A (BELATED) OSCAR RECAP

oscarsbestworstdressed2013 Aside from the telecast being SUPER long and a little heavy on the music and bad jokes (okay, so that's every Oscars telecast), I was pretty pleased with the winners and fashion this year. I thought Jessica Chastain was flawless - perfect hair, perfect makeup, and that dress! The fit was incredible. Kristen Stewart's tailor could stand to take a few notes. I thought K-Stew looked like a complete train wreck - even more than usual, which is saying something. It must be nice to get paid millions of dollars and still be able to look like a hungover mess any time you show up to a fancy event. Also, what was she even doing there? As my friend Ailsa said, "Kristen Stewart has no business being at any event purportedly rewarding good acting. No business!" Amen, sista. Anywho, my other favorite looks of the night were Naomi Watts, Jennifer Lawrence, and Jennifer Garner.

As for our menu... this is the second year in a row I've made an Oscar themed feast, and while my names were pretty weak this year, the food - thankfully - was not. We had (brace yourselves) Seth MacncheeseFarlane (using our go-to Alton Brown recipe), BroccoLincorn (which was basically just broccoli and corn... we needed a veggie that Emma would eat), and Life of Salted Caramel Apple Hand Pies.

saltedcaramelapplehandpies

Obviously, the hand pies were the best part of the menu. The recipe was surprisingly easy to follow, despite my perpetual fears about making pie crust from scratch. I definitely recommend eating these warm, though... they were still good cooled, but they were heaven when they were just shy of piping hot.

How did you spend your Oscar night? I'd love to hear what you thought of the fashion!

{made for dinner} homemade french fries

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Well, homemade fries AND burgers, but who cares about burgers when there are FRENCH FRIES?!? Not me, and hopefully not you. I was inspired to make these after the Pioneer Woman posted her version a couple of weeks ago. We try not to bust out the deep fryer very often, but I just couldn't help myself when I saw that crispy golden goodness (I may have drooled a little). We cross referenced PW's approach with our main man Alton Brown's recipe and here's what we came up with...

Ingredients:

  • 1 Russet potato (plenty of fries for 2 people)
  • Lots of vegetable oil (any cooking oil will do, but safflower oil is supposedly the best)

Directions:

Cut the potato into fries (we aimed for 1/2 in. thickness). Soak the fries in cold water for at least an hour - the longer the better. (Do not skip the soaking part!) Drain potatoes thoroughly, removing any excess water.

When oil reaches 320 degrees, submerge the potatoes in the oil. Working in small batches, fry for 3 to 5 minutes until they are pale and floppy. Remove from oil, drain, and cool to room temperature.

Increase the temperature of the oil to 375 degrees. Re-immerse fries and cook until crisp and golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove and drain on roasting rack. Season with kosher salt while hot and hold in a 200 degree oven until ready to eat.

Enjoy!

our (secretly dairy-free) Thanksgiving

I was really (realllly) hoping Emma would be able to tolerate dairy in time for Thanksgiving, but it sadly wasn't meant to be. Jared and I debated our options - make everything as we normally would (chock full 'o dairy) and deplete my pumped reserves so Emma could still get dairy-free milk for a couple of days, or try to do Thanksgiving completely dairy-free. Neither option was all that appealing, and in the end we decided to chance it and have a dairy-free Thanksgiving. The only thing was that we had to be able to fool my dad - a man who for the past two years has scowled when we told him we got an organic turkey. Having to explain that he wouldn't be able to tell the difference thanks to "vegan buttery sticks" and almond milk would have gone over about as well as raisins on Halloween... so we decided it was best to just not tell him. And by some miracle, we actually managed to fool him! (Shhh!) Here's what we made:

  • The same turkey as last year but with Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks (EBVBS) instead of butter
  • Whole berry cranberry sauce from Whole Foods (canned... yes, I'm a cheater)
  • Caramelized Onion and Cornbread Stuffing - I used this recipe for dairy-free cornbread, and substituted EBVBS for the butter and MimicCreme Almond & Cashew Cream for the heavy cream. It was a little on the dry side, so I added some more chicken stock and that did the trick.
  • Not Your Mama's Green Bean Casserole - This was easily my favorite dish of the whole meal. I wouldn't shut up about it. Dairy or no dairy, it's the best green been casserole I've ever had. Like most of the reviewers, I ended up using French's Fried Onions after burning the onions the way Alton says to cook them. Once again, I subbed EBVBS for the butter and MimicCreme Almond & Cashew Cream for the half and half. We definitely couldn't notice the lack of dairy in this one.
  • Creamy Dairy-Free Mashed Potatoes - These were the real low point of our dairy-free Thanksgiving experiment. The recipe called for faux sour cream, and we used Wayfare "We Can't Say It's Sour Cream." It also called for white potatoes instead of russet, and ours were a little more green than white. The whole thing turned into a green, tangy mess. We told my dad that we had tried a new recipe and it didn't turn out so well (not a lie) and he was a sport and tried them anyway. Jared and I didn't even bother. That's how bad they were.
  • Pillsbury Crescent Rolls - Dairy-free! Who knew?!?
  • Vegan Pumpkin Pie - This was my first time making pumpkin pie from scratch (well the filling anyway) so my only comparison is store-bought, but it was really yummy. Vegan baked goods can sometimes have that "not quite right" taste or texture to them, but that wasn't the case with this recipe at all.
Hopefully that's the last time we ever have to have a dairy-free Thanksgiving, but it's good to know that it can be done and still be super tasty. Besides, this funny little one is totally worth it...