Tag Archives: dinner

Dirty Work

We’re one day away from the Oscars and that means this is the second to last entry for the 12 Days of Oscar over here.  Today’s entry is the third in the series that is nominated for an Oscar this year.  American Hustle is nominated for ten Oscars:  Best Picture, Best Actor (Christian Bale), Best Actress (Amy Adams), Best Supporting Actor (Bradley Cooper), Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Lawrence), Best Directing, Best Costume Design, Best Editing, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Production Design.  American Hustle is only the second movie to be nominated in all four acting categories since 1981- the first being last year’s Silver Linings Playbook.  

When I saw this in theaters, I knew two things were going to happen: this movie was going to be in the round-up, and I was going to make chicken piccata.  When a dish of the thinnest chicken, announced by Mayor Carmine Polito’s (Jeremy Renner) wife Dolly (Elisabeth Rohm) as “the piccata of the gods,” passes across the screen it’s hard to disagree with the assessment.  The trick to having amazing piccata, it seems, is to get the chicken as thin as possible.  This is easy to accomplish by slicing the chicken breast in half horizontally (butterfly it), and then pound it with a meat mallet until it’s as thin as it can get.

chicken piccata

Chicken Piccata


  • 2 boneless chicken breasts (about 1 lb.)
  • 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 C. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, divided
  • 1/4 C. dry white wine
  • 1/2 C. chicken stock
  • 2 small lemons, juiced
  • 1/4 C. chopped parsley
  • 2 Tbsp. capers, drained and rinsed


Slice the chicken breasts in half horizontally, then pound them with a mallet or heavy skillet until they’re as thin as you can make them without them tearing.

Combine the flour and Parmesan in a shallow dish or pie plate.

Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture and shake off the excess.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil and 1 Tbsp. of the butter.

When the butter foams, add the chicken (in batches if necessary) and cook for a few minutes on each side.

Remove chicken and keep warm.

Add the wine, chicken stock, and lemon juice to the skillet.

Stir, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the skillet, and cook until the sauce reduces and thickens.

Add a pinch of salt, the parsley, and capers.

Stir in the remaining butter until the butter melts.

Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve.

Source: adapted from Buddy Valastro, as seen on Mia Cucina

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Life of the Party

We’re oh-so-close to the Oscars on Sunday, and with just three entries left in this year’s 12 Days of Oscar we’re at our second film in the series that is nominated for an Oscar this year.  Dallas Buyer’s Club has been nominated for six Oscars.  Taking place in 1985 Dallas, the film stars Matthew McConaughey as Ron Woodruf who is diagnosed with AIDS and told he has thirty days to live.  After driving to Mexico for AZT, he meets a doctor who prescribes him other drugs that have not yet been approved in the U.S.  With the help of Rayon (Jared Leto), an HIV positive transgender woman Ron forms the Dallas Buyer’s Club, bringing these drugs over the border and selling them to other patients.

There’s not much food actually in this movie, so instead I considered a Texas theme.  When I thought about Texas, I kept coming back to the idea of chili.  I know that Texas chili doesn’t have beans.  I know.  I like my chili with beans, and so the beans stay.  Since everything’s bigger in Texas I made a huge batch of chili, in the crockpot, with beans.  There is nothing simpler than throwing some ingredients into the crock pot and having about four meals’ worth of chili to store in the freezer.  Oh, and double points because I am over this cold weather and would rather be in Texas right now.

big batch crock pot chili

Crock Pot Big-Batch Chili


  • 4 lbs. ground chuck
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 (14.5 oz. each) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 4 (8 oz. each) cans tomato sauce
  • 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1/4 C. chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. ground red pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 (16 oz. each) cans light red kidney beans, rinsed and drained


In a large skillet, brown the ground chuck over medium-high heat, working in batches.

Crumble, drain, and place the beef into a 6 quart or larger slow cooker.

Stir in the remaining ingredients.

Cover and cook on high for 5 to 6 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours.

Remove and discard bay leaf before serving.

Source: Pass the Sushi, originally from Southern Living Slow-Cooker Cookbook

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Back in Time

We’re seven days into the 12 Days of Oscar, and today’s film is a personal favorite of mine.  The 1985 movie Back to the Future was nominated for four Oscars: Best Music- Original Song, Best Writing- Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, Best Sound, and Best Effects- Sound Effects Editing.  Back to the Future won the Oscar for Best Effects, and went on to be quoted in Ronald Reagan’s 1986 State of the Union Address.  If you haven’t seen it already (what are you waiting for?!), Back to the Future stars Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, who travels back in time to 1955 in a DeLorean and must repair the ensuing damage this causes to history with the help of Doc Martin (Christopher Lloyd).

There are so many memorable moments in this film, and among them is a scene where Marty has dinner in 1955 with his mother, Lorraine (Lea Thompson), and her family.  Of course they don’t know that he’s come from the future and so when Marty comments that he’s seen an episode of Honeymooners as a rerun, everyone pauses from eating their meatloaf.

It’s not impossible that any family eating meatloaf in 1955 was eating meatloaf made from a 1950 Life magazine recipe.  When I found this recipe, it became my go-to meatloaf recipe.  Typically I don’t make a whole meatloaf, despite owning a meatloaf pan, and instead make individual portions because they cook a little more quickly and I can freeze extras for another day.  Then, I make this and remember how awesome it is when you put a leftover slice into a skillet to get both sides a little crispy before you make it into a sandwich.

1950 life magazine meatloaf

1950 Life Magazine Meatloaf


  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 1/4 C. diced yellow onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 C. bread crumbs
  • 2 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp. pepper
  • 1/2 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 C. ketchup, divided


Preheat 300 degrees.

Put all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl except for the ketchup.

Using clean hands (or a wooden spoon if you must), combine the ingredients, then add 3/4 C. of the ketchup and combine thoroughly.

Place the mixture into a meatloaf pan (a regular loaf pan is fine as well, but the fat won’t drain out of the meatloaf so keep an eye on it while it’s in the oven).

Spread the remaining ketchup over the meatloaf.

Bake for 1 hour.

Source: MacGregor Ale House, NC (who claim this is the recipe from 1950 Life magazine, which I was unable to confirm)

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Jai Ho

With today’s last installment of the Winter Olympics feature comes the next installment of the 12 Days of Oscar.  Today’s film is the first in this year’s series that won an Oscar.  The 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire was nominated for ten Oscars and won eight including Best Picture.  Slumdog Millionaire tells the story of a contestant on a game show similar to Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and exceeds expectations.   In the film, Jamal Malik answers the questions so well that he is interrogated, revealing through flashbacks both his childhood and his ties to the answers as each one is linked to an event in his life.

Chicken tikka masala is to Indian cuisine what chicken Parmigiana is to Italian cuisine.  It’s simple, comforting, and not really all that authentic.  In keeping with the comparisons between the American game show and its Indian counterpart, I decided to put the tikka masala on the menu.  Chicken tikka masala is a great food to start with if you’re new to Indian food.  Chunks of chicken cooked in a spiced tomato yogurt sauce served over rice are great whether you’re a fan of Indian cuisine or completely new to it.

chicken tikka masala

Chicken Tikka Masala


  • 3 to 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • kosher salt
  • ground coriander
  • cumin, to taste
  • 1/2 C. plain yogurt
  • 6 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 approx. 2 inch piece fresh ginger, grated or minced
  • 3 Tbsp. Garam Masala (I bought this at Penzey’s)
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 to 1 1/2 C. heavy cream
  • 2 C. Basamati rice


Season the chicken breasts with some kosher salt, then sprinkle on coriander and cumin.

Coat the chicken breasts completely with the plain yogurt.

Set the chicken on a metal cooling rack over a foil-lined baking sheet.

Place the chicken 10-12 inches below a broiler for 5-7 minutes per side, watching carefully so the chicken isn’t completely charred.  It should have slightly blackened edges.

Remove the chicken from the oven.

In a large skillet melt 2 Tbsp. of butter over medium-high heat.

Add the diced onion and saute until slightly browned.

Add the garlic and ginger to the onion, along with about 1 Tbsp. salt.

Add the Garam Masala and stir to combine.

Add the can of diced tomatoes.

Continue to cook and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze it.

Add the sugar and stir, then let the mixture simmer on medium for about 5 minutes.

Cook the Basamati rice according to package directions.

After the sauce has simmered, add in the heavy cream.

Chop the chicken breasts into chunks and stir them into the sauce.

Stir until heated through and serve the chicken mixture over rice.

Source:  The Pioneer Woman

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It’s Only a Diary

While the Winter Olympics feature is winding down, today’s post brings us 1/4 of the way through the 12 Days of Oscar.  Today’s film is the third in this series that was Oscar-nominated but did not win.  Renee Zellweger was nominated for Best Actress for her portrayal of the title character in the 2001 film Bridget Jones’s Diary.  In the film we follow nearly a year in the life of Bridget Jones, who chronicles her affair with her boss along with both her disdain for and attraction to Mark Darcy.

In the film, Bridget attempts to prepare a dinner for friends to celebrate her birthday.  Lacking proper kitchen twine, Bridget decides that some blue thread would be fine to tie together some leeks for her potato leek soup.  As Mark Darcy happens in, Bridget realizes the entire soup is now blue and he comes to her aid.  It’s really a charming scene, but I might be biased as I think any scene in that movie has high charm potential.

This recipe doesn’t require twine of any kind, so you’re not in any danger of serving blue soup.  The leeks and potatoes are boiled together in chicken stock, then pureed and stirred with some cream.  This was almost better reheated the next day than it was when we had it for dinner.  M had three bowls, and I’m pretty sure that prior to this she had never consumed a leek in her life.

potato leek soup

Potato Leek Soup


  • 8 C. chicken stock
  • 6 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 4 leeks, whites only, washed and sliced
  • 3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 C. heavy cream


Combine the chicken stock, potatoes, leeks, celery, bay leaf, and thyme in a large pot and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil and boil for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are soft.

Remove the bay leaf.

Puree the soup using an immersion blender (you can also do this carefully in a blender by allowing the soup to cool for 5 minutes then putting a small amount at a time into the blender, leaving plenty of empty room in the blender jar, then leaving the lid open slightly to allow steam to escape while covering with a kitchen towel to avoid splatters).

Add the cream and simmer for about 20 minutes until the soup has thickened.

Source: adapted slightly from Robert Irvine

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Places That Belong to You

What happens when you always run a 12 days of Oscar feature in the twelve days leading up to the Academy Awards ceremony, and you’ve decided to run a Winter Olympics feature like the one you ran for the Summer Olympics?  Add in the fact that no posts of any kind were churned out for months, you just accepted a promotion and are working some long hours, and that you barely ever see daylight much less have any of it left by the time your dinner is ready for its close-up- then what? That’s right, you run two features.
8 prince_of_tides_the_1991 dancing
For day one, we have a film that was nominated for but did not win an Oscar.  The 1991 film The Prince of Tides, based on the book by Pat Conroy, was nominated for seven Oscars.  Nick Nolte was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal of Tom Wingo, a man unhappy with his life who travels to New York City following his sister’s suicide attempt.  Tom meets with his sister’s psychiatrist, Dr. Susan Lowenstein (Barbara Streisand), initially in an attempt to help with his sister’s recovery.  Over the course of the film both Tom reveals a great deal about his childhood, and they both explore their own unhappiness as they grow closer.
There are many memorable scenes in The Prince of Tides, but one of the most memorable has to be the scene from Tom’s childhood where dad gets served a special dinner.  Tom’s mother, Lila, frequently would try new recipes in an attempt to get a recipe into the local ladies auxiliary cookbook.  Tom’s father, having had enough of this “foreign” food, starts a shouting match at dinner prompting Lila to go into the kitchen and cook him up some dog food, which he applauds as one of the best meals he’s ever eaten.  The children, including Tom, are fully aware that their mother has served their father dog food and it makes for quite a memorable revelation to Dr. Lowenstein later.  The “exotic” meal that Lila has prepared and served is shrimp Newburg.  Shrimp Newburg is shrimp in a cream sauce, traditionally served over toast points or a puff pastry.  Here, it is served over rice both to make it a little healthier and to be reminiscent of the dog food hash Lila serves, over rice.
shrimp newburg
Shrimp Newburg
  • 1 1/2 C. brown rice
  • 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 lbs. large shrimp- cleaned and cut into thirds, shells reserved
  • 1 1/3 C. 2 per cent milk
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1/4 C. sherry


In a small saucepan, combine the rice with 1 1/2 C. water.

Bring to a boil, cover, then lower the heat and simmer until the rice is tender, 20-30 minutes.

Fluff the rice with a fork and cover to keep it warm.

While the rice cooks, melt 2 tsp. of the butter over medium heat in a large saucepan.

Add the shrimp shells and cook about 5 minutes, stirring, until crisp.

In a small bowl, whisk the milk with the cornstarch and then whisk the cornstarch mixture into the shrimp shells.

Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, whisking, for 1 minute.

Strain the mixture into a bowl, pressing on the shrimp shells with a large spoon to be sure all of the mixture is drained out.

Wipe out the saucepan, then melt the remaining 2 tsp. of butter over medium-low heat.

Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes until softened.

Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Slowly whisk in the milk mixture and bring to a boil

Reduce heat and simmer for 1 minute.

Stir in the shrimp and sherry and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes until the shrimp is firm.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over rice.

Source: adapted from Rachel Ray

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