Pre-Anniversary Dinner [recipes]

Today is not only Veteran’s Day, as it is also my anniversary, celebrating my not messing up my first relationship for three whole years.

All jokes aside, today is all about gratitude. I’m grateful to those who fought for us and I’m grateful to my boyfriend for sticking with me all this time.

Since we are going to one of our favorite places for dinner tonight, I thought I’d make us some dinner last night. I couldn’t decide which meal I wanted so I made both baked tilapia and linguine with shrimp scampi at my boyfriend’s place. He didn’t have every ingredient I wanted, but considering he usually tries to keep his kitchen more low-maintenance, I was really excited at what I did have on hand. I guess I was actually REALLY excited because I wanted to throw together a post based on our meal, but just please remember how my recipe posts go.

First, since it sits in an oven for a while:

Baked Tilapia

(Similar recipe used as reference)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tilapia fillets (thawed from frozen)
  • Butter
  • Seasoning
    • I used garlic powder, onion powder, and a dash of salt & pepper. At home, I’d also use some Old Bay, but you can use whatever you’d like.
  • 4 slices of lemon
  • Frozen veggies
    • I used a mix that contained cauliflower, broccoli, & carrots, but feel free to use any veggies that you like to enjoy with fish. I would recommend a hardier veggie like broccoli versus something really small like peas, due to cooking time.

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F.
  2. Line your baking dish/pan with aluminum foil and cover with butter/oil/cooking spray.
    • This ensures that you can remove your fish for serving.
    • I used sesame oil because I was feeling cheeky and I love sesame oil.
  3. Place tilapia fillets on the foil and season.
  4. Put little bits of butter on the tops of the fillets.
    • Then they melt and ooze flavor and it’ll be good stuff, really.
  5. Place 2 lemon slices evenly-spaced on each fillet.
  6. Put frozen veggies on tray around the fish and lightly season.
    • Optional: Drizzle a teeny amount of oil/put teensy bits of butter on veggies. They won’t really need the extra fats but it’s up to you.
  7. Cover the dish/pan with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes in the oven.

I served this with Trader Joe’s Chimichurri Rice (very yummy!) and kept my seasonings and buttering of the fish very light so that it wouldn’t be too heavy with the seasoned rice.

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How it looked before I put it in the oven

While you wait for the fish to finish cook in the oven, you can work on:

Linguine with Shrimp Scampi

(Adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe)

Ingredients:

A lot of these ingredients

  • Linguine
  • Shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Minced garlic
  • Lemon zest
    • HACKS: If you don’t have a zester or microplane like me, try using a vegetable peeler to get the zest off and then mince it up.
  • Lemon juice
    • And yeah, you could probably throw lemon slices in there like Ina did
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder
    • I’m going to be really honest with you guys, I almost never cook without garlic powder
  • Red pepper flakes
    • My boyfriend doesn’t have these but I do and wished I was weird enough to bring them with me for this recipe.
    • Plus, that chimichurri rice is really flavorful, so it’s okay if this isn’t too heavily seasoned

Directions:

  1. Boil your linguine according to the instructions (boil a pot of salted water, put your pasta in, cook until a bit more than al dente because you’ll be cooking it a tiny bit more soon.)
  2. While your pasta is boiling, melt your butter in a pan with olive oil over a medium-low heat.
  3. Add minced garlic and sauté.
    • Don’t burn your garlic! Minced garlic burns especially easily because it’s so small.
  4. Add your shrimp to sauté until they just turn pink while adding in your dry seasoning.
  5. Remove from heat and add lemon zest, lemon juice, (lemon slices,) and any other yummies you may have, e.g. red pepper flakes, parsley.
  6. Drain your cooked linguine and put it back in the pot with your shrimp and other goodness.
  7. Toss everything well and enjoy!

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Happy Veteran’s Day and happy anniversary to my better half.

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Share a recipe that you got really excited to cook lately, please? I’m really in the mood to cook as the weather gets cooler, so I’m super excited to make my kitchen werk.

Big Hero 6 (2014)

Last week, I was able to see Disney’s newest animated feature, Big Hero 6 early in theaters.

Me and Baymax! I’m dressed a bit like Gogo Tomago and worked hard to get her makeup look down, which you can’t see at all in this photo but it came out pretty well, lemme tell ya.

Basically, it was amazing fantastic awesome spectacular. This is kind of a longer review, but it gets a full 5/5 100% recommend you watch it for the following reasons:

  • Fantastic characters
  • Beautiful animation
  • Great promotion of the sciences
  • Fun story and funnier lines

I have been waiting for this movie for over a year now. No, really. (It’s not easy being a Disnerd. The wait for Moana is agonizing as well.) This is Disney Animation’s first go with a Marvel property and it’s pretty great.

Let’s look at our cast of characters first, because that’s really where this movie just comes alive.

From L to R: Fred, GoGo Tomago, Baymax, Hiro, Honey Lemon, Wasabi

These are our 6 heroes. Let’s meet them, shall we?

Hiro Hamada in full hero gear

Hiro Hamada (voiced by Ryan Potter) is the protagonist of our film. He’s 14-years-old and a casual robotics prodigy. We get a really good feel of his personality in the opening scene, where he’s at an [illegal] underground robot fight. As a character, there is a lot of depth to Hiro that I really really loved. Seriously classic example of how to put a character through hardships and see him pull through. He’s a teenager at the cusp of puberty, so he’s awkward and sassy and kind but selfish. He’s many things and that complexity is SO delicious because it makes him more real without making him too real. (I tend to dislike characters who are TOO realistically flawed.) I also really want to talk about his family, but just know that Hiro’s relationship with his brother and his aunt are really special.

Baymax in battle gear

Meet Baymax, our adorable squishy character. THIS is how you do a non-human sidekick. (Note: I hate Olaf from Frozen.) Baymax is squishy and chock full o’ comic relief because he is a robot and doesn’t understand our zany human ways! I’ll admit, I was skeptical of Baymax because it seemed like an Olaf-esque ploy to just push out merchandise and have a recognizable character for the franchise. But he’s completely terrific.

Gogo Tomago (voiced by Jamie Chung) is one of my favorite characters in this movie. First of all, I’m always thrilled when more Asian characters are added to the Disneyverse and Gogo Tomago is everything we could have asked for. She’s a no-nonsense butt-kicker who is, as with the rest of the team, also really smart. She works with electromagnetic disks (that you see her wearing above) and chews gum. Also PURPLE. She’s awesome, everything about her just screams cool.

Wasabi (No Ginger?) (voiced by Damon Wayans Jr.) is also a really fun character. He’s the biggest hero of the team (besides Baymax, of course), but he has this really funny neuroticism that makes him maybe too relate-able, personally speaking. He seems like the most real-world-esque character. He gets freaked out flying over the city, he is scared of creepy abandoned warehouses, he doesn’t like his workspace being disturbed because he has a system goshdarnit! He’s also wicked awesome with lasers.

Honey Lemon (voiced by Génesis Rodriguez) is a bubbly and cute character (although her accent was inconsistent in a way that I found slightly distracting). She is also really kind, and that is not really shoved down your throat too much, which is great. She’s just an overall sweetie and her love for chemistry is adorable.

Oh Fred Zilla (voiced by T. J. Miller) is easily one of the most fun characters in this entire movie. The only hero in our group who is not a genius student at SFIT, he is the mascot and dreams of being a fire-breathing dragon. So the team uses science to make that a reality. I usually don’t like characters like Fred too much (think Shaggy from Scooby Doo) because they’re a little TOO laidback and TOO silly. But BH6 did a really great job of making him likable for me.

Tadashi Hamada (voiced by Daniel Henney) (“I thought he sounded hot!” – my friend) is Hiro’s lovely older brother. Like brother like brother, he is the robotics specialist in the group of nerds at SFIT and built Baymax to be a healthcare robot and help people. His powerful desire to help other people is, again, not overdone but it really does affect everything he does. He saves his brother from an illegal robot fight, he gently encourages to use his genius for more noble pursuits, and more. It’s difficult not to really adore his character, I think because I’m just such a sucker for really beautiful families.

Speaking of beautiful families, this is Aunt Cass (voiced by Maya Rudolph) (but Tumblr says she looks like the animators used Tina Fey for a reference model). It’s not really explored much in the movie, but Hiro and Tadashi’s parents are dead and she is their guardian. She does the best she can and it really shows, just how much she loves her two boys. She works really hard to support them in their endeavors, runs a cute cafe, and is just such a cute and fun and loving character. She’s easily one of my favorite characters in this movie.

There are so many things I love about this movie. One is how appealing it makes getting a STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) education. The heroes are all engineering geniuses, more or less. They attend a “nerd school” where they are changing the world. One of my favorite moments in this movie is when Tadashi, Hiro’s older brother who is a student at San Fransokyo Institute of Technology, shows Hiro what he can be doing with his genius. I really think that Big Hero 6 will inspire so many children to look into studying science and engineering. It’s going to be amazing and I’m so happy that Disney has really been pushing this with lots of innovation-themed contests for kids. Amazing.

Also, can I just say WOWOWOWOWOWOW to the animation team? The animation in this movie was absolutely beautiful.

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I can’t find too many examples online but I remember, even as I was watching, just being stupendously impressed with the attention to detail and the framing and WOW. Just visually, this is SUCH a stunning film.

I also think this is one of Disney’s funniest movies of late. I just found myself laughing so much because the screenwriters made such good use of awkward silence, omission, physical humor, puns, etc. You’ve probably seen scenes like this online already, and it is definitely one of the moments that shows you how funny of a character Baymax can be right here in his introduction:

Too good. Toooooooo good.

Please please please please go watch this movie, I promise it will be well worth your time.

Spoilers below the trailer! (SRS SPOILERS)

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Feast (2014)

Before I tell you guys about Big Hero 6, which I got to see last week at a groovy early screening, I really want to talk to you guys about Disney’s newest animated short: Feast.

Feast stars this adorable pup:

This cutie is Winston! He has a beautifully adorable appetite.

What the teaser doesn’t show is that this isn’t just a short about a dog who loves to eat. It’s also about his bystander perspective on the love story involving the kind man who takes him home one day.

I felt such an intense roller coaster of emotions watching Feast. Maybe it’s because I was just so darn excited to see both this short and the feature. I laughed, I cried. (No really, there were tears.)

What I really loved about Feast was just how much they were able to communicate in the background. Winston and his appetite is the main story, but the love story going on while he eats is told so beautifully and simply. The animation was great, too.

Really did a great job of setting the mood for the feature, Big Hero 6. I can’t wait to share my thoughts about BH6 with you.

You can catch Feast before Big Hero 6 in theaters this Friday.