Monday, September 16, 2013

Brinner! ($5.00 dinner for the broke med student)

Breakfast is by far my favorite meal.  What is even better that breakfast? BRINNER! Okay so I picked up that term from Scrubs.   But its simple, breakfast for dinner=brinner.  My mom was a huge fan of cooking breakfast for dinner when she was tired after work and wanted something simple like pancakes and bacon, or a simple BLT; those were the best nights.  I tried to find the episode where Turk and JD school Carla on what brinner is, but this is sums up their love of the meal.  Please watch the video below...hilarious.

So what is a good brinner treat that almost borders on dessert? Chocolate chip pancakes...oh yeah. But only with the best chocolate of course. And all you broke med students and residents out there, a bag of Ghiardelli Semi-sweet chocolate chips at Target costs 2.50 or less. So please forget about Toll House, they make plastic chocolate.

So how do you make this extraordinary chocolate chip pancake? 3 key ingredients. Vanilla, cinnamon, and cayenne. Yes, I said cayenne. No you're not gonna taste it, your mouth is not gonna catch on fire. But it will enhance the flavor of your chocolate. So don't be scared;put a tiny pinch in and it'll rock your world. And since we are all about the quickness with our busy schedules, you can make a quick warm fresh fruit topping in the microwave. All you need is a cup of raspberries (or other berry of your choice), some sugar to coat it and a dash of vanilla. In about 2 minutes you'll have a nice warm topping. Fry up some turkey bacon (Oscar Meyer Smoked 2.99 at target) and you've got the best brinner ever! 

Missy's Perfect Pancake Recipe

Most of these ingredients you should have in your pantry and that's why I call this a five dollar meal. If you don't have them and don't want to make pancakes from scratch (literally takes 3 min) you can buy a mix. A cheap and reliable one for me has been the Krusteaz brand. You would just mix in the vanilla, spices, and chocolate and substitute club soda for the water. Enjoy :)


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp white sugar
2/3 cup milk
2/3 club soda (makes the pancakes light and fluffy)
1 egg
3 Tbsp butter (melted)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
Ghiardelli Semi-sweet Chocolate chips (as much as you like!)
pinch of cayenne

1)  In a large bowl sift the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Make a well in the center and pour in the milk, egg, and melted butter; mix until smooth.  Lastly add in the club soda.

2) Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium to high heat. Make sure the pan is very hot before adding the batter. This is important. 

3) Use a scoop to make pancakes of equal size depending on how big you like them and cook until brown on both sides.

Note: Sometimes I use Crisco shortening (or even in the pancake itself) on an electric griddle to make the edges of the pancake crispy. I know what you're thinking, but honestly, live a little. One pancake fried with Crisco isn't going to hurt you. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Know thy oven...

So this is what happens when you forget to do that 3 cookie test batch. When I used to work at the bakery, our most favorite time as student bakers was trying the test batches. One dozen macaroon cupcakes...yum! But of course I did not do this. I was in a rush, and cooking in a rush is never a good idea. I wanted to cook a few dozen cookies and gift a dozen to the writer of my residency letter of recommendation. For those of you who don't know anything about the medical residency application process, apps start to be accepted by hospital programs on the 15th of the month. September is probably one of the worse months in a fourth year medical student's life.  Getting all the data entered in and all your letters of recommendation settled is kind of a mess, but I'm getting through it. 

I titled this blog post "Know Thy Oven" because this is the most important knowledge any baker/cook can have. I usually try to stick to the instructions given in a baking recipe but cook times can be tricky. And my trust of America's Test Kitchen recipes seriously clouded my judgement. I even let the smell test fly out the window. I told you guys, I was rushing... So baking oatmeal cookies for 20min in my oven resulted in the above image x 24. I had an hour left before my meeting with my adviser, and was determined to not go empty handed. I whipped up a second batch in about ten minutes and shoved a dozen in the oven. 12 minutes later I had a perfect dozen of oatmeal cookies. 

I only made a few alterations to the Test Kitchen recipe. I substituted the cherries for craisins and used pecan chips for an even texture. You can toast the pecans, though I did not. I also used 60% cacao Ghirardelli baking chips instead of the bar because I found them to be easier to chop. I also do not own a stand mixer, so the instructions I give will be for using an electric hand mixer.  I have dough hook attachments for mine and this is simply wonderful for making cookie dough.

Enjoy the recipe and let me know what you think!

The Ultimate "They'll Be Gone Before You Try One" Oatmeal Cookies
Yield: About 2 dozen 3" diameter cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups old-fashioned oats (NO QUICK OATS!)
1 cup pecan chips
1 cup craisins, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup 60% cacao Ghirardelli Baking chips 
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla

1.  Place an oven rack in the middle position of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

2.  In a medium bowl, use a whisk to mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together and set aside. In another small bowl, mix together the craisins, pecan chips, oats and chocolate.

3.  In a larger bowl, use an electric hand mixer with dough hook attachments and cream the brown sugar and butter. Add the egg and vanilla.  Turn the mixer down to low-speed and slowly add the flour mixture.  Once combined, fold in or mix in (lowest speed) the oats mixture.

4.  Roll dough into 1inch diameter balls and place about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Use the palm of your hand to lightly flatten the balls.

5.  Bake the cookies 12-14 min until the cookies are medium brown and the edges set. Do not worry if they look a bit under-cooked. Again, use your judgement.

6.  Let the cookies cool for 3-5 min on the sheet then transfer to a cooling rack.

7.  Make sure to eat one before they disappear! :)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Baking at Brown!

So what happens when you take time off from med school, you have absolutely no money, are working in a service job (shout out to AmeriCorps!), and need another job? Work at the university bakery and learn basic pastry skills for free :) SO maybe I couldn't afford Johnson and Wales, couldn't make it to CIA, but The Brown University Bakery taught me a ton! After you make 80 dozen cookies in an hour you can do anything!

I'm back in school now studying for the worst test in the world Step 2CK (my second medical licensing exam) and not much cooking is happening. But I've go a backlog of photos and recipes from this year and I'll be posting every Friday so stay tuned!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lil Seven-up Pound Cake

This weekend was the long weekend.  And yes I relaxed, clean house, did some fall shopping with money I didn't have.  Though what would a long weekend be without something warm and sweet? Oh I don't know, probably healthier.  On the rare occasion that I get inspired to bake something, I never hold back, so you will hardly ever see any healthy substitutions.  I have no intentions of ever baking with Splenda or using fat free milk.  That's just all shades of wrong.

 I decided on a 7-up pound cake.  I've had my mouth set on this for a while.  It's not really something I have seen around these Northeastern parts unless you go to a soul food kitchen or Caribbean restaurant.  7-up is my favorite lemon-lime soda, even though it seems to have disappeared from the spotlight for some years.  I almost wondered if I would have a hard time finding it.  But Super-Walmart never fails.  Now if I could just find some Tahitian Treat around here.... (those who know this pop are smiling). Pound cakes are the easiest, no-fuss cakes to make.  No icing required. So I'm going to share my recipe with you and I hope you enjoy!

Missy's Seven-up Pound Cake
3 cups flour
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
2 sticks of butter (room temp)
1/2 cup shortening (Crisco)
1Tbsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 tsp lemon extract
7oz 7-up (room temp)

1) Preheat oven to 300F and grease and dust a 9 or 10" bundt pan with flour.
2) Cream butter, shortening, and sugar until light and fluffy.  Mix in one egg at a time.
3) Stir in extracts.
4) Add in flour and 7-up a little at a time, alternating mix-ins until all has been incorporated.
5) Pour batter into prepped pan and cook for 70min or until knife comes out clean.
6) When cake is done, place on cooling rack and wait at least 30min before turning it out. (I know it's so hard when it's smelling so good, but you really must wait or you will have a crumbled cake.  And don't let your guests influence you, haha...stay the course!)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Preparing for the Worst

Hello all! It has been over a month since my last post. September was, in short, hell. I was working 6 days a week and ridiculous hours, but I learned a lot.  And now on to clinic time...the rosy 9-5 life, or 9-noon life in my case.  Vacation in comparison.  During September I had a hard time adjusting to the 6am-8pm schedule so dinner was often missed, or consisted of a piece of cheese, cereal, a few crackers.  NOT my idea of a meal.  Though I tell you, sometimes a bowl of cocoa crispies is what you need after a long shift.  The snap crackle pop chocolaty goodness will put you just right.  But after a couple weeks of missed dinners followed by bad breakfasts and an addiction to Luna bars, I decided enough of this food hell.  So I did the only thing I could do. I prepared for the worst...the worst being a cube of cheddar and tuna salad.  (Shudder)

Cooking bulk for many people is pasta, stews,or casseroles but since I really don't buy or make pasta, I have to go down another route...the curry route.  When I cook a 3 day supply of goodies, it's usually Indian.  I actually started doing this a while ago for my boyfriend...who just happens to be Indian and terribly afraid of the kitchen.  I was tired of hearing about his sad food life so I said hunny, you buy the ingredients and I'll make the food.  After a day, yes a full day, of cooking he left with tupperwares full of dal, green chili mint chicken curry, and chicken saag.  Let's just say he was more that satisfied.

Indian food for many is a struggle.  There are complex flavors, and even more complex recipes.  But Indian can be very simple depending on the dish.  When I was in India last summer I spent a good amount of time in my boyfriend's grandmother's kitchen and that woman made things look so simple.  I only wish I had taken video or pictures, it was really a privilege.

I think going to the library is really your go to source for exploring new cooking styles. The one thing I hate the most is purchasing a cookbook that has terrible recipes, and you wonder just how that thing got published.  The library is a safe bet.  If you find you like those recipes, then splurge, but I believe all cookbooks need a trial run.  Especially Indian cookbooks, because many times you will find the spices included in certain recipes or cooking instructions are just wrong.  I learned this the hard way when I ruined the most tender lamb I had ever cooked with a curdled curry.  One of my Indian friends' mom kindly pointed out that the recipe made absolutely no sense and that I was bound to curdle the yogurt given those instructions. So beware of those 5 dollar bargain cart books a B&N that boast 5000 curries made easy...easily deceptive is more appropriate. When it comes to finding a good Indian cookbook that you can buy without a trial, I only have one name, Madhur Jaffrey.  Jaffrey was an actress turned cooking guru who is really an authority on Indian cooking. Any cookbook by this cooking goddess divine is superb.  You will never go wrong.  And as pointed out by a friend of mine she is married to Sanford Allen, one of the first African-Americans to be a regular member of the New York Philharmonic. (Blindian couples try to find other blindian couples,'s an issue).

So what do you do to make these recipes work? Often the normal New England kitchen (or any western kitchen) does not include many of the spices necessary for Indian dishes.  When my boyfriend's mother realized my passion for cooking, she gifted me a spice dabba, which is basically just a container to house the most often used spices in Indian dishes.  I could not have been more thankful, because my cabinet was so poorly arranged, with lots of ziplock baggies full of spices I had no storage for.  This is a neat way to organize yourself because usually everything you need is right before you.  Check out your local Indian grocery store, because you will definitely find those spices cheaper and a wider selection.

I decided to use recipes from a book I'm loving called Indian Home Cooking by Suvir Saran executive chef at Michelin rated restaurant Devi in NY.  This book is something amazing.  Suvir (yes we are on a first name basis in my fantasy world) has some of the most amazing recipes I have ever used for Indian cooking.  His other publication American Masala, is one of my absolute favorites, a fusion approach that mixes american favs, like my personal favs fried chicken (don't go sterotyping, everyone loves it, cmon KFC, Popeye's) and black eyed peas, with indian spices.  I have made the Pistachio Cardamom Pound cake from this cookbook many times and found the plate empty before I could even have a slice.  Check him out at, he's an impressive guy. I was in love with him long before his appearance on Bravo's Top Chef Masters.  I discovered him in the library, hehe.  I'm telling you, dust of that library card, it will take you places.

Enough chit chat...on to the food! Both recipes are easy to manage, but I would suggest starting with the dal first, using yellow split peas(moong dal) that have been soaked overnight.

Moong Dal
Simple Lentil Dal (w/fresh ginger,green chiles, and cilantro)
Recipe Link:

Lahori Chicken Curry w/Whole Spices and Potatoes
Recipe Link:

Chicken Curry
I would like to dedicate this post to Eunice Sammy, a Kenyan medical student who rotated with me during this gruesome September.  This food was made in part for her, because she didn't like the cold sandwiches they gave us for lunch.  And we devoured it on our break :) Eunice, I will miss you.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Cookin' for the 'Cane

So Irene is coming eh? Better get prepared! How better to prepare than to cook black beans?! Everyone loves black beans, but how many people do you know just eat them straight out the can?  I can name a few...and I secretly want to slap these people (I guess that's not so secret anymore).  I have never in my life had beans straight out the can, and never felt the urge.  How can people stomach something so flavorless? I am not asking anyone to go through the soaking  and boiling of  uncooked beans (even though there is magic in this), but  a quick meal can still be something special.  Flavorful black beans are simple and only take about 30min to make.  If you want to cut time even more, use a food processor or vegetable chopper to do all your chopping.  But please friends, don't let me catch you heating up beans straight from the can.  You deserve better.

Try this recipe and let me know what you think about those canned beans now.  I'm sure these beans will kick your straight-from-the-can beans' ass.

Missy's Black Beans

1 15oz can of Black Beans
1 medium sized onion (chopped)
1 green pepper (chopped)
3-4 cloves of garlic (minced)

bay leaf
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp chili powder
salt to taste

the necessaries:
1 Tbsp of Red Wine
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp of vinegar

1) Saute chopped veggies and bay leaf in olive oil and when they are nearly cooked through add in the spices.
2) Add in some of the water from the can of beans and simmer for 5 min.
3) Now add in the beans and the water and stir well.  Depending on how much water is included in the can, you may want to add about 1/4 cup additional water. Also add in red wine. Let simmer for 20-30min until sauce thickens.
4) Add in vinegar right before serving.

Okay, the food is supposed to be non-perishable so maybe I have failed.  I'd like to think I was making an offering.  Oh please Irene, take these black beans and spare me the darkness! You know, the coming howling winds and power outages.  But I've done more than just cook...

I'm armed with a flashlight...

This is sorta ridiculous...
toilet water reserve...

Keepin' those mucus membranes moist! (yes, bad medical joke)


and drinking water!

I'm ready Irene! Bring it on!