Monday, March 31, 2014

Recipe: Pecan Cranberry Tarts

I was meeting my boyfriend's parents this past weekend (EEK!), and since they were making lunch for us, we were asked to bring a dessert. We found this recipe online at, and it was a great hit! The number of tarts you get from the recipe depends on what kind of pastry shells you buy, but this recipe makes plenty of small ones!

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 orange, zested and juiced
1 egg, beaten
15 (2 inch) sweetened pastry tart shells

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix brown sugar, chopped pecans, dried cranberries, butter, orange zest, orange juice, and egg together in a bowl.
3. Arrange tart shells on a baking sheet and spoon pecan-cranberry filling into each shell about 2/3 full.
4. Bake in the preheated oven until tart shells are lightly browned and filling is bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2014 Printed from 3/30/2014

Monday, March 24, 2014

Concert: The Legwarmers

This past weekend I went to go see the 80's cover band The Legwarmers in Baltimore. They only play locally, and while I have wanted to see them for a while, my schedule finally worked out to see them. They were great! I swear that some of the songs sounded just like the originals. The band has a lot of energy, and the crowd totally feeds off of it. They are playing in Baltimore again in late June. This last show sold out, so be prepared to get your tickets early! Here's a video clip:

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Hamentashen Recipe

Every year during Purim, my paternal grandmother makes Hamentashen (cookies). However, this year she wasn't up for it because of her health. But I really wanted Hamentashen, so I figured I'd make them myself. So this past weekend, my dad and I went to work baking our own (how many girls can say their dad helps them bake?!). We took two online recipes (one for the dough, one for the filling) and put them together. We were SO pleased with how they turned out, especially since we had never made them before! And, not to toot my own horn, but...I think I like them better than my grandma's...

For dough (for ~40 cookies)
·         4 eggs
·         1 cup oil
·         1 ¼ cup sugar
·         2 tsp. vanilla
·         3 tsp. baking powder
·         5 cups flour

For filling (for ~55-60 cookies)
·         3 cups dried prunes (pitted)
·         ~1 tbl. Lemon zest (the zest of one lemon)
·         1 tbl. Lemon juice
·         1/3 cup sugar

To prepare filling
1.       Put prunes in sauce pan and cover with water. Add lemon zest.
2.       Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes until soft.
3.       Save 1 tablespoon of the “juice” that the prunes are in, then drain the rest.
4.       Mix the prunes with that saved “juice,” the lemon juice, and the sugar. Blend together in food processor.
5.       Use immediately for hamentashen, or cool completely before refrigerating in a well-sealed container (stays good for 3 weeks).

To prepare dough
1.       Preheat oven to 350°.
2.       Mix together eggs, oil, sugar, and vanilla.
3.       Add baking powder. Gradually mix in flour, 1 cup at a time.
4.       Knead the dough until smooth.
5.       Roll out thin (1/4 inch) on a floured surface.
6.       Cut out circles with a drinking glass.
7.       Put a dollop (1/2 tsp.) of filling into the center of each circle.
8.       Fold in three sides over the filling to make a triangle with filling showing in the center.
9.       Bake at 350° for 15-17 minutes on a greased cookie sheet.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Movie Review: Last Vegas

My friend and I got together for a movie night, and I told her I wanted to see something fun. She rented Last Vegas from Redbox, and I thought it was pretty cute! It is essentially The Hangover but with an older cast and fewer stupid shenanigans. Michael Douglas plays a wealthy big-shot who is getting married to a woman half his age; Robert De Niro plays a widower who never leaves his New York apartment; Morgan Freeman plays a divorcee and father who just wants to live a little; Kevin Kline plays an old man living in Florida who has been given a hall pass from his wife to have a wild time in Vegas. So these four best friends get together for a bachelor party, and in the end have an amazing time catching up and enjoying this last hoorah. Just a fun, light-hearted movie!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Des'ree - You Gotta Be

"You Gotta Be" by Des'ree is one of those songs that always reminds me of hard times, but also reaffirms that I got through them. I think the first time I ever took note of the song was when I was in 5th grade. I had just switched schools, and I was not happy about it: I didn't have any friends, I had to follow a strict dress code...I just wasn't happy. One day when my mom was driving me home from school, this song came on the radio, and my mom sort of "dedicated" the song to me. She told me that she wanted me to think of this song when times seemed tough. It's a "strong woman" song. Here are some lyrics:

You gotta be You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold
You gotta be wiser, you gotta be hard
You gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger
You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm
You gotta stay together
All I know, all I know, love will save the day

Every time I hear the song, I not only listen to it from the perspective of my ten-year-old self, but I also think about how I have applied it to my life since then. Through school, through heartbreak, through work...There are always times that will test you, and you just need to be any and all of the adjectives mentioned in the song to get through it all. I also like the lines "Try and keep your head up to the sky" and "Don't be ashamed to cry" from other parts of the song. Dream big and stay positive, but don't be afraid to show your true feelings, good or bad. This song simply gives you permission to be a strong woman, and we can always use more of that!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The only negative blog post you'll read about Frozen

It's not that I didn't like Frozen. It's another cute cartoon movie by Disney. Of course, I think the fact that I'm an adult took away some enjoyment from the animated film, but then again, tons of friends my age loved it, so... Anyway, I guess I just don't see it going into the canon of classic Disney movies. Actually, I felt like there were many parts of the film that just copied other Disney movies. Like these:

-The opening song sounded like the Native American chanting from Pocahontas.

-When Anna and Hans are singing together, it was too reminiscent of "A Whole New World" from Aladdin, and then like The Lion King soon after.

-When Olaf is riding on Sven's back and looking up at the stars, it just reminded me of Timon and Pumba contemplating the sky in The Lion King.

-When Kristoff is hanging from the cliff, he looks like this scene from Mulan.

You see what I mean? But, again, I didn't dislike the movie. I loved when Elsa made the ice castle, and I think the song "Let It Go" is pretty catchy. But will I memorize the words to this song? No. Will Elsa and Anna be the first to come to mind when I think of Disney princesses? No. It's a cute movie, but it still doesn't compare to the Disney films of the 1990's.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Kathy Mattea at the Avalon Theater

My mother invited me to join her and go to a Kathy Mattea concert. I had never heard of the singer, but my mom said she had a country music sound, so I figured I'd go. So we went to the Avalon Theater to see the show, and I ended up having a great time!

Mattea is from West Virginia, and I liked that throughout the show she would talk a little bit about her background and her roots. She also would credit the song writers before she sang a song, which I appreciated; I don't think I've ever heard a singer give credit to the writer). And she was so gracious toward these writers and other people who had influenced her career/music. She would crack jokes throughout the show, especially about having to tune her banjo. Mattea is so down-to-earth, fun, and warm. She makes you fall in love with her so easily!

She has a beautiful voice, and her band was great, too! The lead guitarist, fiddle/mandolin player, and bass player were awesome! I also liked the subjects of many of the songs. Mattea recently released an album called "Coal," and several of the songs she performed were about West Virginia's connection to coal, either how the men work in the mines or how the environment is affected, etc. I appreciated that she sang from many perspectives on the issue. I also enjoyed her religious songs, which mostly just make you feel thankful for your blessings. And of course there were the love songs. Here are some of the songs from the set she performed:

Where've You Been? (probably her most famous song)
Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses
Lonesome Standard Time
Mary, Did You Know? (a Christmas song)
Hello, My Name is Coal
The Wood Thrush's Song

I really liked discovering this artist! I'll definitely be interested if she comes into town again!