Friday, February 23, 2024

What I Watched #1: Shōgun Premiere

 

While my days of taping pages from Tiger Beat to the wall have long passed, I think most grown-ass women still have our swoony crushes on certain celebs. I know I do (looking at you, Bradley Cooper), and I know my mother did. 

For my mom's generation, Richard Chamberlain was at the top of the list of drool-worthy dudes. This was the era of the mini-series, and I have vivid memories of watching The Thorn Birds and Shōgun with her. 

Revisiting The Thorn Birds as an adult a few years ago was jarring. Yeah, Richard Chamberlain was a hottie... but the story of a Catholic priest obsessing over a teenage girl that was wildly romantic to a 12-year-old girl struck me as kind of creepy from today's viewpoint.

But I've been intrigued by the trailers for FX's new adaptation of Shōgun, and was excited to have a date night with Tim last night to attend a sneak-peek preview of the first two episodes. 










All I can say is WOW.  I'm impressed! Visually, it's absolutely stunning and seems to have been made with amazing attention to sets and costumes. It's just simply gorgeous to watch each scene and take in the details.

The story is pulling me in also and I can't wait to see how it unfolds. Watching the original in 1980, I'm sure I was laser-focused on the romance, but this is shaping up to be a fantastic and complicated story of politics and power, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

And yeah, if Tiger Beat still existed, I could happily stare at pictures of Cosmo Jarvis taped to my wall!

Friday, February 9, 2024

A 15-minute chcken dinner? Hold my beer...

 

So last week I wrote about the easiest yummy chicken marsala that you can get on the table in 15 minutes. This week I topped myself with this quick and satisfying Cowboy Chicken Salad salad. 


I actually had this for the first time at Tim's aunt's annual Christmas lunch - Linda is a fabulous cook, and there is always tons of yummy food when the Hulseys get together. The version was a meatless side, and even with all the gooey, carb-loaded holiday goodies, everybody went back for seconds. 

I made it this week and added some rotisserie chicken for some protein to make it a one-dish dinner. It seems to be a riff on a Ree Drummond recipe, with a few simplifications.  Seriously, you can throw this together in five minutes, so it's FANTASTIC on a night when you want something super easy and not too heavy. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups diced rotisserie chicken
  • one head romaine lettuce, chopped
  • one can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • one can corn, drained
  • 12-15 ish grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese (whatever floats your boat)
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped (or a few green onions)
  • optional - some sliced jalapenos or avocados, fresh cilantro, crunchy tortilla strips

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup each - mayonnaise, barbeque sauce, lime juice, whisked together
  • a dash of chipotle hot sauce or powder if you like things a little spicier

Toss everything together in a big bowl, and you're good to go!

Thinking out loud, this would probably be amazing if you skipped the chicken and added some sliced grilled flank steak instead. Keeping that idea for when it's warm enough to break out the grill again!

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

What I (Re)Read #5: A Discovery of Witches

 

Re-reading a favorite book is like spending some time with a comfortable and cozy old friend. And even though I've got TONS of books on my to-read list, I was in the mood for one of my all-time favorite book series ever -- Deborah Harkness' All Souls novels. 










I love a supernatural story, and this one has all the right elements with careful nods to history and a great "universe" of customs and rules for the supernatural creatures that inhabit the series. the characters are intelligent, fully-fleshed-out adults, and the camps DO NOT SPARKLE. 

I re-read the first in the series, and I'll probably go back to the other three before the fifth book, The Blackbird Oracle, comes out later this year. 

The Brits adapted the first three books as a TV series that I also really liked. (available on Prime) - definitely worth checking out. 

Friday, February 2, 2024

The Best 15-minute Chicken Dinner!

 

When it comes to cookbooks, I have a bookshelf full, but I tend to reach for a few over and over for my tried-and-true favorites.  The Barefoot Contessa has pride of place with her own shelf. Smitten Kitchen's see a lot of use, and the Southern Living Cookbook is my bible. 

I'm also a big fan of Giada de Laurentiis -- her first cookbook, Everyday Italian, has some of my go-to Italian recipes, including the easiest Veal Marsala ever.  The marsala recipe is in a section on "cutlets" and most of the recipes work interchangeably with thin cuts of veal, chicken, pork or steak. 

Chicken Marsala is in regular rotation at our house. It comes together in no time at all. and if you're lazy like me, it's super easy over some premade mashed potatoes. I like to serve it with french green beans steamed in the microwave and tossed with a little butter, lemon juice, and lemon pepper. Boom! Dinner in 15 minutes. :)




Giada's Chicken Marsala

1 package thin-sliced chicken breasts (why bother with pounding out breasts when you don't have to?)

2-3 tablespoons butter

2-4 tablespoons olive oil

1 shallot, finely chopped (I use a couple of green onions, and use scissors to cut them right into the pan)

2 smashed garlic cloves (if. you haven't discovered Dorot frozen garlic cubes, find them!)

1 package sliced mushrooms (white or baby bella)

1/2 cup marsala

3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth

sprig of fresh rosemary

Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook in a large skillet with half the oil and butter until slightly browned. 

Remove chicken to a plate, add more butter and oil to the pan, and saute the mushrroms with garlic and shallot/onion until tender. 

Add marsala and scrape pan. Let it cook down by half, then add chicken broth and rosemary and return chicken to pan.  Simmer for a few minutes longer until the chicken is cooked through. Salt and pepper to taste.

If you want a slightly thicker sauce for your mashed potatoes, you can make 2-3 tablespoons of cornstarch slurry and mix in while the dish is simmering. Finish it off with a sprinkle of parmesean cheese if you like.