Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday Munchies - Homemade Microwave Popcorn

I absolutely LOVE popcorn!  It makes a great low calorie snack, and is a frequent Hoffman family Sunday night dinner.  If I ever get married I think it would be awesome to have a popcorn bar with lots of toppings and candy mix-ins.  Although I love stove popped popcorn (props to the Whirley Pop), the convenience of microwave popcorn is appealing.  There are no dishes to do afterward, it's much cheaper, it's faster, you don't have to stand over the stove watching it.  But, it never tastes as good - it's too buttery, there are all sorts or weird ingredients, and it isn't as healthy as stove popped corn.  I had seen several recipes online for homemade brown bag popcorn and wondered if it would really work.  There are so many different variations, and people telling you to stand the bag up, lay the bag down, put staples in the top, just fold it, soak the kernels in water before popping, use oil, don't use oil, squeeze the air out, don't squeeze the air, it was kind of overwhelming.  Well, I think I've figured out a pretty good combination, it may not be quite perfected, but it is still pretty good.  I'll give you two recipes today, a standard recipe as well as a kettle corn recipe but the possibilities with this are almost endless!

Basic Microwave Popcorn
1/4 cup popcorn kernels (Earl May sells our favorite kernels - no nasty hulls!)
1/2 teaspoon oil (This is optional, you can just throw the kernels into the bag and pop for a healthier option)
Salt to taste (If you want to get fancy, popcorn salt is finer and gives a more even coating)

In a small bowl mix together the popcorn kernels and oil. Pour the coated corn into a brown paper lunch bag and sprinkle with salt. Fold the top of the bag over twice to seal in the ingredients. Other recipes say that you can just dump the oil and salt into the bag on top of the popcorn and shake to mix.

Instead of laying the bag on it's side like several recipes call for, I found that my kernels popped much better when I stood the bag up normally. Cook in the microwave for 2.5 - 3 minutes or until you hear a pause of about 3 seconds between pops. Open the bag carefully (it's still steamy) and pour into a serving bowl.

Microwave Kettle Corn
1/4 cup popcorn kernels
1/2 teaspoon oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1.5 teaspoons powdered sugar

Stir everything together until evenly coated. Pour into a brown paper lunch bag and fold the top of the bag over twice to seal.

Cook in the microwave for 2.5 - 3 minutes or until you hear a pause of about 3 seconds between pops. Open the bag carefully and pour into a serving bowl.

Adapted From:

Monday, February 6, 2012

Monday Munchies - Butternut Pizza with Bacon, Spinach and Feta

Do you ever get in a pizza rut?  I LOVE pizza but when I make it at home I have standard ingredients that I just throw on, and never give it another thought.  This pizza is a little out of the box (get it, the pizza box...bad, I know haha) but it was so delicious!  The combination of flavors is such a perfect blend, no single ingredient overpowers the pizza.  My family was very skeptical when I told them what I was making but everyone* ended up loving it and it's one that we will definitely be making again.  
*Disclaimer - Colin was not home at the time, and had he been home only 3 out of 4 would have loved it - this recipe is not exactly picky boy food

Butternut Pizza with Bacon, Spinach and Feta
1 butternut squash, peeled, cored and diced into 1/2″ cubes (If you know any tips for quickly or easily cutting squash please share your secrets - I'm no expert and it takes me forever)
1 small red onion, peeled and quartered
4 Tbsp. olive oil
kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper (I used coarse ground salt and it added a lot of flavor but regular salt will work just fine too)
1 medium pizza crust
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
2 cups loosely-packed baby spinach
6 slices lean bacon, cooked and diced into 1/2″ pieces
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). In a large bowl, toss together the squash, onion, and 2 tablespoons olive oil, then spread the mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, stirring and turning the vegetables about halfway through.

Brush the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over the top of the pizza crust.  Leaving a 1″ border for crust, toss the Mozzarella cheese evenly over the center of the crust.  Layer with spinach, then bacon, and the squash/onion mixture (breaking up the onions if needed).  Then sprinkle the top with feta cheese.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until crust is slightly golden and the Mozzarella is melted (or if you're using a purchased crust bake according to the directions on the package).  Slice and serve immediately.

Recipe Source: Gimme Some Oven Blog