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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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!)

Stalking for Cheesecake

I’ve had some unfortunate run-ins with guys, but not have been worse than the creepy stalker.

I had hung out with this guy and knew he just wasn’t my type and I didn’t want to see him again. I was very busy with med school (try being a third year in the midst of our annual musical) and literally barely had time to sleep.

First, he started calling me.  While I was at clinic.  And you can’t answer your phone in clinic (who wants their doctor answering the phone in clinic?)  He called me NINE TIMES. And continually texted me because I couldn’t talk to him right then.

I called him while I was driving home from clinic.  Where he made mistake #2….

“Why haven’t you called me?  You’re supposed to call me on a daily basis. Because you’re my girlfriend.”

#1, I already was going to tell him I had never wanted to see him again. #2, we had barely hung out and I DEFINITELY was not his girlfriend.  I then proceeded to tell him exactly that.

That night, my doorbell rang.  Standing outside my door was this guy.  Crying. And not just tears in his eyes, but full-on man sobs that should be reserved for events like your wife or child dying. And during these sobs he begged me to take him back (which made no sense because I never had him in the first place).  I told him to go home and leave me alone.

And then mistake #3…he showed up at my door sobbing on a weekly basis for the next 2 months.

Mistake #4 deserves a blog post all to itself.

Stalker Inspiring Low-Fat New York Cheesecake

Ingredients for crust

  • 1 1/2 c graham cracker crumbs (about 24 squares)
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/3 c melted butter

How-to

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix together ingredients and press into a pie pan, preferably glass.
  3. Bake for 8 minutes until golden brown

Ingredients for filling

  • 8 oz Neuchâtel cheese or low-fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 eggs

How-to

  1. While pie shell is baking, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add in sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice. Add in eggs one at a time and beat for 2 minutes.
  2. Remove pie shells from oven and decrease temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Pour in filling and bake for 20-30 minutes until the top is golden brown and firm.

Ingredients for topping

  • 1 c fat-free sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp sugar

How-to

  1. Mix together sour cream, vanilla, and sugar.
  2. When filling is down baking, pour on topping and return cheesecake to oven for 10-15 minutes until top is nearly firm. Let cool for 1 hour and then keep chilled.

Talking and Sandwiches

Some people talk.  Some people talk a lot.  And other people talk at inappropriate times.

A truly memorable experience, and not in a good way, was the Detailed Talker.

This guy had a running commentary to everything he did the second he started kissing you.  “Oh baby [and to start, I HATE being called baby], I’m going to do this to you now.  And then I’m going to do this.  And after that this is going to happen. I’m going to treat you so right because I’m so awesome at all of this.”

During this one-sided conversation, where I was told how great this guy thought he was at the things he was doing and about to do, all I could think was “SHUT. UP.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, some talking is good, but TOO MUCH talking makes me want to scream. And not in a good way. Plus it’s great that you have self-confidence in what you do, but let ME tell you if it’s good- I don’t want you to tell me it’s going to be good (which even more disappointingly, it wasn’t).

Do I even need to say that it only took one detailed talking experience for me to know there wouldn’t be another?

Keep Them Quiet Tomato-Turkey Panini

Ingredients (makes 2 sandwiches)

  • 2 tbsp light olive-oil mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 regular Roma tomato, thinly sliced
  • 4 slices turkey breast
  • 4 slices french bread
  • 1 oz mozzarella, shredded (optional)
  • Cooking spray (preferably olive oil in a spray bottle)

How-to

  1. Mix together mayonnaise, parmesan, garlic powder, parsley, and pepper and spread on bread.
  2. On top of the cheese mixture, place 2 slices turkey breast and half of the tomato slices. Top with half of the mozzarella and the other piece of bread. Repeat for the other sandwich.
  3. Spray each sandwich on both sides with a quick squirt of cooking spray (I prefer olive oil in a spray bottle but feel free to use whatever you have)
  4. Place both sandwiches in a preheated panini maker or a fry pan over medium heat. If using a fry pan, start with the tomato side down.  Cook until the bread is golden brown (normally 3-5 minutes in a panini maker, or 2-3 minutes per side on a fry pan).  For the fry-pan version, weigh down the sandwiches with another pan topped with a can of vegetables to achieve a more panini-style sandwich.

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!

Swimming in Potatoes

You can tell a lot about a guy by his taste in food.  During one first date, I could tell there wasn’t going to be a second.

I had met a guy who was a former state-champion swimmer and agreed to go out to dinner.  To start, we went to a Ruby Tuesday.  I’m not saying anything bad about the restaurant, but it’s not exactly what I would picture for first-date material, especially when you take into mind the conversation that follows.

Ordering food was a disaster.  I couldn’t tell you what I ordered for my main dish, but I do remember it came with a side of potatoes.  Now, when it comes to my heritage, I’m a European mutt, which means I love potatoes cooked practically any way (it’s rare for me to meet a potato I don’t like).

Guy: “You’re really going to eat potatoes?”

Me: “Yeah, why?”

Guy: “Potatoes have too many calories.  I can’t keep this swimmer’s body by eating those.  Why don’t you order a salad like me?  It’s better for your waistline.”

Now, there are rules that guys should follow, especially on a first date.  First, never critique my food choices. And second, don’t mention your weight or mine.

Needless to say there was no second date.

Safe for Swimmers Potato Gratin

Ingredients

  • 1lb Yukon Gold potatoes, washed (I’ve also used a mix of regular and sweet potatoes)
  • 6 oz grated cheese (I used a low-fat Irish Cheddar from Trader Joe’s that I grated myself)
  • 1/3 c milk (I used 1/2 %)
  • Salt
  • Garlic powder
  • Pepper
  • Parsley (dried)
  • Cooking spray

How-to

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Slice potatoes thinly and shred cheese, if needed.  I tend to leave the skin on because I think it makes for a prettier presentation, but feel free to peel if desired (and definitely peel sweet potatoes if you’re using a mix).
  3. Coat 8×8 in glass baking dish with cooking spray (makes for easier clean-up).
  4. Layer 1/3 potatoes into the dish and season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder (think a light sprinkle).  Reserve 1 oz (a small handful) of cheese, then divide in half.  Sprinkle half the cheese onto the first layer of potatoes.
  5. Layer the second third of potatoes into the dish, season again with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and again top with the cheese.
  6. Layer the final layer of potatoes on top of the dish and pour on the milk.  Top with the reserved small handful of cheese, parsley, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes until the potatoes pierce easily with a fork and the dish is bubbly with golden cheese on top.