Friday, February 26, 2016

Fuller House Pilot Review

I've been anxiously awaiting the release of the new Netflix original series Fuller House since it was initially announced last year. Today is the release, and I excitedly watched the pilot this morning, despite being low on my available internet usage (thank you, Comcast, for being totally evil and imposing data limits in areas where you have a monopoly.) 

The pilot did not disappoint. With nearly all of the original cast making an appearance and several beloved catchphrases returning, the pilot established the new plot nicely without going overboard on the nostalgia.

It's clear the actors were happy to reprise their roles and a few out of character chuckles are visible in the first few moments as the studio audience goes crazy when Danny and Jessie make their first appearances. Aside from a pointed (and admittedly hilarious) look at the camera while explaining Michelle's absence, the fourth wall remains intact and the show proceeds in a more typical format.

I loved Full House as a kid, but found it a little cheesy in re-runs as an adult. I was both excited and had a little trepidation about the reboot. Once I saw the teaser trailers, I was sold and my excitement began mounting. I love that DJ's last name is Fuller, thus the new title. I'm a sucker for puns! 

There is a lot of quick exposition explaining who lives where with whom and why, since it's been so long since the original aired. But it's handled smoothly. The least smoothe explainer is Steve, but that fits a little with his character. 

It's crazy to see how much everyone has changed. The new opening sequence shows the now adult actors as children and teens, and a split screen is used a couple of times during the episode to highlight similarities between then and now.

Any overly exaggerated characteristics have been dulled, as they may have with age in anyone, such as with Kimmy and Steve. They still have their quirks, but they've mellowed with age.

As with any show with the premise of family and friends moving in after a tragedy, there are certain occurrences that would be unlikely in any real life. But because these are beloved characters on a beloved set, I'm willing to suspend my disbelief. 

It's been a long time since I've seen a Full House episode, but there wasn't anything I felt I was missing (with the exception of Danny- did he get married in the original series? He has a wife now, but I didn't remember her). Regardless, there's no need to re-watch the original series before watching the new one.

The pilot was enjoyable to watch and I'm looking forward to continuing the Tanner-Fuller-Gibbler storyline and seeing how things change.

Have you watched it yet? What are your thoughts? Share them in the comments!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

There's possibly no food combination I love more than peanut butter and chocolate. It's just so right, you know? So one day I had a hankering for brownies, but felt like they could really use some peanut butter. So I crafted this little recipe! Let me know what you think, if you bake a batch yourself!

Yumm…peanut butter swirl brownies.

Soft, decadent, melt in your mouth deliciousness.

Sweet, crumbly goodness.

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup peanut butter

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2) Grease an 8x8 baking dish.
3) Microwave chocolate chips and butter on 50% power for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, whisking every 30 seconds, until smooth.
4) Whisk in sugar and brown sugar.
5) Add eggs, mixing well after each addition.
6) Mix the milk, flour and vanilla in until the batter is smooth.
7) Soften peanut butter by microwaving at half power for 30-45 seconds.
8) While peanut butter softens, pour brownie batter into prepared dish.
9) Using a spoon, knife or spatula, swirl the melted peanut butter through the brownie batter.
10) Bake 40-45 minutes in preheated oven or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for as long as you can stand and try not to burn your mouth when you devour them.

Apple Pie Bars

We'd been purchasing a variety of pastries from Costco and Kroger for J to take to work in the mornings, since he doesn't typically have time for breakfast at home (sleep deprivation thanks to two small kiddos is to blame for that!). I realized during one of our weekly treks around the bakery department that I could actually make a lot of what we were buying, and it would be a fun activity that the toddler and I could do each week while his little brother slept. After a variety of muffins began to get a bit boring (for the bakers-- no complaints from the hubby!), I saw a photo on Pinterest that spiked my interest. It was a snicker-doodle apple pie bar that looked delish. But the recipe disappointed me; it was just store bought cookie dough and canned apple pie mix. I decided I'd make something up myself, and here's where we ended up:

View from the top- Apple Pie Bars

Side view- Apple pie bars
The result was yummy, but not so easily cut into bars. It's definitely a fork and plate meal, and not eaten as easily as a muffin on the go. It tasted more like a dessert to me than a breakfast.

Here's the recipe:

Shortbread cookie dough for the base layer:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour

Apple topping:
3 cups diced apples
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon, depending on personal preference
Dash nutmeg
Dash ground cloves

Streusel-like dusting:
2 tablespoons of the shortbread cookie dough from the base
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons sugar
Dash nutmeg

1) Grease 8x8 or 9x9 pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2) Combine all cookie dough ingredients to make the cookie dough, reserving 2 tablespoons for the streusel-like topping. Spread remainder of cookie dough in greased pan, pressing to edges. It should be as level as you can make it with your hands.
3) Combine all apple filling ingredients (I leave my apple peels on the apples to save time while baking with a toddler and increase the healthiness factor). Spread atop cookie dough in the pan.
4) Combine streusel ingredients in small bowl and evenly dust over apple filling. (Or let your toddler help and it'll be totally uneven but he'll have a blast)
5) Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. Let cool on cooling rack. Once you won't burn your hand and/or mouth, cut into squares and enjoy.

Disney Romance

Whether you're excited for romantic Valentine's snuggles or just ready for all that heart shaped chocolate to be marked half off, there's a Disney movie for every scenario. Here's your definitive guide to a Disney themed Valentine's Day.

Flying solo:
Love goes much farther than just a significant other. Gather your family and friends together, make some Mikey shaped goodies, and share the love.

Finding Nemo
Father and son, the hilarious Ellen; what's not to love?

Perfect for mothers, daughters, and bear fans of all sizes.

Brother Bear
Another tear jerker!

Disney Short Films collection 
Smaller ones will love the Frozen short, while grownups a can enjoy the older shorts, cry their eyes out at Little Match Girl, and hum along to John Henry.

Lovey dovey love 
If you're curling up with a sweetheart on Sunday, these sweet films are right up your alley.

Lady and the Tramp
Ahh, puppy love.

Rapunzel and Flynn have a fun love story, and great banter.  I always tear up at the family reunion.

Sleeping Beauty
Love and dragons? Count me in!

Heroes and monsters and the undead, oh my!

Beauty and the Beast
Roses, ball rooms and ballads add up to a romantic evening.

Live-Action Favorites 
Maybe your sweetie isn't as keen on Disney animation as, well, me. If real actors have a broader appeal, don't fear! Disney has plenty of live action films to appease you both.

Pirates of the Carribbean trilogy
Plenty of action and a terrific love story between Will and Elizabeth adds up to a winner!

The Proposal
Sandra Bullock, Alaska and Ryan Reynolds? Yes, please!

This live action version of the beloved fairy tale gives us more backstory and a more solid and believable love story as well. 

What are some of your favorite Disney romances? Share them in the comments!