movie review

White Bean and Chard New Year’s Eve

Usually my boyfriend and I go out for a nice dinner on New Year’s Eve. I like the glitz and glamour of getting dressed up and being spoiled at a restaurant. Last year we changed the norm and stayed home. We were preparing for him¬†possibly losing his job in January–which did end up happening–and wanted to tighten the reigns in anticipation. Thankfully, after a long 9 months unemployed, Michael got a new job and a fantastic one at that.

We had so much fun last year cooking a really nice meal at home and spending the evening playing scrabble together that we decided to do it again this year. Last year I made my very first ham and it turned out great! This year, we made something different: Gnocchi with Chard and White Beans and I added chicken to the recipe I found.

Skillet Gnocchi with Chard and White Beans

Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 16-ounce package shelf-stable gnocchi
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 cups chopped chard leaves, (about 1 small bunch) or spinach
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings
  • 1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add gnocchi and cook, stirring often, until plumped and starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and onion to the pan and cook, stirring, over medium heat, for 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and water. Cover and cook until the onion is soft, 4 to 6 minutes.
  3. Add chard (or spinach) and cook, stirring, until starting to wilt, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, beans and pepper and bring to a simmer.
  4. Stir in the gnocchi and sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover and cook until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling, about 3 minutes.
Calories: 325 Fat: 7 Carbohydrates: 55 Fiber: 6 Protein: 14 Cholesterol: 8
3.1.09

 

I bought purple chard AND some kale at the grocery store and I used both in the recipe. I bought the gnocchi at Trader Joe’s, which is the only store I have ever found it in. I also added some fresh grape tomatoes, also from TJ’s, to the recipe in addition to the canned tomatoes. I thought the fresh tomatoes added a lot to the recipe and I’d definitely add more next time.

Robyn's Birthday

I opened a nice bottle of red wine, even though the red didn’t really go with dinner. It was what I wanted and it actually ended up tasting pretty good with the gnocchi and chicken. Michael had a glass of whiskey then switched to an IPA. I set the table and lit some candles and turned on the music. It was fun cooking together and the recipe was SUPER easy and fast. This could most definitely be a work night meal.

Everything was done in one skillet, so the clean up was easy as well. Next time I would add more of the tomatoes, and more greens. I didn’t really add as much as the recipe called for and I regretted that. The chard and kale went perfectly and I wished there was more in it. As for the chicken, Michael baked a boneless chicken breast with just some lemon pepper seasoning and when it was done, chopped it into bite size pieces and threw it into the skillet at the last minute.

Robyn's Birthday

The chicken definitely added something to the recipe. I’m so glad we did it. The chicken and gnocchi and greens were fantastic together. Michael felt like the white beans weren’t necessary but I kinda liked the beans in it, too.

Robyn's Birthday

The cheese melted in the skillet and mixed with the tomato chunks to make a sauce. This recipe was most definitely a winner! I halved the recipe and made three servings (yay leftovers!) and because I added the chicken to it the calorie count was off. I’m guessing it was more in the range of 450-500 calories for the entire dish. (I also added more cheese.)

After dinner we shared some Ben & Jerry’s Karmel Sutra ice cream for dessert and then worked on the crossword puzzle we started on Christmas. ūüėČ Yes, it’s taking us a week to finish it! Fat Kitty was super excited about everything and just HAD to make his presence known.

 

Man he looks so grumpy in that photo! He didn’t like that we were ignoring him to finish the crossword. Before we came home to fix dinner, we saw a movie, Django Unchained. I wanted to share my mini review of that.

The movie started out really, really strong. The first half of the film, I LOVED it. It was exciting, intriguing; it had a great story, the characters were interesting, the acting superb (I even thought “wow, I see Oscar in their future”), and the¬†camaraderie¬†between Christoph Waltz and Jaime Foxx was great! I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, so I will be a bit vague.

While the slavery aspect was really, really hard to watch and that horribly racist word was used a lot, I was able to ignore that because it was the time period and that’s what the story was about. But honestly, 3/4 into the movie I was over it. The use of that word was too much and it became every other word and I found myself cringing. That needed to be toned down. Also, it is very, very violent and graphic so if you can’t handle people being shot on film don’t see this movie. There were a few scenes where I just had to close my eyes because I couldn’t take it. Finally, my last complaint was that Tarantino needed an editor, badly. Like I said, the first half of the movie was GREAT. The second half had some pacing issues and there were quite a few scenes toward the end where I thought “Oh my god is this OVER YET?”

Don’t let that deter you from seeing it, though. Despite the missteps, the movie was still really good and Christoph Waltz seriously stole the show. I hope he goes on to very big things in his future because he was riveting. There were also a lot of other big names in the movie that threatened to steal the show (Samuel L. Jackson’s and Don Johnson’s characters). Oh, and there’s a part in the movie that will have you rolling on the floor laughing so hard. The only hint I’ll give: it’s Jaime Foxx’s outfit change. ūüôā Okay I’ll give you another hint: my first thought when I saw it was “Is that Prince?”

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Anyways, it was a fun New Year’s Eve: good company, good movie, good food. I hope you rang in the new year with your loved ones!

QUESTION: How did you spend NYE? Have you seen Django Unchained?

Cornmeal Crust Pizza

Run. Do not walk. RUN to your local movie theatre and see “The Cabin in the Woods.”

Over the weekend, Michael and I had a date night at the movies. We went to the Laurelhurst Theatre here in Portland. It’s an old movie theatre with food options. You can get your typical popcorn movie theatre experience, but they also have pizza, salads, wraps and beer. It was our first time going to the Laurelhurst and we’ll definitely go back. The theatre has small tables throughout where you can eat your meal. We got there late so we didn’t get a good seat with a table so we skipped the pizza and salads (which I kinda wanted) and shared a small popcorn and we each had a beer. Going to the movies with a beer is awesome.

I had no idea what Cabin in the Woods was about other than my brother recommended it and it was a horror movie. I was so pleasantly surprised and shocked at what the movie was. I kind of liked going into it with no idea what to expect. Most movies are pretty predictable these days. The movie was AWESOME. I won’t give out any spoilers, but trust me that you should see this movie! What a pleasure!

Since we skipped the pizza at the theatre, we were on the hunt for dinner afterward. Unfortunately, it was prime time on a Saturday night and everywhere had a line. We tried a pizza place near the Laurelhurst and there was over an hour wait. No thanks. We ended up at Dove Vivi. It was a little hole-in-the-wall nestled between a Plaid Pantry and a laundromat. It was hard to find but once we did we saw the line of people! This place was popular!

First off, the staff was wonderful. That alone says a lot about a restaurant. They were all pleasant and nice and the service was fantastic. That goes a long way for me. We didn’t have to wait too long for a table even though the restaurant was completely packed. A table opened up outside and we gladly took it.

They had a decent drink menu but I stuck to the Ninkasi Total Domination beer because that’s what I had in the movie. It was hoppy and bitter, just like I like my IPA’s. Since I had been “detoxing” since our Texas vacation, I’d been refraining from drinking alcohol for nearly two weeks. I just didn’t want those extra calories. Our date night beers were the first I’d had in awhile and wamboozled me a bit.

We poured over the menu and I was intrigued by many of the pizza options. What to order? What to order? Michael and I finally agreed to do a half and half. Settled!

The first half was the night’s special: The “Coppa” which was¬†mozzarella and provolone cheese with Italian cured ham, sliced green olives, and fresh tomatoes chopped up. It was salty and savory.

The other half was what I wanted: the “Goat Cheese” pizza. It was pizza with gooey mozzarella and creamy goat cheese with rosemary, tomatoes and green peppers. I LOVED my half of the pizza! The goat cheese was so creamy and flavorful. The huge chunks of tomatoes must have been roasted or marinated in something because they tasted outstanding as well.

Apparently this place is a deep dish pizza place only. The crust is made out of cornmeal and it’s thick and crunchy, like a crispy cornbread muffin. It was seriously fantastic. I don’t know that I’ve had cornbread pizza crust before. I want to find a recipe to try it at home!

The pizza came out in a cast iron skillet. It was a neat presentation. The one thing that was a tad disappointing was the size of the pizza. It was pretty tiny for the amount we paid for it. There were three slices of both types, so only 6 pieces totals. I guess it’s “artisan” so that means smaller. Kind of a bummer, but the pizza was still really, really good. I ate one piece of my goat cheese pizza and one piece of Michael’s Coppa and I called it good. Yes, I wanted my last piece of goat cheese pizza but I restrained myself (yay leftovers).

QUESTION: Have you ever had cornmeal crust pizza and what recipe did you use? Did you like “Cabin in the Woods?”¬†