Mini Movie Review – The 5 Year Engagement

Friday, April 27, 2012

Who Picked it:  It was really the only decent option out at the moment.

My rating (out of 10):  8.5
The boyfriend’s rating (out of 10): 5

Better than Knocked Up.

Not as good as Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

In a nutshell: I went in with really low expectations, but with Emily Blunt being adorable, Segel and Pratt with some hilarious lines and a very convincingly British Alison Brie, I thought the movie was absolutely hilarious and completely surpassed my exceptions.

See it or skip it: See it!!!

Chipotle Cilantro-Lime Rice and Chicken Taco Bowl

I’ve never really been on the Chipotle bandwagon. There wasn’t a Chipotle in my hometown growing up, so when I got to college, the hype really baffled me. I couldn’t understand why people were waiting in lines out the door at Chipotle, but I could get practically the same thing right across the street at Qdoba, where there was no line at all. It wasn’t until recently that I went to Chipotle with my friend from work, and I started to change my mind. I tried a chicken burrito bowl with peppers and onions, sour cream, cheese and mild salsa. It was fantastic! So I think I’m finally starting to understand.

My favorite part of it all is the cilantro-lime rice. I could eat just the rice for lunch and be a happy girl. I’d been meaning to make it for a while and finally tried it out tonight. It was super easy! I also sauteed some chicken and made some homemade taco seasoning to go with it. It was delightful, simple and way cheaper.

Cilantro Lime Rice

2 cups water
2 tablespoons butter
1 lime
2 cups instant white rice
2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro

Chop cilantro and juice lime.

Bring water and butter to a boil. Add lime juice. Add rice, cover, remove from heat. Let sit for 5 minutes until water is absorbed. Stir in cilantro.

Chicken Tacos

2 chicken breasts
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons dried, minced onion (or onion powder)
1 teaspoon each: ground cumin, garlic salt, paprika, ground oregano, sugar

Mix all the seasonings together, set aside.

Cut chicken into small chunks and cook in a skillet until no longer pink. Add water and spice mix. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until the water is absorbed, stirring occasionally.

Top rice with chicken, sour cream and cheese. Enjoy!

(I apologize there’s no end product photo! I didn’t realize that the picture didn’t take until I already finished eating!! I’ll try to update when I have the leftovers. Sorry!)

Fruity Cocktails

I have always been a big fan of girly drinks. I remember when I was younger, I was most excited to turn 21 so I could order cute cocktails from fancy restaurants with fruits and umbrellas galore. On my 21st birthday, my parents took me to TGI Fridays where I ordered the cutest cocktail I could find: a blackberry mojito. I think it was that day that I realized that being a grown up was going to be awesome!

I thought it would be fun to share with you a couple of my favorite ways to spruce up a simple cocktail by making them yummy and adorable. The general rule here is that you can make just about anything better by adding fruit into the drink or on the rim.

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Mojitos are one of my favorite summer drinks! From scratch, they’re made with muddled mint and limes, rum and club soda. I usually just use half rum and half mojito mix, such as Master of Mixes brand. Even if I’m using the mix, I like to throw in some fresh mint for fun anyway.

I like to add some fresh fruit to my mojitos as well. They don’t add a ton of flavor, but they look pretty and make for a nice snack as you go. Try blackberries or sliced strawberries.

If you have a dark beer or a sweet liqueur, always add ice cream! Try making a pina colada blended with ice cream instead of ice or making a quick float!

Salt around the rim of a margarita is a must, but the fun doesn’t stop there. Try rainbow sprinkles, coconut, graham cracker crumbs or celery salt.

My best friend is also a lot cooler than me and got to spend some time in Europe recently. She brought back some Pimm’s with her and made me a killer breakfast cocktail with it. I’m not sure exactly what was in there, but I know it was basically OJ, lemonade (I think!), Pimm’s and topped off with a good handful of fresh blueberries! Like I said, adding fresh fruit makes everything better!

Last but not least, I love turning Champagne into a quick and delicious bellini by adding a little fruit juice or nectar. At a work party, my boss had a super simple bellini station with Champagne, apricot nectar and fresh raspberries. It’s also great with some fresh squeezed grapefruit juice.





Mini Movie Review – The Lucky One

In case you missed my Facebook update (follow me on FB here), I’ve decided to start doing Mini Movie Reviews on Fridays. I go to movies every Friday so it just makes sense. It’s nothing official, but just a quick snapshot of what I thought about my Friday movie. They will always follow this format. The “better than” and “not as good as” categories will try to be targeted to a similar genre/theme. Let me know what you think!

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Who Picked it (me or the boyfriend):  me (duh!)

My rating (out of 10):  6
The boyfriend’s rating (out of 10): 3.5

Better than The Vow.

Not as good as New Year’s Eve.

In a nutshell: Zac Efron is really good at exactly one thing (and it’s not acting), which unfortunately comes off slightly creepy in this delightfully sappy chick flick, but the film makes up for lost ground with an adorable little kid, some beautiful scenery, and a little bit of guns and drama!

See it or skip it: See it

Goose Island Summer Beers

Goose Island is definitely one of my top-five favorite things about Chicago (the other four things will come in a future post, because that sounds like fun now that I think about it). For those of you who don’t know, Goose Island is a brewery in Chicago probably most popular for their wheat beer, 312. (I say probably because I’m not sure about the popularity of Goose Island outside of the Chicago area, let alone a specific beer.) They also brew a pretty wide variety of other house beers, including six of my top-seven favorite beers.

Photo Credit: Hello Chicago

Yesterday, I spent a solid five hours at Goose Island in Wrigleyville. I was killing time after work before a comedy show that started 11. I know that sounds silly, but I live on the south side and the show was on the north side, and it didn’t make sense to go all the way home between. Anyway, it ended up great because Goose Island had they’re summer beers out and they were all fantastic!

These are the three summer beers that I tried that I highly recommend. Keep in mind that I generally like wheat beers and fruity beers. These were perfect. So if you’re in the Chicago area, now or ever, be sure to hit up Goose Island! You won’t regret it!

Also, I’m really sorry that I didn’t take pictures of all these! What was I thinking!?

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Cubby Blue
Blueberry Ale | 5%
Raspberry color, blueberry aroma and flavor, light body*

Now, I know this sounds uber girly and fruity and amazing, but I promise it’s only two of the three. It’s really not as girly as it sounds — it’s certainly no wine cooler. This one is probably my favorite of these three. It’s incredibly flavorful, but not in a faced or fake way. It’s very “honest” if you will.

Wrigleyville White
Belgian Style Witbier | 5%
Hazy straw color, orange peel aroma, spicy citrus flavor, light body*

The spice is what I remember most about this one. I’m no beer-tasting pro, but if I had to describe this beer with one adjective that was not food related, it’d be “loud.” It just had a lot happening. Thumbs up.

American Blonde Ale | 5%
Straw color, light tangerine aroma, pear flavor, light body*

To me, this is the perfect summer beer. It was just so refreshing and simple and clean and lovely! I had this with my dinner of fried pickles and sweet potato fries, and I thought it made for a great pairing.

*Source: Goose Island Beer Menu

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I have to kick this post off with a few shout-outs to some very special people that led to this fantastic craft project.

The first one goes out to my good friend, Hunter, and his 9-time-national-championship-winning shotgun team from Lindenwood University. The things that make him one my favorite people are innumerable but include teaching me how to shoot a gun (and making sure I don’t fall over doing it) and taking me for my first ride in a truck. He’s also been known to bring me LU Shooting t-shirts, including last year’s championship shirt — which I’m about to make slightly more awesome (if that was even possible).

The second goes out to my friend who shared this craft with me in the first place. I will refer to her as Kay (fake name) for the sake of this post (due to her slight paranoia of online ID theft and targeted advertising). Kay has been on a hot streak lately with good ideas! First, she set up a team and got me to sign up for the Chicago Color Run (awesome!). Then, she organized and got me to sign up for a beach volleyball league (awesome!). And most recently, she found this great craft tutorial and got me to make it (awesome!). See? She just has so many good ideas — and is apparently really good at convincing me to partake! So thanks, Kay!

Now on to the main event! This is a fun way to transform your t-shirts into cute tank tops (with a bow!). I got the idea form Kay, who found it on Pinterest via Crafter Hours — could there be a more adorable name for a craft blog? I didn’t think so. Ready, set, go!

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Start making a few simple cuts.
1. Cut just inside the seem of each sleeve.
2. Cut straight across the top, just below the collar hem.
3. Cut the hem off the bottom.
4. Cut another strip from right above the hem for the drawstring.

Discard the scrap pieces. Next, you will need to do two, quick lines of stitches. From the top of the bodice, fold the font fabric inward about 1.5 inches. Sew with matching (or mismatching if you prefer) thread. Repeat by folding the back of the t-shirt inward. Sew.

Take the cut for the drawstring, and cut one end in a straight line to make it a strand instead of a ring. Thread through the tube created on the bodice.

Tye in a bow. Done!

My t-shirt drawer is about to become my tank top drawer! It’s going to be great!

Key Lime Cheesecake

I’ve been keeping this recipe on my back burner for quite some time now and finally got around to making it. I’m really excited that the time has finally come! This is a delightful twist on one of my all-time favorite desserts. It’s a classic cheesecake with a bright burst of lime topped with whipped cream.

I used this Philadelphia Key Lime Cheesecake recipe from All Recipes. I would definitely make this again! It was pretty simple. The hardest part was zesting the limes, but if I had an actual zester instead of a cheese grater, I might withdraw that complaint.

Key Lime Cheesecake

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 packages (bricks) of cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 limes, zested and juiced
3 eggs
green food coloring (optional)
3/4 cup thawed Cool Whip (or whipped cream)

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Press into the bottom and partway up the sides of a springform pan.

Beat cream cheese and sugar until well blended.

Add lime zest and juice. Mix well.

Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. I also added 2 drops of green food coloring.

Pour filling into crust. Bake 45 – 50 minutes or until center is almost set (outside jiggles as a unit and center appears soft). Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving. Top with whipped topping. Enjoy!!