Friday, May 29, 2020

Cuisine & Screen: Home Edition, Part 10

Hi y'all! I hope everyone was able to enjoy a safe Memorial Day weekend. I was grateful to go to the beach for a few days, and was even more grateful that it was practically vacant:

I suppose I could technically start dining out again, but I'm honestly in no rush to do so, and I'm having too much fun doing these home posts. And movie theatres are still closed, so I'm relying on my home screenings more than ever!

I bought a spiralizer to make noodles out of veggies a while ago, and then totally forgot about it. I whipped it out this week to make Zucchini Noodles (aka Zoodles), and tossed them with a jar of Green Curry Sauce from Trader Joe's, Sauteed Scallops, Cherry Tomatoes and Cilantro. It was a really light and satisfying dish, and I totally forgot I wasn't eating real pasta!
Zoodles with Scallops

My baked good for this week was a recipe from Taste of Home. I made these Cherry Coconut Treats and thankfully, halved the recipe, because they are impossible to stop eating. They are very sweet, but very delicious.
Cherry Coconut Treats

Finally, I have another way for you to use up ripe bananas - make quick Banana Pancakes! Take 1 banana, 1 egg and 2 TB flour. Mash together in a bowl, then cook in a skillet sprayed with non-stick spray (or melted butter). Cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side. It's really as simple as that, though you could choose to add a dash of cinnamon, a splash of vanilla, or even coconut and butterscotch chips. Go crazy!

Uncut Gems - Holy moly. My anxiety levels skyrocketed during this film. It's manic, with jarring music, close camera shots and a lot of tension. Constant dialogue. Adam Sandler is absolutely phenomenal, and unrecognizable as the comedy king he is. This is a tremendous film but it will get your blood racing.

And then I did a bit of a throwback to 2002...

The Pianist - I first saw this movie at the Stevens Center in Winston-Salem, when they had their "Films on Fourth" series. This film really moved me then, and it did again this week. Adrien Brody rightfully won the Oscar for Best Actor - his portrayal of a real-life World War 2 survivor is incredibly realistic and the ending will nearly break your heart. The score and cinematography are both great. Tuck in though - it's a long, emotional ride, clocking in at 2 and 1/2 hours.

The Hours - I remember suffering through this movie in high school, and was so disappointed in it back in the day. But when the 3 female leads (Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore) are 3 of your favorite actresses, I knew I should re-visit. I definitely enjoyed it more this time around - the score, the make-up effects, the performances - it all came together beautifully. While Nic won the Oscar for Best Actress (beating out Renee Zellweger in "Chicago") I really think the 3 leads were equal roles, and that her performance was the least remarkable. I can't believe I'm actually saying that. Julianne Moore's performance was utterly heart-wrenching, and Meryl is always perfection. But, the Academy will do what the Academy will do. Worth re-watching if you hated it the first time, like me.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Cuisine & Screen: Home Edition, Part 9

Howdy, folks! Is everyone ready for a long weekend, and to celebrate Memorial Day inside? Or at least, outside and 6 feet away from everyone else? LOL. I really loved last weekend's high temps, and had fun clipping some of my crazy Lamb's Ear that sprouted up. I couldn't bare to just toss it, so I put it in a vase and have loved it as my centerpiece!
Crazy Lamb's Ear sprouts!

I went a little crazy cooking seafood this week, because it's one of my favorite things to order in restaurants, and I'm not really able to do that these days. I sauteed scallops and roasted halibut in the oven and was SO thrilled with how they both turned out! I've learned that if you have a meat thermometer, you can really cook anything at home. Here's how I did the Halibut:

Place a filet on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Add some halved cherry tomatoes and drizzle everything with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake at 425 for about 15 minutes, or until the internal temp is 135. EASY PEASY.

I served both the scallops and the halibut with the most amazing Cilantro Corn Salad I've ever had, adapted from an America's Test Kitchen recipe:

-3 TB lime juice
-2 TB sour cream or greek yogurt
-1 TB mayonnaise
-1/2 jalapeno, seeds removed, minced
-6 ears of corn, kernels removed from the cob
-1/2 tsp salt, divided
-2 TB olive oil + 1 tsp, separated
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1/2 tsp chili powder
-4 ounces feta cheese
-3/4 cup cilantro, chopped
-3 scallions, sliced thin

Combine the lime juice, sour cream or greek yogurt, mayonnaise and jalapeno in a large bowl and set aside.

Heat 1 TB olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the corn and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle over 1/4 tsp salt. Cover and cook about 3-4 minutes, until the corn starts to brown, then transfer it to the bowl with the lime juice mixture. Repeat with the other 1 TB oil, the remaining corn, and the remaining 1/4 tsp salt. Once all the corn is charred and in the bowl with the liquids, stir to combine. Leave the skillet on, and add the final 1 tsp oil, garlic and chili powder. Stir and let this cook for about 30 seconds, then add to the corn mixture. Let the mixture cool for about 10 minutes, then stir in the feta, cilantro and scallions. This is great served immediately, but even better the next day after it chills in the fridge overnight. It is utterly addicting, you will be hooked, don't say I didn't warn you.
Roasted halibut, tomatoes and arugula with cilantro corn salad

Finally, I made a Vivian Howard recipe that I've been dying to make for quite a while now, and absolutely loved it. Her Coconut Cornbread Strawberry Shortcake was the perfect balance between sweet and savory, and highlighted beautifully ripe strawberries. Her recipes are pretty intricate, but usually well worth the work:
Coconut Cornbread Strawberry Shortcake

Mystic River - I saw this in high school and it started a thing for Sean Penn that remains to this day. It features an all-star cast, secured Oscars for Sean Penn and Tim Robbins, and if you're a fan of Clint Eastwood-directed films, you're in for a treat. It's part thriller, part drama, with a lot of tension and suspense. On Netflix, highly recommend.

Cats - No, not the 2019 remake that had people wondering "what in the actual..." but the 1998 recording of the 1981 stage version! For a limited time, you can stream some of Andrew Lloyd Webber's greatest filmed musicals, and while this one is certainly a classic, I'm still kind of wondering WTF. (I admit, it was better than the staged version my friend and I went to see in high school that was so bad, we had to pull out her iPod headphones and play something else. Bless.)

Friday, May 15, 2020

Cuisine & Screen: Home Edition, Part 8

I hope everyone's doing well and staying healthy (and staying home!) I am looking forward to some summer temps this weekend and will probably resort to laying on my back deck with a Truly slushie (it's going to be in the 80s!)
Sprout says hi!


A few years ago, I bought a trifle dish for a recipe that I only made one time. And then I forgot I owned it. So for Mother's Day, I decided I would make a layered dessert in the trifle dish, and it turned out to be both delicious and stunning (I'm sorry to say that I have no photos to share, because it really was a showstopping presentation). I used this recipe for a Pineapple Upside Down Cake Trifle and was thrilled with how it turned out. You literally won't be able to stop eating it:

A solid quiche recipe is a good thing to have in your repertoire. This is a good way to use up some eggs in your fridge, and while you can get as creative as you want (changing up the cheese/meat, adding veggies), this recipe for a Quiche Lorraine has been in my family for years, and it's never failed us:

-9-inch pie shell, thawed (Pillsbury or other store-bought!)
-4 eggs
-1 and 1/2 cup milk
-1/2 tsp salt
-dash of cayenne
-6 to 8 ounces shredded swiss cheese (package sizes vary, so 6 or 8 ounces are both fine!)
-2 TB flour
-8 slices bacon, crisply cooked, drained and crumbled

Heat the oven to 350. Combine the eggs, milk and seasonings. Toss the cheese with the flour. Add this cheese mixture and the crumbled bacon to the egg mixture. Unroll the pie crust onto a pie dish. Pour the egg mixture in the pie shell. Bake 40-45 minutes and let stand 10 minutes before serving. Bon appetit!

My Girl 1 & 2 - these aren't newbies to me, if anything, I was utterly obsessed with My Girl 2 back in the day (it's one of the few sequels that's better than the original!) I'm a big fan of re-watching movies that I find comforting, especially during times like these. I admit I had forgotten how fabulous Jamie Lee Curtis and Christine Ebersole are in these films! My Girl is supposedly leaving Netflix soon, and unless you have My Girl 2 taped on a VHS like me, you might need to do some digging to find it.

The Shawshank Redemption - The only time I'd seen this film was when I was on an 8th grade class trip to Washington, DC. Why they thought this film was appropriate to show a bunch of 13-year-olds, I'm not really sure. But when I re-watched it this week, I was reminded why it's a timeless classic. It's moving, heart-wrenching and an epic story of hope. If you're into films that deal with the justice system and prison like me, it's in the vein of "The Green Mile" and "Dead Man Walking". It's a great film.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Cuisine & Screen: Home Edition, Part 7

Hi everyone! I hope you've had a good week. My neighbor brightened my day when she offered for people to come clip some beautiful roses from her garden. I had forgotten how a pop of color can really lift your spirits. I don't have a green thumb, so I'm grateful to her for sharing this beauty!
A dear friend recommended this recipe to me, and I am so grateful to know that I can sear sushi-grade Ahi Tuna and make poké bowls in the comfort of my own home! So thank you, dear friend, for introducing me to the beauty that is frozen sushi-grade Ahi Tuna with Cilantro Sauce.

I found individually packaged 5 ounce sushi-grade Ahi Tuna steaks (aka yellowfin tuna) in the frozen seafood section at my grocery store. Y'all, this is pure protein. Beautiful pink fish that you don't even need to cook since it's sushi-grade. But I let it thaw (duh), seasoned it with a little olive oil, S&P, then seared it over medium high for 1 minute on each side (no more!) Serve it with this sauce:

Mince a handful of cilantro leaves with about 1 TB grated ginger, 1 TB grated garlic, 1/2 jalapeño (with or without seeds), the juice of 1 lime, 1 TB soy sauce and a pinch of sugar. If you're a cilantro freak like me, you will be LIVING for this sauce. An avocado is also a great addition here.
Beautifully seared Ahi Tuna!!

If, and that's a big if, you have any of the tuna left over, cube it and combine with any of the following to make a bomb ass poké bowl: brown rice, greens, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, mango, pineapple, radishes, wasabi peas, cilantro, edamame, chickpeas, avocado, soy sauce, sriracha - literally the bowl is your oyster here! I am salivating just thinking about how fresh and light and delicious this was.
Poké Bowl heaven

I've been craving summer fruits (when can I get some fresh peaches yo?!) and so I cheated and made a family friend's Shortcut Peach Cobbler:

-1 can peach pie filling (this recipe works with ANY pie filling flavor - cherry, apple, blueberry)
-1/2 box yellow cake mix
-1/2 cup brown sugar
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1/2 cup nuts (OPTIONAL, I say leave 'em OUT!)
-1 stick butter, melted

Put the pie filling in a 10" casserole dish and cover with remaining ingredients. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. It doesn't come close to the real thing, but in a pinch, it will do just fine. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Bird Box - yes, I was the last person in the world to watch this thriller, and I thought it was quite timely and appropriate. When your day-to-day standard operating procedure is suddenly interrupted, and you're thrown into a new normal where people mistrust strangers and lean on family more than ever - yes, this was the right time to watch this film! I cannot imagine how difficult filming this would have been, and Sandra Bullock pulled it off beautifully. I loved Trevante Rhodes in this, a vast departure from his performance in "Moonlight", and I adore anything with John Malkovich. Definitely worth watching, and it definitely stays with you.

Pretty in Pink - I know, I know, where have I been? I'm not a huge Brat Pack movie gal, but this is a quintessential 80s classic and I figured it would be entertaining. It was fun to see Molly Ringwald in her prime (I see her often these days on "Riverdale") and the costumes were fabulously awful. Is it just me, or should she have gotten with Duckie?

Friday, May 1, 2020

Cuisine & Screen: Home Edition, Part 6

Happy another week in quarantine! For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you know I am OBSESSED with the little rabbits I have in my yard. There's usually a mom (McGregor) and baby (Sprout) but on more than one occasion I've seen a few McGregors and a few Sprouts, so I probably need to come up with some new names. (The record number I've ever counted in my yard at one time was 5!) And believe it or not, they've actually kept me company during all these shenanigans.

I've been on a major Asian kick and love this marinade I made up for Asian Salmon:

Put one or two 6 ounce fillets of salmon in a large ziploc bag. Add a clove of minced garlic, 1 inch of minced ginger root, about 4-5 dashes of soy sauce, fish sauce and Sriracha, a sprinkle of brown sugar and a drizzle of olive oil. Let the salmon marinate in this mixture in the fridge for 1-2 hours. Then bake it on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet at 450 for about 15 minutes or until the internal temp is 145. I love serving this with Coconut Rice, any roasted veggies, cilantro and additional soy/fish/hot sauces!

In honor of the Kentucky Derby (which is usually the first Saturday in May), and to relive some fun from my recent trip to Louisville, I decided I would use up some of my beautiful mint that has returned, and perfect my version of a Mint Julep:

To make mint simple syrup, bring equal parts sugar, water and mint leaves to a boil in a large sauce pan. Boil only for about 10 seconds, then strain out the mint and pour the syrup into a glass jar or container and let it cool. Then pour equal parts mint simple syrup and bourbon into a glass with crushed ice. I have a sweet tooth, but if you prefer more bourbon flavor, you may want to do 1/4 parts syrup to 3/4 parts bourbon. It's delightful.

I have to admit that this past week, I spent more time watching TV shows than movies. Like any UNC/MJ fan, I've been enjoying "The Last Dance"; I binged "Unorthodox" (fascinating and very well-acted); and I got in some laughs with "Arrested Development" (really in love with Will Arnett these days). But I did squeeze in one flick:

10 Cloverfield Lane - I love just about anything with John Goodman, and this suspenseful thriller did not disappoint. A woman is stuck in an underground shelter with two men, after being told there was an attack on the world and there are no survivors. But you won't know who or what to believe. This will keep you guessing 'til the end.