Saturday, January 16, 2010

Chicken Breasts in Caper Cream Sauce

Today was rainy and gray but with the weather making you want to stay inside is a perfect time to try out a new recipe. I got the idea for this one on, made a couple of minor additions and it received rave reviews from the entire family which is an accomplishment in itself.

Here's how to do it...


4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1/4 cup green onions, minced

  1. Season chicken breasts with pepper, salt, and dill weed.
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil. Saute onions and garlic for about one minute. Place breasts in skillet, and increase heat to medium-high. Turn chicken frequently, until brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and cook 5 to 7 minutes, until breasts are cooked through. Remove chicken to a warm serving platter, and cover with foil.
  3. Return skillet to stove, and increase heat to high. Whisk in whipping cream, whisking continuously until reduced to sauce consistency, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in capers. Pour sauce over chicken, and serve.
The sauce is simple and really makes this dish what it is. You'll notice from the picture that I served this with a fairly simple bruschetta. Here's how to do it.


  • 3-4 slices of sourdough bread
  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • 1 small yellow squash
  • 3-4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 green onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  1. Dice squash and chop onion and saute in 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  2. Chop roma tomatoes.
  3. Toast sourdough bread in a frying pan in 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  4. Top toasted bread with squash and tomatoes and then lightly drizzle balsamic vinegar onto the combination.
Both of these recipes are easy but taste difficult. You can replace the chicken with cod or halibut or even pork if you'd like to change it up as well.

The dipping sauce in the picture is balsamic vinegar; Valerie likes to dip her bruschetta instead of putting it directly on the bread. Valerie also added grated cheese to the top of hers which is a nice variation.

Until next time, bon appetit!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Chicken Corn Chowder....mmmmmmm

I told you that I'd be posting some recipes here on occasion and here is the first. This is something I made for the first time tonight and it got thumbs up all around. Keegan kind of faltered at the bottom of the bowl but that's just how it is with him. I'd have been shocked if he ate the whole thing.

Chicken Corn Chowder

1 lb chicken breast - diced
1 16oz bag of frozen whole kernel corn
32 oz chicken broth (I used Imagine Organic)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 medium onions - chopped
2 medium potatoes - chopped
1 cup cheddar cheese - grated
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp italian seasoning
salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
ground cumin, ground coriander (optional)

1. In a large frying pan saute diced chicken and onions in olive oil and butter with salt, pepper, garlic powder, italian seasoning, cumin and coriander until thoroughly cooked.

2. In a separate pot simmer potatoes and corn in chicken broth until chicken/onion combination is done.

3. Add sauteed chicken and onions to pot, add heavy cream and bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

4. Serve with a sprinkle of grated cheese on top.

Serves about 4.

That's it. Most of the work comes in dicing up the ingredients. The whole thing took me about 30-45 minutes and it turned out pretty good for my first attempt at a chowder of any kind.
Feel free to let me know what you think or if you have any ideas on how to improve it. Personally I would have added sliced mushrooms if I was making this for only myself but most of my family are not fans of fungus. Oh well, bon appetit!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Hello again, hello.

Ok so I haven't posted anything here in forever but I bet you haven't been too put out by that. I originally created this blog primarily for book, music and television reviews and while that will continue in whatever capacity this blog continues, there will be a bit of other things as well.

For one, I like to cook and I am always learning new and fun things to try out on my unsuspecting family. Since I can never quite remember what I put in things I'm thinking I'll start sharing a few of those recipes with you. That way you can try them out if you'd like and I'll always have somewhere to come back and refer to when I want to make something again.

Secondly, I have always meant to keep a record of the bizarre stuff that happens while working at a grocery store so I may just keep you abreast of those strange goings on. There is the time I was drenched by some idiot with a super-soaker, the time one of our wonderful teen-age shoplifters slapped me in the face and took off running and the time some old man walked into our back room and took a leak against the milk cooler.... you get the picture. You never know what's going to happen when you work in such a public place.

So, what to start off with? I think it'll be a brief review of a book I finished recently called The Terror written by Dan Simmons.

The Terror takes place in the 1840's and follows the doomed expedition commanded by Sir John Franklin. There were no survivors of the two ships Erebus and Terror that set out from England in 1845 in search of the fabled Northwest Passage though there is evidence that some of the men may have lived in to the early 1850's trying to escape the arctic wilderness.

Simmons account of that fateful expedition is the subject of The Terror and he obviously did his research with regard to the men who set out to find the route that would undoubtedly make many of his countrymen rich. Simmons doesn't settle for simple historical fiction though, as interesting as that may have been. He intertwines a supernatural element to what happens to these men as their ships are stranded and locked in ice for over a year and a half.
There is something stalking these men and picking them off one by one and that is what a good portion of the book is about.

Simmons gets a bit repetitive and I found myself wondering after the third or fourth encounter with this 'creature' when he was going to advance the story beyond a cat and mouse game between sailors and 'thing'.
He does though and eventually you realize that the antagonist of this story isn't just a supernatural predator but simply the cold ice storms and desperate conditions these men actually faced as they were stranded in temperatures that were often at least 50 degrees below zero.

The book is long, very long (the paperback is 992 pages), but I would recommend it. This is the first book I've read by Dan Simmons but I'll be back for more. Browsing his titles at it is obvious that he writes in several different genres and I'd be interested in some of his science fiction and other historical fiction.

I guess that is all for now. Feel free to leave a comment if you'd like, any feedback would be welcome.
Until later.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Music Review: Marty Casey & Lovehammers

Before Marty Casey became the runner-up on the CBS reality show Rockstar: INXS, he spent time lighting up the windy city as the lead singer of the rock band The Lovehammers.

Formed with childhood buddies, bassist Dino Kourelis and his brother and drummer Bobby Kourelis, The Lovehammers became one of Chicago's most popular club bands. In 2002 they added guitarist Billy Sawilchik and self-produced 4 albums of hard driving rock and roll. Feeling that he needed to take his music to the next level, Marty Casey auditioned for Rockstar: INXS eventually coming in second to the winner J.D. Fortune.

Interviewed soon after the conclusion of the reality show, Casey reasoned on his decision to take a shot at Rockstar success. "I really wasn't willing to make another record if there wasn't some substantial push as compared to what we had already done," Casey explains. "I was kind of at the point where beyond a doubt I needed to go out and discover who I was without the band."

Casey was almost immediately a fan favorite on Rockstar: INXS due primarily to his intense and impassioned performances as well as his easy-going, friendly manner. While he didn't win the spot as the new lead singer of INXS, they did invite him and his band to open for them on the first leg of their Switched On tour. The reality show also led The Lovehammers to their first major record deal through Epic/Burnett records. Though they had been known simply as The Lovehammers, Epic insisted on switching the name to Marty Casey & Lovehammers for their debut. The result is somewhat of a Greatest Hits collection, drawing all but two of its songs from previous albums.

The Lovehammers have enjoyed some limited commercial success since Marty rejoined the band. Their first single, "Trees", debuted on the show as a Casey original and spent time as the #1 download on In 2004 The Lovehammers DVD Live/Raw debuted at #1 on the Billboard DVD charts.

I was able to catch the third show of the INXS/Lovehammers tour and, through the efforts of my superfan wife, meet Marty and the guys. I found them all to be very respectful, appreciative and genuine. During my brief conversation with Marty he looked me in the eyes and acted like I was the only person in the room for the moment. Observing him with others I saw the same pleasant, focused attention on everyone that he met. Their show was high energy, good time rock performed like they were out to win an endurance contest. They have a good time on-stage and it shows.

So, what's the album like you ask? Like I mentioned before, it's primarily a collection of previous work and it both benefits and suffers from this. The benefit is that there is hardly a weak song across all eleven tracks. The first song "Casualty", was written very shortly after Rockstar ended. It's structure is unique and after a couple listens I really liked it. The album itself runs the gamut of differing sounds and influences. The moody, introspective "Rain on the Brain" is my personal favorite bringing Def Leppard's "Hysteria" to mind. There are shades of Foo Fighters, Alice in Chains and Nickelback. "Hold On" conjures "She Sells Sanctuary" by The Cult.

It's therein where the small problem I have with the album lies. Each song seems like an island, a single written without consideration for the whole. This leaves the complete effort feeling a bit disjointed. During Rockstar: INXS Casey stated that he felt music downloads had changed the face of the music industry, making single records more popular than albums. While he does have a point about the state of the industry, I grew up buying and listening to LP's. Continuity is important and this album just doesn't have much of it. Continuity aside though, the quality of the songs themselves on Marty Casey & Lovehammers freshman outing range from good to outstanding and therefore I have to recommend it. The Lovehammers get a pass on this one simply given the circumstances surrounding the lead-up to recording.

There is a lot of fun to be had discovering this album. The high energy, hard hitting guitar riffs are infectious. Drummer Bobby Kourelis is better than average and Marty Casey's voice is energetic and passionate if not perfect. My only complaint in the production of the album is that the bass lines often seemed washed out. That's pretty common with guitar rock but still disappointing.

Overall, Marty Casey has the potential to be a star as either a Lovehammer or a solo artist. A follow-up album with some promotion from their record company would be nice and would go a long way towards showing if they have what it takes as a band to be Rockstars.

This post has been published on - Check it out here.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I'm a published Blogcritic!

I'm happy to announce that I've become an official Blogcritic. If you're not sure what that is then I highly suggest you follow the link at the right side of this page. It's an excellent site to check out the latest news, reviews, opinions, whatever. The TV page usually has some excellent recaps of various shows. My first post there is the same review of The Cure's Disintegration album that I have up here but you still might want to have a look.

Jackie, one of the TV editors, is also one of the recap artists. She did recaps of Big Brother: All Stars which was an appreciated resource for those of us that didn't really want to watch the live feeds but wanted to know what happened. She currently recaps episodes of Survivor, Amazing Race and Lost.

I'm not sure what my next submission will be to but I'll be sure to let you all know.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Music Review: The Cure - Disintegration

In May of 1989 I was blissfully wandering a record store looking for something that would reflect the raw emotional discord that I often felt at the time. It had to be good, in my mind that usually meant that it needed some kind of emotional complexity. I tended towards a wide range of music including Pink Floyd, Duran Duran, The Alan Parsons Project, Rush, Depeche Mode as well as the guilty pleasure of Debbie Gibson. As I browsed the record bins (remember record bins?) there was a change in the music being played over the stores sound-system. I didn't recall there being music playing at all when suddenly a song began that I couldn't ignore. It was like listening to Beethoven with drums and keyboards. It was powerful, even epic. I can't remember ever being transfixed so quickly by music I'd never heard before.

I made my way to the counter and asked the guy what he'd just put on, what this music was. He looked at me like he was on the verge of dozing off and grunted something to the affect of, "The Cure, Disintegration. Just came out." The Cure? I was pretty sure I'd heard a song or two by them. I seemed to remember seeing a video with a strange looking guy in some sort of furry costume ("Why Can't I Be You" from Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me). I quickly made my way to the 'New Release' rack to see what I could find. In 1989 the format choices were either record album or cassette and I rarely bought cassettes. My money was limited and I always felt that an LP was a much better investment than a little plastic box with a fold-out that may or may not have the lyrics printed on it. Besides, I always recorded my LP's onto blank cassettes for listening in my car. In this case however, I had an hour long drive back home and I had to hear this album now. I bought the cassette and listened to it exclusively for the next several weeks.

The song that captured my attention so much that afternoon is called "Plainsong" and 17 years later it still has a profound affect on me. A few days ago I heard this same song on an advertisement for the new movie Marie Antoinette. I was a bit surprised but pleased as the song fit the movie trailer well. As you can see, it also got me to thinking about this stunning album and how it held up after all this time.

After listening to this album again (on CD now) it's important to point out that this is a solid album through every track. Each song is like the labored over brush-stroke of a modern masterpiece. It takes you through a heart-rending path of broken promises, lost love, desperation and finally hope for emotional peace. Robert Smith's vocals, at first striking and a little raw to the first time listener, are bold and plaintive. He echoes the pain that most of us have felt at some time in our life and offers a voice for any of us that have ever wanted to bury our head in our arms in a dark corner of the room and cry uncontrollably. There are a few stand-outs amidst the no-filler track list that I think will have an immediate appeal: "Pictures of You", "Love Song", "Fascination Street" and "Lullaby" are the most-likely to be familiar. With a listen or two, "Prayers for Rain", "The Same Deep Water as You" and the title track "Disintegration" will leave you haunted by loss and hope.

There is a tremendous amount of power in this album, the synth-strings, ghostly weaving guitar and complex drum rhythms make sure of that. As good as it is though, I can see this being a 'love it or hate it' album. It is dark, moody, desperate and melancholy to a degree that can be emotionally wearing. It's a welcome friend when you want to wallow in the grief of something or someone lost to you, but could be much too heavy for those in a lighter mood.

For Cure lovers, I've not revealed anything to you that you don't already know about this album. You've been nodding your heads along with this review, maybe you have the urge to dig the CD out and relive it. For everyone else, I hope you give this album a chance. Many will find this music to be a revelation, an 80's album that sounds as deep and relevant as anything being produced today. If you've been curious about The Cure at all, this is the place to start.

"i leave you with photographs
pictures of trickery
stains on the carpet and stains on the memory
songs about happiness
murmured in dreams
when we both of us knew

how the end always is..."

The Cure - "Disintegration"

Kyle Morris

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

DVD Review: Lost - The complete second season

, how do I love thee, let me count the ways. Ok, that may be going a little far but not by much. I remember hearing about the new show coming up on ABC's fall 2004 schedule and thinking that it sounded less than intriguing. A fictional Survivor? I don't think so. That couldn't possibly be good. I would not be making time for that. However, one evening I found myself in front of the television with little to watch when a repeat of the pilot episode aired. Hmmm, actually kind of interesting, but where could it go from there? Two seasons and several Emmy's later it has gone further than I ever thought possible in a network television show.

You see, I've been one of those people that wasn't sure any of the big three networks was capable of producing a truly thought provoking, intelligent show anymore. In fact, outside of Alias, 24 and The X-Files (though two of those are on Fox), most intelligent television has been relegated to HBO and Showtime. After enjoying such shows as Carnivale, Big Love and Six Feet Under I really wasn't sure if network TV could stand up to the bar HBO had raised. That's one reason why it was such a delight to find a smartly written show with genuine mystery and wonderful characters in Lost.

So, all that being said, who is a season of DVD's really for? I envision two basic customers. First, the Lostophiles who have been eagerly awaiting the chance to examine every little scene for clues they might have missed the first showing. Lost is like watching a television puzzle so for those with the patience and interest, multiple viewings are enjoyable. I would put myself in this category, especially with the first season so far, I've watched it several times over. I find re-watching the show like visiting old friends. There are many comments that I'd forgotten about, odd things in the background that I'd missed etc.
Secondly, the DVD's are for those that missed a show here and there or never started watching at all. For those that are buying or renting the DVD's because you keep hearing so much about the show, I envy you. You are about to embark on a fascinating journey/mystery and you don't have to wait a week between episodes. You can satisfy your 'what happens next' curiosity immediately... until you catch up that is. Ahhh, and no 4 month wait between the first two seasons either, I truly am jealous.

What can you expect from the season 2 DVD's? There is one full disc of bonus materials plus 5 of the 24 episodes have optional cast/writer/producer commentaries. The commentaries I found to be unusually forthcoming, hinting at and confirming several theories without divulging too much. There is a feature that covers one full episode from concept to writing to pre-production all the way through shooting and post-production. It's very informative on several levels giving a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to produce a network television show. There is a feature showing the different connections between the characters as well. I found it to be a bit clumsy and time consuming but interesting.
All things considered, this DVD collection is a must-have for Lost fans that can be delved into as deeply as you would like. From just having the episodes at hand to looking at the various easter-eggs that give you a deeper Lost experience. For those of you who have heard about the show but have never watched it, I urge you to give it a chance. I think you'll find that it is one of the highest quality, best written shows on television. Whatever your experience with Lost, I highly recommend your giving this collection a look.

Kyle Morris