Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Red Beans & Rice

The first time I had red beans and rice was for a friend's birthday (his wife cooked his favorite meal). It wasn't bad, but it was lacking a bit of flavor. Never had authentic red beans and rice from New Orleans, I can't compare this recipe to the real thing. However, I think it's pretty good. And the leftovers the next day are amazing! Again, not my recipe and my notes are in italics!

Red Beans & Rice

1 - 16 oz. package turkey kielbasa, cut diagonally. I used a smoked turkey sausage.
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 - 15 oz. cans of kidney beans, drained & rinsed
1 - 16 oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes, chopped as small as you like. Save juice.
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
salt to taste
1/2 tsp. pepper

In a saucepan, bring water to boil. Add rice and stir. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Or follow directions on whatever rice package you're using. I think I used 5 minute brown rice.

In a large skillet over low heat, cook sausage for 5 minutes or until seared on both sides. Stir in onion, green pepper and garlic. Saute until tender. Add beans and tomatoes with juice. Season with oregano, salt and pepper. Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. I added quite a few shakes of cayenne pepper so that there would be some heat to this dish. Paprika would work too, but you would get more of a sweet spicy flavor instead of the smokey heat from cayenne. Serve over rice.

This was yummy. Nice sweet flavors from the green bell pepper and tomatoes. I have to say though, the leftovers the next day were amazing. The longer this dish sits, the longer the flavors have to marry and the more flavorful this dish gets. Who knows if this is authentic or not, but it's quick and easy and delicious.

Sorry for the lack of pictures. I need to start leaving my camera in the kitchen. Happy cooking!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Repo Men

So this movie is about two guys who work for a organ transplant company that creates organs out of machines. Their job is to reclaim the transplant company's, called The Union, property if people are unable to pay for their transplants - which is more often than not. It's a gruesome job, but someone has to do it. And these two guys are good at their job and have no remorse. It is after all, a job.

One of the guys, Jude Law's character named Remy, gets into an accident on the job and wakes up to find out he's been given a new heart, courtesy of his employer, The Union. This was a life or death situation and so Remy wasn't asked if he wanted this new heart. And he knows all too well the repercussions of having this new body part. Obviously, the story continues on with Remy unable to make the payments and so he becomes the people that he used to hunt down. A love story is involved, though it's not with Remy's cold-hearted (pun intended) wife. It's with a woman who's entire body (except her lips) are replaced with robotic body parts. She might as well be a robot. Ironic? I guess so.

The movie is an entertaining, action movie. Jude Law plays the tough, I-will-beat-the-system lead character. Forrest Whitaker plays his best friend, which we had doubts about him being an action character. But he did a passable job as the tough, wise-cracking, loyal to The Union, best friend. We do find out that his character has selfish ambitions and becomes a little darker than what I've seen Forrest Whitaker do before. And Jude Law and Forrest Whitaker being best buds? A stretch. It looked forced. But there were some parts of male jibbing that Wes found amusing. Probably because guys really do that stuff to each other in some sort of weird male bonding thing.

I have to admit, there was one part where Jude Law looked pretty cheesy: He's wearing a tight sleeveless shirt tucked into tight pants and a harness that holds knives and all sorts of weapons. He's about to take on 8 to 10 bad guys by himself and the shot is just a studly shot. Cheesy - unless you like Jude Law in tight clothes with muscles bulging. Me? It didn't do anything for me but make me laugh.

Overall, not a bad movie. It was a little more gory than I anticipated it being. They don't shy away from body parts being smashed and torn open. And the ending resolved some questionable parts of the storyline. It did open in one of the theater's largest houses and I'm pretty sure it wasn't even a quarter full. What does that tell you about the drawing power of Jude Law? Not that great. But this is worth a Red Box rental. Probably worth a couple extra bucks if you go through Blockbuster. But you wouldn't miss anything if you didn't see this on the big screen.

Of course, this poster is kind of cool:

Click on the image to see the details.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lemon Chicken Pasta

This is an easy and very flavorful dish, not to mention healthy! My personal notes are in italics. And just for the disclaimer: This is not my recipe.

Lemon Chicken Pasta

1 lb. of pasta - I used elbow macaroni, but whatever you have will work.
2 chicken breasts, cut into slices
Salt & pepper
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
3 Tb. olive oil
3 Tb. rough chopped parsley
2 lemons, juiced
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Season chicken with salt & pepper. Heat a grill pan over medium high heat and grill chicken. Shrimp would be a good alternative. When done let chicken sit for a couple of minutes and then slice.

Cook the pasta in a pot of salted water.

Cook garlic and red pepper flakes to a pan with olive oil. Saute until fragrant. I used more like 1/3 or 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes and 4 garlic cloves. I like things a little spicier. Add the cooked pasta and turn heat off. Mix together.

Add sliced chicken and salt & pepper as needed. Add juice of the lemons. I tasted the pasta after adding one lemon and determined that it was lemony enough for me. If you like a more distinct lemon flavor, add the second lemon. Add chopped parsley and stir. Before serving, add Parmesan cheese.

It's so pretty! Sorry about the dim lighting.

This was a different dish than I normally would make. It has a lot of different flavors going on. The first bite, you get a bit of the sweet tang from the lemon and then here comes the heat from the red pepper flakes and garlic. I honestly forgot to add the Parmesan cheese at the end, but I imagine that saltiness of the cheese would just add another wonderful dimension to this dish.

It's such an easy and quick meal and totally pack full of flavor. Hope you enjoy! We did!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Remember Me

Ok, I admit it: I went to see Remember Me because of Robert Pattinson. Now I'm no Twilight fan, but I was a bit curious to see if Robert Pattinson could do more than just brood and be a moody vampire. I'm sad to report that he does maybe a little better in this movie than the Twilight movies.

So the trailers promoted this movie as pretty much a chick-flick with shots of Robert Pattinson and his love interest flirting and making out and all that stuff. Well, the movie is not a chick-flick. It's more in the drama genre. I'm not quite sure what the plot of the movie was. Robert Pattinson did a lot of brooding and was a moody twenty-something. His character, Tyler, lost his older brother and maybe that's the reason why he's so moody in this film? Tyler has no direction in life and really doesn't do much of anything except pick fights and get into trouble.

Well ultimately Tyler meets and dates this girl, Ally, who has also lost someone in her family. You'd think that's what this movie is about. But not really. Both Tyler and Ally also have issues with their dads. So is that what this movie is about? Well a little more so. I guess this is about a movie about Tyler dealing with life. Not at all what I anticipated going into this movie.

Well, Robert Pattinson and Emilie de Ravin, who plays Ally, have no chemistry. All of their scenes together are not that interesting and yeah, kind of cheesy. The flirting and romancing - it all looks forced and not so natural. Pierce Bronson plays Tyler's high-powered and disconnected dad. He's pretty much a jerk in the movie but eventually comes around to the charming James Bond we once knew. Chris Cooper plays Ally's dad who, as a cop, is way overprotective of his daughter. He wasn't bad in the movie, but expected him to be in better quality stuff. The best part of the movie was Tyler's interaction with his kid sister, Caroline. Caroline is definitely the sunshine in this kind of depressing movie. And the way Robert Pattinson interacts with her should be the chemistry he has with his on-screen girlfriend.

So the movie drags on and then the end of the movie comes and is incredibly sad and depressing. Robert Pattinson was an executive producer of this movie and I have a feeling a good chunk of his Twilight paycheck went into this downer of a movie. Definitely skip this at the theatre and at Blockbuster, unless you're a die-hard Twilight fan. Then maybe you'll enjoy drooling over Robert Pattinson as a moody, brooding human being.

I do like the poster for this movie though:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Beer Battered Fish & Chips

I like to cook. I really picked up cooking when I started dating Wes and cooked a couple of meals like the good girlfriend I was. It started off with some of my favorites from home that I usually made myself - mostly chicken recipes.

Well, when we got married, I got more adventurous and looked for recipes of food I liked to eat at restaurants. Fish & chips is one of those meals that is always so satisfying, and I found a relatively easy recipe. I'm all about the easy recipes. So here it is! Don't be intimidated by the frying. It's not that hard! Disclaimer: this is not a recipe I came up with!

Beer Battered Fish & Chips

4 cod fillets cut in half
1/2 cup flour
1 Tb paprika
1Tb garlic
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
1 egg, beaten
1/2 bottle beer

Mix dry ingredients together and whisk in egg. Slowly add beer until you get a medium consistency batter. This will end up being close to 1/2 a bottle of beer. (Enjoy the rest!) Salt & pepper the fish fillets and dip fish in batter. Shake off any excess before putting it in the oil. Batter should stick to the fish, but not be so thick that it's globbed on there and not so runny that it falls right off.

Heat about 4 cups vegetable oil in a pot until it reaches about 365 degrees. Use a pot where you could fit two or three fillets in at once. Oil should be about 3" deep if you don't use 4 cups of oil. Don't have a candy thermometer to measure the heat? I used a meat thermometer. Not the same, but it'll give you a good idea of the temperature.

Once oil gets to 365, carefully drop the fish into the oil. It may spit up a bit, so be careful. Fish will take about 4-5 minutes to cook. Or cook until batter is a nice dark golden brown. (Tip: You don't want the batter to crisp up too quickly or your fish won't cook on the inside.) You may have to flip the fish over to ensure it browns on both sides evenly. Once the batter is golden brown, lift fish out of the oil and place on a cookie rack to drain. This will keep the fish crispy, allowing the excess oil to drip off. Repeat with rest of fish.

Tarter sauce:
3/4 cup mayo
1 tsp chopped pickles
1 tsp chopped onion
malt vinegar to taste
salt to taste

For the tarter sauce, I definitely taste this as I go. I serve the fish with frozen french fries, but feel free to use whatever "chip" you like! The end result is a fish that is nice and flaky on the inside with a nice crunch to the batter. The batter has a little kick to it from the garlic powder and paprika. Don't really taste the beer that much, but I never could with restaurant fish & chips anyway.

Enjoy! And next time I post a recipe, I'll take pictures of the finished product.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Alice in Wonderland

Tim Burton's version of Alice in Wonderland opened this weekend. Of course Wes and I wanted to go see it this weekend, but in no way were we going to see it on Friday night. Found out later that Friday night was a mad house at the theatre. So we went Saturday early afternoon where a lot of shows were still close to selling out. I didn't realize until a few days before we went to go see it that it wasn't a remake of the Disney classic, but was actually the story of Alice going back to Wonderland many years later. I think with that in mind, it made the movie much more enjoyable. (I heard a lot of people didn't like it because they weren't aware that it wasn't a remake of the Disney cartoon.)

So of course we saw it in 3D and like Avatar, the scenery was incredible. We were discussing it later, and came to the conclusion that for any 3D movie to be entertaining, the movie should have some sort of fantastical element to it. The plot was not super engaging, as it took Alice the better part of the movie to realize why she was back in Wonderland. But the characters were fantastic. Johnny Depp was the Mad Hatter and did a great job playing a crazy, quirky guy - as usual. (There was a hint of Jack Sparrow that I saw.) Helena Bonham Carter was great as the Red Queen and I actually really enjoyed Anne Hathaway as the White Queen. The actress who played Alice also did a great job I thought. All the classic characters are there, which made me want to watch the old Disney movie to refresh my memory.

The movie wasn't as dark as a Tim Burton movie generally is. Maybe that's because it was a Disney movie. However, people going into this movie expecting the Disney cartoon will find it much darker. Maybe a tween and up movie, but definitely not a kids movie (saw some at the theatre). Overall a pretty good movie. Definitely worth seeing in the theatre and in 3D. If you're not going to watch it in 3D, you could probably just wait for the video. But you'd be missing out.

Monday, March 1, 2010

It Feels Good to be Orange!

Syracuse basketball is on quite a run! They've only lost two games - two! - this entire year. They just killed 'Nova (ranked #8) on Saturday and rumor has it that there's a VERY good chance they'll be #1 in the nation today. The Dome set a record in tickets sold. The last record was held when Carmelo Anthony was playing - almost six years ago. My very good friend (and tennis buddy) found a Syracuse bar in downtown Denver which was awesome. I have a feeling I will be going back there over the next few weeks as Syracuse continues it's amazing run. It feels so good to be Orange!

And yes, I'm a bandwagon/fairweather fan. I admit, I didn't know any of the players going into Saturday's game.

Go 'Cuse!