Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

Well, it’s May. I’m not quite sure how the first four months of 2012 have flown by so quickly. It’s also crazy to think that, in 23 short days, I will have completed my first year of medical school. The past eight months have been quite an experience, a good one for the most part. I’ve been enjoying school even more since my neurobiology class started. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m staying caught up, which is a great feeling, or if it’s because I know I’m almost done with my first year. April flew by especially quickly since I’ve been buried in the books, and now we only have one set of tests left at the end of this month. I had three tests yesterday, so last week was pretty busy, but I managed to cook up a couple things to share. Aside from studying all week, I had an exciting encounter in my backyard. Long story short, I had a limb cut down in my backyard that happened to have a bird’s nest in it. I had been watching the nest for a couple weeks waiting for the eggs to hatch, and low and behold they hatched the day the limb got cut. I quickly researched how to handle nestlings that had fallen from their nest online. I moved the three baby birds back into their nest and tried to find the safest place for the nest. I was unsure if their parents would find them, but after about half an hour they were feeding them in their new location. Sadly, I recently checked the nest and there is only one baby bird remaining. I’m not sure if the other two have moved on by themselves or if nature got the best of them. All in all, it was exciting to watch them over the past week; hopefully the last one will stay a bit longer and maybe I’ll get to see him fly away. Enough of that, here are the recipes I have to share for the week.

Mini Refried Bean Tostadas
These are really fun to make! They are almost like a mini personalized taco. I made them one night last week for dinner and then made a batch for a get together that some of the girls in my class were having last night. The recipe is simple (as always) and doesn’t take much time at all. The main ingredients include canned fat-free refried beans, tortillas, shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, salsa and fat-free sour cream. The refried beans sound like they would be terrible for you, but I don’t actually think they’re that bad. To put this all together, you just place the tortillas in a muffin tin and bake them until they are slightly crisp on the edges.  When I made this for dinner, I used 8 or 10 inch whole wheat tortillas, but when I made it for the party I attended I used regular 6 inch ones. It really doesn’t make a difference which ones you use, I just cut the perimeter off the large ones so that they would fit in the muffin tin more easily. After crisping the tortilla you add the refried beans into the tortilla cup and for the most part, you can stack whatever you want on top before adding the cheese and baking them another 5-10 minutes to melt it. I just added the beans and cheese and baked it until the cheese was melted. After that I just piled on the rest of the ingredients. I, of course, added a few fresh veggies and herbs that the recipe didn’t call for. You can really make these whatever you want. At the party, I just let people add their own toppings and I think everyone really liked them. On top of the beans and cheese, I personally added avacado, tomato, lettuce, red and green onion, salsa, cilantro and a small dollop of sour cream. If you’re cooking this as a meal, I recommend making enough fore each person to have two, unless you are having sides with it, then one per person should be fine. Anyway, they turned out great and I think I’ll be making them a lot in the future. The recipe can be found here. And, if you’re interested in what kind of party I attended, keep reading!

Mini Grilled Cheese Appetizers
I also made some mini grilled cheese appetizers for the party. I had to improvise with the recipe a little bit because I couldn’t find the cocktail size pumpernickel bread at the grocery store. Instead I used a loaf of marbled rye and cut the sandwiches in half to make them one serving size. Once again, this was really easy and I think it made a great party snack. I think the actual recipe called for gouda cheese, but I decided to use white cheddar instead. Since I was making the tostadas at the same time I baked the cheese on the bread at 350 until it melted instead of broiling it. Like the tostadas, this is a recipe that you can pretty much make your own, if you don’t like an ingredient, just replace it with something similar that you like better. I think half the fun of cooking is changing things up to suit your taste and make things healthier. Next time you have to make appetizers for a get together, look for a healthy recipe that people will feel good about eating. Click here for this recipe.

Stella and Dot
My friend Deani, threw a Stella and Dot Jewelry party for all the girls in my class on Monday after our tests. I offered to make some snacks for everyone and it was really fun. I’ve never really made appetizers for a party on my own, so it was kind of exciting to share my new found hobby with some of my friends. Anyway, the party was great so I thought I would share the link to the website if anyone wanted to look at the the jewelry. The party made shopping for my friend’s birthday present really easy. You can look at samples and the catalogs, order at the party, and  the jewelry arrives in 3-5 business days. Click here to check out the jewelry and make an order through Mikie Haggerty.