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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