Block Parties, Part 2, and Cinnamon Tortilla Chips

When one decides to make a scene, it’s best to do it in front of the neighbors.

It was another epic neighborhood block party (and this time, one without any performances on my part). This time, we had all brought out the roller blades (can’t you tell this happened in the 90s?) to play a game of roller hockey. For once, it was quite easy- the street had JUST been redone, so every kid on the block was out testing out the smooth pavement and relishing the lack of potholes or cracks.

Including the “big” kids.

My neighbor had played ice hockey back in the day, and wasn’t going to let being in his late 30s stop him from playing street hockey with people a third of his age. It also wasn’t going to stop him from showing off how many tricks he could do on wheels.

It was at that moment, watching him skate backwards, that I suddenly screamed, “MIKE! STOP!!! OR TURN AROUND!!!!!”

He didn’t listen. And went straight into my neighbor’s glass picnic table, which they had been ever-so-kind to bring out into the street for the purposes of eating and drinking.

My neighbor emerged, drenched in beverages, from the table which was now cracked and flipped entirely over, and enduring the steely grey eyes of the owner of the table which never quite sat evenly again.

Obviously, we never let him live that moment down. And, according to my parents, even though Mike has moved from the neighborhood, we still can’t play hockey during block parties.

No Tricks Required Cinnamon Tortilla Chips

Sweet Tortilla Chips

these chips are able to show off themselves, no talent required

Ingredients

  • 12 flour tortillas
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • Butter flavored cooking spray

How-to

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut tortillas into eight triangles.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  4. Place tortillas onto a large cookie sheet, making sure not to overlap (you will need to do this in batches).
  5. Spray tortilla triangles with cooking spray, then sprinkle on sugar-spice mixture.
  6. Bake 7-9 minutes or until light brown.
  7. Eat on their own or serve with fruit salsa.

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

ICUs and Mini Tacos

Some behavior is hospital appropriate. Other behavior is not.

When you’re in the hospital, I expect you to be physically sick. You’re coughing. You’re vomiting, You’re in a ton of pain. You’re having high fevers. You’re having a heart attack. You’re undergoing surgery. The list goes on and on for what symptoms I’m expecting you to have when you present as a patient on a non-psychiatric floor.

And as I said, there are some things I don’t expect you to do.

We had a younger guy admitted to the ICU back when I was in medical school. Now, most ICUs (or intensive care units, for the non-medical peeps out there) are for the very sickest patients. They’re about the least private place in the hospital, with many of them (including the one at our hospital) have entirely glass walls, so that you can always see into the room.

Which didn’t stop this particular patient. When he first was admitted, he kept leering at most of the female doctors and nurses. We all just thought he was a bit of a creep, but we certainly didn’t expect what happened next.

We were about to start rounding in the morning when one of our residents ran into the workroom.

Resident: Oh my god! Ewww! Yuck!!! Why would you do that???

Rest of the Medical Staff: What? What happened?

Resident: Mister So-and-So was jacking off when I walked into the room! And he didn’t stop! I had to bring someone else in there to tell him it wasn’t appropriate! Thank god I couldn’t see anything!

Needless to say, rounds that morning included lecturing the patient on keeping it in pants (or in his case, under his hospital gown).

Party Appropriate Mini Pork Tacos

Mini Pulled Pork Tacosit’s always appropriate to whip these out

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pork tenderloin
  • 1 c black bean and corn salsa
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced into small pieces
  • 1 onion, diced into small pieces
  • 24 wonton wrappers (square and circular both work)
  • 1 c shredded 2% mexican cheese blend
  • Optional toppings: sour cream, black olives, lettuce, diced tomatoes

How-to

  1. In a slow cooker, mix together salsa, garlic, jalapeno, and onion. Add in pork.
  2. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours or on low for 6 hours. Shred pork and add back to salsa mixture.
  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Place wonton wrappers into a mini muffin tin. (If you don’t want to use the pork, start at this step with 1 lb cooked meat, warmed, or 1 can black beans, also heated.)
  5. Evenly divide meat between the wonton wrappers.
  6. Evenly divide cheese between wonton wrappers.
  7. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until cheese is melted and wonton wrappers are beginning to brown.
  8. Remove from mini muffin tin and serve. Allow guests to put on their own toppings!

Perfect for your Superbowl party!

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Psychiatrists Part 2 and Meatballs

It’s a rule in med school that residents and attendings are not allowed to ask out a medical student while they are overseeing them. Some people ignore that rule.

Now, this event occurred days after my last awkward encounter. This time, I was working in the Psych ER. This was a six hour shift in a room that was maybe 15 by 15 feet with at least 8 people occupying that space at any one time (and sometimes, more).

I was assigned to work with the resident that night, and the first thing I noticed is that there was something…wrong…with his face. Specifically, it looked like he had been attacked by a herd of clawed animals.

Which turned out to be the case.

Resident: My girlfriend just dumped me. She’s a vet. We had 8 cats that she left with me. I was holding one while I was crying and he didn’t want to be held.

Now, I like to think I’m a nice person, so I expressed my condolences. However, that was a mistake.

Resident: So, are you single?

(At this point, I’m wondering why on earth I’m getting asked this twice in one week.)

Me: Yes.

Resident: You seem like you’d be fun to date. We should get margaritas tomorrow. When are you free?

Now, this guy really wasn’t my type. Plus there was the issue of the 8 cats. Thankfully, I had an excuse up my sleeve!

Me: It’s actually med school policy that we can only have professional relationships with those that oversee us while we work with them.

Resident: Oh come on, no one follows that anyway. Go on a date with me!

I said no. He would not get the hint. He followed me up to the cafeteria when I attempted to escape to get a soda. He followed me around that tiny room. He kept asking. I kept saying no.

Finally, after about an hour of this ridiculousness, the social workers and nurses took pity on me and sequestered me into a corner with at least 2 of them standing guard at any one time.

Get the Hint Pesto Meatballs

just leave me alone so I can eat these! shown with my tomato sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground sirloin
  • 1 lb ground veal
  • 1 large onion, diced in large chunks
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 c breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 c parmesan, grated
  • 1/8 c skim milk
  • 4 tbsp garlic
  • 1/8 c pesto
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

How-to

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a blender or food processor, process the onion until smooth.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together onion slurry, eggs, breadcrumbs, parmesan, milk, garlic, pesto, and pepper.
  4. Break up the meat in large chunks and add to the other ingredients. Use your hands to combine.
  5. Coat a baking sheet or roasting pan in aluminum foil (for easier cleanup, but you can skip this step if you’d like).
  6. Use a cookie scoop to form round balls and evenly space meatballs in your baking sheet or dish.
  7. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until meatballs are no longer pink in the center (or use a meat thermometer to the ground meat setting).
  8. Serve with your favorite sauce on pasta or layer with sauce and mozzarella between two pieces of bread for a delicious sub. You could also coat these in your favorite sauce for an appetizer!

Ham and Bacon…or Why I’m No Longer a Vegetarian

Starting in middle school, I became a vegetarian.  A lot of it was for health reason,s combined with an unfortunately assigned report on meat-packing plants (not the best choice for a city girl like myself who pretended that all meat originated at the grocery story).

I was a vegetarian for 6 years.  I still ate dairy and seafood, but I had no meat during that whole time. In general I thought it was pretty easy, even with living in the midwest and our lack of vegetables in the winter.

And then, one year in high school, my mother made a ham for Christmas dinner.  Now, back in my meat-eating days, I LOVED ham.  And bacon. And pork chops.  It was pretty much a guarantee that if it came from a pig, I’d probably have eaten it.

The memory is a bit hazy, but I remember walking into the kitchen, led by the smell of that brown-sugar glazed ham.  No one else was around but me. Without hesitating, I first ate one piece, and then another, and then another…until my mother eventually walked into the kitchen…

“Oh my god you just ate half the ham.  OH MY GOD MARC MEGAN IS EATING MEAT!!!!!  SINCE WHEN DO YOU EAT MEAT???  OH THANK GOD YOU CAN EAT LIKE THE REST OF US AGAIN!!”

Yes, most of that was said in a shriek. I had, after all, eaten nearly half a ham.  Quite surprisingly  I didn’t feel sick later at all (though attempting to eat poultry or steak again was a wholeeeeee different story).

Spicy Glazed Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts

Ingredients

  • 1 package thick-sliced bacon, rashers cut into thirds
  • 2 cans whole water chestnuts
  • 1/4 c barbecue sauce
  • 3 tbsp sriracha sauce (also known as rooster sauce- can add more to taste if you like them really spicy)
  • 3 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

How-to

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cut bacon slices (rashers are the technical term) into thirds.  Wrap each water chestnut in 1/3 piece bacon and secure with a toothpick. Place onto a shallow roasting pan lined with aluminum foil (makes for easier cleanup).
  3. Bake water chestnuts for approximately 40 minutes or until the bacon is a golden brown.
  4. While water chestnuts are in the oven, mix together the barbecue sauce, sriracha, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, and pepper. Taste and adjust flavorings to taste (more salty- more Worcestershire, more spice- more sriracha, more sweet- more brown sugar, more tang- more soy sauce).
  5. When bacon is golden, remove from oven. Remove water chestnuts from pan and place onto paper towels to drain. Discard grease in roasting pan.
  6. Dip each water chestnut into the sauce mixture and place back on the roasting pan. Return to oven for approximately 15-20 minutes.  Serve with remaining dipping sauce.

If you’d like, you can skip steps 5 & 6 and use this method instead.  Remove water chestnuts from oven and place into a small crock-pot on high.  Pour sauce on top and gently toss to coat.  Heat in crock pot for 30 minutes, then turn heat to low for serving purposes right out of the crock pot!