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: 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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The Movie Collection: 8 Movies for Graduation

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The time has come for high school and college graduations all around the country. My sister recently graduated from university, so this post is in honor of all that she has accomplished. Whether you are graduating, or your sibling, friend, or family member is earning that hard-earned degree, congratulations! Celebrate with dinner and a movie – these are eight of my favorite graduation films.

Back to School – A rich businessman enrolls in college to help his discouraged son get through school. This movie is both ridiculous and funny.

Legally Blonde – Who can forget the words Elle Woods squeals at the end of her graduation speech: “Congratulations class of 2004, we did it!” 

The GraduateAppropriately named, a disillusioned college graduate finds himself torn between his older lover and her daughter. You can’t go wrong with a Mike Nichols movie.

Say AnythingHow can you not love this movie? An underachiever and the class valedictorian fall in love the summer before she goes to college.

She’s All ThatSerious drama occurs when a high school jock makes a bet that he can turn an unpopular girl into the school’s prom queen. The graduation scene at the end is pretty sweet – he has a lot to make up for!

GreaseA classic love story about two high schoolers (who clearly look like they’ve already graduated from college), this is such a fun movie to watch. The carnival at the end of the movie is a way to celebrate all they’ve been through.

Dead Poets Society – If there’s a great message to send in a movie, it’s in this one: Carpe Diem, Seize the Day. Recent graduates: this is your life, make the most of it!

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – Though you don’t see Ferris Bueller actually graduate, him skipping a day of high schools demonstrates serious senioritis. The struggle is real.

 What’s your favorite graduation movie?

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Around Town: Cafe Luxembourg in ‘When Harry Met Sally’ – New York City

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When Harry Met Sally (1989) is one of the greatest romantic comedies ever made. It’s effortless, hilarious, and filled with lots of restaurant scenes. Nora Ephron is a romantic comedy wizard and I can’t get enough of her work. During the film, Harry, Sally, and their two best friends go out to dinner at Cafe Luxembourg on the Upper West Side. In this scene, emotions are realized and relationships have changed. A very funny interaction between all of the characters takes place before they have even ordered their food.

Cafe Luxembourg, which opened in 1983, has a low-key vibe that made for an enjoyable breakfast. I ordered fresh squeezed orange juice, hot chocolate, and the Classic French Toast with fresh berries,‏ honey butter, and Vermont maple syrup. The French Toast was incredibly soft, and you just can’t go wrong with real syrup. This charming restaurant was a perfect backdrop for this double date, and it’s a must-visit for all you Nora Ephron/When Harry met Sally fans!

Cafe Luxembourg
200 West 70th Street, NYC
(between Amsterdam Ave. & West End Ave.)

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{Photos by Lauren & When Harry Met Sally}

That’s a Wrap!

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Just a heads up, I’ll be going on a brief hiatus for the next couple of weeks. During that time, watch these movies: The Constant Gardner, The English Patient, Thelma and Louise, Cold Mountain, and The Talented Mr. Ripley. I recently watched all of these movies, and I can’t get off this drama kick. I can’t say it enough – ever since I personalized my Netflix account, I have been getting such quality recommendations. Before I would open up Netflix and search forever for something that looked interesting. Now the second I open up the Netflix browser, there are at least three great movies right in front of me. So if there’s one thing you do this weekend, let it be personalizing your Netflix profile. It takes one minute and you won’t regret it. Enough about Netflix, let’s wrap up the week with a recap…

* Can’t wait for this movie. I highly recommend the book ‘Unbroken’ by Laura Hillenbrand. You won’t be able to stop thinking or talking about this story. Truly unbelievable.

* Emmy nominations are out! Happy to see so many Orange is the New Black noms.

* Crumbs Bakeshop is closing down, though there have been talks of it being saved.

* Anthony Bourdain’s theory on the foodie revolution.

* What a cool movie. Not just a slice of life, but a whole pie.

* How good do waffles with vanilla yogurt sound?

* I watched Thelma and Louise last week (finally!) and this reunion is fantastic.

* Traveling this summer? Don’t check your bags without these sushi luggage covers.

* Photos from behind-the-scenes of old movies. Love all of them!

Have a lovely weekend!

{Photo by Lauren}