Saturday, March 31, 2012

Feels Like Sunday

Yes, I know, it's Saturday.  However, our rotation schedule changes precisely on the 1st of each month, and tomorrow (Sunday) is the 1st.  April 1st = Day 1 in the Trauma ICU.  I wish it were an April Fool's joke, but I'm afraid it's not.  With a busy several months looming, I had created a major to-do list that I hoped to conquer yesterday and today.  Fortunately, I'm happy to say that I've accomplished most everything.  Unfortunately this darn essay I have to write about the disparities in medicine still hasn't written itself.  Hmm, guess that will go back on this week's to-do list.

Friday's big accomplishment was purchasing patio furniture.  I love spending time on my deck soaking up the sun!  When I had my first deck on an apartment during medical school, my parents passed down a PVC pipe Floridian-themed chair and table.  It has served it's purpose well and didn't cost me a dime, but I was more than ready for new lounge chairs that didn't look quite so tacky.

I found great lounge chairs and matching table at a price that was considerably less than I had budgeted.  The only problem - flat packed boxes.  While watching the Today Show this morning I set out to tackle the construction project.

About an hour later, this was the result.  LOVE IT!

Meal highlights included:

  • Pancakes (a weekend tradition).  Despite the very unappetizing photo, I assure you that this plate was delicious.  Oatmeal pancakes were topped with a cinnamon raisin banana mash and maple syrup.

  • Kicked Up Vegan Blueberry Muffins (recipe coming soon).  I made these to stick in the freezer and grab for a healthy early morning snack on my way to work.

  • Roasted Kale, Avocado Slices, Brown Rice topped with Savory "Cheese" Sauce, and Roasted Mushrooms
    • The "cheese" sauce was a mix of nutritional yeast, almond milk, worcestershire sauce, mustard, and black pepper.  I simply simmered it on the stove for 10 minutes and served.

Training wise, I've been hitting some pretty solid workouts recently.  Friday included an early morning 2500m at the pool, 5 mile tempo run, and an hour of pilates.  Today featured 90 minutes of bike hills on the trainer that left my quads screaming in pain.  I think I may have lost 5 pounds in sweat.  It was gross.

One of my biggest stresses when I have a hectic schedule with long hours at the hospital is finding time to continue my triathlon training.  Now that we're getting closer to race time, it becomes an even greater concern.  In an attempt to ameliorate this concern, I've got a plan for April.  It may be a little ambitious and fatigue and need for sleep may win out over some of my workouts, but it's a start.

And that's a wrap for life in Charlotte on this last day of March.  Where did yet another month go?  I'm hitting publish and then I'm going to enjoy a couple hours of laziness before it's back to the grind tomorrow.

Friday, March 30, 2012

A Ticket To Taste

Have you ever scoured over a restaurant menu and wished you could order a tasting portion of nearly every entree on the menu?  Please tell me I'm not alone in preferring small portions of twenty different things rather than a single large entree.  Perhaps this is why I love the Whole Foods salad and hot bar - endless combinations of fantastic treats!

Imagine my delight when I learned of Taste of the Nation,  a national event coming to Charlotte on April 11th that will feature dishes created by Queen City's hottest chefs.  More than 30 different restaurants, culinary schools, and wineries will participate in this evening.  Guests will not only enjoy endless tastes of signature creations, but will also contribute to the fight against childhood hunger.  In fact, 100% of ticket sales are directly invested in this mission.

Taste of the Nation - Charlotte
Two Wells Fargo Center Atrium
Wednesday, April 11th, 2012
6:00 PM - 10:00 PM

For more information about Charlotte's Taste of the Nation and to purchase tickets, pay a visit to their website so that you, too, can be wined and dined while supporting this noble cause.  Besides, I'd hate for you to drool on your computer screen and shed tears of jealousy when I present you with a photo chronicle of my evening of incredible eats!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Green Thumb and Breakfast for Dinner

With a few weeks of temperatures in the 70s and 80s, it appears Spring has official sprung here in Charlotte.  Trees are filled with new leaves, lawnmowers are cutting the thick blades of green grass, and cars are covered in a nasty yellow film of pollen.  With a free afternoon on my hands and the realization that work is soon to get really busy, I knew today was the day to plant some vegetables.  Armed with my wallet and a list of potential plants that would tolerate living in pots, I headed to my local Lowe's.
There's simply nothing more tasty than homegrown vegetables on a summer evening.  The vegetables I selected and hope to be munching on in 6-8 weeks include:
  • Sweet Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Husky Cherry Tomatoes
  • Butter Bush Tomatoes
  • Sweet Banana Peppers
  • Orange Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Crookneck Squash
It was quite a process to fill pots with soil, plant the vegetables, haul them up two flights of stairs to the deck, and fertilize them, but actually was quite enjoyable to play in the dirt and completely forget about work.  I'll keep you posted on the progress of my vegetable "garden".

The weather was simply too perfect not to continue the afternoon basking in the sunshine.  After some reading and sun-soaking, I hit the pavement for a run.  7 miles at tempo pace felt surprisingly well today.  I contribute a large portion to my Zoot shoes (I swear I run significantly faster and with less effort in these than an my Mizunos), or maybe my new flashy shorts.

It's been almost 2 weeks since I've enjoyed eggs for breakfast.  Yesterday when I was planning out meals for the week, I knew immediately that I needed a "breakfast for dinner" night.  And so, this plate of deliciousness was born.
The scramble contained 2 whole eggs, 1 egg white, chopped kale, chopped tempeh, 1 tbsp nutritional yeast, 1 tsp mustard, 2 tbsp almond milk, a dash of cumin, and freshly cracked pepper.  I simply sauteed the kale and tempeh for 2 minutes and then added the eggs.  Just a couple minutes of stirring, and the eggs were ready.  I served it up with two small slices of toast (spinach feta and cinnamon chip), tomato slices, and blackberries.  Yum - a tasty meal packed with protein and nutrients!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Birthday Dinner

In honor of Royce's 24th birthday, we had a little family celebration last night.  With our family, if you offer a home-cooked meal, you're guaranteed to have a hungry bunch around the table.
I enjoyed taking pictures with my Mom's "real" camera, so you may notice the pictures are of better quality than my traditional pics taken with my iPhone.  One day, when I save a little more money, I'll have a big girl camera too!
 Royce's Birthday Feast

  • Grilled Pheasant and Ribs
  • Shallot Gravy
  • Broccoli Cabbage Slaw
  • Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
  • Steamed Garden-Fresh Collards
  • Key Lime Pie

There's nothing more this man loves than his grill!
A vegan diet has put a halt on grilling meats, so I think he especially enjoyed cooking this weekend. 

Grandma and Grandpa

Proud parents and GREAT cooks

My version of a perfect meal - lots of veggies and a creamy carb
Royce's love for Key Lime Pie dates back to all of our family trips to the Florida Keys as kids.  Whether it was the Hillyer's frozen pie, a slice of Key Lime Pie from each restaurant we dined at, or the "world's best key lime pie" that we bought and enjoyed in the comforts of our rental house, we did our fair share of Key Lime Pie eating!  Over the past several years, Royce and Erin frequently talk about ordering Key Lime Pie at any restaurant where it appears on the menu.  With lots of competition to face, I decided to take on the task of whipping up a Key Lime Pie for the birthday boy's dessert.

Key Lime Pie
Crust:  Combine 1.5 cups Annie's Organic Graham Bunnies and 3 tablespoons of melted Earth Balance in a food processor and process until a crumb consistency is formed.  Press into a pie plate.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes.  Allow to cool completely prior to pouring in pie filling.

Key Lime Filling:

  • 3 whole eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 20 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • Zest from key limes
  • 3/4 cup fresh squeezed Key Lime juice
  • Whipped Topping
  1. Beat the eggs at high speed for 5-7 minutes, or until thickened.
  2. Add 3 tbsp of lime zest.  Slowly add the sweetened condensed milk while the mixer continues at medium speed.  Beat an additional 2-4 minutes, or until the mixture as thickened to a consistency of a thin pudding.
  3. Add the Key Lime juice and mix on low until well incorporated.
  4. Pour Key Lime mixture into the pie shell.
  5. Bake the entire pie at 325 degrees for 15 minutes, or until the filling has set.
  6. Once the pie cools, refrigerate until ready to serve.
  7. Garnish with whipped topping and remaining lime zest.

Prior to digging into dessert, we enjoyed a beautiful sunset.  The views and nature of this backyard never get old!

"Happy Birthday To You, Happy Birthday To You.  Happy Birthday Dear Royce, Happy Birthday To You!"

Everyone seemed to enjoy the pie, and Royce gave it his seal of approval.  Success!  After finishing our dessert, Royce opened his presents, and then we called it a night.

Happy 24th Birthday Royce!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tastes From Home

I'm enjoying a relaxing weekend at home.  As usual, the meals have been nothing short of delicious.  Thursday night, Mom prepared a great vegan dinner featuring Lemon Pappardelle Pasta with Kale Pesto and Roasted Artichokes.  The pasta roughly followed Daily Garnish's version, with a few additions to enhance the lemon flavor of the pesto sauce.  The flavors in the pasta combined perfectly and really popped in my mouth.  I could eat meal after meal just like this one!

Friday morning started with a solid swim with 200m intervals followed by a short run.  That afternoon we watched Contagion.  I was initially really skeptical of the pandemic story line the potential that it would be a sci-fi gone wrong film, but I've heard again and again that it was a great movie with excellent film-making.  The verdict - I'd give it a grade of a B.  The story started out a little on the slow side, but it definitely caught my attention as it progressed and even had some suspenseful sections.  I may have been a little disappointed had I spent $10+ to view it in the theaters, but it was a perfect Redbox/Blockbuster Express rental.

We were quite the indifferent bunch when dinner time arrived.  Dining out sounded like a good plan, but Woodstock just doesn't have the quality restaurants that we were craving (Candle 79, I wish you were closer!).  Since it was 6:30pm, we were hungry, and we didn't have reservations anywhere, I volunteered to whip up a meal with some refrigerator and freezer ingredients. 

After about 30 minutes, the end result was a Asian Chicken Chopped Salad.  The base was a mix of spinach and butter lettuce, carrots, golden beets, and cucumber tossed with a citrus soy vinaigrette.  Seared shrimp with a sesame soy reduction and homemade spinach croutons put the finishing touches on the meal.

Do you every venture away from recipes and simply get creative with a random mix of refrigerator ingredients?  What unique dishes have you concocted?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Familiar Faces

T-minus 24 hours until I'm reunited with this beautiful face!

And while Bailey is certainly the star of the show, I might be just a little excited to see these familiar faces too.  Love you guys!
Mom and Dad

Royce and Erin
Little brother is turning 24 this month!  Happy Birthday Royce!

Grandma and Grandpa
See you all soon!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Vegan Sprouted Kale Wraps

The recipe that I have for you today is perfect for the summer temperatures that seem to be overtaking the country right now.  These kale wraps make a refreshingly cool meal that could be eaten on the deck while enjoying the sunny and warm evening.

For those of you that are following along with the Cooking Hard Stuff Challenge, my theme this week was to take the time to prepare something with artistic appeal.  All too often I find myself throwing together a quick meal without much concern for how it looks on the plate.  The meals are no less delicious or healthy, but they are frequently lack the restaurant-quality presentation.  Since I am preparing these kale wraps to take to the Charlotte Food Blogger's potluck, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to work on presentation skills.

1 can garbanzo beans
1 head of garlic, roasted
2 tbsp EVOO
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Bean Sprouts

Quinoa Salad
3/4 cup quinoa, cooked and cooled
1 can artichoke hearts, diced
1 large tomato, diced
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/8 cup balsamic

Lacinato Kale (approx 18 leaves)

1.  Combine all hummus ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.  Allow to sit overnight to maximize the flavors.
2.  Prepare quinoa salad by mixing together quinoa, artichokes, tomato, lemon juice, and balsamic vinegar.
3.  Wash the kale leaves and trim ends.
4.  Spread a couple tablespoons of hummus on the underside of the kale leaf.
5.  Spread sprouts over the hummus.
6. Layer a heaping scoop of quinoa salad over the sprouts.
7.  Beginning at the base of the kale leaf, gently roll up the leaf from bottom to top.

8.  Place on a pretty plate, and serve.  

If you're not vegan, you could add feta cheese to the quinoa salad for an extra protein and flavor boost.  These could also be served with a sauce on the side - I'm thinking a ginger peanut sesame dressing could be a nice twist.  The sky is really the limit with these with regards to the ingredients within the wraps.  Avocado, fresh herbs (cilantro, basil), mango, etc.  Let me know about the great variations you come up with!

Sunday, March 18, 2012


This weekend was all about checking things off a list.  Based on the very few pictures on my camera, you might guess that I didn't accomplish all that much.  But in reality, I was checking to-do items off the list like crazy.  Guess I was too busy to stop and take pictures!  Here's the few moments that were captured.
THE LIST.  What can I say, a girl loves some organization!
Afternoon storms are brewing.

Very impressive and threatening clouds.
I though about taking cover, but decided standing on the deck taking pictures was a better choice.

Post-race lunch on Saturday.  A kitchen sink salad, chunk of bread,  and tomato soup.

Sunday's breakfast of cinnamon raisin oatmeal topped with banana.

My other meals have been rather unimpressive.  I seem to have accrued a refrigerator of leftovers, so this weekend's meals were random odds and ends thrown together on a plate.  Tonight, however, I have been busy creating a dish to take to the Charlotte Food Blogger's "green" themed potluck Monday.  I'll be back with details and pictures tomorrow.