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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!

 

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Spring Green Beans Almandine

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

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

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

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

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Why you need:

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

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

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

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

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

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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

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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!
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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!

 

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Orzo Spinach Pasta

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We have had an eventful couple of weeks here at Casa Burke. I turned 30, which was great, we threw a huge party for said 30th, my parents flew up and then got stuck here – thanks winter storm Stella, and then I got lasik eye surgery! Luckily, last week and this week are Spring Break for most Greenwich schools, so I didn’t have too much client work to juggle with the family visit and then eye surgery.

I am pleased to say I now have 20/20 vision, which is such an awesome 30th birthday gift! It is life changing to not have to wear contacts or glasses anymore. I got glasses around the age of 8, and contacts around the age of 11 because I was that super cool kid who was lucky enough to get braces at the same time…. I will give you a moment to imagine how popular/cool I wasn’t…

Anyway, I have worked a couple of parties for clients lately and planned the food for my own party, but sadly I was neglecting the blog.  Tsk Tsk… I know! But today is a new day, and I can see clearly the road ahead! I have an exciting salsa project in the pipeline and a few other cool developments, so over all The Gourmet Cocina is cooking! (pun definitely intended… still imagining how cool I am not?)

Today’s recipe is part of a two part series.  I will post the pork tenderloin that we served with this pasta tomorrow.  The pasta is definitely a stand alone, and really yummy and healthy!

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What you need:

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 2-3 cups orzo pasta
  • 1 cup sherry wine vinegar
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 cups of spinach
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (a high quality one)
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot of salted water cook your orzo according to the packaging instructions.  Mine said for 10-12min.

Meanwhile, using about a tablespoon of olive oil, sauté your onion in a good, heat conducting pan on medium-low heat until translucent, about 8 minutes.

Add in your garlic and cook for about a minute until fragrant.

Pour in the sherry wine vinegar and reduce by half.

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Once your pasta is done and your vinegar has reduced, drain your pasta and mix together the reduction and the pasta in a large bowl.

Add in your fresh spinach, and the heat of the pasta and sauce will cause it to wilt slightly.

Add in the balance of the olive oil, the fresh lemon juice, and sea salt and pepper to taste.

This dish is so fresh and delicious, and would be a great accompaniment to a lot of different things.  Feel free to add parmesan or pecorino or even goats cheese if you want, but I kept this dairy free.

 

 

 

 

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Kale/Apple/Beet Salad

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I hope everyone had a fabulous Valentine’s Day yesterday! Whether you were your own Valentine or you spent the evening with a significant other, friends, or a pet, I hope you had a delicious dinner and felt some love! Many of you probably had chocolate, or other decadent treats for the occasion, and might be needing a little detox after the wine and champagne.

As I mentioned I cooked last night and kept it pretty simple.  We had a fabulous dinner out on Monday and James bought me flowers then, but last night I made him a perfectly cooked steak with some mashed potatoes and a salad. Steak is one of his favorite things to eat, so on more special occasions I splurge on meat from our butcher because it really is delicious!

We don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so we passed on dessert, but I know Valentine’s Day is basically the chocolate-iest day of the year! Most people will want to avoid sugar, cheese, and other unhealthy things after last night, so I have made this delicious salad as a yummy detox meal. It is so delicious, and you get a little natural sweetness from the apple and beet without any guilt!

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What you need:

  • 1 bunch of lacinato kale
  • 1 green apple
  • 1 red beet
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Chop up your kale thinly, and put in a large salad bowl.

Cut your apple and beet into matchsticks and put on top of your kale.

Mix together your dressing ingredients and dress your salad.

Season the salad with salt and pepper and dig in!

If you don’t love kale, try mixing the kale with some romaine so you still get the health benefits of kale, but not a full kale salad.

This salad is an awesome base for grilled chicken or quinoa if you want to turn it into a heartier meal. James would definitely need both of those to call this a meal!

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Winter Salad with Farro and Acorn Squash

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One of the only redeeming qualities of winter is some of the yummy veggies you get in season.  Acorn Squash is so delicious, but it isn’t really available all year round. Butternut squash gets all the use in the winter as it seems to be a favorite for many people, but I think acorn squash is a little over looked.

It is a little more of a mild flavor than butternut squash, and a bit less sweet.  I like butternut squash, but my complaint about it is the sweetness. I have an amazing butternut squash risotto recipe that I will share with you before winter is over, but for now, with New Years resolutions in mind, I have instead made an acorn squash salad.

They say in winter to not eat too much cold food as it can upset your digestion, but getting a good balance is still ok. Plus as I have mentioned, I have a very tall, hungry husband, so I added warm farro to this salad and we ate the squash fresh out of the oven.

dsc_0487-copyWhat you need:

  • 1 bunch of lacinato kale
  • 1 romaine heart
  • cherry tomatoes (cause I love tomatoes)
  • 1 green apple
  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1/4 cup fresh parmesan cheese
  • caesar dressing
  • 1 tsp of fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cooked farro (optional)

Pre-Heat your oven to 375F.

Cut your acorn squash in half and dig out the seeds in the middle. Drizzle the cut side with olive oil and salt and pepper.

Roast your acorn squash in a 375F oven, cut side facing up for 30-45min until soft.

While this roasts, make your caesar dressing and chop up all of your lettuce.

Julienne the apple into thin matchstick sized pieces, and slice your tomatoes in half.

If you are including farro, cook this to the packages instructions.  You only need about 1/2 cup of dried farro for this whole salad to have a little extra heartiness to it.

Toss together your veggies and dressing and lemon juice and season your salad.

Once the squash is done, slice it into 1/2 inch thick pieces and enjoy.  The skin should come right off, but it makes for a more clean presentation to leave it on when plating it.

Feel free to add chicken to this or a salmon filet if you don’t want a meatless option, but for a nice meatless Monday option, why not!

 

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Steak Chalupas

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Happy Friday Y’all! So ready for the weekend and all the festivities involved.  This week and next week (which is a half week for us), are proving to be super busy, so with our festive Friday dinner, tequila cocktails are definitely in order!

We love Mexican food, and more often than not, if we eat it, I make something at home.  Its not easy to find good Mexican food in Connecticut!  I have met a lot of different people from all over latin america here, but surprisingly not many fellow Mexican Americans. There are lots of people here from Europe, Honduras, Guatemala, Columbia, and other places though making it a unique cultural melting pot.

Chalupas are basically giant nachos.  They can be a little messy to eat, but when all of your ingredients are fresh, they are so tasty! We had these for dinner recently and James really enjoyed himself. They are such a great thing to make for groups also as everyone can get involved making their own and adding the toppings they like.

What you need:

Beef Marinade:

  • Juice from 2 limes
  • 1/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 3lbs of skirt steak or sirloin

Chalupas:

  • 6-8 Chalupa Tostadas
  • 2 cups Refried Beans homemade or store-bought
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce
  • 1-2 tomatoes
  • 1-2 jalapeños
  • 3-4 lime wedges to serve

Pre-Heat your oven to 350F.

Mix together your marinade and place beef and mix in a zip lock bag or shallow dish and cover.  Marinate your beef for at least an hour, or overnight if possible.

Once your beef has marinated, cook on grill or grill pan over medium heat until cooked.  My beef was really thick so this took at least 15min for medium rare, but if you have thinner skirt steak, it will cook faster.

Remove cooked beef from the grill and let rest for 2omin.  Slice up the beef in bite sized chunks to assemble your chalupas.

Spread beans over the tostada, and layer on beef and cheese.

Place in the oven for about 10min to heat the beans through and melt the cheese.

Remove from the oven and serve with chopped up lettuce, tomato, jalapeño, and lime wedges.

This is fun to do as a family and let everyone build their own chalupas.

Enjoy with a beer or tequila cocktail and get your weekend kicked off on the right foot!

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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!

 

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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.

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Chicken Lettuce Wraps

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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!

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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.

Enjoy!

 

 

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Corn Avocado Salad

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Corn avocado salad is the perfect compliment to so many different dishes.  It goes really well with fish tacos, grilled shrimp, and as a topper for a Mexican rice bowl.  James can eat this salad by the bowl full, and luckily it is pretty good for you!

This week we made brown rice bowls with grilled shrimp, but this salad is the real show stopper. We eat it on its own a lot, so I thought it would be more fun to feature it alone. Sadly avocados are getting out of season, but we can get them green and let them ripen at home. This requires way more organization to make it happen, but I love avocados, so its worth it!

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What you need:

  • 2 cans of corn, drained and rinsed
  • 2 avocados
  • 2 limes
  • 2 jalapeños (or less if you don’t like spicy)
  • 1-2 cups of cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, add your corn, cherry tomatoes, and squeeze over the lime juice from both limes.

Halve your avocados and cube them.

Finely chop your jalapeños.

Add the avocado and jalapeño into the town with the corn and add the garlic powder and season with salt and pepper.

Drizzle over the olive oil and give the salad a good toss.

If you really love cilantro or red onion, you can add these in, but the flavor of this salad alone is really nice and balanced so I have left these out.

Enjoy over brown rice and top with grilled shrimp, or with fish tacos, or grilled chicken! It’s really tasty!