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!

Asian Style Beef Short Ribs

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I realized this week that I posted an instagram story about Asian style short ribs in the slow cooker, but didn’t actually share the recipe!  That was silly of me!  As I have already mentioned life at Casa Burke is a little busy at the moment, but all good things.

James was traveling this week so I didn’t cook as much.  I cook for clients and myself, often 2-3 times per day, so when my hubby goes away, I lazily order in food.  Usually Greek or Sushi.

I made these delicious short ribs for us last week on a rainy day. Connecticut is really taking April showers seriously and we have had rain for 5 days out of 7 days of the month so far! Thankfully the temperature is increasing a bit, but the gloomy weather calls for lots of slow cooker type meals.

These ribs literally fell off the bone and were so tender and full of flavor.  The best part about them is that it takes about 15min of prep, and you just leave them in the slow cooker all day!

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • 5 lbs bone-in beef short ribs
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds

In a bowl mix together your soy sauce, broth, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes until a homogenous mixture.

Using a good sized slow cooker, place your short ribs into the pot and pour the liquid over.  If the ribs are too long, feel free to cut them up a bit to fit into the pot.

Cover and cook on low heat 7-8 hours or high heat 3-4 hours.  I recommend using low heat as the short ribs come out even more tender.

After the 7-8 hours, mix together 2 tbsp of corn starch and 1/4 cup of water, and then add the mixture to the crockpot.

Stir in the corn starch, and cook for a further 30min on high or until the sauce has thickened.

Serve with veggies or rice or quinoa and enjoy!




Seared Tuna Salad


The core of what I do is create a balance in our lives and the lives of my clients. Just like everyone else I love unhealthy food sometimes and a drink every now and again.  In order to not feel guilty about those meals, I make sure to eat well the rest of the week.  Usually weekends are when we splurge on burgers, pizza, or that extra glass of wine! So during the week I cook pretty well.

In the winter it is harder to motivate yourself to eat cold foods.  It is so tempting to eat hearty and warm food for every meal, but every now and again, it doesn’t hurt to have a salad.

This salad is a delicious seared tuna, with quails eggs, and a miso lime dressing. It is so full of flavor and really light.  During this season of lots of holiday parties, a light meal is really refreshing.  Last night, I went with a group of friends and fellow entrepreneurs in the Greenwich area to a 5 course dinner out with wine and cocktail pairings.  Everything was so good, but for tonights dinner, I needed it to be light! We have another two holiday parties on Friday and Saturday nights so, this week is all about balance!


What you need:

  • Lettuce
  • 1 Tomato
  • Chives
  • 1 Cucumber
  • 2 Tuna steaks
  • 6 Quail Eggs (hard boiled)
  • 1 tbsp white miso paste
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp wasabi
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce or gluten free soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

Chop up all of the ingredients you want in your salad.  I kept it simple, but feel free to add in any veggies you like!

Season your tuna steaks with salt and pepper.  Make sure these are sushi grade tuna so you can eat them raw.

Heat your grill pan to medium high and drizzle the tuna with olive oil before placing it on the pan.

Cook your tuna for about 2-3 min per side just until you see the grill marks and remove from the heat and set aside.

Mix together your dressing ingredients: miso, honey, wasabi, salt, lime, vinegar, soy, and your oils and whisk until a homogenous mixture.

Plate your salad, tuna, and quail eggs and top with your dressing.  Serve with a lime garnish if you’d like and enjoy!


Coconut Curry Chicken Thighs


James and I love curry in almost any form. Thai, Indian, you name it, and we probably love it! When I cook, flavor is the most important aspect.  I make healthy food, but it is so important to me that it be full of flavor! That is why we love curry, it is so full of flavor and depth.

This recipe is a new one for me, but I have to say it was really delicious and very light.  Often people associate curry with being a heavy meal, but this was a really nice way to do it and not feel as though we needed rolling out of the room afterwards.


What you need:


  • 2 lbs chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp ground curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (or soy sauce)
  • zest of 2 limes
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup minced cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 400F.

In a dutch oven or cast iron pan, heat your tsp of oil over high heat.

Season your chicken with salt and pepper, and once the pan is warm, place them in skin side down, and cook them for 3-4min per side.

Remove the chicken from the pan.  If you find your pan has a lot of fat or oil in it, dump some out, so the sauce isn’t too oily.

Add in your garlic clove and cook for 1-2min.  Add in your seasoning, fish sauce, and lime zest, and then your coconut milk and chicken broth.

Scrape off any bits stuck to the bottom, simmer your sauce, and then add your chicken back to the pan.

Put the pan in the oven and cook for 25 – 30min until the chicken is cooked through.

Add your chopped cilantro on top and serve with basmati rice or naan bread.

If you want a thicker sauce, after the chicken is cooked, add in some flour or corn starch.

This curry is so flavorful and light, its a great week night option for  the family!


Turkey Chili – Indian Spiced


Thanksgiving is just over a week away, and I am sure many of you are preparing for it.  I am making lists like a crazy lady of all of the things I need to do and all of the ingredients I need to buy to make the perfect meal.

Most of us have our family traditions, and all of our favorite items to make for the big day, but very often the over looked part is the leftovers.  As I mentioned before I can only eat so much of the same thing over and over again, and even though Thanksgiving is my favorite, even that can get old after 3 or 4 helpings.

You can make some pretty awesome loaded turkey sandwiches, Enchiladas, casseroles, omelets – you name it, and you can make it! Last Christmas, with my in laws in the UK, I made turkey chili using whatever spices they had in their pantry.  They happened to have a lot of Indian spices like curry, marsala, turmeric, etc.. so it took on a new life! It was so tasty, that my skeptical father in law went back for multiple servings!

I’ve recreated this dish here with ground turkey, but honestly, the leftover turkey made it so much more flavorful!


What you need:

  • 1 yellow onion, minced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 lb of ground turkey or left over turkey
  • 1 can of diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp masala
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp of cayenne or Indian Chili Powder
  • 1-2 cup of chicken or turkey stock
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot or dutch oven heat about a tbsp of vegetable oil over medium high heat.

Once hot add in your onion and bell pepper and cook until translucent.

Add in your garlic cloves and your spices and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add in your turkey. If using raw ground turkey, cook for 8 minutes or so until cooked through, if using leftover turkey, cook for 3-4 min to warm and coat with spices.

Add in your tomatoes and stock and season with salt and pepper.

Let simmer for 30min to an hour for the spices and flavors to mix and the broth to thicken.

Add in your beans toward the end of cooking and mix it all together.

Serve with basmati rice or naan or whatever you like.  This is so delicious and such a great way to use that leftover turkey and give it a new life!

Chicken Lettuce Wraps


Most people have had chicken lettuce wraps at Chinese restaurants and thought they were delicious. One downside of the chicken you get at the restaurant is that more often than not, it is pretty greasy and heavy. And though you wrap it in lettuce, it doesn’t necessarily feel healthy!

One of my favorite things is to challenge myself with cooking in different genres.  As I have mentioned before I am of Mexican heritage, and grew up in Texas. So my comfort zone is Mexican food and bbq! Which though awesome, are probably not what we need to be eating every day…

James and I have been working with personal trainers lately, and we are both really feeling and seeing the difference in our muscle tone, posture (me), and how we feel over all. Our eating habits have been a great balance with our training as we’ve been eating lots of lean meats, veggies, and a moderate amount of complex carbohydrates and starches. This recipe was really full of flavor, and we didn’t feel guilty eating it!


What you need:

  • 1lb lean ground chicken
  • 1 head of butter lettuce
  • 1″ piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp chopped lemon grass (I bought jarred lemon grass for convenience)
  • 1 can of water chestnuts, drained
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp chili oil
  • 1-2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce (tamari if you are gluten free)
  • 1-2 tbsp of Sriracha

Begin by heating a wok or non-stick pan over medium heat and adding in the canola and chili oil.

Once your oil is hot, add in your ginger, garlic, and lemon grass and cook for 2-3 minutes until fragrant.

Add in your ground chicken and break it apart while you cook it. If you find the chicken releasing too much liquid while cooking, drain a little bit of it out in the trash so it isn’t too oily.

Cook chicken for about 6 minutes, and then add in your water chestnuts, soy sauce, and Sriracha and cook a further 4 minutes or until cooked through.

Remove your lettuce off of the lettuce head and either pre-build your wraps or make it the fun part of eating!

We ate ours with some jasmine rice, but if you want to keep it paleo or whole 30, you can leave this out.




Vietnamese Sliced Steak Salad


We have had some seriously stunning weather this week, and sadly the warmth is getting ready to leave us, but as it is 82 degrees today, I made a really tasty salad for dinner. The fun part of salad is that you can add anything to it and really change the taste. We do lots of Mexican inspired salads, but I had a Vietnamese salad a few months ago that I really loved, so I decided to recreate it.

I’ve always approached salads in the “everything but the kitchen sink” method. Going back to that very tall man I feed every day, it is important that salads are heathy and filling. So I love loading salads with tons of veggies and extras to get that heartiness without adding too many calories.

I also love adding herbs like chives and mint to salads because it adds a fabulous dimension to an otherwise simple meal.


What you need:

  • Lettuce
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Shredded Carrots
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1-2 tbsp chopped mint
  • 2 chopped chives
  • 1/2 package of vermicelli noodles
  • 1lb of steak seasoned (cut of your choice)
  • 2 tbsp rice wine
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • salt and pepper to taste

Chop up all of your veggies in cubes or however you like them in your salad.  Thinly slice your jalapeño, and add in your mint and chives.

Set a pot of water to boil and cook our vermicelli noodles for about 3 minutes.

Season your steak with salt and pepper and grill outside or on a grill pan for about 2 min per side if thinly cut like mine.


Mix all of your dressing ingredients together in a small jar or something you can shake it in.  Taste it, and add vinegar or salt and pepper to get desired flavor.

Once your noodles are cooked, rinse them in cold water to keep them from sticking. Then using a knife or scissors, cut them into thin strips versus long noodles.

Remove your steak from the grill let it cool before slicing it up to put on top of your salad.

Add the noodles and steak to your salad then top with dressing and toss.

This salad is so refreshing and flavorful, and you will be nice and full without the guilt!

Miso Glazed Salmon


Miso glazed anything is pretty tasty, but this delicious Japanese paste goes best with fish or in soups. We try to eat fish or shellfish twice a week in some form, and we are so lucky that we have a lot of great shops near by to get really delicious fresh fish. I try to learn lots of different ways to cook it to, so eating fish is always fresh and delicious.

Salmon is basically a super food.  Not really, but it is so good for you – full of healthy fats and omega 3s. One of my best friends welcomed her first child into the world recently, and healthy fats are so good for new mothers breast feeding. I made this dish for her, and it’s such a great option to pair back to rice, noodles, or our otsu noodles from the other day!


What you need:

  • 14 oz skin-on salmon fillets


  • 2 Tbsp white miso
  • 1 Tbsp sake
  • 1 Tbsp mirin
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp sesame oil

Mix together your marinade in a bowl.

Put your salmon filets in the bowl or if you have a convenient little package like I did, you can use that to soak the filets in.

Let them marinate for 30min-1hr covered with plastic in the refrigerator, but not longer as miso is quite strong: you don’t want to overpower your fish.

Broil in the oven on a sheet of parchment paper for 7-12min depending on your desired level of doneness and thickness of your salmon filets to get a crispy glaze on top.

Garnish with sesame seeds and chives if you want, or leave them as they are.


Special Fried Rice


When James and I were on our honeymoon, we had the most delicious garlic fried rice at one of the restaurants at our hotel.  It was a Teppanyaki restaurant and they served the rice at the end of the meal. At that point you are already so full, but after we took our first bite, we did everything we could to finish it!

This isn’t an exact recreation of that dish, but it wasn’t too far off. I made us a few spicy grilled shrimp to put on top, but the main event is the rice!  James ate enough for a family of 4 to himself, so I would say this dish was a success!


For the special fried rice you need:

  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 4 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons rice wine
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 5 garlic gloves, minced
  • Salt, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil, divided
  • 6 cups of cooked rice (I used brown rice to make it healthier)
  • Your soy sauce mixture (see above)
  • scallions, finely chopped whites and greens separated
  • 3 tablespoons of Sambal Oelek (spicy chili paste)

Mix your top section of ingredients together and warm in a small sauce pan on the stove until all ingredients are mixed together.

In a wok quickly scramble your 3 eggs with a little bit of oil, and remove from the pan.

Then add your whites of your scallions and your garlic into the wok with 2 tbsp of oil. Cook for 1 minute until fragrant.


Add your rice to the scallion and garlic mixture and fry it in the oil for a few minutes. Once warmed throughout and the edges start to crisp up, add your soy sauce mixture and continue to cook.

After about 5 minutes add in the greens of the scallions, keeping a few for garnish, and the Sambal Oelek.  This is optional if you don’t like spice, but it really gives it a great flavor.

Cook another 2 minutes and serve hot.

This rice is light and delicious and such a great base for many different proteins!

Otsu and Shrimp


I love doing research on recipes.  I look at other food blogs and through cookbooks several times a week to get inspiration and broaden my horizons.  As I’ve said before, I grew up in a Mexican American household.  We ate a lot of delicious food, but there are so many cuisines out there, I know I have so much more to learn.

Asian foods are some of our favorites.  From Thai to Japanese, Chinese, Indian, etc, we love it all! One challenge is that Asian foods are not always the healthiest. This is a generalization, I know, but like Latin cuisine the focus is on flavor and not necessarily the health benefits.

I came across this recipe on another food blog, and tweaked it ever so slightly to fit our own tastes.  The original recipe calls for tofu, and aside from not loving its spongy texture, I also don’t like to eat a lot of soy. This recipe is made with soba noodles, and with some slight tweaks could be made gluten free and vegetarian. It has a delicious spiciness to it balanced by the cool cucumber and sharp rice vinegar. Otsu is delicious hot or cold, and is the perfect dish for a filling yet light weeknight dinner.


  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Fresh ginger, cut into a 1-inch cube, peeled, and grated
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne (use less if you don’t like spice)
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce (can use a gluten free soy sauce if necessary)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 12 ounces dried soba noodles
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds, for garnish
  • 1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sambal Oelek (Asian ground chili paste)

Make the dressing by combining the zest, ginger, honey, cayenne, lemon juice, rice vinegar, and soy sauce, and whisk to combine. While whisking, slowly add in the oils.

Cook the soba in boiling salted water just until tender, then drain and rinse under cold running water. Soba tends to stick to itself, so rinsing in cold water helps prevent it.

While your pasta is cooking, heat up a pan on medium with a small amount of olive oil. Add in some of the whites of the green onion and the minced garlic and cook for a minute.

Add the Sambal Oelek and the shrimp and stir well.  Cook for about 5 minutes until your shrimp is cooked through.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the soba, the balance of the green onions, cucumber, and most of the dressing. Toss until well combined. Add the shrimp and toss again gently. Garnish with the sesame seeds when you serve it. You can also garnish with cilantro, but its not our favorite herb.