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!

Angry Patients and Arrabbiata Sauce

Sometimes, patients can express anger quite simply.

In medicine, you get quite used to dealing with angry patients. Sometimes patients are angry because they’re frustrated with care they received in the past. Other times, patients think that by yelling, they can bully the physician or nurse into doing what they’d prefer (whether or not it’s providing them with prescription drugs or lying to their insurance companies)…though you can probably imagine that as person like me yells back. ;)

And then, you have the patients who are just plain sassy.

I was recently on a consult month, which means that we’re asked by primary medicine and surgery teams to see their patients as “experts” in a certain organ system. For this consult, we were asked to see a patient who was currently intubated.

Patients are at different levels of “awakeness” when they’re intubated. Some patients are completely sedated, others are able to follow simple commands, while still others are awake enough that they can write responses to your questions.

As part of our assessment of an intubated patient, we need to determine how “awake” they are. If we already know the patient isn’t at the writing stage, we’ll normally ask patients questions and see if they can respond appropriately.

Fellow: Sir, squeeze my hand if you can hear me right now.

*patient squeezes hand*

Fellow: Sir, squeeze my hand if you are in a hospital right now.

*patient squeezes hand*

Fellow: Sir, squeeze my hand if the sky is orange.

The patient did not squeeze his hand. Instead, he glared (or as well as you can glare with an endotracheal tube in your moth) and slowly raised his hand towards our fellow.

Only his middle finger was pointing towards the sky.

Simple Gestures Arrabbiata Sauce

because everyone knows how to show displeasure

Ingredients

  • 1 lb hot Italian sausage (removed from casing if that’s the only way you can find it)
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 really large onion or two medium onions, diced
  • 3 tbsp minced garlic (feel free to add more if you’d like)
  • 2 large cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can whole tomatoes
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 c red wine
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes (again, feel fee to add more to kick up the spice)
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

How-to

  1. In a large saute pan, brown sausage and turkey. Drain the fat and put into a really large crock pot (if it’s the largest size you can find, that’s the way to go. I know it might seem crazy to have a crock pot that big, but you can cook an ENTIRE CHICKEN, enough chili for a party, or enough of this sauce to last you for a few family dinners. Or, in my case, enough to have friends over for one meal.).
  2. In the same saucepan, add in the olive oil over medium heat. Add in the onions until they start to sweat. Add in the garlic and saute until they become translucent. Add these to the crock pot.
  3. Pour in the 2 large cans of tomatoes. Add in the smaller can of whole tomatoes after breaking up by squeezing with your hands (get out that anger!).
  4. Stir in sugar, wine, red pepper flakes, oregano, and basil.
  5. Cook on low for 6 hours or until your entire house smells of delicious tomato sauce.
  6. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve over a good large pasta with ridges (see the rigatoni, above!). Top with some freshly grated parmesan and my family’s favorite- cottage cheese (yes, I know it sounds weird, but that’s how we do it in my house. It’s the only way I’ll eat cottage cheese).

P.S. This sauce freezes beautifully!

Psychiatrists and Spaghetti Sauce

There are things that you just don’t want someone to say to you.

While on my Psychiatry rotation, we had two weeks of various outpatient clinics. Now, in my opinion, psychiatrists are some of the most fun doctors out there. They tend to have some of the best senses of humor and they’re always having a great time.

However, my two most awkward moments in medical school did come on behalf of the psychiatry department (and yes, I promise the next story will follow).

So here I was, sitting in addiction clinic. We had a patient end up cancelling, and that meant we had about 45 minutes to chat. We had been talking about a number of issues normally- his new son, my research, the psychiatry curriculum in medical school- and then things took a turn for the worst.

Doctor: So, why aren’t you engaged?

Me (shocked and then attempting to be tactful): Well, I’m single, so that makes it a bit hard to be engaged.

Doctor (in an understanding, reassuring tone): It’s okay, I’m sure you’ll be married by the time you’re 40. And you still should be pretty by then, too.

He then moved on to some other topic, having no idea how insulting that was.

I saw this doctor last week at a conference and he pulled me aside to tell me how I have a brilliant mind. And no, I still haven’t forgiven him.

Get a Husband Tomato Sauce

maybe I should have started making this a while ago…

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs roma tomatoes, quartered
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 c red wine
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp dried basil
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • Garlic salt

How-to

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place tomatoes in a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 1.5 hours, checking about every 20-30 minutes to make sure they aren’t burning.
  2. Place tomatoes in a food processor or blender and pulse until it reaches your desired consistency.
  3. In a large pot, saute onion in 3 tbsp olive oil over medium heat until it just starts to become translucent. Add in garlic and saute for an additional minute.
  4. Add in tomatoes, red wine, tomato paste, basil, oregano, and sugar. Simmer over medium-low heat for 30-40 minutes while flavors blend. Your home will smell amazing and neighbors might come knocking at your door.
  5. Use garlic salt and pepper to taste.

P.S. My apologies for being gone so long! It’s a bit difficult to post without the internet or a kitchen!

Barbie Bungee Jumping and Tomatoes

Summers have always been my favorite time of year.

Granted, I was rarely home during summers as a kid (we were either in Jersey or on a camping/road trip- I’ve been to 45 states and we drove to most of them…). However, whenever I was home, I was normally joined at the hip with my best friend, who lived on the other side of the street plus one house away.

One day, she came up with a winning game- Barbie Bungee Jumping. We would tie a Barbie to a piece of yarn and throw her down the laundry chute, only to jerk the string at the end so she bounced back up.

I should probably note that neither one of us played with Barbies. Instead, we terrorized her younger half sister (I don’t know why she was always the target, but she was) and stole her Barbies instead.

I then came up with an even better addition- we should head over to my parents’ house to do this, since my parents had a second story porch deck- that way we could watch Barbie fall!

We then packed up the Barbies and the yarn and headed over to my house, grabbed my two younger brothers (who were often in on terrorizing her younger sister, too), and made multiple Barbies bungee jump for the next hour. I’m not sure why it was so enthralling to throw a Barbie over the porch railing and jerk the string up so she didn’t hit the ground, but it was. (I do promise that Barbies are the only thing that I have thrown with a chance of injury.)

A few days later, her sister noted that one of her Barbies had a leg that no longer seemed to fit quite right…and another with a broken beaded outfit.

There might have been some issues with the yarn breaking or coming untied mid-jump, causing Barbies to crash onto my neighbors’ driveway, but you never heard that from me. ;)

No Injury Required Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

I never ate tomatoes as a kid until my best friend made me eat them in middle school…raw with TONS of salt

Ingredients

  • 1 container grape tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic, whole
  • Olive oil spray
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Oregano

How-to

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place the  tomatoes and garlic cloves into an 8×8 in baking dish. Spray with olive oil, then toss with salt, pepper, and a sprinkling of oregano.
  3. Roast for 20-30 minutes or until tomatoes and garlic are nice and soft.

Serve as a side dish. Toss with pasta and chicken for an easy meal. Mix with ciligine mozzarella and some fresh basil for a different take on caprese salad.

Mistake #4 and Enchiladas

To begin, this is a continuation of “Stalking for Cheesecake,” where I said I would eventually tell mistake #4.

Here it is.

At this point in time, the stalker in question has been showing up on a weekly basis for the past two months.  He had originally been calling and texting me multiple times, but I blocked his number.  Thankfully, his sobs were loud enough that I could hear them outside my window, and thus I was saved from the misfortune of buzzing someone in (you can’t always see who is standing at the door) and then opening the door to him man-sobbing.

That is, until mistake #4 happened.  First, it was raining outside, which drowned out the sobs.  Second, my friend was on her way over and I still buzzed the person in, even though I couldn’t see who was outside the door.

I then opened my apartment door to the sobbing stalker (aka SS) and sighed.

SS: So my grandfather just died…

Me: Oh, I’m sorry for your loss.

SS: Anyway, we were going through his house, and I found these wine bottle stoppers and thought they would be the perfect gift for you, so here they are. (SS then proceeds to hand me a package of vacuum wine bottle stoppers, still in the original faded packaging that appeared to be from the early 1990s)

Me: You brought me wine bottle stoppers from your DEAD GRANDFATHER’S HOUSE?

SS: Well yeah, I thought it was the perfect gift.

Now, I’m sorry, but I don’t think that most people want things like this from the deceased whom they have never met.  At least, I certainly didn’t.

The very positive part of this story is that after I informed him to leave my apartment, he finally stopped showing up sobbing after 2 months.

Go Away Stalker Healthier Enchiladas

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 14 oz low-sodium chicken broth (make your own or use 1 can)
  • 2 14 oz cans fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 2 tbsp dark chocolate chips
  • 2 c protein (cooked shredded chicken or turkey, cooked and diced shrimp, or rinsed black beans) or 1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained (or you could use 2 c any other roasted vegetable- zucchini, peppers, etc!)
  • 1 c fat-free sour cream
  • 1 1/2 reduced fat mexican blend cheeses
  • 2 cans diced green chilis (don’t drain)
  • 8 whole-wheat tortillas, burrito size (if you’d rather use corn, heat them so they don’t break when you fill them)
  • 1 c pepper jack cheese, grated
  • Cooking spray

How-to

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Saute garlic and onion in olive oil over medium heat until onion just becomes translucent.  Add in chicken broth, fire roasted tomatoes, and dark chocolate chips.
  3. Determine level of desired spiciness- I prefer dicing up the entire can of chipotle peppers (extra spicy), but feel free to just use 1 chipotle pepper diced and 1 tsp adobo sauce.
  4. Cook sauce while simmering for 15 minutes over medium heat.  Voila- homemade enchilada sauce!
  5. While sauce is cooking, mix together protein or vegetables, sour cream, mexican blend cheese, and green chilis with their liquid. Divide mixture up into 8 equal portions (feel free to just divide in mixing bowl).
  6. Spray lasagna pan or 9x13in baking dish with cooking spray.
  7. Place 1/8 filling mixture into middle of tortilla, roll, and place seam side down in baking dish. Repeat with the other tortillas.
  8. Pour enchilada sauce over tortillas and top with pepper jack cheese.
  9. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45-60 minutes or until bubbling (normally 60 minutes in my oven).  Remove foil and return to oven for 10 minutes while cheese browns.

Serves 8 (and makes great leftovers, too!)

Lipstick and Lasagna

I dated this Italian guy for a bit…very polite, good sense of humor, extremely nice…if anything, I couldn’t figure out why he was still single.

Then we finally hooked up, and I immediately understood why.

First off, I’m going to give you the mental image of a lipstick case, and I really don’t think I need to add any more details.  Secondly, if you’re cursed with that one normally finds a way to compensate, and he hadn’t.  It was HORRIBLE.  Remember when you first started hooking up and thought that everything was great, but then you realized that there was good and bad?  This guy hadn’t progressed beyond that first stage yet, and considering that he was older than me, he definitely should have.  Or at least you would have expected him to.

I then was put in the awkward situation where I had to end it with the guy without him realizing the reason why (yes, the entire experience was that horrible).  I’ll admit I totally did the “guy method”…just started contacting him less and less until it ended…which actually worked wonderfully (no wonder people use it!).

I still can’t see a lipstick case without it bringing back bad memories…

Always Satisfying Vegetable Lasagna

Ingredients

  • 1 regular sized eggplant
  • Olive oil spray and olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 box whole-wheat lasagna noodles
  • 6 c tomato sauce (homemade or use 2 regular jars)
  • 16 oz container part-skim ricotta
  • 16 oz fat-free cottage cheese
  • 3 tbsp pesto
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 egg
  • 12 oz part-skim mozzarella, shredded or sliced
  • Parsley (optional)

How-to

  1. Cook lasagna noodles according to package instructions (you probably won’t use the entire box), drain, then toss with 1 tsp olive oil to prevent sticking.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and coat 2 cookie sheet pans with olive oil spray (buy a small spray bottle just for olive oil, or buy olive oil cooking spray at the store).
  3. Slice eggplant 1/4 in thick and lay on cookie sheets, then sprinkle with salt and pepper and spray tops with olive oil.
  4. Roast eggplant for 15 minutes or until golden brown, spraying again with olive oil halfway through.
  5. Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. In a bowl, mix together ricotta, cottage cheese, pesto, garlic salt, garlic powder, oregano, pepper, and egg until well-combined.
  7. Place one layer lasagna noodles in the bottom of the pan. Top with 1/3 sauce, 1/2 ricotta mixture, all of the roasted eggplant, and 1/3 of the mozzarella.
  8. Top with another layer of lasagna noodles, followed by 1/3 sauce, the rest of the ricotta, and 1/3 mozzarella.
  9. Top with a final layer of noodles, the rest of the tomato sauce, and the rest of the mozzarella.  Sprinkle parsley on top for color.
  10. Cover with aluminum foil and cook for 30 minutes.
  11. Remove aluminum foil and place lasagna back into the oven for an additional 10 minutes uncovered for cheese to melt and brown.

Feel free to substitute as you wish…perhaps using 1 lb zucchini (roasted in the same manner) or 2 c drained, cooked spinach in place of the eggplant, meat sauce in place of regular tomato, et cetera!