Oscars 2013: Life of Pi

Next movie up, Life of Pi!  After dropping $15 for a matinee in 3DXD, I was a little worried that I had fallen prey to a cinema gimmick. Half way through the film, I realized I had never experienced something as visually stunning as what I was witnessing. My next thought? I’m totally gonna make Life of Pi Fish Pie!

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Based on the best-selling novel by Yann Martel, is a magical adventure story centering on Pi Patel, the precocious son of a zoo keeper. Dwellers in Pondicherry, India, the family decides to move to Canada, hitching a ride on a huge freighter. After a shipwreck, Pi finds himself adrift in the Pacific Ocean on a 26-foot lifeboat with a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, all fighting for survival. – IMDB

Fish pie is not a dish we hear a lot about. I had vaguely remembered seeing a recipe for a fishy casserole in Jamie Oliver’s book, Jamie’s Food Revolution. Many posts  mention my love for Jamie and his recipes. I’ve yet to make one of his dishes that didn’t turn out. Was that a double negative, or only one and a half? I still need to buy Jamie’s Food Revolution, I’ve checked it out from the library many times over, yet haven’t dropped the cash for the actual book. (Birthday, Jy?)

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You can find near anything through Google, yet I could NOT find this recipe online, written for an American cook. I had to ask the fishmonger at Sprouts what 1 kilogram of fish means pound-wise. I had a list of fish that I hadn’t heard of before either. Lacking in both math and fish knowledge, I wound up purchasing enough cod and tilapia to equal somewhere close to two pounds.

Fish Pie
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Casserole
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 5 large potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 handfuls spinach or kale
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, halved and diced
  • olive oil
  • 1¼ cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups grated cheddar
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 pounds white and boneless fish
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Put the potatoes into a pot of salted, boiling water and boil for 10 minutes
  3. At the same time, hard boil the 2 eggs and quarter when cooked and cooled
  4. Steam the spinach in a colander over the pan that has the potatoes for 1-2 minutes
  5. When the spinach is done, remove from colander and squeeze out excess water
  6. Drain the potatoes in the colander
  7. In a separate pan, sautee the onions and carrots in a little olive oil for about 8-10 minutes
  8. Add the cream and bring just to a boil
  9. Remove from the heat and add the Cheddar cheese and lemon juice
  10. Put the spinach, fish and eggs in an large casserole dish
  11. Pour the creamy sauce over the fish
  12. Mash the cooked potatoes – adding a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper
  13. Spread the potatoes on top of the fish
  14. Place in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes
 

The original recipe has a few changes and additions. For the fish, Jamie uses a mix of smoked Haddock, salmon and raw King Prawns. He also adds some tomatoes, fresh chili and celery. For the original British version of this dish, visit Jamie’s site.  The version I recreated was found at Grouprecipes.com and written by the elusive, Debra47.

I wasn’t sure what would end up coming out of the oven, but I am happy to say this was a seriously comforting casserole. Perfect for a cold winter night, paired with a Hefeweizen (or diet coke) and two fuzzy socks on your feet. Enjoy!

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Oscars 2013: Argo

Movies and Munchies has taken some time away, as Mr. Movie Fuel has been finishing up his Master’s degree in old people. Sorry, I still haven’t finished my first cup of coffee. It’s actually a  Masters in Health Care Administration with a focus in Gereontology. If I haven’t mentioned already, Jy is a way better person than I am. He works in a hospital, which I think is just the worst place to be, ever. His hospital is super nice and I loved having my kids there, but I have no desire to work around sick or hurting people. I’m thankful for people like Jy, for Special Education teachers, for all those who work the hard manual labor jobs out there. So thankful for the people who do all the things lots of us could never do. Buy someone you appreciate a coffee today. I will too!

Ok, enough mushy, smooshy. Let’s talk move food! Last year we weren’t able to get in as many movies as I had hoped to, so I’m starting early this year. We will be skipping the movie reviews, so Jy can focus on school. Let’s do this! First up, Argo!

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Quick Synopsis –

When six Americans take refuge in the Canadian embassy in Tehran during the 1979 hostage crisis, U.S. government agent Tony Mendez turns to Hollywood for help.  Working with a producer and a makeup artist, he devises a rescue mission that centers on the creation of a fake film production company scouting locations in Iran. – Source

I loved this movie, even if it stretches some truths and is totally American biased. I’m not looking at it as a documentary and I understand the responsibility of the entertainment industry to be respectful in retelling history. But, it ain’t my fight to fight. All I need to worry about is how to put Argo on a plate for an Oscar night party.

As our good friend Janet, from Rhode Island says, “Not for nothing…”I haven’t actually held an Oscar night party since I’ve had kids.

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Wondering what you are looking at here? These are Ghorabiye, Ghoribia, Qurabiya or many other a named cookie, originating in 7th century Persia. The ones on my plate are Ghoribia, and they come from Rad Lisa’s mother in-law, Armine Pechdimaldji. Armine would make these when her and Lisa’s father in-law owned the Olympia Deli in River Edge, New Jersey. How cool is that?

I was given another recipe from an Iranian friend, but it was a little more complicated and opted to make the Armenian version of the cookie. For all intents and purposes, these cookies represent the Iranian people of the movie. If you want to get super Iranian authentic, you might have to do some digging. I read somewhere that people in the Middle East don’t use brown sugar. Is that true? Anyhow, here’s the super easy recipe for Ghoribia cookies, really yummy shortbread bites that are hard to stop munching on!

If you are wondering why a couple of the cookies have pistachios in the middle, I was just having a little fun.

Armine's Ghoribia
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Armenian Cookie
Serves: 12-24
Ingredients
  • 4 sticks softened unsalted butter
  • 5 cups flour (may be slightly more or less depending on water content in butter)
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Beat butter with mixer until fluffy then add powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix well
  2. Mix in flour one cup at a time until dough is no longer sticky
  3. Form into balls or “s” shape and bake at 350F for about 15 minutes
After they have cooled, dust them with with powdered sugar and try not to eat the whole batch!

Americans Hiding in Canadian Peanut Butter Dip

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I guess I could have also called this AHiCPBD? The inspiration for this dip came from Chockohlawtay and her Canadian Maple Peanut Butter Spread. I just way simplified it.

Here’s the premise: The dip is the Canadians on the Iranian cookie plate. While the two peacefully co-exist, there is a clear separation, as the dip lives in it’s own dish, among itself. But, guess who is hiding in the creamy maple dip? Yes, Americans (as apples).

I know apples did not originate in the United States, but I can only get so technical. Let’s just say apple pie Americans works here, ok?

Maple Peanut Butter Apple Dip
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Dip
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 cup roasted, salted peanuts
  • 2 T. applesauce – homemade if you can
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 t. cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Blend or food process your peanut butter to an inch of it’s life and there you have it!
 

If you haven’t seen this movie yet, get yourself to the theater! I’m looking forward to this year’s Oscar food series and a little afraid. What in the name of Osama ain’t livin’ am I going to make for Zero Dark Thirty? I haven’t even seen Beasts of the Southern Wild yet, what is that about? Wild boar or swap gators? This year should be fun. Happy Saturday, friends

Opera Cake for Oscar Night

After many Academy Award themed posts, we are finally at the last entry for 2012. Dallas wanted to know when the guy for the party is coming over so we could all eat cake. We had to explain that Oscar isn’t really a man, just an award! I promised special recipes for today and I have all the dirty dishes in the kitchen to prove I am about to deliver.

I have a stack of cookbooks I need to pass on, I have never used them in the past six years, so out they go. As I was sorting, I came across a beautiful book I had forgotten all about. Gourmet magazine now has an online magazine, but the print version has gone the way of the typewriter. Luckily, I bought the 20th anniversary “best of” edition, A Year of Celebrations.

There are gorgeous photos and loads of complicated recipes in this book. I come from the (Disney) Ratatouille school of thought, I think anyone can cook. So, I decided to take a stab at a cake straight out of the chapter called, “Reinventing Gigi, A Cinematic Dinner.” That just screams Oscar night, doesn’t it? There is no way I could have made this cake without the help of my husband. He cleared the boys out for a couple hours, which was totally necessary.

This cake took complete focus, lots of dishes and no shortcuts. It took well over two hours, but was totally worth it. This is a special day! I joked with Mr. Movie Fuel that today should be our anniversary, as it was movies that really brought the two of us together.

Most of Gourmet’s recipes can be found at epicurious.com, including today’s dessert. Opera cake is often called a French Tiramasu. It’s a spongy almond cake, which soaks up espresso in between layers of coffee buttercream and chocolate ganache. This was a lot like making a génoise cakewhich is an Italian sponge cake I learned to make at a class with my fun, cake-baking cousin, Shayna.

The keys to making this type of cake, concentration and patience. That’s it!

 

 

 

The recipe is serious when it says to take sugar off the stove at 234 degrees!
Layer One.
My imperfect, yet delicious first attempt at this cake!

**If you want to know what this cake is really supposed to look like, just Google it. It’s really meant to be made by culinary students, professional bakers and French chicks.**

Black Cherry Vanilla Champagne

I posted a homemade soda recipe in the ongoing (and coming back this Tuesday), Roadtrip Series. Making a champagne cocktail without buying three different kinds of spirits is the same concept.

I boiled and then reduced black cherry juice with a teaspoon of vanilla extract. If I would have had a vanilla bean on hand, I would have used one instead. As you may notice in the photo, I don’t even have champagne glasses at home, so I tend to just make do! I remember getting  champagne flutes for our wedding, they must be up in my parent’s attic. (That was a reminder for me, sorry).

Before pouring the reduced juice, I loaded my glass with a small handful of frozen cranberries. I used a basic extra dry champagne, which is my preference, but you could use any kind you like.

I hope you enjoyed our fun Academy Award buildup and enjoy the show!

Clafouti: Whole Wheat Berry

The last nominated film I am cooking for is Hugo. However, this dish is also a nod to Midnight in Paris and perhaps one more film as well. I can’t really say which film this dessert is also a tribute to, without spoiling the movie for those who haven’t seen it!

We still haven’t seen Hugo. I could have made a trip to the theater (I was wrong about Hugo showing on OnDemand), but I opted to catch up on Desperate Housewives instead. I’m not trying to dissuade anyone from watching Hugo, I just haven’t been jumping at the chance to watch a movie that looks like it is made for children, (but isn’t?). I am however, jumping at the chance to try my hand at all things French. For the actual ceremony tomorrow, I will be making a French dessert and cocktail. C’est magnifique!

Hugo is a 2011 3Dfamilymystery film based on Brian Selznick‘s novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret about a boy who lives alone in a Paris railway station and the enigmatic owner of a toy shop there. – Wikipedia

There is a French dessert which is easy enough for children to make, but better yet for them to eat! It’s called clafouti and is most often made with cherries. Because I don’t have an extra thousand hours or latex gloves to pit cherries, I chose to make a blackberry clafouti.

Clafouti is pronounced cla-FOO-tee, rhyming with ya-booty. The kids were fa-reaking out when this came out of the oven. Max was yelling, “Cookie!” Dallas chanted, “Pie! Pie! Pie!” Our dessert/breakfast could barely cool while I whipped some cream to serve up to my sugar-zealous children.

They were both wrong, by the way. Clafoutis are a meeting between custard and cake. They are light and a bit creamy with the denseness forming around the outside crust. I don’t feel too bad dishing this out for breakfast either, as this is a whole-wheat and naturally sweetened dish. It was probably better for them than any Eggo I might throw in the toaster!


This recipe has been adapted from Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes in the World. 

 

Blackberry Clafouti
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 Tbs. butter (for greasing pan)
  • 13 packets of stevia or 1 T. plus ½ cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¾ cup half-and-half
  • ¾ cup milk
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 pints berries
  • confectioner’s sugar for dusting
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a deep 9- or 10-inch pie plate or a gratin dish of similar size. Add your berries and sprinkle it with a tablespoon sugar, then swirl dish to coat evenly.
  2. Beat eggs well, then add remaining sugar. Beat until somewhat thick. Add vanilla then flour, and beat again until smooth. Add the half-and-half, milk and salt, and whisk until smooth.
  3. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until clafouti is nicely browned on top and a knife inserted into it comes out clean. Sift some confectioners’ sugar over it, and serve warm or at room temperature.
We are off to the farmers market shortly and hope to find something interesting, even though it is still the middle of winter. Blah! At least the sun is shining for another day until the rain returns. Happy Saturday everyone, get your tuxedo steamed and your gowns ready, then let’s meet up tomorrow afternoon for our pre-awards cocktail!

Movie Fuel: Oscar Pre-Party!

First things first. Go “like” Movie Fuel on Facebook, it is all quality all the time. Second things second. Go “like” Food It Forward on Facebook. I can’t exactly guarantee all quality all the time, but I can guarantee an occasional laugh or good recipe!

Ok, now welcome to the par-tay! Let’s pull out our snack tray for adults, no Laffy Taffy and no Hi-C punch. For my regular readers that are a little over the Oscar posts, I promise they will only last this week and then movie talk will go back to Thursdays alone. Until I get started on The Hunger Games that is, I’m totally loving that world right now!

I have loaded up our tray with some healthy treats. I’ve added yesterday’s chocolate cranberry truffles, which have dwindled from 23 balls to somewhere around 7.

Either end of the tray holds a chocolate treat, chocolate covered almonds on one side, chocolate covered raisins on the other. Making homemade Raisinets is as easy as mixing a cup of raisins (or almonds for Almondets?)  in with some homemade chocolate syrup. One of the first recipes I posted on Food It Forward was the easy-peasy method for making Hershey’s style syrup at home. Once you start, you’ll have a hard time paying $3+ for a bottle of the store bought stuff.

I’ve filled the bell pepper with a mixture of greek yogurt and italian seasoning. The little white and green piles are pumpkin seeds and pepitas, which are pumpkin seeds without the shell.

I’ve tried to make a tray to keep us busy snacking low-calorie(ish) bites, the Academy Awards are a long broadcast!

We can talk food again in a bet, lets talk winners. If you are in a betting pool at work, which I hope you aren’t, because betting is illegal, but if you are, listen to Mr. Movie Fuel’s advice! (If anyone wants to be in on a pool, I may know where you can place your bets, just saying).

Movie Fuel Picks the Winners

 If only the Academy Awards were all about the quality of what is on the screen.  Well, I am here to tell you that is not the case.  But, if you want to fill out a perfect ballot this Sunday, heed my advice.  Here is a list of Movie Fuel’s guaranteed winners (or your money back!)…

Supporting Actress: This is the category where I am taking the greatest risk of not having the perfect ballot.  But, I have confidence in myself.  A lot of solid performances here; Janet Mcteer (Albert Nobbs), Jessica Chastain (The Help) and the favorite is Octavia Spencer (The Help).  Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) had the showiest performance, but it might be too vulgar for the Academy voters. I can’t deny the memorable, scene stealing performance of Berenice Bejo in The Artist, so I am going out on a limb and picking her!

Supporting Actor: This is typically the most competitive category, but this year I would say it is the weakest pool of nominees of the major awards. Kenneth Branagh, boring actor in a mediocre movie. Jonah Hill, decent but didn’t have enough screen time.  Max Von Sydow, no one saw this movie.  Nick Nolte is almost as nuts as Garey Busey and this film is about Mixed Martial Arts.  The award will go to Christopher Plummer in Beginners.  Not only because mostly because he is the token old guy, the Academy voters want to award with a lifetime achievement award, but also because his performances are so consistently good and consistently different from one another. From Georg Von Trapp in the Sound of Music, to Mike Wallace in The Insider to a wealthy man searching for his lost niece in Girl with a Dragoon Tattoo, every role is memorable.

Best Director: Traditionally, the Best Picture and Best Director Awards go hand in hand.  On occasion, the awards will be split between two films and that is how I see it going down this year.  Surveying the nominees, Alexander Payne’s (The Descendants) films are too personable, Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris) is still too creepy, Terrance Malick’s (Tree of Life) film is too big for us to wrap our minds around.  That leaves this year’s favorite, Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist) who is just too new and  Martin Scorsese for Hugo. I am in the minority when I say this, but Martin Scorsese has done his best work in the latter years of his career.  Goodfellas, Aviator, Departed, Shutter Island all have his trademark Scorsese stamp on them, but he is not afraid to branch out of his typical genre and that is no truer than here with a fantastical family film full of special effects.  He is a Director who has an intense passion for not only making films, but watching and experiencing films and you have to root for someone like that.

Best Actor: Demian Buchir (A Better Life) and Jean Dujardin (The Artist) are too new to the game. Gary Oldman was in a movie that no one saw (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; say it ten times fast) and Brad Pitt (Moneyball) gets no respect. It isn’t by accident that George Clooney has filled the role of Frank Sinatra in all of the Ocean remakes.  Cool, collected, suave, he’s the closest thing we have to an old school Hollywood star and he is the Liberal King in a Left Wing Monarchy.  If he is nominated, his peers have a really hard time picking anyone else.  While I haven’t seen the film, George Clooney in The Descendants stretches himself in a more vulnerable performance and typically when actors play against type, they win awards (remember Denzel Washington in Training Day) and that is what Clooney will do this Sunday night.

Best Actress: Glen Close (Albert Nobbs) and Meryl Streep (Iron Lady) invoke a sense of “been there, done that.”   Rooney Mara (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) is just too arrogant and weird and let’s face it, Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn) was on Dawson’s Creek at one point and is just plain boring!  Hollywood loves to give the Best Actress Award to the young and beautiful.  Take for example the most recent winners; Natalie Portman, Sandra Bullock, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Reese Witherspoon, Charlize Theron and Halle Berry.  Viola Davis from The Help  is no different here and should win easily, combining a strong performance with youth and unassuming beauty.

Best Picture: War Horse is twenty-five years too late. Tree of Life is too emotionally draining and polarizing.  Moneyball is well balanced but not groundbreaking.  Midnight in Paris (really??). Hugo is for kids. The Help, too light.  Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, frankly I know nothing about this movie except that it has no chance of winning here. The Descendants is a one man show which never wins this award. The best picture always goes to the best production and the most recent trend is that the award will go to the film that is the most different (Slumdog Millionaire, Hurt Locker, No Country for Old Men)  and/or the best ensemble cast (Crash, Departed, King’s Speech, huh?) and The Artist is meticulously well made, is a silent black and white film and requires the entire cast to pull off…great production, very different, ensemble executes perfectly….an easy winner here!

No matter what, have a blast!  Yes, there are plenty of other minor awards, but those are the ones that when they come on screen, you are refilling your drink or going back for seconds on some delicious food.  But, I’ll let Mrs. Movie Fuel talk about that…

Mrs. Movie Fuel? I’d prefer Mrs. FoFo, wait, that sounds like a Muppet. Mrs. Movie Fuel it is! While I am going to save a special cocktail and dessert for Sunday’s actual award show, I have a few recipes to add to the party. Here they come, some of FoFo’s favorites. Uh, I mean Mrs. Movie Fuel’s favorites. I am having an identity crisis.

“TTFN! Ta ta for now.” – Tigger, the originator of texting abbreviations.

Oscars 2012: The Descendants Hawaiian Dip

This week will bring lots of movie related posts as the Academy Awards are almost here (Sunday)! Have you seen The Descendants? Yeah, neither has Mr. Movie Fuel, so there won’t be much movie discussion other than what I am about to add. This movie is not meant for Girl’s Night Out. I think the word has gotten out that this movie isn’t just about George Clooney on a beach. It’s a heavy drama with doses of comedy sprinkled in.

 

If The Descendants is bound to win an Oscar, as many people predict, we might as well have some celebratory food on hand! Movie Fuel will be here on Thursday for our pre-Oscar predictions and some more party food. It’s too bad he isn’t here this morning, we have a super addictive and delicious dip on the table. I hope my kids gobble most of it, because I can’t be trusted around this Hawaiian inspired dip!

This dip could NOT be easier to make!

  • 8 oz. cream cheese softened
  • 2 1/2 cups sweetened coconut (I prefer flaked over shredded)
  • 20 oz. can pineapple (chunks or crushed)
  • nuts or cherries to top dip with

 

Blend all ingredients together in food processor to crush up pineapple and coconut pieces. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving. I think it tastes great with Trader Joe’s Pita Crackers, but I am sure there are plenty of dipping options you can find!

Quick and easy recipe for today, be sure to save this recipe for summer (which seems so far away right now)!

Jy and I are hoping to get out to see the Oscar nominated short films this Saturday. Cross your fingers we can get out to go, it is always such a fun tradition that has gotten harder to keep up with after having kids. Are you watching the awards this Sunday night? Are you going to be happy when I quit talking about the Oscars and movie themed food? Hope not!

See you tomorrow, Happy Tuesday friends!

Oscars 2012: Real Steel and Turkey Fireballs

We are still in Oscar mode for our weekly Movies & Munchies and while I planned to post today about The Descendants, I forgot that Mr. Movie Fuel hasn’t seen that movie yet! He chose a film that is nominated for special effects, Real Steel. I LOVED this movie. Totally a great rental and family friendly (for 8 years old and up I would guess).

 

Real Steel (2011)

 Starring: Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lily and a Bunch of Robots!

Directed by: Shawn Levy

The older I get, the more I realize that I would rather see a less than perfect, fun and entertaining film than an artfully crafted Drama.  Sometimes you go into a movie with low expectations and are pleasantly surprised with what you get.

After enduring three Transformer movies, it is nice to see a move about fighting robots with some life in the story and in the characters. Even though the film takes from so many other cinematic stories before it, Real Steel does enough to feel fresh and new.

As a father, I am a sucker for a father and son film. Taking place in the near future, a father and son find an old robot they polish off and use to fight other robots for money. As likeable as Hugh Jackman is in most of his films, he does a good job of convincing us here that he is a deadbeat dad and a has-been boxer searching for something that’s not there. We want to see him find redemption, but believe there is certainly a possibility that he won’t and would be ok with that because he is so despicable.

These are not Michael Bay’s incoherent, chaotic robo-fighters. With well orchestrated boxing matches, thanks to the choreography of boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard, combined with the stellar Academy Award nominated special effects, the audience is treated with ring action as intense and exciting as any human match.

I love what filmmakers are doing with special effects these days.

Until the 2000′s, filmmakers would often use what is called animatronics to create special effects; essentially building robotic animals, creatures, non-human subjects and filming them with live actors.  Then in the past ten years or so, all of that has been replaced with computer generated characters which can sometime seem less realistic.  Now, filmmakers are recognizing that the surreal effect is not as convincing and have now started combining animatronics with computer generated effects and the results are incredible.  In this film in particular, you have the realism of the actual built robot on the set with the unlimited capabilities of computer effects layered over the character and the entire scene.

Director Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum) does a great job with providing something for everyone and balances the corny storyline with some genuine heartfelt moments and tons of action to maintain the audience’s attention.

Whenever I mention this film to anyone, they automatically write it off as something they would never see and are surprised when I enthusiastically recommend it.  But, if you can leave your preconceptions at the door, you may find that Real Steel is well worth the ride admission. Fathers, sons, gamers, everyone will love this fun and compelling underdog tale.

 

 

 

 

Turkey Fireballs

It was tempting to try and create “healthy” recipes for arena foods (corndogs, pink popcorn), but I decided to take a different route today. The little boy in this movie hates hamburgers and it is running joke, of sorts. I thought I would combine a turkey burger and popcorn by making some crunchy, feisty turkey fireballs! These were inspired by a totally delicious turkey burger my friend Jody created using quinoa, the super-grain!

I also made these because I have The Hunger Games on the brain. I just finished Chasing Fire and am ready to read Mockingjay on my Valentine’s Day gift, a Kindle Fire! I know this sounds dramatic, but the Kindle Fire is life changing. I love it!

Turkey Fireballs
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Turkey
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • ⅓ – ½ cup mixture of diced onions, carrots and celery (I buy this ready made)
  • dash salt and pepper
  • 2 T. ground flaxseed (yep, sneakin’ it in)
  • 1 tsp. red chili pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tsp. thyme
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Use a large pan that is also oven safe. Combine all ingredients. Roll small balls and brown at least one side in an oiled pan over medium-high heat. Place pan in oven and bake for 15 minutes or until cooked through.
I ate these fireballs on a salad of romaine, broccoli, lemon juice, salt & pepper and cottage cheese. I have always been totally annoyed at celebrity interviews where the star claims they eat their salads with lemon juice and salt & pepper instead of dressing, but there is something to it! I’ve noticed as long as I have a creamy protein (yogurt or cottage cheese), I can mix everything up and it is better tasting than most bottled dressings. Give it a go!

Oscars 2012: The Descendants Hawaiian Dip

This week will bring lots of movie related posts as the Academy Awards are almost here (Sunday)! Have you seen The Descendants? Yeah, neither has Mr. Movie Fuel, so there won’t be much movie discussion other than what I am about to add. This movie is not meant for Girl’s Night Out. I think the word has gotten out that this movie isn’t just about George Clooney on a beach. It’s a heavy drama with doses of comedy sprinkled in.

If The Descendants is bound to win an Oscar, as many people predict, we might as well have some celebratory food on hand! Movie Fuel will be here on Thursday for our pre-Oscar predictions and some more party food. It’s too bad he isn’t here this morning, we have a super addictive and delicious dip on the table. I hope my kids gobble most of it, because I can’t be trusted around this Hawaiian inspired dip!

This dip could NOT be easier to make!

  • 8 oz. cream cheese softened
  • 2 1/2 cups sweetened coconut (I prefer flaked over shredded)
  • 20 oz. can pineapple (chunks or crushed)
  • nuts or cherries to top dip with

Blend all ingredients together in food processor to crush up pineapple and coconut pieces. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving. I think it tastes great with Trader Joe’s Pita Crackers, but I am sure there are plenty of dipping options you can find!

Quick and easy recipe for today, be sure to save this recipe for summer (which seems so far away right now)!

Jy and I are hoping to get out to see the Oscar nominated short films this Saturday. Cross your fingers we can get out to go, it is always such a fun tradition that has gotten harder to keep up with after having kids. Are you watching the awards this Sunday night? Are you going to be happy when I quit talking about the Oscars and movie themed food? Hope not!

See you tomorrow, Happy Tuesday friends!

Oscars 2013: Midnight In Paris

Until February 26th, Movies & Munchies is taking on Academy Award nominated films and proposing food to eat while viewing. Midnight in Paris was a tough one. First, I don’t want to cook French food, it seems hard. I just watched Julia & Julia again and it still seems hard. Second, the most popular item I found from the Parisian world of 1920 was the Mimosa. While it was seriously tempting to mix myself a cocktail, photograph the drink and call it a day, I knew that would be cheating. Before I show you what I made, let’s read a bit about Woody Allen’s Oscar nominated flick.

Midnight in Paris

Starring: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams and Marion Cotillard

Directed by: Woody Allen

Have you ever daydreamed or pined for the ability to live in another era?  Convinced, that the time you would like to be transported back to was THE “golden age?” Maybe your ideal time would have been the 1960’s, a decade where the ideals of the 1940’s and 50’s were questioned and historical changes in the United States happened faster than any decade before. Where music, free love and an open door to recreational drugs ruled the world.

In contrast, that decade included many assassinations of notable figures, a terrible and questionable war and set the tone for some major social and family deconstruction that the country is still recovering from 50 years later.  Needless to say, for every golden age, there are a few blemishes.

Midnight in Paris is set in modern day Paris, where a vacationing couple from Los Angeles, who are engaged to be married, are both looking for something more.  The main character Gil, played by Wilson, as a more likeable, enthusiastic and less whiney version of Woody Allen, is a writer obsessed with the 1920’s, a decade when he believes writers and artists were kings.  For reasons I won’t divulge, Gil gets to visit his idealized time and based on the who’s who of  legendary characters he meets; Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali (to name a few), he may be right about his assertions!  While the characters aren’t left with a lot to do, it is exciting to watch them come in and out of the film, the whole time you are wondering, who will be next?  This is a film about romance or more specifically, the romanticized gesture that a life different than our own would somehow be better.

Woody Allen’s films tend to be very polarizing; people either love them or hate them.  Whether this means they are really good or really bad or just that he makes films with narrow appeal, the jury is still out.  The last Woody Allen film I thoroughly enjoyed was Match Point.  The clever plot and unassuming storyline of that film built up perfectly into a tense crescendo of disbelief and uneasy excitement; completely not something I would expect Allen could accomplish based on his past filmography.  Match Point was nominated for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar in 2005.  Midnight in Paris, has been nominated for four Academy Awards including, Best Picture, Best Director as well as Best Original Screenplay.  The similarities of the two films is subtle but apparent; both are set in European countries, both have despicable characters that reflect modern thinking and behavior and both center around a search for fleeting happiness.   The biggest difference between the two is how the main characters carry themselves and the means in which they use to find their way through what is before them.

 

Midnight in Paris is beautifully shot on location and the supporting staff combined with the set pieces, costumes and incredible jazz-infused soundtrack will easily transport you to another time and place.  By the time the credits roll, you will be calling your travel agent, visiting a local museum, or at the very least heading to your local bookstore for some literary classics.  Hopefully you will come out of the film realizing that, while the past is a grand place to visit, we shouldn’t underestimate the moments in front of us or under appreciate the time we live in now, because it is all what you make of it.

 California Croque Madame

As you will see, I went for California invading France (without wine). The fatty Croque Madame is typically a melted ham sandwich with Gruyère oozing over the bread and covered with a fried or poached egg. I first learned about the Croque Madame at my favorite local breakfast spot, Sideboard. There is an eggless version, called the Croque Monsieur. I was given the lowdown on both sandwiches by my dear friend with the double-threat English major/Lawyer Juliet. I’m always learning new words from her, she’s awesome.

So, to add a bit of Hollywood to the Croque Madame, I tossed in some spinach and avocado. Nothing says California like green produce, I guess! The best way to create a melted cheese and ham opened face sandwich, is in the broiler. Just don’t go do a load of laundry while you wait, you will end up burning your food to a crisp. Every single time. Mom, are you reading this?

So, that’s what to eat while you get cozy on the couch and watch Midnight in Paris. Juliet, you would love this movie. She loves all things British, and France is close to England, so I’m gonna go out on a limb with the recommendation. Happy Friday Eve!

Oscars 2012: The Artist

Movie Fuel is back with his list of the top 5 movies of 2011 (just in time for the Oscar nominations). Movies & Munchies will spend the next few weeks focusing on Oscar nominated films and some food to go along with! Before I introduce you to today’s recipe, let’s hear from Mr. Movie Fuel, shall we? Here are his top five movies of 2011:

5. Tree of Life

Starring: Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain

Directed by Terence Malick

Tree of Life tries really hard to make you hate it.  Between the origin of life clips, the spinning world of the main characters adult life, to the lack of any coherent dialogue (it’s like watching a movie with Best of Classical blasting through your iPod ear buds), it doesn’t take long before you are asking yourself, “what is this I’m watching?”  If you can sit through the entirety, the film as a whole is well worth it and will stick with you for a long time after.  Often compared to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, the film primarily follows a family in 1940’s and 50’s middle America. A father (Pitt) broken by the world internalizes his bitterness and believes you can only benefit in life by taking control of everything around you and a mother with a passion for God and her children who believes in letting life take its course and having faith.  Nature vs. Grace is not only represented by the parents of a young man finding his way through life, but also through flashes of moving images demonstrating scientific and spiritual analogies all in an effort to answer the question: what is the meaning of life?  It’s not light fare obviously, but is well done and leaves you relating in some way to almost every character in the film.

4. Bridesmaids

Starring Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph and Melissa McCarthy

Directed by Paul Feig (produced by Judd Apatow)

Let’s call it what it is, a girls version of The Hangover.  But, just like the difference between men and women, this version is more personal and vulnerable in its story telling.  It is bold and raunchy, but with a sense of humanity and heart.  Kristen Wiig steals the show here as a can’t-do-right bridesmaid who could use a hug.  There are very few stars who do physical comedy well and even fewer actresses, but Wiig certainly has a bright future after strutting her stuff in this film. If you’re looking for a laugh out loud comedy, this is your movie.  If you’re looking for something to watch on a date, this is your movie.  If you love toilet humor, this is your movie.  Bridesmaids has something for everyone (with a strong stomach).

3. X-Men: First Class

Starring: James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence and Michael Fassbender

Directed by: Matthew Vaughn

For those of you who have never heard of director Matthew Vaughn…join the club!  With only a few films under his belt (including 2010’s Kick Ass!), he convinced me and so many others that the X-Men franchise, which was thought to be dead, can be resurrected with quality filmmaking and an interesting story.  Set over several decades, starting in the 1940’s and spanning through the 1960’s, the film tells the origin story of how the X-Men (super powered loners) came to be, while slyly  infusing some of our own human history into the tale along the way.  With solid acting all around and enough humor and action to keep even the non-comic book fan interested, X-Men: First Class won’t leave you unsatisfied.

2. Crazy Stupid Love

Starring: Steve Carrel, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone

Directed by: Glen Ficarra

As the tagline describes it: “This is Crazy.  This is Stupid.  This is Love.”  Love is all those things; never completely understood but desired and enjoyed just the same.  While the story centers around a man down on his luck who meets a new friend that picks him up, the true theme here is about confidence.  Every character is rich in the way they support the story and every character ebbs and flows with how convinced they are that they know how to define love and take control of it.  As you put the pieces together, discovering what is going to happen next, you come to realize that you really like every character in the film.  Sharply written and full of surprises, the beauty of Crazy Stupid Love is that the film demonstrates that love is not always happy and joyous, it can also be boring and painful, but even with that, is the best thing in the whole world.  Painting a realistic picture of the challenges faced in life and relationships through a comedy writers eyes, reminds us that we’re not alone and that love is about going through things together and enjoying every moment.  There are very few true romantic comedies made that can pick you up and provide a quick getaway, so it is that much more refreshing that a movie like this would come along and sweep you off your feet.

1. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Starring: Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara

Directed by David Fincher

On occasion a performance will supersede the quality of a film and even be so good that the viewer is blinded by any flaws that may exist outside of that performance.  Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander (the now infamous literary character) has such a subtle power as a fierce hacker with an equally soft innocence that you believe she truly exists (I was shocked to find out this was the same actress who played the girl who dumps Mark Zuckerberg in Social Network?).  While the performance is incredible, the other pieces of the film do a lot to keep pace.  Director David Fincher (Fight Club, Seven, Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Social Network )does masterful work building the intensity of well written script.  The story centers on a journalist (Craig) researching a decade’s long mystery of a lost heiress on an island in Sweden.  While the film explores some very harsh themes, it is the overlaying idea of redemption that draws you in and sticks with you days after you’ve seen the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Notable films I still haven’t seen: The ArtistThe DescendantsMoney Ball, and The Help

While I was tempted to make some X-Men food (Wolverine Waffles?), I decided to opt for my favorite film of last year, The Artist. Yes, it is a silent film (with music), it is in black and white and stars only a couple of recognizable faces, but it is fantastic! It is one of those, you have to see it for yourself movies. Thanks Stephanie, for getting me out of the house to see it!

Jy and I put on our first Oscar party back in 2003 and served a crazy array of movie themed food. Chicago Chili is all I can seem to remember. Now that we have kids, we set the dvr and hope for the best! There will come a day when we host another Academy Award party, that day will probably be far, far away.

The first Oscar food of the series is a healthy-ish one. It works well with the movie The Artist, as it is a white dessert with a bit of black on top. Ready for it? It’s Probiotic Pudding. No, stay with me! Listen, there seems to be a new reason each week to eat loads of crap. While I love the Oscars, it is hardly worthy of Easter brunch calories. PLUS, this is a dessert you can make more often, now that you know it ain’t so bad for ya.

I took Mark Bittman’s recipe for vanilla pudding and swapped out the main ingredient, whole milk (or half-and-half) for a low-fat, probiotic filled Kefir! I also left out the butter. (FYI: I’m too mad at Paula Deen to continue butter love. More on that another time). The pudding tastes like a tart frozen yogurt, with a touch of sweetness. It’s really worth trying!

 

Probiotic Pudding
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Healthy
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 cups low fat, plain Kefir (you could try flavored too)
  • ½ cup milk
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 T. cornstarch
  • pinch of salt
  • chocolate shavings (unsweetened is fine too)
Instructions
  1. Put 2 cups of Kefir, sugar and salt into a medium saucepot over medium heat. Cook until mixture begins to steam or looks like it may start to boil (don’t let it).
  2. Combine cornstarch and milk in a bowl and blend lumps away. Add mixture to pot, cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture starts to thicken and barely reaches a boil, about 5 minutes. Immediately reduce heat to low and stir for 5 minutes or so until thick. Stir in vanilla.
  3. Pour into 1 quart dish or 4 to 6 small bowls. Cover with plastic wrap to avoid skin forming on top (or don’t cover if you like the skin). Keeps for a day in the fridge. Whisk to remove lumps if needed.
Add chocolate shavings to the top for the black and white effect.

To see more nominated films and their paired up foods, visit the main FoFo Oscar page!