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.

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!

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

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.

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

Rosemary Flank Steak with Red Wine Shallot Sauce on top Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Interview With The Vampire

So we are back again this week with Brad Pitt and meat, didn’t get enough the first go ‘round I guess. I wanted to do a vampire themed Dinner & A Movie as sort of a sister project to my Immortal Autumn fall fashion story on WhatsWear. I thought, what’s more perfect with a bloody vampire movie than a great red wine sauce atop a bloody steak? I found this simple and wonderful recipe on Daily Unadventures in Cooking, one of my favorite food blogs, and it was without a doubt the best steak I’ve made yet. I think it’s the fresh herbs that really make it savory. I also got to use my new potato masher I picked up at a junk store in Salem for $1. No more mashing pathetically with a whisk. So the vampires feast, we feast, and everyone will go home satisfied.

Flank Steak with Red Wine Shallot Sauce

by Daily Unadventures in Cooking


Flank Steak (we used a little over 1/2 pound for 2 people)
Rosemary or Thyme
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Red Wine Shallot Sauce
½ ounce butter
1.2 cup shallots, sliced
2 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 cup dry red wine
1 bay leaf
2 cup brown veal stock (we used beef stock)
1 ounce butter

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

by Alton Brown

3 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
16 fluid ounces (2 cups) half-and-half
6 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 ounces grated Parmesan

*We halved this recipe

From Daily Unadventures in Cooking:

To cook the flank steak I marinated it in a little fresh thyme, olive oil and lots of salt and pepper for about an hour then cooked it on our indoor cast iron grill. Make sure you cut the steak thin and on a diagonal as it is a fairly chewy piece of meat – but it makes up for it in flavour!

For the Red Wine Shallot Sauce: Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add shallots and garlic and saute until tender – about 5 minutes. Pour in wine, add bay leaf, and bring to a boil and reduce by half. Add the veal stock and cook until sauce is reduced by 1 3/4 cups, about 20 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Whisk in remaining butter off of the heat and serve immediately.

Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes from Alton Brown:

Peel and dice potatoes, making sure all are relatively the same size. Place in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce heat to maintain a rolling boil. Cook until potatoes fall apart when poked with a fork.

Heat the half-and-half and the garlic in a medium saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Remove from heat and set aside.

Remove the potatoes from the heat and drain off the water. Mash and add the garlic-cream mixture, salt, and Parmesan; stir to combine. Let stand for 5 minutes so that mixture thickens and then serve.

Dinner is served…

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!