Growing up my mom always made popcorn on the stove. Her kettle corn was always a treat and still to this day I cannot get mine to taste nearly as yummy as hers was!! Up until a few years ago I had forgotten how good fresh popcorn can really be- especially since it's so easy to make! Since I've been trying to cut back on potato chips, seasoned popcorn has been my new best friend!
I've been asked a few times by friends how to pop popcorn on the stove, so I thought I'd post about it so it would be easy to link to. I'm sure there are plenty of other techniques out there, but this is generally how I make mine!
- about 3 tbsp oil (typically I use vegetable or canola oil, but kernels popped in olive oil and sprinkled with some sea salt is also another one of my favorites!)
- 1/3 cup popcorn kernels
- 1 tbsp melted butter
- about 2tbsp parmesan romano cheese (you can add more depending on how cheesy you want it!)
- sprinkle of garlic salt, thyme, and black pepper (or if you need actual measurements, I'd say maybe 1/8 teaspoon of each)
Heat the oil in a medium pan on medium high heat. Add a few kernels into the cold oil and cover the pan. Once the kernels start to pop, add the remainder of the popcorn kernels and cover. Make sure that the kernels are spread throughout the pan and not overlapping, you may need to toss the pot a few times. Once the popping starts to slow down, turn off the heat. Pour into a large bowl and add in your seasoning, mix around, and enjoy!
I don't know where I've been since I've been to enough Tastefully Simple and Pampered Chef parties, but my friend recently passed along this recipe that she had tried from a friend (I believe it is a Pampered Chef recipe). It's a great dish to bring for a potluck and a nice alternative to the usual chips and dip! I recently brought this to a family get together and served it with cinnamon sugar pita chips- it was definitely a nice, sweet treat!
Apple Berry Salsa
- 2 Granny Smith apples
- 1 pint strawberries
- 2 kiwis
- 1 small orange
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp apple jelly or apricot jam
- Baked Cinnamon Chips
- Peel and core apples. Peel kiwis. Dice apples, kiwis, and strawberries. Place into small bowl.
- Zest 1 teaspoon of orange peel. Squeeze orange to measure 2 tablespoons of orange juice. Combine brown sugar, jelly/jam, orange zest and juice with the diced fruit. Gently mix. Refrigerate until ready to eat.
- Serve with cinnamon sugar pita chips
Imagine my surprise the other day when I came home to a delivery outside the garage! It said Food Network on the box, and I knew for sure I hadn't bought anything! Turns out one of my friends got me a mini Belgian waffle maker as a thank you gift! We are not generally big breakfast eating people- though I do love my bacon and eggs! My son obviously has breakfast every morning, but my husband and myself typically have a cup of coffee and maybe a yogurt or bagel, but that's about it! I try and leave "real" breakfasts to the weekends when we have a bit more time to lounge around the house in the morning! I loved the waffle maker though because I always find myself wanting more than just plain, frozen waffles! Especially for giving B the variety in the morning! Toddler appetites can be so finicky sometimes! One day he LOVES one thing, the next he wants nothing to do with it!
Since all the Fall decor is out in the shops, and I'm definitely ready for the season, I decided pumpkin waffles were in order! I found this recipe that I ended up halving and also added in some wheat flour in place of the white flour. Towards the last half of the batter I also added in some Caramel Cinnamon Sprinkles that I had gotten from Tastefully Simple. I think this was a seasonal item last fall, so I wasn't able to find it in their online catalogue! Guess I'll need to make sure I ration the last bit of the jar out! (But in case you haven't seen these latest items from Cinnabon I'm betting these sprinkles would be pretty darn good in a pancake or waffle batter! Now I just wish they'd carry them in grocery stores in Virginia!) And in the last quarter of the batter I ended up dropping a few tablespoons of mini chocolate chips into the batter! So, even with halving the original recipe, I did end up with quite a bit of mini waffles! They froze perfectly and B's been enjoying them the last few mornings! (I think the chocolate chip ones may be his favorite!)
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup wheat flour
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
- 1 cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp melted butter
- optional add-ins- chocolate chips, caramel sprinkles
- Preheat waffle iron
- Combine all ingredients (The original recipe has steps if you'd like to refer back to the link, however, I just combined mine all at once instead of separating the wet and dry ingredients and then folding them in together. I'm sure you can also substitute more of the wheat flour than the white flour if you'd like; I wasn't sure how it would change the consistency of the waffle, but the way I did everything, my waffles were still pretty fluffy!)
- Cook waffles according to how you normally would. (I had my waffle maker on a medium heat and they were probably done within three minutes).
I'm sure many of you can agree that Pinterest is the ultimate diet sabateur! The other day I came across this pin and knew I had to make it soon! The recipe originates from this blog post, and quite honestly I'm really bummed we didn't have any vanilla ice cream to go along with it that night!! Sadly, I had to wait an entire week before I could actually make it! My nephews were at the beach, and I knew if I made these while they were gone they would've never forgiven me! Plus the fact that I could actually send some home with them and you know, not eat the entire pan myself! As soon as they came out of the oven, we were all indulging in the gooey-ness of it! I had a jar of Trader Joe's salted caramel sauce, and REALLY contemplated throwing that on top of the brownies before baking but figured it was already decadent enough, why add anymore calories! (Next time I'm going to forget about the extra calories and just do it!)
The recipe is actually really easy, and I imagine that if you already have a chocolate chip cookie or brownie recipe that you like, you can use that!
Chocolate Chip Oreo Brownie Bars
- 2 sticks of softened butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups chocolate chips
- 1 package Oreos (the original recipe calls for Double Stuffed, but I used regular)
- 1 box brownie mix (I used a chocolate chunk one, so it was extra gooey!)
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
- Combine butter and sugars, then add in eggs, vanilla, baking soda, salt, and flour. Stir in chocolate chips.
- Spread cookie dough into a 9 x 13in pan. You can line the pan with parchment/wax paper if you want, but I ended up just spraying the pan with non-stick baking spray.
- Layer Oreo cookies on top of chocolate chip cookie base. (I didn't need an entire package of oreos, but I'm sure if I wanted to, it would've all fit!)
- Prepare brownie batter according to the box. Pour brownie mix over cookie base.
- Bake for approximately 35-40 minutes.
- Let cool completely before cutting. (This of course is optional since once it comes out you'll be dying to dig in! I served it slightly warm, and since the brownie mix had chocolate chunks it it, there was chocolate oozing everywhere!)
And if you are looking for another mid-afternoon pick me up, I paired mine with an iced coffee! I found this off of Foodgawker the other morning and figured it'd be a great way to finish up some leftover coffee today. Hubby forgot to grab his cup for work this morning so I was left with an ENTIRE pot!! (I normally only drink one cup in the morning!) I didn't want to freeze them all into ice cubes (another great way to serve iced coffee or make frozen coffee drinks!) so I decided to just reheat a cup and try this other method! I don't know why I'd never thought of an ice bath before, but it definitely helps with not having watered down coffee too fast! Super easy, just pour a cup of coffee and sweeten to how you normally would (I totally do mine the Vietnamese way and have my strong coffee with sweetened condensed milk!) Pour into a ziploc bag and put into the ice bath (you'll need to replace the ice and water several times as it'll melt fairly quick). Let it sit in the ice bath for about ten minutes, then pour into a glass with ice (or coffee ice cubes!) and enjoy!
Our new grill arrived last week! Our old grill died on Mother's Day and we've been on the hunt for the next one since May! My husband has ALWAYS wanted a Weber and although a grill wasn't something we planned on buying this year (I mean, after completely replacing one of our air conditioning units, as well as now our water heater, a "luxury" item like a grill was the LAST thing we were expecting to buy this year!!) During the Spring and Summer we grill nearly every other day, so to be without it when the weather has been so nice out has been rough!
One of the first things we made with the new grill was beer can chicken! We started doing this last summer and loved it! (Definitely invest in one of the holders if you can, it'll make the process of getting the chicken on and off the grill much easier!!) If you have a favorite rub for the chicken, you can use that to flavor the meat. Otherwise a simple rub such as 1tbsp kosher salt, 1 tbsp black pepper, 1tbsp thyme will work just fine for a 5 pound chicken!
- Clean chicken (remove giblets and whatever else is inside if it hasn't been removed already)
- Pat chicken dry and rub with seasoning
- Make sure the beer can is only half-way full and put the bird cavity over the can
- Place the bird in the middle of the grill on medium-high heat. Cover the grill and let the chicken cook for about an hour to an hour and a half (the chicken temperature should register about 180 when it's done)
- Once the chicken is done use a metal spatula to hold the beer can and tongs to hold the top of the chicken. Transferring the finished meat to a tray can be tricky and the beer inside the can is REALLY hot! (I know this sounds like common sense but just thought I'd put it out there!)
- Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before cutting
A few months ago I kept seeing these frozen yogurt drops all over Pinterest. I've been making them as treats for my toddler, and also my niece and nephew who are over quite a bit. With the temperatures close to the 100s lately, I decided it was an absolute must to keep the freezer stocked with a container full (trust me, if you have kids, they won't last long!) My 17 month old thinks it's the biggest treat, and I definitely don't feel guilty when he comes asking for more! We've even done the dipped fruit bites in Greek yogurt as well (they're good, but if your teeth get sensitive easily, probably not the way to go!) These frozen drops are one of those things where as soon as I saw it instantly thought, duh, why didn't i do this a long time ago?!
It really doesn't take long and if you're anything like our family, we always have a fridge full of yogurt! (And on another note, I've tried making them with the coconut milk yogurt- definitely a fail...the consistency is too runny, so they don't pipe too easily. Unless you don't mind big flat discs, then go right ahead with this kind of yogurt!)
It takes all of five minutes to pour the yogurt into a baggie, snip off a corner and pipe the yogurt onto a plate that can fit into your freezer. They freeze pretty quickly, I'd say maybe 15 minutes or so? Definitely a fun treat, especially with the endless variety of flavors!
And if you're feeling extra indulgent, try pudding drops! The chocolate pudding I made wasn't sugar or fat free (not a big fan of the lower fat chocolates!) but eating a few of these is enough to satisfy a chocolate craving without all the extra calories. These melt much quicker than the yogurt drops so just be careful because they do make a lot more mess with the kids!
Last night we ended up doing salad for dinner. I don't know why we don't do this more often because whenever my husband and I go out to eat that's usually what we always get! Salads at restaurants just seem to taste so much better than salads at home! We didn't have any croutons on hand, so I decided to whip up my own-I know this is a fairly easy thing to do, and I'm not sure why it took me so long to make my own! I usually try and keep some kind of frozen crusty bread in the freezer- you never know when cravings for spinach artichoke dip will arise and darn it if you don't any crusty bread to dip it in, so it was as perfect a night as ever to try it out!
I wanted thicker croutons (reminds me of the yummy salads from Potbelly), so they ended up being really crunchy. I ended up just tossing a few ingredients here and there (I'm thinking next time actually combining regular bread with a rye bread or something else more flavorful!) I loved the way they turned out, and actually think I probably won't be buying them anymore now that they're so quick and easy to make! The leftovers can also be stored in an airtight container too- but they probably won't last too long, because they're pretty good to just munch on too!
- small loaf of french bread (the one I used was about 6 inches)
- 3 tbsp butter (if you prefer not to use butter, I'm betting olive oil will be just as yummy!)
- 2 tbsp parmesan romano grated cheese
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- sprinkle of oregano, salt and pepper
- cut bread into one inch cubes
- melt butter in a bowl and combine parmesan cheese and garlic powder
- toss bread cubes into melted butter, and sprinkle with oregano, salt, and pepper to taste
- bake at 325 for approximately 25 minutes (turning bread cubes halfway)
A few weeks ago I went to MOMS Organic Market. It's a great little shop we have close by that has a pretty decent selection of organic products (and the customer service is great!). They have a small bakery section, and I ended up picking up a salted caramel brownie for a treat! The brownie came from BT Baking, and was just enough to feed both hubby and I (although, later I regretted not getting two brownies!)
Ever since I had that yummy brownie, it seems as though they have been popping up all over food blogs and Pinterest! I decided I HAD to make some soon! (And by soon, I mean, in the middle of trying to clean the house, get dinner ready, and keep my boy occupied!!) So of course, I cheated a bit, and ended up using a box brownie mix and also instead of making a salted caramel sauce (or fleur de sel), I opted in using Trader Joe's version- I had heard GREAT things about it and I have to agree, some things are just easier to buy than to stand fussing over the stove! Hey, when you're chasing around a 14 month old who gets into everything, why not take any help you can get in the baking department!! And on a total side note, in the process of me making this super easy version of salted brownies, my little one decided to get into the the spice cabinet and proceeded to dump out an ENTIRE container of smoked pepper all over our kitchen floor!
Anyways, I'm sure that any brownie recipe would work for these so if you have a favorite and don't like box mixes, I say go for it! I ended up tossing in about a half cup of mini chocolate chips into the batter as well- hey, why not go all out and make it as rich and decadent as possible! Once the batter was all mixed, I dropped tablespoon-fuls of the caramel sauce on top of the batter (probably about 8 or so tablespoons), then ran a knife through the batter to create the swirls (next time I'm thinking it wouldn't hurt to add some caramel into the batter itself as well!) When it came out of the oven it was gooey and crisp on some of the edges and ohhhh soooo warm and yummy!! (Why I didn't have any French vanilla ice cream on hand is beyond me!)
I hope everyone had a fun St. Patrick's Day! I'm not Irish, nor is my husband so St. Patrick's day generally comes and goes without much thought! I can't even remember the last time my husband and I spent the day drinking with friends! We decided to take advantage of this nice sunny day shopping for spring/summer stuff for the little guy and grilling some juicy filets and shrimp for dinner! The weather has been unusually warm this last week (since when did early March mean turning on the air conditioner?!) so I decided to treat myself to a cocktail with dinner! This is a recipe I've posted before, but since a lot of my old posts no longer have the original pictures (since we switched servers), I thought I'd revisit it!
I LOVE tropical fruits. One of my favorites are longans (which are essentially the same thing as lychees, but since more people know what lychees are, I'm going to stick with that term for this drink! ) To me, longans may be smaller, but they are more crisp than lychees (I am all about crisp fruit!) I'm sure you could google the two and see what the actual differences are, but after they've been peeled and pitted, the only difference that I can tell is the crisp-ness and the fact that longans may be sweeter than the lychees, but that's about it!
I had just opened up a can of longans this week to snack on, so I figured the lychee cosmopolitan would be a great treat with dinner! I like the cosmopolitan version better than the traditional lychee martini since it includes grapefruit juice, so it's got a bit more flavor and sweetness.
- 2 oz vodka
- 1/2 oz grapefruit juice (I used ruby red grapefruit juice this time, but a blended one would be good as well!)
- 1 oz lychee syrup (If you are using canned lychees/longans, just use the juice that it comes with)
- 1-2 lychees for garnish
Back in college, Macaroni Grill was one of my favorite restaurants. I'd go there with my girlfriends almost weekly, and in between class breaks! A few weeks ago my husband and I were out with B doing our weekend errands when we decided to pop into one for lunch. In the seven years that we've been together, I can't remember the last time we'd actually gone into a Macaroni Grill to eat! (Sushi always wins over!) I got my usual dish- penne rustica. It's my absolute favorite, and of course the rosemary bread they give you to dip in olive oil! (I think I ended up eating most of that rosemary loaf all by myself!!) In all these years, I had forgotten how much I loved this dish so I decided to find some copycat recipes when I got home. Surprisingly I found several, but the one I chose to follow was this one. (Some of the other ones just made way more than I needed, or used a lot more ingredients than I had).
(Wish I had gotten a better picture, but I took it last minute on my phone!)
The final result was DELISH!! I have to say it may be my newest go to dinner when I can't think of anything else to make! Normally my go to pasta dish is this bow-tie pasta with ham and asparagus- and since first making this recipe I've since made different variations of chicken/mushroom/shrimp added to it! (Sorry, this is an OLD post, and a lot of pictures from when I first started blogging were lost when we switched servers-I need to remember to take a picture of it next time I make it so I can add it back on here! But I can guarantee you this is a huge hit as well! I've made it several times for dinner parties and pot-lucks and always get compliments on it!)
I thought it tasted pretty much spot on with what Macaroni Grill has to offer! This would easily serve a family of four- if not more! We are a family of 2 and a half (our 13 month old doesn't eat THAT much!) and we had more than enough left over for lunch for two days!
For the gratinata sauce:
- 3 tbsp butter (I think next time I may only use 2 as I felt it was a bit oily in the end...but that may be me!)
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 3 tbsp marsala wine
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese (I only had Kraft Parmesan, Romano, and Asiago shredded cheese on hand and it tasted just fine)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 2 tsp minced rosemary
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
- 1 lb penne pasta cooked (instead of an entire 1 lb box, I used about 3/4 of the box since I knew it would make way more than we'd need. Also, when cooking, don't cook for the full amount that it says, since you will be baking it as well, you don't want the pasta to be too mushy!)
- 1/2 lb shrimp peeled and deveined (the original recipe said 12 medium shrimp, since I enjoy shrimp and it was on sale, I just bought a half pound and went with that)
- 4 ounces chopped pancetta (original recipe called for 2 ounces thick sliced prosciutto, but I couldn't find any at the grocery store. They had the chopped pancetta instead so I used that. If you can't find pancetta or prosciutto you can always substitute with bacon as well)
- 1 skinless boneless chicken breast (the original recipe called for two, but since I had extra shrimp and extra pancetta I figured one would be enough)
- (The original recipe also had some garnishes and toppings, however I chose only to sprinkle with the parmesan cheese)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. (Original recipe called for 500 degrees, but I normally don't use temps that high so I didn't think it was necessary...)
- Cook penne pasta and drain; set aside. (I boiled my pasta for about 9 minutes rather than the 11 minutes the box recommended)
- Prepare the meats and shrimp. Pan fry the pancetta (or whatever bacon meat you are using). Let blot dry on towel to absorb all the fat. Salt and pepper your chicken breast. If you have a stove top grill pan you can prepare your chicken and shrimp on here (or an outdoor bbq), or if it's easier, just pan-fry both on the stove.
- Prepare the gratinata sauce in a medium to large pot. Melt the butter and add in the minced garlic, on a medium or low setting. Stir for a bit, but don't let the garlic burn. Add in the marsala wine. Continue adding in the rest of the wet/dry ingredients and whisk for about 10 minutes. The sauce should thicken up. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Pour the pasta into the gratinata sauce (this is why you may need a larger pot). Add in all the meat and shrimp, and coat the pasta. Then pour the pasta into a large baking dish and bake for 15-20 minutes. (The original recipe has the pasta served in individual dishes, however, I find that it may be easier to just make it a casserole style- less fuss, less dishes!) Serve with some crusty bread, steamed veggies, or a side salad and you've got yourself a wonderful meal!!