Tag Archives: dinner and a movie

Dinner & A Movie

Middle Eastern inspired Lemon Grilled Chicken with Dried Fruit CousCous, homemade Pita & Hummus and The Hurt Locker

When The Hurt Locker took home the top Academy Award this past March I had to add it to the list of must-see movies. I’m not a huge fan of war films as I usually end up with my eyes covered (meaning I missed most of Saving Private Ryan) but this movie was different. Instead of putting emphasis of the horrors of war through graphic physical violence it showed you the psychological stress, fear, anticipation, and adrenaline of modern warfare leaving me holding my breath and my heart racing. Just as importantly, I had to see what the film of the first time female Academy Award winner for Best Director, Kathryn Bigelow, was all about. 

Lemon Grilled Chicken


For 2 people:

1LB boneless skinless chicken breasts

pounded out to 1/4 inch thick

3 garlic cloves crushed

Juice of 1 lemon

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup fresh chopped Parsley

salt & pepper to taste

*Lemon wedges for garnish

Pound out chicken breasts to 1/4 inch thick and season with salt & pepper, set aside. Combine lemon juice, olive oil, parsley and garlic in a bowl then dredge the chicken coating well. 

Let the chicken marinate for about an hour in the fridge in the yummy juices while you made the pita, hummus and couscous. 

Once ready, put the chicken on the grill, use the left over marinade juices to coat the chicken as it cooks on either side.



1 cups middle eastern couscous

1 cup mixed dried fruits such as dates, currants, and raisins 

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil and add 1 cup of couscous along with the dried fruits. Simmer for 8 minutes until tender yet still al dente, drain.



by: Middle Eastern Recipe Index

1 can of chickpeas drained & rinsed

juice of 1 lemon

1 1/2 TBS tahina

1 garlic clove crushed



1TBS olive oil

1tsp paprika

fresh spring of parsley

*we added mixed olives

Process the chickpeas in a blender or food processor with the lemon juice, tahina, garlic and salt until smooth and creamy. 

Serve on a flat plate, garnish with a dribble of olive oil, dusting of paprika and a little parsley.

* we added mixed olives

Homemade Pita Bread

By: The Fresh Loaf


Makes 8 pitas

3 cups flour

1 1/2 TSP salt

1TBS honey

1 packet of yeast

1 1/4 cup water

2TBS olive oil

 Mix the yeast in with the flour, salt, and sugar. Add the olive oil and 1 1/4 cup water and stir together with a wooden spoon. All of the ingredients should form a ball. If some of the flour will not stick to the ball, add more water (I had to add an extra 1/4 cup). Once all of the ingredients form a ball, place the ball on a work surface, such as a cutting board, and knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes (or until your hands get tired). When you are done kneading the dough, place it in a bowl that has been lightly coated with oil.  Form a ball out of the dough and place it into the bowl, rolling the ball of dough around in the bowl so that it has a light coat of oil on all sides.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and set aside to rise until it has doubled in size, approximately 90 minutes. When it has doubled in size, punch the dough down to release some of the trapped gases and divide it into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, cover the balls with a damp kitchen towel, and let them rest for 20 minutes. This step allows the dough to relax so that it’ll be easier to shape.

While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If you have a baking stone, put it in the oven to preheat as well. If you do not have a baking stone, turn a cookie sheet upside down and place it on the middle rack of the oven while you are preheating the oven. This will be the surface on which you bake your pitas. 

After the dough has relaxed for 20 minutes, spread a light coating of flour on a work surface and place one of the balls of dough there. Sprinkle a little bit of flour on top of the dough and use a rolling pin or your hands to stretch and flatten the dough. You should be able to roll it out to between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. If the dough does not stretch sufficiently you can cover it with the damp towel and let it rest 5 to 10 minutes before trying again.

Open the oven and place as many pitas as you can fit on the hot baking surface. They should be baked through and puffy after 3 minutes. If you want your pitas to be crispy and brown you can bake them for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, but it isn’t necessary.

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Dinner & A Movie

Tacos al Carbon, Homemade Tortillas, Fresh Roasted Salsa and Frida

Sometime life just comes together and offers you up something really special. A few weeks ago I was introduced to the wonderful NYC blog Homesick Texan, something we all know I can relate to. Scrolling through her blog I was drooling at all the wonderful recipes and came to her Tacos al Carbon and that was it. I had to make it. So I thought I’d also take the opportunity to make homemade flour tortillas which lo and behold my talented and beautiful photography friend in Boston just posted on her blog Isela Maria Photography her family recipe for just that! So I grabbed my salsa recipe, my tex-mex know-how and got to cookin! Now I know Tex-Mex has nothing to do with Frida and her life in Mexico but something about all the colors in the film with the colors of the food and the spiciness of the salsa and hand making tortillas just went together. As a woman in the arts I like to watch this movie every now and then not only from the inspiring paintings but from the strength of Frida Kahlo and her endurance through so much, “At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.” Her story is incredible, her art is magnificent and well, I think her style is truly amazing as in these photographs.

Tacos al Carbon  

by: Homesick Texan


2 pounds skirt steak (I used chicken) Juice of 4 limes 4 cloves of garlic 1/4 cup cilantro 1 jalapeno 1 teaspoon cumin 1 teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon black pepper 1 teaspoon canola oil or nonstick cooking spray Four green onions (we grilled 1/2 a white onion)

Flour Tortillas 

by: Isela Maria

1 1/2 cups unbleached flour 1tsp. baking powder 1/2 tsp. salt 3 Tbsp. vegetable shortening or lard 1 cup of warm water


4 medium tomatoes  1/2 white onion 1 jalapeno 1 seranno pepper 2 tbls black pepper 1/2 tbls garlic powder salt and cilantro to taste 2 cloves of garlic 1 teaspoon cumin 1 lime juiced

Salsa: Over an open flame burn seranno pepper until black and place in a sealed paper sack to steam. Burn the tomatoes, onion and jalapeno in a cast iron skillet. After they are cooked place in a blender or food processor along with the steamed seranno pepper (this salsa is HOT, HOT, HOT! If you want it mild remove the seeds in both peppers). Add the 2 tbls black pepper, 1/2 tbls garlic powder, salt, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 teaspoon cumin, juice of 1 lime and cilantro to taste in the blender and pulse until desired consistency. 

Tacos al Carbon (by Homesick Texan): 

To make the marinade, in a blender mix all the ingredients except for the skirt steak, canola oil and green onions. Pour over skirt steak and let it marinate for 2 to 8 hours in the refrigerator.

* I used the cheaper chicken

On  a medium high heat I warmed my grill, adding the chicken and cooking for about 5 mins per side or until the grill marks become a dark brown and the chicken is cooked through. If you are using skirt steak as in the original recipe, follow her directions as they very slightly. I then thew 1/2 a white onion on the grill until cooked through and charred. 

Homemade Flour Tortillas (by Isela Maria):

Mix dry ingredients. Add shortening or lard and mix with either your hands or a fork. Add water a little at a time until the dough is not sticky but is soft and moist. Knead the dough for a few minutes then separate into smaller balls – about 6 balls, let rest for about 10 minutes. 

Press or roll out (we pressed ours out with two pots and tin foil and then we rolled them out further with a rolling pin, this is where the tortilla press would have come in handy) 

heat on comal or cask iron skillet on medium to high heat for a few minutes until there are spots of golden brown on both sides.

I served the meal on a wood tray with fresh cilantro, lime, sour cream, sharp cheddar cheese, freshly sliced avocado, tortillas wrapped in a festive dish towel, bowel of warm tortilla chips and the fresh salsa. Crack a couple of beers and it’s a Frida Fiesta!

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Dinner & A Movie

Classic Lasagna and All About Eve

Two classics served up together. First let me say, this was a labor of love. I could have bought pre-made pasta and ricotta but I wanted to do it all myself, I wanted it to be the best it possibly could and OMG did it pay off. A wonderful meal and a wonderful movie. Sometimes I forget about the power and artistry of Bettie Davis until I brush up on my classic movies. I find it magical that Ms. Davis becomes more beautiful and inspiring when she’s mad and arguing those smart quick comebacks… a talent I wish I could have dished out a few times in my life. The first time I saw this movie I was very young and I remember being so taken by Marilyn Monroe. The shear glamour of her presence let alone the rest of the film’s costumes. Seeing this picture again as an adult I can appreciate why it won so many oscars in 1950. I feel the story telling and editing was wonderfully modern for it’s time and I understand the relationships of older women to younger and women to their careers.

After spending 4 hours in the kitchen making probably the best dish in my life to date, wearing false eyelashes and my hair curled into place I felt very good about being a woman, something Bettie Davis realizes is just as important as a career: ”Funny business, a woman’s career. The things you drop on your way up the ladder, so you can move faster. You’ll forget you’ll need them again when you go back to being a woman. That’s one career all women have in common – whether we like it or not – being a woman. Sooner or later we’ve all got to work at it, no matter what other careers we’ve had or wanted…” 

Classic Lasagna  

by: Bon Appetit



1 tablespoon olive oil 1 cup chopped onion 3/4 cup finely chopped peeled carrots 2 tablespoons minced garlic 8 ounces lean ground beef 6 ounces spicy Italian sausages, casings removed 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with added puree 1/4 cup tomato paste 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil 1 tablespoon golden brown sugar 1 tablespoon dried oregano 1 bay leaf 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper


15 lasagna noodles (about 12 ounces) (we made our own) 2 15-ounce containers part-skim ricotta cheese (we made our own) 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces) 1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, squeezed dry 2 large eggs 4 3/4 cups grated mozzarella cheese (about 1 1/4 pounds)

*this meal cost $25, however, it made 3 meals worth (for 2 people)

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and garlic; sauté until softened, about 12 minutes.

Add beef and sausages to pan; sauté until cooked through, breaking up meat with back of spoon, about 5 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients.

Cover and simmer until flavors blend and sauce measures about 5 cups, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Cool.

Combine ricotta and 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese in medium bowl. Mix in spinach. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in eggs.

*I made homemade ricotta which you can see how-to from my Adventures in Cooking Post

The homemade pasta. It’s hard to go back to dried once you do this. It’s a simple thing to do it just takes dedication and hard work (unless you’re lucky enough to have a pasta machine) but I’m finding those principles to be important with everything in life and it feels just as good as it tastes. 

Is it strange I find this beautiful?! *drools

Spread 1/2 cup sauce over bottom of 13×9-inch glass baking dish. Place 5 noodles over sauce, overlapping to fit. Spread half of ricotta-spinach mixture evenly over noodles. Sprinkle 2 cups mozzarella cheese evenly over ricotta-spinach mixture. Spoon 1 1/2 cups sauce over cheese, spreading with spatula to cover (sauce will be thick). Repeat layering with 5 noodles, remaining ricotta-spinach mixture, 2 cups mozzarella and 1 1/2 cups sauce. Arrange remaining 5 noodles over sauce. Spread remaining sauce over noodles. Sprinkle remaining 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese evenly over lasagna. (Can be prepared up to 1 day ahead. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.) Cover baking dish with aluminum foil. Bake lasagna 40 minutes; uncover and bake until hot and bubbly, about 40 minutes. Let lasagna stand 15 minutes before serving.

Extra! Extra! Here is an awesome write up of All About Eve

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Dinner & A Movie

French Mussels & Amélie

As you know, it is Paris Week on From Me To You so I could not wait for this week’s Dinner & A Movie… I mean two of my favorite things in one- Amélie & Butter (and bread and garlic and wine and you get the idea). So when I had lunch with Working Class Foodies cook Rebecca Lando this week she asked me what I was going to make, I guess it was fate we met up because I was wanting to try my hand at mussels which happens to be one of Rebecca’s favorite dishes and one of the topics of their first cooking show episode! It was cheap, delicious and easy and the Working Class Foodies cooking shows are in my opinion the most beautifully filmed shows about food out right now.

Now lets talk about Amélie. The first time I saw Amélie it was one of those magical movie experiences where I was just transported the whole time. The colors, the saturation, the editing, the storytelling, the art direction, the styling opened a whole new visual world for me. Really a wonderfully creative film and storytelling that I had never seen before and have since revisited over and over again as one of my motion picture favorites.

  • French Mussels

by: Working Class Foodies


1 1/2 – 2lbs Mussels

4 Tablespoons of butter

6 cloves of garlic, minced

16oz Beer *we used white wine


Salt & Pepper

A good crusty bread (toasting and rubbing with 1/2 a clove of garlic is optional but quite delicious)

Costs: $6 for the mussels, $0.79 for a lemon, $1.79 bread, $4.99 white wine

*We are going to use the left over sauce to bake fresh fish in for another dinner

How To by Rebecca Lando- read more about Rebecca’s Mussels on the Working Class Foodies Blog and watch the video on Hungry Nation~

1 ½ – 2 lbs of mussels, cleaned and debearded (just scrub under cold water and pull off the beards)

Mince the garlic, melt the butter over medium-low heat in a large, heavy saucepan. Add in the garlic and cook just past translucent, about 3 minutes.

Add in the mussels and the salt and pepper

immediately pour the beer over the mussels, and cover with a lid.

*We used white wine

*We also added lemon

Leave covered and cook for about 10 minutes, shaking once halfway through.

and Voilà!

Remove the cover; the mussels should have opened.

*the sauce is the best part

Serve with big hunks of bread or garlic-rubbed toast.

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