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Quick and Easy Chinese Orange Beef

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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! IMG_4740

Quick and Easy Chinese Orange Beef

Serves 4-6

Ingredients
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

Instructions

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


Cinnamon Chip Scones

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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.

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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
  • Topping
  • 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).

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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 


Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

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I promised you the recipe for these cupcakes, and I didn’t want to disappoint!   I had a few ideas in mind for my friend’s birthday, which perfectly coincided with the academy awards, but I’m so glad she chose these!    I made them once before for another birthday, but for some reason decided I didn’t like the pictures I took, and so never posted the recipe.  Of course with the business of the party, I didn’t get around to taking any better pictures this time, but in retrospect the ones I took way back in June aren’t bad!  In fact, they look so delicious, they kind of make me want to make these cupcakes again!

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I really made my day when one of the guests at the party said, “Seriously…These look so good, I thought they were from Cake in a Cup! ” – which is the local cupcake place that happened to have won Cupcake Wars.   The truth is, it’s pretty easy to make these look professional, and as long as you follow the recipe, you can’t go wrong with taste.  In fact, I think these cupcakes are even better then any you could buy, because I don’t think too many places put a half an oreo on the bottom of the cupcake, and then another 20 in the batter.  Let’s just say this isn’t exactly a “light cupcake”…like seriously when you pick it up you will be like, OMG this is heavy!  But it is SO good!
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In order to get half an oreo with the frosting on the bottom of the cupcake, I ended up using a sharp knife to get the frosting all on one side.  I tried the old “twist” method, but ended up breaking (and then eating) a few too many oreos.  Overall you will need 56 oreos for these, so be sure to buy 2 packs.

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

– Makes 24 Cupcakes

  • 24 Oreo halves, with cream filling attached
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • 20 Oreo cookies, coarsely chopped (I quarter them)
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 tbsp. heavy cream
  • Oreo cookie crumbs
  • 24 Oreo cookie halves

1) Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line the wells of two cupcake pans with 24 paper liners. Place an Oreo halve in the bottom of each liner, cream side up. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir together with a fork to blend and set aside.

2) In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Blend in the egg whites one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, beat in half of the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Add the milk and beat just until combined, then mix in the remaining dry ingredients. Gently fold in the chopped Oreos with a rubber spatula until evenly incorporated, being careful not to over-mix.
3) Evenly divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners. Bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
4) To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Blend in the vanilla extract. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar until incorporated and smooth, 1-2 minutes. Add the heavy cream to the bowl and beat on medium-low speed just until incorporated, then increase the speed to medium-high and whip for 4 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
5) Frost the cooled cupcakes as desired, I used a large round tip with a pastry bag.   Sprinkle with Oreo crumbs and garnish with Oreo halves.
Source: Annie’s Eats, Adapted from Beantown Baker

And the award goes to…

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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.
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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.
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Here’s the process:
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It’s amazing what a can of spray paint can do!

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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.

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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

The cheese and dessert table.  Rope lights are a really fun and easy way to make the whole event “sparkle”.
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A few of the appetizers sitting out, and some serious ballot decisions in the background :-).
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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!
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Overall, it was quite a hollywood affair :-)!
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Traveling the World like an M4

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.
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One of my favorite pictures: Zebra, Rhino, Buffalo, Elephant and Flamingos in the background in Ngorongoro crater.

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We saw lions mating….

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And Simba!!!

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A mamma monkey holding her baby tight.

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Water buffalo, and heards and heards of wildebeast and zebras during their great migration.

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And elephants!  We took over 2000 pictures, but I thought I’d spare you all of them.  IMG_4048

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.

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And to end the trip we got to spend several days on the beaches of Zanzibar.
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Spending Christmas in a tropical climate is definitely something I could get used ot. IMG_4618

When we got back to America, John was able to come with me on a few interviews, which proved to make the interview trail a lot more fun. IMG_1414

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.

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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. IMG_4558

We hiked up to inspiration point. IMG_4561

Had some wonderful meals, and some pinkberry ice cream, and of course watched the sunset.

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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!


Three Bean and Beef Chili

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As much as I love an interesting dessert, or a buttery breakfast baked good, usually when I am scouring the internet for recipes, I am looking for dinner.  After all, it is technically possible to go a day without dessert (well not for me, but for some people); but most everyone would agree that at least one meal is a necessity.  So while classic chili might not be the most exciting thing ever posted here, I can say that this is a tried and true recipe that will keep you warm on a wintery night.  This is a real crowd pleaser, and my mom even requested that we make it as her birthday meal.  Personally, I would’ve gone with the Lobster and Corn Chowder, but I guess that’s why it’s her birthday ;-).

For the longest time I only liked turkey chili, but I’ve found that extra lean beef actually has the same amount of fat as turkey, with the added benefits of a healthy dose of iron and a lot more flavor.   Be careful though, because using anything less than 90/10 will give you that greasy chili that I personally think is gross. (I prefer my fats disguised in baked goods, not floating on top of my soup).  This chili is not particularly spicy, but can easily be toned down or up with the addition of extra jalepenos or crushed red pepper.  Similar to the Cincinnati Chili, this recipe uses bittersweet chocolate, which really adds a dimension of flavor so don’t leave it out.
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Classic Beef and Bean Chili

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 2 large onions, chopped (2 cups)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-4 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups beer (or water)
  • 1 15-oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15-oz can chili beans, in sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 ounce semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • Crushed red pepper, if desired
  • Shredded cheddar, green onions, additional jalapeños and corn chips for topping

Directions:
Brown the beef in a large Dutch oven set over medium heat. Drain off fat if necessary. Add the onions, garlic and jalapeños and continue cooking for about 5 minutes, until starting to soften. Add the chili powder and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomato sauce and beer (or water) and increase heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes.

While the beef mixture is cooking, place one can of beans in a medium bowl and mash with a fork. Stir the remaining two cans of beans, along with the mashed beans, into the chili and return to a simmer. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in salt, cilantro and chocolate. Continue stirring until the chocolate has melted. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve with desired toppings.

Adapted from Cook Like a Champion 


Baked French Toast

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After 5 straights days of early wake-ups to cold, dreary rain, sleeping in on a Saturday and enjoying breakfast sounded like a much better idea then running.   Back in Toledo, when the weather gets bad I tend to hit up the treadmill at our apartment complex, but on my last away rotation,  it just seemed like a waste to brace the weather to drive to the gym, just so I can run in place.  I’ve actually been pleasantly surprised that my runs in the cold rain have been pretty enjoyable, it’s just much harder to take that first step out the door on a Saturday morning.  In fact, I’ve now made it my goal to run outside all winter this year.     So in comes this amazing french toast, that can be made the night before and ready within 30 minutes of waking up on a sleepy Saturday.

This is really the perfect meal for company because to make a double batch would be no extra trouble.  It certainly beats sitting over the stove and flipping pancake after pancake while the finished ones sit in the oven getting soggy.  Besides, I have always preferred French toast to pancakes, which likely stems from my childhood (okay..and high school..and college) obsession with all things French.  This dish is really wonderful enough to eat on its own, with out added syrup or butter, which is something I would rarely say about pancakes.  We served it with some turkey sausage, and it made for such a cozy warm Saturday morning.  And thanks to some help from lululemon (my unfortunate new obsession), I still had a good run in the rain later that day.
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Baked French Toast 

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 loaf (about 1  pound) brioche or challah, sliced 1 1/2 inches thick
  • 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup milk (at least 2%)
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • sprinkling of ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • Maple syrup, confectioners’ sugar or fresh fruit for serving, optional

Directions:
Combine the butter and brown sugar in a 9×13-inch baking dish. Arrange the bread slices in the dish. (It’s fine if they overlap.) In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and ginger. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread and allow it to soak in. Top with pecans and nutmeg and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 3 and up to 12 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350º. Set the dish out while the oven is preheating. Bake until browned and set, about 35 minutes. Allow to cool slightly on a wire rack before serving.

Adapted from: Cook Like a Champion, Originally from Bon Appetit, Y’all