Block Parties, Part 1, and Fruit Salsa

As a kid, you always have dreams. It takes acknowledging those dreams in front of others to make you realize that they might not be the wisest idea.

 My elementary and middle school years were filled with boy bands and girl bands. From New Kids on the Block, to Spice Girls, to Backstreet Boys, I’m pretty sure that my best friend and I bought nearly every CD the day it was released and wore them out listening on repeat.

That also meant that we felt we could create our own girl band. (And yes, I realize that two people forms just a duo, but we weren’t quibbling with the details here, folks.) We spent hours writing our own songs, designing our album cover art, and recording our music using a pair of drumsticks we found to keep the beat.

Naturally, we needed a place to first showcase our talent. Which happened to be the neighborhood block party.

We announced that year that we’d be hosting a talent show. We might have been the only people to sign up for the talent show, but that’s a different story. Decisions were made to submit two pieces- we’d demonstrate our dancing skills to a choreographed rendition of Backstreet Boy’s “Everybody [Backstreet’s Back]” and show off our chops singing a song we wrote ourselves.

Then, on the day of the block party, my friend wisely made the decision to drop out of the singing portion. I chose to go it alone.

I should probably take this moment to say that I am not the strongest dancer (future stories to follow). Nor is my singing voice the best when I’ve been running around screaming at a block party the entire day. And then there was the rather unfortunate fact that our song didn’t make the any sense, and would not sound good even if Adele sang it, much less two pre-teen girls going through puberty.

We danced. I nearly fell. I sang. My voice kept giving out.

The polite clapping I heard after the performance let me know that I should probably come up with another career choice.

Anyone Can Do It Fruit Salsa

Fruit Salsa

you don’t even need talent to make this

Ingredients (feel free to use whatever fruit you have on hand- this is just what I like in mine!)

  • 1 c blackberries, halved
  • 1 c red grapes, halved
  • 1 pomegranate, seeded (if you do this inside a bowl of cold water, you won’t end up looking like a scene from a crime show- just break it apart and the seeds will sink to the bottom)
  • 1 c strawberries, quartered
  • 1 kiwi, cubed
  • 1 plum, cubed
  • 1 mango, pitted and cubed
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Cinnamon tortilla chips or pita chips

How-to

  1. Cut up the fruit so that everything is in similar sized. Divide into two bowls.
  2. Using a potato masher (or a fork), lightly squish half the fruit.
  3. Combine the fruit back together. Sprinkle on the lemon juice. Fold gently.
  4. Refrigerate at least 2 hours (though overnight is better).
  5. Serve with cinnamon tortilla chips, on top of pound cake, et cetera

Voices and Pasta Salad

People  can be fairly attractive…until they start talking.

I had a first date with a guy that looked very good on paper and in pictures. (Yes people, I resorted to online dating. I work far too much to meet guys out in public.) He had a steady job, loved dogs, and worked out.

Then I met him in person.

I should probably take a moment to say that many people that I met while online dating were new to the city or worked too much to meet people in a bar, like me. (Plus meeting people in a bar is always a risk, since you never know how they’ll look the next morning…story about that to follow soon.)

So here I was, waiting for my date to show up. He was late…15 minutes late. On the other hand, I do live in a city, so you tend to be a bit more forgiving in case someone missed the bus or train or got stuck in traffic.  Granted, I had planned ahead of time not to be late, so I was 10 minutes early…which meant that I was waiting for almost 30 minutes. (Mom had a nice phone call there to pass the time.)

My date showed up, gave me a hug, and then started talking.

And that is when I was no longer attracted to him…

…he had the voice of a child. MY VOICE was deeper than his, if that tells you anything. My niece’s voice is actually probably deeper than his was, and my adorable munchkin is all of 20 months old.

For the next hour and a half, he went on and on in his really high pitched voice about how he needs to get married soon because his parents keep pressuring him, and it really needs to happen in the next year. He might have mentioned something else in this conversation, but that was the point he kept coming back to and making. Marriage in a year. Marriage in a year.

I really should have left when he didn’t show up in time.

Stuff It and Shut Up Pasta Salad

stuff your face and stop talking already

Ingredients

  • 1 lb tricolor rotini pasta
  • 1 bottle fat free italian dressing
  • 2-3 large tomatoes, diced (depends on how many tomatoes you like in your pasta salad)
  • 1 lb mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • Salt
  • Pepper

How-to

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions in well-salted water. Drain and rinse once with cold water.
  2. Place pasta in a large bowl. Add half the container of italian dressing. Refridgerate overnight (this allows the warm pasta to absorb some of the dressing).
  3. Before serving, add the rest of the italian dressing, tomatoes, green peppers, and mushrooms. Salt and pepper to taste.

Feel free to add any other vegetables (olives, cucumbers, etc) that you may like! You can add the vegetables to the pasta before chilling, but you won’t have as much of a contrast in textures.

This also keeps well in the fridge in the off-chance you have leftovers!

Boyfriends and Baked Potato Salad

You can never make assumptions in medicine.

I once walked into my elderly patient’s room, where she was accompanied by a gentleman sitting there caressing her hand. I went through the general questions of the admission: what brought her here, what other medical conditions she had, what drugs she took.

And then, I said the wrong thing.

Mind you, this patient was a fairly spry 98 year old woman who didn’t look a day over 80, accompanied by a man who looked to be approximately 60 (though I had no idea of his real age).

Me (to patient): And I’m assuming that this handsome gentleman here with you is your husband?

Patient (appalled): Excuuuuse me, missy, this man is my boy-friend.

Me (stuttering): I’m so sorry for making that assumption, ma’am. My most sincere apologies.

Patient (proudly): Yup, at my age I can still bag ‘em and tag ‘em. But I’m just here to have fun, you know? No need to waste good money on a wedding when we can waste it on other things, right doll?

This last bit said to the patient’s boyfriend, who had not yet spoken, but found it wise to answer a simple “yup”.

Bag ‘em and Tag ‘em Baked Potato Salad

Perfect for obtaining that significant other…no engagement ring required

Ingredients

  • 3 lb redskin potatoes, cut into 1-in chunks
  • 1 c reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 c fresh chives
  • 1/2 c light mayonnaise (I prefer the olive oil versions)
  • 1/2 c fat free sour cream
  • 1/2 c fat-free plain greek yogurt
  • 1/8-1/4 c fat-free milk
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 5 slices cooked bacon, crumbled (optional)

How-to

  1. In a large pot, cover potatoes with cold water. Add a liberal amount of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Cook for approximately 15-20 minutes or until you can pierce potatoes with a fork (not a knife!!).
  2. While potatoes are cooking, mix together mayonnaise, sour cream, and greek yogurt in a large bowl. Thin out with 1/4 c milk. Stir in cheddar cheese, chives, garlic powder, and bacon (optional).
  3. When potatoes are finished cooking, drain and rinse twice in cold water.
  4. Add potatoes to dressing mixture. Add additional milk if necessary to thin to desired consistency.
  5. Salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Chill potato salad for at least 2 hours to allow flavors to meld. Taste again and add additional salt and pepper if necessary before serving.

Feel free to halve recipe if you aren’t serving a crowd!

Art Museums and Chicken Salads

There are things that you just don’t want to know about your teachers. You especially don’t want to see them.

French was my foreign language of choice (I also couldn’t take Spanish because I have no ability to roll my R’s, and that was a requirement at my school to take Spanish). However, due to a number of wacky circumstances, I had 8 different French teachers in 5.5 years of taking French, all of whom liked to start over at the very beginning. That essentially means that I still excel at conjugating verbs, but that’s about the extent of my skill set. (I can read some things in romance languages, though).

Okay, back from my tangent.

In high school, our teacher decided that we should take a trip to the DIA, since they were having an exhibit of French painters. We obviously all decided to go, since this was a full-day field trip and what high schooler doesn’t want to skip out on the rest of their classes?

That morning, we all hopped on the bus for our hour long trip to Detroit. To our surprise, our French teacher decided to bring her husband along on our trip.

Now, I should take a quick moment to state that my French teacher was a very socially awkward women in her mid-60s, and that her husband was a very round and also very socially awkward man in his mid-60s.

We got to the museum without any issues and spent the next few hours wandering around looking at art. However, it was soon time to move on to the next attraction, and our French teacher and her husband were nowhere to be found.

That is, until someone went and used the restroom. And reported hearing weird noises and two pairs of shoes in a stall.

We thus were all waiting outside the men’s room when my teacher’s husband, and then my teacher, emerged.

French class was very awkward for the rest of the year.

Socially Appropriate Chicken Salad

always appropriate for any occasion

Ingredients

  • 2 c chicken, shredded
  • 1 rib celery, diced
  • 1/4 c walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 c dried cranberries
  • 1/4 c fat free greek yogurt
  • 1/4 c light mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c fat free sour cream
  • 1 tbsp tarragon
  • Salt
  • Pepper

How-to

  1. Mix together greek yogurt, mayonnaise, sour cream, and tarragon.
  2. Add in chicken, celery, walnuts, and dried cranberries. If mixture is too thick, thin out with some skim milk.
  3. Salt and pepper to taste.