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Dinner and a Movie: The Great Gilly Hopkins


Dinner and a Movie provides recipes for Bacon Ranch Chicken Breasts, Famous Mashed Potatoes, Steamed Broccoli, Corn on the Cob, and Red White & Blue Tiramisu for a fun family night with the film The Great Gilly Hopkins

Don’t you just love feel-good family films?  The Great Gilly Hopkins is that kind of book, and it’s definitely that kind of film.  But, I mean, you can never go wrong with Katherine Paterson.

If you’ve not seen this wonderful movie yet, it stars Kathy Bates (who is stellar, as usual) as Trotter, a foster mother with an enormous heart.  When she takes in  Gilly Hopkins, a tween girl who has been passed from home to home, she has her work cut out for her.  Gilly is trouble–mostly because no one has ever bothered to care whether or not she’s trouble.  Her mom is off on the west coast, and Gilly just knows she would come to get her given the right motivation.

So Gilly devises a plan.  And it’s a bad plan.  And it doesn’t work out quite the way she expects.  Because while she’s waiting to hear from her mother, Gilly falls in love with the Trotter family.

The Great Gilly Hopkins

I’m not making this up-the entire family loved this film.  Even my beautiful husband was moved by it, and he usually just tolerates my love for all things YA and middle grade.  Again, you can’t mess up Katherine Paterson stories.  She’s brilliant.  But this one is beautifully adapted and superbly acted.  Sophie Nelisse of The Book Thief fame plays Gilly and there’s no doubt she’s a troubled orphan.  Julia Stiles rocks the irresponsible mother thing, and Glenn Close is perfect as the remorseful grandmother.  But the stars of the show are Trotter and the people she cares for.  Bill Cobbs is brilliant as the blind neighbor Mr. Randolph and Zachary Hernandez is so sweet as W.E., the quiet boy already fostering with Trotter when Gilly shows up.

This is a film about family.  About how it can come from many different places and still mean the same thing.  It’s also a coming-of-age story in which Gilly learns some hard lessons about life and love.

But the cool thing?   There’s so much food!  Meals are an important family tradition in the Trotter household, so much of the time the group spends together is around a table with a lovely spread.  The way it totally should be.


Dinner and a Movie provides recipes for Bacon Ranch Chicken Breasts, Famous Mashed Potatoes, Steamed Broccoli, Corn on the Cob, and Red White & Blue Tiramisu for a fun family night with the film The Great Gilly Hopkins

For her first meal at the Trotter house, Gilly is served chicken, mashed potatoes, and broccoli.  So I’ve come up with some superb recipes to recreate that meal with a kick.

Bacon Ranch Chicken Breasts

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

This is my favorite way to have chicken.  Because bacon.  So I don’t make it too often.  Because bacon.

What you need

  • 4-6 chicken breasts
  • 1 lb bacon
  • 1 package ranch mix (or you can whip up your own–recipe below)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar or mozarella–both are good on it)

Homemade ranch mix:

Mix all ingredients together and store in an air-tight container.

  • 1 1/2 cups dried buttermilk or powdered milk
  • 1 cup minced dried onions
  • 1/2 cup parsley flakes
  • 2 TBSP salt
  • 1 TBSP garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper

2 TBSP=1 package of mix.  You can easily halve or even quarter this recipe, but I like to make up a full recipe and mix it with natural sour cream for salads and dips.

What you do

  • Preheat oven to 400F
  • Sprinkle chicken breasts with ranch mix on both sides
  • Wrap bacon around chicken 1 piece at a time till chicken is completely covered
  • Place on a broiling pan or other slotted pan that can catch the bacon grease without the chicken sitting in it
  • If you have any ranch mix left over, sprinkle it over the top
  • Bake 30 minutes
  • Sprinkle with shredded cheese
  • Bake 5-7 minutes longer till cheese is melted


KT’s Famous Mashed Potatoes

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

What you need

  • 6-8 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 4 TBSP butter
  • 6 oz natural sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp each: pepper, salt, onion powder, garlic powder

What you do

  • Bring the chicken broth to a boil
  • Add potatoes and cook for 10-12 minutes until easily pierced with a fork
  • Strain potatoes keeping back 1/4 cup broth
  • Return broth to potatoes
  • Add butter and sour cream
  • Mash potatoes with a mixer or hand masher (I love my hand masher.  I want a little texture in my potatoes)
  • Add spices and stir to mix

Steamed Broccoli

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

What you need

  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 1/2 cup water

What you do

  • Cut broccoli into 2-inch florets
  • Bring water to a boil in bottom of steamer
  • Place broccoli in top of steamer and cover
  • Cook 4-5 minutes until broccoli is crisp-tender
  • Remove lid

Corn on the cob

  • Servings: 1 ear for each person
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

What you need

  • 1 ear of corn for each family member
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1/2 tsp salt

What you do

  • Add salt to water in a large pot
  • Bring to a boil
  • Remove husks and corn silk from corn
  • Add corn and boil for about 10 minutes
  • Remove corn to a plate and top with butter

This meal was a real hit for my family.  Because yum!


Okay, so this didn’t come directly from the movie, but since July 4th is still a strong memory, I wanted to do something fun and celebratory for it.

Besides, this stuff?  To die for.  To. die. for.

Red White & Blue Tiramisu

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

What you need

  • 2 3.5-oz packs instant french vanilla pudding
  • 16 oz strawberries, stems removed and sliced thin
  • 8 oz blueberries, cut in half
  • Whipped topping

What you do

  • Prepare pudding according to package directions
  • In a large bowl or tiramisu dish, put a 1-inch layer of pudding
  • Top with sliced strawberries, covering the pudding
  • Layer whipped topping over strawberries, about 1 inch
  • Cover whipped topping with blueberries
  • Continue layering with pudding, strawberries, whipped topping, and blueberries

Easy and oh, so good, this dessert will have your littles swooning. Plus, fresh fruit.  So it’s not all bad.

I don’t know what you’re waiting for.  The movie is on Netflix and the meal is pretty simple.  Go have a family night!

Love wins,


Looking for more family fun movie nights?  Check out:

Recipes pulled from the movie iinclude Slow Cooker Beef Ragout, Creamy Tomato Soup, Easy Peasy Braided Bread, and Vanilla Pudding Pie

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Dinner and a Movie: Miss Peregriine's Home for Peculiar Children - Suggestions and recipes for a family movie night

Dinner and a Movie: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Dinner and a Movie: Alice Through the Looking Glass - Get recipes for a full film-themed meal to enjoy with your family while watching the movie

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KT Brison
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About KT Brison

KT Brison is a former children’s librarian and educator who gave all that up for the most important job in her life—homeschooling her boys. Though she loves the outdoors and rambling around her farm, she can usually be found with her nose in a book. Any book. As long as it has words.
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  1. I need to go find this movie! Thank you, I needed a good family night movie idea. And bacon truly makes every meal better. Yum! Thanks for linking up on the Love to Learn hop. Pinned this for later!
    L. E. Mastilock recently posted…Best Road Trip Books for KidsMy Profile

  2. Yummy! I have not heard of that movie or book but they both sound wonderful! Thanks for sharing with us at Love to Learn. Pinned.
    Mother of 3 recently posted…Blogging Through the Alphabet: Z is for ZestMy Profile

    • Thanks, Joanna! I’m surprised by how many people haven’t heard of the book. I know Paterson’s most famous for Terabithia, but she has such a wonderful catalog of books. This one tops my list.

  3. I’ve never heard of the book or the movie but the recipes look delicious. Thanks for sharing your dinner and movie review with us at #overthemoon. Have a great week!
    Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond recently posted…Thursdays Thoughts: Time to Declutter your mind & your lifeMy Profile

  4. Sounds like a great movie, and the dinner looks pretty delicious, too!

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