July 29, 2009

An Incredible Egg-sperience

I consider myself to be fairly successful in the kitchen, but sometimes the simplest tasks provide me with an absurd challenge. Today I wanted to hard boil an egg. I do not love eggs, and I have never hard boiled an egg before. I called my mom and got these directions: put an egg in cold water, bring it to a boil, let it boil for 10 minutes. I did this, in fact, I even let it boil for 11 minutes. I rinsed it off with cold water, peeled it, and prepared to cut it in half. The moment of truth. I sliced it, it fell open, only to reveal that the yolk wasn't quiiiiite done enough. It wasn't runny, but it was a dark-ish yellow. Ew-eh. I know mom said to put the egg in cold water, but I already had a nice pot of water going so I put egg in it. Almost immediately the water started filling up with this nasty white swirly stuff. Apparently the egg had a slight crack and was leaking into my water. Gosh, this is getting to be more trouble that it's worth! I eyed the original egg that was aaaaalmost done and decided I would nuke it for just a second. Sometimes when you're in the kitchen you just have to wing it. I put it in the microwave for 30 seconds. At 28 seconds one of the little yolks popped, jumped up out of the egg white, sprayed the inside of the microwave door, and landed far from its departure point. Woops, that didn't work. When Matt got home from the gym, I shared the fiasco with him and made sure it was okay if we did not have egg in our salad tonight.

On the menu:

Steak Salad - yes please!

Is there anything else to do with leftover steak? Our salads included lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, bacon, cucumbers, and blue cheese crumbles with the steak. They were awesome.

July 28, 2009

Flowers For No Reason

I discovered the most amazing flower at Kroger. They were sunflowers, but they had fiery red petals, a yellow reddish center, and deep purple leaves! How amazing?! So amazing that I spent $7 to have them on the dinner table since we are having company over tonight. I'm pretty sure they are spray painted, but that's okay with me. The stems even dyed the water purple. I think maybe we should work "weekly fresh flowers" into our budget; they just make a girl happy.

Oh, that reminds me. This might be my favorite newlywed story so far, because it's just a perfect example of the kind of little ups and downs I think every newlywed couple experiences. A few weeks ago I got dinner with a girl friend and left Matt alone for the evening. I stopped by the house after work before heading to dinner to start the dyer so we could have clean sheets on the bed that night. I got home a little after 9... very tired and very excited to be coming home to my way-cute husband. First, I pulled in to my parking space to find that he had drug the recycling bin out front when I thought we had decided that I was right and that the recycling was not going to be picked up the next morning. So, in a very small way, I had gone from happy to frustrated in an instant. I walked in and saw flowers in the living room with an amazingly sweet note. Aww! Happy again. My way-cute husband however, was nowhere to be found. I concluded that he must be waiting for me in our bedroom. I open the bedroom door and not only is he not waiting for me, but there are not even sheets on the bed. Frustrated again. I was focused on the fact that I was so tired and unable to get right into the bed that I couldn't fully appreciate the flowers or even notice that he had put a movie in the dvd player for us to watch. I refluffed the sheets in the dryer, made the bed myself, and crashed. He said he was going to get himself ready for bed. I felt better once I was horizontal, and I was once again happy to be ending the day with such an amazing man. I laid there waiting for him to return. After ten minutes or so I realized he wasn't coming back. Frustrated again. I wandered out into the living room only to find him sitting on the edge of the couch, eyes wide, mouth propped open just a little. One look at his position and expression and I knew exactly what had happened. He got ready to turn the movie off, got sucked in by a scene, lowered himself onto the couch (slowly now, because gonig from standing to sitting while watching tv constitutes multitasking and this is no simple feat for those way-cute boys), and there he sat, as if frozen in time, until I came out and found him. The movie was Ice Age, mind you. No high speed car chases and captured his undivided attention and prevented him from joining me in the bed. No thrills or action or suspsense. Just a really cute sloth with a lisp and a pear shaped bottom. The up and down of my emotions that night made me laugh. If not then, at least the next day.

On the menu:
Taco Night!

Fresh Garden Salsa
4 tomatoes, chopped however chunky you like your salsa
1/4 red onion, chopped fine because they're hot
1 jalapeno, minced
8 sprigs cilantro, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

Chop it all and mix it together in a bowl. It makes about two cups.

Easiest Bestest Spanish Rice
1/2 cup white rice
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup salsa

I have this pot that I got from my mom that I use for absolutely everything. If you don't have one like it, I recommend getting one. It's a 10" "skillet" with raised sides and two short handles. I also have the same pot, a little bigger, with one long handle and sometimes it's just too hard to clean in the sink to be worth the trouble of cooking with it. Ok, back to the rice. Heat up the olive oil on medium heat and brown the rice for a few minutes. Few a few. Stir in the chicken broth and salsa of your choice. I prefer medium spicey, chunky salksa, and for this recipe I just use the cheaper grocery store brand. Bring to a slight boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Done! Give it a stir and serve. This is such a hit every time I make it and it couldn't be easier.

July 27, 2009

Math is hard

This week's math puzzle:

A rectangular sheet of paper is folded so that two diagonally opposite corners come together. If the crease formed is the same length as the longer side of the sheet, what is the ratio of the longer side of the sheet to the shorter side?

Neither of us were able to figure this one out on our own.

Steaks on the grill
Steaks on sale
Mrs Dash's spicy pepper seasoning

I don't know why we're eating so much steak lately... we got these because they were on sale when we walked by. We seasonged them with Mrs dash's spicy pepper seasoning (a light sprinkle on both sides for Matt, and a thick coating on one side for me) and tossed them on the grill for 7 minutes.

Loaded Baked Potatoes
2 baking potatoes
olive oil
sour cream
shredded cheddar

I just poke my spuds with a knife (a few pokes on each "side"), coat in a little olive oil, wrap in a paper towel, and toss in the microwave. Do you know how long these guys take to bake in the oven?!! Not worth it. I nuked these for 6 minutes, gave them a squeeze, and cooked them for 3 more minutes. They were perfect, and done by the time Matt had the stead off of the grill.

Spiced Shrimp

Prepackaged, peeled, seasoned, and cooked. Just heat them up and go... a well-spent $2.50.

Grilled Corn

See July 19th

July 26, 2009

Stories about us!

Matt and I attended a new small group today to test it out and see if it's a good fit for us. Our current small group is going through some natural transitions right now, just life pulling people in different directions, so we figured this would be a good time for us to explore our options. As part of an ice breaker we went around and told a funny story about ourselves and our relationship. We told two short ones that I will share in a nutshell.

First, Matt's proposal included bumping into me (and nearly knocking me over) with a huge huge box wrapped in red celaphane and tied up with a giant pink bow. It was a nice beginning. The proposal also involved me popping three balloons with a straight pin. Just a few days prior, my mom and I were talking about how afraid I am of popping balloons. Somehow Matt missed this important piece of information in the initial get-to-know-you part of our relationship!

The second story was about our drive from the reception hall to the hotel after the wedding. The hotel was literally right across from the reception, the but parking lot (since it was down town) was not right across and not as easy for us to find. We drove around and quickly ended up in a part of Durham that we did not need to be... with bouncing cans and rubber balls announcing our arrival. We circled back around and all we knew was that we could not end up back on the street with the reception hall, driving past all of our guests 15 minutes later. At a time when we just wanted to "escape" to our hotel room, this wild goose chase for the parking lot was pretty hilarious.

Blueberry BBQ Chops
1/2 c blueberry jam
1/2 c bbq sauce
3 pork loin chops (1 for leftovers for your way-cute husband)

We recently found a huge pork loin on sale for under $6 and were able to cut 12 1-in chops from it. Let the meat that's on sale determine what you get for dinners that week. Because we were still craving the dinner we had at the Gordon's the other night, we decided to make it ourselves tonight. This time I added blueberry jam to the bbq sauce and had green beans instead of peas. We kept the sweet potatoes the same and they were amazing! We used Sweet Baby Ray's tonight. Preheat the oven to 350, mix the blueberry jam and bbq sauce in a square baking dish. Dredge both sides of the pork in the sauce and then bury them in there really well. Bake for 20-30 minutes depending on the thickness of the chops. 20 minutes is probably good for 1/2 in, 25-30 minutes for 1 in.

Sweet Potatoes

Nuked for 20 minutes. They come pre-washed and individually wrapped at the grocery store. I definitely think this is the way to go.

Green Beans

Same as we did on July 20th.

July 25, 2009

Congratulations to Mr and Mrs Welch!

I got out of bed at 11 today. Oh man! Matt went to the gym around 10 and I was supposed to be productive while he was gone. I greeted him at the door when he got home with a big smile saying, "Don't worry! You didn't miss a thing!" Gosh I love a lazy day. One day there will be kids running around demanding every second, so I am not going to let myself be disappointed if I'm less than productive on a Saturday morning every now and then. We rode with the Gordon's to the Welch's wedding this evening and they apparently had a similar day. They said they did nothing all day with the excuse that they wanted to make sure they could get ready for the wedding in time. I appreciate that line of thinking.

July 23, 2009

Me? Irritable? :)

Matt and I are reading "The First Five Years of Marriage" together. Today we read about the wonderful world of PMS and the exercise was to discuss ways we could alleviate stress for everyone during my worst days. I told Matt that I just need him to ignore me and leave me alone for a bit. Find his book, find his iPhone, find his Mario Kart. Anything. His tendency is to be closer to me, and that doesn't give me time to get over myself and "come around." In fact, if anything, it pushes me further away. In my mind, the body language that I would like to be left alone is loud and clear, so I get increasingly more frustrated when I feel like he's not picking up on that. One time I threw out there a simple, "wow, I'm really cranky right now," and Matt let me know today how much that helped him to understand that anything that's going on is not because he is a bad husband or because he's done something wrong, it's simply because I'm cranky and will probably refuse to be satisfied until I snap out of it. :)

July 22, 2009

Creating Our Retreat

I completed the wall-art behind our bed today! I took one of our favorite pictures from the honeymoon, the shoreline of Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman Island, cropped it into thirds, and ordered 18x24 inch posters of each of the three sections. With some spray adhesive, I glued the posters to foam board and voila!... big cheap artwork, my favorite. The whole piece together ends up being about 24x54. I painted a 48 inch wide white stripe against our "gobi desert" wall and hung the posters about an inch apart from one another. With that and our new curtains, the bedroom is finally starting to make sense.

July 21, 2009

Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted Cauliflower
1 head of cauliflower, broken apart (breaking up is hard to do-oo)
olive oil
1 small or half of a large lemon
1 garlic clove, sliced

This is an Emeril recipe - it's fab. Arrange the cauliflower in a casserole dish. Drizzle olive oil, squeeze the lemon juice, and sprinkle garlic over it all and give it a light toss. Bake in a 500 (yes, 500) degree oven for 15 minutes. Sprinkle parm on top when you're done. It's really amazing.

"Thank you!" to our generous wedding guests

With the cash we got for our wedding we decided to give 10% towards the global mission at our church and put the rest towards a new washer and dryer. After looking, drooling, and dreaming over GE front loaders (and a few moments before we hopped online to order them) Matt decided to measure the laundry room. Surprise! They are too deep for the space we've got to work with. You would think after ordering a fridge two years ago that was too big for the space I would have learned that this should be a first step. My strapping male neighbors worked until 11pm to get that fridge in, and the night involved removing the back wheels with limb loppers, chiseling at the bottom of the cabinets above with a flat head screw driver, and removing the base board by the fridge. She's in though! And so pretty. Even if she's never coming out... So! Matt measured and we began our search over. We ended up getting a top loader washing machine with an agitator that only comes up about 4 inches, so it has just as much room as a front loader anyway. They were delivered this morning, and I was so excited to get home and do laundry. I was able to leave work a little early today so I managed to begin the second load of laundry, paint a 9'x4' white stripe on the wall behind our bed, and begin a side dish to take to the Gordon's for dinner before Matt got home from work. Sometimes I'm on quite a roll. I'll tell more about the transformation of our bedroom into an inviting and inspiring place to end our days later when more of the projects come together.

We went to the Gordon's house for dinner and a couple rounds of Mad Gab. If you're not familiar with this game, it's hilarious. If you have every desired to speak with a german accent (who hasn't!) this game is for you. The puzzles consist of a set of unrelated words that, when read aloud, sound like familiar phrases, names, places, etc. This one one of my favorites of the night:

Reef Hinge Off Dean Herds

July 20, 2009

One month as Mrs Meitl

Whoop! It's our one month "anniversary!" One of our neighbors told me that one month is the "weed out" period and that if we have made it this far we are golden. Good to know.

Matt's job got the best of him for a little while today, so, to make himself feel better, he worked through a math problem he found on some website. Isn't it obvious why I love him so? He gave me the puzzle to solve and I was able to work through part one on my own, but after scribbling on scrap paper for at least 45 minutes I decided I was never going to figure out part two. He talked me through the solution step by step while I paced the floor trying to visualize the process. Wheels just a turnin. I would never have solved it on my won. See what you think:

The absolute value of a real number is defined as its numerical value without regard for sign. So, for example abs(2) = abs(-2) = 2.
The maximum of two real numbers is defined as the numerically bigger of the two. For example, max(2,-3) = max(2,2) = 2

a. abs in terms of max
b. max in terms of abs

Grilled Marinated Ham Steaks

Grilled Marinated Ham Steaks
1/2 can of oj concentrate
1/2 cup of brown sugar
3 tbsp worchestershire sauce (or any steak sauce)
prepackaged precooked ham steak

I seriously don't know how we survived without grilling - we grill all the time right now. I let the ham steak marinate in the fridge over night. I realize this is not always possible, but if it helps, go ahead and prepare the marinade and throw it all in the fridge the day you get it from the grocery store. Just plan to cook it up in the next couple of days. As always - a hot skillet can substitute for the grill.

Hashbrown Casserole
8 oz sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 stick of butter, melted
2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 bag of ore ida frozen shredded potatoes (thawed is best, not necessary)

This recipe makes a ton. We gave half of it to Michael and had a quarter of it still for leftovers. In a 9x11 (or bigger) pyrex goes everything except for the potatoes. Mix it all up really well. Slowly stir in the potatoes a little bit at a time, because otherwise it will spill over and make a mess. If it ends up impossible to "mix without mess" then it's probably worth it to dirty up a separate pot and mix it all in a big pasta pot first.

Green Beans

Lately I've been putting water in my 10 inch skillet, and when it comes to a boil I throw in the beans for 6-9 minutes, depending on how thick they are. Just test one after 6 minutes and you'll have a good idea whether or not they need more time. After I strain them I turn the heat say down (off might even be fine) and put a little bit of butter in the pan with a sliced clove of garlic. Stir frequently, this will flavor the butter with the garlic just a bit. Throw the beans back in and toss them around a little.

July 19, 2009

Cheese Tortelini with Cherry Tomatoes and Chicken

Matt and I generally make extra chicken to save for meals later in the week whenever we cook. Sometimes we grill them and sometimes we just throw frozen breasts in a 350 oven for 45 minutes. This is not my favorite way to cook them, because they don't come out very pretty. In Matt's defense however, (since this is his method) the chicken comes out VERY juicy and is perfect for cutting into cubes and saving for a pasta dish later in the week.

So. Prepare the cheese tortelini as directed on the package. I like to strain them and brown them up (just a little) in olive oil in a skillet on medium. If your chicken is leftover from earlier in the week, go ahead and toss it in with the tortelini to heat it up. If you do not have pre-cooked chicken, cook the chicken as your first step, then set aside while you brown the torts. I don't use any sauce for this dish (although Matt likes to heat up some Prego and spoon over his) so make sure you are a bit liberal with the olive oil at the end or the dish will be too dry. Toss in cherry tomatoes that have been halved and removed from the heat. I like for them to be warm but not cooked, because I like for them to maintain that wonderful pop when I bite into them. If you have it and feel like it, you can garnish the dish with fresh parsley (just because the green is pretty) or parmesan.

Garlic Bread Sticks
From the frozen section of your favorite grocery store


Our church is studying the book of Proverbs together. Throughout the 9 weeks of sermons from Proverbs, the congregation is reading through 1 chapter a day (which means we will read through it twice). In addition, we were given verses to memorize. Bible memorization is not my strong suit. At all. It comes very easy to my way-cute husband however. That means I focused on memorizing 3:5-6 (which he already has memorized anyway) and he focused on 3:19-26. And by "focused on" I mean he read through it once and then recited it back to me missing, oh, maybe 3 words. Ridiculous!

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and he will make your paths straight. (I typed that out without looking it up, thank you. Memorized verse numero uno!)

Proverbs 3:19-26 By wisdom the Lord laid the earth's foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; by his knowledge the deeps were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew. My son, preserve sound judgement and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety and your foot will not stumble; when you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you like down, your sleep will be sweet. Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared.

July 18, 2009

Dinner Guests

We had company over for dinner tonight. We also had people over for food our first night back in town from the honeymoon, but this was our first time having company over for dinner after putting the house in order and feeling like we are really starting the routine of our life as a married couple. It actually felt like "our" house this time. Right after we sat down to eat I remembered something in the front bedroom... candles! Not just any candles... candles meant to be burned to celebrate this specific occasion. Yep, brats and beer with friends... in our home. The candles were part of a very special wedding gift that consisted of a basked with several different pairs of taper candles and a pair of candle holders.

There was a poem with them that read:

A basket of candles, each kind in a pair,
in all different colors for you to share.

The white ones burn first and they are wrapped in white lace,
to celebrate your first married night in your place.

The green pair is taller and also much thinner,
and should be lit with the first company that you have over for dinner.

The dark blue candles are for after your first fight,
so you can burn them while making-up all through the night.

Pink candles set the mood and pave the way,
for your very special, first married Valentine's Day.

Now when your first year of marriage is through,
the cream anniversary pair will shine bright for you two.

Red candles aflame, both your futures are bright,
to celebrate promotions that you've word for with all your might.

By this time we hope, that maybe, just maybe
you can light the purple ones on the birth of your baby.

And just when you thought you'd put these away,
take the light blue ones out for your fifth anniversary day.

Now just one more pair left to celebrate the big two-five,
this twenty-fifth anniversary pair will show your love is alive.

Congratulations, Rachel and Matt, on the start to your forever,
and may the two of you always be happy together.

And burn these candles just the way I said,
but please remember to blow them out before going to bed!

Brats, Kraut, and Corn

Boil the brats for 8 or so minutes while the grill is heating up. This step isn't necessary, but it helps the brats start to cook through so that you can just focus on browning them to your liking on the grill. Serve them on or off the bun and I like to have several different mustard options for people to choose from. Yellow, whole grain or spicy brown deli, and dijon makes for a good variety.

Jarred is fine. Add a little celery salt, some coriander and worchestershire sauce. Heat 'er up and you're good to go! It's also a good idea to grill onions and peppers. For ease, I just do that on the stovetop while Matt is manning the grill.

Grilled Corn
We like to pull back the husks, remove the silk, and grill it in the husks for 15 or so minutes.