Thursday, October 30, 2014

Slow Cooker Meatballs





The days are getting shorter, the weather is getting nippy, and there's just something about this time of year that makes me want to snuggle up at home - and eat hearty food. It's only a matter of time before the Christmas music plays 24/7, and I run out of Pandora hours (think that's impossible? so did I, until my H exhausted my account a few years ago!).
Budget carefully.

Maybe it's the impending cold of winter or the musing that comes with the end of a year, but recently, I've been reflecting on all the wonderful and horrible uncertainties in life that are stark reality when you work in medicine. I've come to wonder: are we all on some sort of weird vacation-of-uncertain-duration on this Earth? And if so, are you making the most of your vacation time, whether that means doing nothing, or doing everything?


Slow Cooker Meatballs


Ingredients

1 lb ground beef (85% lean)

1/4 cup plain bread crumbs

1 egg

1/2 large white onion, finely chopped

1 tsp garlic

3 tbsp oregano (divided - 1 tbsp for the meatballs, 2 tbsp for the sauce)

1/4 cup parmesan cheese + additional for stirring into sauce

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp  pepper

One 28 oz can of crushed or whole tomatoes *

*Use 1 1/2 large cans if you want extra saucy meatballs


Directions

1. Combine all but the tomatoes and reserved oregano in a large bowl and mix until combined

2. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Form meat into approximately 2 tbsp sized meatballs

3. Brown meatballs evenly in the saucepan

4. Add meatballs to slow cooker. Pour tomatoes + 2 tbsp oregano over the meatballs

5. Set slow cooker to low, cook for 8-10 hours

6. Stir in up to 1/4 cup parmesan cheese to taste; add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!



In other news,
New sisters

A visit to the winery 



Mystic Seaport

Thanks for reading!

-R




Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Our Favorite Pumpkin Pie






Since it's officially pumpkin pie season (for us, September through Thanksgiving, and not a day later), I think it's about time I share our favorite pumpkin pie. The season has gotten off to a slow start this year, so we're making up for lost time. And I mean really  moving. We've made this twice in the past two weeks, and each time, it's like....what pumpkin pie?? It's gone before you know it. Even then, I still manage to deplete our whipped cream supply before all the pie is gone. Whipped cream to pie ratio is always low, no matter how good the pie is. Eating whipped cream plain is so worth it, incredulous stares from hubby be damned. 

 I love, love love this pie because it only takes 5 minutes to put together. Pop it in the oven, and an hour later, there you have it: not-too-sweet, sweet, cinnamon-y and clove-y pumpkin pie. The whole room will smell like Fall, and you will want to rake leaves or something. I adapted the recipe from Cooking Light, cutting back on the sugar even further and upping the spice quotient. The pie is still subtly sweet, and going light on sugar helps the spices shine through more. Give this pie a whirl - I hope you love it as much as we do! 


Our Favorite Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients

one 15 oz. can plain pumpkin

one 12 oz can 2% evaporated milk

1/2 cup brown sugar (not packed)

2 large egg whites

1 large egg

2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/4 tsp salt

1 pre-made graham cracker crust


Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425F

2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Stir until thoroughly combined

3. Pour into graham cracker crust

4. Bake at 425F for 10 minutes

5. Reduce heat to 350F and bake for additional 40-50 minutes until pie is set and evenly browned 

6. Cool to room temperature & enjoy


I hope you enjoy this pie as much as we do. It's a repeat year after year for us. Let me know how it turns out for you.  As always, thanks for stopping by!

-R



Sunday, October 5, 2014

Spinach Pappardelle with Chard & Italian Sausage


I'm back! We have been traveling the last couple of weekends - to NYC to catch up with a dear friend, and to Boston to celebrate my brother's engagement and to visit my Dad. In between, we've both been pretty consumed with work-related things: abstract deadlines, and thinking about what to do after I finish fellowship this year. It's getting real.  

I should also mention that we blazed through the 14 hour Roosevelt series on PBS - hands down, one of the best documentaries we've seen, and definitely partly to blame for long absence from here.  If you haven't seen the series, or don't even really have an interest in American history that much, watch it anyway. The upbringings and the various psychological hurdles that TR, FDR, and Eleanor had to face are worth it alone, purely from a humanistic aspect. One of my favorite quotes by TR (who essentially spent a lifetime outrunning childhood illness, "depressive tendencies" and awful twists of fate (he lost is mother and young wife on the same day): 

"Get action. Do things; be sane, don't fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action."

You can't beat that. 

We've also been busy planning our vacations for this year - starting with a visit to Zion and Bryce Canyon in November (in combination with Thanksgiving at home). Possibly Australia in March?? Lots and lots of planning - thankfully all for a good things. All of this has meant ultra simple meals (throwing canned salmon into a stir fry, slow cooker chicken galore....), and little energy to document the results. So instead, I'll go back in time a bit. This pappardelle dish is one I've been wanting to share for quite some time now. It popped into my head this morning when the Fall morning cold nipped me in the butt: Swiss chard, a classic winter vegetables. Our spinach pappardelle was a gift from my in-laws. You can probably find it in a lot of specialty pasta / olive oil stores, but if you can't, regular pappardelle should work just fine too. This recipe is so simple, so I'll just leave you with a loose outline here: 

Spinach Pappardelle with Chard & Italian Sausage
makes as much or as little as you like


Ingredients

Pappardelle (spinach or regular)

Italian sausage (a few links, depending on how much you want to make)

Small bunch of swiss chard, chopped

Olive oil

Parmigiano reggiano cheese


Directions

1. Heat a salted pot of water to a boil. Cook pappardelle according to instructions, until al dente. Drain and toss with olive oil.

2. While water is heating, broil or cook sausage until done (I think mine took 15 minutes stove top)

3. Remove sausage from pan and cut into bite sized pieces. Add a bit of olive oil to the pan, return to heat, and add chard. Cook until wilted

4.  Combine pappardelle, sausage, and chard. Top with a dusting of parmigiano and enjoy! 


Thanks for reading - I hope you're enjoying Fall so far! 

-R





Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Basil & Grapefruit Shortbread



Happy unofficial Fall! (It's not really Fall until September 23, but who's counting?) Starbucks clearly isn't, seeing that it debuted its Pumpkin Spice Latte in August this year...?!

In preparation for hibernation, it's time to enjoy some buttery treats. This is an quick shortbread that uses white whole wheat flour. These shortbread cookies are deliciously zesty and light (basil and grapefruit) and substantial (hello butter*) at the same time; they are particularly excellent companions to a steaming mug of coffee or tea.

* reasons why we love organic butter here

Basil & Grapefruit Shortbread
Makes approximately 1.5 doz cookies

Ingredients

Zest of 1 grapefruit (~1 tbsp)

2 tbsp fresh grapefruit juice 

8 tbsp salted organic butter, room temperature

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour


Directions

1. Preheat oven to 325F

2. Combine grapefruit juice, zest, butter, and sugar in a mixing bowl. Mix on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until well blended

3. Stir in vanilla extract and salt

4. Gently add flour, mixing until just combined (do not over-mix)

5. Roll  dough out into a log; cover and freeze for 15-20 minutes

6. Cut dough into 1/4 inch thick discs; space evenly on a baking sheet

7. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until crisp 

 We have been soaking up the outdoors as much as possible - most recently, we spent a weekend at a beautiful bed and breakfast in the Hudson River Valley over Labor Day Weekend. Although it was an overcast and rainy weekend, we managed to squeeze some kayaking in. There's something so relaxing and peaceful about just being on the water, watching the trains chug by like little model cars, weaving their way around the base of the hills. 


Thanks for stopping by - I hope you're enjoying the beginnings of crisp mornings and cool nights!  

-R









Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Summer Tomato Polenta Tartlets




It's hard to believe it's nearly September - and that it's been 3 weeks since my last post here. We've been so busy the past 3 weekends - between traveling and call - that the time has literally flown by. Last weekend, we were both on call; the weekend before, we made a quick trip to NYC to celebrate my father's hard work. We are so happy for him and so incredibly proud of his accomplishments. 

So, as summer's last hurrah is here, I'm posting this tomato recipe that makes use of the best of the season - fresh tomatoes. This is, like always, very easy to put together. All you need is to cook the polenta (generally 3 cups of water for 1 cup of dry polenta) and slice some tomatoes and basil. That's the extent of the prep work. 

I'm hoping to make these tartlets more time before these pretty bright red orbs give way to the yellow and orange hues of fall squash, although I imagine polenta would be a great partner for fall vegetables too. As a matter of fact, I have a giant kabocha squash sitting on my countertop already. I'm not sure just how to attack it (have you seen kabochas? scary looking things with thick skin...I'll have to ask my Dad, who swears by kabocha almost every morning). I'll report back on the kabocha soon...

Summer Tomato Polenta Tartlets

Ingredients
makes 12 tartlets

1 cup dry polenta

3 cups water

1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

1 tbsp basil, chopped (plus several more sliced leaves for topping)

crumbled chèvre (or cheese of your choice)


Directions

1. In a medium pot, bring 3 cups of water to a boil over high heat

2. Add polenta gradually while stirring constantly. Turn down heat to medium-low

3. Whisk in grated pecorino, salt, and chopped basil. Continue to stir until polenta thickens to the point where it begins to pull away from the sides of the pot. Adjust seasonings to taste and remove polenta from heat

4. Preheat broiler on low. Lightly oil a standard muffin pan

5. Pour approximately 1/4 cup polenta in each tin. Top with crumbled chèvre (or cheese of your choice) and several tomato halves

6. Broil for approximately 10 minutes, until tomatoes begin to pucker (watch to make sure there's no burning, since broiler heat can vary)

7. Remove tartlets from oven; allow to cool for 10-15 minutes (do not try to scoop them out immediately; they will not hold their shape until they cool down)

8. Remove from the pan, garnish with sliced basil leaves and enjoy!


I hope you have a wonderful Labor Day Weekend. I'm excited for fall (aka pumpkin pie season in this family)!


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

GF Blueberry Oat Bars

























O.M.G. (!), this is probably one of my new favorite recipes. On top of being delicious and packed with filling oats, blueberries, and nuts, you can whip this up well before the oven is done preheating. Yes - before the "beep beep beep".  In fact, it's so fast that I've made it in the mornings before work, had a bar for breakfast, and packed 2 bars for an afternoon snack before leaving the house. I've made these gluten free blueberry oat bars at least 2-3 times within the last 2 weeks, and my husband has tried ...zero... (shameful, I know). As I write this, another batch is baking in the oven. I'm hoping he hops on these fast tomorrow morning before they're all gone...

Summer is drawing to a close, but this recipe is great - you can make these filling bars year round. Frozen blueberries bake up perfectly into juicy, blue pillows nestled in a soft, spiced, oat-y background. The hard part is believing that these are actually good for you (and gluten free too, if you please)! 

These blueberry bars are the perfect grab-and-go breakfast/snack; they are essentially portable oatmeal (+ an egg). Protein and fiber in the oats, berries, milk...nuts...egg....wait - everything, will easily keep you satiated until lunch time. 

Blueberry Oat Bars
Makes ~9 bars (3 x 3 in each)
Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

 Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups oats (quick or old fashioned will work)

1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp coriander (optional)

1 1/4 cups whole milk (you could probably also use 2%)

1 egg

2 tsp vanilla


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly oil a 12 x 9 in. pan

2. Combine all ingredients but vanilla and milk in a large mixing bowl. Add vanilla and milk last; stir to combine (batter will be very liquid - don't worry, it will firm up in the oven)

3. Pour batter into pan; rearrange blueberries evenly 

4. Bake for 30 minutes

5. Remove from oven; let cool, and cut into squares (approximately 9), and enjoy! 


I hope you enjoy these soft, chewy bars as much as we (okay, just I) have. Store the bars in the refrigerator; they will keep for 3-5 days, but I doubt they'll last that long.

Any suggestions for mix-ins are welcome - I'm thinking about coconut?

Thanks for stopping by! Let me know what you think of these (and what mix-ins you would add)! 

-R

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Mini Ice Cream Sandwiches





Last week, I found out that I passed the Anatomic and Clinical Pathology boards - after all these years of training, I'm finally board certified! This was quickly followed by the humbling realization that although I am now authorized to sign out cases on my own, I still have so much to learn. I have to believe that the first few years when I sign out independently is when I will learn the most. In some ways, this whole process is like learning how to ride a bike. My training wheels are just about coming off....there's no going back! 

My Dad likes to remember how he tricked me into riding my bike without the training wheels. At first I was terrified - I insisted that he stand right behind me as I rode away. He complied the first few times, and then did "phantom steps". He stayed put while I rode away, stomping loudly so I thought he was right behind me. Eventually, I realized he wasn't behind me - and I realized I knew how to ride a bike! Residency is a similar process - although I'm still in the wobbly "I wish I had my wheels" stage. All joking aside though, I am profoundly grateful for the support of my family, friends, and mentors for helping me reach this point. You have helped me through my most difficult times with encouragement and love, and I could not ask for a better group of people to go through life with. 

  To celebrate, my husband took me to  Zinc downtown, which offered a delicious summer dinner with lots of juicy, sweet peaches. It's only a matter of time before we head to our local orchard to nab some peaches of our own! In addition to summer fruits, we've been on an ice cream kick lately - who doesn't love ice cream in the summer? (or fall? or winter? or spring?) 

These miniature ice cream sandwiches are inspired by a dessert we had at 121 Restaurant, a beautiful, rustic farm to table restaurant in North Salem. 



My husband ordered the ice cream sandwiches for dessert, which were two MAMMOTH sized ice cream sandwiches. I can't believe it's taken me this long to realize that my husband (who likes everything cold - I find potato chips in the refrigerator - don't ask) would love ice cream sandwiches. And of course, after not having had one for a long time and tasting a bite, my love was renewed. I decided to create a similar, scaled down mini sandwich, just big enough to nip that after dinner "I need something sweet" feeling, but small enough not to destroy your healthy eating resolution! I tinkered with a traditional chocolate chip cookie recipe to optimize the consistency of these cookies with the ice cream - they're a more cake-y cookie. Maybe a mini ice cream whoopie is a more accurate description? The airy texture of these cookies is due to greek yogurt - see here for a substitution chart, and more greek yogurt recipes herehere, and here).

Maybe a mini ice cream whoopie is a more accurate description? 

Mini Ice Cream Sandwiches
makes 10-15 mini sandwiches

Ingredients

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp kosher salt

4 tbsp butter

1/4 cup full fat or 2% greek yogurt

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup (more or less) dark chocolate chips (roughly chopped, if larger morsels - you could also just use mini chocolate chips)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350F

2. Cream butter, yogurt, and sugar together until well combined. Ideally, let the butter come to room temperature. If you're impatient, zap for 20 minutes in the microwave. 

3. Stir in egg, vanilla, baking soda

4. Add flour all at once, and stir to incorporate

5. Stir in chocolate chips

6. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a nonstick baking sheet. The dough will be very sticky - if this makes you uncomfortable, chill the dough for 20 minutes prior to forming cookies. Otherwise, just power through it. They'll look very small, like this:

For scale, that's a teaspoon to the right - they're small! Don't worry, they'll flatten out (see below)

7. Bake for 5-7 minutes until tops are very slightly golden brown - watch carefully to make sure these little guys don't burn!



8. Remove from oven. Cool for 1 minute and transfer to a cooling rack. Allow cookies to cool to room temperature

9. Remove ice cream from freezer; let sit out at room temperature for 3-5 minutes to soften

10. Use a tablespoonful of ice cream for each sandwich - this can get messy (aka delicious). Feel free to flatten out the edges and squish the cookies together to make the sandwich more seemly. 

11. Store in an airtight container in the freezer. I recommend using wax paper if you're stacking these cookies - their tops are slightly sticky

12. Enjoy! 

I hope you try this delicious mini-sandwiches - let me know how they turn out for you! 

I'm curious - what are some of your favorite summer recipes?

I hope you're enjoying your summer. Thanks for reading! 


-R