Friday, March 13, 2009

Movie Review

Confessions of a Shopaholic

I was excited to see this movie, based on the fact that I read and loved the book many years ago. Which, by the way, is the best way to enjoy a movie based on a book. Don't read the book too close to seeing the movie or all you'll notice is what was left out or changed. (ahem, Harry P.)

I'm pleased to admit I saw this with mom, dad, and sisters and everyone loved it. It was hilarious, heartwarming, colorful and fun. Isla Fisher did a wonderful job playing Becky Bloomwood, a ridiculous shopaholic who manages to be endearing and sympathetic while drowning in debt.

Hugh Dancy was charming as usual, but a tad on the boring side.

I loved Krysten Ritter as the best friend and of course, the always stellar Joan Cusack as Becky's mom (blowing my mind a little that she is now playing the mom of 20-somethings).

See the movie, although you'll probably have to wait for the DVD, and read the books, they're hilarious!


I am not a photographer. I know very little about photographing food, food styling, lighting, and other fancy schmancy stuff. Please don't judge the food based on the pictures. I know they don't look totally appetizing but I promise, under the bad lighting and blurry pictures, there is great food.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Recipe of the Week #3

Macaroni and Cheese With Cauliflower

from Real Simple

I found this recipe in last month's Real Simple, about Comfort Food made lighter, and was intrigued by the cauliflower. I'm not a fan, but baked in cheese, it was delicious! I ended up tweaking the recipe a bit, using readymade bread crumbs, and 2% milk. The taste testers loved it, and so did mom. It was creamy, plenty flavorful, and I didn't even notice the cauliflower. The verdict: It's a keeper!

The Recipe:

  • 12 ounces multigrain elbow macaroni
  • 1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 4 slices multigrain bread, torn
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups grated extra-sharp Cheddar (6 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/2 cup 1 percent milk
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Heat oven to 400° F. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the cauliflower during the last 3 minutes of cooking time; drain.
  • Meanwhile, pulse the bread in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Add the parsley, 2 tablespoons of the oil, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper and pulse to combine; set aside.
  • Return the pasta pot to medium heat and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the onion, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, just until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Mix in the pasta, cauliflower, cheese, sour cream, milk, and mustard.
  • Transfer to a shallow 3-quart baking dish, sprinkle with the bread crumbs, and bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

Recipe of the Week #2

Sarah's Conference Day Chili aka Beanless Turkey Chili

Sarah made me this chili when I visited back in August, and it was delicious! I love chili, but the taste testers don't like beans, so I hardly ever make it. I thought this was such a hit! It has a fair amount of heat, and lots of flavor. I accidentally used 1 lb. of turkey instead of 1/2 lb, so it was extra meaty, but it was great anyways. It was also super easy and quick. The verdict: It's a keeper!

The Recipe

2-14 oz. cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1/2 lb. lean ground turkey
1 onion chopped
1 green pepper chopped
3 stalks celery chopped
1 can corn
2 cloves garlic minced
2 Tbs. chili powder
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. cumin
2 Tbs. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 small can of vegetable or chicken stock (you may not need the entire can - just add enough to give it a good consistency)

1. Brown ground turkey with onions, garlic, and green pepper in a stock pot. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil, then turn the burner to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Recipe of the Week #1

I intended to post a new recipe a week, but since I've fallen a bit behind, I'll be posting several this week.

From Giada DeLaurentiis' newest book, Giada's Kitchen
Whole-Wheat Linguine with Green Beans, Ricotta, and Lemon

I was very excited to try this recipe, and on paper, it seemed bound for success. I love all the ingredients, but when I put them together, I was underwhelmed. I did not think there was enough flavor in the dish, and I didn't love the texture from the ricotta. I think I'll try it again in the summer and see if it's better. The verdict: Undecided, for now

The Recipe:


  • 1 pound whole-wheat linguine
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pound French green beans, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 lemon, zested


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta reserving 1 cup of the cooking water. Transfer the hot pasta to a large bowl and add the ricotta cheese. Toss to combine.

Meanwhile, in a large, heavy skillet, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the green beans, garlic, salt, and pepper and saute for 4 minutes. Add 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid and continue cooking until tender, about 4 more minutes. Add the pasta with ricotta to the pan with the green beans and toss to combine. Add the tomatoes and gently toss. Transfer to a serving plate and top with lemon zest. Serve.

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars from Tyler Florence

This was such a great recipe! I love cheesecake, but have always been too intimidated to try it. I saw this recipe on Tyler's Ultimate and it seemed to good to be true. I tweaked it a tiny bit, using raspberries instead of blueberries, and they turned out great! Some of my taste testers didn't love the lemon taste, but I think it helped keep the cheesecake light. I can imagine making this using all different kinds of berries and toppings. The verdict: It's a keeper!

The Recipe:


For the base:

  • Butter, for greasing
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 9 graham crackers
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • About 1/2 cup sugar, eyeball it
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

For the base:

Grease the bottom of a 9 by 9-inch baking pan with butter. Then place parchment paper over the top, pressing down at the corners. In a food processor, process the sugar, cinnamon and graham crackers until you have the texture of bread crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse a couple of times to fully incorporate. Pour into the lined baking pan and gently pat down with the base of a glass. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes until golden. When done set aside to cool.

For the filling:

Add cream cheese, eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar to the food processor and mix until well combined. It should have a smooth consistency. Pour onto the cooled base and then cover with blueberries. They will sink slightly but should still be half exposed -- as the cake bakes they will sink a little more and break down.

Bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until the center only slightly jiggles. Remove from the oven and cool completely before refrigerating for at least 3 hours. Once set, remove from pan using the parchment lining and slice into 10 rectangular bars. Dust with powdered sugar.