Protein Banana Bread

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So I know its been a while since I’ve posted a recipe or blog post.  We’ve been crazy here at the Burke house, but all in good ways.  We’ve been traveling, busy with festivals, and new developments on the business side. I’ve met some really amazing people this summer, and grown closer to new friends here in Greenwich.

We are so blessed to be able to do so many neat things, and this summer has been one for a lot of new experiences. We’ve traveled a bit, met new people, and really taken advantage of the beauty in our area. My friend Heather, from Gacchi Bakery, and I worked the Greenwich Food and Wine Festival together and have done a lot of special events all summer.

I have been cooking a lot for clients and for us, but have been very lax about taking photos. I am going to start making an effort again to photograph as much as I can the things I’ve been making.  Starting with this great protein banana bread!

We don’t love bananas, so more often than not if I buy them, I don’t get through them before they get really soft. Banana bread is one of the few options you have at this point.  Sometimes I freeze them peeled also to add into smoothies, but other times when you want something sweet, banana bread is a great healthy option.

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What you need:

 

  • 2 to 3 very ripe bananas, peeled
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of vanilla protein powder

Preheat the oven to 350°F, and butter a 4×8-inch loaf pan.

In a mixing bowl, mash the ripe bananas with a fork until completely smooth. Stir the melted butter into the mashed bananas.

Mix in the baking soda and salt. Stir in the sugar, beaten egg, and vanilla extract. Mix in the flour and protein.

Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour at 350°F, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for a few minutes. Then remove the banana bread from the pan and let cool completely before serving.

 

 

Zucchini Carrot and Pineapple Muffins

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Another awesome way to hide veggies into things is by adding them into your baked goods.  Breakfast can be a particularly difficult meal to get kids to eat, and more often than not things like muffins and pancakes are the easiest  go to option. The only issue is that traditional muffins and sweet breakfasts are just carb heavy and lack a lot of nutrients.

Carrots and zucchini have been used in making cakes and breads for a long time because of their mild flavors.  The added benefit though is that both vegetables have so much nutritional value. Between carrots and zucchini you are giving your kids a great source for vitamin A, biotin, vitamin K, potassium, vitamin B6, protein, thiamin, niacin, phosphorus and copper, and a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, riboflavin, folate, magnesium, and manganese.

It is kind of a no brainer honestly, and hidden into a muffin, it is extremely unlikely that any kid will turn their nose up at the thought of veggies. These muffins are really easy, and can be made ahead for the week.

What you need:

  • 3/4 cup shredded zucchini (excess water removed)
  • 1/2 cup shredded pineapple (excess water removed)
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot (excess water removed)
  • 4 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup Almond flour (coconut flour, or regular all purpose flour)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger

Preheat your oven to 350F.

Mix the first 8 ingredients in a large bowl and stir until well combined.

Add remaining ingredients and stir until just mixed.

Grease your muffin tins with butter or natural cooking spray.

Scoop batter into greased muffin tins.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

If you don’t love pineapple, sub in shredded apple or any other fruit you like. The best part about it is that you can do all of your shredding and mixing in a food processor to really save on work.

Jordan’s family loved these, so again another kid test and kid approved recipe!

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!

Shakshuka

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On Saturday this past weekend, we had a full on snow day.  We got around 7 inches of snow and leaving the house really wasn’t an option.  They wait to plow the streets until after the snow has stopped, and being a good South Texas girl, I have NO idea how to drive in snow! Our puppy Kuda (as you can see above) absolutely loves running around in the snow, so on Sunday when the weather improved, we had lots of fun in the winter wonderland of the woods!

Shakshuka is a really delicious middle easter breakfast of baked eggs in a chopped tomato sauce. Usually it has some spice to it and its often cook with onion and bell pepper. This was the perfect dish to have on Saturday morning when we were stuck at home. We built a fire for the day and just binged on movies and shows and had an all around lazy day.

As I said Shakshuka is traditionally made with onion and bell pepper, but I didn’t have either of those, I did however have fresh garlic, which is another requirement for Shakshuka, and chives to give it some onion flavor.  A key flavor component is cumin, cayenne, and other chili powders.  I used Za’atar and red chili flakes as well, and they really gave it a great flavor.

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What you need:

  • 2 14oz cans of chopped tomato or one large can
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tbsp Harissa
  • chives, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp Za’atar
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste

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Pre-Heat your oven to 375F.

If you do have onions and bell pepper, use about half of each and sauté in your cast iron pan for 20min or so until they are soft.

After those cook, add in your minced garlic and cook for a min or two.

Add in the chives, tomatoes, harissa, and all of your spices. Simmer for 10 min.

Crack the eggs into the tomato mixture and put in the oven.

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Bake for 7-10min and remove from the oven.

Sprinkle some more chives on top for garnish and serve with plenty of the tomato mixture under each egg.

This breakfast is so delicious, and is even better with some fresh grilled bread to dip in the tomato.  Not being able to leave the house, we didn’t get to do this with fresh bread, but it was still really delicious!

It’s so easy to make and would really impress your guests if you hosted a brunch!

Buen Provecho, and for my fellow northern folk, stay warm!!

 

 

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.

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!

 

Special Fried Rice

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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!

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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.

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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!