Cooking: Spicy Sausage Crockpot Soup

Published 9/28/13 by:


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I don’t really enjoy cooking. I’m more of a consumer. I am making attempts at cooking more this year in order to save money, and be able to take it to school for lunch throughout my week. My main resource for recipes is Pinterest because people are pretty honest about the amount of time each recipe takes as well as the difficulty level. As I become a future chef of America, I’m looking for tasty, low-maintenance options. The low-maintenance isn’t because I’m incapable (according to my brother I’m a “decent cook”), but because I haven’t invested a lot of money in cooking utensils or paraphernalia. For instance, last week, I was making BBQ Chicken Mac & Cheese and it called for freshly grated cheese, but I didn’t have a grater. This sort of issue comes up more often than you think and I have to compromise. I’m also big on compromising measurements and ingredients in recipes. If I have something that’s “close” to what the recipe calls for, I’m not picky, and will just throw in what I have. Sometimes this results in disgusting meals, but as time marches on I’m getting better at guesstimating and substituting ingredients. The recipe I’ve included below is a combination of four different soup recipes I found on Pinterest. As a result of not having a huge pot to cook soups in, I also changed the apparatus to a crockpot/slow cooker. I don’t know what the parameters are for calling a recipe your own, so I’m going to put the disclaimer out there that I combined a lot of other people’s ideas for this one. Chefs/Diners beware: it’s a little on the spicy side! Cheers!

 

 

Ingredients:

1 container (48 oz) of chicken broth

2 cans of Rotel diced tomatoes (flavor of your choice – I used lime cilantro)

1 package of chicken sausage diced  (flavor of your choice – I used Chorizo)

2 Tablespoons of minced garlic

2 peppers diced (color of your choice – I used yellow and orange)

1 box of pasta (shape and style of your choice – I used shells)

1 can of black beans drained (the beans didn’t add much to the mix, so use your best judgement)

1 red onion diced (optional – I didn’t use one and it was fine, but might add it in the future)

A dash of your favorite seasoning – I used taco seasoning.

 

Directions:

Combine all of the ingredients into your crockpot except the pasta. Cook on low for two hours.

Approximately 15 minutes before your two hours are up, boil water for your pasta, and when it’s cooked, add to each bowl you serve as you see fit.

*Serves 8*

 

 

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Emmy Round-Up 2013: The Fashion Epidemic

Published 9/23/13 by:

I have never been petite. So finding clothes that actually fit and allow me to breathe has been a consistent life struggle. Add onto my issues the fact that I’m 5’8” (mostly legs) and you’ll realize that shopping for pants, skirts and dresses can be a real treat. Despite my own fashion woes, I love to cheer and jeer others’ fashion risks. Awards shows are a real achilles heel of mine, and since I have pretty much convinced myself that these actors I see weekly on my TV are my friends, I feel as though I can accurately pinpoint when they look like dog poo, and when they look so damn fine I have to sigh. Last night was TV’s biggest night: The Primetime Emmy Awards. I’m going to recap my fashion hits and misses below, and please beware: in my universe Connie Britton aka Tami Taylor can do no wrong.

 

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LOVE IT: Zooey Deschanel wearing a sea foam blue. The dress hugs in all the right places. Her hair is totally Jackie O. I love the long oval shaped slit right in the center of the dress making her not have to wear a necklace.

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LOVE IT: Julia Louis-Dreyfus was stunning last night. Not only did she take home an Emmy for best lead comedic actress on Veep, but she rocked champagne colored sequins doing it.

 

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LOVE IT: Anna Gunn found the dress with the best neckline in Hollywood. She’s stunning in this black lacy – girlish pink combo. I was mesmerized.

 

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TOTALLY IN LOVE WITH IT: Connie Britton is a goddess. She has the hair of an angel, and I could listen to her say y’all all day. I have never loved any of her red carpet looks UNTIL NOW. Aqua and gold velvety deliciousness? Check. Colors that compliment her golden hair and blue eyes? Check. Give her all the awards already.

 

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FASHION FAIL: Poor Julie Bowen. She was looking for something with texture (I think?) and ended up looking like someone lassoed her at the knees. The color is nice at least!

 

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FASHION FAIL: Lena Dunham always goes for the raccoon smokey eye. Which is fine. Except for when she pairs it with a loud, ill-fitting dress that looks like a 1960s tablecloth, or something you would find at Delia’s. She’s an attractive girl, and this did not showcase that, at all.

 

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FASHION FAIL: Heidi Klum. The color of the dress and the sequining is beautiful, but the collar on it looks like she’s being choked. The entire structure of the dress made her look like she was being strangled. So upsetting for someone who deserves to always be on the best dressed list.

 

Who did y’all envy last night? Who made you turn the channel?

 

 

 

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Accio Superpowers.

Published 9/18/13 by:

 

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When asked what superpower is the most alluring to them, most people say flying without hesitation. Others may make an argument for invisibility, clairvoyance, speed, superhuman strength, the power to heal, the ability to breath underwater, or telepathy. None of these are really that infatuating for me. The one thing I would want from the genie in the bottle would be the ability to manipulate time as well as time travel.

Sometimes I have a really lousy day, and I dwell on it. I encompass myself in all of its crappiness, and let it really sink its talons into me. If I could manipulate time I could make that day go by so much faster. If I could time travel, I could propel myself into another day that was just absolutely phenomenal. Everyone bombs one of my essays? Go back to a day where everyone nailed it. I let someone talk me into going on a roller coaster and I’m completely in the tangle of motion sickness? Launch myself into a relaxing day of mani/pedis. Hear Ben Affleck was dining with his mom in Harvard Square the night before? Bam, all of a sudden I’m there with a reservation and my best lipstick on. It would be so majestic.

Flight shouldn’t be the top pick because we can already fly, we just have to pay for it and sit in cramped seats. Invisibility is creepy and would be too invasive. Clairvoyance would be traumatizing, and superhuman strength would result in too many friends needing favors. The power to heal sounds lovely, but unless you had unlimited time, it would get depressing attempting to save everyone and not being able to. Breathing underwater sounds absurdly wonderful, but ultimately not that useful. Telepathy seems unnecessary – I mean, if I was in a covert op maybe it would have advantages, but I’m no Jack Bauer.

Obviously there are some downsides to manipulating and traveling through time. If given that superpower, I may not cherish moments as they’re happening because I’d rely too heavily on being able to hit rewind. Perhaps I wouldn’t learn from my mistakes, because I may tick-tock right through them at warp speed. There’s no way of knowing how any of us would react to the access to these abilities, but I’d like to think that I’d use my time superpowers in positive ways, and that it would allow me to free myself up to a good night’s sleep even when I stay out too late. I’m a best of both worlds kind of gal.

 

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Better Than Revenge?

Published 9/17/13 by:

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If you’re ever looking for some conversation starters, or in my case, writer’s notebook prompts, I can’t recommend SoulPancake enough. The people engaging with SoulPancake are having meaningful conversations ON THE INTERNET. What an alarmingly good idea! Last spring I was perusing past posts from their site, and I highlighted a few open-ended questions that did not leave my thoughts easily or quickly. The one that startled me and elicited the most emotion was the question: Have you ever performed an act of revenge? As someone who watches copious amounts of television, I’m not immune or oblivious as to how much revenge sells. It’s a major theme in a lot of shows, but most recently in ABC’s “Revenge”, ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars”, and FX’s “Sons of Anarchy” (although the tough guys like to call it retribution).  This made me start to wonder about how American society perceives revenge. Are we celebrating it by watching these shows? Are people watching these shows instead of executing their own vengeful endeavors? Or are these shows inspiring folks to seek revenge?

In my own life I have had many fantasies of revenge, but only one came to fruition. My high school had long red lockers. On the top of each red locker was a rectangular cubby.  In your long locker there was a hitch that you hit to propel your cubby open. The cubby was the most useful part of the locker because, for the most part, it was at eye level. This is where most kids stored their books, reserving the long section for hanging their backpacks and jackets. The only terrible thing about this process was that your locker neighbors were so close to you that you couldn’t really have your cubbies open simultaneously. I was sandwiched in-between the same two students all four years of high school. My boy locker-mate was a total gentleman, and sometimes held my books for me as I juggled my life. My girl locker-mate commandeered the entire area and barely acknowledged my existence, or need to access my belongings. You can imagine how irritated I was as we entered our last semester of high school. Did I ever confront her about it? Not really, although I did utter an aggressive “excuse me” once in a while. When I look back I can’t believe I didn’t just rationally converse with her about timing, negotiating space, and my frustrations. When you’re fifteen, you’re just not rational yet. So what did I do my senior year, after fantasizing about tripping her with her enormously large L.L. Bean backpack? I did a cruel thing. One Friday morning I waited until she was bent over grabbing something, and hit the hitch on my top cubby. It clicked, unlatched, and propelled open just as she came back up to search her own cubby. The red metal rectangle whacked her right in the eyebrow. It was a glorious moment of retaliation. It lasted for a second. It lasted until she cursed, checked her eyebrow for blood and then asked me “how bad is it?”

That’s right. She asked me, her vengeful locker-mate, whether her eyebrow was passable for the judgmental hallways of our high school. My moment of retaliation instantly turned to one of regret and guilt. I felt crappy for the rest of the day. The move, while calculated and well-executed didn’t help me get over my lack of locker respect for four years. It didn’t make me feel like the triumphant winner I thought it would. I felt like garbage. Then I worried she’d find out that it was intentional. Then I chided myself for thinking I had anything to gain from locker slapping her. She never found out (as far as I know). And now, with my ten year high school reunion just two months away, I find myself coming up with more revenge-filled fantasies – ones that include snotty girls being overweight, know-it-alls being unemployed, and jocks with beer guts. Then I think back to my locker booby trap. Perhaps dazzling them with my teacher tales would be better than revenge, because it wouldn’t solicit guilt, worry or momentary triumph. Maybe I’m a grown up, after all.

 

 

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The Teen Dramedy: Is It Spectacular, Now?

Published 9/16/13 by:

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There has been a recent influx of teen dramedys (one of my favorite wombos), and I’m thrilled about it, but I’m also terrified. Teenagers have real problems, this much I know, and their issues span from basic insecurity to health problems, from mental problems to addiction and from family instability to academic instability. Teenagers have sorrow, and while some of it is directly related to popularity, some of it is a lifelong struggle that kids see as never-ending. There are three specific films that I’ve seen in the past year that identify, explore, poke, prod and make fun of many of these swirling dilemmas our current teenagers face. My main question is this: who is the audience for these movies? Please keep in mind that I saw all three of these at the cinema, and if I had to guess the average age of the theater attendees I would say 25-30 (myself included). Who are these films being made for? Are the folks who actually need to contemplate these scenarios and how to negotiate them able to see them? Should they see them? Perhaps parents are letting their teens see these films to spark conversation, but alternatively, and depressingly more realistic, I think they’re letting their kids see these films to avoid having the conversations themselves. It’s my hope that these films continue to be made because they’re important, and offer realistic instead of idealistic scenarios in the lives of American teenagers. Therein lies’s the rub: teens are one of the most lucrative demographics, so if they don’t start going to see these films, they’ll become extinct.

 

Film: The Spectacular Now

Currently: In theaters.

Premise: Sutter Keely (pictured above) is the big man on campus. Need beer at your party? He’s got you. Need dating advice? He’s all over it. Socially, he’s the man of the hour. He has a car, a job, and a mom who works the nightshift. However, it’s his senior year, he’s tanking most of his classes, and his dream girl has just dumped him because he “doesn’t take anything seriously”. Enter Aimee. She’s the girl next door that’s fending for herself. She’s got dreams that she’s willing to chase, and she becomes charmed as well as enamored by Sutter’s bigger than life personality. Can Aimee change Sutter’s perspective? Or will Sutter persuade Aimee that life’s a party?

Teenager Factors: Underage drinking, sex, drunk driving, absentee parents, lying, abandonment, college and academic failure.

Ending: Perplexing, but with potential

Taglines: “We’ll never be as young as we are right now.”

 

 

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Film: The Perks of Being a Wallflower (pictured above)

Currently: On DVD and BluRay

Premise: Charlie is starting his freshmen year of high school, and despite having insanely popular older siblings, he feels invisible. Well, apart from the bullying he endures. Charlie has suffered from very traumatic events for a 15-year-old. Actually, the events Charlie has encountered would set any person back, but doubly so for someone at such an impressionable age. Just when Charlie thought his countdown of days left in high school was too much to face, he meets vivacious, flamboyant Patrick and his whimsical, beautiful, step-sister Sam. They see Charlie as a fellow misfit and embrace him (and his earnest struggles) immediately. Charlie is soon with a fast crowd of seniors, and when his feelings for Sam start to crest, it all starts to crumble.

Teenager Factors: Underage drinking, drug usage, sex, homosexuality, suicidal thoughts, molestation, college, SATs, and domestic violence.

Ending: Dark with a twist of hopeful.

Taglines: “We accept the love we think we deserve.” “And in that moment, I swear, we were infinite.”

 

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Film: The Way, Way Back (pictured above)

Currently: Available for pre-order on DVD/BluRay. Release date: Oct. 22, 2013.

Premise: Sometimes your divorcee mom decides to start dating again. Sometimes that results in you being whisked away for the summer to a beach house in a town where you don’t know a soul. This is the scenario in which we meet Duncan. He’s socially outcast because he’s the new guy in a neighborhood predominantly comprised of adults looking to get sloshed and escape their realities. It isn’t until Duncan secretly gets a gig at the local water park that he meets some people that he can finally let loose with. As Duncan straddles difficult scenarios with his potential stepfather, he seeks more refuge from the motley crew manning the slides.

Teenager Factors: Affairs, underage drinking, lying, abandonment, and parental units dating.

Ending: Triumphant.

Taglines: “It’s like Spring Break for adults.”

 

So which of these films sounds worthwhile to you? Adults: do you want  to see these? Do you want your kids to see these? Kids: You don’t have to tell me. I already know you’re dying to see these. Wanting what you can’t have never really goes away, does it?

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