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.

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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.


Marvelous Multigrain Bread

My dad gave me some sourdough starter this summer with which he’d been baking.  His bread making skills have become pretty fantastic since he came and took a class with me through our local community college a year ago or so.  I was looking for a recipe to make with this sourdough starter and saw this recipe from the Flour cookbook.  The cookbook calls for a bread sponge that she would have you make.  I decided to substitute the sourdough starter for the bread sponge.  The bread was incredibly dense, but it was good.  It was especially delicous as toast.  I understand why the owner of Flour stated that she started each day with a slice of this toast.

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Marvelous Multigrain Bread

1 1/2 c water, at body temperature
3/4 c whole wheat flour
3/4 c buckwheat flour
3 c all-purpose flour
12 oz Bread Sponge
1/3 c honey
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1/3 c millet
1/3 c sunflower seeds
1/3 c flax seeds
Big handful of medium-coarse yellow cornmeal for the baking sheet

Using a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment (or a large bowl and wooden spoon), mix together the water, whole wheat flour, buckwheat flour, and 3 c of all purpose flour on low speed for about 1 minute, or until the flour is mixed and you have a shaggy, stiff dough.  (To prevent the flour from flying out of the bowl, turn the mixer on and off several times until the flour is mixed into the liquid, and then keep it on low speed).  Cover the bowl with a piece of plastic wrap and let sit for about 10 minutes.  (This is called an autolyse, and it allows the water to hydrate the flour, which makes for better mixing down the road).

On medium-low speed, add the sponge, honey, and salt and mix for 3 to 4 minutes, until it is incorporated into the dough.  The dough should be somewhat sticky, but still smooth and feel like an earlobe (strange as that may sound) when you grasp a bit between your fingers.  If it is stiffer than this, mix in a few tablespoons water; if it is looser than this, gradually mix in a few tablespoons all-purpose flour.  You may need to stop the mixer a few times to pull off any dough that has gathered around the hook or on the sides of the bowl.  Add the millet, sunflower seeds, and flaxseeds and mix 1 to 3 minutes, or until the seeds are evenly distributed throughout the dough.  (If you are using a wooden spoon to mix the dough, you must dump out the dough onto a floured work surface and knead for 5 to 6 minutes, or until smooth, then return the dough to the bowl.)

Lightly cover the dough, still in the bowl, with an oiled piece of plastic wrap or a lint-free kitchen towel.  Place the bowl in a draft-free, warm place (78 to 82 degrees is ideal; an area near the oven with only the pilot light on is good) for 3 to 4 hours.  The dough will rise up a little bit (but not a lot) and it will feel a little loose and relaxed.

Flour your hands and your work surface and turn the dough out of the bowl.  Divide the dough in half with a knife or a bench scraper.  Shape each half into a ball by tucking the edges of the dough underneath and then continuing to tuck the edges underneath until the dough naturally gathers into a ball with a taut surface. (At this point, you can cover the shaped loaves and store them in the refrigerator overnight.  Remove them the next day and proceed as directed.)

Sprinkle the cornmeal on a baking sheet to keep the loaves from sticking, and place the loaves on the sheet, spacing them at least 3 inches apart.  Cover them loosely but completely with plastic wrap and let them sit at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, or until they have loosened up and seem relaxed.  They won’t pouf up too much, but they will seem much softer.

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 500 degrees.  (It is important that the oven comes to temperature before you place the bread inside.  The correct temperature ensures that your loaves will get enough oomph to rise and grow.)

Sprinkle the tops of the loaves with the 2 to 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour.  Slash the loaves with a knife, and place the baking sheet in the oven.  Place a rimmed baking sheet or shallow pan with about 2 cups water on the oven rack below the bread.  The steam from the water will create a nice moist atmosphere for your bread to grow.  Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and make a hollow sound when you thump them on the bottom.

Let the loaves cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 15 to 20 minutes, then transfer the loaves to the rack and let cool for at least 2 hours before serving.  Once the loaves have cooled completely, they can be stored in a paper bag.

Lemon Honey Chicken Thighs

A few weeks ago I had some friends over for dinner.  I was trying to determine the menu when I remembered this recipe from last August’s Cooking Light magazine (2016) and thought it was probably time to try it.  It appeared to be something that I could finish make relatively quickly as we prepared to sit down, without much last minute fuss.  For the most part, this was pretty accurate.  My only issue was that I should have swirled the olive oil around on the pan a little bit better because the chicken thighs stuck to the pan in some pretty significant ways.  Otherwise, this was a nice, light chicken thigh recipe, and I almost always use chicken thighs because they tend to not dry out as easily, so I was happy to have a recipe that used them.

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Lemon-Honey Chicken Thighs

1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 c thinly sliced shallots
2 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.  Add chicken to pan; cook 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until browned and done.  Transfer to a warm plate; keep warm.

Add shallots to pan; reduce heat to medium and cook 2 minutes, or until beginning to brown and soften, stirring frequently.  Add 2 Tbsp water, juice, and honey to pan; bring to a boil.  Cook 1 minute, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.  Return chicken to pan, turning to coat.  Sprinkle evenly with fresh oregano, and serve immediately.

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs

My hippie puppy Meg was groomed last week.  How adorable are thee flowers for her ears?

Meet my puppy, the hippie. #thatsmymeg

A post shared by Gwen Schimek (@gwenschimek) on

I have been meaning to make this recipe for months.  I decided to finally commit to doing it and am so glad I did.  I modified from the original recipe and instead of broiling, used the grill to cook the chicken thighs, but loved this Cooking Light recipe.  This is a recipe that I thought tasted exactly how I expected it to taste and I hope to make it again soon!

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs

2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
Cooking spray
4 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons cider vinegar

Preheat broiler.

Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken to bowl; toss to coat. Place chicken on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil chicken 5 minutes on each side.

Combine honey and vinegar in a small bowl, stirring well. Remove chicken from oven; brush 1/4 cup honey mixture on chicken. Broil 1 minute. Remove chicken from oven and turn over. Brush chicken with remaining honey mixture. Broil 1 additional minute or until chicken is done.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 chicken thighs)

Cranberry Honey Lime Scones

The minute I came across this recipe for Cranberry Honey Lime Scones, I knew I wanted to try making them.  So, for the last several months, this recipe has sat in the queue, waiting for me to find the most obscure ingredient, and then finding a time to make it.  Last week, my opportunity presented itself as we began to celebrate the summer being here at work.  I think the recipe turned out quite well, although the lime became almost overpowering in the recipe.  I’m not sure if my zest got to the pith and became bitter, the oil became bitter, or the lime juice brushed on top became overpowering, but something was a little bit bitter.  I also wondered if a little sprinkle of sugar or some increased honey would balance that out better for me.

That being said, I enjoyed this recipe a lot and would include it on my future recipes-to-make plans.  The recipe came from the Iowa State Fair Prize-Winning Recipes Cookbook.Cranberry Honey Lime Scones

Cranberry Honey Lime Scones

5 c flour
2 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
Zest of 1 lime
15 Tbsp butter
6 oz pkg dried cranberries
1 c heavy cream
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp lime juice
1 1/2 tsp lime oil
1/2 c honey
1 egg, beaten

Mix flour and baking powder.  Add zest of 1 lime.  Cut in butter in corn size pieces until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.  Mix in cranberries.  In a separate bowl, mix cream, 2 beaten eggs, 1 teaspoon of the lime juice, lime oil, and honey.  Mix until well-blended.  Add to dry mixture; mix but do not overmix.  Roll out into 1/2-inch thickness.  Cut into circles with biscuit cutter.  Place on floured and buttered baking sheet.  Mix beaten egg and remaining lime juice.  Brush on top of scones.  Bake in 450 degree oven for 13 minutes.

Honey Sesame Roasted Brussels Sprouts

We had our division holiday party a month ago and I waited until the last minute to decide what to bring — usually there is a gap of some sort that needs to be filled, but this year, it was a balanced meal based on what everyone else was bringing.  So, instead, I went with my favorite food — Brussels Sprouts!

I found this recipe over on the My Sequined Life blog.  It turned out great and there were no leftover brussels at the point I brought my dishes home.

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Honey Sesame Roasted Brussels Sprouts

1 lb Brussels sprouts
2 Tbsp teriyaki sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sriracha

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Remove any outside yellow leaves and cut off the bottom stem.  Cut the Brussels in half and place in a bowl.

Add the remaining ingredients and toss to coat the sprouts completely.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place the sprouts on the sheet in a single layer.  Bake for 15 minutes, and then remove sheet from oven and flip the sprouts over.  Bake an additional 12-15 minute or so, until the tops have browned and become slightly crisp.

Honey, Peanut Butter & Oatmeal Cookies

I was walking through a used bookstore and came across a cookbook from the Amana Colonies.  Since the Amanas are a local delight, I had to pick it up.  Oma’s (Grandma’s) Family Secrets: Generations of Amana Cooking was a cookbook I needed in my collection.  There are a number of recipes in here which look delightful, and a few that I’m not sure I need to make (like one for squirrel), but part of what is great about the recipes in this book is that they are all handwritten.

I knew I needed to make these cookies because I had all of the ingredients for them, and I was thinking about the holidays coming up and wanted to try a few more recipes out in preparation for the days.  These were nice because they were super chewy cookies, and they weren’t overly sweet.


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