Home-Popped Popcorn

My new favorite snack is home-popped popcorn. When I first mentioned this to my mother, I said something along the lines of, “I’ve been making my own popcorn.” By this, she thought I meant growing my own corn, drying it, and then popping it. Really, mom?

She should know me well enough to know that I think THAT sounds like way too much work 🙂

Popcorn 1

I have been doing the “making my own popcorn” version that you all hopefully thought of, which is that I’m buying the kernels and popping them in a pot on the stove. It is so, so deliciously good and easy. I wouldn’t say “easy” unless it actually was. This is coming from the woman who will have a snack craving so strong and urgent that I’ve eaten almost entire bags of shredded cheese intended for tomorrow’s dinner, eaten sandwich bread slices without anything on them, etc. If it’s not going to be in my stomach in 3 minutes or less, it’s not the snack for me.

Home-popped popcorn is most definitely the snack for me. I can really taste the freshness and it makes the biggest difference.

Popcorn 4

Home-Popped Popcorn
Ingredients:
3 tbsp of popping corn (you can use any brand, I like Trader Joe’s version)
1 tbsp (plus another drop or two) of oil (I’ve been using olive oil and I love the flavor, but any oil would work)
Salt to taste

To make:
1. Add the oil to a medium-sized pot with a well-fitting lid.
2. Add 2-3 kernels to the oil, heat over medium heat on the stove, and cover the pot.
3. Wait until you can hear at least one of the kernels pop, then add the rest of the kernels and cover.
4. Holding the pot handle securely in one hand, hold the lid tightly onto the pot with your other hand and begin to shake the pot over the burner. The kernels should begin to pop after about 15 seconds or so.
5. Continue shaking the pot until the popping slows. (By shaking the pot and listening you should also be able to hear if there are multiple unpopped kernels in the bottom – if there are, keep shaking). This should take anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes depending on your stove and pot.
6. Uncover, add salt to taste, and serve immediately!
Makes 1 serving.

Popcorn 3

Popcorn 5

Popcorn 2

A few notes:

  • I have a gas stove. I’m not sure how the results are with an electric burner – I’d recommend leaving the pot on the burner and sliding it back and forth. Over my gas burner, I hold the pot approximately 1-3 inches off of the burner so the heat is still direct.
  • The shaking IS necessary – otherwise they’ll stick to the bottom of the pot and burn. I like to do a gentle rocking-side-to-side motion with the pot combined with some vigorous shaking.
  • After popping, you can add any traditional (or nontraditional) popcorn condiments you desire – grated parmesan cheese would be delicious, as would some freshly grated black pepper. Or experiment with sweet popcorn and add sugar and cinnamon! Oh, and I almost forgot – although it has a great delicate buttery taste on its own, you could melt some butter and pour it right on top. Yum.
  • One 3 tbsp (unpopped) serving makes about 6 cups of popped popcorn. The popped serving has 120 calories, making it one of the lowest-calorie snacks in my arsenal.
  • By making the popcorn yourself, you’re avoiding the gibberish ingredients and chemicals in the microwaveable popcorn bags, and you get to control how much salt and/or butter you put on it.
  • It’s cheap! The bag I bought was between $2 and $3 and has 22 servings.

I’m never, ever, ever going back to microwave popcorn.

Enjoy!

To Review, or Not To Review?

How do ya’ll feel about brunch reviews?

Actually, hold up one second. How do you feel about my use of “ya’ll?” I’m actually not okay with it. I’m from NJ and while I’ve been living in VA for almost 7 years now, I’m really not okay with my casual adoption of some VA terminology. Doesn’t suit me well. So let’s start over. I have a new blog writer reputation to maintain, after all 🙂

How do you all feel about brunch reviews?

I ask because reviewing brunches is the premise of one of my favorite blogs, Bitches Who Brunch. It was one of the first (and still one of the few) blogs that I followed religiously. I get their daily email and it definitely contributes to my happy hour each day! They not only review brunches in DC (and the reviews are spot-on), but they post upcoming DC events, favorite fashion finds, etc. It’s refreshing to read a blog that feels like it could be written by people I know, and who live in my city! When they write about places that I’ve actually been, I swoon a little inside. Go check them out!

So I ask you all about brunch review because this is one of the things I consider belonging entirely to the Bitches. I won’t even try to match their awesomeness. But I do feel that part of my responsibility to my tiny group of loyal readers (hello out there!) is to give those readers honest feedback – real and applicable feedback that they can use in their lives. And one of the things that we all can use is feedback about brunch.Croque Madame

I think I’m going to go for it. I won’t just be reviewing brunches, after all. I will also be reviewing happy hours (duh! Now I just need to find time to actually go to some!), dinners, food trucks, shops – you name it, I’ll review it. So hopefully the lovely and talented bitches won’t feel infringed upon (actually, if they even ever find out that my little blog exists I almost don’t care how they interpret my reviews because I will have already fainted from happiness).

Review coming soon! (And in reference to the picture: yes, brunch involved a croque madame – but no, it did not involve hearts).

Apple-Cheddar Quesadillas

Part of post-graduation life and my simultaneous conversion to pescetarianism was figuring out how to cook for myself. This involved balancing multiple considerations, some of which could be in conflict with each other:

  • Saving money
  • Convenience (how easy is it to prepare/purchase the ingredients, how portable is the finished meal?)
  • Health

Lately I’ve been into Pinterest (who hasn’t been?) for checking out new recipes, and it’s inspired me to try new ingredients and push my cooking skill set a bit. However, I’m proud to say that this recipe for Apple-Cheddar Quesadillas was one I came up with all on my own! And it meets the three criteria above: it’s cheap, especially if you grate your own cheese and buy the apples at the farmer’s market or in-season at the grocery store; it’s easy and quick to make and I almost always have the ingredients on hand; and it’s healthy.

Apple-Cheddar Quesadillas 1

Aside: The term “healthy” in my perspective usually means some combination of low-fat/healthy fats, incorporates some form of protein, and is made up mainly of a fruit or vegetable. I like to think of healthy as anything that will keep me full, has a variety of ingredients for balanced nutrition, and tastes yummy!

Apple-Cheddar Quesadillas
Ingredients:
2 small-medium size apples, sliced thinly (I prefer Granny Smith. You don’t have to peel them but you can)
1.5-2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese (the sharper the better)
4 whole-wheat flour tortillas
Salt and pepper to taste

To make:
1. Thinly slice your apples (peel first if desired).
2. Arrange a small handful of the cheese (approximately 1/8) onto one half of your first tortilla.
3. Arrange 1/4 of the apple slices and some salt and pepper to taste on top of the cheese.
4. Then, complete this first quesadilla by adding another 1/8 of the cheese on top of the apples.
5. Fold the tortilla in half and place in a non-stick skillet on low-medium heat.
6. Cook the tortilla for approximately 3-4 minutes on each side, until fragrant and the cheese begins to bubble.
7. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
Makes 4 servings.

Apple-Cheddar Quesadillas 2

Apple-Cheddar Quesadillas 3

Apple-Cheddar Quesadillas 4

Perfect for an on-the-go breakfast (they keep well in the fridge for a few days wrapped in foil), a snack, or a lunch. I think they’d be great alongside some simply dressed arugula.

Enjoy!

Haiku Sunday: Inaugural Edition

In honor of a wonderful sunny day spent yesterday with friends listening to Jazz at the Jefferson, part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, here is the first Haiku in what will hopefully be a long, glorious series of Haiku Sundays:

Sitting under the big tree
The leaves are tiny
A beautiful day for jazz

Washington Monument from the Jefferson Memorial