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

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

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

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Woven Gingerbread Cookies

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Happy winter! ‘Tis officially the season to get into the spirit, and with Christmas this week, everything feels a bit more festive. I attempted these Woven Gingerbread Cookies (recipe here), and they turned out really well. Weaving the dough is so much fun, but it’s definitely a time commitment. When the dough starts to get soft after chilling, pop it back in the freezer for a short while (10 minutes) so you can roll it out again with ease. Because you’ll need strips of the gingerbread dough, the pieces are a bit more fragile. If you’re attending any holiday parties this week, these cookies will be a sure hit.

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{Photos by Lauren}

All Lit Up

Christmas Vacation house

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One of my favorite scenes from Christmas Vacation is when Clark Griswold covers his entire house in Christmas lights. When he brings out his family to witness the lighting of the house, it’s a pretty spectacular moment. As you can see, the Griswold definitely wins for brightest, most festive house in their neighborhood. Inspired by this hilarious scene, these are some decorative houses that just might give the Griswold’s a run for their money.

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{1, 2, 3, 4, 5}

Holiday Cheer

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1. Onion Basket $30 | 2.  A Story Lately Told $17 | 3. Wishbone Bottle Opener $14 | 4. Robinson Nutcracker $95 | 5. Game of Thrones: The First Season $30

This year, give special items that are both functional and entertaining. This onion/fruit basket would be super useful and look great in any kitchen. Do your friends keep telling you they want to start watching Game of Thrones? Get them the complete first season on DVD – maybe they’ll even let you watch with them. You can never go wrong with gifting a book, especially when it’s a memoir. Anjelica Huston’s recently released A Story Told Lately is a fascinating read. You don’t have to spend too much to spread holiday cheer and make someone’s holidays even sparklier.

How are you going to spread holiday cheer?

Eat & Watch: Christmas Fettuccine Alfredo & The Holiday

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If you are not ready to say goodbye to Christmas just yet, enjoy a little Fettuccine Alfredo with a wonderful romantic comedy. While watching The Holiday, one of the best modern Christmas movies (in my opinion), Kate Winslet’s character, Iris, tells Jack Black’s character, Miles, that she will make him some ‘Christmas Fettuccine’ to lift their low spirits due to relationship problems. This pasta dish makes an appearance in the scene with Cameron Diaz’s character, Amanda, when she settles in for the night.

I made some of this delicious Fettuccine Alfredo, but since the color palette of the dish is predominantly yellow, the pictures were a little boring. To spare you from the dull sight, I chose not to feature the step-by-step for this Eat & Watch. Also, the recipe is pretty basic: make pasta, add the cream/butter/cheese sauce. Fettuccine and The Holiday are delicious and welcomed additions for cold winter nights.

Fettuccine Alfredo

[Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis]

Ingredients

• 18 ounces fresh fettuccine
• 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
• 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
• 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (I cut my use of butter in half)
• 2 cups grated Parmesan
• 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
• Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
• Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Directions

1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Drain.

2. Stir 2 cups of the cream and the lemon juice in a heavy large skillet to blend.

3. Add the butter and cook over medium heat just until the butter melts, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

4. Add the pasta and toss. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of cream, and Parmesan to the cream sauce in the skillet.

5. Add the lemon zest, nutmeg, salt, and white pepper. Toss the pasta mixture over low heat until the sauce thickens slightly, about 1 minute.

{Photo from The Holiday}

6 Things to Do Over Winter Break

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To be honest, I get a little bit restless during my holiday break. It’s weird not having a schedule or routine, or having assigned busy work. To fill the hours of the long cold days, here are some fun ideas for a long weekend or month-long break (enjoy it, undergrads!)…

1. Start that neglected television marathon. While you may have been keeping up with shows during the fall semester, there was never a good time to start a full-on marathon with shows such as Homeland, Downton Abbey, or Dexter. However, now that you have a couple of free weeks, this would be a good time to start those shows!

2. Take a trip to the movie theater. There are some incredible movies coming out this winter. I personally can’t wait for Les Miserables, This is 40, Django Unchained, Promised Land, and $ellebrity.

3. Read an unassigned book. This winter I am looking forward to reading Anna Karenina (and then I’ll watch the movie), Goodbye Cinema, Hello Cinephilia, The Kitchen House, and The Night Circus.

4. Try a new recipe. Hone those baking skills this winter, or try a challenging recipe that has intimidated you for months.

5. Plan a movie night. Whip up your favorite cookies and drinks, pop in a movie, and enjoy a comfortable night with friends or family.

6. Make your own movie. With apps such as 8mm Vintage Camera, iMovie for iPhone, and Paper Camera, you can document your winter activities without breaking the bank!

Have a very Merry Christmas tomorrow!  

{Photo via}