Dinner & A Movie

Texas Beef Chili and Hope Floats

Ok, so I live in New York City but as a natural born citizen of Texas my state pride runs very deep for the Lone Star State so you can imagine my excitement when I got a Texas care package from my Aunt Deb loaded with Texas shaped candies, Texas embroidered dish towels, Texas hot sauce (because we can’t have any of that salsa made in New-York-City!). Also in the box was a package of Texas Chili Seasoning and I knew right away we had to have a Texas themed Dinner & a Movie!.. and wouldn’t I just pick a Texas film where the lead woman plays a Texas photographer… I think I’ve reached my quota on saying Texas in one paragraph. Texas. muhhaa.

  • Beef Chili

by: Whole Foods


  • 2lbs coarse ground beef chuck
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 can of corn
  • 1 can spicy black beans
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1pkg. chili seasoning mix (*I used my Texas chili seasoning sent from Texas by my aunt)
  • 6 jalapenos, chopped
  • 1 pkg. shredded cheear
  • 1 pkg. chipotle bacon, fried and chopped (garnish)
  • *I added 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • *I added and deglaze with a can of beer, how’s that for Texas.
  • *I added a dash of Worcestershire sauce

  • This recipe feeds 8, we halved it and the grocery bill was about $20.

In a skillet, brown ground beef and chopped onion

*I added garlic as well

*then deglaze with some old fashioned cheap beer.

Combine cooked ground beef with remaining ingredients in a large pot.

How cute is my retro crock pot?!!

It’s gettin’ hot in here

Cook on medium heat until chili is heated through (about 1.5 hours). Cook longer for more intense flavor.

Pretty simple right? Sprinkle some cheese and the crisp bacon served with some old fashioned saltine crackers and yee-haw, howdy y’all- the great state of Texas smiles upon you.

Thanks Aunt Deb for all the amazing treasures! I have the best family in the Greatest State, TEXAS!

Dinner & A Movie

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup and A Good Year

Cooking in my parent’s Texas kitchen is a much different experience than in my NYC apartment. For one, there is counter space, endless square feet of it. Everywhere you look there is a surface to set things down on. A dishwasher, as in machine, not person.. who knew such technology existed?! And a lifetime stock of kitchen equipment. You want a chef knife, we’ve got 20. So in the middle of winter I wanted to make something rustic, comforting and escape the dark coldness to a vineyard in France (yes, I know, I’m a genius). This soup is ridiculously easy to make, I will never buy canned again (sorry Campbell’s, though I love you in paintings) and made little toasted baguette rounds with a dollop of herb goat cheese to accompany… now if only inheriting a french chateau & vineyard were as simple…

  • Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

by: Ina Garten

  • Ingredients
  • 3 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28-ounce) canned plum tomatoes, with their juice
  • 4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 quart chicken stock or water
    • *I halved this recipe.

    • It cost $7 and fed 3 people.. $7 in TEXAS,
    • not NYC where tomatoes are made of gold.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss together the tomatoes, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the tomatoes in 1 layer on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.

In an 8-quart stockpot over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the butter, and red pepper flakes for 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown.

Add the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, and chicken stock. Add the oven-roasted tomatoes, including the liquid on the baking sheet. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Pass through a food mill fitted with the coarsest blade. Taste for seasonings. Serve hot or cold.

Dinner & A Movie

Arugula and Goat Cheese Ravioli and Revolutionary Road

This was my very first attempt at making ravioli, I wanted something as classic as the character’s lives may seem on the outside and a simple comfort food to ease through the drama in this stunning movie based on the crumbling reality of the American Dream. Revolutionary Road is one of those films I really love because visually every scene is a perfect photograph. The outstanding acting, art direction and styling, as you can see from the image below, takes you right into their world no matter how good or bad it may be. Love it or hate it, the pasta is to die for.

  • Arugula and Goat Cheese Ravioli
  • by: Gourmet


  • 1 Package of fresh pasta dough squares
  • For filling
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 lb arugula, trimmed
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup soft mild goat cheese (4 1/2 oz)
  • 1/2 cup ricotta (preferably fresh; 4 1/2 oz)
  • For sauce
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts (1 1/2 oz)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped arugula

  • *this meal cost $12 and could feed 4 people

For the filling:

Heat butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides, then add garlic, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic begins to turn golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add arugula and zest and cook, turning with tongs, until arugula is wilted, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer arugula mixture to a fine-mesh sieve and press with back of a wooden spoon to extract excess liquid, then finely chop. *I used a coffee filter

Stir together arugula mixture and cheeses in a bowl.

I used pre-made pasta dough squares to save time which I laid out in batches to fill and seal on the cutting board.

Take about 1/2 a spoon full of the filling mixture and drop in the center of each square. With a pastry brush (an artist brush in my case) or your fingers, paint a whisked egg wash around the dough’s border to act as a sealant when you push the two pieces of dough together forming the ravioli.

Press down firmly but gently around each mound, forcing out air. (Air pockets increase the chance that ravioli will break during cooking.)

We then used a fork to press around the sealed borders as decoration, I think it makes it look very rustic and exciting (yes, I get excited about crimped edges..)

For the sauce:

Heat butter in cleaned 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides, then cook pine nuts, stirring frequently, until pale golden, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, pepper, and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic begins to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Add lemon juice and oil, swirling skillet to combine, and remove from heat. (Leave sauce in skillet.)

Bring a 6- to 8-quart pot of salted water to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to a gentle boil. While water is heating, reheat sauce over low heat if necessary.
Add half of ravioli to gently boiling water, carefully stirring to separate, and cook, adjusting heat to keep at a gentle boil, until pasta is just tender, 2 to 3 minutes (*ravioli will float). Lift cooked ravioli with a slotted spoon, draining well over pot, then transfer to skillet with sauce and gently swirl skillet to coat pasta. Transfer ravioli to a platter with half of sauce and sprinkle evenly with half of chopped fresh arugula. Repeat with remaining pasta, sauce, and arugula.

Dinner & A Movie

Homestyle Pot Roast, Creamy Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Asparagus and Viva Las Vegas

Yeah, yeah, I know, wouldn’t Shrimp Cocktails — an homage to the 99 cent version on the old Vegas strip that I’ve shamelessly visited on a few late-nights (or was it early morning?) occasions — be more appropriate with the 1964 Viva Las Vegas staring Elvis Presley and Ann Margret? Well no, because this week’s theme is ELIVS to celebrate the singer’s 75th birthday a week ago today. I’m a huge Elvis Presley fan which is why my mom gifted me the cookbook Are You Hungry Tonight? Elvis’ Favorite Recipes. I also wanted to mix this along with a new Christmas present, my first Pressure Cooker!

It was kind of tough picking out which Elvis flick to watch but in the end it was Ann-Margaret who won out. I adore her in the movie from the styling to the hair to the way she makes Elvis crazy, something I imagine a lot of women attempted. I think they are one of the best screen couples because their chemistry is just explosive. My spitfire Grandma (see THIS picture to know what I mean) met the King once, back when he just started out and was touring with Johnny Cash. My Grandma went to the show and there he was standing under a tree selling his own 8x10s. She bought one, he signed it to her and in one version of the story he kissed her on the cheek. I’m not sure if that’s true — I’ll have to ask but it wouldn’t surprise me…

Homestyle Pot Roast

by: Are You Hungry Tonight?


These are listed as they are in the book,

I cut it in 1/2 and the total grocery bill was $20.

*’s are things I added or changed

3 pounds beef chuck, tied for pot roasting

*I just bought beef stew chuck

1 tablespoon flour

*I added garlic smashed

*I added fresh rosemary

2 tablespoons corn oil

4 onions, coarsely chopped

*I added some left over celery

*I added red wine.. muhaaaa

1 cup beef stock

1 cup canned crushed tomatoes

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes

*I added carrots


1 pound asparagus

olive oil




salt and pepper to taste

*I rubbed the meat with smashed garlic and added fresh chopped rosemary.

Dredge the chuck roast in the flour. In a large, heavy pot heat the oil. Put the roast in the pan and sear it on all side. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside.

*With the onions I used some celery I had laying around.

Add the onions to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until they are soft. If they begin to stick before they are cooked, add a little water.

*I deglaze the pan with red wine. Why not.

Return the meat to the pan. Pour in the beef stock and the crushed tomatoes. Add the salt, pepper, and dried chili flakes. Bring to a boil, cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and simmer the pot roast until it is tender, 2 to 3 hours.

*Here’s where we jumped the train tracks and took the speedway. I popped a cap on this meat and cooked it for 25 mins in the pressure cooker. Ok… it was scary. I couldn’t peek at progress and poke the meat or hand out samples like we were at a Costco. I did, however, take cover a couple times because I was afraid it was going to explode like in an episode of I Love Lucy… but no disasters, it was delicious!

*I also added some chopped carrots to the pressure cooker AFTER the meat was cooked for a mere 2 mins.

*For the sides I just roasted some asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper in the oven at 350 until they looked good to me. I also made some creamy mashed potatoes by boiling them until soft and adding some cream and butter with salt and pepper to the smashing process. From the School of Grandma cooking: just keep tasting and adding until it is good, no measurements.

Serve with a lip curled and the assumption that this is a song-along- Dinner & A Movie.

Dinner & A Movie

Catcher in the Rye Bistro Sandwiches, Frrrozen Hot Chocolate & Serendipity

What’s the holiday season without a romantic comedy, especially one set in New York at Christmas with Bloomingdale’s, Wollman Rink, the Waldorf Astoria, and Serendipity 3 as locations. I’ll admit, after I saw this film for the first time I joined the crowds in line to try the famous Frrrozen hot chocolate and debate destiny but later felt less guilty about it when I learned that Andy Warhol declared it his favorite sweet shop, Marilyn Monroe had a table there, and Jackie Kennedy even tried to buy the recipe of Frrrozen Hot Chocolate (which is now available in the book Sweet Serendipity) for an event she was throwing . I spent my dad’s 50th birthday there, my own birthday, my cousin’s graduation party and a couple romantic dates. With these warm late night memories on my mind I made my version of their Catcher in the Rye bistro sandwich and of course, Frrrozen Hot Chocolate.


Catcher in the Rye Sandwich:

Rye Bread

Roma Tomato cut into slices

Boston Bib Lettuce


Chicken Breasts pounded out

1 Lemon

Sprig of Fresh Rosemary roughly chopped

Muenster Cheese

Russian Dressing (I make my own, ingredients as follows):

1/2 cup Mayonnaise

1/4 cup Ketchup

1 teaspoon Tomato Paste

1 TBS Drained Horseradish

1/2 TBS Minced Onion

Rub the chicken breasts with about a Tablespoon of olive oil, rosemary, juice of 1 lemon and salt & pepper. On a hot grill cook the chicken on each side until done all the way through.

Cook the bacon, I use my grandma’s cast iron skillet, until nice and crispy.

To make the Russian dressing: Add the mayonaise, ketchup, tomato paste, horseradish, and onion in a container with a lid, shake until all ingredients are mixed. It’s that simple. I can’t remember the last time I bought pre-made dressings.

Cover each piece of bread with the dressing, muenster cheese, tomato, bacon, lettuce and top with grilled chicken. Badda-Bing, Badda-Boom.

Frrrozen Hot Chocolate

Frrrozen Hot Chocolate from:Epicurious


6 half-ounce pieces of a variety of your favorite chocolates

2 teaspoons store bought hot chocolate mix

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 cups milk

3 cups ice

Whipped cream

Chocolate shavings

Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place it in the top of a double boiler over simmering water, stirring occasionally until melted (I just used the microwave). Add the cocoa and sugar, stirring constantly until thoroughly blended. Remove from heat and slowly add 1/2 cup of the milk and stir until smooth. Cool to room temperature.

In a blender place the remaining cup of milk, the room temperature chocolate mixture, and the ice. Blend on high speed until smooth and the consistency of a frozen daiquiri. Pour into a giant goblet and top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Enjoy with a spoon or a straw… .or both!

Dinner & A Movie

San Francisco Sloppy Joes, Sweet Potato Oven Fries with Avocado Dip & Home Alone

So it’s all holiday cheer here still and I wanted to watch something from my childhood- enter Home Alone. It was kind of hard to think up a good meal pairing for this, I mean cheese pizza was a given but too simple and who can forget the line: “Fuller, Go Easy on the Pepsi”? So I had to think what meals did I have growing up and were just so 90’s to me then DING! I got it. Sloppy Joes. I loved being allowed to make a mess as a kid and although slightly more refined now there was a fun pleasure to being covered in sloppy-sloppy joes.

Of course I wanted to fancy it up a bit and I was thrilled to find this San Francisco Sloppy Joe recipe from Married with Dinner. They add chorizo and roasted chiles which really makes it an exciting new take on the out-of-packet seasoning I remembered. Since our sandwiches.. or are they burgers?… got a makeover we decided to do it with the fries too and made spicy sweet potato fries! After all this getup and kick (AHHHHH!!!) we really did need the Avocado Dip to cool down. And the movie, well it’s just perfect.

San Francisco Sloppy Joes

by Married With Dinner


1 pound Mexican-style chorizo
1 pound lean ground beef
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 whole Anaheim chiles, fresh or canned (or other mild green chiles)
2 cups tomato sauce
1 T ground red chile, or more to taste
salt and pepper
hamburger buns
shredded cheddar cheese and diced raw onion for garnish, if desired

Sweet Potato Oven Fries with Avocado Dip

by Ingrid Hoffmann


Sweet Potato Fries:

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled or unpeeled, cut into 4-inch long and 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick fries
2 tablespoons olive oil, or more as needed

1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
salt and pepper to taste

Avocado Dip:

1 avocado
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup cream cheese
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
2 scallions, white and light green part only, chopped
1 lime juiced
salt and pepper to taste

Sloppy Joes: If using fresh chiles, roast over an open flame or under the broiler, turning to cook all sides until black and blistered. Place charred chiles in a paper bag and roll the top tightly to steam; set aside. If using canned chiles, drain and rinse two large whole chiles and set aside.

Saute the chorizo in a large skillet over medium heat until browned. Remove the meat from the pan to a large bowl with a slotted spoon, leaving the rendered fat in the skillet. Saute the beef in the chorizo fat, breaking up large chunks. When mostly cooked, add the onion and garlic and cook a minute or two until translucent. Return the beef to the pan, and add the tomato sauce and red chile. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer.

If using fresh chiles, peel the charred skins off the steamed chiles; do not rinse. Cut the chiles (canned or roasted) into 1/2-inch pieces, and stir into the simmering meat mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is reduced to a spoonable thickness.
Serve over toasted hamburger buns, garnished with shredded cheese and/or raw onions.

Sweet Potato Fries: Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside. Place the sweet potatoes in a large bowl and toss with olive oil until the sweet potatoes are coated. Add the paprika, chili powder, coriander, salt, and pepper; toss to distribute evenly. Arrange the coated fries in a single layer on the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes on the lower rack until the sweet potatoes soften. Transfer the pan to the upper rack of the oven and bake 10 minutes longer, until fries are crispy.

Avocado Dip: Place the avocado, mayonnaise, cream cheese, jalapeno, scallions, and lime juice into a blender or small food processor. Blend for 1 minute or until you have a smooth paste. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Dinner & A Movie

Shepard’s Pie & Love Actually

The holidays always bring that feeling of comfort, enjoying all things familiar and traditional… and not feeling guilty for calorie overload *introduces Shepard’s Pie* It’s so completely simple to make which is important this time of year because we all don’t need one more thing on our list and it’s all worth it when you hear the moans as people bite. So a heartfelt holiday comedy, a plate of home cooked comfort food and a warm night in is what’s in order for this December Dinner & a Movie.

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion… love actually is all around.”


1 tablespoons butter
1/2 onion, diced
1 celery stalks, diced
1 carrots, diced
1 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary (plus a few sprigs for garnish)
3/4 pounds ground ground beef
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup beef stock or broth
1 cups green peas
prepared batch of garlic mashed potatoes
4 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese

Melt butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add diced onion, diced celery stalks, diced carrots and minced garlic. Saute until vegetables are softened somewhat, about 8-10 minutes.

Stir in 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary, stir, and then add ground beef. Cook beef until browned. Next, stir in tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and beef broth. Stir again, and then mix in the green peas.

When most of the liquid has cooked off, spoon the mixture into ramekins or a casserole dish. Top with the prepared garlic mashed potatoes and spread evenly. Garnish the top with grated Parmesan cheese.

Bake in a preheated 375 F oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until the potato topping looks golden brown. I serve mine with brown gravy because what’s comfort food without a good slathering of gravy?!

Dinner & A Movie

Pasta Puttanesca and Valentino The Last Emperor

I really love documentaries especially ones centered around the work of an artist, in this case Valentino Garavani. Understanding the vision and talent along with an old world knowledge in craftsmanship behind each gown was incredible especially when the next day I stumbled upon a Valentino sample sale and had the chance to touch an $8,000 blouse.. with very clean hands. The documentary was an interesting little window into Valentino’s world, seeing at times his vulnerability and human qualities we all suffer from. We talked after the film about how it would effect our ideas of artists in the past— our heroes that worked before movies and documentaries and 24 hour YouTube. What would Coco Chanel have showed us about how she worked? How about seeing Michelangelo throw a temper fit painting the Sistine Chapel? How would it change the way we study them? In our modern day, is it better to have that kind of access? Who knows if I’ll ever have the rare opportunity to wear a red Valentino gown but I can at least know I’ll always appreciate the beauty of it.

And for the dinner, I got to use my new retro can opener sent by my Aunt Deb! Yes, it still works! And what’s a red dinner watching a signature red designer without red lipstick! Another gift sent by Aunt Sherry, what can I say – my family wants to make sure I eat good and look good.

Pasta Puttanesca

by Martha Stewart

Coarse salt

1 pound spaghetti, or linguine

*we use fresh pasta

3 tablespoons olive oil

6 medium cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes

10 anchovies, crushed

1 (28-ounce) Italian plum tomatoes, seeded, chopped, and strained, reserving juice

3 tablespoons capers, drained

1/2 cup Kalamata olives, (3 ounces),

pitted and coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh

flat-leaf parsley

*I used anchovy paste in subsitute of anchovies

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt in preparation for cooking the fresh pasta. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, red-pepper flakes, and anchovies. Cook, stirring, until aromatic, 1 to 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, reserved juice, capers, and olives. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer, and cook, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

While it simmers cook the fresh pasta which happens much quicker than when cooking dry pasta. Follow package instructions. I personally love the flavor and texture of fresh pasta and want to learn how to make it myself at some point.

Stir pasta into sauce. Cook, stirring, until sauce clings to pasta, about 2 minutes. Stir in parsley. Serve immediately!

Dinner & A Movie

Meatloaf Brasciole, Country Corn, Mashed Potatoes & The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

This week had two of my very favorite things, this meatloaf which is TO DIE FOR and one of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever seen… well, make it three things: and Brad Pitt. The Assassination of Jesse James is truly like seeing a perfect photograph come to life. Its as if you get to see what the photographer saw before and after the shutter was released. I honestly believe everything about this movie was done right. There are more stars than just the names and faces we recognize. The music is magical, the styling is incredible and the cinematography is outstanding. It’s not by any means a movie to keep you entertained, it’s more for the people who can find enjoyment in a view, hear a word in a look, and like for time to move when it’s ready. I wish every movie could be this beautiful, this balanced, this height of talent collaborating and this well narrated.

Now the meatloaf brasciole is the equivalent in the food world. I’m serious. It’s so good my eyes water thinking about it. I had it at a dinner party and left with the recipe along with as many left overs as I could get my grubby little hands on. We paired this meal and movie as a sort of mid-west country journey and one I’ll take again someday.

Meatloaf Brasciole

by: Rachael Ray


1 1/2 pounds ground beef, pork and veal mix from the butcher’s counter (meatloaf mix)
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 egg
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 small white onion, grated
2 tablespoons golden or dark raisins, chopped (I omit this)
3 tablespoons pine nuts, chopped
3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano cheese
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
1 cup arugula leaves or baby spinach (so much better to use frozen spinach)
6 slices prosciutto di Parma
6 slices deli sliced provolone
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

For the Corn:
2 ears of fresh corn
Seafood boil seasoning

For the Mashed Potatoes:
3 russet potateos, peeled and cut into chunks
cream cheese

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Mix meat and next 10 ingredients as if you were making meatloaf. Flatten meat out on a waxed paper lined cookie sheet into a thin layer: 1/2-inch thick, 12 inches long by 6-8 inches wide. Cover meat with arugula or spinach, prosciutto and cheese as illustrated in the 4 steps above.

Then roll the meat, using the waxed paper to help roll up into a large log, working across the 6 to 8-inch side, resulting in a 12-inch long log. Drizzle the log with EVOO to coat lightly. Roast meat-roll 20 minutes. Cut into 1-inch slices, 3 pieces per portion, and serve.

For the corn, I just shucked it
and cut it into pieces dropping them
into boiling water I seasoned with a
Seafood boil seasoning until tender.

The mashed potatoes come from how I
remember my mom making them.
Put the peeled and cut potatoes into
a large pan of water, bring to a
simmer until tender.
Drain and mash.
Add 1/2 cup whole milk or cream,
1/4 cup cream cheese and a
‘healthly’ amount of butter.
Season with salt & pepper.

This has been one of my favorite Dinner & A Movie combinations. The down home goodness of a meat ‘n’ taters meal and a great story of men in their journeys and faults. This movie not only inspired a great home cooked meal but we also made our first mini-film from our love for the stunning imagery called, “The Coming of Fall”.

Dinner & A Movie

Warm Butternut Squash Soup with Rosemary & Toasted Pumpkin Seeds & Practical Magic

Every fall around October I have to watch the witchery of Practical Magic. I know, it’s not an artistic Oscar flick but there is something fun about believing in magic especially close to Halloween. It also reminds me that I need to keep working hard so someday I can afford that house in the movie, it’s PERFECT right?!

Butternut Squash Soup & Garnish

by: Real Simple


4 leeks, rinsed and chopped (3 cups)

1 3-pound butternut squash, cut into

1-inch chunks

1 bay leaf

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

5 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup shelled raw pumpkin seeds

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary

2 teaspoons olive oil

Toasted Pumpkin Seed Snack:

Fresh, raw pumpkin seeds harvested from your Jack-O-Latern

Salt, garlic powder, onion powder, seasoned

salt, or other seasoning of choice

For the Soup & Garnish:

  1. Place the leeks, squash, bay leaf, salt, and broth in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently until the squash is tender, about 12 minutes.
  2. Let cool for at least 10 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Purée the soup in batches and warm over medium-low heat.
  3. Meanwhile, place the pumpkin seeds (if using) and rosemary on a cutting board and roughly chop. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the seeds and rosemary and heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with the seeds and rosemary.

Toasted Pumpkin Seed Snack

  • We carved pumpkins this Halloween and why should you throw the seeds out? They make a great snack or to put on a salad! Scoop out seeds from the pumpkin into a colander and rinse thoroughly. Use your fingers to remove all the pulp and disguard. Drain pumpkin seeds dry off with a paper towel or spread on a cookie sheet to dry.

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with non-stick foil.

    Toss pumpkin seeds in olive oil, sprinkle with salt, garlic powder, onion powder, seasoned salt, cayenne pepper, or your choice of seasonings. I did D) all the above seasonings.

    Bake until golden brown.

    Cool pumpkin seeds before eating. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 months or refrigerate up to 1 year.

We pared the all autumn meal and Halloween themed Dinner & A Movie with a Vermont microbrew, compliments of my Dad!

  • Happy Halloween!

Dinner & A Movie

Pesto and Artichoke Chicken Pizza & State of Play

Alright, so this pizza is what I make when I’m in a pinch either for time or brain power. It’s simple, wonderfully delicious, fun to make and come on, pizza is a classic on movie nights. This week we chose State of Play mostly because the cast was so good the chances of it being enjoyable were high. It did keep me entertained throughout and I liked watching Russell Crowes’s old-school newspaper writing character seek the truth as if he were a modern day John Wayne of DC takin’ the ‘little lady’ (Rachel McAdams) under his wing.

It made me miss the days when I was Photo Editor of my college newspaper and would hang out with the writers all day playing a little online war game in the office. I strategically chose the screen name “Princess” because nothing could hurt a male ego more than being blown to smithereens by not only a girl but PRINCESS. My mail slot (where actual papers were placed as opposed to emails, novel idea right?) filled up with just as many “Die Princess” death threats as work papers. I say, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen boys!

A Piece of the Pie

The whole idea with this pizza is that it’s easy and trustworthy and always a hit. I use pre-made store bought ingredients such as the dough and pesto. Of course you can easily make these from scratch but some work days are too exhausting to think about such things. Forming the pizza dough has to be one of the most enjoyable experiences in the kitchen. Flour plumes, dough flies in the air, I start using Italian slang and a dough ball fight even ensued one night.

1 ball of store bought dough- thawed and ready to use (or make your own)

flour for rolling out the dough

1 lb of chicken breasts

1 package of store bought pesto (or make your own)

about 4 pieces of marinated artichoke hearts or 1 small can

1 ball of FRESH mozzarella

Small piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano

olive oil

red pepper flakes

salt & pepper

Let your frozen dough ball thaw as per package instructions.
Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.

Bring about 4 cups of water to a boil and add the chicken breasts cooking until meat is white throughout (about 5-7mins. Remove from water and dice the chicken up into small pieces. Place in a bowl and add about 1/4 of the pesto to coat the chicken pieces.
Toss / roll / press dough out into the pizza shape you want, I have to make it oblong because my NYC oven is so small. Pour the remaining Pesto onto the pizza and spread out in a thin layer. Take the marinated artichoke hearts and break apart and spread over the pesto. Continue the same with the chicken.

Slice the mozzarella into thin pieces and evenly spread on the pizza. Grate on the top some fresh parmigiano, salt & pepper to taste, 1/2-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes and a small quick drizzle of olive oil. Place in the oven for about 7 minutes, watching carefully to get it just browned and crispy but not burned.


This week’s Dinner & a Movie was Spanish Paella washed down with Sangria all while watching Pan’s Labyrinth. I saw this movie the first time in theatres by recommendation and it was truly so visually beautiful and moving I had to see it again for a Spanish themed movie night. Also, I had a chance to use my sangria pitcher which was brought back to me from Spain by my darling friend Max (who also was the one who recommended the movie to me in the first place). For the record, the Sangria was a big hit… but what alcoholic sweetened drink isn’t?


This week’s Dinner & a Movie was jalapeño and goat cheese stuffed chicken and a fall transition salad with heirloom tomatoes and roasted pumpkin seeds. The movie started out being Room With a View… but… turned into Mrs. Doubtfire at the last minute. Nothing against British drama but the slow pace was sucking the energy from our souls… so it was fun watching a movie from our childhood which we had not seen in years and had a different take on now as adults. I have to say, this meal was something I made up at the grocery when I scrapped the original dinner plans and it turned out to be one of my favorite dishes and easy enough to do any night of the week.

Recipes can be found on my Tasty Planner!:

Stuffed Goat Cheese & Jalapeño Chicken

Early Autumn Salad