Not Just a St. Patty’s Day Food – Corned Beef and Cabbage

St. Patrick’s Day means a couple of things in our house… it’s a day to wear green or get pinched, a lot; it’s a day to treat ourselves to a green beer or two, or maybe a Guinness; and it’s a day to enjoy one of our favorite Irish dishes—Corned Beef and Cabbage.

Corned Beef and CabbageActually, tons of families eat this popular dinner to celebrate St. Patty’s Day… but why limit ourselves with this delish dish only once a year? Corned Beef and Cabbage is not only yummy, but it’s easy to make and it is actually very healthy for us… not to mention, it makes a ton, perfect for leftovers. And who doesn’t like leftovers?

Now, I’m sure there are multiple ways to make Corned Beef and Cabbage, but here’s how we do it:

First, what’s needed:

Corned Beef Roast, prepackaged with a seasoning packet (any size, depends on how much you want)
2-4 Cans of beer (any flavor, we usually use whatever domestic is in the fridge… like Miller Lite)
Bag of baby carrots, washed and dried
Bag of red potatoes, washed, quartered, and punctured with a fork
Head of cabbage
Extra pickling spice

Now let’s cook:

First, you’ll need a roaster. It can be a disposable foil roaster, a heavy-duty oven roaster, or a countertop roaster oven.   Thanks to my parents, we use a GE countertop roaster oven. It’s amazing how much cooler my kitchen is when cooking a dish all day in the countertop oven versus using my gas oven for hours…

Pour the beer in the roaster oven until the bottom is covered. The quantity of beer will depend on the size of the roaster.

Place the Corned Beef Roast—fat down—in the oven with a tiny bit of the natural juice from the package.

Sprinkle the packaged seasoning over the meat and then add some extra pickling spice as desired.

Pour another beer or two over the meat. The meat doesn’t need to be covered, but we usually want the beer level to be about half an inch up on all sides of the roast. If the liquid dissolves while cooking, add water. But in using so much beer, we rarely (if ever) have to add water while cooking.

Corned BeefCover with foil (if using a foil roaster) or lid and cook at 350 degrees for a couple of hours… usually thirty minutes per pound works great.

Sprinkle in the carrots and potatoes in the juice surrounding the roast after about two hours. Cover again with the foil or the lid and cook for another hour or two.

Corned Beef, Carrots, and PotatoesTurn the heat down to 250 degrees. At this point, I usually puncture the carrots and potatoes with a fork.  If hard, obviously they need to cook longer.

About an hour before you’re ready to eat, core the cabbage and cover the entire meal with the cabbage. Season with pepper, cover, and cook.

Corned Beef and CabbageServe with toasted pumpernickel bread and butter. This is some serious yum here, folks.

Enjoy!

What do you think?  Is this recipe worth a try?  Have any other holiday recipes that are good year-round to share?  I’d love to hear from you!

*****

Tiffany A. White is the author of the YA mystery Football Sweetheart series available on Kindle and Nook.  She is available for contact via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or via email at tiffany {at} tiffanyawhite {dot} com.

 

 

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Psych-O for Psych – What I Will Miss Most…

If not apparent from my back-to-back-to-back blogs about Psych this week, I love this show and consider myself a Psycho-O—a die-hard Psych fan.

Not only do the writers and creators outdo themselves with each and every episode, ensuring craftily designed mysteries and packing the show full of pop culture puns and tributes, they never forget to make the audience laugh. Heck, even the commercials and promos kill me every time I see them, even when I’ve seen the same one over and over again. Unlike the Hollywood movie trailers that include all of the funniest moments in the sneak peeks, one can always expect to laugh from start to finish when Shawn, Gus, Lassie, Jules, and Henry take to the screen.

So today, I’ve decided to share what I will miss most after Psych airs its series finale tonight…

1. The special intros & theme songs dedicated to particular episodes.

First of all, the Psych theme song makes me happy. Period. If I’m not bobbing my head along to the music, I might be dancing. Just sayin’.

Every once in a while, Psych adjusts the opening theme song to appropriately fit the night’s episode. As mentioned in my Top 15 Psych episodes posts, “Dual Spires” was one of those episodes – and the show’s creators invited Julee Cruise to sing the opening (that’s right! She also sang the Twin Peaks’ opening).

Another good one? From the “High Top Fade Out” episode in season four.

2. All the popular ’80s and ’90s guest stars and pop culture references.

There are just too many to list here…

3. Looking for the pineapple in every episode.

I’ve even learned to look for the pineapple in everyday life. Just like this one time at dinner when it arrived by surprise on my dessert plate.

Psych Pineapple4. Shawn’s made-up names for Gus

Perhaps one of my favorite elements of Psych and its comedy and pop culture references comes when Shawn introduces himself and Gus during an investigation. Shawn almost always introduces himself accurately (although not always), but Gus isn’t so lucky. Take the “Let’s Get Hairy” episode. When introducing themselves to a psychiatrist, Shawn introduces himself as “Randle P. McMurphy” and Gus as “Cheswick,” two patients from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Shawn provides aliases for both of them in this example, but it’s usually just Gus with names like “Art Vandelay” from Seinfeld, “Black Magic,” and “Fellatio Del Toro.” It’s always something in every single episode…

5. The special USA Psych promos and commercials. Particularly “Private Eyes.”

6. Shawn telling Gus to “not be” something.

There are also the numerous times Shawn tells Gus to “not be” something: “Gus, don’t be Nick Cage’s accent from Con Air” (episode “Death is in the Air” – Season 4) or “Gus, don’t be Pete Rose’s haircut” (episode “Dead Man’s Curveball” – Season 6). These lines of dialog aren’t always pop culture related, sometimes they are just funny when used in context of the episode, but we can always count on some “Gus, don’t be” comment… and a laugh.

7. Gus’ screams. And Gus’ and Shawn’s screams.

8. All the times Shawn and Gus say, “Suck It.”

9. All the times Shawn and Gus say, “C’mon Son!”

10. All the times Shawn and Gus “tisk” something the other has said or a situation.

“Suck It,” “C’mon, Son,” and the tisks have all made their way into this household’s everyday conversations…

Call me crazy because I know I am, but I’m tearing up now just typing this post. So, ten things I will miss most about Psych are all you get.

The rumors have been swirling all week that USA might back a Psych movie. PLEASE DO!! I still don’t understand why the network is ending a show that is still, as of this year, winning awards and has the crazy fan base this particular show does.

Psych, you will be missed.

Love always,
Your Psych-Os

Do you watch Psych? What will you miss most? I’d love to hear from you!

*****

Tiffany A. White is the author of the YA mystery Football Sweetheart series available on Kindle and Nook.  She is available for contact via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or via email at tiffany {at} tiffanyawhite {dot} com.

 

 

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Psych-O for Psych – My Top 15 Episodes, Part 2

One of my all-time favorite programs ends this week – the USA Network’s Psych.
What is Psych? This one hour television series masterfully combines the classic police procedural and detective drama with quirky laughs and top-notch pop culture references.

To celebrate what I consider to be one of the best television shows EVER, I have decided to list my top 15 Psych episodes to help everyone get ready for the end… the end of “psychic” Shawn Spencer (James Roday), his right-hand-man, Burton “Gus” Guster (Dule Hill), Detectives Carlton “Lassie” Lassiter (Timothy Omundson) and Juliet “Jules” O’Hara (Maggie Lawson), and Shawn’s retired detective father, Henry Spencer (Corbin Bernsen).

This selection process was difficult, considering how many times the Psych writers and actors have knocked the ball WAY OUT of the park. But we selected our top 15, nonetheless.

Sit back, relax, and grab a cup of coffee or perhaps a tasty pineapple – this is a long post, but couldn’t be avoided. Enjoy!

And now for episodes 1 – 7…

*****

7. “Yang 3 in 2D” (Season 5)

The Yin and Yang storyline is hands down one of the top highlights of the Psych era. Since our first introduction in season three, we’ve watched multiple episodes featuring Shawn’s biggest nemeses. Sorry to throw a Yang storyline in here at number six (essentially out-of-order if one is not familiar with the series), but we’ll provide more detail below in the top five.

After a woman (Mena Suvari) claims to have escaped the elusive Yin (Peter Weller), Shawn cannot help but investigate, knowing that Yin is responsible for Yang’s (Ally Sheedy) psychopathic nature and her years of tormenting him. Shawn uses Yang, against everyone else’s better judgment, to face the evil behind the deranged.

Yes, this summary is cryptic but we didn’t want to give too much away…

6. “Murder? … Anyone? … Anyone? … Bueller?” (Season 3)

Psych “Murder? … Anyone? … Anyone? … Bueller?” (Season 3)

What could go wrong when Shawn and Gus attend their high school reunion? Well murder, of course. But there’s only one problem – there’s no body. Without the body, no one believes Shawn. So Shawn does what he does best – he pushes forward until he uncovers all of the necessary clues to solve the case.

Oh, and he reconnects with a girl he dissed in high school (Abigail, played by Rachael Leigh Cook) which begins an ongoing relationship for Shawn.

5. “Scary Sherry: Bianca’s Toast” (Season 1)

Psych - "Scary Sherry"

We love when Jules gets more involved in the cases, and our favorite episode of the entire first season follows Jules as she goes undercover in a sorority house. She invites Shawn and Gus to help as she investigates a series of bizarre events seemingly related to an earlier suicide at an insane asylum.

Sorority house, undercover assignment, insane asylum, alleged ghosts – who could want more in an episode?

4. “An Evening with Mr. Yang” (Season 3)

Psych "an Evening with Mr. Yang"

We could almost say this episode is where it all begins, but that would be a lie considering we’re in season three. This is, however, the introduction of Yang (Ally Sheedy). Yang is a serial killer who has set her sights on Shawn and those dearest to him. Shawn mistakenly suspects a psychologist (Mary, played by Jimmi Simpson) as Yang, but soon discovers that he is dealing with another deranged madman (or woman in this case) all together.

Things intensify on Shawn and Abigail’s date at the drive-in when Yang kidnaps Shawn’s mother (Madeleine Spencer, played by Cybill Shepherd). Will Shawn’s astute attention to detail save his mother’s life and allow him to capture Yang before it is too late?

3. “Mr. Yin Presents…” (Season 4)

As reminded by the Ion Television Psych Saturday evening marathons, “Mr. Yin Presents” is by far one of the best episodes to date. The episode begins when Shawn and Gus are reminded of a former foe – Yang. After she releases her new book, a book she has written from her new home inside an insane asylum, another familiar face returns (Mary, Jimmi Simpson). Mary insists that Yang was working with a partner, so Shawn and Gus agree to interview her hoping for answers.

Yang gives them what they ask for – confirmation that she has a partner: Yin. Everyone is drawn into Yin’s game – a game consisting of scenes from classic Alfred Hitchcock movies. Shawn, Gus, Henry, Lassie and Jules are separated into different Hitchcock scenes, when both of Shawn’s loves (Jules and Abigail) are kidnapped. Who will Shawn choose to rescue and who will die?

2. “100 Clues” (Episode 7)

Psych "100 Clues"

Celebrating its 100th episode, Psych paid tribute to the 1985 classic, Clue. As with all of the “special” episodes, the show’s creators and writers went all out, honoring the film with the singing telegram, the dinner party at a mansion, the falling chandelier, and a party full of guests capable of committing murder—including the all-knowing butler and familiar faces from the original Clue movie. From the scurrying around from room to room, speculating who killed whom in which room and with what weapon, this episode was non-stop fun from start to finish.

And speaking of the finish… fans watching live were able to vote on just who they wanted the killer to be. My vote lost.

In addition to the actors featured from the movie (Martin Mull, Lesley Ann Warren, and Christopher Lloyd), the episode also starred many other familiar faces from popular ‘80s and ‘90s works: Curt Smith (Tears for Fears), Steve Valentine (Crossing Jordan), and Garrett Mims (the early days of Saturday Night Live).

And Number 1… Drum roll please…. “Dual Spires” (Season 5)

Psych "Dual Spires"

Shawn and Gus travel to Dual Spires looking forward to a cinnamon festival they learned about via a mysterious email, but instead find a murdered teenage girl wrapped in plastic down by the water. Together they join forces with the town’s sheriff to solve the murder.

We could go on and on about this episode. James Roday outdid himself writing this piece: he perfected the oddities of the characters from Lynch’s bizarre murder mystery from the ‘90s, Twin Peaks; he mimicked the eerie music and peculiar dancing to a “T”; and he incorporated a few of the Twin Peaks iconic elements such as the diner, the log lady, the caged bird, and the pie.

Even better yet, Psych cast a few of the Twin Peaks alumni for the episode: Sheryl Lee (Laura Palmer), Dana Ashbrook (Bobby Briggs), Ray Wise (Leland Palmer), and Sherilyn Finn (Audrey Horne).

Every once in a while, Psych adjusts the opening theme song to appropriately fit the night’s episode. Needless to say, “Dual Spires” was one of those episodes – and the show’s creators invited Julee Cruise to sing the opening (that’s right! She also sang the Twin Peaks’ opening).

“Dual Spires” inspired me to write a “thank you” note to the producers of Psych at the USA Network. While I didn’t hear back from James Roday himself, I did receive an email from one of the producers thanking me for the kind words and assuring me that my note would please Roday, considering this episode was one of his creations. Maybe she never shared my note, but it doesn’t matter. I felt better expressing my gratitude for an episode VERY well done.

*****

Do you watch Psych? What’s your favorite episode? I’d love to hear from you!

*****

Tiffany A. White is the author of the YA mystery Football Sweetheart series available on Kindle and Nook.  She is available for contact via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or via email at tiffany {at} tiffanyawhite {dot} com.

 

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Psych-O for Psych – My Top 15 Episodes, Part 1

One of my all-time favorite programs ends this week – the USA Network’s Psych.
What is Psych? This one hour television series masterfully combines the classic police procedural and detective drama with quirky laughs and top-notch pop culture references.

To celebrate what I consider to be one of the best television shows EVER, I have decided to list my top 15 Psych episodes to help everyone get ready for the end… the end of “psychic” Shawn Spencer (James Roday), his right-hand-man, Burton “Gus” Guster (Dule Hill), Detectives Carlton “Lassie” Lassiter (Timothy Omundson) and Juliet “Jules” O’Hara (Maggie Lawson), and Shawn’s retired detective father, Henry Spencer (Corbin Bernsen).

This selection process was difficult, considering how many times the Psych writers and actors have knocked the ball WAY OUT of the park. But we selected our top 15, nonetheless.

Sit back, relax, and grab a cup of coffee or perhaps a tasty pineapple – this is a long post, but couldn’t be avoided. Enjoy!

And now for episodes 8 – 15…

*****

15. “Shawn Takes a Shot in the Dark” (Season 4)

While investigating a case sans Gus, Shawn finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time… and is kidnapped. Not only that, but the bad guys shoot him. As his life hangs in the balance, he uses the skills his father has taught him over the years and he leaves as many clues as possible so his friends can find him. Everyone works together—Henry and Lassie partner up, as do Jules and Gus. Pretending to believe his life is coming to an end, Shawn convinces the kidnappers to let him call his girlfriend; but instead of calling his girlfriend (Abigail, played by Rachael Leigh Cook from She’s All That), he calls Jules.

Granted, this episode takes place before Shawn and Jules profess their love for one another… up until this point, their relationship was a bit of a back-and-forth game with one on board, while the other was not. But this episode gave viewers what they wanted at the time—Shawn’s and Jules’ true feelings were revealed. Very intense episode…

14. “Heeeeere’s Lassie” (Season 6)

When the team investigates an apparent hanging at a local apartment building, Lassie jumps at the chance to purchase the newly available condo. But in a tribute to the 1980 classic horror film, The Shining, spooky things keep him up late at night… including two older twin sisters and a small boy riding his big wheels through the hallways. With Shawn and Gus armed and dressed like the Ghostbusters, they spend the night in the apartment, hoping to rid Lassie’s new place from all things evil. Be sure to pay special attention to Dule Hill and his spot-on impressions of The Shining’s Shelley Duvall…

Need some ‘80s pop culture? Louis Gossett, Jr. (from the popular ‘80s Hollywood blockbusters An Officer and a Gentleman, Jaws 3-D, and Iron Eagle) guest stars as the building manager.

13. “Let’s Get Hairy” (Season 4)

Psych “Let’s Get Hairy” (Season 4)

For the most part, our favorite “Psych” consultants work cases for the Santa Barbara Police Department… but every once in a while, a stranger walks in off the street needing their help. And since Shawn and Gus always need the money, they rarely, if ever, turn someone away—regardless of how crazy the request. So when a man (Josh Malina, Scandal, and also Dule Hill’s West Wing co-star) hires them to watch him transform into a werewolf, Shawn and Gus oblige. Of course they don’t really take him seriously and they fall asleep on the job, literally, only to discover their client missing when they wake up. But it’s not just that—a window is shattered and they discover animal hair.

Psych once again pays tribute to another ‘80s classic (An American Werewolf in London) in this episode with guest star David Naughton (the “American Werewolf” from the 1981 film), as well as the memorable balloon scene from the movie.

12. “Tuesday the 17th” (Season 3)

What do we get when we cross the classic horror films Friday the 13th and April Fool’s Day? “Tuesday the 17th” of course!

Co-written by the man who plays Shawn Spencer himself, James Roday masterfully crafted this spooky episode, combining elements from both movies… from the client, appropriately named Jason Cunningham (played by Mackenzie Astin, from The Facts of Life)—Jason, from Jason Voorhees, and Cunningham, from the Friday the 13th director, Sean Cunningham—to the staged and fake murders that “fooled” Shawn, leading to a big celebration by all involved in the joke… until a “real” body is found floating in the lake. Brilliant episode!

Oh, and keeping with the ‘80s pop culture, Justine Bateman (Family Ties) also guest stars as Lassie’s ex-wife.

11. “Extradition II: The Actual Extradition Part” (Season 5)

Because we love our readers, we have to rewind to season four for just a minute. In “Extradition: British Columbia”, Shawn and Gus begin tracking an art thief (Pierre Despereaux played by Cary Elews) in Canada; an art thief that Lassie has tracked for years, but never successfully captured.

Fast-forwarding to season five, Despereaux needs Shawn and Gus’ help and pays for them to travel back to Canada, just before his extradition to the United States. In the meantime, the suave criminal escapes prison and is wrongfully accused of murder, leaving Shawn no choice but to investigate.

The Despereaux storyline is a fun one to return to, but “Extradition II: The Actual Extradition Part” is perhaps included in the top 15 because Shawn finally professes his love to Jules at the end of the episode. And when we say finally, we mean finally. It took us five seasons for him to admit his feelings for her.

10. “Last Night Gus” (Season 6)

Psych “Last Night Gus” (Season 6)

“Last Night Gus” (Psych’s version of The Hangover) may have been one of the most enjoyable hours of the first half of season six. After a night of apparently partying too hard, Shawn, Gus, Lassiter, and Woody (the coroner) wake up not remembering the night before. Why is Lassie’s gun missing bullets? Why did Henry wake up across town in a hotel room, sans pants? What is the white powdery substance on Woody’s face? Why is Shawn wearing a dead man’s sandals? Why is “The Blueberry” (Gus’ car) dented?

Using Shawn’s “psychic” ability and Henry and Lassie’s detective skills, the group of men follow one clue after another, leading them to discover what really happened… and that “last night Gus” was a bit out of his element.

9. “The Devil’s in the Details… and the Upstairs Bedroom” (Season 4)

Shawn and Gus take the case of a college girl’s apparent suicide after one of her professors (Father Westley, played by the great Ray Wise) pleads with them to investigate, believing the girl to have been possessed by demons. Why not? It’s a Catholic University…

Psych “The Devil’s in the Details… and the Upstairs Bedroom” (Season 4)

Shawn never believes the girl’s death to be more than suicide, but “plays along” until he actually discovers there was indeed foul play involved. And when the Father is suspected of killing the girl, Shawn dedicates himself to prove the Holy Man’s innocence.

This was a bit of Heaven for former Twin Peaks fans… Leland Palmer (Ray Wise), playing a priest, accused of murdering a young girl? Too fun…

8. “This Episode Sucks” (Season 6)

What more needs said about “This Episode Sucks” besides: vampires, Corey Feldman, and Kristy Swanson? Exactly… but we will, just because.

When a body is discovered drained of blood in a parking lot, Shawn immediately believes vampires were involved. He and Gus dress the part and visit a cult-like bar where all of the patrons dress and perhaps believe that they are indeed vampires.

Remember the pop culture references mentioned above? Again, fantastic writing and attention to detail comes into play as Shawn and Gus approach the bartender to question him regarding the murder. As the bartender turns to face the “Psych” detectives, “Cry Little Sister” (the theme song from The Lost Boys) plays louder and louder until – Duh Duh Duh DUNNNNNN — Edgar Frog (Corey Feldman) turns to face them.

Also in this episode, Lassie meets a woman (Kristy Swanson, formerly Buffy the Vampire Slayer) who the rest of the gang believes is involved in the murder. Is she a vampire? Probably not… but has Lassie finally found love? Maybe…

*****

Come back tomorrow for my top 7 episodes!

Do you watch Psych? What’s your favorite episode? I’d love to hear from you!

*****

Tiffany A. White is the author of the YA mystery Football Sweetheart series available on Kindle and Nook.  She is available for contact via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or via email at tiffany {at} tiffanyawhite {dot} com.

 

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The Perfect March Madness Dish – Slow-Cooked Buffalo Wings

March Madness marks one of my favorite times of year.  No; it’s not football.  But it’s college hoops at its finest!  It never matters which two teams are facing off against each other… it could be a Cinderella (a team that was lucky to receive an invitation to The Big Dance as it’s called) versus one of the top ranked teams expected to win it all… the games are fantastic.  Rarely is there a blowout; often times there’s a buzzer beater; and there’s almost always a handful of upsets, making the first weekend of the tournament a truly exciting time for any sports enthusiast.

So, what goes great with March Madness?

Buffalo Wings!!

Crock Pot/Baked Buffalo Wings

The finished product…

I first found this recipe via AllRecipes.com for the Super Bowl, and luckily my wings were a much bigger hit than the game itself this year…

Now, my guy and I aren’t big on frying foods.  We’ll eat ‘em when we go out on occasion, but we tend to stay away from making fried foods in our house.  Which is why this recipe was very intriguing to us both.  It’s not fried AND it uses the crock pot!  I do love my crock pot…

First, what’s needed:

1 – 4 lb bag of frozen chicken wings, thawed
2 – 12 oz bottles of wing sauce (we used Frank’s Red Hot)
1 cup of melted butter
2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons of dried oregano
2 teaspoons of onion powder
2 teaspoons of garlic powder

Now let’s cook:

In a saucepan, combine one of the 12-oz bottles of wing sauce, ½ cup of melted butter, Worcestershire sauce, oregano, onion powder, and garlic powder.  Heat sauce over medium heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for five minutes.

Place chicken wings in the crock pot and pour the sauce mixture over them.

Cook on high for two hours.

Reduce heat to low and cook for another two hours.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Grease a large baking sheet.  We sprayed with Olive Oil Cooking Spray.

Spread the wings onto the prepared baking sheet and bake in the oven until the wings are crisp and brown (for about thirty minutes).

Meanwhile, melt the other ½ cup of butter with the other 12-oz bottle of wing sauce in a small saucepan and simmer until thickened (about twenty minutes).

Brush sauce onto wings before serving.

Also serve with ranch and/or blue cheese.

This is some serious yum here, folks.  The meat just falls off the bone.

My pan after ten minutes... all wings gone!

My pan after ten minutes… all wings gone!

And before anyone says, “But I like crispy wings…”  These slow-cooked and baked wings are crispy!!  We don’t always have to fry for the crisp.  Just sayin’.

Enjoy!

What do you think?  Is this recipe worth a try?  Have any other easy wing recipes to share?  I’d love to hear from you!

Original recipe found on this site:

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/awesome-slow-cooker-buffalo-wings/

*****

Tiffany A. White is the author of the YA mystery Football Sweetheart series available on Kindle and Nook.  She is available for contact via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or via email at tiffany {at} tiffanyawhite {dot} com.

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Original vs. Remake – Romeo + Juliet

It’s time again for Catie Rhodes and me to break down another cinematic original and its remake.  Returning to our usual ways, Catie reviews the original and I take on the 1996 remake.  This month we tackle the classic, Romeo and Juliet (or in my case, Romeo + Juliet).

Usually I jump right into Catie’s homemade summary at this point; but she didn’t write one this month.  However, I will borrow her words because as usual they are spot-on: if you don’t know the basic plot of “Romeo and Juliet,” this blog post will probably be lost on you anyway. 

So, let’s just go straight to the trailer:

Before I begin my review, let’s talk briefly about Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet.

One of Shakespeare’s most popular works, Romeo and Juliet may be the most tragic love story ever told.  Many people have complained about reading Shakespeare, but I personally feel that his brilliant use of unrhymed iambic pentameter throughout Romeo and Juliet sends the reader back in time to the intended period and setting.  Shakespeare also connects with audiences of all generations with the universal themes of love and fate, and the destruction of the star-crossed lovers.

For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.
~ William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

As Catie discusses on her blog today, Shakespeare’s tragedy was depicted into a motion picture in 1968. Sir Laurence Olivier narrated the film, while Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey played the young lovers.  The music composed by Nino Rota still gives me goose bumps when I hear it today.

The classic love story was adapted again in 1996, starring two of Hollywood’s biggest young stars (at the time) – Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes.  This time titled, Romeo + Juliet, Shakespeare’s story is modernized (for example, using guns instead of swords) while the cast still uses Shakespearean dialogue.  One might ask, a modernized Shakespearean play with traditional Shakespearean dialogue?  Yes!  It’s simply wonderful… and creative… a great way to attract the youth of today… and masterfully performed by all involved.  And the cast is extensive: Brian Dennehy, Paul Sorvino, John Leguizamo, Dash Mihok, Jamie Kennedy, and Paul Rudd to just name a few.

But let’s talk about Leo for a second. Yes, I call him Leo.  Although his portrayal of Romeo came early in what we now know to be a very long and fruitful career, his performance was still impeccable.  But it wasn’t until Romeo + Juliet that I truly fell head-over-heels for him (and again in Titanic… and again in the 2013 version of The Great Gatsby).   However, celebrity crushes aside, rarely do I watch him in a film where he does not nail whatever role he is playing; and I firmly believe he will be remembered as one of the greatest actors of my generation.  And for the purpose of this post?  He can be my Romeo anytime.

And while I wasn’t thrilled about Claire Danes playing Juliet, I still weep pretty much uncontrollably every time I  watch this film (even though I know the ending… and very well at that).  To me, this makes Romeo + Juliet a classic.  I honestly believe it will live throughout the decades.  Shakespeare’s story will be told and adapted countless times in the years to come; but there is just something about this film that will survive the test of time.  Baz Luhrmann’s (writer, director, and producer) creation is unique and it will take some sort of new and fresh creative genius to top this particular rendition of the classic tragedy/love story.

Oh, and before I forget, the soundtrack is amazing.  Despite the fact it’s pushing almost twenty years old, I still listen to this disc on almost every road trip.  This ‘90s fun/blast from the past features Garbage, Everclear, Des’ree, Butthole Surfers, The Cardigans, and Radiohead.

So, overall, is the 1996 version worth a watch?  Yes!  I think so.

Does it compare to the original film?  Absolutely.  It its own right.

Should people forget about the original version?  No.  It’s a classic and originals should never be forgotten.

Remember to stop by Catie’s blog to see what she thought of the 1968 classic.

What do you think?  Have you seen either the 1968 or the 1996 version of Shakespeare’s classic love story?  If you’ve seen both, which do you prefer and why?  If you haven’t, do you want to?  I’d love to hear from you! 

*****

Tiffany A. White is the author of the YA mystery Football Sweetheart series available on Kindle and Nook.  She is available for contact via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or via email at tiffany {at} tiffanyawhite {dot} com.

Posted in Movie Madness, Movie Reviews, Originals Vs. Remakes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Author K.B. Owen on One of Her Favorite TV Detectives – Columbo

Like most of the other writers I adore today, I first met Kathy “K.B.” Owen on social media back in 2011.  We hit it off… talking about writing and pop culture, particularly Survivor.

Author K.B. Owen

Author K.B. Owen

But Kathy and I share something greater than our minor obsession for the popular “Outwit, Outlast, Outplay” reality television program—we both LOVE mysteries.  I keep an eye on Kathy’s blog because I know I can count on her publishing some fabOoolous posts, featuring some of the literary and television sleuths I grew up reading and watching… like Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Perry Mason, and even Scooby Dooby Doo.  She has also introduced me to a few 19th century historical facts, from clothing, to holiday celebrations, to true crime.  I’ve never been one who’s big on the past, but the stories Kathy shares are fascinating!

However, Survivor, mysteries, and 19th century facts aside, Kathy is also a wife and mother, who squeezes in gardening where she can between writing and taking care of her beautiful family.  She’s one of the most genuine and supportive people I have met and I’m lucky to call her a friend.

Since it’s technically Tele-Tuesday here at The Ooo Factor, Kathy is here to talk about one of her favorite TV detectives of all-time (and one of my dad’s) – Columbo.

But Kathy is also here to share a tad about her latest release, Unseemly Pursuits.

Before we jump into Kathy’s TV guest post, check out the blurb for her latest historical mystery:

A deadly secret that won’t stay buried…

UnseemlyPursuitsCover 266x400It is the fall of 1896, and Miss Concordia Wells is hip-deep in the usual tumult of a lady professor’s life: classes, clubs, student pranks, and the unending drama generated by the girls she lives with on campus.  Complicating this normality is the new Lady Principal, whom the students have nicknamed “the Ogre.”  The woman seems bent on making Concordia’s life miserable.

And then there’s the exotic spirit medium, Madame Durand, who has befriended Concordia’s mother and has started a “Spirit Club” on campus.  Madame’s prognostications of doom are at first only mildly irritating – until events take a sobering turn.  An ancient Egyptian amulet donated to the college mysteriously disappears, the donor is found murdered, and his daughter – Concordia’s best friend – confesses to killing him.

Desperate for answers, Concordia unravels a 20-year-old secret, closely guarded by men now dead.  But such secrets can be dangerous for the daughters left behind, including Concordia herself.  Can she make sense of the mystery that has bound together their fates, before it’s too late?

*****

Hi Tiffany, thanks for having me! I’m so glad you asked me to talk about one of my favorite tv detectives:

Columbo

Publicity photo 1973, Margie Korshak Associates. Wikimedia Commons.

Publicity photo 1973, Margie Korshak Associates. Wikimedia Commons.

Some interesting facts about Peter Falk and the Columbo series:

1.  Bing Crosby was first offered the role of Columbo, but he didn’t want to commit to a series.  He joked that it would interfere with his golfing.

2.  In 1968, the first 90-minute pilot (Prescription: Murder) aired, co-starring Gene Barry. The regular tv series ran from 1971 to 1978, and was part of the NBC Mystery Movie anthology, which included McCloud and McMillan and Wife.  Columbo was brought back in 1989 (this time for ABC) for 5 more continuous seasons.  The 13th and final season aired 5 episodes between 1998 and 2003.  It has won multiple Edgars, Emmys, and Golden Globes. There were 69 episodes in all, directed and written by different talent over the years.

3. The first regular episode was directed by a young Steven Spielberg. As Peter Falk later told Spielberg’s biographer:

Let’s face it, we had some good fortune at the beginning. Our debut episode, in 1971, was directed by this young kid named Steven Spielberg. I told the producers, Link and Levinson: “This guy is too good for Columbo” … Steven was shooting me with a long lens from across the street. That wasn’t common twenty years ago. The comfort level it gave me as an actor, besides its great look artistically — well, it told you that this wasn’t any ordinary director.

4.  William Link and Richard Levinson, the show’s creators, did something that was unusual for the time in a mystery series:  instead of a “whodunnit” format, where the progress of the episode moves towards the revelation of the murderer, it was a “how’s-he-gonna-catch-em,” where we see right away, in the opening scene, who did it, why he did it, and how, and then the rest of the episode is the detective hounding, questioning, and drawing the net tighter and tighter around the murderer, until he cannot escape.

5.  One of the cool things about the series is the star-studded guest-murderer cast.  Here are a few of the well-known names:  William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy (they were in separate episodes), Robert Conrad, Johnny Cash, Eddie Albert, Anne Baxter, Dick Van Dyke, Dabney Coleman, Faye Dunaway, Janet Leigh, Ricardo Montalban, Roddy MacDowall.

photo from Wikimedia.org, according to Creative Commons licensing

photo from Wikimedia.org, according to Creative Commons licensing

Columbo’s appeal:

1.  The suit: It looked like it was purchased from a thrift shop, and then perpetually slept in.

2.  The car: It certainly stood out among the Mercedes, BMWs, Cadillacs and Ferraris that typified the wealthy and famous of southern California (which seemed to be the demographic Columbo perpetually found himself working with). Columbo’s car was always breaking down, making a clatter when it did run, and had various parts breaking off.

It took me a while to figure out that it was a Peugeot. According to http://www.columbo-site.freeuk.com, Columbo drove a 1959 Peugeot 403 convertible. And Peugeot only made 504 of that body style in 1959. So when Columbo called his wife’s car “just transportation” – implying that his car is special – he was right!

Columbo’s car, via MSNautos

Columbo’s car, via MSNautos

3.  The “dog”:  Of course Columbo had to have a bassett hound, one of the best sniffer dogs out there.  But it wasn’t your typical bassett hound. “Dog” was a shuffling collection of neuroses and odd behaviors.

4.  The cigar:  It rarely seemed to be lit, did it? Columbo certainly chewed on and spoke around it, though.

5.  The game:  Ah, the wonderful cat-and-mouse interaction that goes on between Columbo and the murder suspect.  The persistence, the squirming, the murderer’s initial coolness and control inevitably giving way to exasperation, rage, and mistake(s) that will prove his undoing.  Masterful!

6.  The humor:  Who doesn’t love those odd little personal side-tracks and idiosyncrasies that peek out when Columbo works a case?  The lethargic “Dog”  (yep, that’s his name, “Dog”) Columbo feeds his ice cream cone to; the never-seen but always-talked-about wife and her personal habits;  the expired driver’s license, which requires Columbo to take another road test with a DMV examiner (hilarious!); the police gun certification that requires him to go back to the shooting range (even though he never carries his gun); his car always breaking down…the list goes on and on.

Oh, there’s just one more thing….

Columbo’s demeanor:  fumbling (does the man ever have a writing implement on his person?), self-effacing, overly-polite, rambling off-topic.  These characteristics make an effective smoke screen (to the murderer…not us, of course) for his sharp mind and keen attention to detail.

Here’s a short clip, just for fun:

Are you familiar with the Columbo series? Do you have a favorite episode or feature from the series? Tiffany and I would love to hear from you!

*****

About K.B.

K.B. Owen taught college English at universities in Connecticut and Washington, DC and holds a doctorate in 19th century British literature.  A long-time mystery lover, she drew upon her teaching experiences to create her amateur sleuth, Professor Concordia Wells.

Unseemly Pursuits is the second book of the series.  The first book, Dangerous and Unseemly, was published in early 2013.

K.B. currently lives in Virginia with her husband and sons, and is busily planning the lady professor’s next adventure.

An Unseemly Giveaway

The Unseemly Swag Kit

The Unseemly Swag Kit

During K.B.’s Unseemly Pursuits book tour, which goes through the first week of March, there’s a giveaway at each blog stop (including here!).  The winner, randomly drawn from the commenters at each stop, will get a free ebook copy of Unseemly Pursuits.  At the end of the tour, she’ll hold another random drawing from among the ebook winners for the final prize: a special Concordia Wells series swag package! It includes customized mug, keychain, JellyBelly mini-tin, and signed paperback copies of the first two mysteries: Dangerous and Unseemly and Unseemly Pursuits. You can read, sip your coffee, and snack on candy in unseemly style. Check the sidebar on the home page of kbowenmysteries.com for the full tour schedule and other info.

But if you can’t wait to win, here’s where to buy Unseemly Pursuits:

Kindle

Paperback

Nook

Smashwords

Kobo

iBooks

*****

Tiffany A. White is the author of the YA mystery Football Sweetheart series available on Kindle and Nook.  She is available for contact via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or via email at tiffany {at} tiffanyawhite {dot} com.

Posted in Authors, Interviews, More Television, Novels and Books, Television | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Tasty Breakfast Recipe – Blueberry Croissant Puff

My in-laws visited earlier this month and I wanted a breakfast that we could just pull out of the fridge and warm up.  For one, I’m lazy and anything easy I’m all for.  But also, we like to sleep in and realize that our guests don’t always keep the same sleeping schedule as we do.

Enter Pinterest.

Blueberry Croissant PuffI saw this Blueberry Croissant Puff recipe a while ago and had been waiting for the perfect opportunity to make it.  And man, I’m glad I did!

First, what’s needed:

3 large croissants, cut up into bite size pieces (about 5 – 5 ½ cups)
* I bought the Great Value Wal-Mart brand croissants and baked them up before tearing them apart.
** Plus I used all of it, making a double batch.
1 cup of fresh (or frozen) blueberries
* I didn’t measure; I just used an entire (large) container of blueberries.
1 package (8 oz.) of cream cheese, softened
* I doubled up.
2/3 cup of sugar
* I did NOT double up here.  It seemed like it would be too much sugar if I did.
**Turns out, it worked just fine with only ½ of the required sugar…
2 eggs
* I doubled up.
1 teaspoon of vanilla
* guess what?  I doubled up.
1 cup of milk
* I doubled up.  Surprise!

Now let’s cook:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place croissant pieces in a 9X13 baking pan.  If not doubling up on everything like I did, go ahead and use a 9-inch square pan.

Sprinkle with blueberries.

Beat the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and vanilla with an electric mixer until well blended.

Gradually add the milk, beating well along the way.

Pour evenly over the croissant pieces and blueberries.

Let stand 20 minutes.

Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until set in the center and golden brown.  Cover it with foil the last 10 minutes if the tops are getting too browned.

Serve warm, sprinkled with powdered sugar.  Although, we skipped the powdered sugar bit…

What do you think?  Is this recipe worth a try?  Have any other easy breakfast recipes to share?  I’d love to hear from you!

Original Pinterest recipe found on this site:

http://www.the-girl-who-ate-everything.com/2013/02/blueberry-croissant-puff.html

*****

Tiffany A. White is the author of the YA mystery Football Sweetheart series available on Kindle and Nook.  She is available for contact via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or via email at tiffany {at} tiffanyawhite {dot} com.

Posted in Food & Restaurants | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Chicago P.D.

Welcome back to Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday!

Today, I’m jumping in with a show that could either a) fall in line with all the other police procedurals on TV, or  b) stand out as the next Dick Wolf success—Chicago P.D..

NBC Summary: Sergeant Hank Voight leads the officers of District 21, where the past history and rivalries between the officers create problems at the district.

Created by Dick Wolf (Law & Order) and a spinoff series of Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D. will serve as yet another typical police procedural on television.  Or will it?

My main question is this—will Sergeant Hank Voight (Jason Beghe) be a good guy or a bad guy?  While I did not watch the entire first season of Chicago Fire, I did watch enough to know that he was not a “good” cop.  The character did not hesitate to cross legal or ethical lines.  And if he’s anything like that on the new show, what in the world is his staff going to be like?

And speaking of Jason Beghe, I’ve had a crush on him since I was a little girl when he starred as the quarterback, Tom Yinessa, on HBO’s 1st & Ten.  Yes; my parents let me watch with them—it was about football, after all!  And most recently, I’ve enjoyed his recurring character, Richard Bates, on Showtime’s Californication where he plays an alcoholic/sometimes gay/sometimes straight man.  His performances are fantastic.  Needless to say, I gave Chicago P.D. a try just for him.

The new drama also stars: Jon Seda (Band of Brothers) as Detective Antonio Dawson; Sophia Bush (One Tree Hill) as Detective Erin Lindsay; the great Elias Koteas as Alvin Olinsky; and many others.

But let’s talk about Voight right now… like I mentioned earlier, Voight was not a “good” cop on Chicago Fire.  Actually, he went to jail.  However, in this new series, his character has negotiated some deal to get out of prison and land himself the supervisory position for the Intelligence Unit of the Chicago Police Department.  We later learn this deal is for him to secretly report back to Internal Affairs… but will he?  Will he be 100% honest with them?  Probably not…

So is he good or bad?

Well, Voight instructs his staff to keep everything in-house… they tell him the truth, so he can lie for them.  This isn’t so strange.  Anyone who has played sports has heard the saying “what happens in the locker room, stays in the locker room.”  Same concept.

The Intelligence Unit is family, and to Voight, nothing is more important than family.  Yet, sadly, his sordid past actually gets one of his officers killed in the first episode (in a round-about-way).  Sorry for the spoiler.

Ultimately, Voight just operates under the mantra—and expects his team to as well—whatever it takes.

Does this make him bad?  Naaa.  I kinda like him and will continue to watch because of him.  I want to see how many professional and ethical lines he and his team will cross, while maintaining characters that I like and am actually rooting for.  There seems to be the “right way” and the “Voight way” of doing things.  Sometimes “Voight’s way” is the only way to get things done.  I get that real cops shouldn’t act this way, but this is TV and I like it.

But enough about just Voight…

Chicago P.D. bounces back and forth between his unit and the officers who patrol the streets of Chicago.  As a Law & Order fan, I can definitely tell this series is a Dick Wolf creation from the cinematography and style.   And being a Chicago Fire spinoff, many of the characters have done and will do a crossover stint at one time or another (for those who love and need more of Taylor Kinney and Jesse Spencer).   If I understand correctly, the series will actually do a full-blown crossover episode event with Chicago Fire and Law & Order: SVU.  Guess I’ll need to watch Chicago Fire that week.

While I will and already have watched more of Chicago P.D. than I have Chicago Fire, I can’t award the series with anything beyond a JFTV rating.  I like it; I do.  But I don’t mind letting the episodes pile up on the DVR to watch when I have time.  It’s just like when I keep a bag of those greasy potato chips in the pantry, but only reach for them when I need a fix.  After all, it is just another police procedural on TV today… just with a different kind of twist.

What do you think?  Do you watch Chicago P.D.?  I’d love to hear from you!

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV):It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (NyQuil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech
Inedible TV: Exactly how it sounds…

*****

Tiffany A. White is the author of the YA mystery Football Sweetheart series available on Kindle and Nook.  She is available for contact via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or via email at tiffany {at} tiffanyawhite {dot} com.

Posted in More Television, Television, TV Reviews, Watch it? | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

New to TV – Winter 2014 (Part Four)

It’s that time of year again… the winter television schedule is here!  And as always, the networks have a lineup of many new programs to accompany our returning favorites.

Some of the series have promise, while others may flop—but, regardless, we’ll tune in to check them out!

Today, we’re mixing it up with a teen sci-fi program and a few comedies.

*****

Star-Crossed

CW Summary:  When an alien spacecraft crash-landed on Earth, 6-year old Emery Whitehill harbored an Atrian boy before losing him to authorities; ten years later, Emery finds the boy, along with fellow Atrians, has returned to her town as a social experiment. 

Originally titled Oxygen, Star-Crossed has been compared to Romeo and Juliet with aliens.  For the aliens (Atrians), earth was supposed to be a refuge, a place to find unification after their world was attacked.  But for the Americans, their arrival is an invasion and they fear the Atrian kind.

The series stars: Aimee Teegarden (Friday Night Lights and Scream 4) as Emery; Matt Lanter (the remake of 90210) as Roman; Grey Damon (Friday Night Lights, The Nine Lives of Chloe King, and Twisted) as Grayson; and Malese Jow (The Vampire Diaries) as Julia.

Oh yeah, and of course Star-Crossed wouldn’t be a true teen drama, aliens or not, without a love triangle…

We’re a little late with this one… Star-Crossed premiered last night, February 17th, but the CW is usually pretty good about replaying a pilot episode, as well as making all of the episodes available online for the viewer’s convenience.

*****

About a Boy

NBC Summary:  An unemployed man, who lives solely off of the money earned from writing a hit song, has his perfect life turned upside-down when a single mother and her 11-year old son move in next door, thrusting him into playing the role of surrogate father.

Will loves his responsibility-free life.

Marcus is an outsider that none of the other kids really get.

But once Marcus and his mom move in next door, the two form an unlikely friendship.

Based on the book by Nick Hornby, written by Jason Katims (Parenthood and Friday Night Lights), and directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man), About a Boy promises a lot of heart and tons of laughter.

The sitcom stars: David Walton (the adorable actor from the short-lived Bent) as Will; Minnie Driver (Good Will Hunting) as Fiona; and Benjamin Stockham (1600 Penn) as Marcus.

About a Boy premieres Saturday, February 22nd on NBC after the Olympics.  The sitcom will then air on its regularly scheduled night—Tuesday.

*****

Growing Up Fisher

NBC Summary: An 11-year old, who has been his blind father’s eyes and wingman for as long as he can remember, has his world turned upside-down when his parents decide to separate, which starts the family down a path of changes from their usual roles.

Meet the Fishers:

Mel is just as normal a father as can be – he teaches his kids to drive; he works in the yard; and he plays sports with his son.  There’s only one issue—he’s blind.

Joyce is living a teenager’s dream, except she’s the mom.

Katie is a regular teenage girl.

And Henry.  Henry is accustomed to being his dad’s guide, who has to now not only adjust to his parents’ divorce, but also his being replaced by a “real” guide dog.

Growing Up Fisher is narrated by one of my crushes—Jason Bateman (and he also serves as one of the executive producers).  With him behind it, I may have to give this one a try.

The sitcom stars: J.K. Simmons (The Closer) as Mel; Jenna Elfman (Dharma & Greg) as Joyce; Ava Deluca-Verley as Katie; and Eli Baker as Henry.

Growing Up Fisher premieres Sunday, February 23rd on NBC after the Olympics.  The sitcom will then air on its regularly scheduled night—Tuesday.

*****

If I had to rank these in order of which one I’m most looking forward to, I’d put Star-Crossed at number one.  About a Boy probably comes in second with Growing Up Fisher following in last place (sorry Jason Bateman).  Here’s the thing – I totally expect the CW teen sci-fi drama/romance to outlast both of NBC’s comedies.  Why?  Because mid-season sitcom replacements usually don’t fare all that well.  That said, I’m not really chomping at the bit to see any of these—but that’s me.

What do you think?  Will you tune in to watch any of these new shows?  Which one most interests you?  I’d love to hear from you!

*****

Tiffany A. White is the author of the YA mystery Football Sweetheart series available on Kindle and Nook.  She is available for contact via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or via email at tiffany {at} tiffanyawhite {dot} com.

Posted in More Television, Television | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments