versatile ventures

Arugula-Spinach Salad Featuring Couscous

ImageFor work, I tend to pack my lunches. My wallet is a little heavier and my waistline a little happier not constantly going out for lunch.

Perhaps spending the majority of the day sitting in front of a computer screen contributes to my desire to pack healthy lunches. Eating greasy/sodium-ridden foods and then proceeding to sit for another 4-5 hours is setting the table for a lethargic-fight-the-yawns afternoon. 

However, a well-packed salad with multiple textures and fresh produce is always enticing to the veggie lover. Being resourceful, my salads tend to be a conglomeration of whatever I have in my kitchen. Almost anything is game to be tossed in a salad since my fridge tends to feature mainly unprocessed foods – some salads have turned out “interesting” while others have pleasantly surprised my palatte. Lately, I have been tossing in couscous or quinoa side dish leftovers and have enjoyed the change in texture and the flavors the prepared grain adds.

Today’s salad features a fresh arugula-spinach-greens blend, carrots, and tomatoes coupled with an almond-apricot-couscous salad, and topped with a balsamic-yogurt dressing – this salad is packed with protein and vitamins, as well as tasty flavors. 

 

Ingredients (rough measurements since I rarely measure when making a salad):

  • 1 ½ – 2 cups Spinach, Arugula, Greens Blend
  • 1 whole carrot peeled and diced
  • 1 Roma Tomato, diced
  • 1 oz fresh mozzarella, diced
  • ½ -1 cup Almond-Apricot Couscous Salad
  • Add a little seasoning to preference: oregano, basil, fresh ground black pepper, garlic powder, and salt.

 Toppings:

  • 1 – 2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Cup Plain Yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp Slivered Almonds (I like seasoned cracked black pepper silvered almonds)

Pack yogurt and silvered almonds in separate containers. Throw everything else in a bowl. Drizzle on balsamic vinegar.

 

Note 1: The Almond-Apricot Couscous Salad already has olive oil, which is why I did not add any oil to the balsamic vinegar.

Note 2: This is a two-untensil meal: the downside to couscous: it is a tad difficult to eat with a fork.

Steel Cut Oat Porridge

Time, always moving, always slipping away.

There are two ends of time’s swinging pendulum. 1) Cherished, quality time,  moving swiftly – I grasp the open air and wonder if the time passed was merely a mirage. 2) Stagnant, sluggish time, moving painstakingly slow, usually in conjunction with an undesired task or endeavor.

My pendulum has not been still for while. These past couple of months oscillate between a blur of excitement and moments of stress or boredom. Mostly, time escapes, and I am left with a list of incomplete to-do’s to put off for another day. The list is mounting and becoming a bit daunting. Dread fills my mind as I think of the time necessary to complete all the items on my list. And though I have some procrastinating tendencies, this time I truly have had few moments to myself and the list.

The stagnant, sluggish time likes to appear when it is inconvenient or impossible to accomplish the to-do’s tasks. I cannot tackle my to-do’s when I have other responsibilities like work or meetings. Excuse me, do you mind having the meeting at my house so I can organize my closet or balance my check book?

These past couple of months have been filled with wonderful adventures, moments, and transitions. Starting a new full-time job, traveling out to California to visit my sister and celebrate my mom’s 50th birthday, starting a leadership training program through my church, going through family health issues, a roommate moving out to start her new job, two roommates moving in to her room.

In the last few weeks, I have shared a few meals with friends and had the opportunity to enjoy the peace and comfort only cooking over a stove top and oven provides for me. Excluding my short time in California with my family, my cooking ventures have been extremely limited and far-spread. In between, I have been consuming quick, easy, and/or packable meals. Salads have become my go-to for packed lunches, as they are easy to pack the night before and do not require heating (since I like going to a local park during my lunch break, the option for heated meals is eliminated).

For the first time in weeks, I have had a Saturday off: no traveling, no working, no obligations. The absence of a nagging alarm made waking up early a choice and not a chore. After lying in bed, enjoying the sunshine, and stretching my limbs, I rolled out of bed and headed to the kitchen to reacquaint myself with the stove top. After a few minutes, the smell of melted butter and toasted steel cut oats greeted my nostrils and began melting away my stress.

Steel cut oats have more texture and flavor than rolled oats (not to mention they are more nutritious too). The downside to steel cut oats is they take at least two to three times longer to cook than normal oatmeal. And aeons in comparison to instant oatmeal.

But quality is worth a little time.

I was slow in exploring the different oats options. My grandmother always raves about steel cut oats, but the quickness of instant and quick cooking oats kept me stubbornly away from steel cut oats. Then I was forced to purchase rolled oats when the instant oats were out of stock at the local grocery store. The transition from instant to rolled oats blew my world apart. Excited by the new texture, I was content with staying with rolled oats until my curiosity got the best of me. If I like rolled oats so much better than instant or quick, how much better could steel cut oats taste?

I might never go back to instant or quick oats, except for baked goods. The difference is noteworthy, especially when the oats are partially prepared with milk into a porridge. The milk gives the oats a creaminess, complementing the slightly buttered-toasted oats. Pair with brown sugar, cinnamon, and/or top with fruit and time will pause every so slightly as you eat this warm bowl of oats. Make a double batch and you will not have to make breakfast for the week.

Sure, a warm breakfast is the summer sounds strange – but I never tire of eating these oats. I actually do not mind eating them cold; but, I like a lot of things chilled, like peanut butter.

Steel Cut Oat Porridge

Modified from the food network

Serves Four

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 3/4 cups milk (the original recipe calls for whole milk, I use whatever is on hand, usually 1%)
  • optional: add 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • optional: a little buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Start to boil water, I like using my tea kettle.

In a large sauce pot, melt butter and add oats. Stir for two minutes to toast oats.

Add boiling water and reduce heat to a simmer. Keep at a low simmer for 25 minutes WITHOUT STIRRING.

After 25 minutes, add milk (and optionally vanilla extract) and gently stir to combine. Cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Spoon servings, top with sugar and cinnamon. Optionally, add a little cold buttermilk and/or fruit.

Insalata w/Avocado-Feta-Tomato-Cumbers

Lately, I have been craving leafy greens. Perhaps the cravings are a result of the abundant amounts of sugar I have been consuming. Salads of various forms have been sprouting into my packed lunches for work. My co-workers must think I so healthy – little do they know of my intense sweet tooth which reliably surfaces at 6:30pm every day.

Though I have seen an increase in my salad cravings this past month (starting shortly after Easter when the sugar intake drastically increased), I have always been a fan of a well-balanced and delicious salad.

There is a world of salads beyond iceberg lettuce and carrots. (Though I do love carrots, somehow I cannot make it through a day without my  β-Carotene.)

Replace iceberg lettuce with dark leafy greens, like fresh spinach or arugula, and your taste buds are in for a treat! Nearly anything fresh goes well in a salad. With so many varieties of fruits and veggies, the possibilities are limitless. Cheese and nuts add protein and another level of flavor. This weekend I paired blueberries, feta cheese, pear, avocado, and few other ingredients with the greens for a salad whose flavor surprised my family.

Perhaps I will post a few of the combinations topping my bed of greens. Honestly, whatever fresh veggies or fruits are available in my kitchen are likely candidates for my salads.

This salad is a more traditional salad, no “fruits” unless you strictly adhere to the “if it has a seed, it is a fruit” rule. The avocado gives the salad a creamy texture, the feta a touch of saltiness, and a few seasonings to enhance the other vegetables. Though a salad probably does not require a recipe, hopefully you may be a little inspired to explore the world of leafy greens!

Insalata w/Avocado-Feta-Tomatoes-Cucumbers

One Serving

Ingredients

  • Trader Joe’s Sorrento Salad (blend of baby spinach, baby arugula and baby lettuces)
  • 1/2 Avocado (small)
  • 1 oz Feta
  • 1/2 Tomato
  • Cucumber
  • Carrots
  • 1/4 Lime
  • 1/2 tsp Cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp Basil
  • 1/2 tsp Oregano
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 2-4 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • Roasted Raw Almonds

Combine ingredients, squirt lime juice over salad just before eating.

Note: The seasoning proportions are a rough suggestion, I usually just throw a dash here and there as I build up my salads.

Oatmeal Breakfast Bars – two types

There is a reason breakfast is called the most important meal of the day. Many including nutritionists, health research/studies, and those from fitness realm stress how breakfast, within the first hour of waking, jump starts the metabolism and helps fuel energy for the day.

Despite this knowledge and despite my love of breakfast foods, I am rarely hungry enough for a big nutrition-laden meal at the beginning of the day. How are people hungry enough to eat a hearty breakfast in the first hour of the morning? In a move towards a compromise, I will eat a small but nutrition-loaded breakfast waiting for the hunger to arise later to eat more nutrition/food.

Lately, I have been into oatmeal prepared in multiple forms from the traditional hot cereal to a cold cereal to breakfast bars. As a time saver, oatmeal can be made in advanced and is delicious reheated or cold. The addition of a few ingredients, and suddenly the oatmeal transforms into a meal with more flavor, as well as more vitamins and protein.

Enter in the oatmeal breakfast bars. Adapted and inspired from a food blog I frequent often, Anja’s Food 4 Thought, these breakfast bars taste great, are nutritiously packed, easy for the grab and go, and not heavy for my morning light stomach.

The basic recipe can be adapted to taste and preference. Prefer walnuts over almonds? Switch it up! Trade out dried fruits or add more nuts. The apple-cinnamon recipe shows the potential of fruit juice transforming the flavor of the basic recipe.

Oatmeal Breakfast Bars – Basic Recipe

Original recipe from Anja’s Food 4 Thought

Yields 16

Ingredients

  • 1-1/4 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I did a combination of walnuts, almonds, and pecans)
  • 3/4 cup dried fruit
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • optional: shredded coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line a 10×10 baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Mix dry ingredients, set aside. Mix wet ingredients.

Pour wet mixture into dry mixture. Stirring to combine. Allow mixture to soak for 10 minutes.

Spread evenly onto prepared baking sheet. Bake 35-40 minutes.

Cut squares while hot. Allow to cool completely before storing into an airtight container.

Oatmeal Breakfast Bars – Apple-Cinnamon-Pecan-Walnut

Adapted from Anja’s Food 4 Thought

Yields 12

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup dried fruit
  • 3 Tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-1/4 cup apple juice (I used Trader Joe’s McIntosh Apple Juice)
  • 2 Tbsp honey

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line a 10×10 baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Mix dry ingredients, set aside. Mix wet ingredients.

Pour wet mixture into dry mixture. Stirring to combine. Allow mixture to soak for 10 minutes.

Spread evenly onto prepared baking sheet, about 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick. Bake 20-25 minutes, until edges are golden brown.

Cut squares while hot. Allow to cool completely before storing into an airtight container.

Whole Wheat Pita Pizza with Spinach, Mozzarella, Feta, Onions, and Tomatoes

The smell of sauteed onions and garlic is a favorite aroma of the kitchen. My mouth immediately begins to salivate as the aroma wafts and awakens the inside of my nose. No matter what else is consumed in a meal, my stomach is pleased by the presence of the sauteed onions and garlic. Combine the sauteed onions and garlic with a few other ingredients and a delicious meal arises.

There is a correlation with fresh and simple ingredients and a delicious recipe.

When I like a new recipe, I end up repeating it for multiple, and even consecutive, meals. I have no trouble consuming leftovers or being redundant in my taste for a short period of time – and only a short period because there are too many recipes and flavors to explore. Below is one of those repeatable recipes. If I had an unlimited supply of fresh vegetables, cheese, and pita, I may be in danger of preparing this every night.

This recipe can be adapted to preference, omit the tomatoes, and mushrooms to the onion saute, add red or orange pepper, etc. Though, if you are like me, a lover of sauteed onions and garlic, I recommend limiting the additional veggies to avoid overshadowing them and highlighting the cheeses.

Whole Wheat Pita Pizza with Spinach, Mozzarella, Feta, Onions, and Tomatoes

Adapted and inspired from Cooking Light

Ingredients:

  • 3 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red onion, sliced vertically
  • 2 cups of baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1/8 cup Feta Cheese
  • 2 roma tomatoes, sliced
  • 4 whole wheat pita squares, or other pita form
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional: a dash of oregano, basil, and crushed red pepper

Preheat Oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Saute onions and minced garlic cloves over medium-high heat for approximately five minutes.

Add Spinach and cook for another two minutes, until spinach is wilty.

Drizzle remaining olive oil on pita squares. Add onto pita the sauteed onions-garlic-spinach. Layer on cheeses and tomato.

Bake 4-6 minutes until cheese is melted and pita browned.

Chocolate Banana-Berry Oatmeal

I have been falling behind on my blog posts, evident from my last post featuring cookies I made for Valentine’s Day nearly two weeks after the day. Part of the reason is the busyness of life, though this is a weak excuse because I find myself with pockets of time which could be used efficiently if I was more diligent and better in the motivation department.

One of my goals with blogging is to share recipes with friends and family; however, I also want to blog because I want a way of documenting and organizing my favorite recipes. Though the photography is weak, considering my photos are taken hastily while my stomach loudly proclaims the desire to consume the object of the photos, I am glad to have the memory captured visually; my eyes often decide what will become the menu when perusing recipes.

Another reason for neglecting the blogging is forgetting to take pictures of food I have been preparing. After preparing and consuming a delicious meal, I will realize I have forgotten to take a photo. Unfortunately, these undocumented meals, are my simplest and favorite go-to recipes, as I make them regularly.

Chocolate Banana-Berry Oatmeal is one of those recipes; one of my go-to recipes when I desire a warm breakfast and also have a craving for chocolate early in the morning. The foundation is oatmeal, a substance working as a substrate to amplify the additional flavors. The chocolate flavor occurs through unsweetened cocoa powder, brought to life by the sweetness of the fruit, cinnamon, and a touch of brown sugar. The sweetness is at a minimum, mainly derived from the natural sugar of fruit, a nutritious meal  for starting the day.

Made the morning of Fat Tuesday, Chocolate Banana-Berry Oatmeal is a temporary farewell to chocolate, as I have chosen it as a part of what I have given up for the forty days of lent.

Chocolate is a constant craving for me. I believe I may shock my roommates at my ability to consume chocolate on a daily basis. Sometimes my chocolate cravings are so intense, I can eat unsweetened cocoa powder straight. Extreme yes? Usually I pair the cocoa powder with frozen banana and peanut butter. However, lately I find myself going to chocolate not only out of enjoyment but also whenever stressed. This produces a pattern of relying on chocolate when life gets difficult. Which is why chocolate is being sacrificed, to rely on God for forty days, and break the pattern of going to chocolate first.

This oatmeal is one of the healthier ways I gratify my chocolate cravings. I will miss it during lent, having to replicate it without my favorite component of chocolate. If you like chocolate and do not require a lot of additional sweetness featured in candy bars, I urge you to make this. Though I used no recipe for its creation, stumbling across the combination through experimentation, I am sure this has been done before. Every time I believe I have discovered something new, I discover someone else has already been discovered. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy the concoction as a warm and delicious way to start your day!

Chocolate Banana-Berry Oatmeal

One Serving

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats*
  • 1 cup water (or milk for a richer taste)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 – 1/2 banana, frozen or fresh
  • 1-2 Tbsp raspberries and blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1-2 Tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1-2 tsp cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • dash of cinnamon

Bring water and salt to a rolling bowl. Reduce heat and add oats. Cook for 10-20 minutes*, stirring occasionally, until creamy and water is absorbed. Take off heat, cover for two minutes.

Combine with other ingredients, allow milk to absorb before eating.

Enjoy!

*If you use quick-rolled oats, adjust cooking time according to package, as they usually need only 2-3 minutes.

The oatmeal never lasts long after being prepared. So yummy, I always lick the bowl clean. My will power is improving with each photo shoot of my food, waiting patiently-ish to eat. I wish my stomach was more compliant as my will power.

Lemon Cookies with a Chocolate Coating and Lemon Buttercream Frosting

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day!

Yes, I am behind the times. But these cookies were too delicious to wait a year to post. I made these cookies for my little sister who always enjoys a high concentration of lemons. Any recipe with a little lemon, always gets an extra lathering of lemon juice when she has control. I wanted to make a lemony treat, but also with a chocolate component. So I found a lemon thin cookie recipe from one of my favorite blogs, The Pastry Affair. The addition of drizzled chocolate and a lemon buttercream frosting for dipping, makes for a deliciously lemony sweet treat.

Lemon Cookies

Slightly adapted from the Pastry Affair

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 4 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 – 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour (or 1/3 cup cornstarch)
  • 1 – 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the egg white and vanilla until smooth. Beat in the lemon zest and lemon juice. Fold in the flour, extra flour (or cornstarch), and baking powder.

For heart shaped cookies: flatten a ball of dough and use a cookie cutter for the heart shaped cookies. For bite size cookies: take a teaspoon of dough, rolling it into a ball and flattening when placed on a a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until edges barely begin to brown. Transfer to a cooling rake and cool completely.

In a microwave safe bowl, melt semisweet chocolate chips on HIGH for 1-1/2 minutes, stir and microwave for additional 3o second increments until chocolate is melted. Drizzle, coat, or dip cookies in the chocolate. Transfer to fridge and cool until chocolate hardens.

Prepare lemon buttercream frosting (store in fridge but allow to warm to room temperature when served with cookies).

Dip cookies in lemon butercream frosting (recipe below).

Lemon Buttercream Frosting

From the Taste of Home Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 4 – 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 – 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5-6 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp grated lemon peel (optional)

Cream butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest until desired consistency.

Buttermilk Cornbread

Mmm, cornbread…

As I venture into the world of cooking and baking, I am challenging myself is to produce dishes and baked goods from scratch – at least as far as my ability allows. Mixes are great for convenience and sometimes save money (especially if you rarely bake – why would you want bags of flour and sugar?). For those wanting to bake more than once in a blue moon, investing in bags of flour and sugar is more economical. Plus, goods baked from scratch usually have better flavor, texture, and a higher sense of accomplishment attached.

This being said, Ghirardelli makes a fantastic brownie mix.

Purchasing bags of flour, sugar, or cornmeal encourages me to cook/bake more often – finding new recipes to attempt. When the excuse came up to make cornbread, I finally purchased my first bag of cornmeal. I am excited to see what other types of dishes I can make with this new ingredient in my pantry.

The first cornmeal experience: buttermilk cornbread.

The following cornbread recipe is simple, requiring only a few recipes; its sweetness compliments savory foods – perfect for eating with chili. I also enjoyed this cornbread on its own. The buttermilk lends a richness to the resulting cornbread. If you prefer a less sweet version, more of a southern style, reduce the amount of sugar.

Buttermilk Cornbread

Originally from allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8″ x 8″ square pan.

Melt butter in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar.

Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended.

Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain.

Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

 

Vegetarian Bean Chili – Slow Cooker

Superbowl Sunday! What is more fitting than a big bowl of chili with a slice or two of corn bread?

I love chili. Three-Bean Chili, white-chicken chili, traditional chili. As a child, I preferred the cornbread over the chili – I am glad to say my tastes have shifted to a point where I enjoy chili quite a bit and see corn bread as a nice additive.

Since I have been experimenting in the world of vegetarianism, not a hard transition considering my fondness of vegetables, I wanted to make a pleasing vegetarian chili; however, I wanted a chili a meat lover would still enjoy – as long as he/she enjoys beans. I was tempted to replicate my mom’s chili recipe sans meat, but I wanted to have a recipe highlighting beans and vegetables. Plus, I like the venture of trying a new recipe.

My search for a vegetarian chili yielded a plethora of recipes, varying from various combinations of beans to using fake meat crumbles. For me, beans were a definite yes. Fake meat/meat substitutes are still out of my area of expertise in preparation/replacement. Plus, if I am trying to emphasize the texture and flavor beans and vegetables can bring, why mask it with a meat substitute? At the end of the day, meat is meat and fake meat is fake meat. Fake meat ≠ real meat.

The solution resulted with me creating my own chili recipe, loosely based on my research and a recipe called Grandma’s Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili from Allrecipes.com. I made adaptations to my taste, available ingredients, and for the quantity I was hoping to produce. I incorporated fresh green and red peppers, with onions, corn and tomatoes to give the chili intricate flavors.

The yield was a tasty chili – I was touched at the willingness of some of my meat-eating friends to try the chili, solely because I made it. To say the least, they were pleased. One adjustment I will make in repeating this recipe for others is less cayenne pepper: I used 4 tsp, a little strong for some taste buds. This will definitely be repeated by me.. many times.

Vegetarian Bean Chili – Slow Cooker

Serves a lot, 16?

  • 2 – 15 oz cans Kidney Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 – 15 oz cans Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 – 15 oz cans Organic Black Bean Soup (I used Trader Joe’s) – replacing with normal black beans, rinsed and drained, might work if find the soup is difficult
  • 1 – 28 oz can Vegetarian Baked Beans (I used Busch’s)
  • 1 – 28 oz can Tomato Puree
  • 1 – 14.5 oz can Diced Tomatoes, drained
  • 3-4 cups frozen corn
  • 1.5 yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 Tbsp chili powder
  • 4 Tbsp cumin powder
  • 2-4 tsp Cayenne pepper (to desired spiciness)
  • 2 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 2 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 Tbsp dried basil
  • 1-2 Tbsp salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Shredded cheese, sour cream, avocados, cornbread, etc…: all optional topping

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker (minus the optional toppings: cheese, sour cream, etc) cooking for at least 2 hours on high. Since my cooking process was interrupted by travel and setting up a Super Bowl party, I cooked mine on high for 1 hour and set it to low for another 2-3 hours. Since there is no meat, cook until heated fully through.

Top with your preference of toppings. Enjoy!

Chocolate-Caramel Covered Popcorn & Chocolate-Chocolate Covered Popcorn

Mmm popcorn. Mmm chocolate. Mmm caramel. Mmm happy taste buds.

Popcorn, is there a more addictive and delicious snack food? By being a basic neutral flavor, yet having a satisfying much-able texture, popcorn has the ability to adapt from savory to a sweet flavored snack. Popcorn is truly versatile, as long as you are starting with plain popcorn – an air popper is delightful invention.

For Superbowl Sunday, a group of women from my church are serving our brothers by hosting a Superbowl party. The main featured food will be savory chili paired with cornbread, tortilla chips, and other chili related condiments.

Give me any excuse to cook/bake, and off I go, testing and revamping multiple recipes. One of my passions is preparing food. In response to declaring preparing food as one of my passions, a friend so eloquently responded, “I have a passion for eating your passion.” Thanks Nicole.

Along with creating/modifying a chili recipe and baking cornbread, I made a plethora of sweetly coated popcorn. Every batch was different. I started with a recipe I have done in the past, Chocolate-Caramel covered popcorn, found on the back on the Kraft Caramel candy bag. My first exposure to chocolate-caramel covered popcorn was from a tin of it purchased from the Boy Scouts. Thank you for exposing me to this delicious treat. The chocolate-caramel covered popcorn recipe was my safe go-to, in case the following batches failed miserably; how can anyone complain when there is chocolate-caramel covered popcorn?

The following batches of popcorn were experiments with cocoa powder, chocolate, white chocolate, butter, cinnamon, etc. Below I included the chocolate-caramel covered popcorn along with what I consider the most successful batch from the experiment batches: the chocolate-chocolate covered popcorn, featuring semi-sweet chocolate, cocoa powder, and white chocolate.

Chocolate-Caramel Covered Popcorn

Slightly modified from Kraft’s Easy Chocolate-Caramel Covered Popcorn

Serves 18, only with amazing will power and restricting to 3/4 cup each.

Ingredients

  • 12 cups air popped popcorn
  • 1-14 oz bag chewy caramels, about 50 (unwrapped)
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 4 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place unwrapped caramel candies, butter, and water in a heavy saucepan – cooking over low heat, stir frequently until caramels are completely melted.

Drizzle popcorn with caramel mixture, tossing to evenly coat. Spread popcorn onto an aluminum foil covered baking/cookie sheet.

Bake 20 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes.

Take out of oven and sprinkle chocolate over popcorn, tossing until popcorn is well coated with chocolate.

Spread popcorn over waxed paper and allow to cool completely before breaking into chunks and storing in air-tight containers. May be stored up to one week (if it lasts long enough).

Chocolate-Chocolate Covered Popcorn

Ingredients

  • 12 cups air popped popcorn
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt (omit if using salted butter)
  • 1-2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4-6 oz semi-sweet chocolate, 2 oz finely chopped
  • 2 oz white chocolate, finely chopped.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Spread popcorn onto an aluminum foil covered baking/cookie sheet. Sprinkle white chocolate and 2 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate.

Sprinkle with salt and cocoa powder.

Put butter and chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for increments of 10 seconds, until chocolate is completely melted, stirring between each 10 second interval. Too much heat causes the chocolate-butter to turn into a strange texture.

Pour chocolate-butter mixture over popcorn, tossing until evenly coated. Re-spread on baking-cooking to an even layer.

Bake 20 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes.

Spread popcorn over waxed paper and allow to cool completely before breaking into chunks and storing in air-tight containers. May be stored up to one week (if it lasts long enough).

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