Thursday, August 30, 2012

It's Lunch Time! - Part II

"We Are Marshalls!"

It has been three weeks since I moved to Huntington, time flies! This week I began the dietetic internship rotations at a local diabetes center. I shadow with a dietitian while she does diabetes education and counseling. The first few days have been interesting, especially learning about the patient population and what problems they have in managing their diabetes. It's more than counting carbohydrates and insulin injections, a lot of the counseling have to do with psychological and family issues.

A while ago I talked about my dilemma with what to have for lunch. Now that I am busy with internship stuff and Jake is back to school, we needed some lunch ideas besides sandwiches with deli meat and cheese. Whenever I think about the amount of deli meat (a pound a week!) we went through last year, it kind of scares me. I can't stand to think about all the unnatural ingredients that goes into processed food. I guess that's what happens when you are in the food and nutrition field. I want something quick, no heating involved, and fulfilling.

Sandwiches are still my go-to lunch item, except now I replace meat with avocado, tomato slices, and crumbled feta. Yum yum...

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Last week for lunch I made a batch of tuna salad, and this week I got creative with the CSA vegetables and made couscous salad. As crazy as it sounds (especially being in nutrition and all), I have never had quinoa before. I can't find a bag of quinoa with decent price at the grocery stores and I have not had the time to venture out to health stores.

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I see magazines with pretty pictures of neatly packed and veggie-filled lunch ideas. Realistically, how many people actually have the time and effort to put together lunch like that everyday.

What are some easy lunch ideas you have?

Couscous Salad

1/2 cup chopped cherry tomato
1/2 cup diced cucumber
1/2 cup diced sweet green bell pepper
1/2 cup diced sweet red bell pepper
1/4 cup diced sweet red onion
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup feta cheese
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cups dried couscous
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook couscous according to package direction
2. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Whisk olive oil and lemon juice together, add into mixture.
3. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Buttermilk Cheesecake

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First of all, I miss this place:
(Those who are familiar with Lexington area, guess where this crazy color horse is at)
Last Friday all the dietetic interns took a practice registered dietitian exam to see how much materials we remember. I did study for a few days before the internship started and probably due to getting a master's degree, I managed to get a barely passing score of 64%. Phew....but I still have long ways to go. I start off with community rotations next week and throughout the semester, I will be going to WIC (Women, Infants, and Children), different nursing homes, and other community-based nutrition programs.

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I have made lots of cookies, a few cakes, and many other baking experiment since I began to bake 4-5 years ago. But cheesecake is something I have never attempted to make. I associate cheesecake with dessert that you order at fancy white table cloth restaurants. At least that was how I had cheesecakes growing up (There is no Cheesecake Factory in Hong Kong). Finally the other night my roommate and I made this simple and classic cheesecake with graham cracker crust.

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My roommate and I were amazed how our first made-from-scratch cheesecake turned out. It was perfection. Not a single crack or discoloration.

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I was worried about cracking on top of the cheesecake. After some googling, I learned that cheesecakes require lots of love and attention. To prevent cracking, one can 1) bake cheesecake in water bath, 2) avoid over-baking, 3) after baking loosen up the cheesecake from the springform pan since cheesecake tend to pull towards the middle during cooling. And there are many more reasons.

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Buttermilk Cheesecake
Recipe from Edible Communities

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons granulated sugar (for crust) + 1 cup sugar (for cheesecake)
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
Zest of 2 lemons, grated
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a 10-inch springform pan.
2. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, cornmeal, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 3 ounces of melted butter. Press the mixture into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of the pan. Bake for approximately 10 minutes until lightly golden. Reserve.
3. Cream the room-temperature butter and cream cheese with the lemon zest and 1 cup sugar until smooth. Add buttermilk and vanilla. Beat, scraping the bowl occasionally, until well combined. Add the eggs and slowly beat just to combine. Do not over mix.
4. Pour into the reserved crust. Bake for 25 minutes, then turn oven down to 300° and bake for an additional 25 minutes, then turn oven to the lowest setting and bake until done.
5. Serve with strawberry jam or other fruity syrup.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Ricotta Tomato Pizza

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I completed first week of orientation for the dietetic internship! Huntington is located in a more rural area, and as a city girl I am more used to things being more accessible and lots of events going on all the time. Over the last week, I have pretty much ran most areas of the city already. I was back in Lexington this past weekend and went to Woodland Art Fair. There was beautiful hand-crafted art pieces everywhere, if only I had the money to invest on a piece.

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I am a fan of homemade pizza, it is my go-to meal when I can't think of what to make. Not only do I get to decide what goes on the pizza (or what leftover ingredients to use up) and how much cheese to add , but also the unbeatable taste of homemade crust. A friend of mine gave me a pizza peal a month ago, I have yet to master the correct oven temperature and baking time.

A few weeks I bought a tub of ricotta cheese thinking I would make lasagna someday. Except I kept forgeting to buy the other ingredient, hence the idea of a white pizza came about. Not quite "white pizza" like other recipes out there, but I created one using ricotta in place of shredded cheese.

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A layer of ricotta cheese on top (sprinkle with herb and Parmesan cheese, if you like) then spread layer of tomato sauce on top. Put on any ingredients to your liking and if you are like me who is tired of squash week ofter week, then slice some up for the pizza.

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Homemade Pizza Crust 
(Makes 2 pizzas) 

4 cups all-purpose flower
2.5 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1.5 cups luke warm water

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, mix until dough form. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, let dough rise for at least 2 hours. Roll out to desired shape. Bake according to pan/ pizza stone instructions.

Ricotta "White Sauce"

1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning (or any other herb of your liking)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Spread evenly on rolled out pizza dough. Top with tomato sauce and fresh tomato slices for ricotta tomato pizza.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012



My first day of dietetic internship at Marshall University has finally arrived. I agonized about this first day, as the realization of the end of summer hits in. I made the final move earlier this week and started orientation today. I was nervous about meeting new people at a new place and uncertain about what will be happening the next ten months. 

My room in the apartment that I share with another intern looks bare, but the kitchen well-stocked (with Fiestaware and a KitchenAid stand-up mixer!) thanks to my foodie roommate. 

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My first taste of Huntington was last night at Black Sheep Burrito & Brew, a place everyone said I need to go. I had grilled fish burrito with pickled red cabbage and mango salsa with sweet potato salad side. Yum yum. I think I am off to a good start.

I brought my loyal canine companion with me to Huntington. This afternoon we explored the dog park and trails at Ritter Park.

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My first day flew by. Although I am bit stressed about starting the internship, I keep reminding myself to have fun and explore the new city, try new food, and meet new people. Experience what the internship rotations have to offer me, challenge myself one day at a time.

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Whole Wheat Strawberry Ricotta Scones

I love it when during the summer fruits are always on super sale at the grocery store. Although not quite the taste of fresh-picked fruits, I am definitely getting the daily recommended fruits servings. Except when I go overboard buying too much fruits at the grocery, in addition to getting a watermelon and a cantaloupe from CSA. Luckily I found this recipe from Smitten Kitchen to use up the extra box of strawberries. Strawberry scones and tea, perfect for Olympics watching snack.

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Tomorrow I am moving some of my things to Huntington, West Virginia before starting my dietetic internship on next Wednesday. It seemed like ages ago when I found out I got the internship. Moving away is a bittersweet moment for me. Jake is staying in Lexington due to his job while I (and Lola) will be driving back and forth on the Mountain Parkway every weekend. Yet, this internship is an important step for my career goal to become a dietitian.

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I had some reserves when I moved to Lexington one and half years ago. But this city has grown on me with its unique horse-centered culture and slight touch of Southern charm. I hope to be back after 10 months. Meanwhile, I will keep blogging about my internship experiences, culinary adventures, and Huntington exploring.

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Whole Wheat Strawberry Ricotta Scones
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder, preferably aluminum-free
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 cup fresh strawberries (or other fruits of your liking)
3/4 cup ricotta
1/3 cup milk (use heavy cream for extra flavor)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Use a large, wide-ish bowl, whisk flours, baking powder, sugar and salt together.
2. With a pastry blender, add the butter (no need to chop it first) and use the blender to both cut the butter into the flour mixture until the biggest pieces are the size of small peas. Toss in strawberries.
3. Add the ricotta and milk together and stir them in to form a dough and well combined. Using your hands, gently knead dough into an even mass, right in the bottom of the bowl.
4. With as few movements as possible, transfer the dough to a well-floured counter, flour the top of the dough and pat it into a flat circle about 1/2-inch tall. With a large knife (or biscuit cutter), divide the dough into 12 even squares. Transfer the scones to prepared baking sheet with a spatula.
5. Bake the scones for about 15 minutes, until lightly golden at the edges. Cool in pan for a minute, then transfer to a cooling rack.
6. Enjoy with tea and fresh jam!

 Happy Friday!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Water Polo

I am still watching the Olympics like it is a daytime soap show. Every night I spend 3 hours glued to the TV. Although I can't say I am loving NBC's nightly Olympics broadcast. For two nights this week, I have watched numerous track and field heats, when the exciting events don't start until late at night. Moreover, the women's marathon was not shown on TV! Wait, before an event there has to be a heartfelt story about certain American athlete. Nevertheless, I still enjoy watching the triumph of these athletes. Maybe less water polo, boxing, and other "sports" that are more "games". I think a sport is an event in which one can train physically for, in order to become better at it. Such as running or swimming. Well, convince me if I'm wrong.

I am starting my dietetic internship in about a week. I am excited to move on with my career, but nervous. Summer is passing by way too fast.

Meanwhile I made an awesome dinner this Sunday, baked tilapia with cherry tomatoes, sauté garlic green bean, and baked sweet potato.

P.S. Follow me on Facebook to see what I'm choking each day!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Whole Wheat Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

Growing up, banana was a staple food at my home. This was because my dad would have a banana after breakfast, another banana after lunch, and one more banana after dinner. His reason was that if athletes eat banana in-between and after workouts (his example would be: the most common athlete-banana combination can be found in tennis matches) then banana must be a super charge food. True. Except these athletes probably have just one banana a day. My dad also thinks that the best bananas are those covered in brown spots and in shades of dark yellow. The more spots, the better. Hence, before my sister and I could escape from the dinner table after meal time, a banana would magically appear before us. "Eat your banana, it's good for you", as my dad would say. Even when Jake stayed at my parents' house for the first time, he was offered a banana after every meal.

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This banana saga continued until I moved away to college. I stayed away from banana for the next few years. I began eating banana about two years ago, never more than one banana a day. Jake on the other hand, prefers green banana. He claimed that the greener the better, while those spotty ones that my dad prefers are "spoiled".

The bananas in my fruit tray are usually like this:

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That leaves me a) eat the mushy, overripe, and spotty bananas that remind me of childhood, b) throw the bananas away even though I hate wasting food, c) make something with the bananas.

I usually choose option a) then realize I can't carry on with it, so move onto plan c)

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No more gross banana. Now, I may have a slice of this banana bread after every meal.

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Whole Wheat Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups mashed ripe banana
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2  cup walnuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk. Combine chocolate chips and walnuts (if using) in a small bowl, add 1 tablespoon flour mixture and toss to coat.
3. Combine sugar and yogurt in a separate bowl. Add in eggs, mashed banana, and vanilla. Add in flour mixture, stir until just combined.
4. Pour batter into a 9x5x2.5-inch loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack, remove from pan.
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