Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Catching Up on Movie Reviews - Seriously!

I apologize for being neglectful to my blog. I've had a couple of crazy weeks at work, which is a good thing, and between 6 events in 2 weeks and the insane amount of baseball watching I've been participating in blogging just didn't get done. Today is my first non-hectic day in awhile so I'm going to take advantage and post a ton of stuff that I've been wanting to post that way I can get caught up. Get ready to read:)

In Her Shoes - 4 stars
This was a movie that I had at my house from netflix for a month. Finally I decided to put it in just for the sheer purpose of being able to return it and found myself pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie. The premise is that Maggie (Cameron Diaz) is the partying, non-responsible sister, whose behavior no one in the family wants to tolerate, including her perfectly successful, perfectly together sister Rose (Toni Collete). One day, Maggie discovers that they have a grandmother they never knew. With nowhere left to go and no one left to turn to, Maggie heads to Florida to find out what the story is. It is there that she finds herself and discovers what is truly important to her.

It is a very heart warming movie about how every person has good in them, some just get lost along the path of discovery. It's cute and funny and if you're looking for a light hearted movie I would recommend it.

Elizabeth: The Golden Age - 2 Stars
I was really excited to see this movie because I so enjoyed the first one that came out in 1998. I also enjoy historical fiction, specifically from this time in history, so I thought this one would be right up my ally. Jon and I went on a Saturday afternoon (pre-baseball game, priorties people!) and were unfortunately incredibly disappointed. While the cinematography (not that I really now much about that) and the costuming were incredible there just wasn't much to the story at all. It felt like they made the movie to make a sequel off of something that was successful the first time, hoping they could capitalize on it again. All in all it was just OK but not at all worth seeing in the movies, IMHO.

Gone Baby Gone - 4 1/2 stars
Gone Baby Gone is based on the novel written by Dennis Lehane. Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro are detectives who find missing people, so when a little girl, Amanda, goes missing the little girls Aunt hires them to find her. Set in Dorchester, MA Kenzie and Gennaro begin to unravel the mystery around Amanda's disappearnace and find that it's more than meets the eye.

If you enjoyed The Departed and Mystic River then you will enjoy Gone Baby Gone, Ben Affleck's directorial debut. Jon and I talked about the movie the whole way home, just unraveling it in our heads and talking about what we would have done. I think this one is worth seeing.

Gone With the Wind - A Classic! (5 Stars)

Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

Why oh why did I wait so long to read this book? I really don't have an answer to that. Gone with the Wind is my friend Katie's absolute favorite book and for years she's been telling me that I really should pick it up. So when my friend Shion was willing to loan it to me I decided there is no time like the present.

I must admit that I started this book once before, made it 100 pages and then put it down and returned it to the library. 1,024 pages is intimidating even for an avid reader such as myself. Especially when the pages are so small and the print so tiny, but alas, I picked it up again.

Again I struggled in the beginning, not that it wasn't good but I just didn't feel that I was making progress when I was reading. In all fairness to the author, Margaret Mitchell, it takes awhile to set up everything in a book that is over 1,000 pages.

OnceI got to about page 300 I really hit my stride and couldn't put the book down. I was blown away by her character descriptions, truly blown away. I felt as if I was Scarlett O'Hara's neighbor, and I knew all of these people and knew all of my surroundings, her description was that good. On top of that it was an amazing story with great dialogue. I soon realized why this book is an American Masterpiece. When I turned the last page I was sad, sad that I was leaving this world and sad to be leaving the characters.

This is a classic that everyone (woman or man) should read (at least once)! It is not to be missed!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

52 Weeks of Cooking: Pork and Vegetable Stir Fry

Goodness I feel that this is turning into a cooking blog - eek! I'm going to have to get out this weekend and do some interesting things so I can get back to blogging about NYC experiences! Our weekend was a ton of fun - it was a lot of hanging out with friends, cooking, drinking, watching sports - you know, THAT kind of weekend! We had a great time and got to spend lots of time with friends and family.

Sunday night we decided to relax and cook in. I do have to say that this 52 weeks of cooking project definitely has upped my cooking, and it's really reminded me of how much I love to cook. I'm not very crafty so cooking is one way for me to express myself in a way creatively - it allows me to take different ingredients and turn them into a meal. I didn't realize how much I've missed that until I took up this project. So yay for it working :)

Pork and Vegetable Stir Fry (this is a South Beach Diet Cookbook recipe)

Cook Time: 30 Minutes

1/2 cup sugar-free apricot reserves
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 1/2 pounds pork cutlets, cut into 1/4-inch strips
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound broccoli, cut into florets
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 bunch scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths
4 ounces snow peas, strings removed

Whisk preserves and soy sauce together in a bowl until smooth.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok over high heat. Add pork and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Add remaining oil and garlic to the same skillet; cook over medium-hight heat for 30 seconds. Add broccoli, pepper, scallions, and snow peass and cook until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in portk and preserves mixture; cook 1 minute more. Serve hot.

This recipe was more prep time then anything else, since I had a lot of veggies to chop up. It was a really easy recipe and it was uber-flavorful! Most importantly it heats up well the next day for lunch or dinner leftovers.

Happy Cooking!

Monday, October 8, 2007

A Corn Maize...Maze!

Friday night we had the HC gang over and Angelique and Mike invited anybody who was free to join them on Saturday at a corn maze! Well, I was free - so I headed over to their place early Saturday AM to begin the journey.

We were heading to Stony Hill Farm in Chester, New Jersey. It was a pretty uneventful ride there. We pull up and after talking with Angelique's friend who was waiting for us at he maze, we realized we were at the wrong farm. So we got back in the car and drove down the road a little further to the next farm (Stony Hill Garden) - yep, you guessed it wrong farm again! (I didn't even know there were this many farms in NJ.) The nice woman there gave us directions to the correct farm and finally we arrived.

I was so excited - a corn maze! I had never done any kind of maze before. It was pretty neat. We entered and were all excited to get lost and have to find our way out - too bad it took us 3 times to figure out how to get deep enough into the maze so as to not keep passing the enterance:) But on the 3rd try we made it deep enough into the maze. The stalks were probably 10 feet tall and the lanes we were walking down were not nearly as wide as I was expecting them to be - don't ask me why. There were puzzles to solve throughout the maze, and pictures and words to collect (we didn't participate to heavily in this portion of the maze). Finally when we decided it was time to find our way out - we kept walking past this one bridge like 3 times unable to figure out how to get around it to this one particular lane we thought we wanted to be in. Eventually we figured it out (without the help of the maze employees sitting on the bridge, waiting to assist lost guests - thank you very much!) All in all it took us an hour - which we were pretty proud of. We checked out their little market and enjoyed some apple cider donuts (see above - yum!) and then headed back to the city.

While, there I bought some apples and made this delicious apple crisp (see picture above!)Thank you yumsugar. Ah...now if it would only start feeling like fall temperature wise in this city then we'd be all set. I mean afterall it's October, it's apple season, it's baseball playoff time (yeah Red Sox!) and while I'm not rushing to the winter it felt way too much like summer this past weekend in the city. And I'm ready to enjoy fall activities...like maybe a fall foliage cruise this upcoming weekend...TBD!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

52 Weeks of Cooking: Margarita Pizza

I have to thank my friend Shion for this fabulous recipe. We had a girls dinner night on Thursday and she cooked this fabulous pizza, gave me the recipe and I made it this weekend. It is so simple, fresh and delicious!

1 clove of garlic
2 tomatoes
Fresh mozzerella
Olive oil
Pillsbury Dough Pizza Dough

Preheat the oven at 400 degrees.
Pop open the can of Pizza dough (isn't that the best part!) and roll it out on a baking sheet that is already covered with cooking spray. Bake it for 8 minutes. Meanwhile sautee the clove of garlic (which has been sliced up) with olive oil in a pan.

Take the pizza out of the oven and brush the garlic and olive oil mixture onto the pizza dough. Line sliced tomatoes on the pizza and then place the sliced mozzerella on top of the tomatoes. Final touch place the basil on top of the pizza. Bake it for another 16 minutes. And your done.


Friday, October 5, 2007

My Favorite Things: Web Boggle

The world wide web has everything for everyone doesn't it!

One thing I discovered in the past 8 months was Web Boggle. Now, I love boggle (I know I'm a big dork!) and we own it (and believe me it was difficult to get - they don't sell boggle in the stores anymore you have to order it online.) Well, one day my friend Emily and I were talking about it and she goggled it and found out that you can play online against people all over the country. It's the greatest thing.

You know sometimes when you're inbetween projects at work and you want to take 5 minutes and browse the web or just do something fun - web boggle! Just create your player name - decide if you want to play 4 across (3 letter words or more) or 5 across (4 letter words or more) and get started. Each game only lasts 2 minutes the perfect amount of time to take a quick break.

Enjoy! Happy boggling:)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Kingdom - 4 Stars, Maybe 4 1/2 stars

Tuesday night was movie night - yay! I love movie night. When Jon and I first started dating we would go to the movies every weekend almost - it was our thing. Now however, Jon doesn't have as much free time to go to the movies so we go when we can and I go with my girls on other nights. I don't know what it is about a night out at the movies - but I love them!

I met up with my friends Emily and Shion at the Times Square theater (because it's pretty central for all of us). We had originally wanted to see December Boys, the Daniel Radcliffe movie, to see if he's going to be able to have success beyond Harry Potter but unfortunately after only 2 weeks in the theaters here it was already gone. Which reminds me, I should add it to my netflix que.

In it's place we decided to go see the new action packed movie, The Kingdom. Now, I was very excited to see this movie because it's got my girl J. Garner in it - love her!

The plot of the movie is that there is a bombing at a Western housing compound in Saudi Arabia, so the FBI sends over an elite team to track down the terrorists. When they arrive however they discover that they are limited to what they are allowed to do, where they are allowed to go, and what they are allowed to touch. The story unfolds and as they say in the previews "the last 20 minutes will leave you glued in your seat!" It was very true - the last 20 minutes are intense and action packed.

I have to say I really enjoyed this movie (now I'm a little biased because of my girl J. Garner, I'll admit it) but I thought it was a really interesting movie about things that are really happening in our world now (granted maybe presented in a little bit of a "Hollywood" kind of way). I was most surprised by how funny it was - Jason Bateman's character provides a lot of comic relief during the movie which lightened up what was a heavy movie.

I give it two thumbs up (or 4-4 1/2 stars!)

52 Weeks of Cooking: Chicken Stuffed with Spinach and Goat Cheese

I'm already a little behind in my 52 weeks of cooking blog entries - eek! Last week we had an event for work (my first with my new job) and it really consumed all my energy and time! Thankfully it was a successful event. However, grocery shopping did not get done which is why a new recipe wasn't tried - sorry folks! So this week I'm going to cook 2 things so as to "catch up."

Last night I cooked - Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Spinach and Goat Cheese. I've never cooked with goat cheese before, but I've loved it when I've eaten it, so I was excited to use it in this recipe. Unfortunately for me my stuffed chicken turned out to be more of a "roll" which was fine. I just hadn't bought the right thickness of chicken.

Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Spinach and Goat Cheese (this is a South Beach Diet recipe - hey, I said I would be trying all different kinds of things).

Time: 30 minutes

4 teaspons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (1/2 pound) bunch spinach, tough stems removed
4 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 ounces low-fat goat cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Special equipment: Wooden toothpicks

Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in spinach and cook, stirring constantly, until spinach is wilted and liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper and transfer to a late. Wipe skillet dry with paper towels.
Beginning at the thickest end of 1 chicken breast, carefully insert a sharp knife into the center and cut a pocket as evenly as possible, leaving a 1-inch border on three sides. Repeat with remaining breasts. Open each pocket, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then fill evenly with goat cheese and spinach. Seal each with two toothpicks and season outside with salt and pepper.

Heat remaining oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, turning once, until well browned on both sides, about 3 minutes perside. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until juices run clear, about 8 minutes. Serve hot.

*(For my variation, I just flattened the chicken breats, spread the spinach and goat cheese on top. I then rolled the chicken and secured with the toothpicks. Follow the rest of the instructions, minus baking it in the oven. It was just as delicious!)

I really loved this meal - I thought it was incredibly flavorful and the goat cheese was so yummy! I'm definitely going to look for more recipes that call for it. Bon Appetite!

Pat McGee Band...Again!

Can you tell they're one of my favorite things!!! Jon and I headed up to Boston this weekend to see the Pat McGee Band play at the Paradise on Commonwealth Avenue. The Paradise is definitely one of our favorite venues of all time - we've seen some great concerts there over the years. The energy is always amazing and it's so small you just feel like you're part of the show.

We met up with Jon's brother and his fiance and friend at T's Pub for a drink beforehand and ran into a few Holy Cross friends. Pat McGee Band concerts are usually also HC reunions - don't ask me why. We headed over in time to catch Josh Kelly's show, as he was on before PMB. At the Paradise we ran into even more Holy Cross peeps! I once again enjoyed Josh Kelly's show - he's kind of funky & jazzy but has a great energy and a great voice when he's not messing around. He has this really funny song Scrumptious which is such fun live!!!

PMB came on around 11PM and I'm tell you they rocked the house! They played until 1 in the morning and we were all hoarse and tired from all the energy we exuded dancing and singing at the top of our lungs. It was one of their best concerts in a while and the crowd was sooo into it - and really high energy! You could tell PMB were having fun! I'm so glad we drove up to Boston to see it. I can't wait for them to come play around here again:)

If you want to check them out go to www.patmcgeeband.com. They have 4 of their cd's online that you can listen to. The only cd not on there is the new one, which is currently my favorite!