Friday, June 26, 2020

Cuisine & Screen: Home Edition, Part 13

I've had several hummingbird sightings over the past few days - I think the warmer temps are finally bringing them out! I love spotting this little female (male hummers have the ruby throat). If I wasn't one already, I have now definitely turned into a birdwatcher during this quarantine. 

Hummer alert!

Some surf and turf for you this week. Shrimp Ceviche is one of my favorite no oven, no stove, hot weather recipes. It's easy, light, satisfying and you'll ALMOST feel like you're at the beach. 

-½ lb peeled, deveined shrimp (I like NC Coast!)
-Store-bought / pre-made pico de gallo
-8-10 limes (you'll need 1 - 1 ½ cups of lime juice, so buy more limes than you think you’ll need and use the rest for margs)

Cut the shrimp in bite-sized pieces and put in a glass bowl. Pour the fresh lime juice on top (make sure it is all fully covered and submerged!) and add a spoonful or 2 of the pico. Let it sit in the fridge, covered, for about an hour. Give it a stir, and it will have turned pink, so you'll know the acid has fully cooked it! Spoon out the shrimp and top it with additional pico and cilantro. I like to serve it on a bed of romaine, in romaine leaves as lettuce cups, or with tortilla or plantain chips! 

Shrimp Ceviche with Black Beans and Tortilla Chips

For Father's Day, I did another take on a Beef Tenderloin, inspired by one of our old neighbors' recipes. We were quite pleased with the results.

-3 pound beef tenderloin filet, trimmed
-salt & pepper
-garlic powder
-dijon mustard
-prepared horseradish

Let the beef come to room temperature. Rub on salt, pepper and garlic powder (just eyeball it!) Preheat the oven to 400. Meanwhile, heat a cast iron (or other large, thick) skillet to medium high / high and sear the meat for about 2 minutes per side, just to brown slightly. Once browned, spread 1/2 jar or so of dijon mustard all over the beef. Squeeze the water out of the horseradish, and pack 1/2 inch or so onto the mustard. Place it in a roast pan and cook until 120 for rare, 125 for medium rare. Pull it from the oven and tent it with foil. Let it rest 15-30 minutes. Slice and enjoy!

Beef Tenderloin with Sauteed Kale and Blue Cheese Scalloped Potatoes

We were also excited to try the Deep River Brewing/R&R Brewing Pickletown Dill Pickle Lager. We are a dill pickle household, specifically, Mt. Olive Dill Pickles (we have family there). This beer puts a Pickle Back shot to shame. It was so tasty and refreshing and would be great with a hamburger! Buy at Total Wine.

Don't knock it 'til you try it!

The Lovebirds - this was scheduled to be released in theatres back in April, but it's currently on Netflix and definitely one of my favorite movies I've watched so far this summer. Timely, woke, laugh out loud funny - this film combines romance, drama, action and comedy all in one. Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani are incredibly entertaining as a recently broken-up couple who witness a crime and must deal with the consequences. I would watch these two all day.

Speed - an oldie but a goodie. Released in 1994, it was one of our first introductions to America's Sweetheart, Sandra Bullock. Her chemistry with Keanu Reeves is palpable, and the suspense will have you on the edge of your seat. A mad man puts a bomb on a bus that will explode if it doesn't stay above 50 mph. It's thrilling. Need I say more?

Coming to America - another oldie but goodie. Eddie Murphy's comedic genius is in full effect here. It tells the story of an African prince who decides to seek out his own bride in the US (Queens, NY, to be specific - get it?), instead of blindly marrying the woman his parents chose for him in an arranged marriage. Arsenio Hall is great as the sidekick. You'll definitely be entertained.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Cuisine & Screen: Home Edition, Part 12

Hi everyone! Were you all surprised by this unwelcomed blast of wet, cold weather earlier this week? I will take the heat over this any day. I've been noticing some beautiful hydrangeas in bloom on my walks recently, and my neighbor offered me some of hers! I am living for these stunning blue, lavender and pink hues - they really brightened up my house this week!
Beautiful hydrangeas!

I often seem to forget that I have a crockpot. With the colder temps this week, I decided whipping out the ole thing would be fitting. I also decided I needed to do something about the unrelenting craving for Buffalo Chicken I've been having. I threw in some boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about a pound) and poured some Frank's RedHot Buffalo Wing Sauce on top (about a 12 oz bottle). Then I turned it on high, and walked away for 6 hours or so. I did a rough shred of the chicken, then built some tasty tacos and lettuce wraps, complete with romaine lettuce, pickled jalapenos, blue cheese and cilantro. YUM. You could even get crazy and put the chicken on a homemade pizza!
Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Tacos

I'm bringing back a classic - Watergate Salad. Complete with pistachio pudding mix, marshmallows, cool whip - there's really nothing natural about it! Save for the few chunks of pineapple. But I've loved it since I was a child and am still obsessed.

-1 box pistachio pudding mix
-1 can crushed pineapple, drained
-1 cup mini marshmallows
-9 oz cool whip
-1/2 cup shredded coconut

Mix and chill. Many people would add pecans, but many people are crazy. I'm anti-nuts in desserts, but do what you want.

Watergate Salad. Isn't she a beaut. 

And finally, a featured cocktail this week. My mom's favorite - the French 75. Combine 1 oz gin (we like Beefeater, but watch your proof, peeps!), 1/2 oz simple syrup and 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice in a shaker with ice. Pour into a champagne flute, then fill to the top with your choice of bubbly - prosecco, cava, sparkling wine or champagne will do. (If you choose to fill it to the top with club soda, you've essentially made a Tom Collins.) Garnish with lemon peel.
French 75 (after a few sips.)

Selma - Free to stream this month, along with Just Mercy (which I adored). I highly encourage you to watch these films. They are tremendous and will move you to tears. Selma tells the story of Dr. King's leading of an iconic march, all in the name of equal voting rights for African Americans. It demonstrates the powerful impact of a peaceful protest, and could not be more timely. Why David Oyelowo didn’t receive a Best Actor Oscar nod, and why Director AvaDuVernay didn't either (and why composer Jason Moran didn't either!), I will never know. Tremendous supporting cast, you will recognize many faces. Outstanding. Get more info on where you can stream these movies here

Cocktail – An ‘80s classic that will have you wanting a Pina Colada or a Strawberry Daiquiri. I think society forgets how great of an actor Tom Cruise was (is?) but this will remind you. Great premise, telling the story of a young, wannabe millionaire who makes a career pivot and winds up the best bartender in NYC. Elizabeth Shue plays the love interest, and reminded me that we need to see more of her. Worth a watch if you haven’t seen it.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Cuisine & Screen: Home Edition, Part 11

Summer is here, y'all. I guess it's technically not here until June 21, but these temps have me longing for days at the beach or the pool. Is everyone else itching to get out of town, but hesitant to do so, like me?
Sprout says "hi!"

If you're not into sweets or seafood, I'm sorry - my blog has been practically nothing BUT seafood and sweets during this whole quarantine. 

I oven-roasted my first ever Sea Bass this week (it melts in your mouth!) Again, if you have a meat thermometer, you cannot lose! I also pan-seared some more scallops because they're one of my favorite foods.

Mediterranean Orzo Salad makes a great summer side, and uses up just about any produce you have on hand. Toss cooked orzo with a variety of veggies - diced cucumber, chickpeas, diced bell pepper, kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes, roasted broccoli, edamame - squirt some lemon juice, drizzle some olive oil, sprinkle some S&P, garnish with feta cheese and parsley. It's best served cold!
Pan-seared Scallops with Mediterranean Orzo Salad and Sauteed Kale

I've been on a big cherry kick lately, and have always loved the Cherry-Pistachio flavor combo. I raided my pantry to see what I could make work and was pleased as punch with the results of this Cherry Pistachio Cake:

-1/2 box yellow cake mix (+ half of the ingredients it calls for)
-1/2 box pistachio pudding mix
-1 cup chopped fresh (or frozen and thawed) cherries

Combine above ingredients and pour into a greased 9” round cake pan. Bake according to box instructions. Frost with Cherry Cream Cheese Icing:

-4 ounces (half a block) cream cheese, softened
-4 TB butter, softened
-1 ½ cups powdered sugar
-splash of vanilla extract
-splash of almond extract
-sprinkle of salt
-splash of maraschino cherry juice

Beat together the cream cheese and butter, then slowly add powdered sugar. Once combined, add remaining ingredients. Frost the cooled cake, and decorate with pistachios and more cherries, or just eat it already!

Cherry Pistachio Cake

Honey Boy - OMG. Heartbreaking. Say what you may about Shia LaBeouf, the guy is crazy talented. He wrote this screenplay about his tumultuous childhood relationship with his troubled father, whom he plays in the film. Noah Jupe plays young Shia and no doubt has Oscars in his future. Lucas Hedges gives an emotional performance as older Shia, and it is utterly devastating to see the impact this man's childhood has on his adult life. I'm pulling for the real Shia to continue beating his demons, star in more Sia music videos, and keep cranking out work like this.

In The Line Of Fire - I remember seeing this movie about 20 years ago, and it made quite an impression on me. It started my obsession with John Malkovich - he plays such a nefarious bad guy! - and I loved all of his disguises in the film. Clint Eastwood plays a secret service agent taunted by this supposed assassin. At 27 years old, the film is certainly dated, but the premise is excellent. 

Dirty Harry - I didn't intend on doing a Clint Eastwood theme, but I had never seen this classic film, and thought I should watch it already. I could have sworn this was a Western (he has done so many Westerns, I just figured this was one of them!) but I was wrong - Clint plays a detective investigating a slew of murders by a rooftop sniper in San Fran. It was cool to see the iconic "do you feel lucky?" scene. If I had watched this in 1971 when it came out, I'm sure I would have loved it. It's entertaining, but I'm not sure how well it holds up over time.