Veggie Packed Chicken Quesadillas

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I want to start first by apologizing for being so bad about posting over the summer.  We’ve had so much going on here, and with the launch of the salsa, it’s been pretty non-stop. August is on track to be the same pace, but I can’t complain about being busy can I?!

As I’ve said before, I have been so lucky with the women I’ve met in Greenwich, and can honestly say that almost every one of my friends is self employed and running their own company. It’s awesome to be around such incredible women, and just last week I had the chance to collaborate with one.  Jordan Rhodes is a really cool local blogger and travel expert.  She has an app called Glimpse Guides where she publishes city guides geared for luxury travel with kids. It’s such a unique app, and something I think a lot of people will find useful!

Jordan has 3 gorgeous children, and can attest to how picky they can be. Most kids are not really into eating their veggies, and some are so picky that they only eat a few things! So when Jordan asked me to come up with a few recipes for her followers to have that are easy, kid approved, and sneak in veggies – I jumped at the opportunity. Kids are always the toughest critics, so if I please them, I am doing something right!

All in, I made 4 recipes and will share them over the next few days/week. The first, and favorite were the veggie packed chicken quesadillas. Her 5 yr old daughter, who is a known picky eater, ate almost a whole quesadilla on her own on top of the other dishes I made.  This was a true home run!

What you need:

  • 1 lb chicken tenders
  • 1 jar tomatillo salsa (Pure Cocina)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups kale or spinach, loosely packed
  • 1/2 cup shredded mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup chives, finely chopped
  • 8 corn tortillas

Marinate your chicken tenders in about 1 cup of the tomatillo salsa for about 30min

In the meantime, put your cheese, kale, mushrooms, and chives into a food processor and pulse until well mixed

Over medium heat, cook chicken in a nonstick pan in the tomatillo salsa marinade for about 10 minutes

Remove chicken from the heat and and use two forks to shred it

Assemble your quesadillas with the chicken and cheese mixture

Melt the cheese in an oven or on the griddle

Serve with salsa, guacamole, or any other dip you’d like

Between the cheese and the really flavorful chicken, your kids will have no idea that what they are eating is healthy!  All they see is green looking cheese, and you can be happy they’re eating something that is good for them!

You can easily make the same recipe with shrimp or even roasted cauliflower if you really want to get your kids eating more veggies!

Give this one a try, and I promise, the kids will love it!

Buen Provecho!

 

 

Shrimp Quinoa Bowls

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Well it is taco Tuesday, but today we are thinking outside the tortilla! I talk a lot on Instagram Stories about certain pantry staples.  Things I always have in the pantry, fridge, and freezer that allow me to make last minute meals without running to the store.

This meal is the perfect example of a pantry dinner. I always have sausage, chicken, ground beef, and shrimp in the freezer.  This allows me to make spaghetti, burgers, salad, tacos, and a number of other things at the last minute. I also always have onions, tomatoes, butter, milk, lemons and limes, lettuce, wine, and beer in the fridge which help create a base for a number of dishes.

Finally in the pantry itself, I always have, olive oil, chicken stock, quinoa, rice, dried pasta, beans, corn, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, flour, baking soda and powder, various vinegars (balsamic, red wine, white wine, sherry), and of course Pure Cocina Salsa.

There are infinite possibilities with all of these staples, and if you keep your pantry and fridge stocked with all of these things, you can always make a tasty and healthy last minute meal. These quinoa bowls are packed with flavor, and pretty guilt free. I thought James was going to lick his plate when I made this dish he enjoyed it so much. Bowls are also a fun way to get your kids to participate.  Let them build their own and get their hands on everything, I promise they will become less picky eaters this way.

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What you need:

  • 1lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 large vine tomato
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 lime
  • 1 cup of quinoa, farro, rice, or barley
  • 1 cup of tomatillo salsa
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat your oven to 375F.

Marinate your shrimp in your tomatillo salsa for about 30min.

Meanwhile, cook your quinoa or grain of choice in either water or chicken stock for added flavor.

Dice your tomato and your avocado.  Squeeze some lime over these so the avocado doesn’t turn brown.

Drains your black beans and rinse them off.  The liquid in the bean can is full of salt and fat, and doesn’t really add much flavor.

Cook your shrimp for about 7-10min depending on size of shrimp.

Assemble your bowl however you’d like and top with some extra salsa, sour cream, and some fresh lime juice!

Enjoy!

 

Pure Cocina

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I am super excited to announce the launch of Pure Cocina Salsa! These salsas are the real deal! Organic, preservative free, small batch, and delicious! Getting these babies out there has been quite an experience, but we have officially launched.

Go check out the new page on our site, and find out where you can get it!

These salsas are full of flavor, made from old family recipes with some modern updates, and carry on the tradition of what Mexican salsas should be like. So many product these days have lots of filler, artificial colors or flavorings, but these are pure and simple.

Over the next few weeks I will add on some new recipes that incorporate the salsas, but for now, find some inspiration from our old recipes, and feel free to add them to anything you like!

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Shrimp Tacos go beautifully with any of these salsas, but particularly the tomatillo flavor!

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Chipotle Lime Salmon is super easy to make, but if you are in a bind, buy pre-cooked salmon and add on our chipotle salsa and a squeeze of fresh lime!

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Any fajita night is incomplete without salsa, here you can choose any flavor your like to compliment your meats. Also, a great tip for guacamole: add some of our mild, picante, or tomatillo to your smashed avocado before adding in salt, pepper, and lime juice for a fool proof, absolutely amazing guacamole!

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Finally, chalupas are another great vehicle for our salsas.  Again you can choose your favorite flavor for these, but with steak chalupas I recommend chipotle or picante!

I hope you are all inspired in time for your Memorial Day barbecues! And anyway, the best part about salsa is that it is delicious all on its own! If you’re local, pick up a Pure Cocina salsa today and be ready to find your new favorite!

Buen Provecho!

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!

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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!

Fig and Prosciutto Flatbread

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This week has been a doozy! I had to scale my salsa recipes to get a step process from the Cornell Food Science Center, meaning I had to make at least a gallon of each formula! My friends and husband are in heaven at the moment because they are reaping the benefits of my over-production.

I have been cooking dinner all week, but because I have been so busy during the day, I haven’t been able to photograph the meals and share them with you. If you follow my instagram stories, I told you all a while back that to blog about food you have to cook in the middle of the day to get good lighting.  Sure you can artificially create lighting with special tools, but I don’t have these tools, and since I do all of my own photography, it is a lot cheaper to use natural light.

Anyway, thanks to days becoming longer as the spring and summer seasons approach, I did manage to snap a couple of photos of things I have made this week. On Tuesday evening, I met up with a fabulous group of girls who are all fellow entrepreneurs in the Fairfield County area.  Many of these inspiring women own their own brands or shops, and others have highly successful lifestyle and travel blogs.  I am humbled by their achievements, but equally so inspired by their success.

We meet once a month usually and this month our hostess asked me to bring an appetizer. I wanted to make something tasty, but filling without being heavy. Sort of a unicorn of appetizers you might think, but this flatbread really hit the nail on the head.

What you need:

  • Store-bought flatbread or pizza crusts
  • Large Mozzarella Ball
  • Figs, quartered
  • Prosciutto, separated and chopped roughly
  • Aged Balsamic Vinegar or Balsamic Glaze
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Pre-heat your oven to 425F.

The beauty of using a pre-made flatbread is that it is a major time saver.  Of course you can do your own dough if you have the time, but as I mentioned, its been a crazy week!

Tear apart your mozzarella ball and spread it around the crust or flatbread.

Bake your flatbread on a pizza stone or directly on the rack for about 10-13min until cheese is melted and flatbread is crispy.

Add on your prosciutto and figs and drizzle over the balsamic glaze and olive oil.

Season lightly with sea salt and pepper and enjoy!

Rustic Chicken

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For my recent birthday, two of our very good friends came into town from Toronto Canada.  One is from Montreal, and our friendship goes all the way back to our days in London.  We have known each other for eight years (which is crazy to think about), and have managed to stay in touch across continents, and through several moves! His partner I met almost four years ago now, and our friendship has grown over the years as well.

Anyway, knowing how much I love cooking, they brought me these delicious artisanal French mustards from Maille in really cool, ceramic refillable pots. One is a black truffle mustard, and the other is a white wine mustard – both so full of flavor and each very unique.

I was very eager to try them both, so I started brainstorming quickly about what I wanted to do with them.  James and I love truffles, so naturally I wanted try that one first. This recipe was such a success, I have now made it twice!

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What you need:

  • 2lbs of chicken (boneless, skinless thighs or breasts)
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, quartered
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1/4 cup black truffle mustard
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter

Pre heat your oven to 400F.

In a cast iron pan, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat.

Add your minced shallots and cook for about 5 min.

Add in your smashed garlic cloves and cook another minute or two.

Season your chicken with salt and pepper, and add this to the pan to sear the outside.

Cook on each side for about 3-4min until nicely seared, but not cooked through.

Remove the chicken from the pan.

Add in your mustard and white wine.  Cook down for a few minutes until the sauce reduces a bit.

Add your artichokes, capers, and lemon juice and then your chicken as well.

Spoon some sauce over the chicken and place in the oven.

Cook for about 15-20min depending on thickness of chicken.

Always cut through chicken to make sure its fully cooked, if it needs more time, no problem!

Enjoy with roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, or pretty much anything you’d like.

This sauce is full of flavor, and your chicken will come out so juicy!

 

Cashew Butter Banana Toast

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I have been working on being a bit more inventive with my breakfasts.  When I was still working in fashion, I ate yogurt and granola every day! It was delicious, but when I quit, I was very eager to switch things up a bit.  That breakfast became a routine because it was easy to eat at my desk, and served a purpose. It had protein and a little carb, and because I used plain Greek yogurt, not too much sugar.

Since working from home and cooking for families locally, I have the luxury of eating breakfast at home every day at a nice pace. Depending on the day I might eat an egg on toast, a protein smoothie, yogurt, eggs in other forms, and all kinds of other things. The main thing I seek out in a breakfast is protein.  If I don’t get some protein in the morning, I am basically hungry for the rest of the day – no matter what I eat!

Now I am going to say something controversial… I don’t like peanut butter. I know that makes me crazy, but I find the smell too strong and the fact that it gets stuck to the roof of your mouth so annoying! It is a great source of protein though so I have found great substitutes like cashew butter and almond butter that I prefer in flavor.  They also tend to be a little creamier so the texture is less thick.

Anyway, this is a great breakfast option when you are in a little more of a hurry. As eating this I accidentally dropped the toast in my own lap, and OH MAN it was a mess! So a word to the wise, take care when eating this as cashew butter somehow manages to get all over EVERYTHING when accidents happen!

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What you need:

  • 1-2 slices of whole wheat toast
  • 1-2 tbsp cashew butter
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds

Toast your bread to your desired level of doneness.

Spread with cashew butter, layer on sliced banana, and sprinkle with chia seeds.

The flavor balance is amazing, and the cashew butter has a richness that makes this feel very decadent!

 

Brussels Sprout Caesar Salad

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Caesar salads are always pretty tasty, but not always your healthiest salad option on the menu.  More often than not, they are made with super creamy dressings instead of the tradition caesar dressing, which has no cream at all. Being lactose intolerant, I have to avoid the really creamy dressings, so I made my own this time, and it was really delicious!

James and I really like to eat a balanced diet, so every now and again we have salads for dinner or other really light options to balance out those days and nights we don’t eat as well.  Yesterday we had cheeseburgers for lunch from our local butcher, but for dinner we had this awesome salad to keep it light.

We had a pretty active day also, which made us feel better about those cheeseburgers.  I took our dog for an hour walk and James went to play soccer with friends.  We also took our dog to the beach in Old Greenwich for a while, and got to enjoy the gorgeous weather.  We’ve had another cold front come in, and it is really starting to feel like winter! We’ve been so lucky to have sunshine and beautiful days, but the temperature is dropping!

Now more than ever, it is important to find balance in your diet and exercise routine as this is the season most people gain on average 10lbs! I really think you should enjoy all of those holiday parties and festivities of the season, but on nights you eat at home, you should find balance and eat well so you don’t break your goals! Forget New Years resolutions, and have a goal for the holiday season instead.  That way, when the new year comes around, you don’t feel like you have to work extra hard to get back to the status quo.

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What you need:

  • 2-3 cups of brussels sprouts
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 egg yolk
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 4 anchovies or anchovy paste
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • Croutons if desired
  • fresh cracked salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 chicken breasts (optional)

Cut the stem off of the brussels sprouts, and use a food processor to shred them.

Cut open your pomegranate and  add the seeds into your salad along with the parmesan.

Mix together your olive oil, egg yolk, garlic, lemon, anchovies, dijon mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Toss the dressing into your salad and top with croutons and enjoy!

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The pomegranate seeds give it a real brightness and fresh flavor.

If you add chicken, I just seasoned mine with salt and pepper and grilled it for a simple flavor to go back to your salad.

Lamb Chops with Mint Chimichurri

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Lamb chops with mint jelly have been an old staple for “luxury” eating for a very long time. I have to be honest, mint jelly kind of freaks me out. It is insanely green colored, like nothing I’ve ever seen in nature, and it is kind of in between the texture of a jelly and honey – more viscose than you would expect. It really is unnatural!

Very commonly in South and Central America, meat is served with chimichurri.  It is an uncooked sauce made predominantly of parsley, olive oil, garlic, and vinegar. It is delicious with various meats, and I thought, why not add some fresh mint to it and make a more natural mint sauce for lamb?!

Success! This sauce was so good, James was literally licking the bowl afterwards! We’ve always loved lamb, and when cooked well, it is tender, juicy, and so yummy! This recipe will teach you how to cook rack of lamb to a perfect medium rare every time, and how to impress your guests or family with your homemade mint sauce!

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For the Lamb:

  • 1-2 racks of lamb, depending on how many you are serving
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat your oven to 500F.

Heat a cast iron pan with olive oil over high heat until oil is hot.

Sear each side of the lamb rack for about 3 min per side until nice and browned and the fat starts to crisp up.

Then put the pan with the lamb in the oven and turn the oven off (yes you heard right, turn it off).

Leave the lamb in the off oven for 20 minutes making sure to leave the door closed the whole time – no peaking!

Remove lamb from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes. When you do cut into it, it will be perfect medium rare 🙂

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For the chimichurri:

  • 1 cup of parsley
  • 1 cup mint leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Finely chop all of your parsley and mint or process in a food processor.

Add in your minced garlic, olive oil, and vinegar and season with salt and pepper and you’re done!

It’s great if you can make the chimichurri in advance as the flavors really marinate together if you let it sit for a day or so.

Enjoy this dish with any sides you like, and tomorrow I will give you my recipe for rosemary roasted potatoes.

Buen Provecho!

 

 

Happy Halloween!

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Halloween is the beginning of the most festive time of year. It really marks the beginning of Fall and the descent into the holiday season.  What is so fun about Halloween is that you get to dress up and go to/host a party or two and act like a kid again.

This year, we hosted a party, and I had a field day making Halloween inspired snacks.  So many of what I found online were sweet snacks, and I am definitely more of a savory person. I found a few of these ideas online and created the others, and almost all of them only require assembly.

These are really fun to do with kids also, so if any of you are having a party tonight, you only need to make a quick trip to the groceries!

We started with black olive bat pizza bites! The frozen bagel pizza bites only require warming in the oven, and all you need to do is cut a few pitted black olives in half and slice one half leaving the other whole to make these little guys! They’re delicious and fun!

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We then went for the finger pigs in a blanket.  These are also in your frozen aisle at the  grocery store, and all we needed to do was attach a slivered almond to the front to make it look like finger nails! So creepy, but the perfect spooky snack! Feel free to use a little ketchup to make them look bloody!

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Halloween stores have so many fun little props, and we bought a few fake fingers and eye balls and different things to spread around the house. But first, we used them in our “human” meat platter with various salami, prosciutto, and other tasty meats. I did this meat platter on a cake dish so that we could have it hanging off the side a bit to make it even creepier!

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Cheese balls are also a great party snack, and can more or less be molded into anything.  This one is a little less scary, but really cute none the less.  I rolled goats cheese in black sesame seeds to make a large cheese spider! I didn’t have pipe cleaners for legs, so I took advantage of the fact that I had straws. It’s always great when you can utilize what you have to do these things, so you don’t have to make too many trips around town!

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And finally the pièce de résistance, were the devilishly deviled eggs! These are the only thing requiring any amount of cooking and the recipe will follow.  These are Sriracha deviled eggs with red pepper horns! Not only were they delicious, but once assembled I could not stop giggling at how cute they were!

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What you need:

  • 12 hard boiled eggs
  • 4 tsp of Sriracha
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 6 tsp mayonaise
  • 1 lime juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 red bell pepper

After you have hard boiled your eggs, let them cool, then peel and halve them. Remove the yolk and reserve the whites.

Smash your yolks in a bowl and mix in the Sriracha, dijon, mayo, and lime juice.  Season with salt and pepper.

Put the mixture in a plastic bag and cut the corner so you can squeeze it into each egg white half.

Take strips of your red pepper and cut out your devil horns and apply them to each egg.  It does take a few minutes to do this, but the result is so worth it!

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These eggs have a little kick to them, but were really tasty!

Needless to say, have fun with your Halloween plans.  We don’t get too many chances as adults to act like kids again, and it is so important we seize these opportunities when we get them! You and your whole family will enjoy these snacks, and this way you can keep your kids from eating too many sweet treats this Halloween season!