Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Blueberries and Honey

As I've mentioned before, B loves cheesecake and I used to make a bunch of varieties years ago, (Turtle Cheesecake, Coffee Mocha Cheesecake, and Individual Cheescake), but it's been a long while since I made one for him.

I've been wanting to make a goat cheese cheesecake for a while (years!) since the tangy "goatiness" would be a nice contrast with sweet honey and fresh blueberries. Plus doesn't it sound so gourmet to use a different sort of cheese?
If you're curious what makes goat cheese taste the way it does - it depends on milk freshness. Goat's milk ages much more quickly, and the longer it ages, the stronger it gets. The diet also affects the flavor of the cheese - goats, sheep, and cows graze on different plants hence their differences.
Another curious reason affecting the taste is the buck (male goat). During breeding season, as the female goats go into heat, the bucks produce pheromones so strong it increases the female's hormones which permeates the milk flavor - so it's best to keep the males and females separate. (Lively Run and culturecheesemag)

Now imagine if people were like that! 
Goat's milk is strong with a signature tang, perfect for mixing with cream cheese. B thought it was an odd combo until he tried it. You can pair these cheesecake with any fruit, but I think blueberries match it best in my opinion. Recipe adapted from Anne Burrell at Food Network

Goat Cheese Cheesecake

1 cups graham cracker crumbs
4-6 tablespoons melted butter
1/8 cup sugar

1 8 ox packages cream cheese, room temperature
6 oz (1/2 a log) goat cheese
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
4-6 Tbs honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

honey, to drizzle
fresh blueberries

Special equipment: 3 mini springform pans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (I used a toaster oven)

Stir all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Spray your mini cheesecake springform pans (optional: cut a parchment paper circle and place at the bottom to really make it easy for removal). Press the crumb mixture onto the bottom and sides.

Bake for about 5-7 min, then remove to cool

Beat the cream cheese and goat cheeses in a bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the Greek yogurt and the eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each egg is added. Beat in the sugar, honey vanilla until just combined.

Pour the filling into the prepared crusts. Put on a baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake for 30-35 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet halfway while baking. The cheesecake will be done when the edges are set (the center should still be wobbly - it will continue to cook and set afterwards). Remove the cheesecake from the oven.

Chill before serving (refrigerate overnight or freeze). Remove springform sides, drizzle with honey and top with blueberries and whipped cream. Enjoy!
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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Balsamic Strawberry Spinach Salad

If you're a long time reader of OCD, you know that B and I have been long distance for a very, very long time thanks to our medical training.

The first month was rather difficult, as not only was this our first time apart about marriage, we had schedules that prevented us from seeing each other (I didn't have a single Friday, Saturday, or Sunday off for a whole month, and B's schedule was even worse).
This month has been much freer on weekend for both of us, and it's been nice to have time together. We've been cooking a lot together for our "date nights." I've been on a salad kick after not being able to exercise the past month, and we've had a nice crop of beautiful strawberries from Costco which I had to use in a recipe. 
To celebrate our first date night this month, we made a nice roast chicken (recipe to follow!), and for the appetizer, I whipped up this super easy salad using whatever was in the fridge. I'm sure you have many of these ingredients lying around already. I recommend using a fancy oil and balsamic vinegar (ours was aged 25 years, a gift from Bryan's roommate after our wedding) to dress it up.
I brought out these Mr. and Mrs. forks that were bridal shower gifts from my siblings. If you're looking for a great wedding gift, these were from Milk and Honey, and they have a large variety of styles and texts to choose from. These fork cuties were used for our cake cutting during out wedding (as I mentioned, we are a very dessert-centric couple).

They've been packaged since the wedding, so I told Bryan let's eat with them! Appalled, he said they were "too pretty to use" and put them away, bringing out our dingy old forks instead. Now I need to find a way to display our vintage silverware if B won't use them! Recipe by me.

Balsamic Strawberry Spinach Salad

1-2 bunches fresh spinach
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
1/2 red onion sliced
balsamic vinegar, to drizzle
olive oil, to drizzles
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup roasted cashews
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Combine the spinach, strawberries, cashews, and onions in a large bowl. Drizzle olive oil into the salad to coat. Serve on plate and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Top with ground pepper, cashews, and parmesan cheese. Serve with crostini or French bread. Enjoy!

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Monday, August 8, 2016

Brazilian Lemonade

To celebrate the Rio Olympics, here is a drink called Brazilian lemonade. Interestingly, there is no lemon in this lemonade, but there's a lot of limes! 

I love the Olympics, and although I've been at the medical ICU, I've been watching it nonstop. We hooked up our TV finally! While there's certainly been a fair amount of controversy on Rio Olympics, it's nice to honor all the athletes on their big competition and have a little world unity. 
I once read an article talking about why woman in general don't follow regular sports but go crazy over the Olympics - it's because of all the personal stories, national pride, and sacrifice are really highlighted. It's been so inspiring to see these athletes dedicate their lives to being the best. Plus, you don't see gymnastics, swimming, beach volleyball, or track and field everyday (as well as the more obscure sports, like discus and synchronized swimming).
I confess to being a little obsessed, and I may or may not have watched hours of youtube videos of current and old Olympic events ... and maybe I re-watched the entire Beijing opening ceremony as well...
I first had this drink in a Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chao, and I've been hooked. The condensed milk and limes is like a refreshing key lime pie in drink form - lighter and perfect for hot summer days (or hiding indoors and watching the Summer Olympics). Adapted from Natasha's Kitchen.

1 cup cold water
1 cup ice
granulated sugar, to taste
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 lime zest
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk

Add water, ice, sugar, lime juice and lime zest into your blender. Add 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk. Blend until smooth and frothy.  Add water, ice and lime to adjust thickness and sugar to adjust sweetness to desired level. Serve with lime slices and enjoy!
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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Caramelized Onion, Fig, and Goat Cheese Galette

I've been on a fig recipe spree since I had a ton of figs to eat up. Galettes are some of my favorite dishes to eat and the combination of a flakey crust with the sweetness and savoriness of figs, goat cheese, and caramelized onions was a combo I couldn't resist. 
The hardest part about moving to a brand new place is starting over without friends, but meeting my co-interns has been great. We had a girl's night in at my finally decorated and furnished apartment, complete with painting nails, drinking wine, and gossip to pair with this galette.

I don't let people (except B, who doesn't count anymore) see my craziness when photographing my dishes - from standing on chairs, rotating tables, changing the plates ten times, and climbing window sills to get the shot.  B just waits hungrily as he indulges his "silly wife" in her food acrobatics.
The pastry crust is totally worth it, but can be tricky to roll evenly. Because of the pastry's stubbornness, the baking ran late, so my friends had already arrived. They watched me scramble to get my photographs in amusement (and decided to be friends with me anyway, especially after the first bite of fresh fig galette). So if you need to make friends, this recipe certainly works! Adapted from Vanilla and Bean and Gourmet

Caramelized Onion, Fig, and Goat Cheese Galette

8 tbs unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3-5 Tbs milk
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp oregano

1 Tbs olive oil
1 sweet onion, sliced thinly
1/4 tsp salt
4-5 small figs, sliced into discs or quarters
6 Tbs goat cheese, room temperature
1 egg + 1 tbs water, whisked (egg wash)
fresh thyme and oregeno

Blend together flour, butter, milk, salt, and oregano in a bowl but cutting the butter with two knives (or using a pastry blender/food processor) until it resembles small crumbs coated in flour. Mash the larger butter pieces and stir with a fork so everything is evenly sized.

Squeeze a small handful; if it doesn't hold together, add a little more milk gradually until it does.  Do not overwork dough, or pastry will be tough.

Place dough on parchment paper. With heel of your hand, push in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Roll the dough together, and press into a 5-inch disk. Place dough (with parchment paper, so it doesn't stick) in a metal bowl, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at east an hour.

In a nonstick pan, drizzle olive oil and add the onions. Caramelize the onions on low for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until browned,

Preheat the oven to 400F (205C).

Remove pastry from fridge and roll your pastry on the parchment paper until thin, about 1/8 inch thick. Add milk if too dry, so it sticks together.

Spread goat cheese over the pastry, leaving 1 inch border. Place caramelized onions and figs over the goat cheese. Sprinkle oregano and thyme over the filling. Fold the edges over the filling, overlapping the pastry as needed, leaving the center open. Egg wash the tops of the pastry (for color when baking)

Bake on a parchment lined sheet pan at 400F for 30-35 minutes, or until the pastry is golden. Remove, and cut into quarters or serve whole. You can drizzle balsamic vinegar on top if desired. Enjoy!
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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Fig, Pastrami, Goat Cheese Crostini

Remember my crostini dish two years? That was when I decided to go into Internal Medicine! Now I'll share another crostini recipe as I just started inpatient wards - the heart of a medicine residency.

While the long hours can be less than fun, getting to know your patients really passes the time.
One of my patients was a famous literary critic - I actually had received his book during my AP English high school teacher as a gift a decade ago. (I omitted to him the fact that his book was so deep, it exceeded my comprehension).

Despite his very old age, his mind was quite active, and he spent his hospital days dictating his newest books. My resident said he was probably more productive than any person on the hospital floor, including the doctors.
Another memorable patient was an elderly man who transferred from the ICU to our floor. He was extremely aloof and absolutely couldn't stand the fact he had no idea what time it was because his room clock had broken. After I ordered a new clock replacement and miraculously find his phone charger (which was left behind in the ICU room), he became quite friendly and beamed whenever I walked into the room.

I held an end of life discussion with him, and on the day he transferred to hospice, I said my goodbyes to hi; he, in turn, told me to go take a day off from work (Jeez, doctor, how do you have a life?!)
Finally, as I was leaving after a lovely 14 hour day, I saw this adorable 6 year old girl proudly wearing medical gloves by the nurse's station

Little girl: I wanna be a doctor!
N: Do you like helping people?
Little girl: Yeah!
N: Do you like working really long hours?
Little girl: Yeah!
N: Do you wanna be in school forever?
Little girl: Yeah!
N: Then you're gonna be a great doctor.

And this is why I have the best job ever.

Fig, Pastrami, Goat Cheese Crostini

12 crostini slices (you can make your own, but I used ready made)
1 Tbs goat cheese each crostini
4 strips of pastrami
4 figs, sliced
balsamic vinegar, to drizzle

Spread some goat cheese on each crostini.  Cut the pastrami and roll it, pressing it onto the goat cheese. Top with your sliced figs.  Lay a fresh thyme sprig on each and serve drizzled with balsamic vinegar.
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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Pulled Chicken Tacos with Tomatillo Sauce

For my second block, I spent a few weeks rotating in the emergency room. Now I am an Internal Medicine gal, which means I like sitting and taking my time to get the patient history, delving into the nitty gritty details, and then rounding with the team to come up with an all comprehensive plan for patient care.

Well, that is the opposite of the emergency room.
The emergency room is fast paced, chaotic, and always changing. You goal is to decide 1) sick or not sick, and 2) admit or send home. The rest of the details is left to the inpatient teams or for the outpatient doctors.

It's not unlike clinic, which is fast paced and time sensitive, except that people are sicker and you have all these diagnostic tools on hand with results coming right back. Terrible abdominal pain? Abdominal ultrasound and liver function tests! Seizure with loss of consciousness and head trauma? stat CT! Worsening back pain and you've got cancer? MRI now! Fell off a horse and broke your foot? Off to surgery!
The hours in ER aren't bad except the timing can be weird. Plenty of late night shifts, overnight shifts, and early morning shifts to mess up your sleep schedule.
I had to work Fri, Sat, Sun both weekends including all night shifts on the second weekend. That second weekend, B needed to have movers pick up furniture from a Craigslist person and take it to his apartment. B is of course on call and working that weekend, so he couldn't do it ... unless I came.

So during my weekend of night shifts, instead of catching up on sleep during the day, I get the joy of taking the 2 hour train to NYC, moving all of B's furniture, taking the 2 hour train back to New Haven, and then starting my Saturday overnight ER shift at 11pm with zero sleep.

I do this for B and no one else because I love my husband (also, he dutifully assembled my Ikea furniture in my apartment, so I owed him one) :P
B is very sweet and makes dinner whenever we are together on the times he has the rare day off. He is an expert in cooking with the slow cooker (which I have yet to figure out) and made a massive amount of the pulled chicken for tacos. The rest of the entire week, I just ate his tacos - no need to cook dinner because it was set... and healthy too! Recipe by my husband, B.

Pulled Chicken Tacos with Tomatillo Sauce

Cook time: 2.5 hrs on slow cooker on Hi

4-6 chicken thighs and/or breasts (B likes one of each)
taco seasoning mix, to taste
1/2 tablespoon pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 onion, sliced
1/4 cup water
1 jalapeno 

3-5 tomatillos
1 serrano pepper
1/4 cup cilantro
1 lime
salt, to taste
1/4 water (adjust as needed)

corn tortillas
1/4 cup cilantro
1/2 onion, diced
2/3 cup tomatoes, diced
shredded cheese (optional)
lime, to squeeze and garnish

Turn the slow cooker to HI and add the chicken. Season the chicken inside the slow cooker with the taco seasoning, pepper, and garlic powder. Cut the onions into slices and add it into the slow cooker. Add the water. Do not worry about burning the chicken, As the chicken cooks it will release water and grease allowing it to cook in its juices.

Let it cook for about 2 hrs. While the chicken is cooking you can make the tomatillo sauce. Put the tomatillos and serrano peppers on tray and broil in the oven for ~10 mins. The tomatillo and peppers will shrivel and char a bit. Remove it from the oven and put them in a blender/food processor. Add water, cilantro, and lime and blend it all together. Add salt to taste and set aside to serve.

After 2-2.5 hrs check on the chicken. At this point the chicken should be falling apart or at the very least tender enough for you to pull apart with 2 forks. At this point it is safe to taste the chicken. Let it cook and absorb further in the juices. Turn off the pot when you are satisfied with the taste and texture. Be careful not to over cook the chicken.

Heat the tortillas on stovetop on medium until warm. Serve the chicken, cilantro, tomatoes, onion, and cheese over the tortilla and spoon the tomatillo sauce. Bon appetite!
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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Peach Almond Smoothie

It's summer everyone - time for a smoothie! I'm combining peaches and almonds this time -did you know they're actually related! Scientiets have even sequenced their genes!

If you recall my peach raspberry sunrise smoothie recipe last year, B described Texas summers as "the surface of the sun." The summers in New Haven are fabulous - it's much nicer than the Texas humidity. I started off residency with clinic block, so I've had time to enjoy lots of of the Connecticut sunshine.
My parents were supposed to ship all my professional clothes and stethoscope from Texas - however they "lost" one of my luggages before it ever left the house. So I started residency without a stethoscope (out of all specialities, Internal Medicine people clutches their stethoscope like a safety blanket.) I also went to orientation week in jeans and had to borrow a suit for my professional doctor photo.

That meant some serious shopping was needed - I spent the first weekend buying a ton of clothes from Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, and Black House White Market at the outdoor outlet mall. I stunned my new friends with my mad shopping purchases. Hey, it's all work related!
The second weekend, we chilled at the beach plus played attempted to play beach volleyball. I only think of beaches in California and the Gulf, forgetting that New England has beaches too. The water is way too cold right now, but hopefully I'll make it in the water next time.
Finally, I've joined our Internal Medicine softball intramural team. Never mind the fact I don't know how to play softball! I've scored a few runs and even caught a ball. (I also got whacked horribly in the shin from a pitch, but we'll pretend that didn't happen...)

So shopping, beach, and softball - plenty of summertime activities! Here's my peach smoothie (recipe by me) to celebrate as well. I love the flavor of almond milk and the crunch of almonds - it honestly tastes more like a milkshake than a smoothie. Happy Summer!

PS. My parents found my magically missing luggage (with my work clothes and stethoscope) 3 weeks later.... in the stairwell closet. Fail.

Peach Almond Smoothie

1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
3/4 cup fresh or frozen peaches, chooped
1/4 cup almonds
ice (optional)

Combine everything in a blender and blend until smooth. If you want it thicker, add more yogurt. For more of a sorbet consistency, add more ice. Enjoy!

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