Moroccan Spiced Cod with Lemon Pearl Couscous {Casablanca}


This post is a shoutout to one of my boyfriend’s favorite movies, and the Best Picture winner in 1944. In World War II Casablanca, Rick Blaine, exiled American and former freedom fighter, runs the most popular nightspot in town. The cynical lone wolf Blaine comes into the possession of two valuable letters of transit. When Nazi Major Strasser arrives in Casablanca, the sycophantic police Captain Renault does what he can to please him, including detaining a Czechoslovak underground leader Victor Laszlo. Much to Rick’s surprise, Lazslo arrives with Ilsa, Rick’s one time love. Rick is very bitter towards Ilsa, who ran out on him in Paris, but when he learns she had good reason to, they plan to run off together again using the letters of transit. Or at least, that was the plan.

No film captures the classical Hollywood style quite so well as “Casablanca.” The film seamlessly combines romance and intrigue in its exotic location, remarkably conveyed by mere studio sets. The black and white cinematography is perfect for capturing and adding mood to the smoke filled rooms, war torn city streets, and foggy airports that compose the world of this film. Despite seeming a product of its time, “Casablanca” is truly a timeless piece of entertainment

{Moroccan Spiced Cod with Lemon Pearl Couscous}
Serves 2

Though this film is in black and white, I wanted to pair this colorful dish packed with Moroccan spices with “Casablanca,” as the film is set in Morocco. The dish has several components, but they all work together beautiful, just like very element of this film. Enjoy!

Ingredients for Moroccan Spiced Cod:

  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp mace
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 2 4 to 5-oz cod fillets, pin bones and skin removed
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Ingredients for Lemon Pearl Couscous:

  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 c pearl couscous
  • 3/4 c low-salt vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/4 c cherry tomatoes
  • 6 Kalamata olives, halved
  • 2 quarters marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 1/4 preserved lemon rind, minced
  • 1 tbsp shredded parmesan
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley leaves

Instructions for Moroccan Spiced Cod:

  • In a small bowl or airtight jar, combine spices. This will make ~1 tbsp and will keep for 3 months if stored in an airtight container in a dark cabinet.
  • Season cod with spice mixture ~1/8 tsp per side.
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over med-hi heat till aromatic but not smoking.
  • Sauté cod till opaque halfway up the side ~3-5 minutes depending on how thick your fillet is then flip and cook on the other side till completely opaque.

Instructions for Lemon Pearl Couscous:

  • In a small sauté pan or skillet with a lid, heat olive oil over medium heat till aromatic but not smoking.
  • Add couscous and toast till golden ~2-3 minutes.

I hope this movie and film pair can fill both your stomach and your soul, happy eating everyone!

Creamy Thai Peanut and Carrot Soup with Basil {Dumbo}


Clocking in at just 64 minutes, “Dumbo” (1941) is one of the shortest Disney films out there, but it is also one of the greatest. For those of you who haven’t seen this heartwarming Disney classic, “Dumbo” begins when the stork delivers a baby elephant to Mrs. Jumbo, veteran of the circus, but the newborn is ridiculed because of his truly enormous ears and dubbed “Dumbo”. After being separated from his mother, Dumbo is relegated to the circus’ clown acts; it is up to his only friend, a mouse, to assist Dumbo to achieve his full potential.

Though there are no big Broadway numbers, no breathtaking backgrounds or animation. In fact, this is the only Walt Disney animated feature film that has a title character who doesn’t speak. It is within Dumbo’s characters and story that its universal appeal lies. Who hasn’t ever felt like and outcast? How many of us haven’t realized we need no magic feather to unlock the potential within ourselves, so as long as we have confidence and faith? It’s a beautiful theme, and a truly touching film.

{Creamy Thai Carrot and Peanut Soup with Basil}
Serves 4

One of my fondest memories from childhood was when my family and I would go see the Circus Parade in downtown Milwaukee. I loved every second of it – The animals, the colors, the slightly terrifying clowns, and of course… the peanuts. Popcorn, cotton candy, and a big old bag of peanuts were shared (perhaps reluctantly, but still shared) between my sister and my two cousins as we watched the parade unfold. So when thinking of a dish to pair with this perfect little Disney film, my mind went straight to peanuts.

Fortunately for me, my good friend Charlie, who’s turning into quite the impressive chef according to his SnapChat, sent me a recipe for this creamy Thai carrot and peanut soup. I remember reading through the recipe and thinking “Oh my God, there isn’t a single ingredient on this list that I don’t like,” and it also meant I got to bust out the immersion blender Parker’s grandmother got me that I have been dying to play with.

Needless to say, the rest was history.


  • 1/2 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 pound carrots, scrubbed (or peeled) and chopped (~4 cups)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 cups Veggie Stock + 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup creamy or crunchy salted natural peanut butter (use less for a less intense PB flavor)
  • 2 tsp chili garlic sauce (use less for less spice)
  • Toppings: Fresh basil, cilantro, or mint; coconut milk; brown sugar or agave nectar (sub honey if not vegan); Sriracha hot sauce
  • Coconut or Olive Oil for sautéing


  • Heat a large pot over medium heat.
  • Dice onion and garlic. Add to pot with 1 Tbsp coconut or olive oil (or nonstick spray). Add carrots and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Season with a healthy pinch each salt and pepper, then add veggie stock and 2 cups of water and stir.
  • Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until veggies are tender (test by cutting a larger piece of carrot in half – it should cut with ease).
  • Transfer to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and blend until smooth and creamy. (Cover with a towel in case your lid leaks any soup while blending.)
  • Add peanut butter and chili garlic sauce to the blender and blend to combine, using a ‘puree’ or ‘liquify’ setting if you have it.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. For a touch of added sweetness, add a Tbsp or so of brown sugar, maple syrup or agave nectar (or honey if not vegan). Add more chili garlic sauce for more heat.
  • Serve immediately with fresh basil or herbs of choice. A drizzle of coconut milk will add a creamy, sweet touch. Serve with sriracha for extra heat.

This recipe is truly delicious. Big bold flavors, and a ton of fun to make. I highly recommend it! It may take you longer than it would to actually watch “Dumbo” (chopping up carrots can take awhile), but it’s so incredibly worth it! Happy eating, everyone.


Chobani Cherry Pie Yogurt Bars {The Prestige}

{The Prestige}

Now that the Academy Awards (or Christmas, whatever you prefer to call it) has finally ended, I want to share with you some of my favorite films and recipes. Brace yourself, I’m about to enter full film geek mode.

For those of you who were not aware, “The Prestige” is one of the best movies ever made (in my not so humble opinion, I promise I’m right about this one). Directed by the legendary Christopher Nolan, and starring Hugh Jackman, Chrisitian Bale, and Michael Caine, this film is already set up for greatness. Told in a narrative that jumps between various points along its time line, playing out like a magic act itself, the story is that of two magicians in Victorian-era London on the rise in their careers. The first — played by Christian Bale — is an expert in understanding the fundamentals of any trick, but lacks showmanship. The second — played by Hugh Jackman — is a master showman who is more entertaining than technical. A tragic series of events pits the two performers against each other in a battle of wits that spirals further and further out of control, consuming both of them and everything and everyone they care about.

What makes this movie so incredible is that while it is indeed a movie about the dark side of magic, it is also a complex character study about how self destructive obsessions are with a sideline love story and a sci-fi twist. The non-linear structure to the film keeps the audience on their toes, drawing them into the magician’s obsessions. As introduced at the beginning of the film, each trick has three parts, the pledge, where an ordinary object is presented to the audience; the turn, where the object is turned into something unexpected; and the prestige, where the object is brought back. In seeking uncontested prestige in the life of magic, Angier and Borden experience, that in real life, once lost, some things cannot be brought back.

This 2006 film was nominated for Academy Awards in Cinematography and Art Direction, both well deserved nominations.

{Chobani Cherry (or Blueberry) Pie Yogurt Bars}
Makes 12 bars
Recipe adapted from

This post was inspired by the #MadeWithChobani project. As someone who ate Chobani Blood Orange yogurt every day her entire junior year of undergrad for breakfast, I have a sweet spot for the brand and figured why not!

One of my favorite thing about greek yogurt is that it can often be used as a substitute for sour cream to make recipes healthier, something my mom has been doing for years, and honestly – you can’t taste the difference in the final product! Hopefully y’all are one step ahead of me on this and get the connection to “The Prestige”: Both in magic, and in these delish yogurt bars, not everything is what it seems. And when you serve them to your guests they will disappear before your very eyes!

…I know, the puns are rough, but I just can’t help myself sometimes.

With the whole “magically disappearing calories” thing in mind, I figured it would best to make a dessert for this #MadeWithChobani project because, lets be real, if I can find ways to cut calories out of the sweet treats in life then I am all kinds of happy. I stumbled across this recipe and tweaked it a little bit in an effort to make it healthier by using Chobani greek yogurt instead of sour cream. Not only did it work, but it was delicious!

Ingredients for the Crust:

  • 1/2 c butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1/2 c light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Ingredients for the Filling:

  • 1 c cherry (or blueberry) pie filling
  • 1/2 c cherry (or blueberry) Chobani yogurt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


  • Preheat oven to 375 and prepare an 8×8 square pan by lining with parchment paper and spraying with cooking spray.
  • Make the crust by whisking together in a medium bowl the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the melted butter. The dough will be crumbly but make sure all of the butter is incorporated.
  • Reserve 3/4 cup of the crust and press the remaining into the bottom of your 8×8 prepared baking pan.
  • For the yogurt mixture, mix together in a large bowl the yogurt, sugar, 1 Tbsp flour, egg, and vanilla. Pour over the crust in your 8x pan.
  • Spoon your pie filling over the yogurt mixture and gently swirl with the yogurt filling with a spoon.
  • Sprinkle your reserved 3/4 cup crust over the top and bake for 25-28 minutes or until golden brown (I found it was closer to 28).
  • Cool completely and serve into squares.

I made two batches of these (because you can pretty much make any flavor you want as long as the greek yogurt and pie filling are the same flavor) and brought them over to a friend’s house for her and her family to enjoy because otherwise I would have eaten literally all of them by myself. Using greek yogurt instead of sour cream cuts out a lot of calories, but not if you eat 20 bars…

Thanks again to Chobani for the chance to brag about my favorite movie, and my new favorite dessert, with your #MadeWithChobani project! I encourage y’all to check it out — I don’t doubt there are a lot of other great ideas out there! Happy eating!!

And go watch “The Prestige.” No seriously, like now. Go.

“Magic Soup” {Boyhood}


With the Academy Awards just days away, I believe I have saved the best for last.

Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, Richard Linklater‘s “Boyhood” is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (a breakthrough performance by Ellar Coltrane), who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason’s parents and newcomer Lorelei Linklater as his sister Samantha, “Boyhood” charts the rocky terrain of childhood like no other film has before. Snapshots of adolescence from road trips and family dinners to birthdays and graduations and all the moments in between become transcendent, set to a soundtrack spanning the years from Coldplay’s Yellow to Arcade Fire’s Deep Blue. “Boyhood” is both a nostalgic time capsule of the recent past and an ode to growing up and parenting.

Richard Linklater and his crew got together annually to film this script about a boy who will eventually grow up into a college freshman. Linklater’s method behind production was essentially to make several 10- to 15-minute short films over the course of 12 years, each depicting a year in the life of the boy, and then edit them together as a feature film. And while this project so easily could have been a mess, it was pieced together beautifully and tells a tale that everyone can relate to.

Boyhood is one of only 11 movies to receive a metascore of 100, the highest possible score that can be attained from professional movie critics, and this is the only film to receive this score upon it’s original release. It’s no surprise that it has been nominated for Best Motion Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Editing. This film has the potential to score big at the Oscars, as it took home the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, and Original Screenplay this year.

{“Magic Soup”}
Makes 8 servings

This film caused me to reflect on everything life has thrown me in the past 24 years. Sometimes it was subtle, like a particular song instantly taking me back to middle school. Other time it was a more obvious trigger, like the main character’s high school graduation. You can’t help but think about growing up as you watch this movie. I’ve been blessed to have an amazing family, and great friends, by my side since day one. When thinking about what recipe to make for this film, it couldn’t have been more obvious: Though it hasn’t always been called “Magic Soup,” this sausage, vegetable, and tortellini soup is the meal I requested every time I came home from college. I even had my mom send me the recipe when I lived in my sorority house so the cook could make it for all my sisters. And now, I’m happy to share it with you.


  • 1 pound Italian Sausage, casings removed
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, sliced
  • 5 cups Beef, Chicken or Vegetable Broth
  • 2 cups Tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cup Carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 (8 ounces) Tomato Sauce, canned
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 1/2 cup Dry Red Wine (I use apple juice or just double water)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Oregano
  • 1 1/2 cups Zucchini, sliced
  • 8 ounces meat filled or cheese filled tortellini (I use Buitoni every time)
  • Parmesan Cheese, grated


  • Brown the sausage in a skillet, stirring until crumbly. Remove the sausage to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Drain the skillet, reserving 1 tablespoon of the pan drippings. Sauté the garlic in the reserved pan drippings until the garlic is softened a bit. Combine the garlic, sausage, broth, tomatoes, carrots, tomato sauce, water, wine, basil and oregano in a soup pot or Dutch Oven. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat.
  • Simmer, uncovered for 3o minutes, stirring occasionally; skim. Stir in the zucchini, pasta. Simmer, covered, for 35-40 minutes longer or until the pasta is tender, stirring occasionally. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle with cheese.

This soup reminds me of coming home after a long day of horseback riding, it reminds me of curling up on our once green (and now recently recovered) couch with my cat, it reminds me of my family’s intense movie selection process for family movie night. My sister and I just recently started calling it magic soup because it has the power to fix everything. And as I sat back and watched “Boyhood”, that was the one message that came through loud and clear: Family has the power to fix everything. Enjoy the movie, the soup, and get ready for this year’s Academy Awards.

Slow-Cooker Sheperd’s Pie {The Theory of Everything}

{The Theory of Everything} 

“The Theory of Everything” is the story of the most brilliant and celebrated physicist of our time, Stephen Hawking, and Jane Wilde, the arts student he fell in love with when studying at Cambridge in the 1960s. This biopic works to tell the story of Stephen Hawking outside of the scientific realm, and it is done so with grace.

The strengths of this film rely solely on Eddie Redmayne (Stephen Hawking) and Felicity Jones (Jane Wilde). These two actors are truly phenomenal in these two roles. Stephen Hawking is the role that Redmayne was born to play. Eddie Redmayne met with Stephen Hawking only once before filming. “In the three hours I spent with him, he said maybe eight sentences,” recalls Redmayne. “I just didn’t feel like I could ask him intimate things.” Therefore, he found other ways to prepare for the role. He lost about 15 pounds and trained for four months with a dancer to learn how to control his body. He met with 40 ALS patients, kept a chart tracking the order in which Hawking’s muscles declined, and stood in front of a mirror for hours on end, contorting his face.

It is difficult enough to mimic a person as famous as Stephen Hawking, let alone  to portray the crippling and gradually increasing effects of Motor Neuron Disease. But Redmayne did so in a way that so clearly showed the profound emotions and inner suffering that Hawking must have experienced in his agonizing journey. Honestly, there were times where it moved me to tears. It is truly one of the most beautiful films of the season.

“The Theory of Everything” is nominated for Best Motion Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score. Redmayne won the Golden Globe for Best Actor for this performance, and I truly believe he deserves the Oscar as well. This film has the potential to move your spirit in so many ways, I highly recommend it.

{Slow Cooker Shepherds Pie}
Serves 6

One of my favorite things about this film was the locations: From the streets of London to Cambridge, as someone who has been dying to go back to London ever since I went once as a little kid, getting pulled into that culture through this film’s beautiful cinematography was an amazing experience. So when I began brainstorming a recipe to fair with this film, I didn’t have to think very hard. I stumbled upon an article called “Why there’s no better British dish than a Sheperd’s Pie,” and the author couldn’t have put it any better. He said, “A well-made shepherd’s pie is a thing of true beauty, comfort food to be shovelled in with a spoon.”

Say no more, take me I’m yours.


  • 2lbs ground turkey or beef (I used turkey just to do something different)
  • 1 cup of carrots
  • 1 cup of peas
  • 1 packet brown gravy
  • Salt and pepper
  • 5 large potatoes
  • Milk
  • 1 TBS butter
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (any kind)


  • Start cooking your potatoes. I chopped mine up and threw them into a pot while I prepared everything else.
  • Brown meat slightly and add to pot.
  • Mix the gravy according to packet instructions.
  • Mix in vegetables and the brown gravy.
  • Make mashed potatoes with potatoes, milk and butter and add to the top of the meat mix. Use a fork to make a criss-cross pattern on the top.
  • Cook on low for 3 hours.
  • 15 minutes before serving add the cheese and cook for the remainder.

This dish fulfills every comfort food craving in your body, and is easy to make and for not that much money. I’d consider that to be quiet a win. Speaking of, be sure to check out “The Theory of Everything” and cheer on Eddie Redmayne at this year’s Academy Awards. Happy eating everyone!

Thai Crunch Chicken Salad

So, for those of you who are wondering, working 40 hours a week + taking night class + finishing up your masters thesis takes up 99% of your free time. I apologize for not posting in awhile, and sadly I wasn’t able to make this post Oscar-related because I haven’t had time to cook! Sigh.

That being said! This salad has been my go-to at work for the past week (in fact, I’m munching on it as we speak – what a productive lunch break!), so I figured sharing this recipe with y’all was better than not sharing anything at all!

Thai Crunch Chicken Salad: Serves 4

Ingredients for Chicken:

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Ingredients for Dressing/Marinade:

  • 1 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup lite canned coconut milk
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoon-sized knobs of ginger, grated
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

Ingredients for Salad:

  • 1 small napa cabbage, chopped
  • 1/2 small red cabbage, chopped
  • 6 green onions, sliced
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, sliced and quartered
  • 2/3 cup chopped or sliced carrots
  • 2/3 cup edamame
  • 2/3 cup torn fresh cilantro
  • 2/3 cup chopped peanuts


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray. Season chicken with salt and pepper, then place in the baking dish.
  • Combine chili sauce, vinegar, coconut milk, sugar, garlic, ginger, peanut butter, soy sauce and lime juice in a saucepan, whisking to combine.
  • Bring to a boil, the reduce to a simmer and cook for 3-4 minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and pour half of the sauce over the chicken, turing chicken to coat completely.
  • Set remaining sauce aside to dress the salad with.
  • Bake chicken for 25-30 minutes, or until it is cooked through.
  • While chicken is cooking, combine all salad ingredients, except for peanuts, in a large bowl and toss. When chicken has finished cooking, let cool for a few minutes then either shred or cut into chunks. Serve salad, top with chicken, top with peanuts, then top with dressing.

I’ll get more Oscar recipes to you soon, promise! In the meantime, happy eating!

Apple Cider Sage Pork Chops with Caramelized Apples {Grand Budapest Hotel}

{The Grand Budapest Hotel}

Not going to lie, this is one of my favorite films nominated this year. Everything about it is oddly entertaining – the colors, the plot, the humor… It’s not your typical comedy, but then again, Wes Anderson isn’t your typical director. The film is about Gustave, a legendary concierge at a famous hotel in a far away mythical country, and Zero Mustafa, the lobby boy who turns out to be Gustave’s most trusted friend.

Here’s a review that most appropriately paints a picture of “The Grand Budapest Hotel”: “In this film, director Wes Anderson creates his own universe, full of colourful characters, old-world charm and witty one-liners. The nice thing about creating your own universe is that you can make it look perfect. Every shot, every little detail and every set is flawless. From lead character Gustave H.’s purple jacket to the title of the newspaper announcing the war (The Trans-Alpine Yodel) – Anderson has given thought and attention to everything. The film moves forward at a breakneck speed. You have to be very alert in order not to miss something. The plot is not always very easy to follow, and the dialogue is fast. And there are the great camera angles and the wonderful detailed sets to pay attention to.” And truly, that makes this film much more fun than most.

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” has been nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Cinematography.

{Apple Cider Sage Pork Chops with Caramelized Apples}

Serves 4-6

I struggled to think of a meal pairing for this great movie. It’s eccentric, and quick humor didn’t immediately generate any foodie thoughts. And then it hit me. The main plot point of the film revolves around this painting entitled “Boy with Apple” (remember, I warned you several posts back about the puns). Voila! A perfect punny dish to go with this funny film.


  • 4 bone-in pork loin chops
  • 2 Garlic Herb Sauté Express® Sauté Starter squares
  • 1–2 tablespoons fresh sage chopped, according to preference
  • 1 pound apples peeled, cored and sliced in 1/4-inch slices
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  • In a large sauté pan or cast iron skillet, melt the Sauté Express® Sauté Starter over medium heat until it begins to bubble. Pat the pork chops dry on both sides. Add the meat and cook for 3–5 minutes, or until browned.
  • Turn and cook the other side until browned and the pork is cooked through (minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees F). While cooking, brush some of the Sauté Express® Sauté Starter on the side of the pork facing up.
  • In another skillet melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sugar to the butter and cook for 1 minute, or until it begins to melt. Add the apples and sauté over medium heat until the apples are browned and tender. This should take about 10–15 minutes.
  • In the pan with the pork chops, add the apple cider and cook over medium heat until the liquid is reduced by about half. Add the cream, bring to a boil and allow it to bubble for a few minutes until the sauce is slightly thickened. Sprinkle with fresh sage and season with salt and pepper if desired.
  • If serving immediately, spoon the caramelized apples on top of the pork in the pan. Alternatively, you can pass the apples separately at the table and portion them out directly on the dinner plates.

I don’t know if I should be proud or slightly embarrassed, by I ate every single solitary bite of this dish. A truly delicious meal for any apple lover! Enjoy, and go see what “Grand Budapest Hotel” and the apples are all about! Happy eating!!

S’more Truffles {Wild}


Reese Witherspoon has been one of my favorite actresses ever since she fiercely rocked the bend and snap in Legally Blonde. That being said, the poor girl has been stuck in rom com land for years. “Wild” is Reese Witherspoon like you’ve never seen here before, and that’s a great thing. Witherspoon plays a woman named Cheryl who, after the death of her mother and collapse of her marriage, embarks on a 1,000+ mile hike along the Pacific Coast Trail completely alone in an effort to regain what she has lost. The audience learns more about Cheryl through flashbacks as she hikes north, and invites the viewer to reflect too on their own life struggles, choices, and dreams.

While this film has not been nominated for best picture, I wanted to include a tribute to Witherspoon’s Best Actress nomination. There’s something beautiful about the simplicity of this film, and I urge you all to carve out some time to enjoy it.

{S’mores Truffles}

Makes about 3 dozen truffles.

While Reese is roughing it on the trail, her meal options are slim. I mean, really slim. When she mistakenly purchases the wrong type of gas to light her stove, she’s forced to eat cold mush for days on end until she makes it to the next stop. Instead of trying to recreate one of her dismal camping meals, I opted for the cliche camping dessert option: s’mores. S’mores are probably the only way you will ever convince me to go camping, and even then it’s a stretch.


  • 25 graham cracker sheets {about 3 packages}
  • 1 {7 oz.} container marshmallow fluff
  • 2 oz. cream cheese
  • 16 oz. melting chocolate


  • Blend the graham crackers in a food processor until crumbs are formed.
  • Leaving about 1/4 cup aside, combine the crumbs, marshmallow fluff, and cream cheese in a medium sized bowl and mix until well combined. It takes a few minutes for it all to come together.
  • Form the crumb mixture into 1 inch balls and place on wax paper.
  • Melt the chocolate according to package directions.
  • Dip the graham cracker balls into the chocolate and place back on wax paper. Sprinkle with the remaining graham cracker crumbs and let sit until chocolate has hardened.

I promise this delicious dessert will impress your friends, and with minimal effort! And they’re great in case you feel like experiencing anything remotely related to camping without all the dirt and sweat and sore feet and stuff. Enjoy — and go see “Wild”! Happy eating.


Slow Cooker Loaded Baked Potato Soup {Foxcatcher}


Words can’t express how excited I am that “Foxcatcher” has been getting Oscar attention this year. It was one of the many films that I saw when I went to the Cannes Film Festival this summer, and it was one of my favorites. Based on true events, “Foxcatcher” tells the dark and fascinating story of the unlikely and ultimately tragic relationship between an eccentric multi-millionaire and two champion wrestlers. That being said, “Foxcatcher” is anything but a wrestling drama.  “Foxcatcher” expands well beyond the wrestling ring into the minds of two men longing to find greatness. This story provides the perfect stage for the main actors of the film (Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, and Mark Ruffalo) to give some of their best performances to date. Director Bennett Miller won the Best Director prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and is also nominated for this year’s Academy Award in Directing. His previous filmography includes Capote (2005) and Moneyball (2011).

I hesitate to share more about this film, as I believe it is best enjoyed when you know very little about it, but I’ll leave you with this review:

“Foxcatcher” is terrifying, disturbing, and utterly engaging. A slowly unraveled piece that is risky but pays off immensely. It’s cautious yet strictly well-defined as a character study. Like all great films with great performances, its element of truth is plainly apparent. On the gray-skied farm, we will get to know three interesting men, some of which, we’ll never truly understand.”

{Slow Cooker Loaded Baked Potato Soup}

Serves 6

I knew very little about the world of wrestling when I went to see this film, and one of the scenes that struck me the most was when they were weighing in for the competition. I never thought much about a wrestler’s diet and how much that plays a part in their sport. I talked to a friend who wrestled in high school, and he said that baked potatoes were a staple in his training routine. I didn’t ask ask for too many details, after all, I figured he probably had the super healthy version and not the ones loaded up with bacon and sour cream. And where’s the fun in that?


  • 3 to 3 1/2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch pieces (about 7 medium potatoes, 8 – 9 cups)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced (1 cup)
  • 3 (14.5 oz) cans low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (6 oz)
  • 9 oz bacon, cooked and diced or crumbled
  • 4 green onions, diced


  • To a 6 or 7-quart slow cooker, add potatoes, onion, chicken broth, evaporated milk and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover with lid and cook on HIGH heat for 4 hours or LOW heat for 8 hours (poke potatoes with a fork to check make sure they’re soft).
  • Ladle out 2 cups liquid from soup mixture in crock pot into a liquid measuring cup, set aside. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes.
  • While whisking, slowly pour 2 cups liquid in measuring cup into butter mixture (it will thicken quickly).
  • Pour butter mixture into slow cooker and stir to blend. If desired, mash potatoes with a potato masher to break down into smaller pieces or use an emulsion blender to puree.
  • Cover and cook on HIGH heat until thickened, about 10 minutes.
  • Turn heat off (or to warm), stir in sour cream.
  • Serve warm topped with cheddar, bacon and green onions (you can just mix in those three remaining ingredients into slow cooker or top individual servings)

This soup was so easy to make, and so delicious and fulfilling. It kept for a good couple days in the fridge too, and I actually froze half of it for a later date! So with that, keep a look out for “Foxcatcher” at the Oscars this year, and enjoy!

Risotto with Crispy Duck and White Balsamic Vinegar {Birdman}

Hey everyone! I’m excited to present you with the NEW direction of my blog — dinner and a movie! I used to do these posts every once and awhile, but I’m finding now that I’m not actively studying film any more I truly miss it: Writing about it, talking about it, and sharing it. From this point forth, each delicious recipe will be paired with a movie recommendation. And yes, some of these pairings will make you sigh (the puns are corny, but some I just couldn’t resist), but each recipe was paired with a movie for a reason! So don’t worry! The delicious recipes aren’t going far — they are just going to the movies!

The first installment will be in honor of the upcoming Academy Awards. I’m going to share a little bit about each Best Picture Nominee, and of course, their foodie accompaniment.


Birdman is a black comedy that tells the story of an actor named Riggan (played by Michael Keaton) – who was famous for portraying an iconic superhero – as he struggles to mount a Broadway play. The audience follows Keaton in the days leading up to opening night, watching him battle his ego and attempt to pull off the performance of his career while still maintaining the love and respect of his daughter, colleagues, and himself.I loved how modern and relevant this film felt, packed with references to the exploding superhero franchise in today’s Hollywood and its current actors. The parallel between Keaton’s own acting history as Tim Burton’s Batman in the 1990s is also evident, and even referenced, as a journalist tells Riggan in an press conference the “last time he was relevant was when he played Birdman in 1992,” which was the last year Keaton played put on the infamous Batman suit.

The film is shot in a way to appear as if it is one continuous take. The camera moves seamlessly between characters and places, giving the audience a feeling of being engulfed in the story. And it isn’t just the camerawork that pulls you in. This film is a powerhouse of acting talent: Keaton and his supporting actors, Edward Norton and Emma Stone, all put forth the performance of their careers — as evident by all three being nominated for an Academy Award in their respective categories. Actors had to memorize up to 15 pages of dialogue and hit rigorous choreographed marks in order to make the shooting style of director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu even possible.

Needless to say, their work paid off. Birdman has been nominated for 9 Academy Awards, including Best Motion Picture. One critic put it best in saying, “Many films claim to be different. Birdman actually is.”

{Risotto with Crispy Duck Breast and White Balsamic}
Serves 4

The biggest takeaway from this film for me was how much attention the cast and crew had to pay attention during the filmmaking process. This shooting style lead itself to many errors, since they shot so many long takes, requiring everyone involved to bring their “A” game to set each day.And what recipe requires constant care and attention? Risotto. I love making risotto because it forces me to focus on cooking and very little else, as you are constantly stirring and adding more liquid to the rice until it gets to that rich, creamy texture. It seemed like the perfect dish to pair with this meticulously planned film, and of course, I had to go with some type of bird (remember, I warned you about the puns).


  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion 
  • 1 cup arborio rice or other short-grain rice
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 4 1/2 cups beef broth, divided 
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 5- to 6-ounce duck breasts


  • Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add rice; stir 2 minutes. Add wine; stir until almost all liquid evaporates, about 4 minutes. Add 1 cup broth; simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add 2 1/2 cups broth, 1/2 cupful at a time, stirring often and allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding next, until mixture is creamy, about 18 minutes longer. Remove from heat; stir in 1/2 cup cheese, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon butter. Season risotto with salt and pepper.
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in heavy large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle duck breasts with salt and pepper. Add duck, skin side down, to skillet; cook until skin is brown, about 8 minutes. Turn duck over and cook to desired doneness, about 5 minutes longer for medium-rare. Transfer duck to work surface; pour off fat (do not clean skillet). Let duck rest while preparing sauce. Add remaining 1 cup broth to same skillet and boil until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 5 minutes. Slice duck diagonally.
  • Spoon risotto into shallow bowls. Fan sliced duck atop risotto; drizzle pan sauce around duck and serve.

I encourage y’all to give this recipe a try, as well as to check Birdman out in theaters! It’s sure to be a frontrunner in this year’s Academy Awards. Enjoy, and happy eating!