Tag Archives: 12 Days of Oscar

Thank You Oscar

Now that we’ve finished this year’s 12 Days of Oscar it’s time for some trivia and a recap.  Neil Patrick Harris will host this year’s Academy Awards for the first time.  The Grand Budapest Hotel and Birdman lead the nominations, each being nominated in nine categories.  This year’s nod marks Meryl Streep’s record nineteenth nomination. Interestingly, none of last year’s Oscar winners have been nominated for awards this year.

This year’s 12 Days of Oscar feature included four Oscar nominated movies, four Oscar winners, and four of this year’s nominees.

lemon blueberry muffinsCasino– Blueberry Lemon Muffins with Lemon Glaze

quick chicken corn chowderThe Devil Wears Prada– Quick Light Chicken Corn Chowder

kung pao chickenA Few Good Men– Kung Pao Chicken

steamed lobsterSplash– Steamed Lobster

stovetop gouda mac and cheeseJuno– Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

eggs benedict hollandaiseMrs. Doubtfire– Hollandaise Sauce (with Easy Poached Eggs Benedict)

cooked homemade spaghettiThe Apartment– Homemade Spaghetti

pot roastThe Way We Were– Pot Roast

impossibly easy taco pie

The Lego Movie– Impossibly Easy Taco Pie

baked buffalo wingsBig Hero 6– Baked Buffalo Wings

challah breadInto the Woods– Challah Bread

queso dipBoyhood– Queso Dip

Leave a comment

Filed under Recipes

Could We

Today marks our last installment of this year’s 12 Days of Oscar.  This is the last film in this year’s lineup and the fourth film nominated for an Oscar this year.  Boyhood  was shot intermittently over twelve years with the same cast.  The film shows Mason (Ellar Coltrane) growing from grade school to college, living in Houston with his mother Olivia (Patricia Arquette) and his sister Samantha (Lorelai Linkleter).  Eventually both Mason and Samantha deal with their parents divorce, remarriage, blended families, and the general rites of passage growing up.  Boyhood in nominated for six Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Hawke), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Arquette), Best Directing, Best Writing- Original Screenplay, and Best Editing.

There are a few food moments in this film but my favorite is when Mason and his girlfriend Sheena (Zoe Graham) go to an all-night diner at 3 a.m. and have queso dip until the sun comes up.  Maybe this is because queso dip is my weakness.  I love the stuff, and I would love to sit at a diner with an endless supply of it.  I have avoided making white queso dip at home for a variety of reasons (mainly, that I know I risk eating about ten pounds of tortilla chips drenched in queso until I am in a cheese coma).  Armed with some basic cheese knowledge and all of the self-control I possess, I finally made white queso dip, and it was awesome.  This came out so well that it really was hard to stick to one serving.

queso dip

White Queso Dip


  • 1/4 lb. white American cheese
  • 1/8 lb. pepper jack cheese
  • 1/4 C. finely diced yellow onion
  • 1/2 jalapeno, diced
  • pinch of cumin
  • 1/8 – 1/4 C. milk
  • 1/8 C. amber or dark beer (optional)
  • 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil


Heat a small non-stick sauce pan over medium heat.

Saute the onion in the pan until the onion starts to brown.

Stir in the jalapeno and cook for a few more minutes.

Tear or cut the American cheese into fourths (roughly 1 inch pieces) and add to the sauce pan.

Cut the pepper jack cheese into small pieces (roughly 1/2 inch) or shred it and add to the sauce pan.

Slowly pour in a small amount of milk and whisk it into the melting cheese.

Whisk in the beer if using.

Slowly whisk in additional milk until desired consistency is reached.  If you thin out the cheese too much you can add more cheese to thicken the dip but keep in mind the cheese will thicken as it cools.

Stir in the cumin and the olive oil.

Source: Side of Sneakers


Filed under Recipes

Into the Woods

We’re one day away from the Oscars and one film away from the final film in this year’s 12 Days of Oscar feature here.  Into the Woods, adapted from the Tony-winning musical of the same name, crosses several of the plots of the characters from Grimm’s Fairy Tales.  The Baker (James Corden) and his Wife (Emily Blunt) are seeking to reverse a curse placed on the Baker’s father by the Witch (Meryl Streep).  They must venture into the woods to obtain a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn, and a slipper as pure as gold.  Along the way, they encounter Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) and her Prince (Chris Pine), Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) and his mother (Tracy Ullman), Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy) and her Prince (Billy Magnussen), and ultimately the Giant’s Wife (Frances de la Tour).  Into the Woods is nominated for three Oscars this year: Best Supporting Actress (Streep), Best Production Design, and Best Costume Design.

Early in the film, Little Red Riding Hood visits the bakery and packs up breads and sweets “to bring to grandma.”  Of course she eats most of the contents of her basket before she encounters the Wolf (Johnny Depp).  As she is packing the things up at the bakery, she is clutching the most beautiful challah bread; making one to tie in with this movie was a no-brainer.  Challah bread is eggy and very slightly sweet (and absolutely the most perfect bread for French toast).  Braiding it can seem intimidating but you really only have to make the braid as fancy as you want.  For this version I made the dough into six even ropes and braided them together but this doesn’t taste any less amazing if you work with a three-strand braid.

challah bread

Challah Bread


  • 2 tsp. active dry or instant yeast
  • 1 C. lukewarm water
  • 4 to 4 1/2 C. (20-22 oz.) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 C. granulated white sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk (reserve the white for the egg wash)
  • 1/4 C. neutral flavored vegetable oil (or melted butter if you don’t need this to be kosher)


Sprinkle the yeast over the water in a small bowl and add a large pinch of sugar.

Stir to dissolve the yeast and let the mixture stand until you see a thin frothy layer across the top.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl, mix together 4 cups of the flour, the sugar, and salt.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the eggs, egg yolk, and oil (or melted butter).

Whisk the egg mixture to form a slurry, pulling in some of the flour from the sides of the bowl.

Pour the yeast mixture over the egg slurry and mix the yeast mixture, egg mixture, and flour mixture together with a long-handled spoon until a dough forms that is shaggy and difficult to mix.

Using a dough hook attachment on low speed, knead the dough for 6-8 minutes.  If you’re not using a stand mixer, instead turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead by hand for 10 minutes.  If the dough is very sticky, add more flour 1 teaspoon at a time until it feels tacky.

Knead the dough until it is soft, smooth, and holds a ball shape.

Put the dough in an oiled bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and place the dough in a warm, draft-free location to rise until it has doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Depending on the type of braid you’d like to make, divide the dough into 3 or 6 equal pieces (the photo above uses 6 pieces).

Roll each piece of dough into a rope that is about 1 inch thick and 16 inches long.  Make the ropes as even as possible.  If the dough shrinks back as you try to roll it into ropes, let the dough sit for 5 minutes and then try again.

Gather the ropes and pinch them together at the top.

For a 3 stranded braid, braid the dough the same way you would braid hair or yarn, crossing the left strand over the center strand, then the right strand over the center strand and so on until the entire length of the dough has been braided.

For a 6 stranded braid, lift the right-most rope and carry it across the two ropes next to it, slip it under the next rope, and then over the last two ropes (over two, under one, over two).  What started as the right-most rope is now all the way to the left.  Pick up what is now the right-most rope and repeat the process.

Continue that pattern until all of the dough is braided, making the braid as tight as you possibly can.  The dough will kind of curve to the left as you go so you’ll need to periodically lift the loaf and re-center it as you go.

For either braid, once all of the dough has been braided, then pinch the ends together and tuck them under the loaf.

To plump up the loaf a little, put one hand at either end of the braided dough and very slowly and gently push your hands toward each other (like plumping a pillow but slowly).

Slip your fingers under either end of the loaf and gently lift the dough while cupping downward (not a required step but it does make for a prettier loaf).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the loaf on the lined baking sheet.

Sprinkle a little flour over the loaf and then drape a clean dish cloth over it.

Place the loaf to rise in a warm, draft-free place for about an hour.

20 minutes before baking, heat the oven to 350 degrees.

When ready to bake, whisk together the egg white and a tablespoon of water.

Brush the egg white mixture over the challah, being sure to get in the cracks and down the sides.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking time.

The challah is done when it is deep brown and the inside registers 190 degrees when a thermometer is inserted in the middle.

Place the bread on a wire rack to cool until it is just barely warm before slicing and eating.

Makes 1 loaf (about 20 slices).

Source: The Kitchn

challah bread pan

Leave a comment

Filed under Recipes


Today’s installment of 12 Days of Oscar is another of this year’s Oscar nominees.  Based on a comic book, Big Hero 6 is about Hiro Hamada who spends his time participating in back-alley robot fights until his older brother Tadashi brings him to the robotics lab at his college.  There, he meets Tadashi’s friends including Baymax, a personal healthcare robot created by Tadashi. This is the first animated Disney movie to feature Marvel characters.  Big Hero 6 is nominated for Best Animated Feature Film and since The Lego Movie didn’t make it into the category, this is the one I hope will win.  Lane and I were lucky to see this onboard the Disney Fantasy on our honeymoon.

Hiro’s Aunt Cass makes  him special “melt your face off” wings to celebrate his first day at college.  These won’t quite melt your face off, but they have a nice spiciness to them.  These chicken wings are baked instead of fried but baking them on a wire rack makes them just as crispy as their fried counterpart.  I used Frank’s Red Hot for these but you can use any wing sauce you like.

baked buffalo wings

Crispy Baked Buffalo Wings


  • 1 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1/4 Tsp. cayenne pepper (you can omit this if you want less spicy wings)
  • 1 /4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 C. hot pepper sauce (such as Frank’s Red Hot)
  • 2 1/2 lbs. (about 30) chicken wings, tips removed, drumettes and flats separated)
  • 1/2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper


Mix the melted butter, cayenne pepper, 1/4 tsp. of ground black pepper and 1/4 tsp. kosher salt in a medium bowl.

Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes and then whisk in the hot sauce.  Keep the mixture warm.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Line 2 large, rimmed baking sheets with aluminum foil and place a wire rack onto the lined baking sheet.

Put the wings in a large bowl and add the vegetable oil, remaining kosher salt and remaining black pepper and toss to coat.

Divide the wings between the prepared baking sheets and spread them out in a single layer.

Bake the wings for 45-50 minutes until they are cooked through and the skin is crispy.

Put the baked wings into a large bowl and add the prepared sauce.  Toss to coat evenly.

Serve immediately.

Makes 30 wings.

Source: slightly adapted from Bon Appetit

Leave a comment

Filed under Recipes

Everything is Awesome

Today’s 12 Days of Oscar installment brings us to this year’s nominees.  The Lego Movie has been nominated for Best Original Song (“Everything is Awesome,” a song we like so much we made sure to play it at our wedding).  The Lego Movie tells the story of minifigure Emmett Brickowski who seems to be an ordinary guy . . . until he goes on an adventure to save everyone from evil President Business.   Many agree that The Lego Movie was snubbed by the Academy this year when it wasn’t nominated for Best Animated Film.   I agree with that assessment, and I love Director Philip Lord’s “It’s okay, made my own” reaction.

In The Lego Movie, Lord Business plans to lure all of the citizens out for Taco Tuesday where they will be given a free taco.  His real plan is to freeze the citizens in place with his special weapon, “The Kragle.”  Considering the frequency with which Moe’s manages to lure me out to one of their establishments I’d say the plan would have had a pretty good chance.  Lately we’ve been staying home for dinner and I was glad to have taco Tuesday right at home by making this really easy taco pie.  This takes less than an hour from start to finish, and you can top it with your favorite taco toppings.  I make my own version of Bisquick and I also make my own taco seasoning but you can use store bought versions and they would work just fine.  If you need to you can also make this up to 24 hours ahead of time, cover it and refrigerate it.  Remove the pie from the refrigerator while the oven preheats and allow additional baking time.

impossibly easy taco pie

Easy Taco Pie


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. taco seasoning (or 1 envelope of store bought taco seasoning)
  • 1 4.5 oz. can of chopped green chiles, drained
  • 1 C. milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 C. Bisquick mix (or a homemade version)
  • 3/4 c. shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
  • optional- salsa, sour cream, or any other taco toppings you enjoy


Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Grease a 9 inch pie plate.

In a 10 inch skillet, cook the ground beef and onion over medium heat.  Stir occasionally and cook until beef is brown.

Drain the beef mixture.

Stir in the taco seasoning.

Spoon the beef mixture into the prepared pie plate and top with the green chiles.

In a small bowl, stir together the Bisquick mix, milk, and eggs.

Pour the Bisquick mixture into the pie plate (pour it over the beef mixture, it will settle to the bottom on its own).

Bake for 25 minute or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Top with the shredded cheese and bake for 8-10 additional minutes.

Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Top with your favorite toppings.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: slightly adapted from Betty Crocker

Leave a comment

Filed under Recipes

The Way We Were

Today’s installment of 12 Days of Oscar brings us the last Oscar winner in this year’s lineup.  The 1973 film The Way We Were tells, mainly in flashbacks, the story of Katie Morosky (Barbara Streisand) and Hubbell Gardiner (Robert Redford) who meet in college and despite their immense differences are drawn to each other.   Their differences continue to put a wedge between them despite numerous attempts at making the relationship work.  Finally they part ways and ultimately realize that all they really share are the memories.  The Way We Were won two Oscars: Best Original Song (“The Way We Were”) and Best Music, Original Score.  The Way We Were was also nominated for four additional Oscars: Best Actress in a Lead Role (Barbara Streisand, lost to Glenda Jackson for A Touch of Class), Best Cinematography (lost to Cries & Whispers), Best Set Decoration (lost to The Sting), and Best Costume Design (lost to The Sting).

Hubbell calls Katie during World War II, unable to find a hotel room in New York City and asking if he can stay at her place for a few days.  She excitedly agrees and when she gets home after rushing through a grocery store, Hubbell is leaving her apartment.  Bags of groceries in hand, she calls to him and then explains that she planned on making dinner.  Excitedly she explains that she has planned on baked potatoes, and steak, and salad, and fresh baked pie and that she would have made a pot roast but didn’t know if Hubbell had ever had pot roast, or if he liked pot roast and how anyway there wasn’t time for pot roast and so she bought steaks.  Later in the movie, Katie tells Hubbell “Tell me I’m not good enough. Tell me you don’t like my politics. Tell me I talk too much. You don’t like my perfume, my family, my pot roast.”

Unlike Katie, pot roast is simple and uncomplicated. Actually it’s a very basic dish and there isn’t much fuss to making a perfect pot roast. Season the beef, sear the beef, add it to the pot with some vegetables and let your oven do the rest.  When it’s so tender it falls apart, it’s ready to serve.  I like to serve this with some mashed potatoes because they soak up the pan sauce so well. Some recipes call for the potatoes to cook along with the meat and the carrots and while that isn’t wrong, I do find that I like it much better with the mashed potatoes instead.  Be sure to choose a well-marbled roast, and allow plenty of time.

pot roast

Pot Roast


  • 1 4-5 pound chuck roast
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 whole onions
  • 6-8 whole carrots or 1 1/2- 2 C. baby carrots
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 C. red wine or beef broth
  • 2-3 C. beef stock
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary


Heat the oven to 275 degrees.

Liberally sprinkle the roast all over with salt and pepper.

Heat a large oven-safe pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat.

Add 2-3 Tbsp. of olive oil to the heated pot.

Slice off the end and the tip of each onion, peel off the outer layer, and cut each onion into two halves.

If using whole carrots, cut them into 2 inch slices (large chunks).  You can peel them if you want to but just rinsing them is sufficient.

When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the halved onions and let them brown on one side (1-2 minutes). Turn them and let them brown on the other side, and then remove them to a plate.

Put the carrots into the same very hot pan and stir them around for 1-2 minutes until they’re slightly browned.  The idea is to add some color, not to cook the carrots.  Remove the carrots to the same plate as the onions.

If necessary, add a little more olive oil to the hot pan.

Place the meat in the pan and sear it for about 1-2 minutes per side, until the roast is brown all over.

Remove the roast to a plate.

With the burner still on medium-high pour either red wine or beef broth into the pan and deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom of the pot to pull up the flavor.

Place the roast back into the pan and add about 2-3 C. of beef stock- enough to cover the roast halfway.

Add the onion and carrots to the pan, along with the rosemary and thyme.

Put a lid on the pot and roast for 3-4 hours (3 hours for a 3 lb. roast, 4 hours for a 4-5 lb. roast).

To serve, remove the roast from the pot (as best you can, it will be falling apart) and roughly slice it or shred it with two forks.  Serve with the carrots and onions (and if desired, some mashed potatoes).

Source: The Pioneer Woman

Leave a comment

Filed under Recipes