Thursday, June 28, 2007

Old job

For those of you that don't know, I have accepted at new job at Iowa State that starts in about a week. The last week or two have been pretty stressful at my current job. I have been trying to wrap things up and write some papers to give me a better chance at getting a permanent job later. I have learned alot at my current job both about science and general workplace observations. Last Thursday, my lab had a going away party for me. My boss grilled out in the atrium of the building (there was no fire hazard, it is an outdoor atrium, others brought food, beer, and wine and we ate and chatted for a few hours. I received a
Wisconsin Badgers beer mug which has been signed by all the people I worked with.

I have finished most of my lab work now and I had hoped to be done and take next week to prepare to move. However, I think it will take me a couple of days next week to tie up loose ends and notes and organize all of my samples to be put away. Then I can turn in my keys and move on to my next lab. I would say it is a sad but exciting experience.

Big Old Jet Airliner....

Well.. today it is time for a ranting email. So if you are in a good mood today and don't need any negative comments.. stop reading.
Today.. right about now, Jason and I were SUPPOSED to be landing at LaGuardia Airport in NYC. However, we received a call at 2am saying that our flight was canceled. After being on hold for over an hour (Jason was on hold.. I went back to sleep), we found that the only flight we could get is tomorrow, it leaves earlier in the morning but we get to NY later because it isn't a direct flight (which we paid extra for).
What is the reason for this ridiculousness? According to the airline, the storms in the Northeast yesterday were bad enough and so many flights were canceled that they had to cancel flights today to ease pressure on the already congested airways. I understand that safety must be considered first and foremost, however, I don't understand how we will still be paying for a direct flight (which we are no longer getting) and that there is no way to get us to NY still today. We were offered the option of flying to Newark this afternoon but as I have learned.. Newark is not the easiest place to get to from Long Island. So I am building up the stamina to be on hold with the airlines and argue some more but it seems that we will be here in Wisconsin for the day. I guess that gives me time to post some other things in other, more positive posts.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Baseball Musings

I hadn't planned on writing much for the next few days until I get things with work wrapped up. I haven't done the Friday feast, posted pictures of all of our tomatoes, food, or the going away party that my lab had for me.
However, I feel like I should write something today. I don't consider myself a hardcore baseball fan, I love sports and I don't mind going to a few games and keeping score. When it comes to following team standings or remembering many players names, that is not my specialty.
Today's sports headline on msn was that Rod Beck was dead at 38. Now I know that he was an All-Star and many people know him but he is one of those names and faces that always stuck with me. Everyone remembers the 1998 baseball season because of Mark McGwire's home run record.. some may have already forgotten the crazy race between McGwire and Sammy Sosa. Although I liked McGwire, the Cubs fan inside of me was cheering for Sammy. If my memory serves me correctly, the Cubs were a wild card team in 1998.... even though McGwire had hit so many home runs.. there wasn't much that could be done to boost the Cardinals into the postseason.
I can remember watching the end of the season (and the resulting postseason) and laughing to myself that Mark might have his record.. but at least Sammy still had a team to play on. And then there was this crazy pitcher who had a perfect mullet and mustache, the most intimidating stare from the mound in addition to this crazy arm swing before his pitch. I usually referred to him as crazy arm pitcher. He was entertaining and a great pitcher and then the season ended (as it always does) for the Cubs.
Then in 2003 I heard stories of Beck again.. granted I would see him play from time to time in games or ESPN highlights but Rod Beck was working his way back to the big leagues with the Iowa Cubs. Being from Iowa, I am familiar with the Des Moines area and Sec Taylor Stadium. Rod Beck became a legend in Des Moines. You see, instead of buying or renting a condo or apartment to live in, Rod decided to buy a Winnebago (also made in Iowa) and live in it in the Stadiums parking lot. He always had beer and loved his fans.. and the game. He was eventually signed by the Giants and moved from Des Moines but you still hear stories about Rod and his life in the Winnie. Maybe my sensitivity is heightened today because I watched "For the Love of the Game" this morning or maybe I am turned off by baseball's whining overpaid players and almost obvious blind eye to steroids... but the stories of Rod were always about a regular old guy just doing what he loved.. playing baseball. If we all could be so lucky.

As a disclaimer, I am no sports writer or baseball fanatic so if I have any details listed incorrectly, I apologize

Friday Feast number 149

Name a funny habit you have.

I am sure that I probably have lots of funny habits. I sometimes say sorry often.. I dno't know if that is necessarily funny.

If you could instantly know how to play a musical instrument, which one would you pick?

French horn. I don't know how to play it but I always thought it sounded so beautiful.

How long is your hair?

About 4 inches below my shoulder.

Main Course
When was the last time you forgave someone, and who was it?

In the last day or two.. probably Jason or myself.

What is your favorite kitchen appliance?

My Kitchenaid Mixer.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Broccoli-Cheese Corn Bread

1 cup chopped onion
1 cup butter, cubed
2 pkg corn bread muffin mix
2 cups (8 oz) shredded monterrey jack
6 eggs
1-1/2 cups cottage cheese
1 pkg (9oz) frozen broccoli, thawed and drained
1 cup fresh or frozen corn, thawed
2 tbsp canned jalapeno slices, chopped

In a large skillet, saute onions in butter until tender; set aside. In a large bowl, combine corn bread mix and shredded cheese. In another bowl, beat the eggs, cottage cheese and onion mixture. Stir into cornbread mixture just until moistened. Fold in broccoli, corn, and jalapeno.
Transfer to a greased 13-in x 9-in pan. Bake at 400 for 35-40 min until lightly browned and edges pull away from sides of pan. Serve warm. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 12-15 servings.

Very good cornbread recipe.. of course with a whole cup of butter, how could it be bad? Yet another recipe from the July/August 2007 issue of Simple and Delicious.

Deluxe Strawberry Shortcake

1 package yellow cake mix
1 cup water
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 carton (8 oz) frozen whipped topping, thawed
3 cups chopped fresh strawberries

In a large mixing bowl, combine the first six ingredients; beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed for 2 min. Pour into two greased and floured 9-in round baking pans.
Bake at 350 for 20-25 min until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 min before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
In a small mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Fold in whipped topping. Place one cake on serving platter top with half of the cream cheese mixture and strawberries. Repeat layers, store in fridge.
Yield:12 servings

This was SO good. I will definitely keep it in mind for future gatherings. Also a recipe from the July/August issue of Simple and Delicious.

Pesto Cheese Tarts

2/3 cup chopped tomatoes
1/3 cup mayo
1/4 cup shredded mozerella cheese
3 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tsp prepared pesto
1/8 tsp pepper
1 package frozen mini phyllo tart shells

In a small bowl, combine the tomatoes, mayo, cheeses, pesto, and pepper. Spoon heaping teaspoonfuls into tart shells. Place on an ungreased baking sheet . Bake at 350 for 8-12 min or until lightly browned. Yield: 15 appetizers.

These little tarts were so easy to make.. they literally took 15 mintues to throw together... and they disappeared almost as quickly. Our guests requested the recipe to take with them. From the July/August 2007 issue of Simple and Delicious.


I can't believe it is Sunday already. I have been working quite a bit the past two weeks since I am trying to tie up as many loose ends as possible at my job. I planned to go to work yesterday for 2 hours or less and I didn't go at all. It was a nice change. We had some friends Pallavi (who we know from grad school at Missouri) and her boyfriend Akhil. It was a beautiful day outside so we grilled some pork chops and Italian Sausages that our guests brought. Looking for cooking inspiration, I looked though the Simple and Delicious issue that I recieved this week. I made some pesto cheese tarts, broccoli cheese corn bread, and deluxe strawberry shortcake. I also threw together a salad.. I don't think anyone needed dinner last night!
I will post pictures and recipes for the things I made. It was nice to see our friends.. even though we all work at UW, we don't see each other often.
We had a surprise visitor come on Thursday. Our friend Rich, a high school friend of Jason's, flew to Madison Thursday afternoon. I was pretty busy with work so I will let Jason post more details of the visit. I know that they ate about 5000 calories each between brats and beer at the memorial union, more brats and beer at State Street Brats, cheese curds at Big 10, and a butterburger basket with a frozen custard concrete from Culvers. The kicker is that Rich was still hungry when he got to our house so Jason made him a frozen pizza.
As for my plants, I picked my first tomato this week.. or I should say that I touched it and it feel off the plant.

Here are some pictures of the plants that I took last week.. the herbs still look great but the cilantro is starting to bolt. I think I need to make some salsa. The tomato plant is still loaded and there are only about 3 little tomatoes that are turning red.

I hope everyone had a good weekend. This week will be mosty more work for me. My lab is having a party for me on Thursday and I will play my last softball game with our Friday team if it doesn't rain.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Friday Feast number 148

Fill in the blank: The best thing about where I live is _________________…

Our house.

Create a new name for a deodorant (like “Flower Fresh” or “Shower Scent”).

Fresh cut grass

What was the last piece of software you installed onto your computer?

Some batch picture uploader for Flickr

Main Course
If you were to receive a superlative award today beginning with the words ”Most likely to…”, what would the rest of the phrase say?

Take a nap... sorry, nothing exciting but I have worked a little too much this week.

What two colors do you like to wear together?
Well I almost always wear jeans so i am going to say blue and brown

The Friday Feast is a weekly meme intended to "feed your mind by asking thought-provoking, mind-stimulating questions."

Friday, June 8, 2007

Friday Feast number 147

What do you consider to be the ultimate snack food?

Its not good for me but I would consider chips and sour cream dip as perfect. I could probably eat it every day, which is why I never buy any. I am sure I will think of something better later but this is what came to mind first.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 as highest), about how popular is your last name?

probably a 7 or 8 if you count all forms of Meyer (Mayer, Meier, etc... ) but I would say probably a 4 or 5.

Who is your all-time favorite sitcom character, and why?

All time would be Heathcliff Huxtable.. I can still watch Cosby Show reruns all day. Jason makes fun of me because I know almost every episode.

Main Course
Do you shop online? If so, name some sites you like to browse for goodies.

Yes, I used to browse alot more often on ebay but I still buy things from time to time at Kohls, Target, and

Fill in the blank: I think ___________ should be ___________.

Paris Hilton, back in jail.. sorry to put her name in my blog but its all that I have heard on the news this morning.
Maybe I should say that I think Paris Hilton should be ignored by the public.. what has she done that is so special to get all this attention?

The Friday Feast is a weekly meme intended to "feed your mind by asking thought-provoking, mind-stimulating questions."

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Plum tart

Prep Time: 15 min
Total Time: 40 min
Makes: 8 servings, one slice each

1 refrigerated ready-to-use pie crust (1/2 of 15-oz. pkg.)
4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
3 cups sliced plums (about 3 medium)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon sugar (3/4 tsp. granulated sugar and 1/4 tsp. cinnamon)
1 cup thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping

PREHEAT oven to 450ºF. Place pie crust in greased 10-inch pie plate. Carefully spread cream cheese in 6-inch circle in center of crust; set aside.
TOSS plums with granulated sugar and flour; place over cream cheese. Gently fold edge of crust about 2 inches over plums, leaving center of plums uncovered. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar evenly over tart.
BAKE 25 min. or until crust is golden brown and fruit juices are bubbly. Cool slightly before lifting out of pie plate. Cut into slices; top with whipped topping.


Prepare as directed, except substitute PHILADELPHIA Neufchatel Cheese, 1/3 Less Fat than Cream Cheese and COOL WHIP LITE Whipped Topping.

Jazz It Up
Mix additional 1/2 tsp. cinnamon sugar into the whipped topping before using as directed.

This recipe was so easy. Again, I forgot to take a picture until we were almost done eating. I think it would also be good with just about any other stone fruit

Sausage Pepper and Onion Fake Bake

1 pound rigatoni
1 pound cooked chicken sausages
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 green or red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 cubanelle pepper, seeded and sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3 to 4 cloves garlic, chopped
Ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken stock, a couple of glugs
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes, (recommended: San Marzano)
Handful chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup fresh basil, 10 leaves, torn or shredded
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus some to pass at table
Place a pot of water on the stove to boil for pasta. When the water boils, salt it and cook pasta to al dente, with a bite to it.
Prick sausages with a fork. Place chicken sausages in a large skillet and add 1 inch of water. Add 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil to the skillet, 1 turn of the pan. Bring water to a boil then reduce heat a little. Allow all the liquid to cook away then brown and crisp the casings, 5 to 6 minutes.

Preheat broiler.

While pasta and sausage cook, heat a deep skillet over medium heat with 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan. Add the peppers, onions and garlic and season with salt and pepper. When the sausages are cooked through, slice them on an angle and add them to the peppers and onions. Cook together until peppers and onions are tender and sliced sausages are crisp at edges then deglaze the pan with white wine or chicken stock. Stir in crushed tomatoes and bring to a bubble, reduce heat to low.

Drain rigatoni and return to warm pot. Add ricotta cheese, salt and pepper, parsley and basil and half of the Parmigiano, a couple of handfuls, stir to combine.

To assemble the "fake bake," place half the sausage, peppers, onions and sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Top with all of the pasta and then the remaining sausage and sauce. Cover the top of the dish with the grated Parmigiano and place until broiler 2 minutes to brown cheese and set pasta.

I made this for a dinner party last night. I usually use rigatoni and regular italian sausage but I tried some precooked garlic and herb chicken sausage and it turned out pretty well. Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture until we were done eating. I also used Campanelle pasta instead of rigatoni (just because that is what we had in the pantry). Another bonus is that I was able to use the basil and parsley that I am growning on our deck.

New Car

We picked up the new car yesterday. I would say that I am very happy with it... I already put about 40 miles on it!

Here are some more pictures, both of the new car and my old Camaro that I traded in. I promise to take a few more pictures of my new car when it is sunny outside.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Eggplant Parmesan

2 medium eggplant (about 2 1/4 pounds), cut into 1/2-inch-thick round slices
Kosher salt, as needed, plus 1 tablespoon
5 cups fresh breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil for frying
All-purpose flour for dredging
6 large eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons whole milk
Olive oil, as needed
7 cups QUICK MARINARA SAUCE, recipe follows
2/3 cup grated Parmesan, divided
1 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
Arrange the eggplant slices on several baking sheets and sprinkle generously all over with kosher salt. Set aside to let the bitter juices weep from the eggplant, about 1 hour.
Transfer the eggplant to a colander in the sink, and rinse well under cold running water. Transfer eggplant to a work surface and blot very dry with paper towels.

In a large bowl, whisk together the 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, breadcrumbs, oregano, thyme, and season with pepper.

Place the flour in a medium lipped plate or bowl. In another medium bowl, whisk the egg and milk together. Dredge an eggplant slice in the flour, then dip it in the egg, and finally dredge it in the breadcrumb mixture. Shake off any excess breading and transfer the eggplant to a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining eggplant.

In a large straight-sided skillet, pour the oil to a depth of 1/2 inch. Heat the oil over medium heat until it registers 400 degrees F on a deep frying thermometer. (The oil must be heated to 400 degrees F. so that the breaded eggplant, when added, will drop the temperature of the oil to the proper frying temperature of 375 degrees F.)

Working in small batches, fry the eggplant slices, turning once, until golden brown, about 3 minutes per batch. Using tongs, transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and season with salt to taste. Repeat with the remaining eggplant.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly brush a 15 x 10- x 2-inch-baking dish with olive oil. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with 1/3 of the marinara sauce and arrange half of the eggplant over the sauce. Cover the eggplant with another 1/3 of the sauce. Scatter half of the Parmesan and half of the mozzarella over the sauced eggplant. Repeat with the remaining eggplant, sauce, Parmesan, and mozzarella. Bake until hot and just beginning to brown, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced (about 1/3 cup)
5 cloves garlic, chopped
7 cups whole, peeled, canned tomatoes in puree (about two 28-ounce can), roughly chopped
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 sprigs of fresh basil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the onion and garlic, stirring, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the herb sprigs and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
Remove and discard the herb sprigs. Stir in the salt and season with pepper to taste. Use immediately, store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.

Yield: about 3 1/2 cups

I have been wanting to make this recipe for a while. Jason really likes chicken parmesan and whenever we go to NY, I get eggplant parmesan. It is a nice change from the chicken. I used a graffiti eggplant (the ones with the white stripes) and made a half recipe using Prego and Italian breadcrumbs instead of the seasonings in regular breadcrumbs. It turned out pretty well and the leftovers made great eggplant parmesan hoagies the next day!

Friday Feast number 146

Happy Friday everyone! I sign the papers for my new car today!

Name something you think is “the best.”

I say this about alot of things. Olives, martinis (because of the olives), a relaxing day, just to name a few.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 highest), how stressed are you today?

4.. mostly because I feel like the last few days, I have been at 12. Today, I feel really good.

What kind of cleanser do you use to wash your face?

Neutrogena Deep Clean.

Main Course
Tonight is a blue moon! What is something that you believe only happens “once in a blue moon.”

Hmmm, I think that alot but for some reason I can't remember exactly what I think that about... how about Jason and I both have a whole day off. That is definitely true.

When was the last time it rained where you live?

Technically it rained here yesterday and the day before but you really can't tell, it was only a sprinkle and we need more.

The Friday Feast is a weekly meme intended to "feed your mind by asking thought-provoking, mind-stimulating questions."