Hunger Games 2.0

I went to see Hunger Games again last night with my husband and a friend and guess what! I changed my mind! I liked it a lot more the second time. I think I was just too hyped up to see it this last weekend and was kind of expecting too much. Also, I know it sounds stupid, but we sat way too close to the screen the first time and it made a lot of the action scenes really hard to watch because of the film style. Last night we sat pretty far back and it was a much better way to see it. I want to take back what I said about Katniss being a cold fish in the movie. Jennifer Lawrence is just a really subtle actress and after I got over there not being that many scenes between her and Peeta and really paid attention to her performance, you can totally see the mixed feelings and play of emotions her character is going through. I think she was perfect for the part. I even like Peeta a little more this go around though I still think his head is kind of shaped like a Lego Man and having his hair slicked back does nothing for him. He needs those bangs people!.

Both Tristan and Dave had never read the books before and they asked me not to tell them anything about the story beforehand and they both really liked it. I was all pumped for them to ask me questions after the movie and really flex my Hunger Games knowledge muscle but they didn’t really have any. Apparently you can figure out what’s going on without reading the book. Who knew? I’m never in that position because I pretty much have ALWAYS read the book. That’s just how I roll. So I wanted to post this just in case other people felt like I did when they saw it the first time. We had some free movie passes to use up (thanks Mama!) so I didn’t feel too weird about seeing this one twice in the theater in the same week. If you felt kind of let-down the first time, maybe give it another try. If not in the theater, then when it comes out on DVD. If I can change my mind, so can you! ūüôā


Recipe Round-up & Hunger Games thoughts

Not the best pic, but this is a really yummy & easy dinner that I learned how to make from my mom’s friend Caroline. It’s called Creamy Basil Chicken and you should most definitely make it as soon as you can get some fresh basil from your garden. I actually picked some sage and used it in my dinner tonight. That’s crazy! CRAZY! It’s March 25th in Wisconsin and I picked an herb from my garden and cooked with it. Thanks global warming!

Ingredients for 4 Servings

2 TBSP butter
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
4 large boneless skinless  chicken breasts, tenderized
1/4 tsp each salt, pepper, Italian seasoning
1 cup cream  (I sometimes use more if it reduces too much)
2 large tomato, coarsely chopped or a pint of grape or cherry tomatoes halved
1 Р1 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced  (optional)
1/4 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped

shredded Parmesan cheese to your taste


In a large non-stick skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat until sizzling.  Saute garlic and onion.   Reduce heat to medium.  Salt, pepper and Italian season the chicken breast.  Add the chicken to the skillet; cook 8 Р12 minutes or until the juices are clear.  Remove from skillet and set aside.  Add cream to skillet stirring frequently.  Stir in tomatoes, optional mushrooms and basil.  Return chicken to skillet and cook 4 -5 minutes or until heated through.  Garnish with additional basil leaves if desired and shredded Parmesan cheese.  Serve over rice, noodles or vegetables. But seriously, who would serve this over veggies when you can have pasta?

This is by far the best mac & cheese I’ve ever made and I’ve made a lot of them, trust me. I found it in a borrowed issue of Food & Wine magazine while laying on the beach at Devil’s Lake and it is actually the reason I started my subscription. It’s that good. Make it the next time you feel really indulgent and need some cheese!

Okay, last pasta I promise! This Creamy Garlic Pasta is so simple and really flavorful! It’s great on it’s own for picky eaters but I’ve added lots of things to it, like diced tomatoes or grilled chicken breasts. I also like to garnish most of my pasta with chopped fresh parsley or chopped scallions. Things usually need a little green pop of color in my opinion.

Lest you think I was going to get healthy or something, I’m going to round this out with with a cupcake!

So these were super easy! I made them for my sister and brother-in-law when we went over to meet their new baby. You can use any kind of cupcake & frosting you want, then just separate a bunch of Oreos saving the un-iced sides for use in something else (or just eating them, whatevs) put two Oreos on each cupcake, then stick a brown M & M on each Oreo and a yellow M & M in between for the beak. Voila! I know this idea has been everywhere but it is so easy and so cute I just couldn’t help but share.

Okay now I will venture into Hunger Games territory. I went to see it last night and frankly, my hopes were pretty high. My sister-in-law and my cousin both saw it and said very positive things, but I don’t know if I was just expecting too much or if the story was too fresh for me because I re-read the books this last week but it left me a bit flat. It just seemed like the emotional content was so low. I didn’t really feel anything for the characters like I did in the book. The film style was a lot of show and not a lot of tell and for me, that didn’t work. I know it would have been hokey to have a Katniss voice-over throughout the whole thing but I felt like we needed to know what was going on inside her a lot more. In the book there are so many meanings behind her actions and there are so many mixed emotions and it made for such a rich story. In the movie, she just felt like kind of a cold fish. And I don’t think that this was the actress’s fault at all. In fact, I really liked her in the part, I just needed something more. **SPOILER ALERT** The most pivotal scene between Peeta & Katniss in the book is when he basically saves her from starving to death and though they alluded to it a few times in the movie they never delved into why it was so important and how it gave Katniss the hope and the inspiration to live. If there had been a scene where she told someone about it and why it was important to her I think I might feel differently about the whole thing. Is that weird?

Another thing that really bothered me was how anesthetized the games themselves were. I mean I know they needed a PG-13 rating to get the majority of the market but it was just so clean compared to the book. That makes me sound as if I love guts and gore but it’s supposed to be barbaric and terrible and the fact that Katniss and Peeta survive is a miracle because they both sustained pretty major injuries in the book. In the movie the injuries are pretty tame and are really easily taken care of. I could nit-pick more but honestly I think I’m going to see it again to really finalize my opinion. There were things I did like – Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, Elizabeth Banks as Effie, the cool, modern look of the Cornucopia, etc. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it. Yet. Who knows, I’ve been known to change my mind.

What did everybody else think? Don’t be afraid to disagree with me, like I said, I want to love it!