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 therecipecritic.com

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

Instructions:

  • 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}

{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.

Ingredients:

  • 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

Instructions:

  • 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.

Ingredients:

  • 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)

Instructions:

  • 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

Instructions:

  • 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.

Ingredients:

  • 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

Instructions:

  • 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}

{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.

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

  • 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}

{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?

Ingredients:

  • 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

Instructions:

  • 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!