Back to Normal… Again

Well, I’m happy to say that I survived my first test block of my second year. As I’m sure you gathered from my last post, the past couple weeks have been a little busy and crazy. Preparing for week where you have one test per day, can get a little wild. It’s hard to ration your time evenly for all of your classes, and sadly, the tests at the end of the week tend to get a little neglected.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned in medical school so far, its’ that my life is crazy and busy in spurts. Around test time, the test is all that matters; I try to keep up with cooking and exercising, but it doesn’t always work out the way I’d like. Once a test is over, it’s like my life can go back to normal (until the next test that is); I can exercise frequently, cook every night, and keep my house tidy (something that hasn’t happened in a few weeks). I’m a pretty big neat freak, especially when it comes to my house, but I’ve been so busy studying the past couple weeks, I kind of let things go a little. Thankfully I had Michael in town some over the past couple weeks and he was nice enough to make me dinner AND do the dishes, which is a big deal, considering I don’t have a dishwasher. In light of all the recent chaos, I decided to have a cleaning spree at home last night. I turned on the 90s Pop radio station on Pandora and cleaned my little heart out; I swept, vacuumed, mopped, cleaned just about every surface of my house, and washed my mountain of laundry that was beginning to tumble out of my closet. So, now, I’m back to normal… My house is clean, my clothes are clean, I have time to exercise and time to cook (and blog about it!). Even though it’s tough having a full week of tests, I think I like it, I got to have a worry free weekend at home in Starkville and now I get a fresh start in all my classes. I’m not behind, we’ll see how long I can keep that up though. Now, for some yummy food!

Greek Pasta with Meatballs
This recipe has been on my “Need to Try” list for a while now; I finally added it to my grocery list a few weeks ago when I decided to give turkey burgers a try and figured I could split the meat between the two recipes. Wwweeeelllll, things got a little busy and I ended up putting the ground turkey in the freezer and not making it. Michael mentioned that he wouldn’t mind cooking when he was in town, so I showed it to him to see if he would be okay making it. I told him I had all the ingredients already, and that the turkey just needed to be defrosted. I had forgotten that the actual recipe called for ground lamb, something I figured would be difficult to find and slightly out of my price range. Michael, however, likes to follow recipes a little bit more strictly than I do, so he ventured out and found ground lamb at Fresh Market. I was slightly annoyed at this because I had already bought ground turkey. I am soooooooo glad he decided to find the ground lamb!!! This dish is one of the best that I’ve had since I started my healthy kick, definitely in my top five favorites. I can’t really comment on how easy or difficult the recipe was since Michael made it, but I can say, DON’T skip the lamb! It has such a different flavor than turkey or beef and it really really really makes this a delicious dish. If it is slightly out of your price range, save it for a fancy dinner, and instead of going out, treat yourself to a delicious homemade meal with some friends. Click here for the recipe.

Shrimp Caesar Salad
I came across this recipe when I was looking for recipes that would be quick and easy to make during test week. As you know, I love salads, so I’m always excited to try and make a new salad dressing from scratch. I’ve made my own greek and balsamic vinaigrettes, but never a caesar dressing. Most salad dressings are easy to toss together ,so I figured I could handle this one during my pre-test weeks. The dressing was pretty good, not the best I’ve ever had, but I might try tweaking it a little next time I make it. It was less creamy than I’m used to having with a caesar dressing, which isn’t necessarily bad, just not the norm. I’ll keep you posted if I make any changes that are worthwhile. As for the rest of the salad, I sauteed the shrimp in olive oil with salt and pepper, which takes about 5 minutes tops. I think I used sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts. I don’t think it really made a difference in the taste, I use sunflower seeds in the trailmix that I make so, I have them in my cabinets on a regular basis. Just like any other salad, all you have to do is toss everything together and enjoy. Click here for this recipe.

Lemon Cranberry Tuna Salad
Yes, another salad. I usually eat a mixed green salad with plain tuna on top every day for lunch. Surprisingly, I haven’t gotten sick of it after eating it for over a year now. I do like to change things up every now and then though, so when I came across this recipe, I thought I’d give it a try. I try to stay away from making chicken or tuna salad since they call for mayonnaise (exactly the healthiest option). If I do use mayonnaise in a recipe, I use the low fat made from olive oil kind, which makes me feel slightly better about it. I think I used less mayo than the recipe called for in this one too. Another apprehension I had about making this one was the craisins; even though I like tuna and I like craisins, I was unsure of how they would taste together. I was really surprised at how good it was though, especially on top of lettuce with no salad dressing. It made the perfect lunch. One of my favorite parts of the recipe is the dill, which is one of my favorite herbs. The dill and cranberry flavors balance each other out really well, hmmmm, this is making me want to make this one again. Click here for the recipe.

Whirlwind

According to Merriam-Webster a whirlwind is defined as 1. a small rotating windstorm of limited extent; 2. a confused rush; 3. a violent or destructive force or agency. I think I can honestly say my life probably feels like all three of those things right now, and I’m sure many of my classmates feel about the same way. We have a full week of tests coming up, one every day next week, as opposed to last year when we had several tests almost every Monday. I haven’t been able to decide which method of madness I prefer yet, but I can say that I have so much information swimming around in my brain I can hardly think straight. I just hope all that swimming information becomes a synchronized swimming routine by Monday. Aside from class and studying for all my tests, I have other things going on that are just making my life more and more busy. I don’t think I’m exactly complaining about it, because without all the craze and busy schedules, I’d just be bored (and shop and eat too much). Anywho, with this week being jam packed with studying and various meetings and other activities, I’ve decided to tell you a little bit about an event that I luckily got to attend on Monday. It is food related, but sadly, I didn’t cook any of it. Aaaaannnnnddddd it may not be the healthiest thing I’ve ever blogged about, but you gotta treat yourself sometimes, especially when there’s no cost to you. Hopefully I’ll be able to make a short and sweet post next week with some things I’ve actually made recently. I promise I have a whole list of things to share with you, but studying takes priority this week and next.

Eat Jackson’s Chef’s Table

Until last year, I had never won a door prize or raffle ticket drawing in my life. Once medical school started, I was the luckiest person ever. I began winning door prizes left and right and even managed to win $2500 over the summer. Crazy right!? Well, it looks like my luck has slightly rubbed off because one of my good friends, Allison, won two free tickets (from Kats Wine) to an event called Chef’s Table this past weekend. Jake, her boyfriend had to attend night class, so I was lucky enough to take his place. The event was a collaboration between three awesome chefs that prepared a five course meal right in front of our eyes. Eat Jackson, a food centered organization in Jackson, hosted the evening at the Viking Cooking School with specific wine and beer pairings that had been carefully chosen by Kats Wine and Bayou Teche Biere, and seafood supplied by Mississippi Gulf Fresh Seafood. The chefs were Trace Williams, Jeremy Enfinger, and Chris Grant, who came up with a new creation called Cajunshire Cuisine, which is basically a fusion of English and Cajun flavors. I can’t even begin to explain how delicious every single bite was. The three chefs all come from different places, but met through twitter and have worked together on Jamie Oliver’s Throw Down on the Farm, which is part of his Food Revolution Project. The Food Revolution is a really cool project that works to educate elementary age students about the importance of eating healthy. They educate on types of food, cooking, and help them grow their own school gardens. It’s a really awesome program that I hope will make it’s way to Mississippi in the near future. Since I have way too many good things to say about all the dishes that I ate, I think I’ll just post the pictures so you can see how awesome it was. I will say that the Crawfish Cake and the Etoufee Yorkshire tied for my favorite main dish and the trifle and ice cream sandwich were my favorite desserts. The recipes will be posted on the Eat Jackson website (soon hopefully) so you can attempt make your own delicious Cajunshire cuisine. I’ve put links to the sponsors of the event so you can find out more about them, and you can click on the Chef’s Table link to learn more about the chefs and dishes that were involved. That’s all I can give you for now, it’s time to go back to the books!

Course One- Grilled Black and Blue Salad                        Course Two- Swimming Pig

Course Three- Catfish in the Dales                        Course Four- Etoufee Yorkshire

                                       

 

 

 

 

 

                                      Course Five- Sweet Endings (AKA Bacon Infused Desserts)

Too Good to be True!

I’ve had a fairly relaxing Labor Day weekend. I was very tempted to visit Starkville and go to the MSU game, but instead, decided to hang out at home and leisurely work my way through some studying. It may not have been the most exciting weekend of my life, but it was nice to not be stressed out about traveling and not getting stuff done. I got to watch a little football with some friends, watch a couple movies, eat some yummy food, and check a few things off my to-do list. I was also able to get back to running, which was a little strange after running my 5K last week. My knee bothered me for a few days after the race, so I took it easy until Wednesday. Then, hurricane/tropical storm/tropical depression Isaac made it’s way through Jackson with only a few showers here and there, but the projected forecasts led me to believe I shouldn’t go running outside. I finally went running Saturday morning with the intention of returning to my walking and running routine. However, I ended up pretty much running the whole way, I didn’t go more than 1.5 miles probably, but I think since I knew I could go a full 3.1, I just couldn’t make myself walk. My whole goal with going back to alternating between walking and running is to alternate between high and low heart rates, something I’ve yet to really research, but choose to believe anyway. Today, Caroline ran with me and we kept up with the alternating routine and it was nice to change things up.  My recipe list from last week is what inspired the title for this post. I ended up with three super simple recipes that were so delicious it’s hard to believe they could be so simple.

Falafel with Avocado Spread
I’ve never really know what a falafel was, but I’ve always wanted to try them since I think thought they were mediterranean in origin and I typically like mediterranean food. They’re technically considered middle eastern, which is close enough for me! According to Wikipedia, they are deep fried balls or patties made of chickpeas, fava beans or both (Hey med school friends! Remember that fava bean disease from biochem???). Anyway, this recipe called for pinto beans and a few other add ins to give some flavor. The parsley and cheese really made them yummy. I’m slowly learning that I’m not exactly the best at cooking patty type foods in a skillet. As you can see in the photo, they didn’t stick together very well. They still tasted good though. I cut the recipe in half to make two falafels, I had one for dinner the night I made them and had the leftover one the next night. The avocado spread that goes with this was really good as well. I like pretty much any kind of guacamole you can make, but this one had a dollop of sour cream in it that really made it extra creamy and gave it a little extra flavor. Click here for the recipe.

Spinach Calzone
So, I was a little excited and a little too hungry when I finished making this recipe and forgot to take a picture before I ate it. Oooops, sorry about that! Most of you have probably seen a calzone before though. This one was really easy because you can use a refrigerated pizza crust (I chose a thin crust one) and frozen spinach. The rest of the ingredients are different cheeses, which may not be the most healthy thing you can eat, but they aren’t so bad if you use fat free for all of them. Plus, there was no meat in the recipe, so you gotta get a little protein from somewhere. If you make the full recipe and use a whole pizza crust, this thing comes out to be huge! Luckily, I had Caroline and her boyfriend, Patrick, over for dinner so they could help me out, otherwise, I would have been eating it for a week. We only ate half of the whole thing, so it easily serves six people; great for a quick family dinner or a small dinner party. The recipe calls for a marinara sauce to pour over the top of each serving, but I decided to use pesto because I already had some in the fridge. When I ate it as leftovers, I left the sauce out and it was just as good without it. Next time you’re in the mood for a pizza type dinner, try this out. You could easily add meat or other veggies if you wanted to and really make it your own creation. Click here for the recipe.

Roasted Cod
I know you’re all probably tired of hearing me yap on and on about all the different times I make cod, but it’s just so easy for me to keep in the freezer and make whenever I’m in the mood for fish. This recipe is probably my favorite cod recipe I’ve made so far. AND, it’s definitely one of the easiest. All you have to do it put your fish in the pan, add white wine around the fish, a little olive oil and a sprinkle of crushed red pepper on top, and surround it with olives. It bakes for 20-25 minutes until the fish flakes, and that’s it. It was delicious, plus the wine made my house smell awesome while it was baking. I did go a little overboard on the olives, but I really really like olives. I won’t use as many next time because they are pretty filling especially when you use as many as I did; I couldn’t eat all the ones I had on my plate. I paired this with steamed broccoli and carrots, which went well, but you could use any vegetable or salad that you like. Click here for the recipe.