Unplugged.

J and I decided that for our next brief trip (all of 4 days!), we were going to be completely unplugged from work.  Since starting, I have yet to be separated from my work inbox, with its daily onslaught of patient messages, calls, labs, staff messages, prescription refills, etc, etc.  I try to clear it by the end of the day, only to log in several hours later to find that it is once again filled with new things to address.

To that end, I brought my phone along on our trip but otherwise made a point of leaving my computer at home.  I admittedly had separation anxiety and was fidgeting to check in as day 1 approached.  By day 2, I couldn’t believe how it felt to be unplugged.  It. was. so. l-i-b-e-r-a-t-i-n-g!  As grateful as I am to have an electronically medical record and the technological advances we have, it has so blurred the lines between work and home that I never feel completely done with work.  It makes it hard to find some semblance of work-life balance…I went into this field knowing it could and would consume most of my waking hours and energy, but I do not think this means neglecting personal priorities.  Physician, heal thyself – otherwise, how can I possibly hope to care for others?

And so, during one of our mornings free, I made this lovely frittata – it felt celebratory in more ways than one, featuring spring’s fresh and sweet asparagus.

IMG_3433 IMG_3439Asparagus, Leek and Mushroom Frittata (recipe adapted from here)

Ingredients:

  • 1.5-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped leeks (white and pale green parts only)
  • 1 12-ounce bunch thin asparagus, trimmed, cut on diagonal into 1-inch pieces (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup sliced stemmed shiitake mushrooms
  • 8 large omega-3 eggs
  • 1 cup diced Gruyere cheese, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Heat olive oil in 10-inch-diameter nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add leeks and sauté 4 minutes. Add asparagus and shiitake mushrooms, sprinkle lightly with salt, and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes.
  4. Whisk eggs, 3/4 cup Gruyere cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in medium bowl.
  5. Add egg mixture to skillet; fold gently to combine. Cook until almost set.
  6. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup Gruyere cheese and Parmesan cheese over. Broil until frittata is puffed and cheese begins to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

A berry cozy morning…

I can be a creature of habit, and as J will readily confirm, rather particular when it comes to certain foods and tastes.  He hypothesizes that we get along so well because he shares a lot in common with my sister L’s tastes, so I’m used to the overlap in the venn diagram of our preferences, even if  the “circle” of foods he enjoys is much larger than mine.   I disagree – I will eat practically any vegetable or fruit!

When it comes to oatmeal, we definitely have our own preferences and tastes.  I prefer plain oatmeal that I flavor with whatever I feel like at the time – seasonal fruit, spices, nuts…I like the chewiness of rolled or steel cut oats and I don’t like it when the oatmeal is a touch on the watery side.  He is much less demanding and is happy to go with the packaged stuff, and tries to mollify me by making it less watery and using half plain quick oats so that I’m not horrified by the cloying sweetness.

That said, this baked oatmeal is versatile, delicious, healthy…and a perfect compromise!  It takes more time than instant oatmeal, but is still super easy to throw together.

IMG_3397

Baked Oatmeal with Mixed Berries and Almonds (recipe adapted from here)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups/7 oz/200 g rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup/2 oz/60 g sliced almonds, toasted
  • 1/3 cup/2 oz/60 g natural cane sugar or maple syrup, plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • Scant 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 2 cups/475 ml milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 ripe bananas, cut into 1/2-inch/1 cm pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups/6.5 oz/185 g mixed berries

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C with a rack in the top third of the oven. Generously butter the inside of an 8-inch/20cm square baking dish.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the oats, half the almonds, the sugar, if using, the baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, if using, the milk, egg, the butter, and the vanilla.
  4. Arrange the bananas in a single layer in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle two-thirds of the berries over the top. Cover the fruit with the oat mixture. Slowly drizzle the milk mixture over the oats. Gently give the baking dish a couple thwacks on the countertop to make sure the milk moves through the oats. Scatter the remaining berries and remaining almonds across the top.
  5. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the top is nicely golden and the oat mixture has set. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. Sprinkle with a bit more sugar or drizzle with maple syrup if you want it a bit sweeter.

Chasing away the Monday blues…

with Blueberry Meyer Lemon scones didn’t really work today, but at least the day started (and ended, because yes, it was one of those days) on a sweet, citrus-y and flowery note. I could go on and on about Meyer lemons, but I won’t – suffice it to say that when I spotted them all the way in NYC, it reminded me of how far I was from home and how much I missed California produce.  Now that I’m back, I have access to J’s mother’s tree, which is truly the tree that keeps on giving…Meyer lemons in abundance!  And the largest, most beautiful ones I’ve seen as well!  IMG_3391

Blueberry Meyer Lemon Scones (recipe adapted from here)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 3/4 tablespoon sugar
  • 6 tbl (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3/4 cups blueberries
  • 1/2 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon buttermilk
  • 1-2 tbl Meyer lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated Meyer lemon peel

Ingredients:

  1. Position rack in top third of oven and preheat to 425°F.
  2. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt and 1/4 cup sugar in large bowl. Using fingertips, rub in chilled butter until pieces are size of small peas.
  4. Mix 1/2 cup buttermilk, Meyer lemon juice, and finely grated Meyer lemon peel in glass measuring cup.
  5. Pour buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients and stir until dough begins to form (some of flour will not be incorporated).
  6. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and gather together. Fold in blueberries and knead dough briefly, about 5 turns.
  7. Form each dough into ball and flatten into 1-inch-thick disk. Cut each disk into 6 wedges or cut with biscuit cutter into desired shape.
  8. Transfer scones to prepared baking sheet, spacing 1 inch apart.
  9. Brush tops with remaining 1/2 tablespoon buttermilk and sprinkle with remaining 3/4 tablespoon sugar.
  10. Bake until scones are golden brown on top and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes.

Mini quiches for everybody!

Even when I was younger, I never felt that enthusiastic about the rigmarole of Valentine’s Day.  I’m hardly alone in thinking this, regardless of being single or in a relationship.  J and I were even dismayed last year when we made the mistake of going out for dinner during the weekend, and found that the menu for the pink and red holiday had been extended to the entire weekend.  Ugh.

That said, there is much joy to be found in life’s little pleasures and small, everyday gestures of love and affection.  For me, that means cooking and spending time with family and J.  I made these mini mushroom, spinach, and proscuitto quiches for an impromptu brunch with his family yesterday.  Crustless and portion-controlled, these savory bites were full of protein, vegetables, and flavor!

Mini quiches

Mini Mushroom, Spinach, and Proscuitto Quiches (makes ~12)

  • 2 small shallots, sliced
  • 1/2 tbl butter
  • 1/2 tbl olive oil
  • 10 oz crimini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 6 slices proscuitto (~3 oz), coarsely chopped
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup 1% milk (or skim milk)
  • 1/3 cup grated cheese (fontina or gruyere; I used white cheddar since that’s what we had)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Lightly coat a 12-cup nonstick muffin pan with olive oil.
  2. In a nonstick skillet, heat the butter and olive oil.  Add the mushrooms, shallot, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cook until shallots are soft and the mushrooms are dry and lightly browned, about 10 minutes.  Turn off the heat and stir in the baby spinach until the spinach is just wilted, but still bright green, 2 minutes.  Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. In the same skillet over medium heat, crisp the proscuitto.  Set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, egg whites, and milk until well combined.  Season with a little salt and pepper.  Stir in the cheese.  Divide the egg mixture evenly between the muffin tins, filling them about halfway.  Top evenly with the mushroom and spinach mixture and then the crisped proscuitto.
  5. Bake until the quiches are well risen, golden brown and set, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in the pan 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Bisous, bisous, bisous!  Quiche, quiche, quiche!  😉

and to all, a good night!
and to all, a good night!

An easy puff of bliss

IMG_3106 IMG_3108

I decided to surprise J with this quick and easy (but delightfully indulgent!) dutch apple pancake this morning.  It’s based on David Eyre‘s pancake from The Essential New York Times Cookbook and is cross between a pancake and crepe, sweet and tart with crispy edges and a moist center.  Similar recipes have referred to this delicious baked pancake as Dutch baby pancakes, German pancakes, or Dutch puffs.  Regardless of what they are named, they make for an easy and impressive breakfast or brunch treat!

They are traditionally served with lemon juice and powdered sugar.  I added thinly  sliced Honey Crisp apples to mine.

Apple Dutch Baby (serves 2-4)

Ingredients:

1/3 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup milk

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 tsp cinnamon

4 tbl unsalted butter

1/2 small apple, thinly sliced (about 1/4-inch slices or thinner)

2 tbl powdered (confectioners’) sugar

juice of 1/2 lemon (I used a Meyer lemon)

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Combine the flour, milk, eggs, and cinnamon in a bowl. Beat lightly. Leave the batter a little lumpy.
  2. Melt the butter in a 10-inch skillet with a heatproof handle (cast iron would work very well for this) over medium heat.  Add apple slices and cook for 3-5 minutes, until slightly softened.
  3. Pour in the batter and carefully place in heated oven.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the pancake is puffed and golden brown.
  4. Sprinkle with the sugar and return briefly to the oven for about 1-2 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle with lemon juice and serve warm, with additional fruit as desired.

When life makes you bananas…make banana bread!

A view from my morning run:
IMG_2919
Every runner remembers their first real run – the exhilarating moment when you realize how far you are really able to go, and when you realize how addicting it is to feel the pavement under your feet, the wind in your hair, and the rhythm  of your breathing as the miles melt away.  You’re already thinking about your next run by the time you’re done.

These days, after injuring my hip a few years ago, every run feels like a gift.  I don’t get caught up in races or PRs or comparing distances and times because I would risk  injury and possibly not be able to run for many more years, which is precisely what I hope to do.  Instead, I’ve learned to listen to my body and enjoy the fact that I was simply “born to run,” as Christopher McDougall’s novel is aptly titled.  I am now a better, faster, and lighter runner than I have ever been!

I run when I’m happy, when I’m sad, and when I’m stressed.  In all my moods, even when I didn’t initially feel like running, I finish my run with a load off my mind and heart.

Perhaps that’s why the boyfriend asked, “Hon, what’s on your mind?” the moment I recapped my day and told him I had run and baked.

People who know me know that I bake when I have a lot on my mind.  It’s a bit of an escape, to soothe my mind by using my hands to measure, weigh, mix … a little bit of this, a little bit of that.  And before you know it, the house smells incredible and you have something to share with any willing taster! But I also bake when I’m happy, when I have time, when I have the ingredients, and when I’m taken with a recipe and can’t stop thinking about it for days.

He needn’t have worried quite  that much.
IMG_3022 If you have too many bananas around (it happens!), this recipe for Nutella Banana Bread from Cooking Light comes together quickly and is a crowd-pleaser – I work in an office full of nutritionists, and not a crumb remained! You CAN be healthy and indulge (a little). The bananas provide fiber and potassium and make the bread naturally moist and sweet, requiring less fat and sugar overall.  I wouldn’t change a thing about this recipe, although I don’t usually do the chocolate drizzle/nut garnish.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Banana Bread

Yield: Serves 16 (serving size: 1 slice)

Ingredients:

5 tablespoons chocolate-hazelnut spread (such as Nutella)
3 tablespoons plus
1 teaspoon canola oil, divided
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 medium ripe bananas, sliced
2 large eggs
6.75 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup whole buttermilk
Baking spray with flour (such as Baker’s Joy)
1/4 cup hazelnuts, coarsely chopped 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Combine chocolate-hazelnut spread and 1 teaspoon oil in a microwave-safe dish; microwave at HIGH for 30 seconds or until melted. Stir. Combine 3 tablespoons oil, butter, brown sugar, and banana in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium-high speed until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Beating at low speed, add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to banana mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat just until combined. Scrape half of batter into a 9 x 5-inch metal loaf pan coated with baking spray, and top with chocolate-hazelnut spread mixture. Spread remaining batter over chocolate mixture. Using a wooden pick, swirl batter. Sprinkle batter with hazelnuts.
4. Bake at 350° for 55 minutes or until a wooden pick comes out with moist crumbs clinging. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove bread; cool on wire rack.
5. Place bittersweet chocolate in a microwave-safe dish; microwave at high for 30 seconds. Drizzle bread with chocolate; let stand until set.

Nutrition data: Calories: 193 Fat: 9.7g Saturated fat: 3g Monounsaturated fat: 3.5g Polyunsaturated fat: 1.2g Protein: 3.4g Carbohydrate: 24.6g Fiber: 1.2g Cholesterol: 30mg Iron: 1mg Sodium: 186mg Calcium: 28mg

Another great option for breakfast on the run (and too many bananas) are these whole wheat banana muffins:

Whole Wheat Banana Muffins (adapted from here):
Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups whole-wheat flour (I used whole white wheat flour)
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tbl of milk
  • ⅓ cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 very ripe bananas, peeled (the riper they are the sweeter they’ll be)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a muffin pan with paper or silicone liners and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl mash the two bananas together with the back of a fork.
  4. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder.
  5. Add eggs, butter, canola oil, milk, and syrup to the dry ingredients and mix until just blended.
  6. Fold in mashed bananas.
  7. Divide batter carefully between the prepared muffin tins.
  8. Bake until they begin to brown on top and a toothpick comes clean when inserted in the center, about 20 to 22 minutes.

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