Recipe Review

As promised, here is my review of the Low-Carb Pizza Burgers that I made two weeks ago. The idea for this delicious low-carb recipe comes from HowToThisAndThat.com. I haven’t tried any of the other recipes from this site, but I’m glad I tried this one out. The rest of the family was glad too!

Difficulty Level: Normal Mode

While this recipe wasn’t too difficult to prepare, there were things that I had to tweak, and it took a little more prep work than something you can just throw together in a single pan. That said, it’s not so daunting that someone with a little less experience and a little extra time couldn’t figure out how to do it.

Prep Work:

When the recipe says that it needs time to chill before you roll out the dough, take it at face value. Make the fathead dough in the morning and make the burgers in the evening. I did not follow this advice, and I paid for it in time and wasted cheese.

So make the Fathead ahead of time, and the rest of the prep is a total cinch. It’s basically browning your burgers, and then putting everything together. I made my burgers in the oven since I used frozen patties from Sam’s.

Low-Carb Pizza Burger

I’m all about easy.

Getting Started on the Low-Carb Pizza Burgers

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While my burgers were getting toasty in the oven, I started on the Fathead dough. If you have never tried Fathead dough, what are you waiting for? It’s incredibly delicious and can be used for a wide variety of meals. The Fathead dough consists of mozzarella cheese, cream cheese, egg, almond flour, and the Italian seasoning and garlic powder shown in the picture. The sauce and pepperoni were used to top the burgers.

Making the dough is not difficult, and surprisingly, it takes hardly any time at all. The problem I ran into was just how sticky it was.

Uh-Oh Moment

Since I didn’t refrigerate the dough and I already had my burgers just about done, I decided to try to roll out it regardless. It didn’t work. I was severely disappointed that the dough recipe wasn’t working out, but I knew that it was through no fault of the recipe itself. It was just far too sticky to work with at all. What to do?

Make a version of the dough that I had worked with before, of course! I quickly pulled up the Fathead recipe I used when we made these:

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Low Carb “Fathead Pigs in a Blanket courtesy of https://hip2save.com/2017/07/20/low-carb-fathead-pigs-in-a-blanket/

Same ingredients, different ratios. So I made the adjustments and got some new dough made up. It took two batches of the other dough to make enough for all four burgers, but the results were oh so worth it.

Putting it together

Once I got the dough made and rolled out, it was time to put together the burgers. This part was a bit of fun since I could have added other toppings if I wanted to, but the pepperoni just seemed right to use. Each burger got a spoon of pizza sauce, three pepperoni slices and a sprinkle of mozzarella before being enveloped in the dough. Then on went three more pepperoni slices and a little more cheese. Oh yes, this is my kind of recipe.

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Just the sauce, before the rest of the toppings.

Into the Oven

I was still a little skeptical about Fathead dough when I made these. When I made the pigs in a blanket I wasn’t very hungry, so I wasn’t sure if it was the dough, or just not wanting to eat that put me off. After these came out of the oven, the smell alone was enough to make my stomach growl.

Low-Carb Pizza Burgers

Beautiful. And delicious.

The dough turned out firm enough that we could pick these up to eat them rather than use a knife and fork like I thought we would need. It was kind of like a cross between the most delicious hot pocket ever and a crazy good calzone. Either way, it was definitely a keeper of a recipe. Next time, I’ll make the dough in the morning and see how it turns out. But if you’re in more of a hurry, or don’t want to make anything ahead, the other Fathead recipe works just fine.

Rating of Low-Carb Pizza Burgers:

Three yums and a definitely will make again. Success!


Daily Dose of Music

Recipe Review

As promised, here is my review of the Bacon Cheeseburger Cauliflower Casserole that I made last week. This odd, but delicious low-carb recipe comes from SugarFreeMom.com. I haven’t tried any of the other recipes from this site, but I’m glad I tried this one out. The rest of the family was glad too!

Difficulty Level: Normal Mode

I want to say this recipe would be suitable for n00bs, but there are a few things that aren’t really explained very well, such as steaming the cauliflower or leaving the bacon and beef drippings in the pan. There is also a discrepancy in how much flour to use in the sauce. But I’ll get to that shortly. For now, let’s just say that if you are fairly confident and competent in the kitchen, you should do just fine.

Prep Work:

You remember that great prep picture I had from the Crockpot Beef Roast review? Yeah, it’s not happening with this one. See, I have at the very most, 45 minutes to devote to cooking in the morning if I’m taking my niece to school (which I usually do). While the recipe says it takes 30 minutes of prep, I can vouch that I used every bit of that 45 minutes. And that was the second time I attempted the recipe! The first time, I only got as far as steaming and pureeing the cauliflower and browning the bacon and beef. So make sure you have plenty of time when starting this recipe.

This is how I started off: Put the bacon in a cold pan (sorry, but I’m just using regular bacon. I’m not going searching for fancy uncured, reduced-sodium bacon), plopped the steamer basket in my big pot and filled it with water just below the steamer, got out my food processor, a few bowls, the cauliflower, etc.

Getting Started on the Bacon Cheesburger Cauliflower Casserole

I broke up the cauliflower and shoved it all in the pot, turned it on high and plunked on the lid while the bacon was already sizzling. I pulled the bacon out, and tossed the beef into the same pan with the bacon drippings. Instead of measuring out a ton of spices, I used my favorite seasoning for burgers: Weber Gourmet Hamburger Seasoning. A liberal sprinkle of that and then once the meat was just about done, I sliced up the bacon and added it to the beef so it could be incorporated into the meat, instead of sitting on top of the casserole.

It was at this point that I realized just how far behind I was running, and I put down the phone and neglected my picture taking in favor of finishing the casserole before I had to run out the door. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of the cauliflower puree. It looked kind of like mashed potatoes though!

Major Substitution

I opted to use almond flour rather than coconut. There were two reasons for the substitute. One, I was severely pressed for time, and taking the time it would have taken to open and then properly store my coconut flour seemed to be just too much in the moment. Two, I like almond flour. I use it all the time these days and I’m familiar with it. I’ve never used coconut flour before, even though it’s been sitting in my cabinet for months.

Next time I make this, I think I’ll take the time to open the coconut flour. It’s not that the almond flour didn’t work. But I had to use a lot more of it in the sauce than was called for, and it was a bit gritty. It also didn’t want to thicken very well. So when the recipe says that you can use a flour of choice, don’t believe it! Use the coconut flour.

Into the Fridge

I managed to snap a few more pictures as I was getting the casserole put together to go into the fridge for the day!

Yes, that’s my empty food processor. I was hoping to capture a bit of the cauliflower. Unfortunately, I don’t think it does it justice. But by then, I had the cheese, sauce, and meat layered over it. Then even more cheese. Yum. The whole thing was topped with the sauce and then went into the refrigerator until I got home from work.

Major Omission

There was one ingredient that I just “ew” about and decided not to include. I didn’t put the mustard into the sauce. I thought it just didn’t sound right. Mustard in a cream sauce? Now, I like mustard, but it just didn’t sit right with me. I should have followed the recipe.

Out of the Oven

When I got home from work, I put the casserole straight from the fridge into the oven. A no-no, I know. At least the oven was cold at the time! So I preheated the oven with the casserole in the oven. I gave it an extra ten minutes since it was thoroughly chilled. And it came out just gorgeous.

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Oh yeah. Look at that. Beautiful.

 

But How Did it Taste?

When I first took a bite, we were still standing in the kitchen, I couldn’t wait any longer. It was…pretty good. But you know, I thought it could have used a little ketchup. And then I started to wonder. Would it be good with mustard on it? I mean, there has to be a reason that it’s in the sauce right?

So I drizzled a bit of ketchup and mustard on it. HOLY SHIT. No kidding, the adding of the mustard alone made this an entirely different and utterly delicious dish. I didn’t realize that one little ingredient like that could completely change the flavor. I could still taste the cauliflower a bit, but it’s been growing on me. Slowly. Like a fungus.

This got devoured.

Rating:

Three yums and a definitely will make again. Success!


Daily Dose of Music

Recipe Review

Last week, we tried out a new recipe! If you’ve read my blog before, you’re probably getting the picture that the mister and I are creatures of habit. When we find something we like, we tend to stick with it. Recipes are no different. Well, I have to say that we’ve found a winner in this delicious Crockpot Beef Roast from Life as the Coats.

Difficulty Level: Easy Mode

This recipe was incredibly simple. It takes five ingredients, and only one that has to be measured. I know, cooking a beef roast isn’t exactly rocket science. But I can’t tell you how many of my roasts have come out dry or flavorless. Well, I probably could tell you, but I’m not going to. It’s a lot. Say goodbye to flavorless hunks of meat that have to be drowned in gravy.

Beef Roast Prep:

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Yeah, that’s all of the ingredients right there. The actual meat, brown gravy packet, ranch seasoning mix, and a zesty Italian dressing mix with a half-cup of water. It took me more time to arrange the ingredients for pictures than it did to put this recipe together. If you are in a hurry to get out the door in the morning and you want a meal on the table in minutes when you get home, then this is the recipe you want. Two minutes of prep. Tops.

Put the beef roast in the crockpot.

Crockpot Beef Roast Review

Sprinkle on the ranch, Italian, and gravy.

Pour the water in around the beef roast.

Crockpot Beef Roast Review
Turn it on low.

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Now leave it alone for about 8-9 hours.

That’s It? Really?

Yes, really. I was skeptical too! I thought, no way, this is going to taste weird, look awful, be covered with a weird powdery paste, etc. None of these horrors came to pass. It was seriously the best roast I’ve ever made.

I love coming home to a house that smells like something delicious is waiting to get in my belly. This was one of those meals that had my stomach growling when I walked in the door.

Crockpot Beef Roast Review

You can’t tell me that doesn’t look delicious. Well, you could. But I wouldn’t believe you.

Let me get a little sidetracked.

So I’ve been promising a review of mashed cauliflower for a while now. We had it once, and it’s a testament to Green Giant’s abilities that I bought it a second time to go along with this roast.

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Now, If you didn’t know, I have a loathe-hate-meh relationship with cauliflower. It’s one of those veggies that if I never ate it again, I wouldn’t be crying. And I get SO angry at recipes that say they will make cauliflower taste like potatoes, rice, bread, heaven…you get the idea.

I wasn’t keen on trying mashed cauliflower that has the audacity to pretend to be like potatoes. How dare it! Well, it wasn’t awful. In fact, it was surprisingly good. Did it taste like potatoes? Uh…no. But from someone who doesn’t like cauliflower, this is a palatable way to eat it.

Crockpot Beef Roast Review

Looks gross though.

Presentation is key.

At least it is for me. I like things to be pretty as well as delicious. The mister doesn’t really care, but I like meals that look appetizing. The easiest way to make goopy cauliflower look appetizing?

Crockpot Beef Roast Review

Put meat and gravy on it, of course!

Crockpot Beef Roast Review

That’s a little hunk of heaven right there.

Oh yeah. That’s the stuff. Mixed with seasoned and cooked to fall-apart tender perfection, the cauliflower was actually complimentary.

Did everyone enjoy?

You bet they did. This recipe received three enthusiastic Yums. This is one of those meals that is going to become a staple of our menu. And yeah, the mashed cauliflower will be making a return as well. While it doesn’t replace mashed potatoes, the more I eat it, the more I’m starting to not hate it. Progress!


Daily Dose of Music

Friday Favorites

It’s Black Friday, which for most people means they are out storming the stores. Luckily, I have most of my Christmas shopping already completed. So that means I get to stay home, relax, go get my nails done around noon, and then come home and play games for the rest of the day. Maybe we’ll even pop in one of my all-time favorite movies!

Since I talked about books last week I decided to make a return to movies this week. But instead of discussing series, I thought I would take a look at stand-alone movies. A few might be part of series or franchise, but you could watch any one of them and not be confused by their plot on its own.

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Special Mentions: Little Shop of Horrors and The Rocky Horror Picture Show

These two movies are both fantastic, but they do not make my list of favorites. Instead, they are the mister’s all-time favorite movies. He couldn’t decide between them. I love that my husband enjoys musicals as much as I do!

A great many songs on our playlists come from movies that we both enjoy. And yes, we have songs from both of these soundtracks. Favorite songs from these include Time Warp and Dentist!

5. Moana

Favorite Movies

This movie also made my list of movies we saw in 2016. It is a fantastically made tale of a Polynesian princess who must return the stolen heart of a goddess in order to save her people. I’ve noticed that there is a shift lately. A lot of movies coming out are relying more on their story than a forced love story. This is SO encouraging. So many of the love stories out there feel contrived. Not having a romance in this movie made it that much more enjoyable. Other movies that have done this lately are Thor: Ragnarok and Sing. If you really think about it, it is very difficult to find a movie out there that doesn’t have some kind of romance angle.

Moana doesn’t just make me happy with its lack of a romance. Its visuals are stunning, and the music. Oh, the music! Some of the best songs from a Disney movie I’ve ever heard.

4. The Princess Bride

Favorite Movies

Who doesn’t love The Princess Bride? Seriously, tell me, because I’ve never met anyone who didn’t. We recently went to see this movie in the theater for its 30th Anniversary. Damn does that make me feel old. I remember when it came out in theaters the first time!

It was so neat to watch it on the big screen with a bunch of other people who could recite it line for line. You know we were all chanting along to “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya..”

True love, sword fights, giants, betrayal, miracles, and RoUS’s. What more could you want in a movie?

3.  Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Favorite Movies

Another movie from the 2016 list. What can I say? 2016 was a great year for movies! You all know by now that I have an obsession with the Harry Potter universe. So it goes without saying that I would want to see Fantastic Beasts. What I didn’t expect was to have it become one of my favorite movies ever. I know that it will eventually be a part of a series, but for the moment, it remains a stand-alone movie, so I don’t mind including it here.

The scenes in the suitcase where you get to see all the animals are just amazing, and  Jacob is such a sweet, and tragic figure. I always cry my eyes out during the umbrella scene!

2. Wonder Woman

Favorite Movies

OMG. Wonder Woman. This movie took my breath away! It very nearly displaced my all-time favorite movie. The only thing keeping my number one in its spot is nostalgia, I think. Because this movie just crushed it. And to see Robin Wright (from Princess Bride above) again was really cool. I loved that they put in an easter egg regarding Chief. Look it up! This movie renewed my love of comic book movies and made me excited for Justice League. I really hope she gets a sequel.

1. The Fifth Element

Favorite Movies

I can’t believe this movie turned 20 this year. I watch it a lot, and it has held up really well over the years. A space epic set in a future where we finally have flying cars, but also immense amounts of pollution and incredibly tall buildings, the story follows a retired military man who is pulled back into service to save the world by rescuing a set of stones. The cast is phenomenal, and it is both action-packed and hilarious.

This is one of Bruce Willis’ finest films. As for the writer and director, Luc Besson, this was definitely his best work in my opinion. I had such high hopes for Valerian after finding out he was the writer and director, only to be severely disappointed (I actually fell asleep at one point during that movie. In the theater.) Still, The Fifth Element stands head and shoulders above any other movie for me, excepting the other four on this list.

What are your all-time favorite movies? Comment below!


Daily Dose of Music

Friday Favorites

Woohoo! It’s Friday! Last week I talked movies, but who is ready to celebrate the arrival of the weekend with a good book? That’s right, I’m going to be talking about books today. My list of favorites this week is not just about my favorite books, it’s about my favorite fiction book series.

Book Series

What do I mean by book series?

To clarify, I consider a series to be three or more books written by the same author and following the story of the same set of characters. There are a lot of great series out there, and some truly fantastic authors. Some of the books on my list might be familiar, as they are wildly popular. Others are not as well known and might give you the chance to read something interesting and new.

Special Mention: The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Book Series

Available here: http://amzn.to/2zN5t6R

I can’t talk about my favorite fiction series without including these wonderful books. They are incredibly rich in storytelling and world building. They barely miss getting onto my list of top five series. The reason for this is that they tend to be a bit dry in reading. That’s not to say they are not enjoyable! They are the epitome of high fantasy, and they will always have a place on my bookshelf.

Books in this series: The Hobbit (standalone), The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. There are a few other works by J.R.R. Tolkien that pertain to the series as well, but they are companions of the world, rather than strictly part of the tale told in the series.

5. The Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell

Book Series

These books follow the tale of Uthred, son of Uthred. He is a Saxon kidnapped and raised by the Danes and these books follow his life, his loves, and his battles as he tries to regain the land stolen from him by his uncle. In the telling of Uthred’s story, Bernard Cornwell also tells the story of Alfred the Great, who succeeded in uniting a previously fractured England. Classed as historical fiction, these books immerse you in a world from long ago, when pagans were clawing to retain their hold in an increasingly Christian world. Cornwell paints vivid pictures of the battles he describes and leaves his readers eager for the next story every time a book is completed.

Books in this series: The Last Kingdom, The Pale Horseman, The Lords of the North, Sword Song, The Burning Land, Death of Kings, The Pagan Lord, The Empty Throne, Warriors of the Storm, and The Flame Bearer

4. The Sookie Stackhouse Series by Charlaine Harris

Book Series

The Sookie Stackhouse Series are the books that True Blood was (loosely) based off. Well, the first season or two stayed pretty close, but the show quickly veered off the books. Not that the show wasn’t great. I did love it! But I had to treat the books as separate because they just became so different.

These books are supernatural and detective stories. They aren’t difficult reading, but they are a lot of fun. They follow the life and adventures of Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic barmaid in Lousiana, and her entanglements with vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, fairies, and witches. What’s not to love?

Books in this series: Dead Until Dark, Living Dead in Dallas, Club Dead, Dead to the World, Dead as a Doornail, Definitely Dead, All Together Dead, From Dead to Worse, Dead and Gone, Dead in the Family, Dead Reckoning, Deadlocked, and Dead Ever After. There is also an alphabetically ordered farewell to all of the characters in After Dead: What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse, and a guide to the universe with The Sookie Stackhouse Companion.

3.  The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

wheel-of-time-covers

I put off reading the Wheel of Time for a long time. This was mostly because I could never find all of them at any library. And I certainly wasn’t going to buy them, if I couldn’t tell if I would like them! Enter Audible.com. Instead of reading these books, I have listened to them and am still listening to them. They are just incredible. The story is difficult to describe, it is very intricate. The stories mostly follow a young farm boy and two other boys from his village, as well as several strong and stubborn women as they attempt to save the world. That was another reason I was hesitant to get into these books because no one I asked could really tell me a concrete idea of what they were about. “You just have to read them.” Well, now I understand why.

Books in this series: New Spring (Prequel), The Eye of the World, The Great Hunt, The Dragon Reborn, The Shadow Rising, The Fires of Heaven, Lord of Chaos, A Crown of Swords, The Path of Daggers, Winter’s Heart, Crossroads of Twilight, Knife of Dreams, The Gathering Storm, Towers of Midnight, and A Memory of Light.

2. The Dragoncrown War Cycle by Michael A. Stackpole

Book Series

I still remember when my brother lent me these books. I just recently got my own copies of each of them to put on my bookshelf, though I’ve read them all several times. This series is beautifully written high fantasy that invests you in all of the characters in the very first book. Like most fantasy, there is an evil villain bent on ruling the world, but this nasty character uses the reanimated dead in whole new ways to work her plans. I also really enjoyed the different take on elves that Michael Stackpole introduces with these books.

Books in this series: The Dark Glory War, Fortress Draconis, When Dragons Rage, and The Grand Crusade.

1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Book Series

Oh, Harry Potter. You had to know this would be on the list. I am such a Potterhead. Always wishing that the Wizarding World was a real thing. I like to think if it was, then I would have been a witch.  Though most everyone knows the premise, in case you don’t, I’ll summarize.

This series follows young Harry Potter as he is thrust into a world of magic where he attends a school for witches and wizards, makes friends, and saves the world from He Who Must Not Be Named. I don’t care if these books are supposed to be for kids. Hate on me if you like, but I’ll never stop loving these books. Ever.

Books in this series: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

What is your favorite book series? Comment below!


Daily Dose of Music

Mimi’s Friday Favorites

The mister and I love to go see a movie. It’s one of our favorite things to do on the weekend. We go to the movies a lot. However, we have a pretty limited type of movie that we enjoy. For instance, horror movies are out for me. Romance is out for him (and for me most of the time). We both enjoy comedy, sci-fi, fantasy, and some comic book movies. And Disney. Don’t even get me started on Disney.

2016 Movie List

Why 2016?

We’re getting close to the end of 2017, but there are still two months of blockbusters coming out that we are planning to see. No joke, we have a movie planned for every weekend between now and Christmas. I don’t want to make a 2017 list until we’ve seen all the movies we are going to between now and New Years.

So I decided to take a look at the movies we saw last year. Wow, there were some great ones! We saw 19 movies that came out last year, 18 of them in the theater. Looking back over the list, I realized that there wasn’t a single one on there that I hated. Spoilers: There will be a list of disliked movies of 2017. But for 2016, all 20 movies ranged from unbelievably fantastic to fun and enjoyable.

It was actually difficult to make a list of my favorites! So I’m going to make this list a little bit different, and break them down into categories, with commentary on my favorites in each. I’ve also included their scores from Rotten Tomatoes.

2016 Movie List

Family Fun and Re-watch Worthy

Sing

2016 Movie List

We actually bought this one on DVD to rewatch several times. This movie is fun, the music is fantastic, and the cast is stellar. We went to see this one on Christmas Day. Big mistake. But we went to see it a second time a few weeks later when the crowds had died down so we could watch it without screaming babies and children who couldn’t stay in their seats in a sold-out theater. Kids at a kids movie? Unbelievable! That was sarcasm, btw.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 73%

Zootopia

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

Finding Dory 

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

Miss Peregrin’s Home for Peculiar Children 

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 63%

Stupid Funny Movies

The mister and I enjoy movies stupid funny movies. It’s a guilty pleasure, I suppose. These are movies that you definitely don’t want your kids to see, but they are great if you have a sense of humor and don’t mind occasional gross jokes.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

2016 Movie List

I am a sucker for The Lonely Island. The mister and I have most of their songs downloaded on our playlists. This movie was classic Lonely Island. If you are a fan of them, you’ll love it. If you don’t like them, you’ll probably hate it.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 78%

Sausage Party

2016 Movie List

What can I say about Sausage Party? Yes, it was gross. Oh god was it offensive. A little disturbing? Yes. It was epic. Incredibly crude, the debauchery of this movie is NO joke. Do not let your kids watch this unless you want to answer some seriously uncomfortable questions. But if you don’t have little ones running about…indulge.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 35%

Central Intelligence 

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 69%

Zoolander No.2

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 23%

Keanu

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 77%

Chick Flicks that Made the Mister Laugh

I do enjoy an occasional chick flick. And occasionally I drag the mister along to one with me! These are the ones we saw last year that we both enjoyed.

Bad Moms

2016 Movie List

More like Bad Ass Moms. I love this movie so hard. We actually went and saw the sequel last weekend. I was stoked, the original came on Showtime the night before we went. And when we bought tickets, we got a free digital copy from Fandango. Score!

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 58%

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 28%

The Boss

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 23%

Super Heroes, Super Action

This is a class of movies that can be very hit and miss for me. I like action, and I like superhero movies. I don’t like ALL superhero movies, and I don’t like ALL action movies. Three of the four movies below almost made the top of my list for 2016.

Suicide Squad

2016 Movie List

Rotten Tomatoes gave this movie a dismal score, but the viewer score is more than twice as high. I liked it so much that we went to the theater to see it twice. Once in our regular theater, and the second at a nearby dinner theater. And then we bought it on DVD. We also bought the soundtrack. So. Good.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 26% (Audience 61%)

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

2016 Movie List

Another poorly reviewed movie that the audience had something different to say. Truth be told, I didn’t want to see this movie. The mister wanted to see it, so I insisted that we go to the good theater. The one with the bar. I wasn’t sitting through two and a half hours of Ben Affleck Batman and (gag) Superman, unless I had a drink in my hand. Wow. I was SO wrong. I really enjoyed this movie! And it got me super stoked to see Wonder Woman this year. This was another movie that we ended up getting on DVD. To put this in perspective, we see 20 some movies in the theater a year, but we only buy maybe 2 or three a year. 2016 was a good year for DVD purchases.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 27% (Audience 63%)

Rogue One

2016 Movie List

I really went back and forth on whether this should be in my top three. This movie just tore me up. I loved that it gave some backstory. Even if the main character was a little bland, the rest of them make this story an immersive backdrop to A New Hope.

2016 Movie List

On the back of our nerdmobile.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

Doctor Strange

This wasn’t my favorite superhero movie of 2016, but I still really enjoyed it! Two words: Benedict Cumberbatch. Mmmm…

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

Top 3 Movies of 2016

Deadpool

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Oh man. The first rated R superhero movie. This movie earned every bit of that R. Rakish Rascal. Rejecting Redemption. Ruthless Revenge. Oh yeah…and Ryan Reynolds. Yum. Hilarious, irreverent, gory. Also, another one to hit our DVD shelf.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84% (Audience 90%)

Moana 

2016 Movie List

This movie goes down as one of my all-time favorites. And it is definitely my favorite Disney. The songs were definitely worth purchasing the soundtrack. This DVD hit our shelf the day it came out. I can’t play some of the songs in the car because they make me cry they are so beautiful. I loved that there was no love interest in this story. The story itself was just incredible. I love everything about this movie.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

2016 Movie List

Anyone who knows me, knows what a huge Potterhead I am. We bought tickets for the opening night as soon as they were available. Of course, that night turned out to also be our first major snowstorm of the season. I’m not just talking a few flakes and slushy roads. I’m talking full-on blizzard conditions. Ice. Snow. Wind. Accidents! We went anyway. We crawled up I-25 and we crawled back down after it was over. Worth it. Worth every single white-knuckled mile we had to drive to get to the good theater in Highlands Ranch. I was transported back to the Wizarding World that I wish so hard was real. Fucking Queenie and Jacob…they stole that movie! So good. SOOOOO Good. Number one movie of 2016 on my list.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 74%

What’s the Take-Away?

The point is, we saw 20 movies that came out last year. They ranged from a score of 98% down to a 23% on Rotten Tomatoes. Yet, if we had listened to critics about every movie we went to see, we would have missed out on so many good films!

Were they all life-changing masterpieces or thought-provoking social commentaries? Not even close, but they were fun. We had a great time sitting down in a dark theater with our popcorn and candy and pretzel bites and Icees and escaping into another world that could make us laugh, cry, and think. Sometimes, it’s perfectly okay to enjoy a movie just for what it is, instead of what critics think it should be.

Did you see any of these movies? Did you like them? Hate them? Let me know in the comments!


Daily Dose of Music

Mimi’s Friday Favorites

Welcome to a new feature here at Amazing Mimi: Friday Favorites. In my everyday life, I am very much a list maker. I make to-do lists, packing lists, grocery lists…you name it, I can make a list about it. After all, what is a menu, but a list of what you plan to eat?

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An example of my daily to-do list.

So instead of just talking about one particular thing, I decided that I should make a list! Fridays are now dedicated to a list of favourites from a variety of sources (yes, I have a list of them).

What’s First on the List?

Video games! I am a gamer. Not a hard-core, it’s all I want to do, eat-sleep-breathe-gamer, but I do spend a lot of time playing. We have two gaming computers (desktop and laptop), a Nintendo Switch, X-Box One, and a PS4. I have favourite games that run the gamut from action to simulation to MMORPG. Here is a little more about my all-time favourites.

Mimi’s Top Ten Video Games

10. Might and Magic VIII: Day of the Destroyer

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Released in 2000, this was the very first video game that I played seriously. When I say seriously, I mean staying up until 4am, falling asleep at the keyboard kind of serious. I was SO hooked on this game. Almost twenty years later, I STILL enjoy this game. I found it over on GOG.com, and downloaded it immediately. It was the first time I’d played an rpg, and I haven’t looked back. It is jam-packed with warriors, wizards, vampires and fantastic creatures. The story itself is pretty interesting as well. This is the 8th in a long series of games, but I can’t speak to how the others play. I’ve tried playing other Might and Magic games, but I never got them to work on the computers I had.

9. Fable II

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First, I played the original. But Fable II. Oh man, I love this game so hard. This was the reason I got an XBox 360. Aside from the absolutely infuriating ending, this is hands down the best game in the franchise. Don’t get me wrong, I love the original, and I even really enjoyed the Fable III, but this beautiful game is another that holds a special place in my gamer heart. Beautiful landscapes, large open world, puzzles, action, humor…it hits all my buttons.

8. Mario Cart 8

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I love racing games, but I came a little bit late to the Mario Cart party. Before we got a Wii U, I’d never tried this game aside from at the arcade. But the mister is a Nintendo fan, and so we got this when we got our new Switch, along with some little steering wheel controllers. This is one of a small handful of games that I love to play with someone else. There is something very special about sitting on our little love seat, throwing shells at each other, laughing, cursing, and making sure that we both come in the top three.

7. The Wolf Among Us

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Telltale Games series are Amazing. I haven’t played a single one that I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed. But The Wolf Among Us takes the cake. Based on Bill Willingham‘s Fables comic series, the story is engrossing and chilling. It takes childhood fantasy characters and turns them into heroes, villains, and anti-heroes. I don’t want to give anything away on the plot, but I cannot wait until the next season comes out in 2018.

6. Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection

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I can’t just say Assassin’s Creed 2, because all three of these games have to be played together to understand the full story. The original Assassin’s Creed introduced us to a world of intrigue and death, but this takes the story to a whole new level. Altair was a bit lacking in the personality department, but there is no such problem with Ezio. Charming and hell-bent on avenging his family, and then furthering the cause of the Assassins, Ezio is what made me fall in love with this franchise, both as a young, brash rogue and as an older, wiser mentor.

5. The Sims 4

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I’ve been playing the Sims since it first came out. In fact, that game got me through a rough first year with my son! I’ve had every incarnation of this game ever since, and it has never been disappointing. There is something so cathartic about making a nice little sim, with a nice little house and nice little life, then putting them in a room with no door and only a fireplace….

Ahem. The Sims 4 gives us all new graphics, more personalities, a wealth of options for careers, living situations, relationships, hobbies, and ways to die. This game makes my list just because I can spend hours building and designing. It’s definitely a creative outlet for those who love building games.

4. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

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Edward Kenway, mmmmm. Um, I mean…Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is the second Assassin’s game to make my top ten, and it’s not just because Edward Kenway is incredibly hot for a video game character. That’s part of it, but not all of it. This is definitely my favourite of the Assassin’s games, however, for a reason other than the main character: Ship battles. The gameplay in Black Flag is incredible. The puzzles are more difficult, the enemies more varied, and the music is awesome. Collecting shanties is one of the best side quests in the game.

Being anonymous outside the animus was a little strange, and I didn’t like it as much as playing Desmond Miles. Ubisoft hit on a winning personality for Edward Kenway, much as they did with Ezio Auditore, and unlike the unfortunate interim character of Connor Kenway (that one might fit on a top 10 most awful games list).

3. Final Fantasy XIV

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The only MMORPG to make my list of favourites, Final Fantasy XIV is really amazing. I enjoyed World of Warcraft, but I eventually got a bit bored with doing the exact same things over and over again. Some might argue that Final Fantasy XIV isn’t much different, but I find it to be vastly more entertaining.

The actual story is engaging, and you don’t have to belong to a specific faction based on the race you choose. There is a multitude of ways to advance your levels as opposed to just a handful. This keeps the game fresh and aids in levelling multiple classes without getting too frustrated to continue. This is my favourite game to play with the mister since we can run around together and help each other fight monsters, and defeat dungeons.

2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

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You had to know this would be on here. I can count on two fingers the people I know who don’t like this game. It is the quintessential fantasy RPG! I’ve been playing it since 2011, and I still have never completed the entire game. The main quests, yes. But I am a completionist when it comes to games, and I’ve never found everything or explored every location. So, every time I play this game, I find something new and exciting about it to love.

The expansions make the gameplay more versatile and in depth. There is also the bonus of being able to download mods that almost give you an entirely new game, depending on which ones you opt to download. I have a feeling that The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is going to go down as a legend among video games. Consider: a version of the game is coming out for the Nintendo Switch. People (including us) have had it preordered for MONTHS.

1. Fallout 4

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Another masterpiece from Bethesda, Fallout 4 tops my list of all-time favourite video games. I wasn’t really a fan of the other Fallout games, but the mister insisted that I give this one a shot. I’m sure he regrets that now. It combines so many things that I love. I can be a sneaky, sneaky sniper, but I can also build huge, sprawling communities. Mods galore change up the gameplay and in-game choices affect your relationships with companions and strangers alike.

I have a secret about this game: I’ve never finished the main quest. I get so sidetracked, and there are so many cool things to do that I’ve never actually been able to play long enough to find out what happens at the end. I’ve been playing this game for years! I get about halfway through the main quest and then a new DLC comes out and I start playing that. Like Skyrim, this game will probably remain on our game shelf for many, many years to come.

Well, there you have it. If you are looking to immerse yourself for hours, days, weeks, or even months into a game, these are ten solid choices that I can recommend to anyone. Happy Gaming!


Daily Dose of Music

 

 

 

Recipe Review: Decontructed Pizza Casserole

This morning was unusual. I don’t have a ninja princess (my niece) to take to school this week, so my mornings have been a bit more relaxed. I still set my alarm for 6:30, but I get to hang out in the warm covers for a half hour and scroll Facebook. And then even if I take a full hour to get ready for work, I’ve got another full hour to just…do whatever.

So I took that extra time this morning to get a head start on tonight’s dinner. We’re having Low-Carb Deconstructed Pizza Casserole from over at Kalyn’s Kitchen.

Prep took me approximately 20 minutes, but that’s mostly because I was being slow. If I’d been in a hurry, I could have had it done in 15. The biggest time saver is to drain, rinse and pat the tomatoes dry while the sausage is browning.  Continue reading

Recipe Review: Salmon Patties w/ Fresh Herbs

Happy Friday everyone! It was a late night last night due to the preorder launch for the iPhone 8, so I’m here with my coffee and a new review!

The Preparation

Last night we tried out these Salmon Patties with Fresh Herbs over at Ruled.me. The first time I make a recipe, it always takes me longer than I anticipate it will, mostly because I haven’t figured out what changes and tricks I can use to make things go faster.

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For instance, if I had crushed the pork rinds, and cut up the herbs yesterday morning, things might have gone a bit smoother. That aside, the whole process of making the patties went fairly smooth. Your hands will get very messy as you make the patties. Continue reading

Recipe Review: Hearty Slow Cooker Beef Stew

I sincerely love my slow cooker. It is one of the best kitchen investments I have ever made. Nothing is nicer than throwing everything into a slow cooker in the morning and coming home from work to a home that smells amazing, and a delicious meal ready to be dished up.

Such was the case yesterday when I put together this simple Hearty Slow Cooker Beef Stew from the fine blog Peace, Love, and Low Carb.

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Of course, I made adjustments, because that’s what I do! There was no way I was going to cut up all those veggies by hand, and I certainly wasn’t about to start measuring out spices. That’s for people who have time! I have a 10-15 minute window between getting ready for work and dropping my niece off at school in the morning to get all that prep work done. Continue reading

Recipe Review: Low-Carb Mexican Lasagna

Tonight’s epic kitchen saga will actually encompass two recipes! I made this Low-carb Mexican Lasagna, but I also had to follow the recipe for the cauliflower tortillas used to make said lasagna, both from Sugar Free Mom.

I will preface this story with the fact that I am apparently terrible at making anything with cauliflower. Tonight was no different.

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It all began innocently enough, weighing out the florets, adding them to my food processor, and then adding all the other ingredients. It took a bit longer than expected due to the small size of my processor, but by the time I got them into the parchment and into the oven I was a bit hopeful!

Continue reading

Recipe Review: Low-carb Pepperoni Pizza Chicken

Tonight we tried a new recipe! Low-carb Pepperoni Pizza Chicken from Kalyn’s Kitchen. This is one of those recipes that, if you didn’t know it was, you wouldn’t think it was something you could eat on a diet. Just look at all that beautiful cheese.

To make things easier, since today was a work day, I browned the chicken this morning before I left for the office. It was super simple! The recipe says to cut each breast in half and then pound it flat.  Uh-oh! I realized this morning that I don’t have a meat mallet. But do you know what works great as a substitute? A Pyrex measuring cup!

Nice flat chicken fillets, sprinkled with Italian seasoning and browned, ready to be baked:

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When I got home from work, all that was left was to simmer the sauce to reduce it, then top the breasts:

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And then came the best part. All that ooey gooey mozzarella. I splurged a bit on this part. I know I could have used the shredded mozz that I already had in the fridge, but I wanted to do it up right. So I got the good stuff.

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And then I topped it with some yummy pepperoni slices:

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And put it in to bake at 400 degrees for a half hour. While it baked, we did our Wednesday night dancing, and killed a bit of time. We certainly worked up an appetite, and I’m so glad we did. After I saw this delicious pan of chicken come out of the oven my mouth was watering.

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The pepperoni slid a little bit, but no matter. Every bite was a little bit of decadence. It was all the best parts of pizza on top of tender, juicy chicken. This recipe rates three enthusiastic Yums. It’s definitely a keeper!