Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fudgy, delicious brownies

My mom makes the best brownies. I know you've heard this so much, from so many different people, but I have to say, my mom has such a kick ass brownie recipe, you wouldn't believe. Here is the proof: when switching this recipe over to be kosher for Passover, it is still beyond amazing. My mom has made these brownies for so many occasions including my Bat Mitzvah. I made these brownies four times in the past few months. First, just regular chocolate, fudgy brownies; the second time, I made them diet friendly, subbing splenda for sugar and only using egg whites. I also added peppermints into them. The third time, I made them regularly and then added the peppermints again. The fourth time that I made them was for a Passover dinner that my friends and I were having. The brownies came out fantastically through every single variation that I put them through, so now I will share our recipe with you.

Fudgy Brownies
2 sticks margarine
3/4 cup cocoa
2 cups sugar (if doing diet friendly, using plain splenda, you can sub the same amount..using splenda for baking-the amount will vary-i usually use normal splenda)
3 eggs (diet friendly-use 6 eggs and only the whites)
1 cup flour (if making kosher for passover, sub the same amount of matzo cake meal)
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt (I don't add salt)
1 pkg. chocolate chips

for making peppermint brownies, we used the peppermints that you get from restaurants after dinner and crushed them using a meat tenderizer-just put them in with the chocolate chips-as many as you think necessary (we didn't count)

In a medium saucepan over low heat or in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave melt margarine; remove from heat and put in mixing bowl. Add cocoa and stir until blended. Add sugar and mix well. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add flour (or matzo cake meal), vanilla and salt and stir just until mixed together. DO NOT OVER BEAT. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread in greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until done.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Ashlyne Huff, Just Kait, and Honor Society in NYC

Although driving in to New York City from Syracuse is tiresome and annoying, I am glad that I could make the drive and have a great weekend and catch this great concert. Honor Society is now on the last leg of their first headlining tour; the Here Comes Trouble tour. This concert marked their second time playing at the Nokia Theater in New York City, and it was a huge thing for them. The last time that they played the Nokia Theater, they opened for Hanson with only 100-200 people there for their opening performance. This time, they were over 1700 fans there, singing and dancing their asses off.

The show started with an appearance by Free Style Steve, Timbaland's DJ who spun some awesome songs, turning the whole venue into a huge dance party.

Ashlyne Huff was up next; her first album is coming out on May 11, and she made sure that we all knew it. Normally, the repetition would get annoying, but her bubblyness and excitement about it was really cute. I loved that she took her shoes off after a few songs; it normalized her and is also something I would do. She sang songs off of the upcoming album and did a few tastes of some songs off the radio that she and the crowd liked. Heart of Gold will be her single, and I really liked it. I also loved Trippin' It Up; she and her dancer definitely have some awesome moves. Her band is awesome, and you definitely need to check them out. After the show, she gave out a sampler containing 30 seconds each of 6 songs and the video to Heart of Gold. For more of the adorable Ashlyne Huff, check out her myspace, facebook, youtube, twitter, and official website.

Just Kait came on next; I also had only heard of her, about her, but really had not heard much of her music. I loved her rough edge and rock type songs, and especially that being an awesome, independent girl ran through as a theme for most of her songs. I also really liked her purple guitar. One of my favorite songs of hers is Heart Shaped Bruise. I also loved her covers of Hot Stuff (originally by Donna Summer), and her cover of The Only Exception (Paramore) was beautiful and definitely showcased Kait's voice and softer side. After the show, I got to talk to her drummer, Eric, who is definitely one of a kind and really cool. I briefly spoke to Kait during the meet and greet line, and she was really awesome too. For more Just Kait, check out her myspace, facebook, youtube, twitter, and official website.

Now I know that I review Honor Society a lot, and there will be another review for my next concert up here, probably within the week, but please believe me when I say that the concerts in NYC truly are different than those elsewhere. Not different as in better, but you can see just how much they love being home, an d having their parents and sisters there. There were parts of the show when Mike was talking about how far they've come-you could see the guys looking up to where their families were. I love this because it really shows that they are real people and are actually grateful for what they have and actually love doing this. Yes, this is apparent at every single show, but seeing the gratitude to their parents is just really awesome.

They played a few songs that they had not been playing both in previous tours, and on the first half of this tour. Rock With You isn't one of my favorite songs on the album, but I have to say, they crushed that song live; I loved it. The whole venue was honor rolling to See You In The Dark (I was up on the balcony so I could see all of this-it was awesome). The acoustic medley was great, but my favorite part of it had to be that Jason got his own parts to sing. He has a great voice and yes, I love Mike's voice, but it's so nice to hear Jason sing. The Jason DeRulo songs are fun, but I would really like to hear them play the songs as they are and not acoustically. Their new song When I Get Home is so touching; the lyrics are awesome and the music goes perfectly with it. The gents were full of energy and really brought it all for this show. If you have a chance to see this tour, I'd say go for it. There are a few weeks of shows left and you definitely will not regret it; these three bands are awesome! For more on Honor Society, check out their myspace, youtube, facebook, twitter, and official website.

For more videos from this and other concerts, check out my youtube channel.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


One of the best and most well known restaurants in Houston are owned by the Pappas family. Among their restaurants include Pappa's Burgers, Pappa's Seafood, Pappadeaux, and Pappasito's. My family and I have been going to Pappasito's for as long as I can remember. This restaurant is the epitome of phenomenal Tex Mex cuisine.

The menu features fajita, tacos, enchiladas, soups, salads and more, with quality chicken, fish, shellfish, and steak. I have never ordered a dish that I was not completely satisfied with, and hardly ever have complaints about their service. They make their tortillas and tortilla chips in the restaurant. You can see the tortilla machines as they work, and if you're young enough, they will even give you a ball of dough to play with while you wait for your meal.

When I was younger, my meal of choice was hard beef tacos, but I have now fallen in love with their shrimp fajitas. I also love that they offer different types of beans (I don't eat pork, so the fat that they have an alternative to the black beans is awesome) I also prefer whole wheat tortillas over flour and corn, and was so excited to see this included in their menu as of a few years ago.

Their Presidente margaritas are to die for; Pappasito's has a great happy hour menu and always has a great atmosphere for a fun and casual night out with your family or friends. It is a great place to bring the whole family, and finding something to eat from the menu is never an issue, and I often dine with extremely picky eaters.

If you're in Houston and have not yet eaten at a Pappasito's, do yourself a favor and get there now. Visiting Houston? This is a great place to go for a great experience and fantastic food.

For more information, visit their website here. Never fear, there are also locations in Atlanta, San Antonio, and Arlington if that is closer to you.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

White Picket Fence and Parachute at Syracuse University

Last Wednesday, as a continuation to its Bandersnatch Series, Syracuse University had White Picket Fence and Parachute play in Schine Underground. I was so excited to see Parachute live (I, like most people, am pretty much in love with She Is Love), but had never heard of White Picket Fence.

White Picket Fence is a band, local to Syracuse, not under a label yet. I really loved what I heard of them, and cannot wait to see them improve even more in the future. My friend Caitlin and I described them as close to the Hush Sound and a little like a softer version of Paramore. They have released a full length album, Clocks and Calendars, and even performed some other songs that they have written since then.

Check them out on Facebook and Myspace. Here are some videos from their show; for more, check out my youtube channel.

Parachute came on next, starting with All That I Am. They were so fun and energetic, and it was really awesome to see that their keyboard player also played the saxophone, which was used in a lot of their songs. Along with playing their own songs, they did a Tom Petty cover and a Phil Collins cover. They also told a story about how someone heard and was humming their song, but then, not knowing that Will was the leader singer of the band who played that song, told Will that he hated the song. They guys were really funny and really nice and hung out after the concert before going to the bars to hang out some more. I was definitely not happy about the amount of work that I had to do instead of going out. Caitlin and I took a picture with Kit, the keyboardist/saxophonist, but as a party ruined my camera, it was taken on my blackberry and of course is super blurry.

For more Parachute, check out their Facebook, Myspace, Youtube, and official page. For more videos from this show, check out my youtube channel.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Andy Samberg "Comedic Interview"

The Hillel at Syracuse and the Visual and Performing Arts school brought Andy Samberg to come speak. Sounds awesome, right? Well honestly if it is going to be a comedic interview, do not get someone to interview him who is awkward and decides to interject random things about himself the whole time. This honestly took away from Samberg being there and made the whole event really annoying. Samberg was great though you could tell he was getting annoyed at the guy who was interviewing him.

In spite of all of that, Samberg did give great answers to the questions he was asked; so here is what we all got to learn and hear about Samberg through his comedic interview.

  • His first appearance on Saturday Night Live was the "impression-off" with Bill Hader
  • The very first digital short that aired was "Lettuce" (for those who don't know, Samberg had been doing digital shorts since he was in college, if not before's his thing)
  • The third digital short aired was "Lazy Sunday"
  • As for writing songs, its either beats then concept, or concept than beats...When talking about "Dick in a Box" he said that "we locked ourselves in the office and came up with 'Dick in a Box'" then realized what he had just said
  • His favorite collaborations have been with Justin Timberlake, Julian Casablanca, Norah Jones, and T Pain
  • His favorite hosts have been Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill, and Jack Black
  • It is the hardest for him to keep a straight face when Forte plays his characters
  • He always laughs when Kenan does his "Scared Straight" sketches because Hader loses it first
  • We got to see the full version of Boombox with a scene that wasn't aired on television
  • His favorite food is sandwiches, which is documented in "Doppleganger"
  • His influences are Mel Brooks, Monty Python, Weird Al, Saturday Night Live (since he was 8 years old), Mr. Show, Stella, Strangers with Candy, South Park, and Leslie Nielsen
  • His favorite curse word is "fuck"
  • His dream collaboration would be with Jay-Z
  • On what it means to be a famous Jew "It is where being not Jewish and famous meets being not famous and Jewish"
  • His weapon of choice is a green lightsaber
  • He got the audition for Saturday Night Live from Jimmy Fallon-Samberg and his friends were writing sketches for MTV Movie awards when Fallon hosted. Fallon brought in a bunch of SNL people who ended up liking Samberg and asked him in for an audition
  • He has had no backlash for the short "Iran So Far"
  • He wishes more women would get into comedy

Monday, April 5, 2010

Brooks and Dunn: The Last Rodeo Tour

Along with George Strait, Garth Brooks, and Tim McGraw, Brooks and Dunn are one of the most well known names in country music. When they announced their retirement last year, I was definitely upset. This duo has sung me to sleep countless times, as when I was younger, I would only listen to the country station on my radio at night. Their unique sound and fun songs also made up many car drives with my family and later, my friends.

I was so excited when I got the tickets to their stop in Houston on their "Last Rodeo" tour, coincidentally, at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Never showing their age at all, Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn covered the stage and even went onto the arena floor (or the dirt) and got close to their fans. They really are the definition of a dynamic duo for country music. Their musical career has spanned 20 years of hit singles that never get old.

Their set included both old and new hits which had the crowd into it from the very first notes they played until the end of their final song. A major highlight for me was when they brought out soldiers during Only In America. As I remember and type this out, I have chills. Age really was nothing but a number for this performance; there was no lack of energy, and their voices and enthusiasm were through the roof. I am so glad that I got to see them once before they retired, but their songs will be playing on my itunes and my radio for years and years to come. If you have a chance to see this tour, GO. DO NOT MISS IT!!

Here are some videos from the show; for more, please check out my YouTube Channel. Also, check out their Facebook, Myspace and Official Website.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Bounty Hunter

Since the movie has been out for about two weeks, I figure that it's alright to write a review of it. However THIS POST CONTAINS POSSIBLE SPOILERS AND OPINIONS ABOUT THE MOVIE,BOUNTY HUNTER. WARNING DO NOT READ IF YOU DO NOT WANT THAT.

So, with that said, Bounty Hunter is a comedy starring Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler. Aniston and Butler's characters are divorced; Aniston is extremely career driven and Butler is a bounty hunter. The whole movie is about his newest job, or taking his ex wife in for skipping out on a court appearance. Of course, this job gives him ultimate pleasure, as all he wants to do is bring his ex down. Along the way, they go through many different plot twists, all converging to them falling in love again.

Brief synopsis, I know, but I'm not going to give away the whole movie (and you can tell they end up falling in love again from the trailer, and because these movies are predictable -just like we like them). It was cute and entertaining-for the most part. There were parts of the movie that dragged on where my friend and I were like...what? why is this happening. Parts they could have definitely done without and the plot would have been perfectly fine and uninterrupted.

Aniston looks great as always and did a great job acting career obsessed and frustrated by her ex husband. For some reason Butler's character bugged me-not to say he didn't do well, it just came across weird to me. I definitely prefer him in The Ugly Truth and 300 over this movie.

This movie was not on my 'to see' list before Jessica got free passes to it, and I'm still not sure if I would choose to watch it again. It was alright, but I've seen better (and worse).