Sledding and Hot Chocolate

Not everyone views an injury as an injury.

Growing up, I had the coolest aunt. Technically, she was my great aunt, but since it was far too complicated for us to say “Great Aunt Marie,” we just called her Grammarie instead.

It was Christmas break as kids, and we had a terrific blizzard that dumped a ton of snow. We had driven a few hours north to eat some fried chicken, visit the largest Christmas store possible, and see my aunt, who conveniently lived right there.

My aunt was famous in her teeny little town for teaching the neighbor kids how to cross country sky, along with her legendary toboggan collection.

Which is how my aunt and I ended up going sledding at the local school while my parents were out shopping. My aunt even ever so nicely let me sit in the very front of the toboggan so I could see best (and have the most excitement). She then hopped on the back and away we went!

We were racing down the hill (which turned out to be a bit icy, so my aunt’s running start and jump onto the toboggan might not have been totally necessary) when all of a sudden, I got the sinking feeling that we weren’t going to stop. There was, however, something that was going to stop us: a fence at the bottom of the hill.

I realized too late that protecting my head was a wise idea, and instead bounced face-first into the wire fence. However, I didn’t seem to be hurt, so we continued sledding for the rest of the afternoon.

It wasn’t until we got back that I realized that something had happened.

Mom: Oh gosh! What happened to you?

Aunt: We hit the fence. She’s fine.

Mother: But she has the impression of the fence ACROSS HER FOREHEAD!

Aunt: Ehh, she’s a kid. It’s just a battle wound. She’ll be fine.

I might have walked around for the next few days with a bruise on my forehead in the shape of wire fence diamonds.

My parents might also have required parental supervision the next time my aunt took us sledding.

Accident Free Spicy Hot Chocolate

spicy hot chocolate

Hard to mess this up


  • 1 C nonfat powdered milk (this is normally 1 package in a box of this stuff)
  • 6 packets Sweet’N Low sugar substitute
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (can increase if you’d like it hotter!)
  • pinch salt
  • 6 oz hot water (per cup of hot chocolate)


  1. In a jar, combine powdered milk, sugar substitute, cocoa powder, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and salt.
  2. Cover jar and shake to combine.
  3. To make hot chocolate, add 1 1/2 tbs mix to 6 oz hot water (feel free to add more mix for a richer hot chocolate). Stir until combined and enjoy!
  4. If desired, serve in a mug with a spritz of whipped cream and a pinch of dry mix to make it look fancy.
  5. To make an adult version, use 5 oz water and 1 oz vanilla vodka.

This post is part of a DailyBuzz Food Tastemaker Program with Sweet’N Low


Mishearings, Part 2, and Chocolate Cutouts

While as a doctor I don’t find hearing loss funny, it can lead to some hilarious stories.

My mother is deaf in one ear from having her eardrum blown out when I was a kid (she’ll tell you that it’s quite painful). Because of this, we’ve always had to make sure to speak up and talk on her “good side.”

We also need to make sure that we speak clearly.

We were driving to a church ice cream social when we were younger, and we were all listing off what kind of ice cream we wanted to have.

Me: I want Mackinac Island Fudge.

Dad (while pulling into the church parking lot): I just want ice cream!

Brother #1: I want cookies and cream!

Mom (whipping her head around and yelling in a stern voice): How DARE you say that??? We’re at church!!!

The rest of my family exchanged confused looks.

Dad: Honey, why is it bad that he wants cookies and cream ice cream?

My mother then burst out laughing and it was a few minutes later before she caught her breath enough to tell us…(while we all still looked on confused)…

“Oh goodness, I thought he said herpes and cream! You can’t talk about herpes at church!”

To this day, cookies and cream has never been known by its actual name…nor has anyone in my family eaten it since.

No Mistakes Chocolate Cutouts

Chocolate Cutouts

perfect if you decide to combine with cream…for ice cream sandwiches 😉


  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 1/2 c white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 c cocoa powder
  • 3 c flour, plus additional for rolling
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder


  1. Cream together butter and sugars in a stand mixture. Add in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until combined after each one.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together cocoa powder, flour, salt, and baking powder. With mixer on, slowly add in dry ingredients until well combined.
  3. Refridgerate dough at least 1 hour (overnight is best).
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Flour surface and rolling pin. Using a ruler (this helps, I promise!), roll out dough until 1/4 in thick and use a cookie cutter to cut into shapes.
  6. Place cookies into greased cookie sheets. Bake for 8-9 minutes (it’s really easy to overcook these, so it’s best to undershoot and then try them after they cool for about 5 minutes to see if they’re at your desired softness…personally I don’t like my cutout cookies too hard!).

Pot and Brownies

Sometimes my patients have interesting requests. I can’t always grant them.

On the oncology wards, we often have patients admitted for pain control. It’s not that these patients are drug seeking- their pain might be worse because of their treatments or because their disease is spreading. While this can often be done as an outpatient, sometimes it is just easier to bring someone in, try out a different pain drug or different doses, and see if we can send them home with less pain.

However, as I said, I can’t prescribe everything.

For this particular patient, I walked in the room, introduced myself, and asked the patient what his goals were for this particular visit (some patients are fine living with some degree of pain if it means they’re more awake, while others are fine with the sedating effects of certain medications if it means all of their pain is gone).

Patient (in a very eager voice): Look at the board!

And there, on the whiteboard under “patient goals,” was written very clearly in large black letters….


Me: Uhm, sir, I’m fairly confident that I cannot legally write you a script for medical marijuana in this state.

Patient: Well what about illegally writing me a script?

Me: I’m pretty sure I can’t do that, either.

Patient: But what if smoking pot helps my pain?

Me: I’m not saying that smoking pot doesn’t help your pain- I’m just saying that I cannot write you a script for medical marijuana. And you also can’t smoke pot you buy on the street here in your hospital room.

Patient: Really? Are you sure?

Me: Pretty sure it’s against the building code.

Patient: Damn. Guess I’ll take the morphine then.

Got the Munchies Gluten Free Brownies

no pot required…these are decadently addictive


  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 c vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 c cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 c rice flour (can use regular flour too if you don’t want these gluten-free)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Cooking spray


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together eggs, brown sugar, vegetable oil, and vanilla until mixture is slightly lightened.
  3. Add in cocoa powder, espresso powder, flour, and salt.
  4. Stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Spray a 9×13 in glass baking dish with cooking spray (if desired, line first with parchment paper- it makes it easier to take the brownies out- and then spray). Pour in brownie batter.
  6. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  7. These are super rich brownies, so cut into 32 pieces once cool.

I never said these were healthy…but cut into small pieces, they won’t kill your diet if you can attempt to limit yourself. Though that might be a big “if.”

These brownies also ship very well!

Caffeine and Cookies

Sometimes your trip is longer than expected. Also, caffeine can keep you awake.

My parents were big believers in long car trips when we were kids (I’ve been to 45 states so far). My one and only flight was to California in 8th grade, and that was only because we had one week and you can’t exactly drive to California and back from Michigan in that time frame.

That’s why here we were, driving from Michigan to Yellowstone National Park when I was between 10th and 11th grade. It was our last day of driving, and my father thought that it wouldn’t be that bad, since we just had to drive across Wyoming. We were in Ely and had just stopped for both ice cream (my mom and me) and tacos (my dad and brothers). And, somehow, we ended up with a 64-oz Mountain Dew.It was approaching dusk and we were leaving town for the rest of the drive. We were traveling in a full-sized Ford Econoline van with a pop-up trailer attached to the back.

At that moment we noticed the deer running along the side of our car. And that deer then decided to turn in front of our car.

There was quite a bit of shock afterwards, since my family had never hit a deer before (which actually was an amazing feat with how many trips we had to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula). Somehow, our car and everyone in it were fine, so we got back on the road.

I then was placed in the front seat and put on “deer duty” to spot any animals that could possibly run in front of our car. I also was given the 64-oz Mountain Dew to make sure I stay awake.

At this point, I should probably mention that I had never had caffeine before in my life. Ever.

Needless to stay, I was wide awake and wouldn’t shut up for the next 9 hours while my dad drove and my brothers and mother slept. From reports, I was barely making sense at some points. And I was singing and dancing along to country music while strapped in with a seatbelt. I also was jumping into air (or as far as I could jump while in a seatbelt) whenever I saw something that *could* be an animal that might run into our car.

My father maintains that I wasn’t *that* annoying. I’m convinced he’s just trying to be nice.

P.S. Personally, I wasn’t that big on Yellowstone- it was too touristy. However, Glacier National Park in Montana was infinitely nicer.

Caffeinated Chocolate Pecan Balls

eat these to stay awake


  • 2 sticks softened butter (feel free to do this in the microwave if necessary)
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 and 3/4 c flour
  • 1/4 c cocoa powder (make sure it’s unsweetened)
  • 1 tbsp instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 c chopped pecans
  • Cooking spray


  1. Mix together butter, sugar, and vanilla in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add in the rest of the ingredients and stir until combined. Pat down, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Coat cookie sheet with cooking spray.
  5. While oven is preheating, remove cookie dough from the fridge. Roll dough into teaspoon-sized balls. Place onto cookie sheet 2 inches apart.
  6. Bake cookies in batches for 12-15 minutes or until the cookies just feel firm. Let cool and serve.

Porn and Peppermints

With holidays, come gifts.  And, inevitably, there is always the worst gift you’ve ever received…


And it gets so much worse than that.

To start, I’ve dated my fair share of former Catholic altar boys.  It’s never on purpose- I just always find out by the third or fourth date that they used to be Catholic altar boys.  It at least isn’t as bad as my habit of dating guys whose name normally has 4 letters and usually starts with J…or with middle names of “Michael.”

Anyway, so I was dating this guy.  And this guy was a formerly repressed altar boy who thought that porn was the pinnacle of sexiest things you could ever buy a girl, which I later learned.

Oh did I mention I ended up paying for this as well?

I should have known this was a bad idea from the start.  My birthday, per tradition, always sucks on the actual day. Without fail. So earlier that day, the guy I was dating asked me to borrow $20 since he had to go somewhere that took only cash (not uncommon in my college town).  He then said he had a “surprise” for me for my birthday.

He took me to the store off campus that sold the largest variety of DVD and VHS porn (it was also the only store that sold porn within a hundred miles, unless you want to count the ability to buy Playboy at Walmart). And this was early 90s style porn, according to the date on the back of the DVD.  Which he had already picked out. And then used the $20 in cash I had let him borrow earlier to paid for it.  And he was so proud of himself for his brilliant idea.

Needless to say, I didn’t keep that “birthday gift.”

Anyway, if you’re looking for a last-minute gift for the holidays (and don’t want to make the same mistake), I suggest you make the following…

Better than a Gift of Porn Peppermint Bark


  • 1 12 oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 package of 12 candy canes (or 6 oz peppermint candies)
  • 1 12 oz package white coating chocolate


  1. Cover 2 half-sheet pans (your average cookie sheet pans for those non-bakers) in either aluminum foil or parchment paper (whichever you happen to have on hand)
  2. Unwrap the candy canes or peppermint candies. Place into a ziplock baggie and place underneath a towel. Using either a rolling pin or frying pan, get out all of your aggression over bad gifts by beating the candy into small bits (you’ll have a lot of dust but that’s okay!).
  3. Dump the chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl and toss into the microwave, microwaving for 20 seconds at a time until the chocolate appears to be just melting (normally takes ~1 min in my microwave)
  4. Stir the chocolate chips until smooth, and then evenly divide the chocolate between the two sheet pans and spread thin.
  5. Break up the white melting chocolate into a separate bowl and microwave again for 20 second intervals until just melting (like before), then stir until smooth.
  6. Mix in the candy with the white chocolate, then divide up the white chocolate-peppermint mixture by spoonfuls onto each baking sheet.
  7. Using a knife, swirl the white and semi-sweet chocolate, then tap the pans on a countertop to settle.
  8. Place both sheets into a fridge under the chocolate sets, then break up into pieces and package into decorative bags or boxes.