Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Spiked Coffee with Bailey's and Kahlua

It's New Year's Eve, and for the first time, our family isn't celebrating together - Dad had to fly off to the Philippines to visit because of a family illness. Since Dad isn't here, we aren't hosting our usual New Year's bash. This is the first time we haven't spent New Year's at a party, making the whole scenario even stranger.
Regardless, we Uy kiddos and Mom are having a swell time celebrating with oodles of food, sweets, and of course, plenty of alcoholic concoctions. The four of us (plus our dog Snowball) can party it up just fine.
Mom wanted to make this coffee spiked with Bailey's and Kahlua; she needs the coffee to stay awake til midnight and the liqueur for festivity. Mom also got to try her new Christmas present, a milk frother, and I got to play with Dad's new Christmas present - a really awesome Nikon flash from the kids. These pictures were taken with all the lights off at night time- isn't that incredible?!  I might have to *borrow* dad's gift, since fighting the sunlight is my constant nemesis in food photography.

As a lazy homebody right now, I feel perfectly content (and blessed) to spend a quiet New Year's at home in pajamas. All you need is family, a movie, and alcohol to welcome 2015. As mom's famous tagline goes, "The celebration continues!"

Spiked Coffee with Bailey's and Kahlua

1/2 oz Bailey's Irish cream Liqueur
1/2 oz Kahlua
4 oz hot coffee
frothed milk or whipped cream (storebought or homemade)

Froth your milk using a frother. Another option is to use a blender then carefully scoop the top foam off.

Pour Baileys and Kahlua into Irish coffee glass. Fill glass with hot coffee. Top with frothed milk or whipped cream and serve immediately.
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Friday, December 26, 2014

Cranberry Orange Trifle // Sugared Cranberries

I've been on a brief OCD break given my hectic exams, research deadlines, and holiday social calendar, but it feels good to be back in the kitchen with my camera.

This holiday was extra busy as B's family came from California to visit us in Texas so our folks could finally meet (big steps!).
Cranberry Orange Trifle Sugared Cranberries holiday dessert
Christmas dinner was particularly special; it was their first time visiting our house, so we made sure to cook (and clean) up a storm. They'd already had some good local food as they toured San Antonio, Austin, and the Hill country, but they've never been to the five star, highly acclaimed Uy kitchen (prowled by our mascot, our always hungry American Eskimo dog, Snowball).
We each had our own dish to present; dessert, of course, was my territory. I wanted to make a layered holiday trifle because not only is it elegant, it's filled with fruits, whipped cream, and custard - my kind of treat!  This recipe, adapted from Cooking Light, features tart cranberries, orange zest, and Grand Marnier liquor.

Ok, so this recipe isn't really that "light".... but it's the holidays and they're on vacation, so Dr. Dad and I don't feel too guilty making their glucose and lipids skyrocket.
I was going for a big presentation in our holiday crystal trifle bowl, but dad accidentally dropped a pot on it while washing, and it shattered to pieces - such perfect timing, alas! So I had to make do with these shooters, which turned out pretty well in a pinch. I topped each glass with sugared cranberries and a rosemary sprig for some festive holiday decoration.
Success in the Uy kitchen means everyone having indigestion post meal. Everyone ate into a coma - mission accomplished.
Cranberry Orange Trifle

3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup Grand Marnier liquor
1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries

1/2 cup sugar
5 tablespoons cornstarch
2 1/2 cups milk (2%)
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 loaf pound cake, sliced (storebought or homemade)
whipped cream
sugared cranberries and rosemary, to garnish (recipe below)

To prepare cranberries, stir 3/4 cup sugar, orange juice, and Grand Marnier in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, about 3 min. Add cranberries to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer until cranberries pop. Spoon mixture into a bowl; cover and chill (may add cornstarch to thicken if needed)

To prepare pastry cream, combine 1/2 cup sugar and cornstarch in a medium, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Gradually stir in milk; bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Gradually add half of hot milk mixture to eggs, stirring constantly with a whisk (so the eggs don't curdle). Return milk-egg mixture to pan; cook over medium heat until thick, stirring constantly. Add vanilla and remove from heat to let cool and thicken, stirring occasionally, to a custard consistency.

To assemble, layer pound cake slices with cranberry compote and whipped cream and custard. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with sugared cranberries and rosemary for garnish. Cover and chill at least 4 hours before serving.

Sugared Cranberries

1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
3/4 cup granulated sugar (divided into 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup water

Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Stir in cranberries for several minutes (do not let boil or they'll pop). Drain and dry cranberries in a strainer.

To make superfine sugar, pulse remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a food processor or blender; pour into a shallow dish. Roll cranberries to coat with sugar. Spread sugared cranberries in a single layer on a baking sheet; let stand at room temperature until dry.
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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Mexican Hot Chocolate

This Mexican Hot Chocolate drink was inspired by my time (and drinks) in San Antonio. Ok, so chili/cayenne and chocolate might be a little odd sounding, but try it out for a cultural flavor experiment. In Mexico, chocolate was originally prepared only as a (bitter) drink mixed with spices, wine or corn puree.
Mexican Hot Chocolate cinnamon whipped cream cocoa
I can't believe it's been a month since starting my away rotation! Away rotations are dangerous - you feel like you're in vacation and "studying" falls by the wayside because you want to hang out and explore the city.

Overall, I saw a great variety of pediatric patients both in clinic and hospital medicine, including osteogenesis imperfecta, familial adenomatous polyposis, dextrocardia (ie the heart is reversed!), congenital syphilis/HIV/hep C, Prader Willi syndrome, thyroglossal duct cysts, Femur fibula ulna complex, bizarre glycogen storage diseases, and more.

I understand the above medical jargon means nothing to the most of you, but for my fellow medical students, there's noting quite as exciting as seeing a rare "textbook" diseases in real life. Because, some diseases are so ridiculously mind-boggling, you can't help but feel it can't be real. And because nothing makes you remember femur fibula ulna complex better than watching a girl with no arms do schoolwork by typing on an ipad with her feet. Pretty awesome!

On a side note, after a of month scribbling notes and obtaining faxed records, I have come to the conclusion the I am only applying to residencies with electronic medical records. Paper charts and my horrid handwriting = not a good idea.
Mexican Hot Chocolate cinnamon whipped cream cocoa
I've forgotten how much I missed San Antonio. Here, people are insanely nice - on my last day, everyone at the hospital, from the cafeteria workers to the administration to the patients' families, were giving me hugs and wishing me good luck. 

San Antonio, ranked one of the friendliest cities, is also one of the *ahem* fattest cities. Coincidence? I think not!

Mexican Hot Chocolate

2 cups whole milk
4 oz bittersweet chocolate (or 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder) **
3 tablespoons sugar, to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus additional for garnish
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
whipped cream
cinnamon sticks (optional)

** In Mexico and in the Philippines, we use coarse chocolate disks/tablets designed for "chocolate drinks," but you can use cocoa powder or regular chocolate

Simmer the milk and sugar in a medium saucepan. Off the heat, stir in the chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon with a wooden spoon. Gradually add cayenne pepper (some people may not like the strong kick). Reheat the hot chocolate over low heat until it simmers.

Pour the hot chocolate into mugs. Stir with cinnamon sticks and top with whipped cream and cinnamon, if desired.
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Friday, December 5, 2014

Triple-Layer Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

Christmas is coming and I usually have trouble deciding what gifts to ask for. Our family doesn't like wasting brainpower pondering what gift would so and so like; we just ask directly.

Although there's lots of things I want, mom has ingrained in us that we must only buy things if we need it. Thus, my iron willpower mom's-voice-in-the-back-of-my-head stops me from buying much of anything, despite spending a lot of time looking, to my brother's annoyance.

Hans: How can you look all day without buying anything? You've just wasted 5 hours walking around!
Chef Uy: Well, it could be worse, I could be buying everything during those 5 hours, right?
Hans: It's simple. You decide what you want. You buy it. Done. Now isn't that efficient?
Banana bread Peanut Butter Frosting buttercream layer cake
I made this Triple Layer Banana Cake ages ago, but never got around to posting it. This was my first layer cake with frosting that didn't fall apart when sliced. And you can even see layers! This layer cake is very stable since the banana cake is like a poundcake and bakes flat, and the peanut butter also stabilizes buttercream  (plus, you can't ever go wrong with peanut butter flavor). I wanted to frost the whole cake, but it was a hassle, so I left it as a naked cake.
Decorating supplies have always been on my "want" list, but as I attempted decorating this cake, I decided that an icing spatula and turntable had crossed over to the "need" list. Since it's now December, I kindly informed my brother of this "need" (a direct Christmas request makes any boy very happy).

So I'm now eagerly awaiting new kitchen toys, so I can decorate cakes for real. Until Christmas Day, however, naked cakes it is. Adapted from From Taste of Home.
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1-1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium)
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk

1 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 oz package cream cheese (I used fat free)
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
3-6 Tablespoons milk

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in bananas and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition.

Pour into three greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Before frosting, chill cake completely in the refrigerator or freezer.

For frosting, in a large bowl, beat the peanut butter, butter, and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in confectioners' sugar and enough milk to achieve spreading consistency. Frost between layers and top of cake. Garnish with peanuts and chocolate sprinkles.

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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Apple, Bacon, and Brie Panini

This Apple, Bacon, and Brie Panini was supposed to be my Hello, fall! recipe, but I've been incredibly slow, so now it's more like Hello, winter!
Apple Bacon Brie Panini
So, I've been living back in my hometown doing a 1 month away rotation in pediatrics - two weeks community/outpatient and two weeks inpatient. And part of doing this away is getting to live in the hospital - there's a 3 bed, 3 bath apartment, with a living room and study room and a kitchenette for us.

Who wants to live in a hospital? A person who doesn't want to commute with 1 hour of morning traffic, that's who! I'm like a real resident (that's where the term came from, since back in the day before 80 hour workweek limits, those poor interns literally lived in the hospital because of all the work).
Apple, Bacon, Brie Panini, sandwich, lunch, bread, cheese, fruit
Another perk is having all my meals provided for. I get a daily $15 of meal credit, and I've been eating sandwiches and salads and fruit everyday for the past month. Luckily, I'm not picky and subsisting on the same foods everyday is fine by me as long as I have fruit and meat.
I made this apple bacon brie panini way back before I left for my away rotation after buying good quality bakery bread (a rustic cranberry walnut), and I miss it so much. With eating hospital cafeteria sandwich after sandwich after sandwich for a month, I'm now an expert taster. It's the bread, more than anything else that makes or breaks a sandwich. And having it toasted or panini pressed really makes the difference between an "OMG nom-nom-nom" lunch and an "eh" kind of lunch - especially when it's plain bread. Regular, plain un-toasted bread is no fun.

Since I've stolen B's foreman grill, I've found my quality of life  sandwiches have improved exponentially.

Too bad the hospital cafeteria doesn't have this kind of panini. Add some apples, bacon, and good brie to delicious fresh baked bread and I'm golden for work, any time, any day.

Apple, Bacon, and Brie Panini

2 slices bacon, cooked crisp and drained
2 slices rustic bread (I used cranberry walnut)
3 oz brie cheese, thinly sliced
½ apple, thinly sliced
1 tbsp fig or raspberry jam

Cook your bacon in an oven or stovetop until crispy. Drain oil on a paper towel, and set aside.

Layer bacon, brie, and apple slices on top of one piece of bread.  Spread the jam and place that slice, jam-side-down,  to complete your sandwich.

Place sandwich in a preheated panini press and grill for about 2 mins. If you don't have a panini, heat a pan over med heat and cook each side of the sandwich until golden brown (flipping halfway through). Remove from grill or pan and slice in half.
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Monday, November 24, 2014

Sesame Chicken Fingers with Spicy Orange Dipping Sauce

I'm on my pediatrics rotation now; these are by far the most adorable patients I've ever seen! During ER, I had an adorable boy whose comments made the 12 hour shift totally worth it. I swear he was trying to convince us medical students to go into pediatrics; he totally melted everyone's hearts.
Boy: I don't want shots, please, please, please no shots! I feel perfectly ok, in fact, I can to go home and rest and take all my medicines like Advil and Tylenol and elevate my leg while doing my homework, so I'll feel better on my own, I promise.
ER doctor: Have you ever had any surgery?
Boy: No, I haven't, oh no, am I doing to get surgery right now??!
ER doctor: No, I don't think you need any right now.
Boy: Oh, thank you so much for not giving me surgery!

He also kept calling the CT scan a "doughnut" because of its shape, which was too cute.
Anyway, I've been learning a lot about how to deal with kids (they're mysterious creatures). Before I was a sophisticated grown up starving med student /artist, I was a scrawny kid who ate only chicken nuggets and feeding time was the bane of my parent's existence. No better way to reminisce about my childhood chicken nugget eating days than with sesame chicken fingers with spicy orange dipping sauce.

This orange dipping sauce is key (and way better than ketchup!) - just make sure it's a good high quality orange marmalade. Adapted from Simply Recipes.

Sesame Chicken Fingers with Spicy Orange Dipping Sauce

1 1/4 lbs chicken tenders
1/2 cup buttermilk (substitute: 1/2 cup of milk + 1 1/2 teaspoons of vinegar or lemon juice)
1 Tbsp orange marmalade
1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup raw sesame seeds
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 cup sweet orange marmalade
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 teaspoons sriracha hot sauce
2 teaspoons seasoned rice vinegar
orange juice, to desired consistency

Mix marinade ingredients (buttermilk, marmalade, soy sauce) in a medium bowl. Add the chicken tenders to the marinade and stir to coat completely with the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

For the breading, toast panko and sesame seeds until golden brown (400F a few minutes in my toaster oven - you can find reviews of options here). Toss with olive oil and salt and pepper, so crumbs are lightly coated. Spread the breading on a shallow bowl.

Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Line a roasting with aluminum foil and place a baking rack on top.  Dredge the chicken tenders in the bread crumb mixture and place them on the prepared rack on the roasting pan (you can place directly on the pan but the bottom won't be as crispy). Bake chicken tenders at 400°F for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

While the chicken tenders are baking, stir together the orange marmalade, soy sauce, sriracha hot sauce, and seasoned rice vinegar in a bowl to make the sauce. Serve sesame chicken fingers with the spicy orange dipping sauce.
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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

I didn't even know something like spaghetti squash existed until a friend mentioned it in conversation - with a name like that, it's been on my to-do list for a whole year. How that it's fall, I bought one and then thought, "what the heck does one do with a spaghetti squash?" (also, what the heck IS a sphaghetti squash?).
Chopping any type of squash is bothersome, so follow my sophisticated technique - tap the biggest knife you have onto the flesh so it's just stuck on. Then raise it high and proud and smash it on the counter like a Whack-a-Mole. Repeat smashing until it splits in half.

Once opened, the inside looks just like a normal squash. But once baked, magic happens - the squash flesh separates into long strands just like angel hair pasta! Stab and stir and scrape vigorously with a fork til its guts are totally shredded (this is almost as fun as Whack-a-Squash).

(In case you couldn't tell, I am not a classically trained chef. I am a hungry-med-student-with-puny-arms-who-needs-to-eat-squash-now sort of chef)
I don't even know how to describe the taste other than amazing - it's buttery, earthy, sweet, and mild simultaneously. So if you like pasta but are trying to cut back, this is a great low calorie substitute filled with oodles of nutrients, including folic acid, potassium, vitamin A, and beta carotene (wiki, Squash 101).
While you can eat baked spaghetti squash alone (which I did a lot of throughout the week because I had so much), I wanted something heartier with pizazz worthy presentation for dinner, so here is this lovely lasagna (adapted with my shortcuts) from The Kitchn.

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

1 medium-sized squash
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 6 oz can tomato paste
salt and pepper, to taste
crushed red pepper, to taste
2 cups ricotta
1 cup shredded mozzarella
Basil, to garnish

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the squashes in half and scoop out the seeds (save for roasting!). Place the halves cut-side down in a roasting pan or other baking dish(optional: add an inch of water). Roast for 45 to 50 minutes until soft when poked with a fork. Remove and let cool. Use a fork to shred the inside of the squash and place in a bowl.

While the squash is roasting, heat olive oil with onions on the stovetop and cook until translucent, 5 to 8 minutes. Add garlic, ground beef, and salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste and stir until meat is fully cooked. Add both types of tomatoes and simmer the sauce until thickened, about 10-15 min.

On the roasting pan, arrange the squash shells face up like bowls. Alternate layering your ricotta, tomato sauce with beef, and cheese by spooning ingredients in the shell. Sprinkle the mozzarella over the tops of the squashes.

Bake the shells for 30-40 minutes at 400°F until the cheese is bubbly and browned (For a more golden top, broil the squashes for a few minutes). Sprinkle basil over the tops and serve immediately.
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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Autumn Arugula Salad

Not to brag, but I'm an officer of the coolest medical student organization at my medical school (or any medical school), called CHEF (Choosing Healthy, Eating Fresh- don't you love the name?). I was super active with extracurriculars in undergrad, so I was really looking for something fun to be involved with. I just about keeled over when I heard about a student group that runs a cooking elective class and does a ton a ton of volunteer work, including teaching cooking classes with patients!

So first year me applied to be an officer amongst stiff competition. During the interview, they realized that I was tad bit passionate/zealous/obsessed with food (in case you couldn't tell, I like food), so they took me on as an officer, and I've been helping it grow ever since!
Each fall, our cooking elective is for second years - once a month we all gather together at school to hear a lecture on diet, wellness, and nutrition for ourselves and our patients by professors, doctors, nutritionists, and food advocates.

Then comes the fun part - actually cooking 3-4 dishes with Bunsen burners and full sets of pots, pans, spatulas, knives, blenders, chopping boards, potato mashers, and everything you can think of (minus an oven). The classes are taught by actually trained chefs, including a fourth year medical student who in his former life went to culinary school and worked in restaurants several years prior - isn't that an awesome story!
I've been introduced to all sorts of weird cuisines - from vegan to paleo to southern style comfort home cooking. We've learned about diets from kidney/cancer/diabetic to Mediterranean/Dash/South Beach/[insert fad diet of the moment] to straight up only local/no groceries allowed/literally butchering your own chicken and hogs and growing all your food diets. We've eaten flowers, pumpkin hummus, and vegan cheese, and every kind of exotic vegetable imaginable.

As a third year now, it's been a ton of work running the elective, but I wouldn't change anything. Last week was the final class for me. Alas, I'm out of town for the last one in December, a new Iron CHEF challenge for the second years, complete with a secret ingredient and our school Deans as judges. That Iron CHEF format was one of my crazy ideas, so I'm super bummed I have to miss out.
For this past class, our chef had a last minute cancellation, so I was brainstorming which of my recipes to teach in case I had to be a substitute. I had just made this delicious Autumn Arugula Salad the weekend before, adapted from How Sweet Eats, and was going to teach this glorious fall salad as one of my recipes. It was my first time buying a real pomegranate or eating/cooking acorn squash, but had I succumbed to the fall produce sales and needed to use them up. This is a great salad to detox, if like me, you've eaten out too much recently.

In the end, we found a last minute chef (far more legitimate than I), but coincidentally she introduced a very similar fall salad in her class. I like to think great minds think alike (or I'm just pretending I have the same culinary genius as a real chef). We can all dream of being chefs, right?
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 acorn squash, thinly sliced and seeds removed
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
4 cups baby arugula
1 avocado, sliced
1 pomegranate, arils removed
salt and pepper, to taste

1/3 cup pomegranate juice
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (I used pomegranate balsamic vinegar)
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 garlic clove, freshly grated
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup olive oil

Add brown sugar and pepper on the squash slices and cook until golden and caramelized. You can use a large skillet (about 5 minutes per side) or the oven at 400 F (10-15 min until soft). Set aside and let cool. Toss pecans with pumpkin pie spice and toast in the oven until slightly golden and fragrant.

Add the arugula to a large bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add in the avocado, pomegranate arils, cucumber, pecans, and squash pieces. Cover in the pomegranate dressing.

Whisk together the pom juice, balsamic vinegar, ginger, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the olive oil while constantly whisking until the dressing comes together. Adjust spices to taste.
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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Ginger Sesame Chicken Salad

Another quick and easy dish - ginger sesame chicken salad! I'm on a salad roll lately. Probably because I did my Cardiology elective. and I feel like bad if I eat fried foods while talking to my patients about heart healthy diets. 

I did the elective because I definitely needed practice at reading EKGs and echocardiograms. And I'll always have to manage heart failure, heart attack, coronary artery disease, and hypertension no matter what because everybody has that, so I might as well learn all those heart medications sooner rather than later.
The elective was two weeks of consult, where we see inpatients with random heart conditions - atrial fibrillation, heart tumors, heart valve problems, heart blocks, heart infections. Then it was two weeks of Coronary Care Unit (CCU), where we saw patients with heart attacks and clots (these need interventional treatment done in the catheterization lab in the same unit) and heart failure patients who can't be managed on the floor. It was an exciting month with a huge variety of diseases - I got to see a couple major open heart surgeries and a guy's heart get shocked with an AED.
I really enjoyed this month, and I had a great team - especially my CCU attending. He reads every EKG, does all the hospital catheterizations, is an excellent teacher and research expert (making us read tons of research trials), and must have superpowers. Also, he's cheerful, inspiring, and has excellent bedside manners.

A great team + amazing attending = magical learning for med student. because he has so much energy
The only downside is we ROUND on patients at 5:30 am, which means we have to get there so early - I thought my 4am wake up calls were over after finishing surgery. So eat your salads, and I won't have to wake up at 4am to see you in the hospital. Isn't that a win-win situation right there? Adapted from Cooking Classy.

1/4 c soy sauce
2 Tbsp grated ginger
2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 tsps Sriracha sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped green onions

boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 lb napa cabbage, thinly sliced crosswise
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
2/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
white and black sesame seeds, toasted

In bowl, whisk together all your ingredients for the marinade. Marinate the chicken breasts with a quarter of your sauce (the rest will be the dressing) in the refrigerator at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Bake your chicken in the oven for 40 min until done (depending on thickness). You can also grill your chicken over medium heat. Cut chicken crosswise into strips about 1/4-inch thick.

In a large bowl, toss together chicken, cabbage, carrots, almonds, green onions, and cilantro with your remaining dressing to coat the salad. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with the chicken cold or warm.
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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Jollibee's Peach Mango Pie

Jollibee is the McDonalds of the Philippines. The owner started with a Magnolia Ice Cream parlor in Quezon City (where my grandparents live) and switched to hot dogs after they found a bigger market. Of course now they added their famous Chicken Joy, Sweet Filipino Spaghetti, Palabok, and Halo Halo, to their products, but most importantly, they have Peach Mango Pie.
Jollibee's Peach Mango Pie FIlipino dessert
Did I ever mention I am a pie girl? Any day, everyday, I'd choose pie over cake.
Jollibee's Peach Mango Pie Filipino dessert
And they opened up chains in my own town! I have recently discovered we have a new little Filipino hub not far from my apartment - I have several Filipino restaurants, fast food joints, and bakeries all within 15 minutes.

Jollibee was the first to open, and it made big news in the Filipino community. My uncle even drove his family 5 hours to visit Jollibee, er I mean, me!
Mangoes and peaches are two of my favorite fruits, so of course I had to learn how to make this baby. It'd be simpler to make a normal pie, but I wanted the rectangle-shaped hand pie, just like from Jollibee. I happen to be a masochist in the kitchen.

I found a new type of pie crust pastry recipe containing cream cheese, which I thought was an odd ingredient. I adapted two recipes - one from The Pie and Pastry Bible (Epicurious) and one from Allrecipes for my version.
I made a few hand pies, but it was tough since I only had a knife and my unsteady hands; it's way better to use a uniform sized cutter. Also I found the dough very soft and hard to handle. I gave up halfway and made the rest into normal mini pies.

Although this dough is a little more effort than the traditional pastry, it's really worth it because the flaky texture is amazing!

The hand pie version hold less fruit (I over ambitiously filled some, causing a few combustion casualties) but is a handy on-the-go snack. Either way, they tasted heavenly - just like Jollibee's. Mmmnnnn, those Filipinos know how to make killer pies.

Jollibee's Peach Mango Pie

1/2 cup cream cheese, cold
1/2 stick cup unsalted butter, cold
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
optional: 2 tablespoons sugar, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
optional: milk, for brushing

1 cup cubed mangoes *
1 cup cubed peaches *
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice

CREAM CHEESE PIE CRUST: Cut cream cheese and butter into pieces. Add flour and combine. Add salt, sugar, baking powder, and lemon juice. Your dough should form coarse crumbs. Wrap into a ball and cover with plastic wrap; chill for at least an hour in the refrigerator.

PEACH MANGO PIE: Preheat oven to 375F. Line tray with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl combine fruit, sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, and lemon juice. Let fruit sit over a strainer to drain excess liquid. Microwave your fruit for about 1-2 minutes and then restrain liquids again, to thicken.

To assemble, roll out your crust thinly into a sheet and cut into rectangles with a knife. Spoon fruit filling on one rectangle, then cover with another rectangle of crust to make your hand pie. Press down the edges with a fork to seal. Poke vent holes on top to let steam out. Brush top with milk if desired for golden color when baking.

Bake for 30 minutes or until crust turns golden brown.

* if making an open face normal sized pie instead of hand pies, increase the fruit to 2 cups each and you may need to extend the baking time.
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Monday, November 3, 2014

Coffee Rub Ribeye Steak

This coffee rub ribeye steak was my first recipe using a cast iron pan! A friend was moving across the nation and giving away kitchen supplies, so I pounced on this!
Coffee Rub Ribeye Steak cast iron skillet meat barbeque easy BBQ
When I first heard that I couldn't use soap after searing my big, juicy, oily, ribeye, I thought "Ewww, no way - how else can you clean this thing!" But about reading up on it further, soap is bad for the iron and the best way to clean is to run hot water and scrub using salt. Wipe it dry then "season" your cast iron pan by adding olive oil and heating it in the oven at 350 degrees for an hour - this seals oil into the pan surface, giving it natural non-stick properties (tips from the Kitchn and Real Simple)

Cast Iron TLC 101 
- Make sure your cast iron is completely dry to avoid rust
- Soap will strip away your seasoning
- Metal spatulas, steel wools, and scratchy sponges will also strip away seasoning

Cast iron pans can apparently last forever so keep it in good condition! Now I personally don't bake my pan in the oven after each use, but the rest I try follow.
This Coffee Rub Steak recipe (adapted from Kevin and Amanda) was so good I had to make it twice in two weeks - and I rarely repeat recipes. Keeping it simple with just coffee and paprika is golden - no need to complicate with too many flavors.

B is furious I got to make this recipe - we make silly little "long term" bets, and one such bet is saying I won't drink coffee during all 4 years of medical school (I'm trying to avoid caffeine, and delaying possible addiction for when I really need it - residency! B thinks I can't make it!). When we made the bet, I wrangled a loophole saying I was allowed to have coffee in "culinary endeavors" since I'm not using it to wake up.

B: You're totally cheating by rubbing coffee all over your food... and I can't do a thing about it! I can't believe I ever agreed to a "culinary endeavors" loophole against a chef!

With that bargaining skill, I should be a lawyer, Wall Street investor, or Congresswoman, hehe!
Coffee Rub Ribeye Steak cast iron skillet meat barbeque easy BBQ

Coffee Rub Ribeye Steak

2 (8 oz) ribeye steaks
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons ground coffee
1 tablespoon paprika
salt and pepper, to taste

Season steaks with olive oil, coffee, and spices and marinate for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator in a ziploc bag.

Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, and add oil. Sear steaks for 5 mins each side, depending on thickness. Enjoy!
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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Lemon, Ricotta, and Almond Flourless Cake

Internal Medicine is a huge topic and was definitely cramming for my shelf exam at the end of the rotation. Add all my extracurriculars and having a windfall of new research projects, and I definitely felt the Internal Medicine exam was rough.
In medicine, it's not only your test scores, but also your personality and teamwork. The Internal Medicine rotation, more than any other rotation so far, truly depends on team dynamics. Hearing other classmates' stories and learning how to work with all types of people was definitely a good life lesson. Overall, I've been blessed with working with great residents and faculty, and IM people tend to be very nice.
Funny how nervous you get when the stakes are raised. Knowing this was my future specialty, I endured an agonizing 4 week wait - I don't think I've ever been so scared to see my grade. Fortunately, it all worked out and I was happy with my final grade. Phew!
So, here is a gorgeous Lemon, Ricotta and Almond Flourless Cake adapted from Cakelets and Doilies. This is such an elegant dessert and reminds me of snooty high society ladies back then sipping tea and eating cakes.

Of course, these upper class women were probably evaluated and critiqued too if they wore an unfashionable dress or weren't knowledgeable enough on the latest gossip or had an almond from their cake stuck in their teeth. And their careers (ie political statuses and marriages) probably depended just as much, or not more, on their superiors' evaluations. Talk about high stakes!
Well, I wolfed down my lemon cake shamelessly. I can eat all the cake I want at home in my pajamas, judgement free.

Lemon, Ricotta and Almond Flourless Cake

1 stick (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup castor/superfine sugar (ie ground granulated sugar)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup lemon zest
4 eggs, separated and at room temperature (easier to separate eggs when cold)
2 1/2 cups ground almonds
Packed 1 1/4 cup ricotta cheese, not fat free
Flaked almonds and confectioner's sugar, to decorate

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 inch round cake pan.

Beat the butter, 1/2 cup caster sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest with an electric mixer until pale and creamy. Scrap down the sides of the bowl, then gradually add the egg yolks, one at a time, continuing to beat until fully combined. Add the almond meal and beat to combine. Fold ricotta through the almond meal mixture.

Beat the egg whites in a clean bowl with a hand-held electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining sugar to the egg whites mixture and whisk until stiff peaks form. Gently and gradually fold the egg whites into the cake mixture.

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and top cake with almond flakes. Bake for 1 hour or until a knife just comes clean, but do not overbake. I put foil on after 30 min to prevent the edges from browning too quickly; another option is a water bath. Let cool completely in the cake tin. Dust with icing sugar to serve.
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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Chicken Souvlaki Kebabs with Tzatziki Sauce

Well, it's no fun to post your failures, but my culinary endeavors don't always go, ah, according to plan.

Growing up, when mom served a whole roast chicken, everyone attacked the thighs, legs, and wings, leaving the the breast til the end because it was so dry. But once I got older and learned about nutrition (innocence is bliss!), I thought, "oh fine! Breast is okaaay, I guess." 
When I saw these gorgeous kebab from The Iron You using breast meat, I thought, "this chicken breast recipe looks pretty awesome." But, alas, this was a big epic fail my first time around. The recipe itself wasn't the problem. It was the fact that I was too lazy to take out my grill and grill the darn chicken. Instead I set it to broil. According to the recipe, one broils for a few minutes and ta-da, you get nice grilled chicken.
Well, I broiled and nothing happened; when I peeked in the oven, I saw raw chicken still. Thus, I broiled some more... and more... and more....but I still saw pink. Finally, after 40 minutes, I got nice looking golden chicken skewers.

Unfortunately, it's dry as heck. This means I got to eat very dry chicken for a whole week's worth of dinners. Yay. And our apartment was like a sauna.
Alright, so it wan't that bad. But it's not great. And I want great food. Which means food with fat, of course.

Anyways, I did it again with thighs this time and it turned out infinitely better. I even jazzed it up with vegetables, so I could feel good about myself. So, take heart if your recipes don't work the first time around - worst comes to worst, you just eat dry chicken for a while and try again. 

And learn from me, folks: don't broil your chicken breast for 40 minutes unless you like eating cardboard. 

Chicken Souvlaki Kebabs with Tzatziki Sauce

1 lb chicken thighs, cut into chunks
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
Ground black pepper to taste
1 red bell pepper, cut
1 green bell pepper, cut
1 red onion, cut

1 container (6 oz) plain Greek yogurt
1 small cucumber, peeled and grated
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped

In a small bowl stir olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, salt and black pepper. Add chicken and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.

Make tzatziki sauce by combining all ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

Soak skewers in water for 5 minutes. Remove chicken chunks from the marinade and skewer onto bamboo sticks, alternating with your red, green peppers and red onion slices

Heat a grill to medium-high or broil in oven. Grill the chicken kebabs, until cooked through and nicely browned on all sides and chicken is no longer pink in the center, about 8 minutes per side. Serve with tzatziki sauce.
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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Whole Foods Quinoa Salad

One of my new year's resolutions was to run 10k below 9 min/mile pace. Well, I did it!

I signed up for a Halloween run because I actually have weekends and I wanted to run in costume! I persuaded/coerced my friends into running the 5k and 10k with me (in costume of course).

I wanted a non restrictive outfit so I went as a hula girl with my pink lei, flower, and tropical sports bra. I had to make my hula skirt by hand with crepe streamers since all four stores didn't have hula skirts (I mean really! It's Halloween people!). Unfortunately, by the end of the run I only had half a hula skirt left - good thing I wore shorts underneath!
Part of the perks of running is that I don't feel the urge to pig out afterwards since I'm too tired. But after running this race, I was starving and wolfed this down Whole Food's Quinoa Salad copycat recipe, adapted from Damn Delicious. I didn't burn all those calories for nothing!

Whole Foods Quinoa Salad

1 cup quinoa
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
1 mango, peeled and diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup shelled edamame
1/3 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup grated baby coconut
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup craisins

Cook quinoa according to package instructions.

Whisk together balsamic vinegar and lemon juice to make the dressing.

In a large bowl, combine quinoa, mango, bell pepper, edamame, red onion, coconut flakes, almonds, and craisins. When ready to serve, pour the balsamic vinegar mixture on your salad and enjoy!
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

All American Brownies

“I ain’t stayin’!”

Mr. R scowled at us with all the ferocity of a grizzly Vietnam War veteran; he had made up his mind to go home, and we clearly weren’t cooperating. Never mind that he had arrived in the ICU today for a nasty bout of pneumonia. Never mind that he needed 5 liters of O2 to breathe, had IVs and lines stuck everywhere, and couldn't even drink water on his own. He needed to go home today to take care of his wife, who recently had a stroke.

Holding a sponge to his mouth, so he could suck some water, I told him, "Hold on sir, you first need to get well and out of the ICU yourself."

He tried sit up in protest, but was too exhausted to move more than his head. Grudgingly, he growled, "Fine, but I'm going home tomorrow then!"
Well, tomorrow came and went, and we told him he wasn't strong enough either. Trying to keep his spirits up, the team said, "Well, maybe Friday … IF you have help at home." It was highly doubtful, but that kept him going for the week, and he managed to move from the ICU to the floor unit. Friday rolled around; after calling all his family members and every social work option the VA offered, we learned there wasn't going to be anyone available to take of him 24/7, so he would have to stay the weekend. I knew Friday morning’s rounds with him was going to fun.

“What the hell do you mean I have to stay?! I need to go home to my wife now! Today is Friday!” His wrinkled hands wrung the bed sheets in frustration.

 “I’m sorry Mr. R, we want to watch you a little longer. It’s for safety reasons – you might fall, and there wouldn’t be anyone to help you. How would you be able to go to the bathroom?” The upper level said. “It’s a risk we can’t take. Don’t worry, we’ll get you taken care of after the weekend.”

That wasn’t what Mr. R wanted. He argued with us another ten minutes, then, dejectedly, he slumped in his bed, refusing to respond to any more questions or making eye contact. My heart really felt for him, and I wondered if his wife knew how much he was fighting to go home.

My kind attending tried to cheer him up, "Hey, Mr. R, do you want stat McDonald's?” He was under palliative care, so diet wasn’t an issue; happiness was. “Stat fried chicken? Stat pizza? We’ll order anything you want stat." No response. But when she offered the “amazing” brownies I baked for the team that morning, his eyes perked up just a little bit. A subtle clinical sign, but the astute attending knew “brownies” had potential. "Alright," the doctor ordered, "stat brownies and milk for Mr. R!"
Being good medical students, my partner and I knew when the attending requested stat anything (stat blood draw! Stat CT scan!) it meant absolutely right now. We jogged the 0.5 miles across the VA hallways to get back to the team room for emergency brownies and a little milk carton.

The rest of the team continued rounding while I knocked on his door and found him staring at the wall. “Hey Mr. R,” I said, “I’m, um, sorry about you having to stay the weekend. Anyways, I baked these brownies myself … and I hope you like them. They’ve got Nestle Cocoa.”

Slowly, he took a bite and muttered, "It's good. Very good." He proceeded to eat/inhale them so quickly that we had to hold them back, lest he choke (“Sir, I'm not responsible for any aspirations if these brownies are too tasty”). I cut up the rest of the brownies and saved them for him for later. He looked down at the brownie in his hand, and mumbled, “Thank you.”

I’ve baked for too many people and clients over the years to count. But somehow, this old man’s thank you remains the most poignant. I was touched, knowing these brownies were good enough for a devoted veteran and husband. And I learned a good little trick from my attending that day. Recipe adapted from Inspired Taste.

All American Brownies

10 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar (1 cup if you like it sweeter - I like dark chocolate personally)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Nestle)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper (if you want taller brownies, put them in a smaller pan)

Heat water in a medium saucepan (1 to 2 inches deep) until barely simmering. Combine butter, sugar, cocoa powder and the salt in a medium heat-safe bowl over simmering water. Stir mixture until the butter has melted. Remove the bowl from heat and set aside for 3 to 5 minutes to cool slightly. Mix in vanilla extract and eggs. Add the flour and stir until just incorporated with the wooden spoon or spatula (The batter will be quite thick). Spread evenly into your lined pan.

Bake ~25 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted into the center and come out almost clean (you want it to be a little moist with batter).  Cool completely then remove from pan. Enjoy!
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