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TND – Oscars 2011

March 1, 2011

Where does the time go? I swear we just did this like a minute ago, and with movies I’d actually seen.

Still, it’s that time of year again.  Time to have firm opinions about winners and losers without any sort of evidence for said opinion.  Time to mock celebrities and their lack of ability to dress themselves mercilessly.  In other words, it’s time for the Oscars.

Since The Social Network and The King’s Speech were leading the pack for nominations, this year’s pot luck food theme was:

Junk Food Fit for Royalty

Think, pop tarts made with real jam, or wee homemade hot pockets, or stuffed pizza rolls or that Paula Deen recipe for kit kat bars that’s been making the rounds recently.  Or (to branch out beyond the borders of the US) think samosas or gyoza or, if you were feeling inspired, kebabs.  Pretty much if you remember craving it at 1am in college, or ate it on your way home in the early hours of the morning it’s a contender.

Our final verdict on the evening was that Anne Hathaway tried her very best to make up for James Franco who was either stoned out of his gourd, or just very very uncomfortable for some reason.  Unlike everyone else on the internet we didn’t like Mila Kunis’ dress (an ill timed gust of wind away from being obscene) or Cate Blanchett’s dress (it’s the one true ring, y’all).  We did, however, think that Helen Mirren looked amazing (when does she not?) as did Jennifer Hudson (I could have lived with a little more coverage up top, but seriously she looked stunning and old school glamorous).  There weren’t many surprises among the awards, but we were very pleased that Colin Firth won Best Actor (also, how amazing would it have been if he’d started a little victory jig on stage?) because we thought he should have won last year but accepted that the Academy was never going to give him an Oscar for A Single Man.  Overall it was actually a fairly boring Oscars.  Nobody really brought the sartorial crazy, and all of the awards went to the expected people.  On the other hand, they did manage to end it before midnight, and that’s a minor miracle.

Drinks
Classic Cocktail Jello Shots
- Pear Sour Shots
- Elderflower & Black Tea Cosmo Shots
- White Wine Sangria shots
- Espresso Martini Shots
- Winter Margarita Shots

Dinner
Chicken McNuggets with Honey and/or (Chipotle Cherry) BBQ Sauce
Egg McMuffins
Hot Pockets (Empanadas)
- Spinach & Goat Cheese
- Sweet Potato Aloo Gobi
Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips
Baby Spinach Salad
Inari
Ambrosia Salad (or was that a dessert?)

Desserts
Fudge
Scones with clotted cream & strawberry jam
Lemon Meringue Bites
Brownie Cupcakes
Lemon Cookies
Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars
Lady Fingers with Nutella

DRINKS

Classic Cocktail Jello Shots
Don’t get me wrong, I actually like the occasional sour apple martini, but I recognize that it’s the cheesiest, girliest drink ever.  We put serious thought into how you could class up a cocktail made with flavored vodka and sour apple schnapps and finally came to the conclusion that by the time you hit flavored vodka you’ve already lost the battle with class.

Instead my roommate took classic cocktails and turned them into jello shots.  Then, she further glammed them up by chilling them in chocolate molds and serving them on a tiered cake stand.  These are quite possibly the classiest jello shots of all time.

Our favorites ended up being the White Wine Sangria shots.  They look beautiful and they were also a little milder than some of the other shots.  We were also very enamored of the Espresso Martini Shots which looked like fancy little chocolates and tasted like candy.

- Pear Sour Shots (shaped into green frogs)
- Elderflower & Black Tea Cosmo Shots (shaped into translucent stars)
- White Wine Sangria shots (shaped into fruit filled squares)
- Espresso Martini Shots (shaped into round chocolates)
- Winter Margarita Shots (shaped into red flowers)

Recipes can be found here.

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DINNER

Chicken McNuggets with Honey and/or (Chipotle Cherry) BBQ Sauce

Did you know they don’t serve honey with Chicken McNuggets anymore?  Do you realize what this means?  It means there’s a generation of kids out there who don’t know the treat of dipping fries in to the leftover honey.

Strictly speaking I haven’t actually eaten in a McDonalds in about 4 years, but I spent a lot of quality time in McDonalds in high school when it was one of the only two places there was to hang out on a Saturday afternoon in Geneva.  I always ordered the chicken McnNggets, and I always got them with honey, and I always dipped my fries into the honey.

Recipes can be found here.

Egg McMuffins
My roommate and I split the credit on this.  She made the muffins since I don’t do yeast and she does, and I did the eggs and sausage.  We didn’t really reinvent the wheel here, it’s pretty much the same thing you’d get if you went to Dunkin Donuts or McDonalds and ordered one for breakfast, except, you know, home made and fresh and bite sized,  and I ate far too many of them.

Recipes can be found here.

Hot Pockets (Empanadas)
Every culture has some variation on the filling wrapped in dough meal/snack.  This makes sense.  It’s portable.  It can be filled with pretty much anything, and mostly it’s pretty cheap to make, particularly if you use leftovers to make the filling.  The Cornish are famous for their pasties.  The Italians have calzones.  The Indians have samosas.  All of Asia has the dumpling.  When the American fast food market got hold of the trope we achieved the dizzlingly dubious heights of hot pockets.

I took a leaf from south of the border and made empanada dough, and then borrowed from India and Italy when I choose the fillings.  One variation is a play on a vegetarian calzone, and the other is riff on a samosa.

Recipes can be found here.

Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips
It’s a gesture at something that isn’t made with butter, cheese and cream.  It’s also a play on the ubiquitous Tostidos and salsa that were present at every college event I ever attended.

Recipes can be found here.

Baby Spinach Salad
Okay, I admit it.  I felt compelled to serve something in the green vegetable family to go with all the starch and butter on the table.  But, I was stymied as to a junk food equivalent that I could class up because junk food isn’t really known for its vegetable cred.  I eventually gave up and went with the classic baby spinach salad with some sliced pears, dried cherries and pumpkin seeds, tossed with a balsamic vinaigrette.

Err, y’all don’t need a recipe for this, right?

Inari (brought by someone else)
Lovely light contrast to all the heavy food on the table.

Ambrosia (brought by someone else)
I feel we need to pause for a moment to lay down a few ground rules about Ambrosia.  Ambrosia is salad in only the loosest sense of the word.  There’s no one recipe for Ambrosia, but it always involves marshmallows, citrus, coconut and some form of cream.  Now, you can supreme fresh oranges or you can drain a can of mandarin segments.  You could add maraschino cherries, which are a food group unto themselves, to the mix.  You could use whipped cream, or sour cream, or cool whip.  You could even suspend the whole thing in jello and unmold it and slice it.  But, no matter what there will always be coconut, marshmallows and a cream product.

Therefore this, while it looks tasty, is not in any way Ambrosia.  For one thing it looks like you might actually be able to describe it as light and fresh, which are not words generally associated with Ambrosia.

Blood Orange Ambrosia with Whipped Crème Fraiche

What we had at the Oscars was an absolutely classic Ambrosia, none of this fussy reinvention that entirely misses the point.  It was, however, the Ambrosia that all Ambrosia aspires to being.  It started with a whole fresh coconut and progressed onwards to homemade marshmallows and fresh fruit and came layered into a trifle dish.  It was, dare I say it, ambrosial.

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DESSERT
I bore no responsibility for any of the desserts on the table last night.  I would actively encourage anyone who did bring any of the many tasty desserts to leave recipes in the comments below.  Sadly I didn’t quite manage to get pictures of all the desserts because I was too busy eating dinner, and snagging just one more jello shot every time I walked by the table, by that point in the evening.

Fudge
Topped with Reeses pieces to add a little kick of peanut butter to the chocolatey goodness.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars
I don’t usually like peanut butter cookies or peanut butter & jelly bars because they never actually taste like peanut butter.  And, if I’m going to eat something that purports to being peanut buttery I want to taste the peanut butter.  These, tasted like peanut butter and left you craving a tall glass of milk to go with them.  Most excellent.

Scones with clotted cream & strawberry jam
Rich, flakey and buttery.  Everything a scone should be.

Lemon Meringue Bites
So wee, so cute.

Brownie Cupcakes
Is there a way to go wrong with chocolate?

Lemon Cookies
Buttery and crisp and melt in your mouth.

Lady Fingers with Nutella
When I was little I would eat nutella out of the jar with a spoon when no one was looking.  The number one reason I don’t keep nutella in my house now is because I would still eat it out of the jar with a spoon when no one was looking.

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