Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chickpeas

mrsnowlin
Peanut Butter Chickpeas

Our heat wave has called it quits for a bit and gave me a chance to turn on the oven and get to roasting. So, I have to confess that I set out to make this snack for my kids, but that didn’t pan out. Uh, I kinda ate them all before my kids even woke up.

This snack is easy to make, healthy (minus the optional chocolate chips) and satisfying. You just need the secret ingredient, powdered peanut butter.

Don’t close your browser! Give me a chance!

Powdered peanut butter is peanuts, with the fat all pressed out. You are basically left with a flour like consistency of peanut butter. The most popular brand is PB2, but I found another type at Sprouts. This brand has organic peanuts, organic coconut sugar and sea salt and that’s it. Here’s the reason why you’d want to buy this stuff, 1.5 grams of fat instead of 16 to 18. This means way fewer calories. 45 for two tablespoons!

20130711-140419.jpgNow, I LURVE peanut butter, so I am not brave enough to take the suggestion on the jar of mixing the powder with water to create a spreadable butter. I’d put it in smoothies, baked goods or yogurt instead.

And, I’d put it on chickpeas!

Peanut Butter Chickpeas

PB & Chocolate Chickpeas
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Snack
Serves: 2-3
Ingredients
  • 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 2 T. powdered peanut butter
  • 1 T. cinnamon
  • 2 T. honey or stevia if preferred
  • 1½ tsp. sea salt
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, mix drained beans with all ingredients, other than chocolate chips. Roast mixture at 375° for 75 minutes, or until crunchy. Let chickpeas rest for a minimum of 10 minutes. Mix in chocolate chips. Go to town, Charlie Brown.
My computer is dying a slow death, so I’m uploading our whole life onto different backup type things, which I believe is the totally technical term.

Hope your summer is going great! Now that we are home from back to back trips, I’m ready to get cookin’! I whipped up the recipe that will go along with the Curious George movie for the ebook. Ya-hum. So, so yum.

Happy Thursday friends! It’s my hot power yoga night and I’m ready to sweat the grumps out.

 

Mango Raisin Muffins – REVISED!

mrsnowlin

photo (14)

 

I needed to make these muffins again, they were so yummy the first go around! I’m editing the recipe to include greek yogurt instead of oil, it makes a healthy difference that tastes even better! Bigger, better, a little lighter. Lighter as long as you aren’t noticing the cafe’ style sugar coated topping, that is. Remember, these aren’t for you!

 

image

 

Not too long ago, I introduced you to the best muffin recipe. Ever, ever. I also warned that these muffins aren’t for you. They are for your friends you want to fatten up, or your picky kids, or anytime you might find yourself alone with a giant mug of coffee and the Sunday paper. So really, just the first two options.

Well, I have taken these muffins and made them exotic and new. Really, I was out of blueberries and stumbled on to a better muffin!

Mango Raisin Muffins
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: Muffins
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup raw sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 T. cinnamon
  • ½ cup plain greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 large mango, diced
  • ½ cup raisins
  • Topping:

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup butter, cubed
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.
  2. Combine 1½ cups flour, ¾ cup sugar, salt and baking powder.
  3. Place coconut oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add egg and enough milk to fill the cup.
  4. Mix the wet mixture with the flour mixture.
  5. Fold in mangoes and raisins
  6. In a separate bowl, mix together the topping ingredients. Be sure to crumble up the cubed butter, if you have a pastry knife, bust that baby out.
  7. Fill muffin cups right to the top and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture. (I wound up with extra topping, use as desired).
  8. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.
 

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 T. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 large mango, diced
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Topping:

  • 1/2 cup  sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.
  2. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder.
  3. Place coconut oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add egg and enough milk to fill the cup.
  4. Mix the wet mixture with the flour mixture.
  5. Fold in mangoes and raisins
  6. In a separate bowl, mix together the topping ingredients. Be sure to crumble up the cubed butter, if you have a pastry knife, bust that baby out.
  7. Fill muffin cups right to the top and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture. (I wound up with extra topping, use as desired).
  8. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.

 

***My husband was convinced that you couldn’t even taste that these muffins are healthier than their blueberry counterpart. Uh, because they aren’t!

COFFEE CHALLENGE!

If you can create a gluten free version of this muffin (and it must taste GOOD), I will send you a $10 starbucks card. Happy Baking!

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!

f655ad17-c52a-32cf-a980-f62112c37283

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.

DSCN0567

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

cf6d5510-4964-3d64-a3e6-31a50b742893

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

Summer Coconut Cashews

mrsnowlin

Roasted nuts aren’t just for the holidays, summer is a great time for cooked nuts, too! Just (insert joke here about sunburned crazy neighbors, relatives, reality show stars). When the temperature starts to rise, so does the frequency of dinner salads. Nothing tops a salad better than roasted nuts! These guys are especially yummy mixed in yogurt or even on top of ice cream.

Image

 

Summer Coconut Cashews
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Nuts
Ingredients
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • ½ cup raw coconut
  • 2 tsp. honey
Instructions
  1. Mix the ingredients together and roast for 10 minutes at 350 degrees, stir half way through.
That’s it! These nuts are not overly sweet, so sprinkle sugar (before roasting) if you are creating a dessert type nut. 

Summer Cashews would mix well with dried mango, pineapple or banana. They would also be heavenly with some dark chocolate chips!

Crunchy, munchy!

 

Road Trip Series: Carrot Spread

mrsnowlin
Carrot DIp

The rain has finally made it to town and boy, do we need it! There was a general sense of tiredness in the air yesterday, as we are still adjusting to the time change and I am still adjusting to a life not laden with bread and sugar.

Dallas has been asking me why he is such a chatterbox and I have to tell him that he just takes after his mommy. I am gentle enough to leave out the end of the sentence which is, “After she’s had her coffee.”

Dallas never made it to Awanas last night, he was just too cranky, so I toted him along with me to the library. He picked up a copy of his new favorite movie, Mary Poppins. How cute is that? I found the book, The Toddler Bistro: Child-Approved Recipes and Expert Nutrition Advice for the Toddler Years. I have realized lately that although I make my children vegetables for dinner every night, they aren’t eating them. Oops. Plan B.

As we continue to get geared up for our trip to Disneyland next month, I am plotting and planning food to bring along that will keep our money in our wallets and cholesterol out of our blood. Traveling is tricky, especially the days in between driving to and from home, when eating out seems like the best plan at every meal! I found the recipe, Creamy Carrot Spread in The Toddler Bistro and I think it may come in handy.

Carrot spread can take the place of cream cheese on morning bagels, toast or even muffins. We can make quick sandwiches with what meat is on hand and keep the big, nasty jar of mayo at home. The spread can even be used as a veggie dip!

Carrot Dip

 

 

Road Trip Series: Carrot Spread
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dips & Spreads
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • Puree of 2 large carrots (or a jar of baby food!)
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 T. orange juice
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. orange zest
Instructions
  1. Blend and keep chilled. Dat is dat!
 

Wish me luck as my husband heads off to Vegas. I’ll take two out of the following four:

1. My kids are angels the whole time.

2. Jy comes home a thousandaire or more.

3. The scale totally cooperates when I finally get to weigh/measure myself again on Friday (it’s been 30 days).

4. I don’t have to deal with any poop or barfy issues alone. (This blog was started long after we needed to clean the ceilings in two rooms, the doors and change our heating vents due to a serious poop/underwear-flinging incident). You can begin to understand my fear now.

Date Night Spicy Corn

mrsnowlin

Most of our date nights are spent watching our month old copy of a Netflix movie (the disc kind, not the streaming kind), on the couch, after the kids are in bed and spent with either ice cream (not anymore!) or whatever snack we can develop out of our pantry.  We are working towards actually getting out of the house at some point, but I am happy to report a fun date night snack we can enjoy until that day arrives!

This recipe can be found in the newest copy of Food & Wine, it’s called Black Pepper Kettle Corn, but I have added a little twist with some heat.

Spicy Kettle Cork
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 6 tablespoons popping corn
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon golden flaxseeds
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. In a large nonstick saucepan, heat the canola oil with the popping corn over moderately high heat until sizzling. Add the sugar, flaxseeds, salt and pepper, cover and cook, shaking the pan constantly, until nearly all of the kernels are popped, 5 to 6 minutes. Pour the kettle corn onto a rimmed baking sheet and let cool, tossing once or twice. Transfer the kettle corn to a bowl, leaving any unpopped kernels behind.
The kettle corn can be made up to 4 hours ahead.

The recipe is pretty similar to Lisa’s Kettle Corn. I wanted to give this recipe a try, because you add flaxseed to the kernels. Way to pump up the fiber! Food & Wine instructs 2 T. of sugar, but I used 3 packets of stevia instead. Once you have dumped the popcorn out of the pot and into its container, give it a good sprinkle of Cayenne Pepper. Hot-cha-cha!

Your popcorn will be sweet and spicy and your lips will be burning.Ooh la la!

Easy snack, low calorie and fiber filled and ready in less than ten minutes. Now you only have to argue over what movie to watch!

Stuff to Read

Spicy corn doesn’t need much discussion, so I can use this white space to tell you about some of my new favorite reads!

Real Food and Health Magazine – This is an e-zine that could use your support!

Eating Well Magazine – This is a popular publication that is well worth picking up.

Ketchup is a Vegetable: And Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves – Very funny mom read.

The Hunger Games – Hurry, the movie is coming!!!

Jessica’s Blog – I am baking her summertime lemon tea cookies for Easter at church.

Shutterbean – My newest blog love.

 

That’s enough reading material for now. I guess I’d better go tend to the laundry pile I’ve been away from all weekend. We had a family filled weekend, with my Father In-law’s retirement party on Saturday night. My sweet cousin came to the rescue and watched the boys so I could go hear him being roasted, which was pretty darn funny.

Here’s one of the big displays with my Father In-law’s photos. The first photo really freaks me out though, because this is a dead on, younger version of my husband. It totally wierd me out to think I’ll be married to my father In-law someday.

This is the jumbo card I made for Auggie.

Sunday we were able to spend some time with three out of my four sweet brother in-laws and their very sweet wives. It was great for Max and Dallas to spend some time with their cousins, too. Now, I must tend to the mess I call home. Wish me more than luck.

 

 

 

2012 Oscar Themed Food: Moneyball

mrsnowlin

MONEYBALL

 

Starring: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and Phillip Seymour Hoffman

Directed by:  Bennett Miller

Putting together a well made, successful film is similar to putting together the right pieces of a good baseball team.  A smart screenwriter, innovative director and capable producer can easily be compared to an intelligent general manager, a strong minded manager and a trusting owner.  But, the true success in baseball and the movie business is the stars on the field or on the silver screen and not only the stars, but how when a star driven vehicle is put together the right way, the execution is thoroughly effective.

Director Bennett Miller is fairly new to mainstream films, primarily working as a documentarian, he has made only two non-documentaries, the highly acclaimed Capote in 2005 and this year’s Moneyball.  Where Bennett lacks experience behind the camera, he has the keen sense to recognize that with the right talent pool, he doesn’t have to do a lot to make a movie go.  Watching Moneyball, the audience gets a sense that there was probably a relaxed togetherness on the set as the film was being made.  Allowing his actors to do their best work has obviously paid off, considering that his two films have garnered a total of four Academy Award Nominations.

Moneyball, based on the Michael Lewis book, has been described as Freakanomics meets America’s Pastime.  Following the story of real life Oakland Athletics former athlete turned General Manager, Billy Beane, the filmmakers seem to aim for a 1970′s style expose of how an unorthodox method of putting together a successful team could change the entire way Major League Baseball evaluates their players.  In a restrained role as a man balancing baseball and fatherhood, Pitt does a great job of convincing us that he is not Brad Pitt and demonstrates a sense of vulnerability in a character who has failed in some sense at every level of his life up to this point.  Jonah Hill is also convincing as an economics guru with a passion for baseball and Phillip Seymour Hoffman as grumpy manager Art Howe is pitch perfect in a role that is more potent at the times when he says nothing at all.

What I like best about Moneyball is the filmmakers ability to maintain a balance between each character and each aspect of the film.  Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, I knew most of the history of what was on screen, but found myself intrigued throughout my viewing experience.  Whether it is the editing, the story or a combination of both, no scene lingers on too long, no message is stuffed down the audiences throat, no repetitive jokes, everything feels fresh and as if being provided with a sense that you are peaking in on someone’s life for a short time and are compelled to see what happens next.  Many people may watch Moneyball anticipating some type of exciting sports movie and while those people won’t be disappointed, the film is based less on the dramatic sports events on the field and more driven by the intense dialogue behind the scenes and the excitement that comes from watching others follow their instincts, taking chances and making the most of what they have.  Most sports movies empathize with the fan and emphasize a love of the game.  Here, we get a picture of baseball as a business, run by people driven to succeed who also have a passion for the game but in a different way.

By the end of the film, I was left with an unexpected sense of surprise and fulfillment, but I really shouldn’t be, because when someone takes the time to put together a good team that fully executes, what else should be expected other than complete enjoyment on the other side.

Garlic Fries?

I was trying to think of different food balls I could roll together for this movie, but then thought of something much better! Garlic fries! Do stadiums everywhere have garlic fries now? The fries at the Giant’s stadium are garlic-tastic and a must try. The overwhelming garlic is fabulous for the first few fries, but after that, it can be a bit much. So, I needed to find a baked fry recipe, to cut out the frying, as well as one that still satisfied a garlic craving, without killing all vampires on the earth.

I found this recipe at The Red Spoon blog.

While getting the fries just right turned out to be trickier that I thought, I was happy I took the extra steps. What extra steps? As her recipe suggests, I flipped the fries over every 10 minutes for a total of 40 (minutes, not flips).  I spent time infusing my olive oil with garlic and rosemary. I made an extra oil mixture at the end and went above and beyond by creating  a dipping sauce.

 

Garlic Fries
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Snack
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, cut lengthwise into 3×1/3×1/3 batons
  • 3 tablespoons olive, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped (not minced)*
  • 3 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425-degrees. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with non-stick spray. Toss potatoes with 2½ tablespoons oil in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on baking sheet.
  2. Roast the potatoes, turning ever 10 minutes, until browned and tender, about 30 – 40 minutes.
  3. Whisk reaming ½ tablespoon oil, garlic and parsley in a large bowl. Add hot fries, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat.
 

*Minced garlic is much stronger and has a sharper flavor than larger pieces of garlic. I made the mistake of mincing and it was over powering. Next time I would chop the garlic leaving larger chunks and thus softening the garlic flavor. (I know it sounds weird and doesn’t make sense as you would think smaller pieces means less flavor, but believe me, trust me — don’t mince.)

Things I did differently

  • I infused garlic and rosemary in olive oil first, by letting a mixture of the oil and herbs come to a simmer and then leaving the oil on low for 30 minutes.
  • I used thyme, pepper and celtic sea salt in my last seasoning
  • I brushed the infused olive oil on my fries between baking times
  • My dipping sauce was a blend of greek yogurt, minced garlic and the thyme/pepper/salt seasoning

I’ll just say this once, these are so stinking good. Come back to read what Jy has to say about Moneyball tonight!

If Two Cookies Had A Baby

mrsnowlin

I just made some really yummy cookies and have no idea what to call them! The best way I can describe the taste is to say that this cookie tastes like the baby of a Pecan Sandie and a Samoa (Girl Scout cookie, not actual Samoan). The cookie is adapted from Maria Emmerich’s blog, which holds a recipe for homemade Keebler Fudge Stripe Cookies. I wavered from her suggestions and used raw cane sugar, instead of 3 different sugar substitutes. I also skipped the chocolate drizzle over the top and poured small ramekins of fudge for cookie dipping.

These cookies are gluten free and can be egg free if you wish. They aren’t just for the gluten sensitive though, they are seriously fantastic. I just ate four. Yes, four. I don’t want to talk about it anymore.

Sandie-Moas
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Cookie
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1½ cup blanched almond flour
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp Celtic sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. In a medium bowl, cream the oil and sugar (add in egg if using). Cream for a few minutes until very fluffy. In a separate bowl mix together the almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add in the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth.
  2. In between 2 pieces of parchment (greased parchment), roll the dough out into ¼ in thick dough. Roll dough into balls and press into cookie shape.
  3. Place cookies about 2 inches apart. Bake in preheated oven for 17-20 minutes or until golden around the edges. Cool completely on the baking sheet before removing from cookie sheet.

Maria’s Blog

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!

Road Trip Series: Kettle Corn & Smoothies

mrsnowlin

Please excuse my two day absence. I won’t lie, I was playing hooky. I totally hate that it is spelled that way, I prefer hookie. Hooky looks too much like “hooking,” which I definitely wasn’t doing. Anyway, I needed a boost of energy and here I am, energized and ready to blab your ear (well, eyes) off again!

So, I talk about my friend Lisa all the time. Lisa as in Lisa’s Apple Cake Lisa.

Lisa is so rad.

Guess what my friend brought to a park playdate last week? Kettle corn! Not a left over sack from the farmer’s market, not a bag of Orville Old Man kettle corn, but the real stuff. What makes Lisa extra rad, is that she had emailed out the super simple kettle corn instructions by the time we were home from playing.

Now, I should say that I think my mother would kill me extra dead if I let my kids eat popcorn in their carseats. Let me take a second and share information that my mother would want me to tell you about (if you don’t already know).

The top ten foods that children choke on are:

  1. hot dogs
  2. peanuts
  3. carrot
  4. boned chicken
  5. candy
  6. meat
  7. popcorn
  8. fish with bones
  9. sunflower seeds
  10. apples

-NY Times

So, please don’t piss off my mother. Is “piss off” profane? Kettle corn is easy to bring on a road trip, but not for letting your kids eat while you have your eyes on the road, mkay?


Kettle Corn
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Snacks
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • Lisa's Kettle Corn
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup popcorn kernels
  • salt
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a large pot, over medium heat. Stir in sugar and then popcorn. Put the lid on the pot and give it (the pot, not the lid) a few shakes, back and forth over the burner until you hear some kernels pop. Remember the Jiffy Pop pans? Shake like that. Then add in some salt (to taste) and pop that corn in your belly!

Don’t let the kernels over-cook (I let mine go a minute too long). Dang it, Tina!

This item is sold out 🙁

I’m sorry, but is there really anything funnier that you can think of than Napoleon yelling, “Tina, you fat lard, come and get your dinner!”

As for the smoothie, I have a new and most favorite combination. The measurements are not specific, nor do they need to be. It’s just the fabulous flavor combo of:
  • strawberries
  • mango
  • orange juice concentrate
  • protein powder
  • honey
  • flax or chia seeds

I add water to thin the smoothie out a bit, but it is just a no-fail combo, I promise! Once again, I would suggest packing a cooler with some large Mason jars full of smoothie. You could give them some good shakes before drinking (don’t forget to pack straws). The fruit and protein powder are a great balance to the carb-o-licious popcorn.

Thanks for giving me a couple days off. I mostly felt crummy from eating too much sugar. I know, I know, do I even read my own blog? Stop with the sugar already! But I’m back and ready for mo’!