Why not add a bit of fun to your Oscar weekend?

February 20, 2013 8:25:54 AM

Jan Swoope - [email protected]


Some may think of Sunday's Academy Awards show as the Super Bowl of TV events for women. And yes, there's some satisfaction in acting as the red carpet fashion police from the comfort of your own couch. But Oscar night, with its glitz and glam, can be fun for movie buffs of both genders. Why not make it an occasion? Invite a few friends over for some Oscar-watching. Or, turn a Saturday night gathering into a pre-Oscar party. 


Even if watching with bated breath to see what Anne Hathaway wears, or whether "Lincoln" fulfills its Oscar buzz, ardent award show junkies need fuel. You can keep the focus on the screen by serving bite-sized appetizers, like the queso cups or buffalo chicken skewers in today's recipes. You might even be so bold as to try out some of the recipes available online inspired by the Best Picture nominees -- like Hero Dark Thirty, Lincoln cheese logs, or Beasts of the Southern barbecue. But no movie experience would be complete without that classic movie snack, popcorn.  


It's easy to set up a popcorn bar using wide vases or apothecary jars. Choices can include plain, cheddar and garlic popcorn; add peanuts, almonds or M&Ms to create your own "gourmet" versions. Let guests personalize their popcorn by providing toppings like chili seasoning, garlic or honey butter drizzle. Add ice scoops (usually available at party stores) as serving pieces. 


Another idea is a serve-yourself "concession stand," with old-fashioned bottles of pop and boxes of Milk Duds, Junior Mints and the like. 




Set the mood 


Guests will love the gift of glam with some Hollywood costume accessories. Top hats, tiaras, boas and star-shaped sunglasses are available at most party stores for a modest cost. If you have an old Ken doll lying around (you might find him at a thrift store, too), deck him out in a new coat of gold spray paint, hot glue him to a sprayed, weighted based (a can of tuna will do), and you've got an Oscar to decorate your table with. 


Everyone will enjoy filling out their own ballots and predicting the winners. Or play a game of Oscar bingo or trivia to see how clued up your friends are on the movie scene.  


Download free Oscar bingo cards or ballots at sites like jessicajonesdesign.com/downloads/Oscar_Ballot_2013.pdf and howaboutorange.blogspot.com/2013/printable-2013-oscar-ballot-and-bingo.html. Or just instigate an Internet search for Oscar bingo or ballots. You'll find them. Have prizes ready for the winners -- may we suggest movie gift cards?  


Whether cheesing it up with friends, or just watching the awards in PJ's with family, it's easy to add some zip to this weekend of star-gazing. 










3/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream  


1/3 cup light mayonnaise  


4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled 


1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 


1/4 teaspoon red wine vinegar 


Salt and pepper 






4 tablespoons unsalted butter 


1/2 cup hot wing sauce such as Frank's RedHot 


1 tablespoon sugar 


1/2 teaspoon white vinegar 


1 tablespoon cayenne 


1/2 cup all-purpose flour 


1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 40 1-inch cubes  


1/4 cup vegetable oil 


Carrot and celery sticks, optional 




  • Make dip: Pulse sour cream, mayonnaise, blue cheese, Worcestershire sauce and vinegar in a food processor until mixture has blended into a chunky sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and chill until ready to use. (Dip can be made up to two days ahead.) 


  • Make chicken: Stir butter, hot wing sauce, sugar and vinegar in a pan over medium-low heat until butter has melted. Remove from heat. In a large zip lock bag, mix cayenne, 1 teaspoon pepper, 2 teaspoons salt and flour. Add half of chicken and toss until well coated. 


  • In a large skillet, warm half of oil over medium-high heat. Remove chicken from bag, shaking off excess coating. Add to skillet and cook, turning on all sides, until chicken is crispy and no longer pink in the middle, about six minutes. Drain on paper towels. Wipe out skillet and repeat, tossing remaining chicken in coating and cooking in remaining oil. 


  • Rewarm hot sauce mixture in a pan or microwave. Pour over chicken in a large bowl; toss well to coat. Thread two pieces of chicken onto 20 small skewers. Serve with dip and carrots and celery, if desired. 


    (Source: myrecipes.com) 










    16 ounces Velveeta 


    1 15-ounce can Rotel tomatoes 


    1 1/2 cup shredded chicken breast 


    1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed 




  • Cut Velveeta into 1-inch cubes and place it with the Rotel in small crock pot. Heat on high until melted, about an hour. 


  • Stir and add black beans and chicken and continue to warm through on low heat. 


  • Fill a tortilla scoop with dip and serve. 


    (Source: celebrationsathome.com) 








    4 tablespoons unsalted butter 


    1 cup packed light brown sugar 


    1/2 cup corn syrup 


    7 ounces sweetened condensed milk 


    2 teaspoons vanilla extract 


    10 cup popped popcorn 


    1/2 cup salted peanuts, roughly chopped 


    1/2 cup toffee bits such as Heath Bits 'o Brickle 


    1/2 cup white chocolate chips 


    Coarse sea salt, optional 




  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment. Combine butter, sugar and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until butter has melted. Bring to a boil, add condensed milk and continue to boil for 5 minutes, stirring to prevent scorching. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. 


  • Place popcorn in a large bowl. Pour butter mixture over popcorn and stir gently to coat completely. Set aside until mixture has cooled enough so that it's still sticky but won't melt candy, 3 to 5 minutes. Toss in peanuts, toffee bits and white chocolate chips. 


  • When popcorn mixture is cool enough to handle, grease hands with cooking spray or vegetable oil and roll mixture into 2-inch balls (use about 1/4 cup per ball). Place balls on baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt, if desired. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. 


    (Source: myrecipes.com)

    Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.