Chicken Vegetable Soup

I really wanted to recreate my favorite soup this week, but I’ve been to four different stores looking for lentils and couldn’t find any. The closest thing I could find was this soup mix by Bob’s Red Mill, which is a combination of split peas, barley, lentils, and alphabet pasta. It seems like a really weird mixture, but it works. I’ve started off by cooking the creamed veggie soup recipe on the back of the package, but as usual, I just made it up as I went. Unless you have a lot of time on your hands, I would recommend making the chicken and stock in advance.

Ingredients

  • 3 Chicken Breast, Skinless & Boneless
  • 2 Bouillon Cubes-Chicken
  • 1 ½ cups of Bob’s Red Mill Vegi Soup Mix
  • 2 Carrots
  • 2 stocks Celery
  • ½ Onion
  • 1 Cup Milk of your choice

Directions

  1. Begin by bringing a large pot of water to a boil. Add in the bouillon cubes and chicken breasts. Allow them to boil for 17 minutes, then cut a breast in half to check to see if it’s done. If it’s still pink, put it back in to continue to cook, checking on them every five minutes. Once they are cooked, remove the breasts, and remove the water from heat. Then, put them to the side so they can cool down.
  2. When the water is manageable, remove any of the floating stuff that might still be in the pot. Measure out 4 ½ cups of this liquid. Either save the rest of this juice, or dump it down the drain. Pour the 4 ½ cups back into the pot, and bring it back to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and put in the soup mix. Allow this to simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Thinly slice or grate the carrots, celery, and onions. Put these vegetables into the soup mix, and allow them to soften on a medium heat for 15 minutes.
  4. Chop up the chicken breasts and add them to the soup, and continue to let this simmer for another 15 minutes.
  5. To finish this up, remove from heat. Add the milk to the pot, and stir until it’s combined. At this point, it’s still very hot, so let this sit for at least 10 minutes before consuming.

Kong: Skull Island Is Actually An Anti-War Film

Somehow I was dragged into seeing Kong: Skull Island last weekend, and I’ve got to say it’s pretty good. I was expecting to see a basic explosion-filled action blockbuster, but unlike its predecessor, Kong is actually an anti-war film.

Based off of the end credit scene, it’s confirmed that Kong takes place in the same universe as 2014’s Godzilla. Personally, I didn’t enjoy Godzilla and kind of forgot about it. Both the acting and use of action was bland, and the little plot it did have was just the military chasing down Godzilla.

Kong takes place sometime after Paris Peace Accords were signed in 1973. The US government is leading an expedition to an unknown island called Skull Island, although it’s later revealed to be a government plot to get rid of these ancient monsters.

In order to reach the island, the expedition requires a helicopter squadron to escort them. This is when we first meet Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L Jackson) and the Sky Devils. Before they head out, we get a brief scene that takes place on a military base, where the drafted soldiers are sitting around and chatting about their plans when they return home. This scene is added to humanize the men, as later they are the ones who are out to kill Kong.

Other members of the group are Bill Randa (Tom Hiddleston) and Mason Weaver (Brie Larson). Randa was contracted by the government to guide the group in the uncharted jungle. Weaver is a pacifist photographer whose plan is to expose whatever is on the island; she believes the island is a secret government base.

The anti-war themes start when Packard stops Weaver at the dock before their departure. Packard explains that people like Weaver were why the military didn’t have public support while in Vietnam. She replies that if the military did their job, they wouldn’t have lost the war. He then said,

“We didn’t lose the war. We abandoned it.”

Before landing on the island, they drop explosives on the ground to determine if the island is hollow on the inside. This can represent the Napalm bombs that were dropped on Vietnam and Korea. In the film, they are what draw out Kong and the skull crawler.

Later on, the group meets Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly), a man who crashed on the island during WW2 with a Japanese soldier. The two put aside their differences in order to survive and later become best friends. Marlow asks the group what he missed in the last 20+ years.

Marlow: “Who’s winning the war?”

Conrad: “Which one?”

Marlow: “…That makes sense, I guess.”

Most believed that WW2 was supposed to be the war to end all wars, but little did they know it was just the beginning.

Another scene shows a soldier carrying a Vietnamese gun instead of his military issued one. When asked about it, he states that he believes that the farmer he took it from probably had never seen a gun before the Americans came. This makes you wonder if some enemies don’t really exist until you create them. Some see the Americans entering the war to stop communism, but not the North Vietnamese.

Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts found influence for the film in other Vietnam era based films such as Platoon, Apocalypse Now, and Full Metal Jacket. The film used a warm color pallet for the action scenes, while scenes that displayed calmness switched to a cooler pallet. This is all topped off with a fantastic soundtrack filled with Vietnam era songs from Creedence Clearwater Revival, Black Sabbath, and David Bowie. (I made a playlist below)

 

 

 

Italian Pork Chops and Pasta Salad

Now that the winter chill has disappeared, it’s the start of grilling season! My favorite thing about this meal is that almost everything can be made the day before so that you can enjoy your evening and have a nice meal almost completely ready for you when you get home. 

Ingredients 

  • 1 9 oz package of Cheese Filled Tortellini
  • One 16 oz bottle Italian-style salad dressing (I recommend a Robusto style)
  • 3 tablespoons Salad Supreme Seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons Basil
  • 2 tablespoons Oregano
  • 4- 4 oz Pork Chops
  • ⅓ cup of grated Parmesan
  • 2 cups Cherry Tomatoes, quartered

Directions 

  1. Fill a medium to large size pot with water about halfway full. On the stove top, bring the water to a boil. Prepare the tortellini according to the package. To tell if it’s done, it will have grown in size and is able to float on its own. Afterward, drain it and allow the pasta to cool. 
  2. In a large bowl combine the whole bottle of dressing, salad supreme seasoning, olive oil, basil, and oregano. Give this a good mix so that the dressing and oil don’t separate. Either in a gallon-sized ziplock bag or another bowl, pour in half of this mixture. Toss in the pork chops and cover them. Allow them to marinate for at least four hours or do this overnight for best results.
  3. Once the pasta is cooled, combine it with the remaining of the dressing mixture. Carefully fold in the cherry tomatoes and parmesan cheese. Cover this in the refrigerator, and allow it to ferment.
  4. When ready to cook the pork, fire up the grill at a medium heat. Keep in mind if the chops are bone, they take longer to cook. Personally, mine took about 8 to 12 minutes. 

My Playlist Jams for Spring 2017

In the past few years, music has become a key player in my daily routine. My playlist is always evolving based on new discoveries and my mood. I enjoy just about anything but country. Not sure why, but I feel like most country music is either about breakups, trucks, or patriotism. 

Rock 

Though I was raised on hard rock from the 80s, I find myself enjoying rock that’s softer from the late 60s and 70s. My staples are Fleetwood Mac/ Stevie Nicks, The Who, Eagles, Chicago, The Clash, Queen, and a dash of David Bowie. I’m really open to anything in the genre of rock, but I completely stay away from heavy metal and punk in general. 
Recommendations

  • Go All The Way- The Raspberries
  • Songbird- Fleetwood Mac
  • Desperado- Eagles
  • Evil Women- Electric Light Orchestra
  • Gateway- Earth, Wind & Fire
  • Since You Been Gone- Rainbow
  • Ohio- Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
  • Fox On The Run- Sweet
  • Mr. Brightside- The Killers

International
With the age of the internet, the popularity of non-English music has grown. I’m kind of a Koreaboo when it comes to K-Pop. Some of my favorite groups are Seventeen, Red Velvet, BTS, and BLACK PINK. Through random Spotify accounts and other sources of media, I discover new music all the time. 
Recommendations

  • Siempre Brillarás Acustico- TINI/ Martina Stoessel
  • My First and Last- NCT Dream
  • Le temps de l’amour- Francoise Hardy
  • Chantaje- Shakira
  • BANG BANG BANG- BIGBANG
  • Da Da Da- Trio
  • Friends Forever- Puffy AmiYumi
  • Devil- Super Junior

Non-lyrical 

I can’t sleep without sound playing in the background. Typically, I stream a Spotify playlist called Sleep and play it at a low volume. For when I don’t have the internet, I have a few songs saved on my phone that I can play on a loop.

Recommendations

  • Light of the Seven- Ramin Djawadi
  • Late October- Harold Budd
  • Sugarcane- Ana Olgica
  • Lizard Point- Brian Eno
  • Don’t Go Where I Can’t Find You- Eraldo Bernocchi

Pop

While growing up in the 2000s, I’ve ingested a lot of pop music in my day. Lucky for me, I’ve grown up a bit and gotten a little better taste, but I still know I listen to trash. Go ahead and judge me, but I know every Britney Spears, Spice Girls, and ABBA song by heart. More modern stuff I listen to are Ellie Goulding, Sia, Lady Gaga, X Ambassadors, and DNCE.
Recommendations

  • Hold Me Now- Eden xo
  • Wonderwall- Oasis
  • Tell Me- Johnny Jewel
  • Born to Die- Lana Del Rey
  • Hot Child In The City- Nick Gilder
  • Hypnotic- Zella Day
  • Church On Sunday- Grace
  • Electric Love- BORNS

Oreo Cream Cheese Cookies

One of my best friends just finished a program that will allow her to get her CNA license. Her favorite food of all time is Oreos, especially Double Stuffed Oreos. In celebration, I whipped her up a batch of these easy cookies.

Ingredients

  • 1 package of Oreos
  • 1 White Cake Mix
  • 4 oz of Cream Cheese, Room Temperature
  • 1 Egg
  • 8 tablespoons Butter, Melted
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 cup Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 cup White Chocolate Chips

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a food processor, take 2/3 of the package of Oreos and pulse until they are crushed. If you don’t have a food processor, do this step in a large plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin instead.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients with the Oreos. Mix this together until the dough forms, and you can stop mixing when the cookies and chips are fully incorporated.
  3. On a greased pan, bake 2 1/2 inch dough balls for 8 minutes or until the top is set.

February Favorites

This month has flown by way too fast. Some of the highlights include finding the perfect prom dress, having a crazy late night adventure with my three best friends, and starting my senior project.

The Bathery Charcoal Infused Exfoliating Gloves

http://www.target.com/p/the-bathery-charcoal-infused-exfoliating-gloves/-/A-51067994


Every year, winter takes its toll on my skin. This is why I picked up these exfoliating gloves at Target. I combine them with St. Ives Fresh Skin Apricot Scrub for maximum results. I used this on my face, arms, and legs as directed on the packaging.

Think Thin Protein & Fiber Bars

http://shop.thinkproducts.com/thinkThin-Protein-and-Fiber-Bars/c/ThinkProducts@ThinkThinLean


Senioritis is alive and well in my life. I have masterminded a morning schedule that lets me sleep. On the day I have early morning classes, it’s easier for me to just grab something and eat in class. Think Thin bars have replaced Clif bars as my favorite meal replacement bar because they have way less sugar. The Protein & Fiber ones normally have less than 5 grams, and the plain protein ones have 0 grams.
ASSETS High-Waist Mid-Thigh Shaper

http://www.target.com/p/assets-by-sara-blakely-a-spanx-women-s-high-waist-mid-thigh-super-control-shaper/-/A-13785499

After years of use, my old pair of Spanx has fallen apart. I didn’t want to spend $50 on a new Spanx brand pair, so I decided to try a pair by Spanx’s sister company Assets. These go up to the chest and are made of a thin woven fabric. They are kind of tricky to get on, but overall pretty comfortable.

Rumours- Fleetwood Mac on Vinyl
https://www.amazon.com/Rumours-Fleetwood-Mac/dp/B004OKFISQ


I’ve been feeding my vinyl obsession by buying a new record once a month. Rumours by Fleetwood Mac is a masterpiece. Its rhythmic vibes echo the spirit of the 1970s and the broken relationship of the band. I purchased my copy at a vintage shop, but you can buy a new copy on Amazon.

 

A Cure For Wellness 


A Cure for Wellness is a hard movie to watch if you’re not a fan of squirmy animals like me. It follows Dane DeHaan’s character Lockhart as he goes to the Alps to find his boss at a spa. He is forced to stay there for a week and ends up uncovering the spa’s secrets.

Non-Dairy Frozen Hot Cocoa

Last week I ordered a Hamilton Beach 70740 8-Cup Food Processor from Amazon. Food processors are one of the most underrated kitchen equipment items. It’s a blender, mixer, food grater, and puréer all in one. This recipe will conquer a sweet tooth and is dairy free.
Ingredients 

  • 4 cups Ice
  • 1 cup Almond Milk or other milk alternatives
  • 6 tablespoons Cocoa Powder
  • 3 tablespoons Zero Calories Sugar Substitute (about 9 sugar packets)
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Directions

  1. Combine ice and milk in the food processor, and blend the two until it resembles soft serve ice cream. If it’s not thick enough, continue to add ice and repeat the process.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients. If your processor has a pulse setting, pulse until it’s all integrated. Otherwise, blend it on its lowest setting.

10 Things To Do Before Buying A Prom Dress

Here in the States, prom season is quickly approaching. That means millions of girls are going to be looking for formal dresses. From experience, I found doing these things before I went shopping is helpful in finding the perfect gown.

1.) Established A Budget

Who is paying for your dress? If your parents are, ask them what their limit is. Keep in mind you might have to pay for shoes, hair & makeup, tickets, dinner, etc. If you are paying, how much can you save until you have to buy a dress? Unless you buy something you can wear to other events, you are only going to wear this once. I’ve bought formal dresses in every price range. From this, I’ve learned you don’t have to buy a “traditional” prom dress. Second hand, vintage, and renting are also options that are budget friendly; it’s almost certain that no one else will have your dress this way.

2.) Find Inspiration

Looking through the prom tag on Pinterest is always a good starting point in finding a dress. Typically these kinds of dresses are crazy expensive, but they can still provide inspiration. Each year I pick up a few prom magazines, such as a Seventeen’s prom issue. They are fun to look at and can show you how to style different kinds of dresses.

3.) Check Your School’s Dress Code

Lucky for me, my school’s dress code doesn’t apply to prom. With schools with stricter codes, it never hurts to ask. Typically, either the counselor or Vice Principal can help you with these questions.

4.) Allow Plenty of Time

You can’t always walk out with your prom dress after you purchase it. I would start looking for dresses at least two months in advance. This is to make sure you have enough time for alterations. In some cases, the dress you try on is just a sample dress, and they have to order it.

5.) Buy Dresses During A Sale

Department stores have sales all the time, usually happening around holidays. Also, buying out of season can get you huge savings as well.

6.) Buy Undergarments

Before you head out looking, wear the appropriate undergarments. This can cause a dress to look completely different on you. Maybe even try a body shaper. My current favorites are the ASSETS by Spanx available at Target and Kohls.

7.) Keep An Open Mind

You might walk into a store thinking you know what you want, but end up leaving with a completely different idea. It’s important to try on every kind of dress, because you really don’t know if you like something until you try it on.

8.) Don’t Go Alone

Honestly, it’s no fun trying on dresses alone, and it’s good to have a second opinion. Bring a parent or a few friends, but don’t bring a huge group.

9.) Don’t Buy The First Dress You Try On

It’s very tempting to just buy the first dress that you try on that fits nice, but you need to keep looking. If you’re worried that someone might buy it before you come back, put it on hold. You never know what the next store might have.

10.) Buy A Dress That Fits You Now

Don’t buy a dress that you have to lose 20 pounds to fit in. Just buy a dress that fits, and you can always have it altered.

 

Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes

The highlight of each week is having breakfast with my family on Sunday mornings. As much as I would like to make myself a nice breakfast each morning, I just don’t have the time. On certain mornings I have extra time, and I’ll make something like this. This pancake recipe is almost foolproof and is somewhat healthier than traditional pancakes.

Ingredients

  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 Ripe Banana, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Oats
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Directions 

  1. Combine all ingredients into a blender, and pulse until it becomes a liquid.
  2. Spray a small skillet on a medium heat with oil. Pour about 2 tablespoons into the hot skillet to form a pancake. I found with this, recipes that make full-sized pancakes always come out underdone.
  3. Flip the pancake after a minute and a half. Then let the other side cook for one minute.

 

Thoughts on Yoga Hosers

Have you ever seen a movie so bad that you had to tell everyone about it? For me, that would be Yoga Hosers – the 2016 “attempt” at making a teen action comedy by Kevin Smith. Over the holiday break, I watched this movie for the first time. It must have been VERY late at night, because the only thing I remember about it was that it was terrible. Yoga Hosers is the textbook definition of nepotism, as Smith cast his daughter, Harley Quinn Smith, and her best friend, Lily Rose Depp, as the two leads. This movie is like driving past a car crash because you just can’t look away.

  1. Do you think Kevin Smith wrote all of the songs in this movie?
  2. I don’t think that many people would want to come to a mini-mart within a span of ten minutes.
  3. When will Austin Butler stop being cast as a teenager?
  4. These people’s Canadian accents are almost worse than their acting.
  5. Why would anyone trust a guy named Yogi to teach you yoga?
  6. Don’t you hate it when you have to pause a movie just to read the title cards?
  7. Where did the idea for this movie even come from? Smith says the idea for Tusk and Yoga Hosers came to him during a podcast. I think he has a deep-seeded hatred for Canada.
  8. Harley Quinn and Lily Rose aren’t too bad singers, but they keep making awkward eye contact with the camera.
  9. Wiener dogs aren’t evil.
  10. Movies like this give millennials a bad name.
  11. Much like Yogi Bear, I don’t think Kevin Smith understands how copyrights work.
  12. Ladies and gentlemen, this is why you always bring a weapon.
  13. These special effects are borderline Syfy Channel level of bad.
  14. STAN LEE CAMEO
  15. When one of your villains is a foot tall Nazi sausage, I expect to have more sausage jokes.
  16. Yoga isn’t going to help you here.
  17. Why is the Bratzi’s insides bright orange?
  18. As an American, I have no clue how the Canadian justice system works. This is a complete guess, but I don’t think that they have suspects share the same police interrogation room.
  19. If I had a secret lab, I probably would put it in the bathroom too.
  20. This guy’s accents are very bad – like an annoying theater kid trying to do a British accent level of bad.
  21. After reading some reviews, I’m surprised that no one brought up how Yoga Hosers blatantly ripped off countless other movies.

 

In many ways, this was just a remake of Smith’s cult classic film Clerks. The only difference was that this time, it was teenage girls in Canada with Nazis. One thing I truly liked about the film was the graphics, but that was about it. Like with most Kevin Smith films, it seemed like the film was just one big inside joke that no one understood. I get that artists should take risks, but most of Smith’s career has been a risk that has had no payoff.

As I start to enter adulthood, I’m starting to realize that these kinds of movies aren’t designed for me. This was made for pre-teen girls, and I know that I probably would have loved it seven years ago. That doesn’t give it a pass though, because the plot was still trash. Leads Harley Quinn Smith and Lily Rose Depp weren’t terrible in their roles and had chemistry, but their acting still felt kind of stiff in front of the camera. Kevin Smith has both directing and writing talent, but he needs to start making content that isn’t just for his small fan base. I think Smith needs to work on projects that he doesn’t have full control on. When someone has too much power, things always fall apart. Currently, Smith has been killing it on the CW. He directed my favorite episode of The Flash, “The Runaway Dinosaur”. Smith is currently working on the final film in the True North Trilogy, with the kind-of-sequel to Tusk and Yoga Hoser called Moose Jaws.