Thursday, September 24, 2009

My Apartment

Posted by Picasa

Infamous Oatmeal Pancakes

If you haven't heard me talk about these pancakes, that's a surprise.  I was obsessed with making these almost everyday (sometimes for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner) for almost a year.  My favorite way to make them is Banana Oatmeal Pancakes.

1/4 c oat flour (I grind up whole oatmeal in the food processor and store)
3/4 c quick or rolled oats
1/2 cup buttermilk (you can use regular if you don't want to get buttermilk)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 whole egg, beaten or 2 egg whites

Combine ingredients in mixing bowl.  Let stand until thickened, and if possible chill in the refrigerator for several hours, up to overnight.  If batter thickens too much, add buttermilk throughout chilling.  Preheat a non-stick pan to medium heat and spray with oil.  Mix fruit of choice into batter (I like ripe banana slices).  Cook until nicely browned each side.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ole! Gourmet Taco Party

My friend Christan and I came up with the fantastic idea to walk to the Raleigh State Farmer's Market.  If you are not familiar with Raleigh, let me show you the walk we did:
View Larger Map
This was quite a walk, up hill, downhill, through the rough TWO BLOCKS of raleigh, under the interstate bridge and finally up a long and winding road to the farmer's market through the grass.

The Farmer's Market in Raleigh is unlike the market I used to visit in Atlanta.  I will have to write an entirely separate market comparison.  The produce is right of the vine/tree/stalk and lasts forever. It is a truly unique experience for me. The walk to the market was great, the shopping better, and the company best.  However, a walk home was probably not in order after buying watermelon and bundle of other goodies.  [Superhero Music] my smart friend (Bill) with a "smart" phone saved the day by providing us with the number to Yellow Cab Co. 

After our walk to the market, we decided to invite a group over to share our fresh bounty of produce.  I had been dying to have a taco party to try out a recipe I had found, so we came up with some ideas for dinner that amounted to the easiest and by far most gourmet taco party I have ever been to.

Event: Gourmet Taco Party
Location: Susannah's House
Reason: Fresh Bounty of Produce
Menu: Ancho & Cocoa Carne Asada (tacos)
          Corn on the Cob with Chipotle Lime Butter
          Watermelon Salsa

Ancho & Cocoa Carne Asada
  • 1 Tablespoon ancho chile powder (I find these ingredients at the international foods market)
  • 2 Teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 (1-1/4 lb) piece of flank steak or skirt steak
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Flour tortillas (I use the 5-6 inch variety)
  • 3 cups packaged slaw or shredded lettuce) mix (7 oz.)
  • Sliced, pickled jalapeno
  • Lime wedges (I find limes at the international market at 10/$1.00!!)
  • Sour cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Stir together ancho, cocoa, and cinnamon; pat steak dry (an important step, meats should be dry when going on the grill or heat), season with salt, then coat liberally with spice mix.  Heat oil in non-stick pan (I use my grill pan) over medium-high heat until it shimmers.  Cook steak, turning once 8-9 minutes for medium rare.  While steak cooks, wrap tortillas in foil and warm in oven.  Let steak rest 5 minutes, then slice across grain at angle.

Chipotle Lime Butter

  • 3/4 stick of butter (unsalted)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 Tablespoon chipotle in adobo, chopped
In a mixing bowl, add butter, lime juice, and chipotle.  Mix well.  Spread over hot corn on the cob.

Watermelon Salsa

  • 3 cups chopped watermelon
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 fresh squeezed limes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onion
  • 1/2 -1 chopped fresh jalapeno, (seeded or not, depending on your preference)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • Small handful mint, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Lady of the Night

My job at Duke has finally started!  Well, about four weeks ago, finally.  After two weeks of hospital orientation and classes, I was ready to start my orientation on my unit 3200 - Cardio-Thoracic Surgery ICU. 

First let me tell you a little bit about the events leading up to starting my job, if you aren't already privy.  I moved here July 1, expecting to be starting my job on July 20.  I took the NCLEX (the nursing licensing exam) here in NC shortly after the move, and passed it with more ease than I expected, whew!  July 17, Friday morning before my start date, the nurse recruiting office from Duke University called me and told me that I wouldn't be able to start my job on Monday morning because my license had not been posted.  WHAT?!  Everything was supposed to be in order and ready to go.  Is this a joke?  Later that afternoon I found out that the reason my license had not been posted was "a problem with my background check."  We all knew I was a sketchy character...

I found out that my original fingerprint card had been rejected by the state because my prints were not clear.  I did not get the letter from the NC State Board because they were so thoughtfully hanging on to it for me in the leasing office of my building...for two weeks!  So, I had to hustle to get a new card done and background check completed.  Luckily, or unluckily, depending on how you look at it, I was able to move my official start date to a month later August 17.  Criminally cleared.

The first day of orientation was great!  I met several girls that I have since kept up with.  One of the girls I sat down next to that morning happened to be another girl working on my same unit which was a neat coincidence.  It has been nice to have a group of friends that are new nurses throughout the hospital that I can talk to, ask or answer questions, and bounce ideas back and forth with.

Orientation was incredibly efficient and the speakers were great.  I felt so excited to have the opportunity to be a part of such an awesome hospital system.  Once classes started I was really happy that I was able to follow along well.  My work experience in the cardiac surgery unit at Crawford helped a lot!  We have had information overload over the past several weeks.  We were handed to binders full of information for our unit that we are responsible for learning ASAP.  One of the binders is massive!  In my time at home I am doing a lot of studying.

I have worked on the unit for a couple of weeks now.  The nurses are really nice.  Everyone is very young, which is helpful, because they can all remember what it is like to be a new graduate.  All of my shifts for this month are night shifts.  My first shift was very difficult.  The worst part was the drive home.  I live about thirty minutes away from the hospital in good traffic, and leaving at the height of morning rush hour (which doesn't really mean anything except that the roads are more crowded) was kind of a scary experience.  I wanted to nod off while I was driving.  Not safe!  The next night I caffeinated appropriately.

One of my concerns was that I would have difficulty sleeping upon my arrival back at my apartment.  Shower, bed, pillow, sleep.  I can sleep easily until 5 p.m.  I do enjoy my sleep!

One of the first patients I had the opportunity to take care of was a fresh heart transplant.  It was an awesome experience.  I had never taken care of heart transplant patients at Crawford Long.  We did mostly CABGs and Valves.  It has been very exciting to see the type of patients we have here at Duke.  The other really exciting tidbit about Duke is their outcomes and the speed at which we are able to discharge patients from the ICU.  CABG patients are sometimes discharged to the floor the same day which is record time to me.  I am definitely excited to be here and am learning a lot.

Stood Up Salad

It is not as bad as it sounds, really.  The Salad turned out fantastic, however it does require a little more work than the average toss of greens.  Some friends and I gathered one night for what was to be a great dinner party. However, by the time we gathered, our massive gathering had dwindled to three.  This was surely a loss for those that missed it.

Goat Cheese Salad with Grilled Balsamic Glazed Peaches

  • 1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ripe peaches, cut into wedges
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, mashed and minced
  • 1 bunch of spinach (arugula is a great substitute in any of my salads, but I feel that spinach is more pleasing for the general tasters)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 Tablespoons almonds, roasted and crushed
  • 2-4 oz crumbled goat cheese, room temperature
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
Reduce 1/2 cup balsamic over low to medium heat, add brown sugar, salt and pepper.  Brush thickened balsamic mixture over all sides of peach wedges.  Grill wedges 3-5 minutes per side on grill pan preheated to medium heat (if you have charcoal handy that is far superior).  Mix the remaining balsamic reduction with extra virgin olive oil and garlic, whisk together as dressing.  Toss spinach, sliced red onion, peach wedges, crushed almonds, and half of basil chiffonade with dressing.  Top salad with crumbled goat cheese and remaining basil chiffonade.

So let me get this started...

The Crusted Clucker is a recent recipe addition that I have made to my collection. I am purging items from the sentiment bank, and this one has to go. Those are the only details I can spare at the moment, but let me tell you a little bit about the Clucker. It is a cheese-stuffed chicken breast that is bursting with flavor and super crunchy on the outside. I have adapted this recipe from another similar stuffed chicken recipe, however the changes I have made make this one my original creation. So without further hesitation, I'll give you the bird.

  • 2 - 3 breasts chicken, pounded to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 3.5 oz container of green chile soft cheese spread (I used a jar from A Southern Season in Chapel Hill, however I will tell you below how to make your own)
  • 1 cup Japanese panko bread crumbs
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Dip pounded chicken breasts into egg and milk mixture, stuff with 2 tablespoons cheese mixture and roll breast. Secure rolled breast with toothpick. Toss rolled breasts in panko until well coated and place in glass baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to season. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove from oven, plate stuffed breasts, and remove toothpicks. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.

To make your own green chile cheese, take a container of plain soft cheese such as Rondele and fold in a drained small can of green chiles.  How easy was that?

I like to serve the Crusted Clucker alongside a light and sweet spinach salad with watermelon, red onion, a crumble of room temperature feta cheese and a homemade vinaigrette of olive oil and champagne vinegar (white wine vinegar would be a great substitute). Chiffonade a handful of fresh mint and toss over the top of the salad to make it exceptional.

If you're reading this, I bet I know you!

I cook.  It is what I do to enjoy life, food, and friends.  It has become the way I express myself artistically and a way for me to express my love to others.  It is a tremendous stress relief as well.  Nothing feels as good as a major feat in the kitchen, especially when there are lots of people to share it with.  I get huge satisfaction from creating original and crazy concoctions, attempting to give them witty names, and hearing (hopefully) that the people who tested the creations loved them and noticed the whimsies that I added to make each recipe special.  So please read on and discover my whimsies and recipes.  My stories, maybe somewhat vague, are sprinkled throughout.  Mangez!