Friday, February 28, 2014

February's Playlist

Here are the songs that stuck with me or somehow affected me this month!  Enjoy!  :)  I am always open to new song suggestions, as you will notice I don't listen to a lot of newer music haha.

This song always makes me want to revisit Devil Wears Prada & 13 Going on 30

Secondhand Serenade rocks at life...  "I was born to tell you I love you" 

I love the Cardigans, I love this song, what more needs to be said haha

Liam and I like to watch and listen to this song on repeat over and over again.  We watch the extra features on Rio more than we watch the movie anymore.  I absolutely LOVE this song.  It is so heartfelt!

John Legend's song was already awesome, but when you add Lindsey it's the epitome of an epic song that will last

I wish that there were more fuel songs, I loved them all. I have had a lot of random bad days this month and somehow listening to this song makes me feel better and smile to myself thinking of the things that make it a bad day.

Breakign Benjamin always has some great instrumentals going on, and this is a good song :)

I don't think Pandora lets me go an entire week without this song, and they always give me this amazing acoustic version that I love! I always have to stop whatever I am doing and crank it up and sing a long with it! This song has such painful lyrics and yet it is beautiful in it's pain. I love Sara!

This is another song that you just have to stop and sing along with! It makes you want to sing, I love Ellie! She has so many songs that just speak to my soul!

This song has such an eerie soulful tone, you instantly recognize it and the vampire franchise seems to love it.

This song always makes me feel like an epic battle is about to go down. I love it!

I have found myself listening to a lot of Stone Sour songs lately but I always loved this one.

This song is and always will be my all-time favorite Weezer song! It just makes you happy to listen to it!

This is another one of those songs that is even more amazing in acoustics. I LOVE the lyrics to this song.

John Mayer is so talented, I love this song. I always have a hard time matching his voice and his face, he just doesn't look like he would have such a soothing and gentle voice haha.

This is seriously one of my single anthems for hope in love

I love pre-country Jewel! And this song

Liam and I love jamming out to this song that is also featured in Despicable Me 2! And it makes you happy :)

Oh Coldplay I love you and this song too.... Must be the month of love haha

My month wouldn't be complete with out a song from FATM to grace my playlist

Oh yes Mandy Moore, Center Stage & Sascha Redetsky.... I am in heaven....

I am seriously jamming while making this playlist and I love this song

That's right Mya! Girl power!

Seether & Amy lee seriously made one of the greatest collaborations EVER in this song

When I was younger my mom used to constantly listen to Sarah, As I got older I really listened to her lyrics and realized that she had a ton of sexual lyrics but she described love in a way that wasn't often approached and I love her now too! This song is great as well

Last but certainly not least is J Lo's Play! This was definitely me when I went out. I always wanted the DJ to play my song. So there you have it a song for each day of the months. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Grown Ups 2

I thought that the first movie Grown Ups was fairly entertaining, at about a 4 start rate.  With the track record of the majority of sequels in Hollywood these days I didn't haev overly high hopes for the second one.  It was definitely worth watching though.  The first half had a lot more humor as the second half held a lot more serious life issues.  I always prefer Adam Sandler with humor (unless weare talking about Click or Spanglish with both were great).

Grown Ups 2 is considered a Buddy comedy.  You can tell that the cast has a great time making the film.  As will any Happy Madison production (Adam Sandler's company) you can expect some raunchy humor.  The first joke really opens up with deer pee spraying all over....  and then it does improve for a bit in humor as I myself do not find that overly hilarious especially for how long they drag the set out for.  Unfortunately we had to miss out on Rob Schneider's character due to scheduling conflicts, making this one of a very few Sandler movies to not feature at least a cameo by Rob.  It did not do very well critically and was nominated for 9 Raspberry awards which to include Worst Movie of the year.   The original Grown Ups was focused on friend recounting their school basketball championship, while this one is based largely around Lenny (Sandler's character) having moved back to his hometown and just the every day life antics and marital/parental themes that they encounter.  All with the Sandler twist to life of course.

Grown Ups 2 was filmed in Massachusetts (masquerading as Connecticut for the film) and contained a ton of cameo roles as is tradition for a Sandler production.  This is surprisingly the first sequel that Adam Sandler has ever been in.  Rotten Tomatoes scored this film with an abysmal 7% approval rating.  I can't say that it was the greatest movie I ever saw, but what did you expect from a Sandler film?  It wasn't THAT bad.  There were a plethora of bad reviews by people who looked at this movie en masse.  But those who understood a Sandler movie and his sense of humor and what he has been working with for decades they knew what to expect and knew that there is always low brow and crude humor with family values rounding it all out.  Sandler movies are as in a genre of their own, kind of like you haev to look at Quintin Tarantino movies separately from others. The move still grossed $247 million worldwide (about 30 million less than the original Grown Ups). It opened in the number 2 spot behind Despicable Me 2. 

The film definitely features an all-star cast looking to be funny in the classic Adam Sandler style:
Lenny Feder played by Adam Sandler (SNL, Big Daddy, Happy Gilmore, 50 First Dates, Spanglish)
Eric Lamensoff played by Kevin James (King of Queens, Hitch, Everybody Loves Raymond)
Kurt McKenzie played by Chris Rock (SNL, In Living Color, Down to Earth, Bad Company)
Marcus Higgins played by David Spade (Just Shoot Me, Tommy Boy, 8 Simple Rules, SNL)
Roxanne (Lenny's wife) played by Salma Hayek (Frida, Desperado, Ugly Betty, 30 Rock, Bandidas)
Deanne (Kurts wife) played by Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids, Chicago Hope, Idiocracy, SNL)
Sally (Eric's wife) played by Maria Bello (History of Violence, Coyote Ugly, ER, Payback)
You will also find cameos from Nick Swardson, Steve Buscemi, Colin Quinn, Tim Meadows, Jon Lovitz, Steve Austin, Shaquille O'neal, Taylor Lautner, Andy Samberg, etc.

Overall I give this movie 3.5 stars.  It is a classic Sandler film, not his greatest but not his worst and as with any of his films, you can find enjoyment in the fact that you know that everyone on set is having a good time.  I did wish that we got to see more of the hilarious kids as we did in the first installment but this one seemed more focused on the adults.  It was worth a watch to be entertained, but not something that you would watch a bunch of times.  It tried to mix the crude humor with a more mature look at life and it didn't mix as well because the crude seemed a bit far fetched for the now older age of the actors and the mature was more mature and enlightening than usual which made the difference stand out starkly.  Still if you are a Sandler fan you won't be disappointed.  There is also some buzz about a third one in the works for a possible 2015 release. 

Here is the official site for the movie: Grown Ups 2

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Strawberry Lemonade Cake: February's Winning Dessert

Your votes brought the dessert choice down to the wire.  Until the very last day I thought for sure it was going to be the White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake, but at the last minute the Strawberry Lemonade Cake pulled through for the win.  This was an interesting recipe to make!  I have never before attempted a layer cake.  I find them to be a bit intimidating and they always seem like a lot of work.  Overall this really wasn't a hard recipe, the challenge came in frosting it much too soon, and my frosting began to melt on me causing the cake to slide on the second layer and my frosting to start dripping off of the cake...  In the future I would recommend chilling both layers of the cake in the fridge for half an hour before frosting and then continuing to chill it for another half an hour to give the frosting time to set before serving!  Otherwise, everything turned out wonderfully! 

1 cup butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
2 1/2 cups all-purpose Gold Medal flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup buttermilk
8-10 large strawberries, sliced
*3 lemons should be enough for both the zest and the lemon juice

For the Strawberry Buttercream Frosting:
1 cup butter, softened
5 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk
2-4 large strawberries, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and spray two 9-inch round baking pans with non-stick cooking spray.
In large bowl place the butter, sugar and lemon zest. Beat until light and fluffy.
In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients and set aside.
With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, combining thoroughly in between. With the mixer still running, add the lemon juice. (batter will look curdled, but it's not).
Add one third of the dry ingredients and 1/2 cup of the buttermilk. Mix, then stop and scrape the sides of the bowl. Repeat, adding another third of the dry ingredients and the remaining 1/2 cup buttermilk. Mix, then stop and scrape. Add the remaining third of the dry ingredients and mix until completely combined and the batter is light and fluffy.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake the cakes for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool for about half an hour in the fridge before removing from the pans.
While the cakes are cooling, make the strawberry buttercream frosting. Combine the butter and powdered sugar in a large bowl. Mix together on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the milk and strawberries and mix on high speed until the frosting is very fluffy and pale pink in color, with flecks of strawberry.
Invert one of the cake rounds onto a cake plate; generously spread with frosting and top with strawberry slices. Repeat with the remaining layer of cake and frosting. Frost the sides of the cake. Put in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to allow the frosting to set. Serve at room temperature.

Mix the butter, sugar & lemon zest
In a separate bowl mix all remaining dry ingredients together
Beat the eggs in one at a time and add the lemon juice
Mix the remaining ingredients in together.
My sous chef helping pour the batter into two pans
Pour the batter evenly into the 2 cake pans and stick in oven
Remove the cake layers from the oven and cool
Sous chef trying out the frosting
Mix together the butter and powdered sugar for the frosting
My sous chef happy about helping add strawberries to the mix
Get ready to mix it all together!
Mix in the strawberries and the milk
Invert the cake (turn it upside down) and set it on a dish or a plate
Spread frosting along the top of the 1st layer
Add the sliced strawberries on top of the frosting
Place the second cake layer on top of the filling
Frost and add strawberries for decoration, place in fridge to chill
Serve & Enjoy!

If you would like to view the winning desserts from past months, here they are:

January's Winner: Black Forest Pavlova

December's Winner: Pumpkin Tiramisu

November's Winner: Caramelized Banana Pudding

October's Winner: Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake

September's Winner: Apple Raspberry Crumble

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Chicken Cordon Bleu: February's Winning Choice

You voted and your choice was loud and clear for the main dish.  Chicken Cordon Bleu won by a landslide!  Having never made this before, it was definitely a new and unique challenge for me.  I was surprised that it definitely didn't take as long as I had anticipated.  I changed the recipe some to speed up cook time and ensure that the chicken was thoroughly cooked by finishing it off in the oven, instead of pan frying it the entire time.  It had a wonderful juicy finish to it!  I definitely recommend this dish to anyone!  A lot simpler than it look and so wonderful to eat!

4 Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breasts
4 Slices of Provolone Cheese (I am not a big swiss fan, but any white cheese will work just fine)
8 slices of ham
2 Eggs (scrambled)
3 Tbsp All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Mediterranean Basil
6 Tbsp Butter
1/2 Cup Dry White Wine
1 tsp Chicken Bouillon granules (or 1 cube mashed)
1 Tbsp Cornstarch
1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream


Pound chicken breasts if they are too thick. Place the eggs in bowl and scramble with a fork.  Brush the egg on the top piece of the chicken breast (the pretty side).  Place a  slice of ham on either side of the cheese and put on top and in the middle of each chicken breast on the bottom side (not the side you brushed with egg). Fold the edges of the chicken over the filling, and secure with toothpicks. The side that you brushed with egg should be facing out.
Mix the flour, paprika and basil in a small bowl, and coat the chicken pieces.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a baking sheet in tin foil to reduce mess and make for fast cleanup.
Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and cook the chicken until browned on all sides (about 10 minutes).  Transfer the chicken onto the foil covered cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
Add the wine, chicken bouillon, cornstarch and whipping cream into a bowl and whisk together.  Slowly whisk into the remaining butter in the skillet and cook on low.  Simmer for about 10 minutes and keep warm.  
Take the chicken out of the oven and remove the toothpicks using tongs for easy removal and to prevent yourself from burning your fingers or hands.  Serve by spooning the sauce on top of the chicken and enjoy! 

Pound chicken breasts to flatten and make thinner
Scramble the eggs
Brush the top side of the chicken with egg
Put a slice of ham on either side of the cheese and place in the middle of the chicken on the bottom side

Wrap the chicken around the filling and seal together with toothpicks

Mix the flour, paprika & basil together in a separate bowl
Coat the chicken with the flour mixture and set aside
Continue this process until all of the chicken breasts have been filled, sealed and coated
melt the butter in a skillet and add the chicken
Brown on all sides of the chicken (about 10 min)

Transfer the chicken to the cookie sheet and cook in the oven for 20 min
Mix the wine, cream, corn starch and chicken bouillon in a bowl
Whisk it all together
Whisk it into the remaining butter in the skillet
Add extra basil if you would like
Remove the chicken from the oven and allow to cool for about a couple minutes
Remove the toothpicks before serving
Serve by drizzling sauce over top of the chicken and enjoy!

Here are the winners of the past:

January's Winner: Sauteed Scallops

December's Winner: Pizza Pot Pies

November's Winner: Lasagna Stuffed Manicotti

October's Winner: Pumpkin Risotto

September's Winner: Burgundy Pork 

Monday, February 24, 2014

St Patrick's Day Recipes

St. Patrick's Day has always been one of my favorite holidays!  I LOVE delicious Irish food!  With that being said I like to prepare ahead of time and know what I am going to make.  So I have perused the internet and come up with a few delicious snack and dessert recipes that I know I will be making at least one of these this year!  Because I know that I won't have the time or the stomach space to make and eat ALL of them, I wanted to share the best ones that I came across.  I will be sharing whichever one(s) I choose with step by step directions.  Do any of you have any St Patrick's Day or Irish traditions?  Please let me know! 

Rainbow Cake in A Jar!
So many colors and so much yumminess!

Here is the link: Rainbow Cake In A Jar

Caramel Rice Krispy Treats
I haven't made Rice Krispy Treats in ages, but these get me in the mood for St. Patty's Day!

Link to the recipe: Caramel Rice Krispy Treats

Mint Fudge Brownie Parfaits!
Oh man, I want to eat one of these right now.....

Here is the recipe: Mint Fudge Brownie Parfaits

Rainbow Fruit Platter:
This is delicious and fun to eat and make!  I definitely want to make a variation of this!

Here is the link:Rainbow Party Platter

Guinness Chocolate Pudding
I wish my dad lived closer so that I could make this for him!

Here is the delicious recipe: Guinness Chocolate Pudding

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Chicken Tarragon with Sauteed Veggies

A delicious way to use up some of a leftover bottle of white wine and make your chicken taste amazing!  This evening I wanted to cook up a bunch of the leftover veggies that I need to use before they go bad, so I decided to saute' them in a garlic, basil butter sauce. 

Chicken Tarragon with Rice

4 Chicken breasts
Seasoning (Mediterranean Sea Salt, Tarragon, Basil)
3/4 Cup Viognier
1 1/4 Cup Chicken Stock
1 Garlic Clove (Minced)
1 Tbsp dried Tarragon
3/4 Cup Heavy Cream

Season the chicken and place in a heavy bottom skillet.  Pour in the wine and the chicken stock.  Add the garlic and 1 Tbsp of the Tarragon.  Bring to a boil and reduce the heat, cook for 10 minutes or until the chicken is tender and cooked thoroughly.   
Remove the chicken and store in the microwave on a plate to keep warm.  Bring the remaining sauce to a boil and cook for 12-15 minutes or until reduced by about two-thirds.
Stir in the cream and return to a boil.  Cook until reduced by half.  Stir in the remaining tarragon.  I suggest serving over rice and spooning the sauce over the top.  I like to return the chicken tot he sauce to help lock moisture in before serving.  Enjoy!


Garlic, Basil Butter Veggies

3 Tbsp Butter
2 Garlic Cloves (Minced)
2 Carrots (Peeled & Chopped)
1 Zucchini (Peeled & Chopped)
2 Leek leaves (Chopped)
4-5 Radishes(Chopped)
1/2 Cup Mushrooms (Chopped)
3 Leaved Fresh Basil (Minced)

Melt the butter and add the garlic until crispy.  Add the remaining ingredients and  saute' for about 5-10 minutes until softened.  Serve & Enjoy!

Cinnamon Honey Butter

8 Tbsp Butter (1 Stick softened)
2 Tbsp Honey
1 1/2 Tbsp Powdered Sugar
1 Tbsp Heavy Cream
1 tsp Cinnamon

Add all ingredients together and mix with a hand mixer until smooth.

Season the chicken and add to the skillet
Add the wine & chicken stock
Add the garlic & Tarragon
Remove the chicken and boil the remaining liquid
Add the veggies to the garlic butter sauce
Add the cream to the tarragon sauce
Continue to saute' and thicken the sauce
Return the chicken to the sauce
Add all of the butter ingredients to the bowl
Liam licking off a beater!
Whipped butter
Serve & Enjoy!