Sweet Summer Time

Summer has officially started!!! I finished my first year of medical school exactly one week ago today. I can hardly believe it! I’ve been in a whirlwind of summer activities for the past week, so I’m a little behind on my usual blog schedule. I’m thinking my schedule might be a little sporadic over the summer, but I’m definitely going to be posting recipes and the like as often as I can. Since finishing last week, I’ve been to Starkville, out to Gray Center for the Annual Bishop’s Barbeque, boating on the reservoir while my parents were in town, and then I was fortunate enough to be able to visit Camp Bratton Green for a couple days during Special Session. For those of you that don’t know me very well, I spend  most of my summers working at an Episcopal church camp called Camp Bratton Green. I started going as a camper in the third grade, then became a counselor in high school and then a lifeguard while I was in college. Camp has always been a place where the real world doesn’t exist, you can be yourself and enjoy the people and the community that surround you. It’s become a huge part of my life, and I’m sad to say that I’ll probably have to take a break for a few years while I’m a medical student and resident. Visiting for the past couple days was just what I needed after a long first year of medical school. I’m hoping I can continue to visit over the next few years since I won’t be able to be on staff for a whole session and then, once I’m done with school I can be the camp doctor.  The rest of the summer is sure to be just as busy as this past week, but I’m excited. I’ll be getting a much needed break from studying while I shadow in June, then I’ll be traveling and visiting friends and family in July. I did go running last week and I’m working on staying on track, it’s been a little crazy this week with all my travels. Here are some summer time recipes for you to enjoy!

Chicken Bruschetta Pizza
I’ve talked about my personal tortilla pizzas that I make before, but I’ve come up with a new one! Usually I just put mozzarella, fresh basil and tomatoes on a wheat tortilla and bake it until the cheese melts. This past week I had some chicken that I needed to cook and didn’t really have much of an idea of what I wanted to do with it. I looked around the kitchen to see what I could put together and discovered that I had the ingredients for a tortilla pizza. I love pizzas with chicken, so why not change it up a little, right? Then I thought to myself, “what goes great with basil, tomato, and mozzarella cheese?” Balsamic vinaigrette, of course! (I feel like such a nerd getting so excited over small things like this) So, I made a little balsamic dressing using almost equal parts of olive oil and balsamic vinegar; you just need a couple tablespoons of each. For the rest, all you have to do is bake the chicken until done, warm the tortillas in the oven (at about 350) until they begin to get a little crispy, remove them and add your cheese, chicken, tomatoes, fresh basil and vinaigrette then pop it back in the oven for about 5-10 minutes so the cheese can melt. It was delicious and I can’t believe I’ve never thought of using balsamic vinaigrette on my tortilla pizzas before. I think it just goes to show you that there are always ways to spice up an ordinary meal that you make regularly. It’s lots of fun to experiment with different things, especially when you stumble upon something that tastes good and is healthy. My sister was over for dinner so we made three on mini tortillas and each had one and a half.

Berry Dessert
Fresh fruit is one of my favorite things to eat, and if you don’t know, I have a slight problem when it comes to desserts. I have a weakness for chocolate, creme brulee, bread pudding, and pretty much any other sweet and delicious treat. Dieting doesn’t leave much room for desserts though, so I’ve had to try to control myself and come up with substitutes. Fruit is a great substitute for dessert because it’ sweet and it’s natural sugar, not refined and processed. I thought of making this dessert for my family over the weekend when I was in the grocery store and noticed that they so conveniently place the round angel food cake next to the berry variety packs. I quickly decided that this is what we were going to have. It’s one of the oldest recipes in the book. So I grabbed some no fat cool whip, a couple packs of angel food cake and a container of mixed berries. Cool whip is a strange thing, it tastes so good, but there’s hardly anything in it. There are only about 15 calories in two tablespoons and it’s surprisingly low on sugar if you ask me. Now, I’m not saying you should buy a tub and eat it all over a few days, but if you’re really craving dessert and trying to stay on the healthier side, berries and cool whip make a great treat. The type of angel food cake that I got wasn’t that great, so I think next time I do this recipe, I’ll just go for the strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries with some cool whip on the side. I added up the nutritional info from the packages and this dessert comes to 20 calories, 1.5 g fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 160 mg sodium, 20 g carbohydrates, 10 g sugar, and 1 g protien. Not too bad in my opinion. Not the best picture quality, but I think you get the idea.

Fresh Marinara
I haven’t recently made this recipe, but I’ve been wanting to and summer is the perfect time for it. My mom and I found this recipe on the back of a Kroger shell pasta package and decided to make it one day. It’s become a family favorite and it’s so easy to pull together and keep in the fridge for a few days. It’s a pasta salad, so it would be great to take to a party or picnic too. The recipe is below.

Ingredients
12 oz Shell Pasta                                                    ¼ cup olive oil
¾ cup mozzarella, diced (or shredded)                     2 tbsp. lemon juice
¼ onion, diced                                                       1 clove garlic, minced
8 fresh basil leaves, torn/chopped                            ½ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. salt                                                                ¼ tsp pepper
2 cups ripe tomatoes, diced

Directions
Combine olive oil, mozzarella cheese, lemon juice and toss. Add onions, garlic, basil, oregano, salt and pepper and toss again. Add tomatoes and let stand for 15 minutes. While mixture marinates, cook pasta. Add pasta to mixture. Chill and serve. Serves 6-8.

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