Hellooooo Summer!

What a whirlwind the past few months have been! We studied for one of the most important exams of our medical career (USMLE Step 1 board), traveled to a tropical paradise in Kauai for a week to unwind, and have since started our 3rd year clinical rotations. Needless to say, that hasn’t left much time for cooking lately. But we were craving our nightly Hawaiian meals, which usually centered around poke. Since sushi-grade tuna is way out of our budget here in Michigan, this summer shrimp salad is a pocket-friendly alternative. 🙂

View from the Napali Coast in Kauai
View from the Napali Coast in Kauai
The whole crew enjoying a night out on the island
The whole crew enjoying a night out on the island

Ok, now for the good stuff: Asian-Style Summer Shrimp Salad

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Ingredients (serves 4):
– 2 lb raw, peeled, deveined shrimp
– 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
– 1/2 tsp ground ginger
– crushed red pepper flake, to taste
– black pepper, to taste
– 3 small avocados, cubed
– 1 cucumber, sliced lengthwise
– 3 bunches green onion, chopped
– 2-3 tbsp lime juice
– 2 tbsp soy sauce
– 3/4 tsp sesame oil
– toasted sesame seeds
– seaweed salad (optional)
– coconut oil

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1. In a large skillet, sauté the shrimp and garlic in some coconut oil. Season with pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and ginger. It should only take 3-5 minutes until the shrimp are fully cooked – don’t overcook! Transfer to a plate and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

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2. Meanwhile, chop the veggies and toast the sesame seeds.

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3. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except the seaweed salad and mix well. Serve immediately or chill for later (it’s best the same day!). Garnish with seaweed salad and additional sesame seeds.

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Healthy Breakfast Hash

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Who doesn’t love brunch? We decided to do a healthy spin on the breakfast hash that’s just as hearty and satisfying as our favorite brunch spot version. Cozy up with a bowl of this simple and quick dish on your next lazy Sunday.

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Ingredients (modified from Cooking Light; makes 4 servings):
– 2 tbsp olive oil
– 1 medium red onion, vertically sliced
– a palmful of dried thyme
– 4 garlic cloves, minced
– 2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
– 2 medium zucchini, cubed
– 1/4 cup water
– 4 oz kale, stemmed and chopped
– 3 cups fresh spinach
– salt and pepper, to taste
– 4 eggs
– your favorite hot sauce (optional)

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1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook for about 5 minutes until lightly browned. Add the thyme and garlic, and cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add the sweet potatoes, zucchini, and water; cover and simmer on medium-low heat for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.

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2. Stir in the kale and spinach, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, covered, for about 5 minutes until the greens wilt.

3. Meanwhile, make the eggs to your preference. We went with over-easy–can’t go wrong with the runny yolk!

4. Top each serving with an egg and some hot sauce, if you’re feelin’ spicy. We also mixed in some sliced avocado on the fly.

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Polenta Lasagna

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Apologies for the long hiatus! Sadly, life sometimes gets in the way of food. Our school schedule got super hectic towards the end of the year, but we hope to get in a few more good entries before we head off to study for our Step 1 board exam in March. Eek!

Busted out the aprons today! #nosplatterzone
Busted out the aprons today! #nosplatterzone

Anyway, on to the food. With the frigid winter we’ve been been having thanks to the polar vortex, we wanted to making something hearty and comforting. 🙂 This lasagna recipe, which substitutes sliced polenta for lasagna noodles, is an easy one-dish dinner sure to satisfy any comfort food cravings. Recipe is modified from Cooking Light.

Ingredients:
– 1 lb ground lean turkey
– 2 16-oz tubes of polenta, cut into quarter inch slices
– 1.5 jars of marinara sauce (25 oz jars)
– 2 zucchini
– 1 small eggplant
– 1 medium onion
– 6 cloves garlic, minced
– 2 cups chopped mushrooms
– 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
– dried basil
– dried oregano
– dried thyme
– garlic powder

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1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, brown the ground turkey in olive oil with half the minced garlic. Season with salt, pepper, a palmful of the dried herbs, and 1 tsp of garlic powder. Once cooked, set aside.

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2. Chop up the eggplant, zucchini, onion. Saute the onions, garlic, and mushrooms in olive oil for 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add the zucchini and eggplant. Season with salt, pepper, and another palmful of herbs. Stir every few minutes, until the zucchini and eggplant are tender. Meanwhile, add 1/2 a cup of marinara sauce to the bottom of a large baking dish, and line polenta slices on top.

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3. Add the turkey back to the pot. Mix in the rest of the marinara sauce. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

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4. Spoon a layer of the sauce mixture on top of the polenta slices, and then follow with the mozzarella (be generous with it!). Add more polenta slices, and repeat. Sprinkle some herbs on top of the final layer of mozzarella if you’d like.

5. Bake, covered for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake another 15 minutes. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

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Creamy Chicken and Jalapeño Enchiladas

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With our cardiology final exam coming up this week, we decided to take a break from studying to cook up these spicy, oh-so-creamy enchiladas! Not exactly the most heart-healthy food, but everything in moderation, right? Plus, YOLO. 😉 We decided to make two different batches and experiment with a lower-calorie version that substitutes nonfat Greek yogurt for cream cheese in the sauce. We were pleasantly surprised to find that they tasted exactly the same! So go Greek!

Ingredients for one batch (recipe is modified from BevCooks):
– 1 1/2 lbs poached chicken breast, shredded (we added 1 tbsp each of chili powder, garlic powder, and 1/2 tsp of salt to the poaching water for flavor)
– 2 or 3 (depending on how saucy you wanna get) 10oz cans green enchilada sauce
– 8 oz nonfat Greek yogurt (or softened cream cheese if you’re going for the full fat version)
– 1/2 cup milk
– 1/2 cup jarred jalapeños, chopped
– 2 tbsp juice from the jalapeño jar
– 1 cup cooked corn (we cut ours straight from the cob!)
– 1/2 cup cilantro, plus more for garnish
– 10 flour tortillas
– 2 cups pepper jack cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

enchiladasauce2. In a large bowl, mix together the enchilada sauce, Greek yogurt (or cream cheese), jalapeño juice, and milk.

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mixedfilling3. In another bowl, combine the shredded chicken with the jalapeños, cilantro, corn, and 1/2 cup of the sauce mixture. Let the mouth-watering begin…

wrapping4. Cover the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish (or two smaller baking dishes) with about 3/4 cup of sauce. Place a few spoonfuls of the chicken filling in the middle of each tortilla, and roll to close.

readytobake5. Place in the baking dish seam-side down. Pour the rest of the sauce over the enchiladas, and top with the shredded cheese.

baking6. Bake for 30-40 minutes until lightly browned and the cheese is melted and bubbly. We broiled ours at the end for a few minutes for some extra cheese-bubbling action. Rule #1 with broiling: DON’T WALK AWAY.

7. Garnish with cilantro and any of your favorite toppings (salsa, guacamole, etc). We also sprinkled some extra corn on top.

enchiladas8. Relinquish all your emotions to the delicious, comforting creaminess that these have to offer. Mmmmmmmm…

Alina’s Asian Tofu Summer Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce (VEGAN)

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Traditionally made with shrimp, marinated tofu in these summer rolls adds whole new flavor. And they’re vegan! These crowd-pleasers make fantastic appetizers or a meal in itself.

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Ingredients:
– rice paper spring roll wrappers (You can usually find these in the Asian section of a supermarket, or any Asian foods store)
– 1/2 of a large pack of dry rice vermicelli
– 1 14-16oz container of extra firm tofu
– 1 package bean sprouts
– 1 large cucumber
– several handfuls of shredded carrot
– 1 bunch fresh mint
– 1 bunch fresh cilantro
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– low-sodium soy sauce
– water

MARINADE:
– 4 tbsp Hoisin sauce
– 2 tbsp honey
– 3 tbsp Thai sweet chili sauce
– 2 tbsp rice vinegar
– 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
– 2 tsp of your favorite Asian chili sauce
– 2 tsp ground ginger

DIPPING SAUCE:
– 3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
– 1/3 cup hot water
– 3 tbsp Hoisin sauce
– 4 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
– 2 tsp chili sauce
– drizzle of sesame oil

Image1. Rinse and pat tofu dry. Slice into 1/2 inch strips. Heat 1 cup of water and 1 tbsp of soy sauce in a pan. Add the minced garlic and tofu. Simmer until all the water is evaporated (about 15 minutes). Meanwhile, mix together the marinade.

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2. Pour a layer of the marinade into a large dish. Place the tofu on top, and cover with the rest of the marinade. Set aside while you prep the other ingredients. We used this time to chop up our veggies, cook the noodles, and make the dip — so they probably marinated for about 20-25 minutes.

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Image3. Boil the rice noodles in a pot of water until tender. This should only take about 2-3 minutes. Strain and rinse with cold water.

Image4. Fill a large pot or bowl with a few inches of warm water. One by one, immerse the spring roll wrappers in the water for several seconds. Carefully move to a plate — they will be delicate and flimsy!

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5. Place two pieces of tofu in the center of the wrapper. Then follow with a chunk of noodles, a sprig of cilantro, and a few pieces of mint. Place a couple slivers of cucumber and carrot on either side.

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6. Fold the bottom over, tuck in both sides, and continue rolling (like a burrito). Place seam-side down on a cookie sheet or plate, and cover with a damp cloth as you go (This prevents them from drying out). Keep rolling until you run out of ingredients — you should be able to make about 20-24 rolls.

Image7. To make the dipping sauce, heat the peanut butter in the microwave for 30 seconds before adding in the remaining ingredients. You will then need to stir it quite a bit to get the water incorporated with the thick peanut butter.

ImageAnd there you have it! Yum! You can store these in the fridge, covered with damp cloth and plastic wrap, for a couple days. But they are best eaten fresh. 😉

Chickpea-Spinach Coconut Fritters (VEGAN)

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This recipe is adapted from Healthy.Happy.Life.

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We added some ingredients on the fly, which are not pictured here. But they are all listed below!

Ingredients:
– 1 – 16oz can garbanzo beans, drained/rinsed, half-mashed
– 1 – 16oz can cannellini beans, drained/rinsed, mashed
– 3 cups fresh spinach, finely chopped
– 2 big handfuls shredded carrot
– 3/4 cup nutritional yeast
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 1/4 cup bread crumbs (to fold in) + 1 cup for coating the fritters
– 1 tsp honey
– 3-4 tbsp light coconut milk from a chilled can (the hard white part at the top) + a little liquid from the can for extra flavor!
– a few handfuls dried shredded coconut (unsweetened)
– salt and pepper, to taste
– cayenne pepper, to taste
– coconut oil, for frying

1. Chill the coconut milk in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.

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2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the chickpea and cannellini beans, nutritional yeast, coconut milk, salt, pepper, and honey to a large bowl. Mash until the cannellini beans are all smashed and the chickpeas are half-smashed. Fold in the garlic, coconut, spinach, carrots, and the 1/4 cup of bread crumbs. Add a couple dashes of cayenne pepper.

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3. Mix until well-incorporated. For the bread crumb coating, season with salt, pepper, and ~1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper.

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4. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add a few spoonfuls of coconut oil. Form patties by hand, roll in the bread crumb coating, and add to the pan. Fry for about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a couple layers of paper towel to soak up the excess oil, and then move to a cookie sheet.

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5. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes.

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Serve warm with guacamole or sour cream. We enjoyed ours with Chalula hot sauce, a simple salad, our chilled herb zucchini soup, and thyme-infused strawberry spritzers! A fantastic summer meal.

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Finished dinner with our friend Ashley’s delicious chocolate chip cookie cake, which she personally decorated for us!

Mozzarella & Pesto Stuffed Chicken with Pecan Crust

chickenMarika makes a mean pesto, and Alina just got a new meat tenderizer. The result? Mozzarella and pesto stuffed chicken breasts with crunchy pecan crust. We purchased the basil for the pesto fresh from the Ann Arbor farmers’ market–deliciously fragrant, organic, and most importantly, local! #helpingMotherEarth

Ingredients:
– 4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
– pesto (store-bought will do the trick, but we made our own!)
– sliced fresh mozzarella
– 4 tbsp butter
– 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
– 1 tsp lemon juice + zest
– Italian seasoning (oregano, basil, marjoram)
– dried thyme
– cayenne pepper
– 1 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped
– 1/2 cup bread crumbs
– salt and pepper, to taste
– toothpicks
– parchment paper or plastic wrap

meat 1. Place chicken breast, one at a time, between two pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap. Using a meat tenderizer (or bottom of a frying pan a la Rachael Ray), pound the meat from the center outward until 1/4 inch thick.

beforewrappingchicken2. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Spread on a spoonful of pesto and top with a slice of mozzarella. Then roll tightly and secure with toothpicks.

butter3. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the garlic and cook on medium-low heat for 3-4 minutes. Add a liberal pinch of italian seasoning and thyme, as well a dash of cayenne pepper. Stir in the lemon juice and zest. Season with salt (if you’re using unsalted butter) and pepper to taste. Let simmer on low heat for another 5 minutes.

pecancrust4. Place the breadcrumbs and pecans in a dish. Add a palmful of the dried herbs and a few dashes of cayenne. Season with salt and pepper, and mix until homogenous.

chicken15. Dip each chicken breast in the garlic butter mixture and then dredge in the pecan-bread crumb coating. Place onto a cookie sheet and bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 25-30 min.

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SO. GOOD.
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Friends!

We enjoyed the chicken with grilled veggies, our friend’s homemade grape leaves, and great company!

Happy summer from Ann Arbor!