Childhood Pictures and Sloppy Joes

Parents take a lot of pictures. However, they don’t always realize how embarrassing those can be.

As a kid, my father must have kept every photography store in business in Michigan and New Jersey. There are hundreds of hours of video tape of me crawling around naked in our living room. And I’m not kidding- HUNDREDS of hours. It might have been cute to watch 30 seconds of this footage, but not 300 hours.

There are also pictures. And boy, are there some bad ones.

My parents had taken lamaze classes with the neighbor family four houses down the street, and thus their son and I were destined to become friends (or at least for the first four years until they moved). We did everything together, which my father proudly documented.

Including taking baths.

The most infamous is simply known as the “bath picture,” even though there are two different ones. Both pictures feature my friend the neighbor boy, his 2-year-old sister, and me (we were both about 3 years old at the time). I at least had the sense of decency to try to cover up in one of the pictures with a washcloth, but I failed miserably in that quest.

My brothers first found the picture when I was 10 or 12 years old, and obviously loved teasing me about how naughty I was for being naked with a boy at the young age of 3. (They were the fortunate ones- my father had finally realized by the time they were born that it wasn’t quite necessary to document EVERYTHING). My mother and I kept trying to hide the pictures, but my brothers would always find them and show them to anyone who would look while snickering endlessly.

The true highlight of the story, though, is that I didn’t see my former neighbor for 18 years after they moved, and then we ended up attending the same medical school. And the first thing he said to me after not seeing each other for all that time?

“So, do your siblings tease you endlessly to this day about that bath picture, too?”

That’s right, after 18 years, the first thing he brought up was a naked picture of the two of us. Like I said, some things will always come back to haunt you.

All Grown Up Spicy Sloppy Joes

much better than man’wich

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground meat (you can substitute with 2 14-oz cans black beans for a vegetarian option)
  • 1 large bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 c salsa (I prefer hot, but use whatever you prefer)
  • 2 tbsp worchestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 c tomato sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • Hamburger buns (I prefer whole wheat)
  • Cheese of your choice, if desired

How-to

  1. In a large skillet, saute together ground meat (I normally prefer lean ground turkey), onion, and bell pepper over medium heat. If making these vegetarian and using black beans instead, saute the beans (rinsed and drained) with the bell pepper and onion in 2 tbsp olive oil.
  2. When meat is brown and veggies are soft, remove from heat and drain off any grease. If using black beans, saute until veggies are soft and beans are warmed through.
  3. Return to medium heat and stir in garlic powder, salsa, worchestershire sauce, chili powder, and tomato sauce. If mixture is still too thick, add 1/4 cup water. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes for the flavors to develop.
  4. Serve on your favorite buns (I prefer to serve these open face on toasted whole-wheat buns) and cheese if desired.
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Alter Boys and Roasted Garlic

For some boys, the attention span does not last long.

I was in 6th grade at the time. Now, the middle school years were pretty rough. I had glasses, braces, and acne. I have a wonderful picture of me in 4th grade, when is when the ugly process started, that people don’t think is me, if that tells you anything.

Anyway, I was at the awkward age of 12. I was at some family function (I think it possibly was an uncle getting remarried, but that’s my best guess) that involved us going to church.

Now, on top of that gorgeous picture I just painted of myself, to this event I was wearing an unfortunate outfit. My mother used to make me a dress every year for Easter and Christmas to wear. Now, my mother was quite a good seamstress, but she always insisted on making the dresses have puffy sleeves.

Back when I was in middle school, I HATED puffy sleeves. HATED THEM.

So here I was, in church with my family, decked out in a floral print dress with puffy sleeves, with braces and glasses that took up half my face (the acne wasn’t as bad as normal that day). We’re in the middle of mass, and we’re at the part where everyone shakes hands and says “peace be with you,” for those non-raised-Catholic folks.

In this particular church, the priest and alter boys would walk around and participate. One of the alter boys made a beeline towards us, shook my hand, and then said, “You’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen.”

I was flabbergasted and flattered, since obviously it wasn’t true. However, he then turned to my cousin who was standing next to me, and said, “You’re even more beautiful than your cousin.”

Obviously he hadn’t learned too much about manners as an alter boy.

Saintly Roasted Garlic

this garlic has more manners than some alter boys

Ingredients

  • Whole head roasted garlic (you can roast multiple at a time)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

How-to

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut off tops of whole bulbs of garlic to expose the tops of the cloves.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Wrap in aluminum foil and roast in oven until soft for 35 minutes.
  5. Let cool for 5-10 minutes. Use in sauces or just squeeze out a clove and spread onto a piece of good bread…my favorite!

Revenge, Glitter, and Asparagus with Eggs

Revenge doesn’t always turn out the way you want it to.

Back in high school, once of my longtime guy friends (we’re talking friends since kindergarten sort of thing) decided that we were meant to be together and asked me to be his girlfriend (yup, we jumped straight to that without even a first date).

I turned him down because I didn’t want to ruin the friendship (and I wasn’t interested in him in that way). Therefore, he decided to “get revenge” by asking one of my “friends” to an upcoming high school dance.

To start, I actually wasn’t friends with this girl. We hung out in the same group of friends, but personally I found her rather annoying. Victory #1 for me, with more to follow.

They both bragged the entire month about how they were going to the dance together. And then, the fateful day arrived.

The girl had chosen a glittery silver floor-length dress (which would have blended into her skin- she had one of those practically transparent complexions- in pictures if the glitter hadn’t caught the flash). Then they chose to grind it out (and sloppily make out- it was the first of such incidents for both of them) on the dance floor before getting their official dance pictures taken.

A week later, I walked up to this girl wailing over her dance pictures with her new boyfriend. Without a word, she passed the pictures to me.

It’s really recommended that, if do you choose to wear a dress with glitter, that you get your pictures first. Otherwise, you’ll end up with their situation. Remember how I said the glitter caught the camera flash?  Well, the guy had a large area of glitter on his suit. It was unfortunately all centered around his crotch, since they had made the unwise decision to dance before taking their pictures.

Yup, his revenge plan TOTALLY worked.

Stay Classy Asparagus and Eggs

the easiest, fanciest-looking dinner you’ll make

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb asparagus per person
  • 2-3 eggs per person
  • Olive oil spray (I use a spray bottle with olive oil in it)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

How-to

  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spray cookie sheet with olive oil.
  3. Break off woody ends of the asparagus and line up on the pan. Spray with some additional olive oil (you don’t need too much) and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Roast for 6-8 minutes until bright green (I use 6 minutes for thin spears and 8 minutes for thicker spears).
  5. Remove tray from oven. Crack one egg in a separate bowl and carefully pour onto a section of asparagus spears. Repeat with additional eggs. Sprinkle with some additional pepper and salt.
  6. Return to oven and roast for an additional 8-10 minutes, or until the whites have set (the eggs will end up having the consistency of a poached egg).  If you like your egg yolks harder, cook for an additional 3-5 minutes.
  7. Use a spatula to remove from the pan. If desired, top with a drizzle of hollandaise sauce.

Inappropriate Date Proposals, Part 2, and Red Wine Risotto

In addition to tattoo artists in the midst of etching permanent ink, there are other times when it might not be the best to ask out a girl.

I was on my family medicine rotation during my third year of medical school. Now, as a medical student, you’re normally sent in first to take a “history and physical”- which is a fancy way of saying you get the patient’s story and then performed a focused exam (you just look at what’s wrong, plus listen to the heart and lungs for good measure). Yes, it might take longer to see a med student first, but I’d highly recommend it because a) it’s probably the best medical history anyone will ever take of you and b) if you’re being seen at a teaching institution, you’ll get seen faster by both a medical professional period and then the physician.

Anyway, I was sent in to see a patient having “nose pain.” That translated into a 20-something year old male whose nose was swollen on one side.

His story was pretty limited (started a few days ago, never happened before, hurts to touch), so I then moved on to the exam. I was in the midst of looking inside his nose when the following conversation occurred.

Me: So it looks like you have an infected ingrown hair inside your nose.

Him: Cool. That’s why it hurts. Hey, you’re really hot. Want to go on a date?

Me: Sorry, that’s against hospital policy (quick thinker here!)

Him: You can totally break that rule. Besides, my mom works for Michigan. That makes it okay.

I then felt that was the best time to go grab the attending physician to present the patient (in order words, recapping my findings) so we could get him out of there as soon as possible.

He asked me upon leaving IN FRONT OF THE PHYSICIAN if I would reconsider.

I said no.

Say Yes Red Wine Risotto

can risotto get any better! it can- just add wine!

Ingredients

  • 4 c low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 c arborio rice
  • 1 c red wine (I used a pinot noir, but any red wine blend in the $8-10 range will do- just make sure you like the taste!)
  • 3 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I normally buy a 4 oz portion and grate it myself)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

How-to

  1. Bring chicken broth to a boil, then reduce to simmer.
  2. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low to medium heat until onion is translucent (about 5 minutes)
  3. Add dry rice and saute for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Add 1/2 c red wine and stir until absorbed. Add the rest of the wine and repeat.
  5. Once the rice has absorbed the wine, start adding the chicken broth, one ladle at a time. Your goal is to have this at a simmer. Stir frequently until absorbed. Add more chicken broth. This does take a while (you’re looking at about 30 minutes of active cooking from start to finish).
  6. When you’ve added about 3 c of the chicken broth, taste the rice. You’re looking for a pasta-like al dente (just chewy) consistency. It might not be done yet. Continue adding chicken broth until rice reaches this consistency and is creamy.
  7. Finish with parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

Inappropriate Date Proposals and Shrimp Pot Pie

There are times that you really don’t want to be asked out on a date.

I recently was getting my first tattoo. Now, I’m not normally the tattoo kind of girl, but it was in memory of my best friend (who you may recognize in stories here and here) who passed away 10 years ago, so it was one of those things that you just have to suck up and get.

I had literally been putting this off for ages, but happened to be sitting next to a tattoo artist when I recently dyed my hair red…which is how a week later I was lying on a bed in a tattoo parlor.

I had obviously seen the design beforehand, but I couldn’t see it when the guy was imprinting it onto my body with permanent ink.  I was lying there exhausted (I strategically planned this the day after I returned from a conference, since I knew I would be too tired to cancel). I had actually already fallen asleep in the middle of getting the tattoo, which caused quite a stir in the tattoo parlor since they thought I had passed out from pain (and then I had to reassure them over and over again that yes, I really was that tired, and yes, I have a high pain tolerance).

Like I said, I was tired and a bit cranky. And I had a chatty tattoo artist who apparently was unable to work without a constant stream of words coming from his mouth.  I was attempting to nod every once in a while to appear like I was paying attention.

That is, until I realized he must have asked me a question and was waiting for an answer.

Me: Excuse me, what did you say?

Tattoo guy: Oh, I just asked you if you wanted to go out for drinks sometime. You don’t have a boyfriend, do you? That would complicate things.

Now, please realize that at this point I have NO IDEA how much longer this is going to take. Besides, while I didn’t think he was the kind of guy who would mess up my tattoo if I said no, that wasn’t a chance I was willing to take (since tattoos are designed to be permanent and all…).

Me: No, I don’t have a boyfriend, and I’m out of town a lot, but maybe we can meet up.

Tattoo guy: Cool. I’m only a year younger than you, too.

At this point, I am praying for this to be done. Next, I’m not that old (I’m almost 26), so I don’t see why he had to point that out. I’m just feeling extremely awkward and praying it will be done soon.

And finally, it was done. He gave me his phone number and told me to call him sometime when I’m back in town.

I haven’t yet called him. And yes, the tattoo turned out fine. 😉

No Ink Required Shrimp Pot Pie

no need to tattoo the recipe to your body- just come back and find it here!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb asparagus, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 2 1/2 c chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 1/2 c skim milk
  • 1/2 c sherry (optional)
  • 16 oz frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 16 oz frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 lb uncooked shrimp (51-60 count), peeled and deveined
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 3 tbsp garlic powder
  • 3 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg, beaten

How-to

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large soup pot, dump in asparagus, onions, mushrooms, garlic, and olive oil. Cook approximately 10 minutes or until onions are translucent.
  3. Add flour and stir for 1 minute to cook the flour-y taste out of the mixture.
  4. Add in vegetable stock, milk, and sherry. Bring to a simmer, then cook for 5 minutes while the mixture thickens.
  5. Add garlic powder and dried parsley. Salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Mix in corn, peas, and shrimp. Remove from heat.
  7. Dump mixture into an 9x13in baking dish (I prefer glass).
  8. Roll out puff pastry sheet to fit baking dish, with an extra 1/2 – 1 inch on each side. Place on top of pot pie. Using egg wash (aka the beaten egg), brush insides of baking dish and stick puff pastry to that. Also brush with egg wash on top. Cut a few slits.
  9. Bake for 25 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.  Let cool 5 minutes before diving in.

P.S. Want to see who I’m reading? Check out my awards for Versatile Blogger, parts one and two!

Guitar Players and Brownies

In high school, I was quite excited to go on a date with a certain boy. Sure, he was smart and attractive. He worked as a volunteer for children and old ladies. He had been a state champion in a number of sports.

None of those were the reasons though. There is one fact that got me more excited than anything else.

He played guitar.

And he told me that he was going to play a special song JUST FOR ME.

Now that was something to send my teenage heart a-fluttering.

I got dropped off at his house (I know, it’s quite the image of sexiness when you can’t get your license until you are nearly 21 years old, and thus you have to depend on the driving skills and vehicles of others to get anywhere) and waited as patiently as I could until he answered.

The acoustic masterpiece was set right by the door, and he picked it up shortly after I walked in (obviously there was a bit of business to be taken care of first). I sat down on the couch, thinking that I was about to be serenaded, or at very minimum whispered to in some attempt at pitch.

Oh boy, was I in for a treat.

He started playing and he was good. And then he started singing.  His song of choice?

Christian music. Specifically, a song about how you need to hold our savior holy until marriage.

I have never been so disappointed up until then in my LIFE. It was totally out of left field. Here this guy was putting on a rocker vibe, and apparently nothing was allowed to rock his world except the Holy Spirit. Now, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing- just don’t pretend to be otherwise!

I then had to pretend to nod appreciatively for the next hour during the longest concert of my life.

Worth Singing For Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

you could halve the recipe, but you’d regret it

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 c plus 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 tsp + 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 c cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp gel red food coloring, or 1 tbsp liquid red food coloring
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • 4 + 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c flour
  • 16 oz softened Neuchâtel cheese
  • Cooking spray

How-to

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Coat a glass 13×9 in baking dish with cooking spray. (I prefer glass.)
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the melted butter, 2 c sugar, and 2 tsp vanilla.
  4. Slowly add in the cocoa powder and 1/4 tsp salt.
  5. Add in the red food coloring, increasing the amount if necessary to obtain your desired redness.  Mix in vinegar.
  6. Slightly beat 4 eggs and add to mixture.
  7. Add flour until just combined. Reserve 1/2 c batter and pour the rest into the baking dish.
  8. In another bowl, mix together the cream cheese, 1/2 c sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/4 tsp salt, and 2 eggs until well combined.
  9. Pour cream cheese mixture over the brownies and then dollop the remaining batter on top of that. Use a knife to swirl layers together.
  10. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  11. Let cool and serve.

Warning: these become even more fudgy and delicious if you store them in an airtight container overnight.

Surprising Mornings and Waffles

Sometimes it takes a little bit of alcohol for someone to open up.

Then again, a lot of alcohol can lead to discoveries you wish you didn’t make.

I was seeing a former frat boy. Now, there are some frat boys who grow up, there are some that don’t, and then there are those that try to grow up and then revert back to frattiness with large quantities of alcohol.

This particular gentleman had friends in town that weekend, which naturally meant that a lot of drinking would be going on. As the night progressed, he got more and more drunk until he passed out in a stairwell. We managed to get him into a car, where he snored quite happily on the drive home.

Two boys and I managed to carry him and dump him into bed. I crawled in next to him (the guests had taken over the living room and having not served as the DD, I was in no shape to drive home myself) and went to sleep (it’s hard work wrangling drunk boys who don’t think they’re drunk).

The next morning I woke up surprisingly cold. I rolled over to snuggle, only to make an even worse discovery upon realizing that half of the bed was quite damp…

Yup, that’s right, he wet the bed overnight.

Upon realizing that, I immediately jumped out of bed and changed into dry clothes. I wanted a shower as fast as possible, but before driving home I woke up the bedwetter and informed him of what had happened.

His response in an extremely hungover state- “But why do you have to go home and shower?”

Better Morning Surprise Whole Wheat Banana Waffles

I’d much rather wake up to these

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 c whole wheat flour
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 c skim milk
  • 1/4 c vegetable oil or melted butter
  • 2 overly ripe bananas
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Olive oil spray

How-to

  1. In one bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Make a well in the middle.
  2. In another bowl, mash the bananas. Add the eggs, skim milk, oil, and vanilla and mix until just combined.
  3. Add liquids to flour mixture and stir until just combined (lumpy is okay!)
  4. Preheat your waffle maker according to package instructions.
  5. Spray waffle maker with olive oil (best to use olive oil in a spray pay so your waffle maker lasts longer!).
  6. Pour 1 to 1 1/2 c mixture onto waffle grids (this varies depending on your waffle maker). Close lid and cook according to instructions (mine says 2-4 minutes and it normally takes 3).
  7. Open lid when done (don’t open early!) and use a fork to remove.
  8. Repeat with rest of the waffle batter, spraying waffle maker every so often with more olive oil as needed.
  9. Serve with maple syrup or fresh fruit.

Makes 14 4-inch waffles (can also use this batter with a Belgian waffle maker)

Note: These freeze very well!  To reheat, first thaw for 30 seconds in a microwave then throw in a toaster for best results.