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!

 

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!

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!

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!

Shrimp Tacos

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Yesterday was taco Tuesday, most everyone’s favorite night of the week! I love making seafood tacos because they feel a little better for you than using beef or chicken. We recently had the most delicious fried oyster tacos, and I will work on reproducing those this summer!

It’s another really beautiful day here in CT, but man a cold front blew in and the wind is chilly! After today we will be making a slow ascension to more Spring like temperatures, but for some reason the warm weather just won’t stick! We had a really mild winter, but it does seem to be dragging on a bit… And to rub salt in the wound, down in TX, where my family is, it is in the mid 80s! So unfair!

Back to tacos!  The other fun part about taco night is that it is a very easy and fast dinner to get on the table.  Shrimp only take a few min to cook, and the guac and red cabbage slaw take only a few minutes as well.  I cheated on the beans this week and used canned black beans drained and rinsed, so all the more, this dinner was VERY fast to get on the table.

They key to this recipe was the marinade!

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What you need:

  • 1-2lbs peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1 guajillo chile (dried and ground up/broken apart – seeds and all)
  • 1 lime, juiced and zested
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl, mix together all of your ingredients except the shrimp.

Rinse the shrimp and pat dry before you put them in the marinade.

Add the shrimp and let sit for about 30min – 1 hour.  You don’t need to leave seafood to marinade as long as meat, it can over power the flavor.

In the meantime, heat your grill or grill pan to medium heat.

I used kabob sticks as they make it easier to cook this many shrimp at once, but that is up to you.

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Put your shrimp on the kabob sticks (if using bamboo, make sure to soak in water for at least 30min before using to avoid fire).

Cook shrimp for about 2-3min per side until cooked through.

Remove from the kabobs, and serve with tortillas, guacamole, salad, or whatever other sides you might like.

Buen Provecho!

 

Baked Cajun Crab Cakes

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For those of you that follow my social media accounts, you will have seen that we did an event last night at Lululemon Greenwich with Countdown Fitness and the Fairfield County Mom’s blog. Countdown did a 30min workout with about 10 women and I made them some yummy/healthy snacks for a post workout treat.

It was a really great event, and I think the women really enjoyed breaking a sweat! I also think the workout made them enjoy the snacks even more – guilt free! This recipe is a great one, and perfect for parties. You can also make larger sized crab cakes versus mini ones and make this a delicious family meal at home. These have basically no filler in them, they are all crab and all delicious!

I made a second treat for the ladies last night, but I will leave you in suspense until tomorrow on that one!

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What you need:

  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • 1 lb lump crab or crab claw meat, picked over
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive-oil cooking spray

Pre-heat your oven to 375F.

In a small skillet quickly cook up your scallions over medium heat with about a tsp of olive oil for 2 min or so just to remove the raw flavor from them.

Remove them from the heat and let them cool.

In a large bowl mix together 1/2 cup of panko, egg, milk, worcestershire, dijon, lemon juice, old bay, scallions and hot sauce. Use a whisk to beat the egg mixture until well blended.

Drain your crab meat of any excess fluid and add the crab to this mixture.  Using a spoon or your hands mix together these ingredients.

Using your hands form the mixture into crab cakes.  These mini crab cakes were about 1.25 inches, but its up to you how large you do them.

Line them on a sheet pan and place them in the refrigerator to set for at least 30min.

Remove from the refrigerator and using the other 1/2 cup of panko bread crumbs, lightly coat the outside of the crab cakes.

Make sure your sheet pan is oiled before placing them back on the pan. Then use the cooking spray to spray the top of the crab cakes.

Cook the crab cakes in the oven for 10-15min until browned.  You can flip them half way through to brown both sides.

These are full of flavor and so easy to make, and baking them instead of frying them is an awesome way to save on unnecessary calories!

Enjoy!

Chipotle Lime Salmon

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We try to eat fish about twice a week because we love it and because its good for you.  We like salmon, but it isn’t our favorite type of fish.  I usually use white fish like cod, haddock, pollock, hake, or others.  We also like to make seared tuna sometimes to switch things up, but every now and again salmon just sounds good!

Last night James flew to the UK for a stag weekend.  James absolutely refuses to miss out on fun, so even though he has a lot going on with work, he always makes time to see his friends and participate in a good stag weekend! For those that don’t know, a stag weekend is the UK version of a bachelor party.  It’s bigger, longer, and crazier than a traditional American bachelor weekend!

Anyway, his flight was not until 9:30pm, so he made time to come home and eat dinner with me before heading to the airport. For those of you that have taken any red-eye flights, you will know that eating a heavy meal before getting on a plane is really unpleasant! So I thought making fish would be a good, light option.  Plus James is about to have, or given the time difference, is in the process of having a rather unhealthy weekend, so a light meal was doubly beneficial!

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What you need:

  • 1-2 lbs of salmon filets
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 limes, juice and zest
  • 1-2 chipotle chilies in adobo (depending on the amount of heat you want)
  • 2-4 tsp adobo sauce (see above)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat your oven to 400F.

Pat your salmon dry and season with salt and pepper.

In a blender or food processor mix together your lime juice, half of the zest, olive oil, cumin, chipotles and sauce, cumin, and the grated garlic clove. Blend until mostly smooth.

Place your salmon on a baking sheet and cover it with the chipotle sauce.

Cook for 10-12min and remove from the oven.

Use the second half of the zest to garnish your fish for a prettier presentation 🙂

I served ours with half an avocado, charro beans, and some warmed corn tortillas, but you could do this with roasted veggies, rice, or anything else you might like!

This recipe is so easy, and packed with flavor; I highly recommend it for your next Mexican night!

Buen Provecho!

 

 

Lemon Salmon and Artichoke Pasta

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As you know, Valentine’s Day is coming up, and many of you will be making plans for a romantic evening. Sometimes that means going out on a date, and for others that means cooking dinner together at home. Before James and I were married, our dating anniversary was actually February 12th, so we have never celebrated Valentine’s Day and instead just celebrated our anniversary.

This year marks 8 years since our first date, so even though we have a new anniversary now, our wedding anniversary, I think we might stick with tradition and have our date night meal on the 12th and stay in the 14th. Plus I am turning 30 this year, so I am making sure to plan the most festive/fun times for my birthday MONTH of March! In the Ruiz family, we always enjoy a birthday month, and luckily James has embraced this tradition wholeheartedly.

Since salmon is pink, rose wine is pink, and this adorable plate I just got is also pink, I thought why not theme this meal for a fun Valentine’s dinner option! It is really light, so you don’t risk feeling overly full after dinner, and it is super easy to make. You can impress your date with this dish without even breaking a sweat!

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What you need:

  • 2 salmon filets
  • 3 lemons, zest and juice
  • 1 can of artichoke quarters, drained
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1/4 cup of parmesan
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil (good quality)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • penne pasta, or any other pasta of your choice

Start by heating your oven to 350F and setting a pot of salted water to boil on the stovetop.

Season your salmon with salt and pepper, and some lemon zest. Squirt the juice of half of a lemon on the salmon as well and bake in the oven for 10-15min.

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Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, but usually around 10-12min to have it al dente.

Meanwhile, mix together your artichokes, capers, parmesan, olive oil and the juice and zest from two lemons. Season with salt and pepper.

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Let the mixture sit and marinate while your fish and pasta finish cooking.

Once the salmon is done, remove it from the oven and use two forks to shred it off of the skin.

Drain your pasta, but reserve about 1/4 cup of pasta water.

Add the pasta and shredded salmon to the bowl with the artichoke mixture and toss.  Pour in about half the pasta water and toss again.

Serve warm fresh from cooking, and enjoy with a nice glass of rose.

This is so delicious cold as well, and could be a fun thing to make in advance for a romantic picnic instead of your typical date.

You’ve got to love the two for one!

Xoxo

Seared Tuna Salad

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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!

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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!

 

Weekend Adventures

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Well it is officially fall here in New England, and we have been blessed with some really nice weather, if a little chilly.  One thing that is a fall favorite up here is apple picking and visiting pumpkin patches.  This is a VERY family oriented activity, and most people take their kids.  We haven’t started our extended family yet, so for now, our rescue pup Kuda gets to go on fun adventures!

We drove about half and hour Northeast of our home to visit Silverman’s Farm.  They have hay rides, apple picking, a pick your own pumpkin ride, and so many other fun things for you to enjoy. It was really great to get out of town see some of the beautiful Connecticut countryside.  We even bought about 15 different pumpkins and gourds to decorate our home with!

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Kuda really went crazy with all of the new smells and kids everywhere.  As evidenced in this photo, she had her nose to the ground for a good part of the time we were there. There was hay, corn, pumpkins, apples, kids, and all kinds of new smells for her!

This weekend was less about eating and more about activities, but I did manage to squeeze in a really tasty blacked salmon dinner.

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What you need:

  • 1 tsp of paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (I used more, but we love spice)
  • 1lb salmon
  • 1 package green beans
  • 1/2 tsp lemon pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic
  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Preheat your oven to 375F.

Mix your spices together and rub them on your salmon.  Put salmon in the fridge and let it set for 3o min.

Put your rice in a small pot with the chicken stock and olive oil and bring to a boil.  Cover and lower heat to low/simmer and cook for 20min.

In a flat pan put 1/4 inch of water in the bottom of the pan below your green beans. Cover and cook for about 5-7 min to steam your green beans to desired level of doneness. Once cooked, drain and season.  Drizzle with olive oil.

Cook your fish in your heated oven for 10-15 minutes, to desired level of doneness.

Plate everything and enjoy!

This was so fresh and light after a long day of running around!