Honey Popcorn

In the flurry of chilly, snowy nights we had earlier this month, I wanted to make some popcorn.  I don’t know what about the popcorn was appealing, beyond the fact that it was there and light and something to snack on, but I had never made popcorn on the stovetop and was excited to do so.  Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Fast has a quick recipe for how to make a rosemary popcorn, with a variation for flavoring with honey, which sounded just right.  So, I followed the instructions and made my own homemade honey popcorn.

Honey Popcorn.jpg

Honey Popcorn

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 c popping corn
1 Tbsp honey

Put 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add 3 corn kernels and cover the pot.  When the three kernels pop, add 1/2 c kernels, cover, and, holding the lid in place, shake the pot.  Cook, shaking occasionally until the popping stops, about 5 minutes.  Toss with honey and salt.

Quick Brownies

Earlier this month, we had a day where as soon as we arrived at work, notices started to arrive sharing that the local schools were closing after lunch.  We were about to get snowed in.  I walked to work and the walk home was full of snow falling and greeting my neighbors out clearing their driveways, as interstates and accidents were announced throughout Iowa.  And the only thing I could think about was making brownies.  I’m not sure what about brownies was appealing (it could be that I had all of the ingredients on-hand at home), but I was ready to throw some together.  So, after taking Meg for a quick walk, I threw together the brownies, and while they were baking, went out and cleaned off my driveway as well.  This recipe from Sara Mouton’s Everyday Family Dinners was one I had not previously made, but it was perfection.  I substituted some sea salt caramel chips for the walnuts the recipe calls for and added a layer of depth to the recipe that I could not have otherwise anticipated.

Quick Brownies.jpg

Quick Brownies

8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 c sugar
2/3 c natural (not Dutch process) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c chocolate chips
1/2 c walnuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Generously grease a 9-inch square baking pan.  Melt the butter in the microwave or in a small saucepan over low heat; let cool slightly.  Combine the sugar, cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Add the eggs, melted butter, and vanilla and stir with a fork until a lumpy batter forms.  Stir in the chocolate chips and the walnuts, if using.  Transfer to the baking pan and bake until the center appears set, about 25 minutes.  Transfer to a rack to cool; let cool for 15 minutes.  Cut into 16 squares and serve warm.

Colorful Kale, Apple, and Fennel Slaw with Tart Cherries

Recently we had another death in my parish and, like I often do, I decided to bring a salad to the funeral luncheon. I was looking for something that would hold up well with refrigeration and this recipe from the Love Real Food cookbook seemed to meet those needs. The sweet lime dressing was a great contrast to the cherries and slight spiciness of the fennel. The flavors all complemented one another quite nicely.

Colorful Kale, Apple, and Fennel Slaw

Colorful Kale, Apple, and Fennel Slaw with Tart Cherries

2 c packed chopped Tuscan kale leaves, tough ribs removed
2 c thinly sliced red cabbage
2 c thinly sliced brussels sprouts, tough ends trimmed
1 c thinly sliced raw fennel
1 medium-large Granny Smith apple, cut into 1/2 in cubes
1/2 c chopped dried tart cherries

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp honey or maple syrup
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp sea salt

To prepare the slaw: In a large bowl, combine the kale, cabbage, brussels sprouts, fennel, apple, and dried cherries.

To make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, honey, vinegar, mustard, and salt until blended. Taste and adjust as necessary.

Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. For best flavor, let the salad marinate for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. This slaw keeps well, chilled, for 2 to 3 days.

African Peanut Soup

At the start of February, the temperature suddenly dropped back below zero and soup became an absolute necessity.  I had been planning to make this soup for some time — it’s a question where the recipe came from — and it seemed like the perfect night to make it.  The vegetables and chicken are nicely sweetened by the peanut butter and a little heat is added with the crushed red pepper.  I added some salt — the peanut butter I used was a low-salt organic peanut butter and it needed just a bit to help bring all the flavors together.

African Peanut Soup

African Peanut Soup

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped
2 red or green bell peppers, chopped
3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups cooked, diced chicken
2 quarts chicken stock or broth
1 can (28 ounces) Italian tomatoes, chopped, with juice
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme (for garnish)

In vegetable oil, saute onions, bell peppers, and garlic until soft. Add chicken, stock, and tomatoes with juice, crushed red pepper, and black pepper.

Stir in peanut butter until well blended. Simmer about 5 minutes. Serve in bowls or on top of rice. Sprinkle with fresh thyme.

Very Wild Rice Waffles with Dried Cranberries

Maybe I have been watching too many episodes of Parks and Recreation lately, but I have had such a hankering for waffles.  But I was looking for a waffle that was a bit more hearty than the average one and then I came across this recipe in Celebrating the Midwestern Table for wild rice waffles and knew that this was what I wanted to try.  With the blend of wild rice and craisins, the waffles were nicely sweetened with a tad of maple syrup.  They were more chewy than most, with a great nutty flavor that only wild rice can add.  I’d highly recommend them if you have a brunch where you are wanting to change things up a bit from egg bakes and pancakes.

Wild Rice Waffles

Very Wild Rice Waffles with Dried Cranberries

1/2 c flour
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 3/4 c well-drained cooked wild rice
1/3 c dried cranberries
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 c buttermilk
2 eggs
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Put the flours, wild rice, cranberries, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Mix until combined.  Add the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients; stir well.

Ladle the batter onto a preheated greased waffle iron.  Cook the waffles until browned and a little crispy.  The waffles can be kept warm in a preheated 200-degree oven while cooking the rest.

Devilish Eggs with Cheddar, Chipotle, and Chives

Sometimes I get to the point where I think, “I cannot handle one more sweet treat.”  Do you ever reach that point?  It’s almost like the thought of more sugar coats my mouth with a sense of slime and all I want is to bite into a different kind of snack that quenches the desire for something soft, while simultaneously is not sweet.  This is when I most frequently turn to a recipe for deviled eggs.  This, or when I want a quick breakfast as my go-to throughout the week, and something cold will fit the bill.  I was trying to put together something that strayed from my usual deviled egg recipe, and without the smoky flavor of my other recent deviled egg recipe.  This recipe from In My Kitchen: 100 Recipes and Discoveries for Passionate Cooks fit the bill and had a great kick to it for our next meal.

Devilish Eggs with Cheddar, Chipotle and Chives

Devilish Eggs with Cheddar, Chipotle, and Chives

1 dozen large eggs
1/2 c finely shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 c mayonnaise
1/4 c sour cream
2 Tbsp chopped chives
4 tsp chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
pinch of kosher salt

Put the eggs in a saucepan, cover with cold water by 1 inch and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes; then drain and immediately plunge the eggs in an ice bath to cool.

Peel the eggs, slice in half lengthwise, and scoop out the yolks.  Put the whites on a platter.  Pass the yolks through a sieve into a medium bowl, or just mash with a fork.  Mix in the cheese, mayo, sour cream, chives (reserving 1 teaspoon for garnish), chipotles, paprika, and salt.

Using a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch tip to pipe the filling into the whites, or, if you’re less fancy, use 2 spoons.  Sprinkle with the reserved chives.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving.

Savory Snack Mix

Part of my schtick on campus is to drive around on a golf cart once a month and pick up people wearing our school colors.  There have been times when I have asked them trivia questions and forced them to get out if they got one wrong (like Cash Cab); recently I took clorox wipes and had them clean their phones as we drove around; I’ve asked about institutional mission, expected them to tell me about ways they are experiencing abstract concepts like intercultural literacy or knowledge in their college experience.  Most recently, I handed out snacky treats in the form of this savory snack mix from the Fix It and Forget It: Slow Cooker Magic cookbook.

Savory Snack Mix

Savory Snack Mix

4 c corn chex
2 c wheat chex
2 c mini pretzels
1 1/2 c cheezits
1 c roasted cashews
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 Tbsp ranch dressing mix
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder

Place corn chex, wheat chex, pretzels, crackers, and cashews into slow cooker.  Gently stir in melted butter.  Whisk together remaining ingredients and sprinkle over mixture in the cooker, stirring once or twice as you sprinkle so all the pieces get some seasoning.

Cook on low for 1 hour, covered.  Stir.  Cook uncovered for 1 more hour.

Spread on a sheet pan and let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.