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

Lamb I

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.

Lamb J

Lamb A

Lamb B

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.

Lamb

Lamb C

Lamb D

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.

Lamb E

Lamb F

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.

Lamb G

Lamb H

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: 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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Rudy 1

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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Everything Bagels

Bagel C

When I say this Everything Bagel is everything, I mean it. It’s been a while since I’ve had a good bagel, and I figured since I wasn’t finding anything tasty in cafes or restaurants that I’d try making my own homemade bagels. Though intimidating at first, breaking down how to make bagels step-by-step is helpful and reassuring.

Interestingly, you boil bagels before you bake them. I wanted my bagels to be soft and chewy on the inside so I only boiled them for 45 seconds on each side. Use a timer when doing this so you don’t over-boil.  I found making homemade bagels to be fairly manageable, which works out nicely since I’m tempted to make these every weekend.

Bagel J

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 package of active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Sesame seeds (white and/or black)
Poppy seeds
Caraway seeds
Dried garlic (minced or flaked)
Dried onion (minced or flaked)
Coarse grain sea salt
1 egg

Method

1. In a bowl, combine the water and sugar and stir to dissolve. Pour in the yeast and allow to sit for 6-8 minutes.
2. In a larger bowl, whisk together the bread flour and 1 1/2 teaspoon salt.
3. Once the yeast mixture has had time to activate, pour it into the flour mixture until a crumbly dough forms.
4. Turn mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. The dough will be pretty firm. You can knead by hand or in a stand mixer.
5. Place the dough in  a lightly olive oiled bowl and allow to rise in a warm place for one hour.
6. Turn the dough out a few times on a lightly floured surface and divide into 8 equal pieces.
7. Shape each piece into a ball and press your thumb through the center to create a hole. Make this hole a little bigger so that when it boils and bakes it will be visible.
8. Once you have shaped the bagels, let them rest for 10 minutes with a damp paper towel covering them.
9. While the bagels are resting, boil a pot of water. After 10 minutes of resting, pop the bagels into the water (one by one or two at a time). The bagels should float in boiling water.
10. Let each bagel boil for 45 seconds to 1 minute on each side. If you boil the bagels for a shorter amount of time, the bagels will rise in the oven and have a softer texture. If you boil them for longer, the bagel will have a denser interior. Remove bagels onto prepared baking sheet covered in parchment paper.
11. Whisk the egg plus one teaspoon of water together in a small bowl and brush mixture over each bagel. The egg wash will help the seeds stick and give them a nice brown sheen.
12. Add the seeds and salt! My order: caraway seeds, dried garlic, dried onion, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, coarse salt. Be generous with how many seeds you put on each bagel.
13. Bake bagels for 20 minutes at 425 degrees F.
14. Serve bagels warm with whipped cream cheese. Store any leftovers in an airtight container for 4-5 days.

Bagel I

The dough will be firm – at first I was worried that I had added too much flour or messed up the yeast ratio, but bagel dough is actually supposed to be less elastic than other breads. This makes it harder to knead, so focus less on working with your dough and more on making sure the ingredients are combined.

Bagel H

Using an egg wash (1 egg and 1 teaspoon of water) helps the goodies stick to the bagels. Don’t skimp on the seeds – the more the yummier!

Bagel G

Bagel F

Bake only for 20 minutes – for my bagels this was the perfect amount of time to ensure a crisp exterior and chewy interior.

Bagel E

Bagel D

Bagel B

Bagel A

Serve the bagels warm with whipped cream cheese and enjoy!

What type of bagel is your favorite?

Images and recipe by Lauren Jessen

That’s a Wrap!

heart pizza

This week was all about homemade meals. From clam linguine to an improvised Farmers Market meal to a heart pizza, there was no shortage of trying new recipes and experimenting with fresh ingredients. On my radar movie theater-wise: Trainwreck and Irrational Man. After being on the verge of a cold for more than half the week, I’m looking forward to getting some extra sleep this weekend. For now, let’s wrap up the week with a recap…

GET INVITED BACK: A variety of gifts to bring every type of host/hostess.

CROSSING AMERICA: Routes from some of the greatest literary road trips.

PART II: Oh, the good ol’ Hollywood sequel.

DON’T WASTE: Use this handy chart to avoid food waste.

PARTY TIME: Throw an oyster bash.

THIRD PLACE: Jurassic World is now the third highest-grossing film in history, behind Titanic and Avatar. 

TERMS TO KNOW: A useful glossary of wine-tasting terms.

PRO TIPS: Baking tips from pastry chefs around the country.

Have a great weekend!

Image by Lauren

That’s a Wrap!

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Happy May! I’m back from last week’s adventure where I experienced very warm and humid weather (photo above). However, I most definitely prefer rain to humidity and admittedly missed the April showers. I crossed a few movies off my list in April, and I’m excited to watch a few new ones this month. I will get myself to the theaters. It’s been way too long since I watched a movie in a big dark room with complete strangers. In disappointing T.V. news, Revenge has been canceled – if anything I feel old because I remember watching the show when it first started when I was in college. On a positive note, there are still a lot of great shows to watch. It’s all about turning lemons into lemonade. Now, let’s wrap up the week with a recap…

INTERVIEW: Cinematographer Alexander Chinnici discusses what it’s like being a Director of Photography and shares the films that shaped him.

HEAL YOURSELF: Bone broth is great for doing just that – it has nutrients that rebuild and rejuvenate your system. Can’t wait to try this recipe.

PUNNY FOOD: This father and son created an awesome way to teach geography with food. So clever!

WRITE: These sushi memo blocks are an adorable addition to any desk.

EAT: 10 famous foods from Seinfeld and where to eat them in New York City.

BAKE: Homemade pretzels aren’t the easiest to make, but I’m willing to try (again!).

KEEP STOCK: 20 foods you should always have in your kitchen.

ICE CREAM: Thanks to this guide, I’ll be eating ice cream sandwiches all season (okay, all year) long.

Enjoy your weekend!

Image by Lauren