Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I'm Back!

It's been a crazy past couple of weeks adjusting to life as a full-time resident and preparing for Part 1 of my board exams (the first of three on the path to becoming a board certified Medical Physicist).  Today marked the feared day and a four-hour stretch of physics problems (with the only calculator being the one on the computer) + 1 hour of clinical problems have left me a little brain-dead.  I'm looking forward to getting back to a normal schedule!

Because of today's test, we spent the weekend close to home.  We used the opportunity to make some extra fun dinners, all of which I love love loved and have to share!

Friday night, we tried our hand at making pizza on the grill after being inspired by this post.  We followed the directions pretty exact with the exception of failing to plan ahead and using Publix's premade pizza dough instead.  We were super nervous about grilling dough, envisioning a sticky, doughy mess on the hot grill.

grilling the first side

topping the grilled side

I'm happy to report it went perfectly and every pizza was amazing.

grill once more

Our creations included margherita and traditional with sausage, pepperoni, onions and tomatoes.

ready to eat!

For dessert, we tried to recreate one of my favorite BJ's Brewhouse desserts: the pizookie.  A giant cookie, made in a cast iron skillet... yum!  We followed this recipe, substituting white chocolate chips for the real ones and loved every bite.

smoosh the dough into the buttered pan
finished pizookie

pizookie a la mode

After too many hours of studying in the house Saturday, I escaped to Costco to take advantage of the free admission day for Vanderbilt employees.  Mike had been craving steak and we'd heard these stores provide the absolute best place to get some filet mignon. 

We recreated the best-steak-ever method introduced to us by my big bro, Ryan.  And... it was the best steak ever.  This meal kicked Ruth's Chris tail and is only barely beat by my most favorite place in the world: Mark's Prime in Gainesville.

Steaks were seasoned very generously with garlic powder, meat tenderizer, Season All, and freshly ground McCormick peppercorn medley.

ready to grill
Mike manned the grill while I created the sauce that, while definitely not needed, only serves to make this steak even more delicious. 

Saute sliced baby portabellas in 1-2T butter and ~1 tsp garlic until soft.

Then stir in 1/2-1 cup heavy whipping cream until thick.  My instructions were to "add way more mixed peppercorn than you think you should, and then quadruple it."  I also mixed in a bit of salt though I'm not sure it's in the original recipe. 

The finished product:

Our dinner's were enhanced by the inclusion of fall beer!  Near the start of football season each year, I start scanning the beer aisle waiting for the seasonal brews.  I was extra excited this time to find one of my favorite beers in a fall variety: Shiner Oktoberfest!  I'd never seen it before but I definitely will be looking for it in the future. 

The following picture of the praying mantis INSIDE our house makes me laugh so I thought I'd share... We were eating outside when this giant guy landed on our porch door.  Mike wanted to open the door to get the camera and take pictures of him.  I said "watch out he might fly inside" to which Mike responded... they don't fly.  As soon as he opened the door the bug went crazy flying around/at him while he yelled and I died laughing.  Our cats were super excited to have this creature inside so it was quite the battle to get him back outside alive.  Now M believes me that they fly...

One more random picture from the weekend: Ellie has also learned to smile (with teeth) for the camera...


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Gatlinburg with the Fam

Recently, we've been lucky enough to find time for a couple of trips to one of my new favorite vacation spots, Gatlinburg.  The cabin is amazing and all of the nearby activities make for one heck of a weekend getaway. 

Kate has been pretty slammed with her residency so I decided to offer my "regular English" skills for this one...

We arrived late Friday night and started the weekend by introducing Ellie to the newest member of the family, Annie Oakley.  Annie is a 9 year old min pin who resembles my old buddy, Wrex in more ways than one. 

Ellie and Annie didn't hit if off right away but by the end of the weekend they were bffs.

Saturday morning started with a hearty breakfast of biscuits, eggs and Dad's famous bacon before we headed out on our hike up Grotto Falls.  Just as we were about to begin our hike we were surprised to find a momma bear and her three cubs wandering around the trail head parking lot.  This was a great photo opportunity and being recently inspired by Matt, I took it upon myself to get way too close.  For some reason one of the cubs got spooked and took off prompting the mother to make a charge at the growing crowd of onlookers.  Again, great photo opportunity but that quickly fell way down on my priority list.  I was stuck in a squatting position while looking through the view finder.  In all honesty I don't think anybody was ever in any real danger but she definitely got within 10 feet of me and I was first in line to get mauled.

"You still want to go on this hike?"

the cub responsible for the freak out...good riddance

"Yeah, that just happened"

pretty falls along the trail

The hike turned out great, not too long or strenuous, and we even saw a deer and another bear.  The falls offered a nice picture spot and I think my parents really had fun.

bear we saw on the drive home

The rest of day was spent grilling and watching for bears at the cabin.  We got lucky again when a momma bear showed up with four cubs in tow!  I kept my distance this time and still managed to get some great pics.  

back at the cabin for dinner

never too many pictures

It was another super fun weekend in Gburg and we are looking forward to many more.