Kurt Russell-Stover Chocolate Turtle Cupcakes

Hello all! This will be my last post before Halloween, so I decided to do something a little less traditional. Since Halloween’s all about tricks and treats, I thought why not focus on sweets. The movie I watched this weekend was John Carpenter’s The Thing, and a friend of mine gave me the cute idea of “Kurt Russell-Stover”. So from there I looked around for recipe that could mix baked goods with one of my favorite Russell Stover candies: chocolate turtles. That’s when I had the idea to do a chocolate cupcake with a caramel frosting and a chocolate turtle tucked inside as a surprise. Check it out!

The Food:

I used about 3 different recipes for this cupcake. I was really looking for the perfect combination, plus they are gluten-free so that had to be taken into consideration. Here’s what my main inspiration was, and here’s the cake recipe that I actually followed. We’ll get to the frosting later. For the cake, you’ll need:

1/4 cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s special dark for a richer flavor)

1 1/2 cup gluten-free flour (I used white rice flour)

1/2 tsp xanthan gum (let it be known that this stuff if very pricey for the small package it comes in)

1 1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

2 large eggs

3/4 cup warm water

3/4 cup buttermilk

3 tbsp canola oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 package chocolate turtles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare muffin pan by lining with cups. Mix all of the dry ingredients into a bowl and then add your wet ingredients.

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Mix until smooth and pour into the cups about 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 20 minutes until toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

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Pull out of the oven and cut a hole into the center of the cupcakes and insert one of the turtles into each cupcake and put back in the oven for another 3-4 minutes. Pull out of the oven. Set aside until cool enough to transfer to another pan/rack. I was able to get 21 cupcakes out of this and I only have one muffin pan so I absolutely had to transfer them to another rack.

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While the cupcakes are cooling you can start with the Salted Caramel Cream Cheese frosting. This is where I got the recipe for the frosting. Here’s what you need:

2 sticks butter

8 0z package cream cheese

2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup salted caramel sauce (I used Smucker’s Salted Caramel Sauce, found in the ice cream area)

Blend your butter and cream cheese and add powdered sugar and caramel and mix until smooth.

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Frost your fully cooled cupcakes and top with pecan pieces.

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The Critique:

This was my first time to bake gluten-free, and I am only slightly disappointed. I’ve read that using GF flour can be really tricky, but there’s a first time for everything. The cake didn’t have very much chocolate flavor to it, which was a downer. Also the texture was lacking a springy/fluffy quality and I can’t put my finger on it, but it was almost dry. Next time, I would try to add more cocoa or maybe coffee to it to bring out the flavor and also take the cupcakes out sooner, especially if I was putting them back in after adding the turtles to them. The frosting was absolutely delicious, though, and really carried the cupcake. They weren’t bad, but I just really wanted all of the flavors to come out and instead I could only taste the frosting. Also, I immediately put the cupcakes into the refrigerator to cool, which could have had something to do with the way they turned out. Another thing, was that the turtles inside are a nice addition, but they, especially being in the refrigerator, are more hard and chewy and not soft and melty like I would have expected them to be from the oven. All different things to try next time, but they still kick the sweet tooth!

The Movie: (Spoilers)

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Like I said earlier, I watch John Carpenter’s 1982 movie, The Thing. It’s about a small group of researchers who are stationed at a site in Antarctica for the winter. They have a run in with some Norwegians from a different site a ways off that changes the course of their winter completely. The Norwegians barge in on their base, act irrationally and finally blow themselves up. When the American crew decides to dig a little deeper into this, they find out that the Norwegians uncovered an unidentifiable aircraft and all wound up dead at their base. Getting slightly unnerved by this information, the American team realize that Norwegians left something with them: an alien organism who can perfectly replicate any subject. Now it’s a classic game of guess who and tensions rise as their trust in each other weakens. They must figure out who is real and who is a replica before it’s too late for everyone.

The Critique:

First off, I know it’s crazy that I’ve never seen this movie before, because it’s a classic, and I’m sure it won’t surprise any of you that I really liked it. This movie was really good. It came out in 1982, so some of the effects are dated. For the most part, though, it’s pretty timeless. Although older horror flicks don’t really make me jump or get me covering my eyes or anything like the scary movies of the past 20 years, John Carpenter does a great job of building suspense. I thought that the creature effects were really good too, maybe not haunt-your-nightmares-scary, but disturbing nonetheless, which is why I stand by my statement of this movie being timeless.

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I really enjoyed the premise of the movie, it’s an original plot line with pretty strong characters. Kurt Russell plays MacReady, who is our protagonist. Not ever having seen this movie, even I still knew that Kurt Russell was the hero, and yet there’s a point in the movie when all signs point to him for being “the thing” and I thought to myself “Is everything I ever thought I knew wrong? Does this movie have this big of a plot twist in it that our hero isn’t really a hero?” That’s good writing. So, like I said, not ever having seen it, I still knew certain things about it, so it was a pleasant movie-watching experience to still have some surprises thrown at me. I liked watching Russell start out the movie being too-cool-for-school and morph into a paranoid maniac, while everyone else stays calm and collected for the most part. That only added more suspense to the big question of who’s really who. This is one of The Boyfriend’s favorite movies, and I can see why. It’s got so many explosions. This movie, in that sense, could have easily leaned more towards an action movie than a horror movie. All in all, I really enjoyed it and would be happy to watch it again.

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Don’t forget to check in next Tuesday!

 

 

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Flank Steak-ed in the Heart

Hello, everyone! It’s getting closer and closer to Halloween, so I figured I could focus more on a horror movie theme for this post and next week’s. This weekend I went and saw Dracula Untold and, after tossing around several ideas for the food, I decided on a Bloody Mary Flank Steak as my dish. Let’s get to it!

The Food:

There’s really not a whole lot out of dishes out there that are inspired by Bloody Mary’s. I originally thought pizza or pasta, but this flank steak recipe seemed like the easiest. Especially since you can do it in a crockpot. I chose to follow this recipe here. Here’s what you need:

1 small onion cut into large chunks

2-3 ribs celery cut into 2 in. pieces

1 1/2 – 2 lb flank steak

12 oz can tomato juice

4-5 cloves garlic

2 tsp horseradish

1 tsp hot sauce

2 tbsp lime juice

1/4 tsp celery salt

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

Combine tomato juice, garlic, horseradish, hot sauce, lime juice and seasonings and put into a gallon size bag to marinade the steak in for 8-12 hours.

Once the steak is done marinating, line the bottom of the crockpot with onion and celery and place the steak on top and add the remaining marinade to the pot. The vegetables are really just there to prevent the meat from sticking. Cook on low heat for 7-8 hours.

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We made a little “gravy” with the remaining juice, but that is optional. After the steak has been cooked, transfer the steak to a plate and run the leftover juice and vegetables through a strainer, while pressing on the veggies to get as much juice out as possible. In a saucepan, heat the juice and add a cornstarch slurry or flour to it for it to thicken up. Serve the “gravy” on top of the steak or on whatever side you make. We did mashed potatoes.

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The Critique:

First thing’s first: The original recipe said crockpot OR grilled flank steak. I urge you to do yours in the crockpot. Even after 8 hours of marinating, flank steak is just a tough cut of meat. I really didn’t even have high hope for it getting tender even after 8 hours of cooking. I was pleasantly surprised! It turned out to be like a poor man’s brisket. It just fell apart, you didn’t have to cut it. And it separated kind of stringy how brisket does. The sauce that it cooks in is very tasty. The meat itself, however, was extremely bland. I would suggest making the “gravy” that I talked about above and using it on top of the meat for extra flavor. That made it so much better. The Boyfriend and I were pleased, though. Not so much for the flavor, but we’re excited to cook with flank steak more, since it turned out to not be the worthless meat that I thought it was.

The Movie: 

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We went to see Gary Shore’s Dracula Untold in theaters this weekend. It’s an origin story of how Dracula came to be. It also focuses on the folk-lore of Vlad Tepes AKA Vlad the Impaler, and how he was believed to be tied to vampires.

The movie is about Vlad, Prince of Transylvania (Luke Evans) and his desperation to keep the Sultan of Turkey from taking 1,000 boys, including Vlad’s son, for the Turkish army. Vlad goes to see a mysterious monster in the mountains, the master vampire, to seek help and makes a deal with him in exchange for a sample of his power. He then starts a war with the Turkish with the goal of defeating them in three days which is the amount of time that he has the vampiric power for, so that his people can return to peace. There is one stipulation though, and that is if he gives into his urges for human blood, he will remain vampire for…well forever. Also, if he gives in, the master vampire who’s been banished to the mountains will be free to leave the mountains and wreck havoc on the world. Also he will be able to call on Dracula at any time as his loyal servant for any favor he might need. And I’ll stop there, since it’s a new release and I don’t want to ruin anything for anyone.

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The Critique: (SPOILERS)

I liked this movie. It was an interesting take on the story that we all know. I don’t know much about the history of Vlad the Impaler, but I thought it was really cool that they made this about the actual folklore of him. Visually, the movie was very good. It had some really stunning scenes. It was full of action, which I’m not really big on fight scenes, or battle scenes I should say. The battle scenes featured in this movie were not unlike any other movies I’ve ever seen before. Often times, there was so much going on in the fight that I couldn’t comprehend what was happening. The Boyfriend thought that there were some awesome fights, though.

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I really thought that I was going to see a vampire origin story in this, not just Dracula’s. I’m not upset that I didn’t, but I still think it would be cool to have someone show their ideas on where they came from, other than from hell. The movie did leave off in a way that suggests it will have at least a sequel if not be a trilogy. All in all, I liked it. It was a straight forward, epic action movie. I’m definitely more interested in seeing other installments of it, especially if it takes place in present day. Also, I’m interested because this movie made Dracula out to be a hero of sorts, and obviously since master vampire is free to roam, we have a opening for a good versus evil story in the future.

Check in next Tuesday to see what’s cooking!

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Before We Get Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Program…

So, here to blatantly remind you all that this blog originally started as a school project, I must now pitch an idea for a mobile app that I had. I used the site iBuildApp in order to create the interface for it. I would just like to say that I think this site would be incredibly useful if you had a full idea for the app you want to create. I, however, only had ideas for certain parts of the app, and I had a very hard time dealing with the tech in order to bring those ideas to life. That being said, a lot of this is going to be me explaining what I couldn’t do.

The name of my app is Which Dish? I had a hard time coming up with the concept because there are so many food and cooking apps and websites as it is, but my idea for this one was that you could easily search and find recipes based on 2 main things. One being which meal you are cooking for. Under the Categories tab, you will be able to choose from breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. Once you’ve chosen one of those, you can specify how light or heavy you’re wanting the dish to be and how easy or complex you want the recipe to be. The second thing is to be able to search based on the ingredients you have on-hand. Under the Ingredients tab, you can type in what you have and view recipes featuring those items.

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Another big thing, is user reviews. There is a rating system for each recipe and a section for written reviews as well. That’s always helpful when trying something new. Who likes to buy a bunch of ingredients they’ve never used before/may never use again just for the dish to turn out to be a flop? The Top Recipes tab will also feature the top rated recipes at the time. It will be consistently changing as more and more users join and rate the recipes they try!

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In addition to all of the above, you can sync this app directly to your Pinterest board. If you don’t have a Pinterest, this app will still allow you to save recipes for later use. My major hope for this app, is that it would make looking for recipes easier. I absolutely love Pinterest for food ideas, but categories can get muddled and I find myself upset and overwhelmed because I can’t find something that, in my head, seems so simple. Currently I’m looking for a recipe for my next post coming Tuesday and once again Pinterest is leading me astray with thousands of things that I don’t want while searching for the one thing I do want.

In conclusion, this is not a real app, so don’t go searching for it. I will continue to curse my way through Pinterest and other search tools until I find something better. If you know of a better way, comment below! Otherwise, my normal food and movie post will be back on Tuesday!

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Out of the Furnace Frito Pie

Hi everyone! I’m sorry that I didn’t post last week and that this post isn’t on its normal Tuesday schedule. I went home to see family, and although I did see a new movie and eat some food while I was there, it wasn’t anything special to blog about/I saw the movie Annabelle, and didn’t want to relive a minute of it. Anyway, I’m back and ready to go at it. This weekend I watched Scott Cooper’s 2013 movie Out of the Furnace and made Frito Pies with a Spicy Chicken Chorizo Chili. This chili recipe is the first that I’ve shared on the blog that I fully made up on my own, so I’m excited to share it with you. Let’s get started!

The Food:

So this idea for this chili came to me one day when I was at my neighborhood H.E.B. I think The Boyfriend and I were there to get brats and stuff for a cookout when I saw this beautiful package of chorizo. I love chorizo a lot, but the way this particular chorizo was packaged was rare to me.

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Normally the chorizo I find and use is in a casing, and when you cook it it’s less like meat and more like a paste. Or there’s Italian chorizo which is like salami. But this particular chorizo really got me thinking. I had recently gone to the Drafthouse and had their Chicken Chorizo Pizza (which was delicious) and so I knew that I could really do something awesome with this besides make amazing eggs (which I still did make so amazing eggs with it). So I dog-eared this idea in my head and knew that one day I would make a Chicken Chorizo Chili. And that day has come. Here’s what you will need:

1/2 lb ground pork chorizo

1/2 lb ground chicken

2 tbsp chili powder

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp oregano

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp red cayenne pepper

1 tsp salt

8 0z can tomato sauce

8 0z can full of water

Cook the chicken and chorizo in a skillet together until done.IMG_3135

Add tomato sauce, water and spices and mix it all in. Cover and let simmer for 30-45 minutes.

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We made frito pies with it, because that’s what I was craving, but do whatever your heart desires.

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The Critique:

I was really impressed by it. The Chorizo gave it a really nice and interesting flavor and the chicken helped tone down the spice. If I were to change anything, I would probably cut back on some of the spices just to really showcase the flavor of the chorizo. The Boyfriend really liked it, he would have preferred it to be a little thinner so that his fritos could get soggy. So that’s all just up to you, and it’s easy to fix since you would just add more or less water. Definitely something I’m trying again and again until I get it perfect and as long as I can find that ground chorizo or something similar.

The Movie: (Spoilers)

So, obviously from the title of this post you can tell I watched Out of the Furnace. I had not heard too much about this movie, so The Boyfriend and I went in blindly.

christianbale_furnace727 cineplex.com

It’s about Russell Baze (Christian Bale) and his brother Rodney Baze (Casey Affleck). The two brothers are struggling to get by in their own ways. Russell works at a steel mill where his now terminally ill father worked and his brother is a veteran adapting to life as a civilian. One night, Russell leaves a bar and gets into a car crash that leaves the driver and passenger of the other car dead. He goes to jail for vehicular manslaughter, learns that his father died and his girlfriend left him while he’s in jail. When he gets out, he once again sees the positive side of things and life starts to look up for him. All the while, Rodney, who Russell tries to watch over, has decided to go down a dangerous path and enter into street fights to win money so that he can avoid the monotony of the steel mill. After Rodney enters into a fight with a crew led by the ruthless Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson) and winds up dead, Russell embarks on a road of vengeance to find justice for his brother and makes a few more mistakes along the way.

Film Review Out of the Furnace huffingtonpost.com

The Critique:

Like I said, I went into this with absolutely no expectations and I’m leaving it feeling absolutely nothing. This movie was not bad, it just did nothing for me. I don’t necessarily think it was lacking anywhere specifically, it was just that with all the components together, something was missing.

The positives are that Christian Bale is amazing. He brought a lot of life to his character and I did start to tear up a little in the scene where he talks to his ex (Zoe Saldana) for the first time after being released from prison. I also have never seen a movie where Woody Harrelson plays a really nasty, bad-ass dude, so that was refreshing.

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The negatives: I was bored, plain and simple. There was not even a happy ending for Christian Bale, other than justice was served.

It was nominated for some awards, so people obviously liked it. I don’t feel like I’ll never get those two hours back that I spent watching it, so you might enjoy it. It just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Alright guys, after this we will be back on schedule. Check in next Tuesday to see what’s on the menu!

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Garbage Plate

Hi everyone! I’m excited to share my reflections on this weekend’s dinner and a movie with you, but this weekend was a really busy one and I didn’t have any good ideas about what to make or what to watch. I didn’t want to let you all down, though, so this weekend consisted of what I would like to call a “garbage plate” since there was no rhyme or reason for it. A random meal that has nothing to do with the random movie of my choice. I made tacos, using a new method that a friend of mine uses and watched David Russell’s 2012 movie, Silver Linings Playbook. Here’s how it went:

The Food:

I have a guilty pleasure, and that is Jack in the Box tacos. They really don’t get much better. They’re deep fried, cheesy, don’t fall apart on you and you can buy 2 for $1. However, I have no idea what kind of garbage goes into them and I always regret my decision after, but I have friend who just so happens to make tacos using a method similar to Jack in the Box. Here’s what you need:

1 lb of ground beef

1 package Yellow Corn Tortillas (20 will do)

Salt and Pepper for seasoning

1 1/2 cup Canola Oil

Shredded Cheese

Shredded lettuce, tomato, sour cream, etc. (whatever you like to dress your tacos with)

Heat your oil in a pan. Take a small ball of the raw meat and press it into a thin half moon-shaped patty and press it to one side of your corn tortilla. From there season the meat with some salt and pepper.

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Take your tortilla and drop the half that has the meat on it down into the hot oil first (meat side up) and allow the meat to get a head start on cooking before you fold the other half over onto the meat. Flip over a few times allowing the meat to brown and the tortilla to crisp up on both sides. This takes about 3 minutes.

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Once your meat is fully cooked and the tortilla crisp, transfer the taco over to a plate lined with paper towels to allow the grease to drip. While the taco is still hot and plyable, grab a little bit of cheese and stuff inside so it can melt while the taco is cooling (this is optional, you can wait until it’s completely cool, but I like melty cheese).

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After the tacos are cooled, fix them up with whatever dressings you like and serve! I made 8 with a half pound of the meat and froze the rest for future use.

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The Critique:

No special guests this week, just me and The Boyfriend. We both liked them a lot, but they definitely need more than just a pinch of salt and pepper. The meat was bland and salsa was my best friend. That’s an easy fix though, next time I can add some cumin and chili powder to give it more of a Mexican kick. Also, they were extremely greasy. With every bite I took, grease gushed out of it. I asked my friend afterward, though, and apparently she sets them upside down to cool so that the grease can drain out of them. I’ll have to give that a try next time. Other than that, I loved it. It was a pretty easy process, I would just suggest getting all of your tortillas set up with the meat before you start frying to avoid contamination of raw meat, and definitely figure out how many you want to make to start off with. I knew I wasn’t going to use a whole pound, so it was nice to prepare what I needed and toss the rest aside for the next time I decide to make them. Thank you, Cheyanne for this recipe!

The Movie: (May contain spoilers)

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Silver Linings Playbook is a comedy-drama about overcoming mental illness (better yet, obstacles that come with mental illness) above all. Pat (Bradley Cooper) is the main character who has just been discharged from a mental institution in Baltimore, and goes to  live with his parents (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver) because he is no longer welcome to stay with his wife, who has filed a restraining order against him. This movie showcases his struggles with reality and emotions while introducing the flaws of all the surrounding characters, showing that everyone is a little crazy. He meets a widow named Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) who has overcome her own obstacles after the loss of her husband, and they form a friendship or partnership that’s based on each of their selfish needs. The partnership leads to an amazing and positive bond that both characters desperately needed.

The Critique:

Oh. My. Goodness. I knew this movie won an Oscar, but I obviously put off watching it up until now. What a stupid thing to do, I loved this movie. Every part of it. It’s hysterical, it’s heartwarming, it has an actual ending to it and a happy one at that (it seems like so many movies try to either just end openly or end with the worst possible outcome these days).

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I don’t have much criticism for it, really. I guess the only thing that I didn’t like was that some of the dialogue escalated really quickly. One scene in particular was the scene where Pat sees his brother for the first time since he was admitted into the institution. Their dialogue seemed natural for the most part, but it was kind of jumpy and quick. I didn’t really buy that this is how their very first talk would go after Pat getting out. But then I look at the entire family and see how they are caring but not totally understanding of Pat’s mental state, so they don’t always act in ways that are supportive.

I loved slowly finding the flaws in everybody. His father is an obsessive compulsive bookie, and Tiffany is an undiagnosed recovering sex addict. His friend’s marriage is close to being in shambles, and yet Pat is the crazy one.

I had absolutely no expectations going into this movie. I guess my one expectation was that it would be good, and I ended up loving everything about this movie! I would definitely watch it again and again. Great actors, great soundtrack, great writing! I was also pleased with the directing. A lot of unique shots throughout the movie. It definitely deserves the Oscar that it won.

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Sick Boy Scotch Eggs AKA “This is your brain on drugs” Scotch Eggs

Hello all! This weekend’s dinner and a movie pick was Danny Boyle’s 1996 movie, Trainspotting, paired with Scotch eggs. I’ve been wanting to do this meal for a while, thanks to Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations and Mind of a Chef. It’s sausage wrapped around a boiled egg, breaded and fried! I mean, if that doesn’t sound delectable, then I don’t know what does. So, because I was so dead set on this dish, I had to turn to my friends for help regarding movies with Scottish elements in them. After a few days of going back and forth with certain movies, I reluctantly went with Trainspotting because it contains all Scottish actors and is set in none other than Scotland, so it was just too perfect. I say that I reluctantly chose this movie, however, because all I had ever heard about it was just bad, bad, horrific things. We will get to all that later though. Let’s talk about food!

The Food:

So, I found this recipe here, and pretty much followed it exactly. I’m still eating gluten-free, so I made bread crumbs out of Chex rice cereal, and instead of using flour I used cornmeal. Now, if you really have a gluten allergy, unlike me, then just use gluten-free flour. The cornmeal that I bought, along with all the other packages of cornmeal at the store had that big disheartening warning about it being processes in a plant that also processes wheat..etc. So just save yourself the trouble. Also the original recipe is just for four eggs, but I wanted to make eight, so I double the recipe except for the breadcrumb seasoning. Here’s what you’ll need:

1 1/2 lbs. country-style pork sausage

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 hard-boiled eggs, shells removed

2 cup bread crumbs OR 2 cups crushed Chex cereal

1/2 cup flour, GF flour or cornmeal

2 eggs beaten

Vegetable oil, for frying eggs

Breadcrumb seasoning:

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon cayenne

1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano

1 tablespoon dried thyme

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Season your sausage with the cayenne and salt, mix well. The recipe has specific instructions for how to wrap your eggs, but I honestly just grabbed a handful of sausage and started covering my eggs with it. Be careful to not get the sausage around the egg too thick, because you want to make sure it will be able to cook through. From there, dredge the sausage-wrapped egg in cornmeal, dip in egg and then coat well with your breadcrumbs. I also did not set mine in the refrigerator, I was very hungry, so I just threw them in my pan with heated vegetable oil two at a time.

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It doesn’t take long for them to get crispy in the pan, but the sausage was still not done, so I set them in a pan with parchment paper on it and gave them about 10 minutes in the oven set at 350 until they were nice and golden. Some of the bigger ones STILL weren’t done after that, so I left them on the pan to cool with some paper towels over them to trap the heat and the steam helped finish the cooking. Now, you’re ready to serve them up!

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The Critique:

They were amazing! As good as I had imagined them to be, and The Boyfriend and this weekend’s guest, Levi, agreed. Two big things that I would change, but didn’t ruin them: first, too much salt! I think you could probably skip salting the already salty sausage and leave out the extra tablespoon of salt to the breadcrumb mixture. Like I said, it didn’t ruin it, but you definitely need a drink while you eat. Second: according to renowned English chef, Jamie Oliver, a proper Scotch Egg should be runny in the center, and mine were hard-boiled. I initially was going for a soft-boiled egg, but I guess I should have practiced this, because it did not go well. With the short amount of time that my eggs boiled, plus the not-so-cold water that I transferred them to in order to shock them and stop the cooking process (didn’t work, must actually be cold), left me with really hard to peel eggs. We lost one completely, and the others were just ugly. I definitely want to try a soft-boil next time, but the breadcrumb coating, other than the added salt, was fantastic. Emeril Laggase knows what he’s doing.

Also, I thoroughly intended to make mashed potatoes with this dish, but my hunger got the best of me, along with a messy kitchen which is often the product of deep frying. The eggs were extremely filling, almost heavy, so in the end I feel like a side wasn’t needed. Next time, instead of frying I may bake them on a rack that will allow the grease to drip, because they packed in a lot of grease, and possibly make a side for them. Traditionally, they are eaten for breakfast or brunch by themselves or as a lunch with cheeses, fruits and condiments – so a side isn’t really important. All in all, I was really pleased with them!

The Movie: (Possible spoilers from here on out)

Trainspotting-trainspotting-18607738-848-480 courtesy of http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/trainspotting/images/18607738/title/trainspotting-screencap

Trainspotting is a comedy-drama about a group of friends that are addicted to heroin and deeply into the party scene in the late 80s in Edinburgh, Scotland. The movie mainly focuses around Renton (Ewan McGregor) and his efforts to clean up his life. It showcases Renton and his friends and how they function in society as they spiral down with their addiction dealing with poverty, death, arrest, the HIV epidemic and getting clean.

The Critique:

Like I said earlier, I was reluctant to choose this movie. All I knew to expect was heroin addiction and a scene with a dead baby. I was told that it was a lot like Requiem for a Dream, which didn’t affect me in a terrible way, but it is downright depressing.

Anyway, I was so incredibly pleased with how this movie turned out! Above all, it is funny! Really funny. I felt like the first 45 minutes of the movie delivered nothing but laughs. You get to know the characters and how ridiculous they are and the ridiculous misfortunes that happen to them. I was totally enjoying myself during the first half, specifically during Spud’s interview scene and the scene of everyone’s excursion of sexual encounters, including the morning after.

Soon after, the spiraling down starts. Tommy begins using heroin with the group after getting dumped by his girlfriend, and then we are led into the dead baby scene, followed by Spud (Ewen Bremner) getting arrested for stealing and going to prison. Finally Renton goes to his dealer’s place and overdoses which leads to him quitting once and for all, pushed mostly by his parents.   The whole sequence of events is sad and slightly depressing, but the final straw which is Renton’s overdose and withdrawal period is slightly entertaining, whilst being disturbing.

Trainspotting (1996)

courtesy of http://pwttas.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/trainspotting-1996/

Finally, Renton is clean and disassociates from his friends and gets a job. One by one his friends come back into his life and the idea for a big drug deal is revealed near the end. Begbie (Robert Carlyle), Sick Boy (Johnny Lee Miller) and Spud all want to use Renton for his money in savings in order to buy drugs and sell them in London for $20,000. Renton must test the heroin, a scary and disheartening thing for me to watch since I felt invested in his character getting clean and staying clean. The deal ends up getting the 4 of them only $16,000 and the movie ends with Renton leaving town with all of the money, leaving a small chunk for Spud, the only friend he really trusted, and ends with him finally having the chance to make his life worthwhile now that he has the money to do it.

Quite a happy ending if you ask me. The only thing that I didn’t like about this movie, was the fact that I needed a translator for the majority of their conversations. Especially Robert Carlyle. I couldn’t make sense of anything he said. I really felt invested in the characters and found them all to be likable in their own ways, obviously some more likable than others. Because I became invested though, I found myself stressed out about the direction of the movie at times. Other than that, it was a simple premise, done really well. I don’t know that it’s a movie I would watch over again, but it really exceeded my expectations in a good way!

trainspotting-photo

courtesy of http://www.moviefanatic.com/quotes/movies/trainspotting/page-3.html

Check out the blog next week to see what’s on the menu!

 

 

 

 

 

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Gecko Brothers’ Green Chile Sour Cream Enchiladas

Alright folks, here’s the first official post for this blog. If you can’t tell already, the movie I decided to watch this weekend was Robert Rodriguez’s 1996 movie, “From Dusk Till Dawn”. To go with this movie, and that the majority of it takes place in Mexico, I decided on Spinach Artichoke Enchiladas with a Green Chile Sour Cream Sauce. I recently started a gluten free diet, so this meal was completely gluten free. And, if you just swap out the chicken broth for vegetable broth, you’ll have a vegetarian dish as well! Ok, let’s just get right to it!

The Food:

I got my inspiration for the Spinach Artichoke Enchiladas from this recipe here, and adapted it to make it my own. Here’s what you will need for the filling:IMG_3014

10 oz package frozen spinach

14 oz can artichoke hearts in water, rinsed, drained and chopped

1 large onion, diced

1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 tbsp olive oil

I followed the directions for the vegetables exactly like the recipe in the link, and then set them aside. Because I knew these were going to be pretty heavy with cheese already, I skipped out on the ricotta, and added the monterey jack in the later steps. At this point, I focused on my sauce. Here’s what you’ll need:

IMG_3016

3 tsp butter

8 oz package sour cream

8 oz package cream cheese

14 oz can green chiles, drained

14 oz can chicken broth

1/4 cup flour OR 1/8 cup cornstarch slurry

Now, I’m currently doing a gluten free diet, so instead of flour, I used corn starch. This can be tricky, because with corn starch you should never add it directly into what you’re cooking. Instead you need to make a slurry first by mixing it with cold water. Also, with corn starch, you use about half the amount that you would flour, so I mixed an 1/8 of a cup of cornstarch with cold water and added it in place of the flour. That being said here’s what you do:

Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan, stir in the flour (or corn starch slurry, if that’s the route you choose) and cook for 1 minute. Add the broth and whisk it in until there are no more clumps. Cook over medium heat, the broth mixture will come to a boil, allow it to thicken. When it is thick and bubbling, add the package of cream cheese. Whisk it in until the cream cheese is melted and smooth. Add your green chiles and sour cream and cook until everything is incorporated in and smooth.

Now we get to the easy part. I’m not a fan of rolled enchiladas. At a restaurant, sure. Doing it myself, I just don’t have the patience for that, so these are stacked enchiladas. Set your oven to 350 and grab the rest of your ingredients. Here’s what else you’ll need:

1 package corn tortillas (I bought a 24-pack and used all but 2)

2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese

9X13 pan

I don’t like to grease my pan for enchiladas, instead I just ladle some of the sauce into the bottom of the pan. From there, I layered the bottom of the pan with corn tortillas, on top of that I added the vegetable mixture, top that with shredded cheese and ladle on more of your sauce. Repeat with the corn tortillas, veggies, cheese and sauce until all of the filling has been used (for me, I was able to get 3 layers out of it).

IMG_3019

You will finish by stacking more corn tortillas, pouring the rest of your sauce over the pan, and sprinkling the rest of your cheese on top. Pop it in the over for 10-15 minutes, just long enough for everything to get melty and bubbly and a slight golden crisp on the edges. And then you’re done! Makes about 12 servings.

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The Critique:

The boyfriend and our friend, Kevin, both enjoyed the meal. The one thing that we all agreed on, was that the sauce really took center stage and everything else was just added texture. That being said, I want to make this again, but I would like to add more veggies to it. I had absolutely no idea that mushrooms shrink up when you cook them, so I would start by adding more of those. Maybe another half a package of spinach too, and those darn artichokes just got completely washed out, so definitely more of those. Adding simple seasonings like salt and pepper to the veggies. Also, maybe ricotta would have made a difference. All in all though, I was pleased with it. The sour cream sauce is absolutely delicious, so it wasn’t a terrible thing that that was all one could taste.

The Movie: (possible spoilers)

title-from-dusk-till-dawn courtesy of driveinmedia.com

From Dusk Till Dawn is about a couple of bank robbing brothers, Seth and Richie Gecko, who are trying to make their way through Texas down to Mexico to drop off their money with a contact named Carlos in exchange for refuge in El Rey. Seth (George Clooney) has his head on straight, and runs the show for the most part while dealing with his brother, Richie’s (Quentin Tarantino) psychopathic and serial-rapist tendencies. As they travel through Texas, the death toll they leave behind them rises. They seek refuge in a motel before the last stretch of their journey, and see the Fuller family traveling in an RV; Jacob Fuller (Harvey Keitel), a former minister who’s lost his faith after recently losing his wife, and his teenagers, Kate and Scott. The brothers take the family hostage in order to get across the border and make it to their final destination, an all night strip club/bar called “The Titty Twister”, when things take a turn for the worse. All the patrons of the bar start turning into bloodthirsty, serpentine-looking vampires. Now everyone must band together in order to make it through the night.

from-dusk-till-dawn-vampire-killers-group courtesy of cinematicthoughts.blogspot.com

The Critique:

I thought this was a really fun movie. The first scene is really high-energy and sets a great mood for the rest of the movie. I love the choice for the quick camera cuts during the convenient store shoot-out. Then we get to the motel and get some real insight of what kind of a guy Richie is. Tarantino as Richie, is honestly hilarious. He is extremely creepy, so it’s very believable that he’s a psycho and a rapist, and yet he still has an innocent and almost likable charm about him. I have to give it to Clooney as Seth, because I don’t think I’ve ever seen him play such a bad guy before. Seth was just recently broken out of jail before the brothers started on their rampage, so he’s extremely hardened and the only thing he cares about in this movie is his brother and the end game. He doesn’t show a lick of charm until maybe the last five minutes of the movie. There’s a scene in the motel after Richie rapes and kills the bank teller that they took hostage and brought with them. Although the reveal of her dead body was meant to and does to some extent add intensity, I’m not a huge fan of how Rodriguez decided to do extremely quick cuts to show it. I’ve seen better representations of this particular concept done. To me, for a violent and bloody movie, it seemed rather toned down, also muddled and hard to see. I don’t have a whole lot to say about the Fuller family. I like the wholesomeness of them with randomly dropped F-bombs. I love the scene when they first get to the bar and share a bottle of whiskey together, it’s a nice revelation for the direction of the characters also allowing for some pretty funny moments. Once the patrons start turning, I really liked that the concept of vampires wasn’t foreign to the characters in this movie. I’ve seen so many movies, that reference pop culture, but when it comes to creatures/monsters that most everyone has seen a movie about a time or two in their lives – they have no idea what they’re dealing with! Thankfully, this group of people was smart enough to put two and two together to figure out what they were facing, and use the good ol’ stuff they learned from movies to fight them. One of my main concerns came from when everyone started turning into vampires, a waitress or stripper locks everyone in and says “dinner time”. My immediate response was, “is this a normal Friday night here?”. Luckily, the writing is great and tied up all loose ends, so that question was answered for me. Yes, yes it is. The special effects were dated, but not cheesy in the least, and the soundtrack gets two thumbs up. All in all, I liked it a lot. There were a lot of funny lines, lots of action, great characters. I have no regrets about choosing this movie for the weekend!

From Dusk Till Dawn George Clooney Juliette Lewis courtesy of patjacksonpodium.blogspot.com

Check in next week to see what food and flick I try out next!

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