Posts tagged ‘potatoes’

Lessons Learned

This past month has taught me a lot. Sure, I put in a lot of hours learning microbiology, physiology, pharmacology, pathology… but beyond the medical science, I also learned a lot about myself.

I learned that it is okay to realize you have worn nothing but leggings and yoga pants for 6 days straight when you sort your laundry.

I tested my attention span and sedentary capacity to their limits, and then broke up study blocks with jumping jacks and sit ups to stay awake and sane.

I realized how important it is to get out of the house each day, even if it is just for a quick one mile jog.

I learned how much I love to run.

I remembered how much I love to walk on days when I just can’t muster the energy to run.

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I appreciated just how much I learned in the past two years, and how much there is that I still don’t know.

The human body is an amazing machine.

I learned that it is okay to cry on a friend’s shoulder when you are overwhelmed and feel inadequate for the task at hand.

I was and am constantly reminded that God is faithful. Starting the day with a Psalm helped refocus my priorities on some really tough days.

I am amazed at the supportive and loving community that has surrounded me and carried me through to where I am now.

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I learned that colored pens make everything more fun.

I released my post-exam anxiety and jitters by recycling two years of notes and scrap paper.

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I learned how important home cooked meals are to me. I only ordered take out twice. And both times were worth it.

I survived by being okay with having breakfast for dinner. And lunch. And breakfast. Because what would life be without home fries and eggs?

I made more variations of home fries and eggs than I knew possible before this past month. Breakfast for dinner meals were great because they still gave me the break I desperately desired in the kitchen without any intensive prep or clean up. I never measured, so these are loose instructions for some of my favorite and unexpected combos rather than strict recipes.

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The first is a Turnip Hash that was inspired by the plethora of turnips I received in my Boston Organics box. I cut up a large turnip (peeled) and a large potato (unpeeled) into bite sized pieces and steamed them until they were fork tender. I then sautéed them in a large skillet with a pad of Smart Balance Light butter, a pinch of salt and rosemary. On a whim, I threw in a small handful of raisins and a dash of cinnamon, because it makes everything better. And it did. I was surprised how much I liked this! The classic rosemary with potatoes kept it homey, while the turnips added an interesting flavor and stronger texture. The raisins were a nice sweet addition, though I did make it without and liked it both ways. A whole turnip and potato made at least 3 if not more meals for me served alongside a fried egg and piece of toast. Breakfast for dinner success number 1!

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The second is a Curried Egg Omelette. I can’t take credit for this idea – my Grandma is the true brains behind this creation. While in Florida, she made eggs one morning and on a whim (I am seeing where my cooking style comes from now…) threw in a dash of curry powder and cinnamon. I was skeptical, as I am sure you are as well, but, like I said, cinnamon makes everything better. And it did. The cinnamon flavor didn’t shine through, but instead enhanced the light curry flavor that took over the scrambled eggs. It was unexpected and addicting. I knew I had to make it again. So I did. I mixed two eggs with a teaspoon of Greek yogurt (you could use milk or sour cream as well) and a few shakes (about 1/4 tsp) curry powder and a shake (less than 1/8 tsp) cinnamon. You can turn this into scrambled eggs, or pour it into a really hot pan for a nice omelette with a crunchy outside. The curry flavor is mild but unique, and leaves me wanting more! I ate these eggs alongside some sweet potato  home fries, skins left on and sautéed in olive oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

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Lesson learned in writing this post: I should buy stock in cinnamon.

And I am so excited to cook and share with you all again!

May 21, 2012 at 11:00 am 7 comments

Failure Is Not an Option

Despite being rather absent from the blog scene lately, I am happy to accept Sara @ My Less Serious Life‘s shout out for the Liebster Award. This is my second time being passed along this honor, and I am always happy to join in the fun! The award is passed between bloggers to recognize up and coming writers with less than 200 followers. After sharing 5 fun facts, you pass the award along to 5 more blog friends! First, the friends, then the facts!

1. Lauren @ Whole Wheat or Bust

2. Melanie @ Little Green Homemaker

3. Stefanie @ A Dash of Sugar and Spice

4. Kim @ Badger Girl Learns to Cook

5. Allison @ Allison’s Delicious Life

Now for the fun facts… This might be a challenge given the current monotony of my life!

1. I am a movie narcoleptic. If I sit down for a movie anywhere past 9pm and am remotely relaxed and/or reclined, I will fall asleep. Yet somehow, I will manage to wake up as the credits are rolling. I usually think I am sneaky enough that no one noticed, but that is never true.

2. I ran my first 5K on Sunday! I am participating in the Boston Athletic Association’s Distance Medley, which kicked off this weekend. I had been working on my speed with sprints and intervals, so was excited to clock in a pretty good time. However, the race was so crowded that I could hardly move for the first mile! After running a 10 minute mile amongst 7,000 other runners, I gave up all time goals and just enjoyed the sunshine and the fact that so many people were participating in such a fun event!

3. I failed at freezing leftovers last week for the first time ever. I thought I was being clever, freezing soup in my mason jars instead of more delicate plastic Tupperware. However, I filled the jars way too full and they cracked. Then I cut two of my fingers retrieving the glass and soup shards from the freezer. Smart. Lesson learned.

4. I also have been cooking a lot less, relying instead on salads, sandwiches and frozen leftovers. Except for when they explode in my freezer… then I have savory oatmeal for dinner.

5. I have been spending so much time in my desk chair study throne in front of my computer that often the last thing I want to do during the last hour of my evening is come up with a blog post. I have mentioned before, but I am currently preparing to take the USMLE Step 1 at the end of May. This is the first part of my medical board examinations, and is essentially a 2 year cumulative final. It has been a stressful semester, and is culminating with what is ominously referred to as “Intensive Study Period.” Although my classes officially end Friday, I will spend the next month spending 12+ hours a day, 6 days a week chained to my study throne. I expect that my posts will be sporadic, but I will still be making time to cook, run, sleep and read a few posts now and then!

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I can’t leave you without a recipe idea until the end of May! If you are in the Northeast and have found yourself with some spring dug turnips, then this soup is for you! I am more than thrilled that root vegetable season is on its way out and that more local variety is coming back, but this soup was flavorful and different enough to satiate my creative appetite! I adapted the recipe from the Boston Organics website to make it a little healthier, and accidentally vegan. The soup is hearty like any good chowder, and remarkably filling from the protein boost (thanks to tofu in place of cream). This is also the soup that caused my mason jar accident, and I am sad I will not get to enjoy the leftovers! Guess that just means I will have to make it again!

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Parsnip Chowder

serves 6-8, adapted from here

2 tbsp Earth Balance

1 large onion, diced

1 lb parsnips, peeled and diced

1 lb potatoes, peeled and diced

2 vegetable bouillon cubes

5 cups water

1 block tofu, pressed and drained

salt and pepper to taste

1 tbsp dried parsley

In a large pot, saute the onions in the butter until tender. Add the parsnips and potatoes. Cover with water and dissolve the bouillon cubes. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cubed tofu and simmer for 5 more minutes. Use an immersion blender to process into a smooth soup. Add parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Allow to stand for 1 hour before serving to allow the flavor of the parsnips to shine through.

April 16, 2012 at 7:41 pm 5 comments

Roasted Holiday Veggies

No meal is complete without a good helping of veggies. While the green stuff still makes an appearance on most holiday tables, it is often so covered in butter, salt and heavy condiments that even a holiday vegetable option becomes unhealthy. If you are looking for new ways to get your friends and families to choose the plant over the meat or bread, it is all in the cooking method!

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These roasted asparagus spears might turn even the biggest skeptic into a veggie lover. My sister, not the biggest asparagus fan, raved about these. Asparagus can have a mushy texture when steamed and a strong flavor, but roasting them in a sherry-mustard sauce helps with both of these issues. Simply break off the woody ends, cover the spears in a mixture of sherry vinegar, dijon mustard, and olive oil, and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread them on a pan and roast at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. The asparagus will be a little bit crispy, and the mustard plays well with the strong flavor of the asparagus. They are best the first day, but leftovers probably won’t be a problem with this dish!

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Cutting out some of the butter doesn’t have to mean losing flavor or decadence, either. Take our mashed potatoes, for example! We roasted red and white potatoes, skins on, with leeks, olive oil, salt and pepper. We then mashed them up with a head of cauliflower and a splash of milk and topped them off with more roasted leeks! The roasting deepens the flavor of the potatoes, and the skins provide fun texture. The leeks also add another dimension of flavor without so much salt, and the cauliflower adds some creaminess! You might be sick of Thanksgiving leftovers right now, but these mashed potatoes would be a great addition to your Christmas dinner.

Whether you are bringing a vegetable side to a Christmas party or looking for a way to switch up your veggies for dinner, try roasting them and see what creations you come up with!

Question: What is your favorite way to prepare vegetables?

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Mustard Roasted Asparagus Spears

1 tbsp sherry vinegar

1 tbsp dijon mustard

2 tbsp olive oil

2 bunches asparagus spears, woody ends removed

salt and pepper to taste

Wash and dry the asparagus spears. Spread them evenly over a baking sheet. Whisk together the vinegar, mustard and oil and drizzle over asparagus spears. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Remove from tray and serve warm.

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Mashed Potatoes with Leeks

Adapted from Cooking Light, serves 8

1 lb small white potatoes, scrubbed

1 lb small red potatoes, scrubbed

1 leek, both white and greens

2 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsp milk of your choice

1 head cauliflower

Cut the white end of a leek into rounds, then immerse in water. Separate the rings while in the water bath to remove all of the sand. Cut washed potatoes into 1 inch cubes and arrange in a 9×13-in baking dish. Mix in the leek with the potatoes, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 425 degrees for 35-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. During the final 15 minutes of baking, arrange 1/4 cup sliced leek greens in a separate baking dish, drizzle lightly with olive oil and roast in oven. Meanwhile, steam the cauliflower until very soft. When the potatoes are fork tender, remove from the oven and add to a large pot. Add the cauliflower and milk, and use an immersion blender to mash and combine the mixture. Blend to desired consistency; we prefer some chunks, but some like it a bit smoother. Add more milk if it seems dry. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Top with roasted leek greens and serve warm.

November 29, 2011 at 9:19 am 4 comments

WIAW While Sick

It’s amazing how fast a head cold can strike you down. I was feeling fine on Saturday – studied, met a friend for coffee, ran 11.5 miles. Then I sneezed, and all of the sudden all I wanted was my bed and a tissue box. I slept 9 hours Saturday night and 10 hours Sunday night in hopes of shaking this cold early. Here is a glimpse into my Monday eats while I was sick! Make sure you check out Peas and Crayons to see other bloggers creative meal ideas!

Breakfast: 9:15 am

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Coffee makes my throat even more scratchy than it already is, so I decided to have some chai tea with a splash of rice milk instead. I had a whole grain English muffin with a bit of homemade peanut butter (my second batch, since we used the first up hiking!) and an orange on the side. Load me up with fluids and vitamins please!

Lunch: 1:45pm

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My fridge is looking pretty sad right now. My Boston Organics delivery is on Tuesdays, so I only had white and sweet potatoes in my veggie drawer by Monday. Time for some back up green stuff from the freezer! I saw this recipe for Coconut Curried Potatoes with Peas on Daily Garnish a few weeks ago and couldn’t wait to try it. It was so good! I ended up following the recipe more loosely, using what I had on hand rather than running out to the store. I cooked the potatoes in a bit of water, used regular coconut milk, used a little less curry powder (because I ran out), added some curry paste, and used fresh instead of powdered ginger. Even so, this turned out amazing, and now I have lunches for the rest of the week! I enjoyed my lunch with more tea – this time, green tea with slivers of fresh ginger.

Magic nap: 3:30pm

I slept for an hour and a half, choosing to listen to my body rather than my self-imposed study schedule. I went to bed sick and woke up feeling so much better! Still with a runny nose, but no longer feeling sick.

Dinner: 6:15pm

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I made plans to meet a few friends from undergrad who are still in school at BU. We met up at my old favorite study spot, the student union. Of course there is a food court there, but it is a bit overpriced if you are no longer on the meal plan. Creature of habit, I packed my dinner into a Tupperware, threw it in my backpack, and biked over to campus! Remember the freezer pesto cubes from yesterday? I threw one in with my hot pasta to let it melt a bit, and then fully mixed it in when I re-heated my meal before eating it. A little broccoli to follow the 1:1 pasta rule… yum! Apple for dessert (the no-sugar thing is much easier this week than last!) Like my veggie supply, my fruit is also running low. I always eat my apples and oranges at the end of the box, since they have a longer shelf life than bananas, berries and stone fruits. Seasonal fall apples are always a treat!

Snacks: 10pm

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A handful or two of peanuts and raisins before bed to keep my stomach from rumbling, and a cup of Sleepy Time Tea! Sleep and tea – the best cure for the common cold.

I have been thinking a lot about last week’s post and love the feedback I have gotten so far! I would love to hear more thoughts, and will be back tomorrow or Friday with an update of some of my own thoughts and musings about the problem of obesity in America and how doctors should address it.

Question: What was the best thing you ate today?

September 28, 2011 at 7:43 am 13 comments

Meat and Potatoes

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Czech food can be summed up in two words: meat and potatoes. Almost every dish is centered around beef or pork topped in some sort of heavy sauce and served with potato dumpling. Definitely not what I am used to! I was determined to really experience the culture and cuisine of Prague, though, so I tried garlic soup, beef goulash, and svíčková, three hallmark dishes of Czech cuisine.

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Many Czech meals start with a hearty soup, the most notable being their garlic soup. I made a big bowl of this soup dinner one evening, and it was a good thing I did! The garlic flavor was really intense, but not unpleasant or overwhelming. The croutons added a nice crunch and helped soften the garlic flavor as did the cheese, which also unfortunately added extra oil. Even so, I enjoyed trying this soup. My friend explained to me that garlic’s prevalence in Czech cuisine is a remnant of communist rule, a period in which import laws were really strict and vegetables and herbs were incredibly difficult to find. Garlic was one of the few ingredients available, so many traditional foods tend to be centered around this flavor.

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Beef goulash is actually Hungarian, although it is well-known in most central European countries. To me, it is like a thicker beef stew that is served with dumplings, great for soaking up the sauce. When my meal first came out, I was so surprised by the dumplings and actually thought they had mistakenly given me bread instead. Later I found out that they were in fact dumplings, but they are made by boiling a large loaf made of potato flour that is later sliced into dumplings. They were the highlight of the meal for me, especially soaked in the sauce from the goulash!

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Svíčková was the highlight of what I ate in Prague. It was made even better by great company – my friend from college, who is back in Prague for work, got in touch with me after seeing my post about where my travels had brought me and invited me out for lunch. Small world with crazy ways of making connections, huh? She took us to Cafe Louvre, a popular hang out spot for the likes of Einstein and Kafka. Located near the National Theater, the ambience in the restaurant was incredible. The sunlight was pouring in, the wallpaper was bright but classic, and the atmosphere was relaxed. They even left notepaper and little pencils on the table, in case lunch conversation was stimulating enough to necessitate more than a mental note! My friend recommended ordering svíčková, her favorite dish that she craved in college when away from home for a long time. It is a small portion of tender roast beef topped with cranberry sauce and served with the classic sliced dumplings, all topped with the most wonderful, creamy sauce. The sauce is actually blended vegetables (carrots, parsley root, celeriac and onion), which are roasted with the beef and then blended with heavy cream and spices to make the sauce. Everything was incredible  – the beef was tender, the sauce was rich and flavorful, and the cranberries were a unique counterpoint. Finally, a traditional Czech food that I loved!

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An interesting lunch time conversation was centered around the meat and potatoes cuisine of the Czech Republic. My friend recounted that the previous communist regime led to the formation of a limited ingredient list in traditional Czech dishes, since you could only cook with what was available. The terrain surrounding Prague is not great for agriculture, and so vegetables fell out of favor and were substituted with more easily accessible meat and root vegetables. While this doesn’t immediately seem problematic, my friend pointed out that the rates of colon cancer in the Czech Republic are amongst the highest in the world. She said that younger generations are open to a more balanced diet, but tradition has strong roots and change is slow. Her remarks reminded me of claims made in the documentary Forks Over Knives that I saw a few months ago, which claims that a plant-based diet is the best preventative measure against heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, and a myriad of other diseases. However, culture and tradition are important and it is difficult to convince people that lifestyle changes are worth it. Definitely interesting lunch conversation inspired by the intellectual atmosphere of Cafe Louvre!

Question: What are your thoughts on diet and culture? Do you think the way you eat is more influenced by your family or the region you grew up in? Do you think making changes towards a more balanced diet is important, regardless of cultural traditions? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

August 2, 2011 at 9:00 am 2 comments

Start of Summer

I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day! I was able to enjoy more family time, the beautiful weather, and the unofficial start of summer with a great backyard BBQ yesterday. We made tons of food – BBQ ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, grilled veggies, roasted Vidalia onions, bean salad, marinated cucumbers, and potato salad! We had watermelon for dessert, and the Fruits of our Labor made another appearance, this time with patriotic strawberries and blueberries!

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What kind of cookout would it be without a great potato salad? Now, I am a picky potato salad eater. I don’t like mayo and I don’t like bacon (I know, I’m crazy), which makes most potato salads unappealing to me. However, you can still get the flavors and ideas of a classic potato salad with a little creativity! Everyone loved this salad, and no one missed the mayo or the bacon! Try this recipe out for your next BBQ, and have fun playing with your favorite herbs. I chose dill because that is my grandma’s fave for potato salad, but use whatever you have on hand! You can also use red potatoes, but fingerling potatoes give a fun multi-colored look to the salad. Unfortunately, it is back to work for me so this post will be short, but at least the week will be short also!

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Fingerling Potato and Asparagus Salad

4 lbs fingerling potatoes

3 cups asparagus pieces (about 1 inch long)

1 cup Greek yogurt

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp dried dill

salt and pepper to taste

Place fingerling potatoes in a large pot of cold, salted water. Bring to a boil, and then turn down heat and let cook until potatoes are tender. Cut potatoes into 1 inch rounds (or half moons if potatoes are thick). Quickly blanch the asparagus pieces and add to the potatoes. In a separate bowl, mix together the rest of the ingredients. Mix the yogurt into the potatoes until well coated (it is best to do this while the potatoes are still slightly warm so that the yogurt melts slightly to cover the salad). Season to taste with salt and pepper and refrigerate for 2-3 hours before serving.

May 31, 2011 at 10:54 am 5 comments


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