Eat & Watch: Lamb Lollipops with Homemade Mint Pesto & Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

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Martin Scorsese films tend to be intense stories filled with drama. Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore is no exception. The movie stars Ellyn Burstyn – who won an Oscar for this role – as Alice, a recently widowed mother who finds a way to support herself and her son, Tommy, by singing and waitressing. In Alice’s determination to make a new life for herself, she and Tommy meet a variety of people during their journey who change their lives in both positive and dangerous ways.

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In the very beginning of the movie, Alice, Tommy, and her husband Donald (before his death) are shown sitting down to dinner. Alice makes lamb for Donald “just the way he likes it.” When she asks her husband how he likes the lamb, he replies “It’s okay” without looking up from his plate. Alice proceeds to talk to herself when Donald and Tommy don’t respond or acknowledge her effort to make conversation. After more uncomfortable silence, Alice asks her son if he likes the meal, to which Tommy responds, “I hate lamb.”

Alice tries hard to please her family, but still ends up frustrated by their unengaged attitudes and disrespect. The movie shows how Alice comes into her own after the death of her husband, and even though she doesn’t have all the answers or know exactly what she is doing, the point is that she’s trying. In her struggle for independence, Alice attempts to figure out what she wants and is taking her life into her own hands.

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While there is an assortment of food in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, the lamb consumed early in the movie represents an important moment for Alice, and for viewers getting to know the main character. While you’re watching this Scorsese film, make and enjoy Lamb Lollipops with Homemade Mint Pesto. These lamb lollipops are a surprisingly quick and easy dish to make while still being insanely delicious and juicy.

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After making homemade mint pesto for the first time, I questioned why I ever buy pesto from the store. This mint pesto, while subtle so as not to be overwhelmingly minty, is fresh and packed with flavor and all it takes is a food processor to combine all of the ingredients. Buy the lamb already “frenched” (or use this helpful step-by-step) so all you have to do is sear and bake it.

I can’t get enough of these succulent lamb chops. The first bite was everything I hoped and imagined it would be, and then some. The warm lamb lollipops are blanketed in the fragrant mint pesto, and every bite is thoroughly satisfying. Garnish the pesto crust with toasted pine nuts, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and a mint leaf.

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Lamb Lollipops with Homemade Mint Pesto Recipe

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Food Images by A Dash of Cinema; Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore image by Warner Bros.

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Eat & Watch: Smoked Salmon Chowder & Trading Places

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The holidays are almost over, but there’s still time left to bundle up and watch a few more seasonal movies. A great movie to watch in spirit of the new year is the 1983 comedy Trading Placesstarring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy.

In this movie, two successful businessmen – the Duke brothers – make a bet about whether nature or nurture plays a role in determining someone’s life. They give beggar Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) a job at their Philadelphia commodities-trading firm, and take away all that wealthy Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd) has. They predict that Valentine will start acting like a successful, wealthy businessman, and that Winthorpe will become homeless, jobless, and desperate.

As predicted by the Duke brothers, Winthorpe falls to new lows in his new life of poverty. At the company holiday party, he is seen stuffing meat and salmon into his filthy and grungy Santa costume.

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Later, when Winthorpe is on the bus, he pulls out the salmon fillet from his grey Santa beard and proceeds to eat it. Winthorpe is clearly feeling defeated and has hit rock bottom. I won’t spoil what happens in the movie, but it’s definitely worth watching. It’s humorous while also having serious undertones of economic inequality and racial and cultural stereotypes.

Inspired by Santa Winthorpe and his hearty piece of salmon, Smoked Salmon Chowder felt like a delicious meal to watch with this movie. Chowder is warm – perfect for these cold winter months – and the smoked salmon gives the chowder a blast of flavor.

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In addition to the smoked salmon, the other ingredients also play a starring role in this chowder. I chose purple potatoes to give the soup some much needed color (otherwise it would have a mostly beige and yellow tone). Fresh corn on the cob gives the chowder a nice crunch, and the dill garnish gives it a clean herb taste without being overbearing.

Topped with oyster crackers or warm crusty bread, this Smoked Salmon Chowder may become a regular on the meal circuit. This recipe involves smoky bacon, fresh carrots and celery, and heavy cream – lots of goodies in every bite!

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Smoked Salmon Chowder Recipe

P.S. I’m moving! Sign up for the A Dash of Cinema Newsletter for food and film articles, and to be notified when the new site launches: http://eepurl.com/bKZaaH

P.P.S. Another great holiday movie and meal!

Food Images by Lauren Jessen // Trading Places stills from Paramount Pictures

Eat & Watch: Homemade Baby Ruth Candy Bars & The Goonies

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If you’re not feeling trick-or-treating or going out to any Halloween parties this year, spend the night at home watching classic Halloween movies (or horror films, if you’re into that) and making homemade candy. Since Halloween falls on a Saturday, your entire day can be filled with spooky festivities or spending time by the stove stirring caramel and layering sugary sauces to indulge in that evening – I prefer the latter.

I’ve always wanted to try making homemade candy. After watching the 1985 adventure comedy film, The Goonies, I figured this was the perfect time to give homemade candy a go. The Baby Ruth candy bar makes an appearance in one of the scenes that involves Chunk, one of the young boys in the group of friends. The Goonies is about a group of young friends who find a treasure map and attempt to find the treasure where “X” marks spot. A group of criminals, the Fratellis, is also after the pirate treasure, creating a challenge for the group of friends along the way.

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The scene that involves the Baby Ruth candy bar is when Chunk is captured by the Fratellis and tied up to a chair in the basement next to Sloth, the deformed brother of the Fratelli sons. Chunk befriends Sloth by offering him a Baby Ruth, and together they break free and escape the basement. Though there is a variety of food in the movie (mainly because Chunk likes to eat), the Baby Ruth stands out because it is how Chunk and Sloth become friends, which ultimately saves their lives.

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In my attempt to make a homemade Baby Ruth, I set aside a good three to four hours. Candy takes time to make, so start it when you have plenty of time to do things right. Many recipes will say to use a candy thermometer, but I share David Lebovitz’s belief that “there’s nothing like your senses to tell you when food is prepared to your liking.” When the caramel becomes the color of an old copper penny you’ll know it’s ready. The mixture will get frothy and thick, so when you see those things you’ll know you’re doing something right.

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Baby Ruths consist of nougat, caramel, peanuts, and chocolate – this is my take on the beloved candy bar:

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Eat & Watch: Homemade Tuna Casserole & Manhattan Murder Mystery

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Manhattan Murder Mystery is one of Woody Allen’s funniest movies – it’s filled with classic Woody Allen one-liners, a healthy balance of comedy and crime, and humorous and easy banter between Diane Keaton and Woody Allen. In this 1993 film, Woody Allen is a book editor named Larry Lipton who is married to Carol, a free spirit who is open to trying new things. Carol becomes suspicious when their neighbor’s wife dies, and she wants to investigate to find out if it was her neighbor who killed his wife. Larry, in the typical Woody Allen way, doesn’t want to leave his apartment. Ultimately, the two start looking further into what happened, with a couple of friends joining in along the way.

Woody Allen’s films are always packed with one-liners that usually prompt laughing out loud. One subtle line in particular is when he casually says, “Here, taste my tuna casserole and tell if I put in too much hot fudge.” It was this one line that inspired me to make tuna casserole from scratch, without any hot fudge, of course.

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This homemade tuna casserole is comforting, filling, and loaded with flavor. You’re going to help yourself to seconds and thirds. I used fresh ingredients such as mushroom, onion, celery, and milk instead of using canned soup as a base. Even though the tuna casserole is made from scratch, it doesn’t take more than an hour and a half to make. Super doable with plenty of time to watch Woody Allen and Diane Keaton humorously solve a crime.

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Homemade Tuna Casserole Recipe

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Eat & Watch: Pulled Pork Sandwiches & Rudy

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We’re a couple of weeks into football season, and though the team I’m rooting for has lost both games so far, I still have hope for a victorious turnaround. Sundays in the fall are a little more relaxing knowing that the day will be spent with not only football, but good food. I purchased a Slow Cooker in anticipation of lazy Sundays, and it may have been the best purchase I’ve made in a long time. Slow Cooker Sundays is officially happening.

In honor of football season kicking off (hah), I watched the classic movie Rudy. I first watched Rudy on a middle school camping trip amongst all my peers, but I admit I only remember certain scenes and it didn’t move me the way I feel like it should have. Rudy is about a young man who is determined to overcome the odds of his small build and circumstances to fulfill his dream of playing college football for the University of Notre Dame.

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It’s always inspiring to see someone overcome their situation and work hard to make their dreams come true, but what I liked most about this movie was that it was realistic about the outcome. Rudy is certainly uplifting and powerful, and don’t be alarmed if you get emotional at times.

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I made pulled pork sandwiches, Cole Slaw, and homemade BBQ sauce to eat while watching Rudy. Pulled pork sandwiches are insanely delicious for not only movie night, but also for game day. Pop the pork in the Slow Cooker or oven and let the magic happen while you run errands, clean, prepare other snacks, or get started on the movie/football game. These sandwiches do take some planning ahead of time since you’ll want to let the pork slow cook on the lowest setting for about 8 hours. I cooked my 2.5 pound pork shoulder for 7.5 hours, and it turned out delicious. Melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The BBQ sauce seems more difficult than it actually is to make, but it’s really not to bad and a little bit goes a long way.

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Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches Recipe

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Eat & Watch: Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts & Good Will Hunting

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The official first day of autumn may not be until September 23rd, but I’m already over the summer season and am starting to embrace the cooler weather and changing color of the leaves.

One way to get into the spirit of the season is to partake in autumn activities, one being apple picking. In an attempt to escape New York City for a little while, to reconnect with nature, and to get fresh apples for a recipe, what better way to spend a Saturday morning than to pick fruit from trees?

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I visited Fishkill Farms in the Hudson Valley and both the farm and Valley were gorgeous. It was my first time out to the area, and it’s no wonder people plan their weddings there. It’s an hour and a half drive from New York City, and it’s so refreshing to be surrounded by trees and grass instead of skyscrapers and concrete, even if just for a day.

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With the variety of apples I picked (Fuji, McIntosh, Spartan, Jonamac), I made baked apple cider doughnuts inspired by the emotional film, Good Will Hunting. Not only does the movie take place in the fall, but there’s a scene when Will Hunting, a highly intelligent young man who comes from working-class South Boston, gets the number from a woman he fancies and brags about it to a rich kid from Harvard (Clark) who insulted him earlier in the Harvard bar. Will approaches a restaurant window where he sees Clark sitting and through the window asks him if he likes apples. Clark says yes, and Will slaps the woman’s number on a napkin up against the window and proclaims, “Well, I got her number. How do you like them apples?”

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Autumn, apples, a great movie. Apple cider doughnuts were the way to go not only because they are a staple at most apple picking farms, but also because watching a movie while eating doughnuts is a winning combination. I chose to bake the doughnuts, and I added in little chunks of the freshly picked apples. I used coconut sugar instead of white sugar (a great and easy substitute!), and used apple cider from Fishkill Farms. Fresh and delicious. Don’t forget a doughnut pan and you’ll be all set for making these autumn treats.

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Eat & Watch: ‘Magic’ Lima Bean and Kale Salad & Into the Woods

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I’m not one to immediately think of using giant Lima beans in recipes, but I was inspired when I watched Into the Woods and saw how powerful the magic white beans were. These beans made the Witch quickly age and a beanstalk grow high into the sky where giants live. Though the cast was stellar, I didn’t love the movie. I did, however, love this salad.

While these beans won’t grow you a beanstalk to climb, Lima beans have some impressive health benefits. They’re high in fiber, packed with protein, and rich in magnesium. Also, they’re a fantastic source of energy.

There are a variety of ways to use Lima beans, but I thought they’d go well in a salad with some dark greens, nuts, and cheese. Simple, quick, and tasty. This ‘Magic’ Lima Bean and Kale Salad is a great appetizer when you’re watching Into the Woods or Jack and the Beanstalk

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‘Magic’ Lima Bean and Kale Salad

Ingredients

4-5 lacinato kale leaves
2 cups of spinach
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 ½ cups of cooked large white Lima beans
½ teaspoon of sea salt
1/3 cup of walnuts (lightly toasted and chopped)
1/3 cup of almonds (lightly toasted and chopped)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
¼ cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

How to Prepare

1. Wash the kale and spinach and let dry. Chop the walnuts and almonds.

2. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the cooked large white Lima beans. Stir the beans – about 3 minutes on each side – until they’re golden and a little bit crunchy.

3. Add the kale, spinach, and salt to the saucepan. Stir until kale softens.

4. Add the garlic, walnuts, and almonds. Stir until everything is mixed together.

5. Add the lemon juice and give all of the ingredients one last good mixing.

6. Remove from heat and serve onto plates. Add Parmesan cheese on top and enjoy!

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Images: Food photos by Lauren; movie shots from ‘Into the Woods