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Turkey and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

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My husband and I like to eat healthy several times a week, and that doesn’t always mean eating salads.  I think people run out of inspiration when trying to eat healthily, and I totally understand that frustration. Even we get into ruts sometimes with figuring out what we should eat on a daily basis.

I am a big fan of looking at other food bloggers sites and getting ideas from them.  There are so many amazing and creative food bloggers out there, its impossible not to be inspired by others. What is amazing about food is that everyone has unique tastes.  Each blogger has a unique voice because they all come from different places.

Cookbooks are also great inspiration. I have so many from different types of restaurants. One of my favorites is from our favorite Mexican restaurant back home in Texas.  I even have a cookbook from French Laundry in Napa, and those recipes are really special. Anyway, the point is, influence can come from anywhere, and if we keep our eyes and ears open to it, you won’t find yourself stuck in a cooking rut for long!

These stuffed peppers, were so tasty, with a Mexican spice flare, and were really satisfying. You are welcome to add cheese on at the end for some extra flavor, but we loved them without it!

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What you need:

  • 1lb ground turkey
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 yellow and red bell peppers, cut in half and seeds removed
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can corn, drained and rinsed
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp ancho chili powder
  • 1/2-1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 400F.

In a large pan heat about a tbsp of oil on medium high heat.

Add in your diced onion and green bell pepper and season with salt and pepper.

Cook for about 7 minutes until translucent, and add in your minced garlic and 1 min later the ground turkey.

Season your turkey with all of your spices, and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Once your turkey meat is cooked through, add in your quinoa, beans, and corn.

Mix together, and cook for a further 5min or so until the whole mixture is warm.

Stuff your peppers with the mixture, and any excess meat can be served on the side.

Cover your peppers with foil and cook for about 30min.

If you are adding cheese, remove 5 minutes before, add cheese on top, and return to oven for 5 minutes for cheese to melt.

These are great to make ahead and re-heat throughout the week 1 at a time for lunch or dinner.

Enjoy!

 

Fad Foods

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Every few months there seems to be a new trend out there.  They didn’t always gain global traction, but possibly starting with the cronut (donut/croissant) and the help of social media these food trends become overnight global phenomena. Recently Starbucks had the unicorn frappuccino that was only available for a short period, and people lined up down the block at stores worldwide to try one.

When you think about the best chefs in the world, you don’t equate them with fad foods. Dominique Ansel, inventor of the cronut, is one of the few exceptions. The cronut propelled him to global fame, but his skill and talent kept him there. The true talent in the food world doesn’t feel the need to reinvent the wheel, they have just learned to use the wheel in the best way possible.

In today’s culture of instant gratification and constant new trends, people are very receptive to new food fads.  However, as quickly as they appear, they disappear all over again because most don’t really offer anything particularly revolutionary.

I decided to try out one of the more recent food fads, the cloud egg, and was left wanting. I am sharing the recipe in case you want to try them, but my overall impression was that they were a little dry, and oddly textured. If you want fluffy eggs, stick to the tried and true souffle, they are richer and much more tasty!

What you need:

  • 2-4 eggs, separated
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 chives, sliced thinly
  • 3 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
  • Grated Cheese like parmesan or cheddar (optional)

Preheat your oven to 450F.

Put all of your egg whites into one bowl and whisk either by hand or using a hand mixer until you have stiff peaks.

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Fold in your herbs, cheese, salt and pepper. (I didn’t use cheese, but many recipes call for it)

Put your egg whites into 2-4 mounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and hollow out part of the center to form a cup.

Bake for about 3 minutes, until slightly golden brown.

Remove from the oven and put an egg yolk into each egg white cup.

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Bake for another 3 minutes or so, and you’re done.

Enjoy!

They were a bit more filling than eating a normal scrambled or fried egg, but overall, I will be sticking to the old recipes for my eggs!

Feliz Cinco De Mayo

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Feliz Cinco de Mayo! Now many of you may or may not know, but Cinco de Mayo is not a widely celebrated holiday in Mexico.  However, it has become a large holiday in the US for people to celebrate Mexican culture and drink lots of tequila! So today I am going to take a look back at some our favorite Mexican recipes from the past year.

Tonight I will be attending a charity gala for Sound Waters organization in Stamford, CT, so instead of throwing my own fiesta, I will be celebrating with friends for a good cause.

Obviously we love and eat a lot of Mexican food in our house, so below are just a few of our favorites. This summer I will add in some Enchiladas both verdes and with red sauce and lots of other yummy things, but for now these are all very easy dinners to throw together for any celebrations tonight or through the weekend!

Our go to for Mexican food night with ease is simple tacos.  We have fajitas, fish, shrimp, you name it. The best part about tacos is that the only piece you need to cook are the meat or veggies you are putting inside. If you serve with beans or slaw or guacamole, those are easy things you can throw together or reheat. One of my favorite tacos this year was the shrimp tacos with red cabbage slaw, guacamole and black beans.

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These wen’t down very well, and the recipe could be used on fish or chicken as easily as it was with shrimp.  Now with a dinner that tasty, you need to wash it down with an equally delicious cocktail.  My crowd favorite this year was the ginger jalapeño margarita I made for several parties we hosted. It is spicy, sweet, and just the right amount of strong!

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Another great recipe that would really impress your guests, but is actually so easy, is the shrimp and chorizo chile relleno. Stuffed peppers make for such a beautiful presentation for your guests and are a great way to portion out the perfect dish for your family. These are so packed with flavor, and if you are lucky enough to have any leftover, make the perfect lunch the next day!

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Now if you live in the North East, you might be experiencing rain like us today! It is truly a terrible weather day, and sadly it is meant to rain ALL DAY! This does not need to hinder your celebrations and instead of making summery fish or shrimp tacos, you can try out this salsa verde chicken chili! It is a great new way to make chili, and it will warm you up from the inside out on this dreary day.

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And finally, for the morning after celebrations, many of you will need a good hearty breakfast to absorb the alcohol and fill up your stomach after a rough night. Enter chilaquiles! This is one of the most delicious breakfasts, and everything about it is satisfying. You get a little crunch from your chips, some spice from the salsa, and the healing power of eggs after a big night out.  You cannot go wrong with this one!

Chilaquiles plated

Celebrate responsibly friends, but to honor Mexican culture, make sure you have a great time! I will make sure to toast all of you this evening with a good strong margarita and some dancing to mariachis!

Olé!

Strawberry Muffins

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Sometimes you just need something sweet. If you look back on all of my posts, you will see that for me, the craving for sweet doesn’t come very often. I like things like dark chocolate and salted caramel, which by definition are not really very sweet. But right now there is so much awesome fresh fruit out there, and I love taking advantage of that!

Over the weekend, the craving for something sweet came over me, and luckily I had some delicious fresh local strawberries to serve as my inspiration. I then also watched the food network, and Ina Garten happened to make strawberry muffins for Jeffrey – talk about coincidence! I had to make them!

I tweaked her recipe a bit because she made 18 muffins, and used lots of sugar.  I figured I could somewhat healthify her recipe and make it a little less of a guilty indulgence. These went over really well, and even into Monday we were warming these babies up in the microwave and putting a little pad of butter on top!

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What you need: Makes 10 muffins

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, half wheat if you can find it
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 5oz milk
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup diced fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup shaved coconut

Pre-heat your oven to 375F.

Sift together your dry ingredients first except for the sugar and coconut.

Melt your butter and mix together your wet ingredients as well.

Put them together and mix until it is a homogenous mixture.

Add in your fresh strawberries, sugar, and coconut and fold these into the mixture.

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Once everything is mixed in, line your muffin tray with muffin cups, and using a measuring cup or ice cream scoop, scoop in your batter evenly into each cup.

Bake the muffins for 20-25min and let cool before eating.

These were so tasty, and using half wheat flour took away some of our guilt!

Pad Thai

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Last week was an incredibly eventful and wonderful week.  As we get closer and closer into summer, I have to admit I am getting busier and busier! I have 4 parties for clients coming up, and an event with a charity I have been helping organize. It has all been a lot of fun to plan and be a part of, but time really is flying by!

We had a really nice weekend with friends: getting to know new friends and spending time with some older friends. Sunday was a beautiful day as well and we took Kuda pup for a 2 hour walk in the woods.  She swam in the river and played with her friends.  She was completely exhausted last night, and only got up to eat dinner and go out before bed.  A tired pup is a happy one, I can tell you that!

Anyway, the blog has been a little neglected because of how busy I have been, but I did manage to cook a few things over the weekend to build up some photos and recipes to post in the upcoming week. I made a really delicious, but quite involved Pad Thai last week, and it was SO GOOD.  I am sharing the recipe with you today, but know this recipe does take about an hour to assemble and cook. Next time I am going to sub in half zucchini noodles for the pad thai noodles and make this dish a little healthier.

We love Thai food and often with take out it can be quite heavy.  Thankfully this wasn’t heavy or greasy at all, so with the added zucchini noodles next time, it is going to be even better for you!

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What you need:

  • 8oz dried pad Thai noodles
  • 1lb whole shrimp (with heads on if you can get them)
  • 3 tbsp oil, divided
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • white pepper, to taste
  • ½ block of extra firm tofu, cut into thin rectangles
  • 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 cups Chinese garlic chives cut in inch long pieces
  • 3 medium eggs, (preferably at room temperature)
  • 2 cups mung bean sprouts washed and drained
  • 1-2 tbsp Asian chili sauce (optional)
  • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp roasted peanuts, crushed (optional)
  • a handful of cilantro leaves (optional)

Soak the pad thai noodles in warm water for about 20 minutes, and drain. If the noodles are in really long strands, cut them into 10- to 12-inch lengths.

Remove the heads and shells from the shrimp and collect them into a bowl. Wash and devein the shrimp and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in your wok over high heat until just smoking. Add the shrimp heads and shells.

Stir-fry until all of the shells are bright orange, and add ⅔ cup water. When liquid comes to a boil, press the shrimp heads with your spoon to bring out the flavor and color.

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Simmer for another 5 minutes and remove from heat. Strain the shrimp stock into a bowl and discard the heads and shells.

Add sugar, tamarind paste, fish sauce, and white pepper to the stock and mix well.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in your wok over high heat and cook your shrimp for about 2-3min.

Remove them from the pan and set aside.

Set the wok to medium high heat and cook the firm tofu in the wok in one layer, and sear on both sides until slightly browned (about 1 to 2 minutes). Next, add the shallots, garlic, and chives. Turn up the heat to high.

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Add the noodles and stir-fry for about 30 seconds, or until all the ingredients are combined. Pour the tamarind-shrimp sauce mixture over the noodles, and stir fry for another minute or so.

Push the noodles to one side of the wok to make way for the eggs.

Crack the three eggs in, using your spoon to lightly beat them in the wok. Fold the eggs gently without completely scrambling them, and when they’re about 60% done, fold the noodles over the eggs.

Lastly, add the bean sprouts. Stir fry everything at high heat until the bean sprouts are just cooked.

Toss in the cooked shrimp, chili sauce, and soy sauce, and serve the Shrimp Pad Thai with crushed peanuts and cilantro on top, if using.

This Pad Thai was so delicious, James had about 3 bowls of it!

Spring Green Beans Almandine

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What a week it has been so far, and it is almost over.  I thought for a while about what to post after yesterday’s exciting announcement, but everything felt like it would fall short! So I figured I would return to normal as best as possible and feature something fresh and seasonal.

As many of you know passover was last week as well as Easter, and for many these holidays really begin the Spring season. I went down to Texas to spend the holiday with my family, but I know in CT it was over 80F and sunny! What a way to kick off Spring parties and backyard barbecues!

I love this time of year and all of the delicious veggies that are becoming available at local markets. I have always been a big fan of green beans, and will eat them in almost any form.  I really like them still crispy, my pet peeve of cooked veggies is how so many people over cook them and lose that delicious bite!

This recipe is super easy, and only takes about 15-20min max and it is perfect for your next Spring get together!

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Why you need:

  • 2 bags of green beans
  • 3/4 cup of slivered almonds
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

You don’t have to use the bags of green beans, but they make your life super easy! You just cut holes in them and microwave them for 3 minutes for lightly steamed perfection.

In a cast iron pan heat up half of your butter and fry up your almonds.  You want them to brown and get nice and toasted.

Once they start turning brown, add in your garlic clove and cook a further 2 minutes.

Throw in your green beans, lemon juice, and the remaining half of the butter and toss.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This is such a great picnic option or perfect to serve for your next dinner party. These green beans are light and crunchy and could go back to almost anything!

Greenwich Time

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I have the exciting news to announce that I was featured in today’s Greenwich Time newspaper.  This is a major local newspaper, and such an exciting day for me! As I mentioned recently there have been a lot of developments for The Gourmet Cocina and this is one of them.

Just a few weeks ago, I had a chance to meet Macaela Bennett the Business Reporter for the Time, and was so honored when she wanted to write an article about me. I often say to my husband and friends that I feel like moving to Greenwich really put us in the right place at the right time. I’ve met some really interesting and inspiring people and had so many unique opportunities present themselves.

This was no exception, and with the imminent launch of Pure Cocina Salsas in the next 4-6 weeks, it felt like fate. I am so grateful for this opportunity and feel really blessed to have had the chance to meet Macaela. She was so nice, and seems really interested in local businesses.

Below I will share a couple of photos from the article. Like I said it was such a unique opportunity, and I feel very blessed to have been given this opportunity so early in the development of The Gourmet Cocina.

Thanks to all of you readers for your support and positive energy! I wouldn’t be here without you!

Greenwich resident Gabriella Burke poses at J House Greenwich in the Riverside section of Greenwich, Conn. Wednesday, April 12, 2017. Burke is a personal chef, meal planner and food blogger for her newly-opened business, The Gourmet Cocina. Photo: Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticut Media / Greenwich Time

Greenwich resident Gabriella Burke poses at J House Greenwich in the Riverside section of Greenwich, Conn. Wednesday, April 12, 2017. Burke is a personal chef, meal planner and food blogger for her newly-opened business, The Gourmet Cocina. Photo: Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticut Media / Greenwich Time

Citrus Spring Salad with Grilled Scallops

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Yesterday, my girlfriend over at The Zhush posted a recipe of mine. Sue is a seriously talented interiors expert, and has an incredible eye for design. Her kitchen is pretty spot on to my dream kitchen, so I luckily get to live vicariously through her!

Anyway, a few weeks back she asked me to share a Spring recipe for her and her readers, so I worked to put together a salad that featured seasonal fresh ingredients.  We are nearing the end of Citrus season, but right now, grapefruit, oranges, limes, and lemons are so fresh and delicious. This is the perfect time to make this salad, and it could be a great addition to any Easter spread this weekend.

I made it with fresh grilled scallops, but you could easily substitute, canned tuna, chicken breast, or grilled shrimp instead.

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What you need: (feeds 4)

  • 20 Scallops
  • large package of mixed greens
  • 2 plum or heirloom tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 large grapefruit, skinned and chopped
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
Heat your grill or grill pan to medium high heat.
Chop and slice all of your veggies and fruit.
In a small bowl mix together your lime juice, garlic, and olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Toss your veggies in a large bowl with the quinoa.
Season your scallops with salt and pepper.
Grill your scallops for about 1-2min per side.  These cook very quickly, so keep a watchful eye!
Toss your dressing with the salad and serve onto four plates.
Top salads with 5 scallops each and add on some fresh cracked pepper and a sprinkle of sea salt.
Enjoy!

Very Berry Cobbler

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As I mentioned yesterday, we had such a fun backyard bbq with friends on Sunday.  Spring has seemingly finally arrived, and berry season is in full effect. Right now you can get the most delicious strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries, which are perfect for eating and cooking with!

This coming weekend we are heading to Texas for Easter, so our bbq last weekend, was our pre-Easter “framily” barbecue. For those of you that follow me on instagram or Facebook, I posted a photo a couple weeks back of little individual berry cobblers that I made for a client dinner party.  All 10 guests raved about how delicious it was, so I thought I would share the recipe with you all.

What is so great about this, is that the filling is just fruit.  No added sugar at all, and as they cook, they bubble up and create their own syrup. The topping is really simple as well, and uses all natural animal fats (butter), and only some brown sugar. This is a pretty healthy dessert, and one you can feel good about feeding your family.

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What you need:

 

  • 3 cups assorted berries
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (I only had half white bread flour and it was still delicious)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

 

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a 9”x 6” rectangular or 8” round baking dish.

If using strawberries, quarter them so all fruit pieces are mostly uniform in size.

Place the berries in the prepared pan. Drizzle with the lemon juice.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, and vanilla until well-blended. Mix in the dry ingredients until mixture resembles crumbs. Drop the dough evenly on top of berries.

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Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and fruit is bubbly.

If your dish is really full, make sure to put a sheet pan underneath it, as often the fruit bubbles up over the side.

Serve it straight from the oven with a little vanilla ice cream.  Who doesn’t love a little cobbler a la mode?

 

Sunday Barbecue

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Sundays are always a bittersweet day. Especially when you get gorgeous Spring days like we did yesterday.  Sundays always mean the weekend is almost over, but sometimes, a Sunday afternoon can feel like it goes on forever. We had our first true day of Spring yesterday, almost 70F outside, crystal clear skies, and our first bbq of the season!

Sundays are a day for family, and since right now our little family is just James and I and Kuda girl, we like to spend Sunday afternoons with our extended “family” – our friends. I am always a social person, but when the weather is nice, I love having people over for bbq and good times. Yesterday, we invited a few of our favorite people in CT and had a great classic backyard barbecue!

I made barbecue ribs, chicken, and sausage, charro beans, a salad, and some grilled peppers. It was so filling, but with two light veggie side options, we didn’t need to feel too guilty.  I also made a really yummy berry cobbler for dessert with vanilla ice cream, but I will share that recipe with you tomorrow. For now, I am just going to share with you my special rib recipe! Don’t forget I am a native Texan, so this is a big deal!!!

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What you need:

  • Two racks of baby back ribs
  • 1 full flavor beer
  • 1/3 cup bbq dry rub (I used Salt Lick, but a homemade recipe is below)
  • 1/3 cup of good bbq sauce

Heat your oven to 200F.

Rub your dry rub all over the ribs and let sit for a few minutes.

Pour beer into the dish holding the ribs and cover with foil.

Cook ribs in the low heat oven for 2 1/2 hours.

Remove ribs from the oven and brush with your bbq sauce.

Finish on a medium high grill for about 4 min per side.  You should get a good char on the outside, and your ribs will fall off of the bone!

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Serve with some extra barbecue sauce on the side, and make sure you get your hands good and dirty!

I used the same rub and bbq sauce on the chicken thighs as well, and just used a simple kielbasa sausage grilled for a little more variety.

Home Made Dry Rub:

  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tbsp granulated onion
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp black pepper

Mix it all together and rub all over any meat you want to bbq!