Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ahhhhhhh! Summer's here!

And we all know what this means:
Hot weather!

Along with all that hot weather comes many a wonderful joy in my life: swimming pools, water parks, studying outside, frappuccinos, suntanning, and cold foods!

(fyi: for the sensitive stomachs, there are a few pics at the end that display some of my sun experience this weekend. you are now forewarned)

Yep, I said it, cold food! I am a big proponent of leftovers, and if you know me you know I'm that girl that eats last night's pizza straight from the fridge -- YUM!

There are so many great choices of cold food recipes. Many of my favorites come straight from the recipe collection of my sweet mom: Chinese Chicken Salad, Gazpacho, No-Mayo Potato Salad, a giant garden-fresh salad, chunked cantaloupe, frozen grapes, frozen chocolate chips (a personal favorite year round), and so many more.

But today, because I was super hungry when I went grocery shopping (which we all know is a huge no-no!), I decided to make a recipe slightly modified created by a friend whom I have known for ages: Mrs. Maggie Bettger. She also has a blog, but her's is way cooler because not only does she not have to go to work, but she's got an awesome husband who moved her to Ireland! You should check out her blog.

Anyhoo, her recipe is for a delicious salad that she didn't name....so, since I've made it, modified it, and devoured it, I named it Saucy BLT Salad (minus the "L").

Here's the gist of the recipe:

  • tomatoes (I used red and yellow, because I love colorful food!)
  • olive oil
  • vinegar -- red wine is best, but whatever you happen to have/find will work
  • herbs -- again, whatever you have on hand will be great! I used oregano and thyme
  • bacon
  • white onion (red would be delicious too)
  • mushrooms

1. chop your tomatoes as finely or roughly as you like. I take out the seeds and extra pulp (personal pet peeve, sorry)

2. add some olive oil and vinegar and whatever herbs you found in the pantry. Stir it around, give it a real good stir, or if you're using a bowl with a lid (like I did) put on the lid and give it a few good shakes.

3. while that is marinating, slice up your bacon and get it cooking. Mmmmmmm..... I love that smell!

4. while it cooks, chop up those 'shrooms and onion

*note: if you are vegetarian/vegan/halal/kosher or just don't eat pork, you're free to add turkey bacon, facon, tofu, or whatever suits your fancy as long as it is tasty!

5. once the bacon is finished, take it out of the pan to dry/drain on paper towel or a plate. See all the crusty deliciousness stuck to the bottom of your pan? All those bacon leftovers? Using a wooden spoon, scrape all of that off the bottom of the pan and throw in your chopped up onions and mushrooms.

6. when they're finished cooking, throw 'em into the bowl with the tomatoes and top it all off with the bacon.

See? Isn't it purty? I just love the splash of color from the yellow tomato!

Ugh! I just love this stuff!

FYI: I ate my first serving while it was still fresh and hot off the stove and it was fantastic!!! The rest of it was eaten out of the fridge. It was chilled and crispy and fresh and oh so wonderfully perfect to hit the spot!

My second serving, I put over a bed of lettuce. One of the hospitals in the area serves all its salads in this manner. I've always been pretty skeptical about this method of serving salad, but it was so delicious!

And then I ate frozen chocolate chips for dessert. Mmmmm! Seriously, you'll never go back once you do this. I keep mine in a tupperware with a blue lid. So worth the calories!

*** beware : terror lies ahead!!! ***

Now, the pics from my rendezvous with the sun this weekend. I promise I wore sunscreen! I really did! I slathered it everywhere! Ugh. Oh well.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Best of Friends

I took a night off from studying tonight to catch up on my Hulu (*tear* gLee! Bones!) and do a little baking....

It is Friday after all! I feel like I deserve it! Plus, tomorrow is my last day with my current medical team and I wanted to do a little something special for a thank you.

So I got the grand idea to make cinnamon rolls. Who doesn't like cinnamon rolls? Seriously.
They're fantastic! And I'm pretty sure the recipe I use is the best on the planet

(I do plan on blogging about it at a later date, stay tuned)

I then realized what a phenomenal idea this is as my mom and sister will be here next week (Bayshore Marathon here we come!) and I would like to have some sort of breakfast-y item for them to indulge in while they're here. So cinnamon rolls it is!

One of the reasons this recipe is fantastic is that at any point in time after rolling the rolls, they are prime for freezing.

Have I told you yet how much I love my freezer? Seriously, have I? Because it is amazing! I use it daily. Really, I do. It's pretty much been my best friend since I moved out of my parents' house and no longer had my mom cooking for me.
(Please ignore the sad, empty state of my freezer, er, best friend. She has been so good to me this last month as I have been working very long hours.... she is now quite empty)

What I have discovered is that most, and by most I mean 99.999%, of all the recipes out there are for more than one serving. This isn't actually that great because:
  • I have been in the overweight category and don't really want to go back as I can and will eat pretty much all the food put in front of me
  • I actually like the clothes I currently have in my closet and how they fit me
  • I don't have a lot of extra cash to be buying a new wardrobe
  • extra food to feed myself costs a lot of money as does wasting the food I can't get to before it spoils....
Thus, I have discovered the art of mass cooking with freezing/storing extra meals. I have all these great recipes that make enough for a family of 10 and it is difficult to have to do all that math to cut down the measurements for ingredients. So I make said recipes as called for and before I actually do any of the cooking part, I portion out the servings to appropriate sizes into some lovely storage containers I have stocked up on, and freeze the meals.

I'm pretty much my own Lean Cuisine making machine!

It's fantastic! Before I leave for work, I'll pull whatever meal I might want that evening out of the freezer (best friends for life!) and pop it in the fridge to defrost slowly throughout the day. Then when I get home, I'll place it on the counter so while I go on my run my dinner can get rid of those remaining frozen portions. And then I cook it as the directions call for and enjoy my ready made meal without much hassle, and for much cheaper.

My mom uses this method to make dinners for when she will be out of town or when families we know have an illness/new baby/hard time. It works great!

Some of the recipes that work best with this method are Macaroni & Cheese (with Peas please!), Chicken Pot Pie, Enchiladas, and soups! Although, I would caution against soups with a cream base as they don't always defrost very nicely - ie. they get chunky and funky.

I have found that the dishes that work best for me as I'm not a huge microwave fan are the small pyrex baking dishes like these:

They freeze easily as the plastic tops keep out freezer burn. And when I put them in the oven, I use aluminum foil as the baking lid.

I occasionally will use the disposable aluminum pans (as seen here with my cinnamon rolls) if I'm making a slightly larger dish or making something to take to a friend or family.
As always, another option would be tupperwear. I'm not a huge fan of these as they can't go in the oven, and like I said before, I'm not big on the microwave. But I know they do work great! And I often use them for storing fruit, veggies, cheese, and other non-freezable items.

So, for all you singletons out there, or families on a budget, get out there and try those large recipes because they're great, but remember to save some for a later date!

*disclaimer: I don't always eat solely out of my freezer. I do get a lot of fresh food in me too, I just tend to go for the simpler route when I'm working longer hours as I am this month. And I promise, I always pair my mac&cheese with a salad. :)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Perpetually working, working, working...

we all have to work. all of us.

try as we might, even if we never hold a job a single day in our lives, we still have to do some kind of work for the things we want and need in life. even the playboy bunnies have to put effort into life to be able to live in the mansion and go to all those parties.

but it gets old. even if you absotively posilutely love what you do, it gets old. i love my job working with people every day and helping them live better, but there are days when i really want it to end.... and then i remember that when i get home, i still have to study for whatever test/board exam is coming up next.

it feels like i'm swimming up stream! like every moment i'm walking on eggshells and fighting against wilds of the Fire Swamp (Princess Bride reference). my life is precariously balanced and it. is. exhausting!

it gets really hard when patients expect so so so much from me and everyone else in the hospital, but have no desire to compensate us for the work. i recently worked with a doctor who was in some litigation with a patient who was trying to get out of paying for all her visits for her "chronic back pain". it makes me sad. not one of us would walk out of a restaurant expecting to not pay. we wouldn't drive off a car lot in a new car claiming we don't owe any money.

when i get this way, i remind myself of a few key verses:

Colossians 3:23-25
Do what you're told by your earthly masters. And don't just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you'll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you're serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn't cover up bad work.

Galatians 6:4
Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.

i know this is where i am supposed to be and this is what i have been called to do. but it's not easy. and being in a city like Detroit you see a lot of heart break and people in very tough places.

yet, i wouldn't change it for the world. i take one day at a time. i look forward to each morning waking up to the task that has been set before me and finding the way i can make each person around me a little happier, make their day a little easier, make the pain a little less to bear.

wisdom from my mom: let go and let God.