#FoodieExtravaganza: Popcorn

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This month’s #FoodieExtravaganza theme is popcorn. TheFoodie Extravaganza is a monthly party hosted by bloggers who love food! Each month we incorporate one main ingredient or theme into recipes to share with you. Thanks to Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla for hosting this poppin’ party.

There wasn’t any question about whether I’d participate in the first Foodie Extravaganza of 2017.

Popcorn is one of my favorite snacks. Or meals… Truth be told, one of my favorite things to do with my mom is have a dinner of popcorn while watching movies (or catching up on Once Upon a Time).

The thing I miss most about movie theater dates is 80% the movie theater popcorn and 20% getting lost in a movie plotline. We got the chance to see Fantastical Beasts and Where to Find Them in early December when my parents were visiting and while the theater was great with insanely comfy seats, the popcorn was a letdown. I’d be way more upset about it if it weren’t a Harry Potter franchise movie.

The at-home popcorn snack I’m sharing today is spicy and savory. It utilizes za’atar, an herbal spice blend popular in Middle Eastern cuisine. I’d heard of the seasoning watching Food Network and when my sister-in-law asked if there was a spice I wanted to try, I instantly had an answer for her. I’m looking forward to exploring more uses for it, but this popcorn pretty much hits it out of the park.

Spicy Za’atar Popcorn

Ingredients:

  • canola oil
  • 1/2 C popcorn kernels
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp za’atar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne

Steps:

  1. Put canola oil in pot over medium high heat along with 2-3 kernels of popcorn. Cover and stand by. Once you hear the kernels pop, add the 1/2 C of popcorn. Cover and cook over medium heat until popping slows. Gently shake the pot during the popping process so as not to burn the popcorn at the bottom. Remove from heat and remain covered until popping has ceased, unless you want to be pelted with popcorn. (If you have another method of popping popcorn, feel free to use it.) Place popcorn in a large bowl.
  2. While popcorn is still hot, add the remaining ingredients and mix to distribute flavors evenly.

*This recipe is adapted from Stephanie at http://www.thekitchn.com/vegan-party-or-anytime-snack-z-136417*

Spicy Za'atar Popcorn for #FoodieExtravaganza from Sew You Think You Can Cook

Be sure to check out these other popcorn recipes:

Hubby’s Vanilla Caramel Popcorn by Fearlessly Creative Mammas

Kirsten’s Popped Corn Crack by A Day in the Life on the Farm

Parmesan Popcorn with Lemon & Thyme by Caroline’s Cooking

Pepperoni Pizza Popcorn by Food Lust People Love

Popcorn Cornbread by Palatable Pastime

Popcorn Pairings (Yes, With Wine) by Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Spicy Za’atar Popcorn by Sew You Think You Can Cook

White Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Popcorn by Hardly A Goddess

White Chocolate Popcorn by Sneha’s Recipe

If you are a blogger and would like to join our group and blog along with us, come join our Facebook page Foodie Extravaganza. We would love to have you! If you’re a spectator looking for delicious tid-bits check out our Foodie Extravaganza Pinterest Board! Looking for our previous parties? Check them out HERE.

Maple Walnut Vinaigrette

Now that we’ve closed the door on Halloween, it’s comfort food season.

You totally thought I was going to make some joke regarding Christmas.

Nope!

There won’t be a hint of Christmas (well, except for getting a start on my Christmas gift shopping) happening in my house until after Thanksgiving! That’s right people, there’s another holiday (at least in the US) before putting up that tree. (You hear me, Mom?!)

Sorry for that little rant there….

Back to salad.

Salad? What?

Yes. Salad.

Even amid the sea of hearty baked casseroles, you still need to eat something a bright and fresh and a salad with hints of fall is the perfect way to break up your weekly menu.

I served this walnut dressing over a salad of Brussels sprouts, spinach, and romaine lettuce. The “mix-ins” included walnuts, bacon, and apple. Dried cranberries or cooked chicken would work great, too!

Maple Walnut Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C maple syrup
  • 1/2 C walnuts
  • 1/4 C apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp canola oil

Steps:

  1. Place all ingredients except oils into a blender. Blend until smooth.
  2. With the blender running, pour in the oils. Add a little water, if needed.

*This recipe is adapted from Monica at http://www.theyummylife.com/recipes/38*

Maple Walnut Vinaigrette | Sew You Think You Can Cook | http://sewyouthinkyoucancook.com

#ChoctoberFest: Chickpea Cocoa Dip

#Choctoberfest

It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I think today’s offering might be my favorite recipe of my #ChoctoberFest menu.
Friends of ours brought this chocolate hummus dip to Firecracker’s birthday party and it was a huge hit. Kids and adults alike couldn’t get enough of it! I’d been dying to make it at the house and here was my perfect opportunity.
I was a little nervous that Firecracker wouldn’t go for it, as homemade hummus is not “real” hummus and he won’t touch it if it’s not out of a store bought container. However, as this dip doesn’t have tahini it’s not technically a hummus variation anyway, it’s simply a sweet bean dip.
I got him to help me in the kitchen and simply told him we were making chocolate. He couldn’t be more ecstatic. He absolutely loves to help in the kitchen and his current favorite phrase is “need any help?” almost to the point of annoyance, but I do want and need to encourage this helpful attitude!
I broke out the step stool and had him push the buttons on the food processor. (Treat looked on in anticipation.) He kept informing me it was ready in his impatience to eat some chocolate. He did a fabulous job waiting until after I took some photos before I handed him his own little snack kit of dip, pretzels, and apple slices.
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If you’re looking for a guilt-free way to satisfy that chocolate craving, I encourage you to break out the food processor for this snack.
Chickpea Cocoa Dip
Ingredients:
  • 1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 5 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Steps:
  1. Place garbanzo beans in a food process and pulse a few times. Add the remaining ingredients and puree until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  2. Enjoy with pretzels and fruit.
Chickpea Cocoa Dip for #ChoctoberFest from Sew You Think You Can Cook
Don’t forget to enter our giveaway and be sure to check out the other bloggers who posted more chocolate recipes today:

Fall Quinoa Bowl

You know how smoothie bowls hit the food scene over the past year or so? Well, I have yet to try one myself.

Grain bowls are also a thing. And that I’ve decided to make and put my spin on. Although, technically, quinoa isn’t a grain, it’s a seed, making this protein packed bowl gluten free. You could leave the chicken out to make a vegetarian option. Heck, you could even cook in coconut oil instead of butter and go vegan with it!

Possibilities are really endless when you stop and think about making a quinoa bowl. Quinoa itself doesn’t have too strong of a flavor of its own, much like oats or rice, and can lend itself to many preparations – savory or sweet.

What I loved about this meal was that it was a perfect dinner to serve to my entire family. Everything was both adult and kid friendly. My picky two year old ate around all of the vegetables and chicken and solely ate the quinoa – but hey, there are good nutrients in that little seed and a fair amount of protein. Treat enjoyed all of it.

To present the quinoa bowl. I simply topped the dressed quinoa with the fruit, vegetables, and protein in concentric circles to showcase the incredible colors and flavors of fall. Arranging them in lines would be beautiful, too.

An Original Recipe

Fall Quinoa Bowl

Ingredients:

  • 1 C quinoa
  • 2-3 tbsp butter
  • 1-2 pears, cubed
  • 1/2 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1-2 small red beets, peeled and cubed
  • 1 large cooked chicken breast, cubed
  • 3 tbsp Meyer lemon olive oil
  • 1 tbsp raspberry balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • scallion, for garnish

Steps:

  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions.
  2. In a non-stick skillet melt a little bit of butter. Saute pears over medium heat until tender. Remove and set aside.
  3. Add the sweet potatoes and cook until fork tender and lightly golden. Add butter as needed. Remove and set aside.
  4. Cook the beets in the same skillet, adding more butter if needed, until fork tender.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, and mustard. Season to taste with S+P. Toss cooked quinoa in as much dressing as desired.
  6. Top quinoa with the pears, potatoes, beets, and chicken. Top with a little extra dressing and garnish with sliced scallions.

Fall Quinoa Bowl | Sew You Think You Can Cook | http://sewyouthinkyoucancook.com

Peanut Butter Crepes

Last month we went strawberry picking. Battling traffic for 2 1/2 hours (one way) for 50 minutes of picking time was absolutely worth it! These strawberries had the sweetest scent I’d ever sniffed. We had 4 1/2 pounds of strawberries making the road trip back home with us. Some green bell peppers, green beans, cherry tomatoes, and local honey hitched a ride, too.

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I’d put out a request to some of my local SoCal bloggers for their best strawberry recipes. And then, I didn’t use a single one! These strawberries barely made it a week. (To be fair, I froze about a third of them right away.) When something is just that good you almost don’t want to waste it as an ingredient. Instead, I decided to do crepes for dinner, filling them with our freshly picked strawberries.

I was quite hesitant with the crepe batter. It’s essentially all egg white and some peanut butter. I thought, “There’s no way!” But, I found the recipe from Natural Noshing’s Secret Recipe Club reveal of my dear friend Tara’s blog. I told myself that, if two people can succeed with these crepes, then it’s bound to work!

The first crepe is always a throw away – me, I ended up with a severely burnt crepe due to a child required my immediate attention. I told myself, “one more try”. And if it doesn’t work, I’ll throw in a bunch of flour and just make regular pancakes. Plan B was never needed. The only problem is that this recipe doesn’t make very many crepes! However, the use of peanut butter actually makes them filling and satisfying enough to feed 2 (and a half) people. You can always stretch out the crepes with whatever fillings you decide.

My crepes were filled with softened cream cheese, cinnamon sugar, and fresh sliced strawberries. Stuart filled his crepes with Nutella, fresh sliced strawberries, and honey. Firecracker had his with Nutella and fresh sliced strawberries.

Other filling options could include banana, jelly, chocolate chips, and/or maple syrup.

Peanut Butter Crepes

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole egg
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 heaping tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp creamy peanut butter

Steps:

  1. Using a hand mixer, whisk the egg and egg whites until frothy. Add in the vanilla, sugar, and peanut butter until smooth.
  2. Pour 1/4 C batter into a small greased skillet. (I used 1-2 tsp butter between each crepe) Swirl the pan around to create an even crepe. Once the surface bubbles flip and cook another minute. Remove, repeat with remaining batter.
  3. Serve with desired fillings.

*This recipe is adapted from Nora at https://naturalnoshing.wordpress.com/2015/07/26/peanut-butter-crepes-with-cinnamon-cream-cheese-filling-grain-free-src/*

Peanut Butter Crepes  Sew You Think You Can Cook

And if you need an idea for all those leftover egg yolks, might I suggest chocolate frozen custard?

Kale Soup

Back in November my brother-in-law came to visit. We went grocery shopping to pick up some items for football watching and dinner making. Upon their departure we were left with a bunch of kale; a large quantity not a single bunch.

So I made kale chips.

And soup.

And still there was a little bit left to freeze and “sneak” into Firecracker’s smoothies.

So. Much. Kale!

Not that that’s a bad thing. I buy kale hardly ever, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve purchased said green. I have nothing against kale, but I guess I never jumped on the bandwagon a couple of years ago.

This soup though, I can get on board with. But only if there’s bacon with it. Before heating up some leftovers I had to fry a piece of bacon to provide that bit of crunch and salt.

Kale Soup

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices center cut bacon, chopped
  • 3 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 leek, sliced in half-moons
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 4 C chicken broth
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped
  • 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • sour cream for serving (optional)

Steps:

  1. Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel lined plate.
  2. Add the potatoes and leeks to the pot and cook 3 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, S+P and cook another 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and 4 C of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook 15 minutes.
  3. Reserve a little bit of the kale to make kale chips for garnishing the soup. Add the remaining kale to the soup, cover the pot, and cook 5 minutes until the kale is wilted. Stir in the Worcestershire.
  4. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. (Note: If using a stand blender you may need to puree the soup in batches. Leave the lid slightly open and cover with a towel to prevent burns.)
  5. Put the reserved kale on a baking sheet, spray with cooking oil, season with S+P and broil until crispy.
  6. Garnish the soup with kale chips, bacon, and sour cream.

*This recipe is adapted from Food Network Magazine, January/February 2015*

Kale Soup | Sew You Think You Can Cook

Blogger CLUE: Veggie Chili

blogger CLUE

Even though the groundhog has declared it spring, it’s still relatively cold and definitely grey out so the Blogger CLUE crew and I have been scouring our assignments to bring you a wonderful collection of soups or stews.

When I saw my assignment was Azmina of Lawyer Loves Lunch I got very excited! I always love reading her posts and recalled her professing her love of soups, so what could be more perfect for yours truly who doesn’t consider soup a favorite. I did find a couple good contenders though, leek and potato soup or turkey and wild rice soup were quite tempting, and I know my husband would have loved for me to try making pho, but I ended up going with her veggie chili.

I can officially say that I am now a fan of chili. For the longest time it was something I wouldn’t even consider. Then I created my own recipe for chili and professed that “I only like my chili.” Within the past year I’ve ventured out to trying other recipes and have always been happily surprised, so why not give a meat-free version a try? It is Ash Wednesday after all, and that means the Lenten season has begun and the search for meatless recipes is in full force. This vegetarian main course is a perfect fit, especially when the weather is less than ideal.

I did have to make a slight change to the original recipe: instead of a can of crushed tomatoes I used whole tomatoes because the grocery store was out of crushed tomatoes! (Who knew that was a thing.) My substitution actually worked in my favor because I do like some chunk to my chili. Instead of pureeing the veggies before adding the tomatoes and stock, I added the can of whole tomatoes to the veggies and used my immersion blender to crush them along with the veggies. If you like a smoother chili place the cooked veggies in a blender and puree until smooth before adding crushed tomatoes and the remaining ingredients. Additionally, because I left my veggies a little chunky I only used 3 cans of beans instead of 4, using varieties I had in my pantry.

I absolutely loved this chili recipe and it will definitely be in my chili rotation. I find that chili tastes better as leftovers, not something I say about most foods, and it made for a perfect lunch throughout the week; I would place some tortilla chips in the bottom of a bowl, ladle the chili, and top with shredded cheese before popping the bowl in the microwave. The chips get a little soft and provide a subtle corn flavor along with some additional texture.

Veggie Chili

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced – I used orange
  • 3 jalapenos, deseeded and minced
  • 1 can (28 oz) whole (or crushed) tomatoes
  • 3 C vegetable stock
  • 3 cans (15 oz) beans, drained and rinsed – I used dark red kidney beans, black beans, and garbanzo beans
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne

Steps:

  1. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven. Add onions, carrots, peppers, and jalapenos. Saute until tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. If using whole tomatoes, add them to the veggies and crush using an immersion blender until desired consistency is reached. If using crushed tomatoes, place veggies in a blender and pulse until desired consistency is reached then return the veggies to the pot before adding the tomatoes.
  3. Add the stock, beans, and spices. Bring chili to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook 20 minutes, or until desired thickness is reached. If chili gets too thick add additional stock or water. Add salt to taste.
  4. Serve with your favorite chili toppings: cheese, chips, sour cream, chives, etc.

*This recipe is adapted from Azmina at http://www.lawyerloveslunch.com/2012/03/chili-and-cornbread.html*

Veggi chili for Blogger CLUE from Sew You Think You Can Cook

Here’s a list of the other players of Blogger CLUE this month: