So I apologize that this post is not really recipe related, but I figure maybe someone out there would be interested in what life is like as a matched fourth year medical student. In case you don’t get this from the post, in the words of Barney Stinson it’s legen… wait for it…… dary. It’s a pretty great feeling to have so much freedom after 3.75 years of being a slave to the books. Lately, I’ve seen a few second year med students post about doing UWorld questions while preparing for Step 1 (the most stressful test I’ve ever taken in my life), and I just want to tell them… It gets better, so much better! So let this post be a testament to that!
While John was finishing up classes, I had the pleasure of going to a med school friend’s bachelorette in Vegas. While I previously have claimed that “Vegas isn’t really my scene”, this trip proved me wrong.
When I got back, it was a few days of real life, before I made a trip to Columbus to see one of my best friends. It just so happened she had the weekend off, AND there was an elaborate birthday extravaganza planned on the Santa Maria. I’ll have to say, everyone really took the pirate theme to heart, and it made for a really fun party.
Then I sort of last minute booked my trip to San Francisco to see my roomies from college. The picture below is in Dolores park, with 4 girls who all met through PWild, a 2 week wilderness backpacking adventure before college started. My love affair with California is still going strong.
We packed a lot into a few days thanks to our amazing tour guide, who also happens to be finishing up business school. We started the weekend with dinner and drinks in Oakland, and I’m still dreaming about the garden gimlet with crushed cucumber and hand muddled mojitos of that night. Then we hit up Muir woods, hiked to Stinson beach, and finished the day off in Dolores Park. Emily and I used the time change to our full advantage and were waking up around 6 – which gave me the chance to join all the other runners down at the embarcadero. And we even made a trip up to Napa and Sonoma. So much diversity in such a small area. So at least for now, I’ve still got my sights set on California!
When I got back, it was a day full of packing, and the big move to Cleveland! We stored all our stuff in a pod, and about 20 hours before we left for Italy, I realized that I had stored my Passport away in that pod full of tightly packed stuff. By some miracle, the pod was moved to a reachable location, and we were able to sneak onto the property, unpack the pod, and recover the passport. I kept saying, “I can’t believe I did that!” but really, I totally can. Sorry John, take the good with the bad I guess :-).
And then John and I left together for our 2 weeks in Italy! We had a really hard time deciding where we wanted to go as a graduation trip, but ultimately we thought Italy offered the most of the things we were interested in – good food, gorgeous views, pretty hikes, and good wine :-).
We started the trip in Tuscany, and stayed in an old 8th century village that was converted to a hotel.
We visited several small towns, and some bigger ones like Siena. It was kind of crazy to think about the fact that Tuscany is like Italy’s version of farmlands. Wine and olives instead of corn and soybeans. I think I could deal with that :-). My absolutely favorite part of this trip was the cooking class we took from 2 Italian sisters, who hosted us in their home. We heard about them through Backroads , and you can find them at Tutti a Tavola. This is their personal patio, and yes that is a field of olive trees right on their land. We even bought a liter of olive oil, pressed on their property, to bring home.
It was just really neat to be in an actual Tuscan home, cooking actual tuscan food. We had a wonderful 5 course dinner, and had so much fun preparing it together. We started with grissini (crunchy italian breadsticks), covered with thin pancetta and then rolled in a mix of brown sugar and crushed red pepper.
Then we roasted tomatoes filled with breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic and of course olive oil. These eventually got mixed with pasta, but they would be fabulous on their own as well.
And of course John helped with the Tiramisu.
We met 2 girls from San Francisco a couple from denver, and another couple from Australia. It was such a fun and interesting evening. We headed over to Pienza the next day, and enjoyed this view from our window.
Literally everywhere you look in Tuscany is right off a post card. This was from the hillside town of Montepulciano.
After a few more days of wine tastings, and visiting beautiful countryside towns, we headed down to the coast. I seriously don’t know how John drove on all the crazy roads with crazy Italian drivers, but he never once complained and even seemed to enjoy it. I wouldn’t have lasted 2 minutes.
When we left the states, my mom cried. When we got back, she told us it wasn’t because she was sad to see us go, but because she was so worried about John driving along the Amalfi coast. It is pretty harrowing, thank goodness he likes to drive stick shift, because I can’t imagine driving there with an automatic. We checked out Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi, Ravello and a few smaller towns, but Positano was by far my favorite.
And by night…
I think my second favorite part of the trip was a hike we did called “Footpath of the Gods” or Sentiero degli dei. It was about a 6 mile hike from Bomerano, into Positano. It started off a little rough because we somehow missed the initial sign starting the trail, and ended up walking about 4 miles before finally getting back to the starting point. Once we actually got on the trail it was an easy, well marked hike, with beautiful views.
We also took a one day trip to Pompei and Mount Vesuvius, which truthfully I didn’t know anything about, and so wasn’t really expecting much. It ended up being awesome! Pompeii is the largest archeological site IN THE WORLD. It is an entire town from the six or seventh century BC that became preserved under ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. John is standing in front of what used to be a “fast food joint” in the town. Literally, they made food, and people would take it to go! They also had “plumbing systems” (in BC times people!), and shops, amazingly elaborate houses, and of course the standard gymnasiums, bath houses, amphitheater, that I always associate with Roman times.
I didn’t want to bore you with too many details, but I didn’t even begin to cover everything we did! If you have any questions about planning a similar trip, be sure to let me know! Overall, it was a really nice getaway for just the two of us before I start residency. It was filled with a lot (probably too much) pasta, wine and gelato, but we both enjoyed every second :-).
You know the saying, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person?” Well in the past month, I have found that this saying is pretty much spot on. Somehow when I was working 10-12 hour days, studying for shelf exams, running, being a wife, and taking care of a puppy, I had time to post all these new things I made. Then second semester fourth year happened, and for the first time since I can remember, I have a lot of free time, yet I have posted almost nothing on this blog! It’s really true, when you are busy, you just get more done! That being said, it’s not like I haven’t been in the kitchen. I have been trying out lots of fun recipes – everything from making my own greek yogurt, tiramisu cupcakes, shrimp enchiladas and the very delicious but dangerous blackberry pie bars- I just didn’t get any pictures! So finally, here’s a new recipe just in time for the summer-like weather.
I loved this dinner because it’s healthy enough that you feel good about eating it, but the avocado cream sauce gives it just a touch of sass that still makes you feel like your cheating. And if you really feel like being rebellious, I think it would go great with these cookies.
Black Bean Patties with Corn Relish and Avocado Cream Sauce
- Makes about 18 patties
For the patties:
- 2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed, divided in half
- 2 roasted red bell peppers*, divided in half
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 chipotle chile in adobo, minced
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 2/3 cup cornmeal or panko (plus more, as needed)
- Salt and pepper
- Canola or vegetable oil
For the corn relish:
- 2 tsp. canola oil
- 2 cups corn kernels
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
- 1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 tbsp. minced fresh cilantro
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the avocado cream sauce:
- 1 avocado, pitted and coarsely chopped
- ½ cup greek yogurt or light sour cream
- Juice of 1 lime
- Salt and pepper, to taste
*To Roast the Red Peppers: Preheat oven to 475°. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil Coat the outside of each pepper with olive oil. Cook the peppers for about 20 minutes, turning occasionally, until the skin is lightly browned. Remove from oven and pull aluminum foil around the peppers. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes, then peel of skin and remove seeds. Can be done several days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
1. To make the bean patties, place half of the beans in the bowl of a food processor with 1 coarsely chopped bell pepper, the eggs, oregano, cumin, and chipotle. Process until smooth. Finely chop the remaining bell pepper. In a large bowl, lightly mash the remaining beans. Stir in the bell pepper, onion, and smooth bean mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper
2. Stir in the cornmeal or panko, a bit at time, mixing lightly just until the mixture firms up. (Pick up a bit and see if it can be easily molded into a ball. If it is too sticky, add a little more. I ended up needing at least 1 cup). Chill the mixture for 30 minutes.
3. While the bean mixture is chilling, make the corn relish. Heat the canola oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the corn to the pan and sauté briefly until lightly browned, 2-3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and jalapeño and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Stir in the tomato, lime juice, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. To make the avocado cream sauce, combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Process until completely smooth.
5. Form the bean mixture into patties approximately 3½ inches in diameter. Heat about 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the patties in batches, cooking until lightly browned and firm, about 3-4 minutes per side. Serve the patties warm topped with the corn relish and drizzled with the avocado cream sauce.
Source: Annie’s Eats
It is not very often that I like to make something twice, and it is also rare that I like to eat leftovers… so the fact that I made this twice in one week, AND had the leftovers for lunch, should tell you that this meal was a total winner. The first time I made it, I wasn’t expecting much. I mostly just made it to add some variety to our menu, as I have a hard time incorporating lean beef. Then I made it and completely fell in love. For non-marinated flank steak, it was incredibly tender and orange flavor really shines through. Plus, any meal that satisfies my sweet tooth with something nutritious and delicious, is an obvious A+ (Think Blueberry Salmon, Mango Salmon, and Strawberry Pizza). I think this will be a regular in our rotation, because it really does make great lunches the rest of the week.
This meal is ready from start to finish in less then 30 minutes, but some of the steps are more time consuming then the others. For example, the zesting the orange and grating the ginger. To save time even more time you could easily buy the ginger in a squeeze bottle in the refrigerator section, or make the sauce ahead of time. Be sure to start the rice early so it’s ready when the meat is done!
Quick and Easy Chinese Orange Beef
2-3 teaspoons grated orange zest (I just zest 1 whole orange)
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons Asian chili sauce
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons cornstarch
vegetable oil for pan
1-1/2 pounds flank steak (to clarify: that’s one steak, that weighs about 1.5 pounds)
3-4 green onions, sliced
hot white or brown rice for serving
Trim fat from flank steak, then slice as thin as possible across the grain. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Whisk orange zest and orange juice, brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, chili sauce, ginger, and cornstarch together in a bowl.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Drizzle pan with oil and tilt to coat. Add half of beef, breaking up any clumps and let cook without stirring for one minute. Stir beef and continue to cook until browned, about 2 minutes; transfer to a bowl and cover. Repeat with remaining beef and transfer to bowl.
Whisk sauce to recombine, add to now-empty skillet, and cook over medium heat until thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Return cooked beef, with any accumulated juices, to skillet and toss to combine. Serve over rice and garnish with green onions.
Source: Our Best Bites
The end of last week marked the end of my 14th week of AHECs (also known as rural health rotations). We are required to do 8 weeks in a rural health setting as part of our medical school curriculum, but I have had such good experiences in these small towns that I chose to do another 6! This last one was definitely no exception. I got to work one-on-one with probably the second nicest radiologist I’ve ever met (father-in-law will always be first!), who taught me something new everyday, and really helped me to feel prepared for residency by letting me go through films on my own when we had free time. The staff was all so welcoming and made me feel like part of the team, and the patients are just so sweet and so in need of good healthcare in these rural areas.
I had seen this recipe for cinnamon scones almost a year ago and hunted down some cinnamon chips shortly after; but then never actually made these. Then randomly, I saw 2 of my favorite bloggers post scone recipes within days of each other, and I took it as a sign. Scones were clearly the answer of what to bring for my last day of my last rural health rotation! I ended up going with the original recipe I found, because I already had a lot of the ingredients on hand, and I liked that I didn’t have to buy a lot of heavy whipping cream or buttermilk. You can certainly use the method I used in the lemon blueberry scones, and freeze these unbaked, and then bake from a frozen state whenever a morning treat is calling. I am confident they would turn out wonderfully, as cold butter is one of the key ingredients to good scones. I’m certainly glad I had some wonderful staff members to share these with because free time + baked goods is not a good combination around here :-).
Cinnamon Chip Scones
- Makes 16-24 scones
- 3 cups All-purpose Flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 5 teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 2 sticks (1 Cup) Unsalted Butter
- 3/4 cups Heavy Cream
- 1 whole Egg
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 cup Cinnamon Chips
- 1/2 cup Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 1-1/2 teaspoon Heavy Cream
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (Unless you chose to freeze and bake later*)
2) In a large bowl, mix together flour, granulated and brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and baking powder. Cut butter into pieces, then cut into dry ingredients with a pastry cutter or 2 knifes until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cinnamon chips.
3) Mix together cream, egg, and vanilla extract. Pour into flour/butter mixture, stirring gently with a fork to combine.
4) Turn onto work surface (mixture will be very crumbly and falling apart.) Divide the dough into 2-3 equal portions. Gently press together the sides as you roll the top of each. Form either into either 2 large circles (to make 16 scones) or 3 medium circles (to make 24 smaller scones).
5) Mix together topping ingredients, stirring with a fork. Sprinkle over the top of the dough, lightly pressing.
6) Cut each circle into 8 wedges. Transfer to a cookie sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely. Serve with coffee.
*If freezing, flash freeze for 20 minutes, then wrap individually and store in freezer. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375º and bake for 25-30 minutes or until just beginning to brown.
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
I know this is another non-traditional post, but what can I say, my life has been a little non-traditional lately! Since our schedules have been laid back, with no major exams looming over our heads, John and I made a goal to see all of the Oscar nominees for best picture before the big event. (We love movies, and $5 movie night on Tuesdays is hard to pass up!) We got to 89% of our goal – seeing all but Amour before the awards began. Amour was a hard movie to track down, especially in a small place like Toledo, OH. I was kind of bummed about not batting a thousand; but after seeing how depressing it looked, I’m kind of glad that’s the one we missed. To honor our movie loving nature, and to have some extra fun on a Sunday night, we decided to have an Oscar’s Party – which I’m hoping is something we can make an annual event! I had a ton of fun planning the food, decorations, and watching the winners announced with my own ballot made it quite a nail biting experience! I would like to take credit for the decorations, but truthfully, when my mom heard about the party she sent me home with a box of ideas, and then a few days later I got a “red carpet” in the mail ;-).
My personal favorite was this centerpiece that included miniature movie posters for all 9 of the best picture nominees. I simply went onto ABC’s website and printed the pictures of each nominee on photo paper, as well as the Oscars logo.
Then of course there was the star of the show – The Oscars themselves. John can take complete credit for turning these mermaids from the dollar store into masterpieces. I’m quite sure you could buy some imitation Academy awards, but this was much more fun, and I’m sure less expensive. These also served as first, second and third place prizes for the winners. The mermaids were $1 each, and then we also bought some mini frisbees to serve as the bases. John pulled the hair off of them, tied their hands together (creepy, but necessary), and then hot glued the whole thing in place. He put 3 coats of a Rust-Oleum Metallic Brass Spray paint over the whole thing. In retrospect, you could see the glue much more than anticipated, but they still looked really awesome, and a lot funnier then store bought awards.
It’s amazing what a can of spray paint can do!
Then there was the red carpet, which was actually made of 3 red bath mats (found at Marc’s), taped together with some duct tape. We made sure to wash these before placing them on top of our carpet, since cheap bright red towels can bleed. Next time I really want to take pictures of people coming in on the carpet, but there is just so much going on at the start of a party.
I wanted to keep the menu classy (this is a red carpet affair after all), but also reasonable in price and manual labor. Appetizers for a big group can be very time intensive, so I tried to limit the number of things that had to be individually assembled. If you have questions about any specifics, feel free to ask.
- Tortellini with a creamy lemon and roasted garlic dipping sauce
- Crostini with goat cheese and roasted red peppers
- Spinach and artichoke dip with pumpernickel and crostini
- Mini phyllo cups filled with seafood salad
- Bacon wrapped pineapple and water chestnuts
- Assorted Cheeses
- Salami with crudites
- Cookies and Cream Cupcakes
A few of the appetizers sitting out, and some serious ballot decisions in the background :-).
With last minute prep, welcoming people, and trying to have fun, I didn’t get to take any close up pictures of the appetizers in order to post recipes. I figured I’d just post about the party in general, because it would gives me something to improve upon for next time, and it’s a good way to remember where to start. Since I made the cupcakes especially for a friend’s birthday, I do have some pictures of those, which I will be posting, along with the recipe about shortly! Stay Tuned!
I know, it’s been a while since my last post….but I’m hoping these pictures will make up for it! Between traveling to 10 different cities for interviews and taking a family trip to Tanzania and Zanzibar, it has been a very busy last 2 months- but I have enjoyed (almost) every minute of it :-)!
We all happened to have several weeks off at Christmas, and since the holidays can be kind of a hard time, it seemed like the perfect time to take a big family trip together. Africa was somewhere we all happened to agree on- and I’ll have to say it was the coolest place I’d ever been. Big shout out to my mom who treated us all to the trip of a lifetime… She is probably one of the most adventurous 60 year olds I know.
One of my favorite pictures: Zebra, Rhino, Buffalo, Elephant and Flamingos in the background in Ngorongoro crater.
We saw lions mating….
A mamma monkey holding her baby tight.
Water buffalo, and heards and heards of wildebeast and zebras during their great migration.
In addition to the thousands of animals we saw, we also got the opportunity to go into the towns and meet some of the locals. This is a Masai boy, who is sent away from the rest of the tribe for several months after being circumcised at the age of 15.
We were able to travel the coast in California for a few days, and it’s safe to say I’m in love. I’m not really a big city girl, but you can’t really argue with 75 degree sunny days in the middle of January.
And then my favorite part, we headed to Santa Barbara. Probably my new favorite place in the United States. I’d been there once before when we convinced our parents we needed to look at California colleges :-), but this time I was really able to take it all in.
Had some wonderful meals, and some pinkberry ice cream, and of course watched the sunset.
It was kind of hard to come back to the snow at DTW, but here’s to hoping Santa Barbara is hiring some docs in 5-6 years :-)! I’m living the good life of a fourth year from here on out, so I’ll be back with some great recipes soon! If you have any questions about going on a safari, feel free to contact me!