Feliz Cinco De Mayo

dsc_0465-copy

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.

DSC_0578 copy

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!

dsc_0464-copy

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!

dsc_0343-copy

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.

dsc_0176

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

DSC_0664 copy

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!

DSC_0660 copy

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.

DSC_0661 copy

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!

Spring Green Beans Almandine

DSC_0636

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!

DSC_0631

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!

Citrus Spring Salad with Grilled Scallops

DSC_0599 copy

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.

DSC_0597

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!

Very Berry Cobbler

DSC_0630 copy

As I mentioned yesterday, we had such a fun backyard bbq with friends on Sunday.  Spring has seemingly finally arrived, and berry season is in full effect. Right now you can get the most delicious strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries, which are perfect for eating and cooking with!

This coming weekend we are heading to Texas for Easter, so our bbq last weekend, was our pre-Easter “framily” barbecue. For those of you that follow me on instagram or Facebook, I posted a photo a couple weeks back of little individual berry cobblers that I made for a client dinner party.  All 10 guests raved about how delicious it was, so I thought I would share the recipe with you all.

What is so great about this, is that the filling is just fruit.  No added sugar at all, and as they cook, they bubble up and create their own syrup. The topping is really simple as well, and uses all natural animal fats (butter), and only some brown sugar. This is a pretty healthy dessert, and one you can feel good about feeding your family.

DSC_0619 copy

What you need:

 

  • 3 cups assorted berries
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (I only had half white bread flour and it was still delicious)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

 

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a 9”x 6” rectangular or 8” round baking dish.

If using strawberries, quarter them so all fruit pieces are mostly uniform in size.

Place the berries in the prepared pan. Drizzle with the lemon juice.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, and vanilla until well-blended. Mix in the dry ingredients until mixture resembles crumbs. Drop the dough evenly on top of berries.

DSC_0622 copy

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and fruit is bubbly.

If your dish is really full, make sure to put a sheet pan underneath it, as often the fruit bubbles up over the side.

Serve it straight from the oven with a little vanilla ice cream.  Who doesn’t love a little cobbler a la mode?

 

Sunday Barbecue

DSC_0628 copy

Sundays are always a bittersweet day. Especially when you get gorgeous Spring days like we did yesterday.  Sundays always mean the weekend is almost over, but sometimes, a Sunday afternoon can feel like it goes on forever. We had our first true day of Spring yesterday, almost 70F outside, crystal clear skies, and our first bbq of the season!

Sundays are a day for family, and since right now our little family is just James and I and Kuda girl, we like to spend Sunday afternoons with our extended “family” – our friends. I am always a social person, but when the weather is nice, I love having people over for bbq and good times. Yesterday, we invited a few of our favorite people in CT and had a great classic backyard barbecue!

I made barbecue ribs, chicken, and sausage, charro beans, a salad, and some grilled peppers. It was so filling, but with two light veggie side options, we didn’t need to feel too guilty.  I also made a really yummy berry cobbler for dessert with vanilla ice cream, but I will share that recipe with you tomorrow. For now, I am just going to share with you my special rib recipe! Don’t forget I am a native Texan, so this is a big deal!!!

DSC_0623 copy

What you need:

  • Two racks of baby back ribs
  • 1 full flavor beer
  • 1/3 cup bbq dry rub (I used Salt Lick, but a homemade recipe is below)
  • 1/3 cup of good bbq sauce

Heat your oven to 200F.

Rub your dry rub all over the ribs and let sit for a few minutes.

Pour beer into the dish holding the ribs and cover with foil.

Cook ribs in the low heat oven for 2 1/2 hours.

Remove ribs from the oven and brush with your bbq sauce.

Finish on a medium high grill for about 4 min per side.  You should get a good char on the outside, and your ribs will fall off of the bone!

DSC_0626 copy

Serve with some extra barbecue sauce on the side, and make sure you get your hands good and dirty!

I used the same rub and bbq sauce on the chicken thighs as well, and just used a simple kielbasa sausage grilled for a little more variety.

Home Made Dry Rub:

  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tbsp granulated onion
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp black pepper

Mix it all together and rub all over any meat you want to bbq!

Asian Style Beef Short Ribs

DSC_0596 copy

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

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

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

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

What you need:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serve with veggies or rice or quinoa and enjoy!

 

 

 

Fig and Prosciutto Flatbread

DSC_0594 copy.jpg

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

DSC_0590 copy

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!

DSC_0581 copy

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!

 

Pork Tenderloin

DSC_0572 copy

As I mentioned in yesterday’s Orzo Pasta post, we enjoyed that dish with a really nice roasted pork tenderloin.  We got all of these ingredients at Mike’s Organic Delivery, so everything is super fresh, organic, and humanely sourced. I love when we can support local businesses, especially those whose goals line up so closely with ours.

Anyway, things have been really getting busy over here, and slowly but surely, Spring is trying to creep in. Back home in Texas it is already in the mid to upper 80s, so as you might imagine, I am very ready for warmer weather. Right now the cooler temperatures are making me crave carbs and other filling things. Salads are just so unsatisfying this time of year and I could eat one almost every day in the summer!

This dish was a really nice solution to a warm carby option without being too unhealthy! The fresh spinach in the pasta added some great nutrients, and the wheat orzo felt a little healthier than regular pasta.  The pork was so lean too, so over all this is a nicely balanced dish to satisfy our cold weather cravings.

DSC_0565 copy

What you need:

  • 1 medium pork tenderloin
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp honey
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

In a ziplock bag or glass baking dish, season your pork tenderloin with salt and pepper.

Add in all of the rest of the ingredients, including the oregano.

Score the pork a few times and insert the smashed garlic pieces.

DSC_0567 copy

Let marinate for 1-4 hours.

Heat your oven to 400F.

Cook pork tenderloin for 20-25min.

Let it rest for about 10min before your cut into it.

Then serve over the orzo pasta or over any other side dish you’d like.

Enjoy!