finally poor a nice glass of Chianti, Cabernet, or any wine of your choice and dig in!

Avocado Toast

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Avocado toast is a more recently faddish dish, and many nutritionists are touting it, with an egg, as one of the healthiest breakfasts you can have.  Protein, good fats, and a whole grain carbohydrate can really get you ready for the day.

Obviously with all of the salsa in the house, I wanted to show you yet another way to use it.  Salsa and eggs are like burgers and fries – they just make sense!

The biggest key to this recipe is that you season each component with salt and pepper.  If you don’t add some seasoning to the avocado or egg, this can be quite a bland meal.

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You will need:

  • a thin slice of butter to fry your egg
  • toast
  • half an avocado
  • tomato salsa (as much as you want)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Start by toasting your bread and smashing your avocado on the plate.

Once your avocado is a glorious mush seasoning it with salt and pepper and give it a good mix. Then top your toast with the avocado.

Add a layer of salsa on top of the avocado.

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Meanwhile, fry your egg in a pan to your desired level of doneness.  James loves a really runny egg, me not so much.

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Put your egg on top of your salsa layered avocado toast and season the egg with salt and pepper.

I like to add a little more salsa on top, to grow on of course, and finally dig in!

Whether you use your hands or a knife and fork, this is flavorful, healthy, and it literally takes 5 minutes to make!

Red Cabbage Slaw

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Growing up, coleslaw is one of those things you don’t really like. I was never a huge fan of mayo, and usually coleslaw is just a vessel for people to eat more mayo! Plus cabbage tends to have a more bitter flavor, so as a kid your palette really doesn’t get it.

Later in life I still didn’t find a coleslaw I loved, so when I started really getting into cooking, I decided to come up with one of my own. I will admit it does have a little bit of mayo in it, but its only a small amount!

Cilantro is another controversial flavor, but my biggest beef with it, is that people tend to over use it.  Everything in moderation can be really tasty, but it’s a coping mechanism for many people to add a ton of flavor without having to think. It isn’t my favorite herb, but when used in the right proportion, it can really add some freshness to your recipes.

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To make this slaw you will need the following:

  • 1 head of red cabbage
  • 1 bag of shredded carrots or regular carrots you shred yourself
  • 1/2 or less red onion
  • 1 tbsp brown spicy mustard
  • 2 tbsp mayo
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste

Remove the core of the cabbage head and slice thinly.

Thinly slice the red onion and chop up the cilantro.

Mix everything in a bowl including the condiments and oil and vinegar and toss.

This has a lightness and freshness to it that most slaws don’t, and its the perfect pairing with your delicious fish tacos!

I’ve also added in a green or golden delicious apple and taken the onion out of the slaw, and it was amazing on a whole new level!