Stepping Out

Hooray for Hollywood and Oscar!

Host an awards party with red carpet appeal


Get your A-list together and roll out the red carpet for an evening of star-gazing. Everyone’s favorite awards show, otherwise known as the 86th Academy Awards, held on Sunday, March 2, this year, is a great time to gather all of your movie-loving friends together for an awards night fete.

This year’s nominated films lend themselves to all sorts of creative party ideas. You might get your retro vibe going with an “American Hustle”-style gathering celebrating those silly 70s with food and favorite tunes from the era, and even some 70s-inspired attire.

Or plan an out-of-this world party, a la “Gravity,” with some sparkly décor and related food and drink. There are so many possibilities for some movie-inspired fun.

Start the evening off by putting together a CD or iTunes list with movie theme songs that can be playing when guests arrive. For bonus fun, see how many songs your guests can match up to the movies.

Make sure you have ample — and comfortable — seating ready. The ceremony is long, so set up chairs or oversized pillows on the floor for comfy front row seating.

Unlike Super Sunday, commercials are not a big draw on awards night. So use those commercial breaks for mingling and party activities — such as movie trivia, movie quotes, or a mini-marathon of Name That Movie Tune perhaps.

It’s always fun to pick the winners. Make copies of the Oscar ballot and have your guests fill them out when they arrive. Award prizes to those movie buffs who picked


Of course, be sure you have plenty of food — but keep it simple with make-ahead dishes and finger foods that guests can easily munch on comfortably, probably in front of the TV. And don’t forget that staple of movie treats — popcorn! Jazz it up with different toppings such as candies, nuts, seasonings, etc.

Try these recipes, honoring this year’s top films, to get the party started.

Spiced Popcorn Party Mix

2 large egg whites

1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons sweet paprika

1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne

9 cups freshly popped unsalted popcorn

2 cups miniature pretzels

1 1/2 cups salted roasted peanuts

1 1/2 cups whole almonds, toasted

1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted

1 1/2 cups salted roasted cashews

Preheat oven to 325° F.

Whisk together egg whites, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, paprika, and cayenne in a large bowl. Add popcorn, pretzels, nuts, and salt to taste and toss until thoroughly coated.

Spread evenly in 2 buttered large shallow baking pans (1 inch deep) and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of pans halfway through baking, until coating is crisp, about 20 minutes total.

Spread mixture on 2 large sheets of parchment paper or oiled foil and cool completely.

Popcorn mix can be made three days ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature until ready to serve.

Tex-Mex Dip (inspired by Dallas

Buyers Club)

1 (16 ounce) can refried beans

1 cup guacamole

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 (8 ounce) container sour cream

1 (1 ounce) package taco seasoning mix

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 tomato, chopped

1/4 cup chopped green onions

1/4 cup black olives, drained

In a large serving dish, spread the refried beans. Layer the guacamole on top of the beans.

In a medium bowl, mix the mayonnaise, sour cream and taco seasoning mix. Spread over the layer of guacamole.

Sprinkle a layer of cheddar cheese over the mayonnaise mixture layer. Sprinkle tomato, green onions and black olives over the cheese.

Serve with tortilla chips and assorted


Chili Cornbread Bake (inspired by Nebraska)

1 pound ground turkey or lean ground beef

1 packet (1.4 ounces) chili seasoning or taco seasoning mix

2 cans (8 ounces each) tomato sauce

1 can (15 1/4 ounces) no-salt added whole-kernel corn, drained

1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk, divided

1 can (4 ounces) diced green chilies, drained (optional)

2 boxes (8.5 ounces each) dry corn muffin mix

2 large eggs

Sliced avocado, salsa and/or sour cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 400° F. Grease a 13x9-inch baking dish.

Cook turkey in a large skillet over medium-high heat until turkey is no longer pink; drain. Stir in chili seasoning, tomato sauce, corn, beans, 3/4 cup evaporated milk and chilies. Bring to a boil, reduce heat. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish.

Combine corn muffin mix, remaining 3/4 cup evaporated milk and eggs in medium bowl; stir until just moistened. Spread mixture over meat filling.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Serving suggestion: Serve with chopped avocado, sour cream and salsa.

Smoked Salmon Crostini (inspired by The Wolf of Wall Street)

24 thin rounds of bread, cut on the diagonal from a baguette

Extra-virgin olive oil

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped dill

2 tablespoons very finely chopped red onion

1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

8 ounces pre-sliced smoked salmon

2 tablespoons capers

Fresh dill sprigs for garnish

Lemon wedges. to garnish platter

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Brush bread on one side with olive oil and place oil side up, on a baking sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes until just crisp and slightly golden. Do not over toast. Set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, blend together cream cheese, dill, onion and black pepper. Place in a pastry bag with a large tip or use a small spoon to place a dollop on the center of each toast.

Cut salmon slices in half or thirds and fold a bite-sized slice over each toast. Garnish with capers and fresh dill sprigs. Place on a large platter with lemon wedges.