Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Sundance Film Festival 2013, part 4

Good Lawdy!  I am a day late and a dollar short on knocking out my Sundance adventures.  My new goal: complete 2014 festival review, in 2014.  Go me!

It's been so long, I have to pause and look back where I finished up last...maj fail!

they 1) have acne and 2) can be wicked adorable and yet look
horrible in a photo!  Victory (especially today, as I sit after a couple
days of food poisoning, looking like the bottom of a tennis shoe).

Shailene Woodley (said to be the next big thing, thanks to Divergent) was
in town to promote the film White Bird in a Blizzard, which I had the 
pleasure of seeing, so more on that later!!! 

BOOO HISSSS!  Elijah Wood is always
bringing ciggies to the festival.  He is so cute and
tiny, and I sure hope he gets carded for said cigs 
every single time.  I snapped this outside the historic
Egyptian Theater, where we attempted to see the
midnight showing of Cooties, mainly because of the ridiculous
cast!  Seriously, click on the Cooties link a row up and 
read the talent involved!

Molly Shannon!!!  I was wicked excited to see her
and really wanted to ask if she was 50, 5-0...(ya know that one, right?)

Mark Ruffalo, what a sexy beast!

Can we have a moment?  Could Diane Kruger
be anymore flawless?  AND...that b word is
dating Charlie from the Mighty Ducks, as if!

As Bill Hader walked by, my friend told him how
good he was looking.  He literally paused, looked
about for another Bill, then thanked her...haaaa.
Looooove him!

I snapped her picture, as I knew I recognized her...
then all the paparazzi asked me who it was.  I said,
I can't remember, but i know it will come to me.
2 days later I was all, IT'S THE CHICK FROM 
COLOR??? Her name is Morgan Saylor, for
all the paparazzi (none) that read my blog and are 
still wondering. 

Miles Teller.  So excited to see his festival award
winning film, Whiplash.

Shiloh Fernandez.  At the festival to promote

Molly Shannon & Cheryl Hines, in town to promote Life After Beth.

Elizabeth Olsen, who I consider to be the QUEEN OF INDIE (or
the Olsen sister who can act, if you want to join in and be a b word
with me).  If I had posted this in a timely fashion I would have said
Elizabeth Olsen and her boyfriend, but since it is one hundred years 
later I have to edit said original thought as this is now her fiance

Shailene Woodley.

Katie Couric in town as a producer to promote
the documentary Fed Up.

 Thank you, US Weekly scholarly journal, without your help
I would have never known that Cheryl Hines dates Robert Kennedy Jr.

Sam Huntington, at the festival to promote Three Night Stand

 I still don't watch Game of Thrones, but
I know many of you are maj fans of this dude,

Okay, I will be back with more. 
I think I can cram the rest into one more post, and have decided that
 I win a maj prize if I knock the next one out before the month ends!!! 
 I accept this challenge.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Toffee Pretzel Crunch. Oh My!

I was making care packages this week to send off and deliver locally
as several friends needing the TLC of homemade treats.

I was thinking how tasty it would be to dip pretzel rods in toffee, but
then at a little Oprah light bulb moment and decided on this...
you can thank me later.

What you need to make this ridiculous treat:
3 1/2-4 cups Pretzel Crisps
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

Line a large jelly roll pan* with aluminum foil, and then thinly coat the foil
with butter (I just gently rub one of the sticks used in the recipe along the 
foiled surfaces. You will not use much) then place a layer of Pretzel Crisps 
along the bottom of the buttered pan.  I break up some of the crisps. Don't 
worry if the crisps are overlapping. 

* a jelly roll pan is smaller than a sheet pan, but larger than a 9x13 pan.

 In a saucepan over medium/high heat, begin melting the butter, brown sugar and salt.

 This is one pot you want to watch boil.  Continue stirring as the sauce boils 
and thickens.  Watch that it doesn't burn.  I stir at boil for a couple minutes.

Pour the boiling sauce evenly over the pretzel crisps.  
Place pan in a 425 degree oven.

The sauce will thicken in the oven. After 4 minutes I pulled the bubbling concoction 
out of the oven.  Check at 4 minutes. If it isn't super bubbly and darker in color, 
put it back in for 1 additional minute.

 Immediately sprinkle the semi sweet chocolate chips evenly 
over the toffee pretzels. 

The heat of the pan will quickly melt the chocolate chips.  If you
find that they aren't melting, pop the pan back into the cooling oven for 
1 minute and the chocolate will be ready to spread with a knife.

After the chocolate chips are evenly spread across the top of the toffee,
pop the pan in the freezer to set up for 30 minutes.

 After setting in the freezer, I pull the brick of toffee from the foil,
double checking that all foil pulled away, then use my hands to 
break into chunks.  I store in the refrigerator in a sealed container.

It packages up nicely, in boxes, to drop with friends and neighbors.
I buy bulk food safe boxes on the Internet.


Thursday, February 27, 2014


It's no secret that I have close to zero shame when we head to the Sundance Film Festival each year.  I go to see shows, yes...but I really go to play the part of pretend-paparazzi.  Yes, this is one of our annual vacations that I live for, and I just loooove standing around snapping photos of celebs (while being quite vocal in my refusal to ski during the week, as THIS IS MY TIME TO SHINE, as pretend-paparazzi).  So anyhoo, many a photographers asked me who I work for, while I 'stalk' the streets of Park City.  Who meWhat!  Really?  Well, I would reply, I am just a mom on vacation and I do this for fun, oh and for my little blog that I hope takes off at some point.

One photographer started calling me Mamarazzi.  How funny is that!  She was impressed with the celebs response to me, so she asked if she could see some of my snaps.  She said they were good and offered to send them off.  Well for Pete's sake, would you believe that I got word today that one of the photos I snapped was picked up by People magazine.  Yes, thee People magazine!  Crazy, right!  I am so excited.  I feel quite legit in my mamarazzi status now!

Here's the photo from my blog post a few weeks back.

And here she be...in the March 2014 issue of People magazine.

Still pinching myself in excitement!
Stay tuned...I might just make a mini career out of this!  

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Quinoa & Roasted Butternut Squash Hot Dish!

The Minnesota in me can't whip up a side dish, containing condensed 
cream of soup, without calling it a hot dish.  Sorry.  Not sorry. 

I made this dish in December for a luncheon potluck at my daughter's school, with items I had in the kitchen. I didn't know how it would turn out, but after several moms asked me for the recipe at the luncheon, and another mom just stopped me last week to ask, I decided it was time to get this recipe on the blog. 

What you need:
  • 3 cups dry quinoa (which cooked in 6 cups of liquid, water or stock, will yield ~8 cups of cooked quinoa)
  • 8 ounce block of cream cheese, room temperature soft
  • 2 boxes of condensed cream of mushroom soup 
  • 2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large butternut squash
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt & black pepper
Also, I highly recommend you make the Maple Spiced Pecans, also on this blog, as they are the perfect addition of sweet and spicy crunch to this hot dish.  

 Get all that tough skin off the squash quickly, with a vegetable peeler.
I seriously just thought of this in the last 6 months after many a squash 
struggles.  Major 'duh moment'!!

 I cut the 'neck' of the squash off, then bisect the bottom of the squash
for easy removal of the the seeds and pulp.

 Slice the 'neck' of the squash into roughly 1/2 inch slices. Then
cut into roughly 1/2 inch cubes.

 Cube the bottom half of the cleaned out squash.

Place the cubed squash on a foil lined baking sheet, topped with 
parchment paper (the foil is only for easy clean up, not needed
if you are a bit more motivated than I am).  Toss the cubes with a 
generous amount of olive oil, sea salt and cracked black pepper.

I forgot about the onion, but remembered to toss it in, right before the
pan made it's way to the oven.

Place in a 400 degree oven.  Roast for 1 hour, tossing with a spoon
after half hour.

While the squash is roasting, and the quiona is cooking (just follow directions 
on the dry quinoa package), combine the 8 oz block of cream cheese, 2 boxes 
condensed soup and 2 cups of stock (chicken or vegetable) in a large bowl with a whisk.

This is my favorite brand of condensed soups.  It is also gluten free,
which is wonderful for those with dietary restrictions.

 Add the cooked quinoa to the sauce and stir.  Add sea salt to taste.

Fold in the roasted squash and onions.  

Place in an oiled baking dish.  At this point you can cover the dish and
 place in the refrigerator to bake off later.

For the perfect crust, use the vegetable peel to shave off a bit of butter
and place on top.  This too is one of my favorite little ideas/ 'duh moments'

Sprinkle a little sea salt on top of the shaved butter, and place in a
375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes.

The top will be golden brown.

Yum!  This hot dish is meal enough, when topped with the
 Maple Spiced Pecans and served with a side of greens. 

Here are a couple other ideas for this delicious hot dish: toss in additional roasted vegetables 
(zucchini, asparagus, root vegetables, portobello mushrooms), stuff large portobello mushrooms
and bake off or serve along side grilled poultry or beef.

Seriously, yum! 

Maple Spiced Pecans

 The maple spiced pecans are the perfect addition to a roasted
butternut squash and quinoa hot dish.

Oh my goodness, these are the absolute best thing to ever happen to salads, snack mix and the palm of your hand (as you shovel in a hand full)...and making them is super easy too!

 Place 1 cup roughly chopped raw pecans in a saute pan, over 
medium heat.  Watch closely.  You want to heat them until the pan
starts to smell a bit nutty.  Watch closely though, as it can go from 
tasty to burnt very quickly.

 With the pan still on the heat, add 3 T. pure maple syrup, a pinch
of cayenne pepper and a generous crack of sea salt to the warm 
nuts.  Stir until all of the nuts are coated.  Remove from heat.

Pour the warm pecans onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet
and pop in a 300 degree oven for 7 minutes.  

Remove from oven, allow to cool, and then store them in an air tight
container.  They are seriously delicious.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Brown Butter Marshmallow Crispy Treats

I signed up to bring a 'treat' for Logi's preK Valentine's 
party tomorrow. I was thinking it would be fun to put a treat 
on a stick, and quickly decided I would make marshmallow 
crispy bars, and poke them with the barbershop pole paper 
straws I bought after Christmas sales. Then, as I was about to grab 
several bags of marshmallows off the  market shelf, I decided that 
I would try making these treats with my tried and true  
homemade marshmallow recipe. With a few tweaks to said recipe 
these treats turned out better than I imagined, and I am certain to 
never buy a bag of  marshmallows ever again!

What you need to yield a 9x13 pan:
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 & 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 stick of unsalted butter
 1/2 tsp sea salt
10 cups crispy rice cereal
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pure almond extract*
 Confectioner's sugar, for dusting the 9x13 pan
Paper straws (optional)

*the almond was a last minute idea, and it really works
well with the nuttiness of the brown butter.  
The almond extract is optional.

Combine the unflavored gelatin packets with 1/2 cup
ice cold water in the bowl of an electric stand mixer,
fitted with the whisk attachment.  Pulse the whisk quickly,
to combine the gelatin and water, then let sit and 'bloom' 
while you continue the next step.

 In a saucepan combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt and 1/2 cup of 
water.  Cook over medium/high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves,
then just allow the syrup to continue boiling without stirring.

At this time, place the 10 cups of crispy rice cereal in a large mixing bowl, 
set aside.

 Continue the boil until you reach a temp of 240 on a candy thermometer.
The temp will sit at 220-225 for what feels like forever, so just be patient.

 So thankful I am able to grab this image from my previous
marshmallow post, as I totally forgot to snap this today!  Phew.  
I carefully pour the 240 degree syrup over the bloomed gelatin and 
begin whipping.  I whip on low for a minute, to the everything mixed up, 
then I switch the speed to high and set a timer for 10 minutes.

While the gelatin and syrup whip, slowly melt a stick of butter over
medium heat.  

At this time butter and shake the 9x13 pan with confectioner's
sugar.  Coating the bottom and all 4 sides with butter and the sugar.
Set the pan aside.

After the melted butter bubbles for a bit, the edges will start to darken.
Watch it closely, and pull the pan from the heat when the butter turns dark golden.
When removed from the heat I stirred the in the 
vanilla and almond extract into the brown butter. 

After the syrup and gelatin has whipped for 10 minutes and looks
beautifully white and fluffy, stop the mixer, and pour in the brown butter 
(with the vanilla and almond).  Then whip on low, increasing speed to medium, 
until the butter is incorporated and the marshmallow is smooth and fluffy.

I just pour the brown butter, I do not scrape the bits off the pan.
 Pour the marshmallow over the crispy rice cereal (I use a bowl scraper
to get all the marshmallow out of the mixer) and start combining, really 
pulling the cereal up from the bottom of the bowl with each stir.  

Place the marshmallow crispy mix into the prepared pan (I doubled
the recipe) then rub a little butter on your hands and press firmly into the 
pan.  Set the pressed pan aside for an hour.

After an hour I flipped the pan onto a cutting surface.  I used a sharp serrated 
knife to cut desired size squares (cutting off the irregular edges). 


I decided the kids would love these treats 'on a stick'.

Of course you can do this same thing with store bought marshmallows, but the fluffy 
fresh marshmallow combined with the brown butter is simply outrageous!