Tag-Archive for ◊ Super Bowl ◊

14 Jun 2011 Chocolate-Peanut Butter Popcorn

My friends tell me I have more than my share of cooking gadgets.  I don’t disagree with them.  But I don’t have everything.  For example, I don’t have one of those quick freeze Popsicle makers, and until today I didn’t have a popcorn machine. The Popsicle maker is on my “Wish List”, but the popcorn machine has been on my kitchen counter churning out popcorn for the last few hours.

I needed a popcorn machine today.  My daughter Abby is manager of our neighborhood pool this Summer and tonight is the first Kid Movie Night.  The pool’s popcorn machine is broken, and she can’t have her first movie night without popcorn, now can she?  So we went out and got a popcorn machine.  It wasn’t expensive.  It was on super-duper clearance at Target.  I KNEW that lucky penny I found on the driveway this morning was going to mean something!

My daughter, being sensible and well organized (like her mother), thought she should practice with the popcorn machine before taking it down to the pool and expecting it to perform perfectly.  So she practiced, and managed to churn out a lot of popcorn.  The machine worked like a charm!  But there was about twenty-four cups of practice popcorn on our counter.  I ate a cup.  My grandson ate about four pieces, and then spilled a cup.  My son refused a cup. Only twenty-two cups to go!

I thought about making Caramel Corn with the popcorn.  I have a terrific Caramel Corn recipe posted, and while my Caramel Corn is one of my favorite foods on the planet, it is a bit of a bother to make.  Time was running out, so I turned to foodgawker, searched on Popcorn, and found this recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Popcorn.  On closer inspection I found the recipe had been posted by one of my favorite bloggers, Brown Eyed Baker.  The recipe had to be good!  I just knew it!  It was my lucky day.  That was one powerful penny.

This recipe is the same recipe as for Muddy Buddies, but using popcorn instead of Rice Chex.  It’s a cinch to pull together, and it’s good for you:  popcorn, whole grain; peanut butter, plant based protein; chocolate, dairy!  And it’s melt-in-your mouth delicious.  Seriously addictive. I am pretty sure you have all the ingredients in your cabinet, too.

And it’s Summer.  Don’t we all need a movie night?  How about movie night with one of the best popcorn snacks EVAH?!

Umm….there’s just one more thing.  This popcorn doesn’t keep well; it starts to get soft after a few hours.  So eat fast!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Popcorn

9 cups plain popped popcorn (top of stove, air popped, popcorn machine, microwaved…)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or milk chocolate, or half bittersweet and half milk, or whatever chopped chocolate you have on hand)
½ cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1½ cups powdered sugar

  1. Place the popped popcorn in a very large bowl.
  2. In a microwave  melt the chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter for about 1 minute.  Stir well. Chocolate and peanut butter should be melted and very smooth. Stir in the vanilla.
  3. Pour the chocolate mixture over the popcorn. Using a large spoon or spatula, stir until all of the popcorn is evenly coated with the chocolate/peanut butter mixture.
  4. Sprinkle the powdered sugar over the chocolate-covered popcorn and stir until evenly coated.
  5. Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes or until the chocolate is set.
  6. Serve! Leftovers don’t keep well.  Eat everything as soon as it’s made!

Thank you for stopping by my kitchen today.  If you like what you see, please consider subscribing to my blog.  If you subscribe you will get a quick e-mail to alert you each time I post a new recipe (which I try to do a few times a week).  Great seeing you!


10 Feb 2011 Symphony Brownies

Who bothers making brownies from scratch any more?  Bargain hunters pick up boxes of brownie mix for a dollar. Brownie gourmets with no budget constraints are picking up  boxes of Ghiradelli Double Fudge Brownies.  Either choice is cheaper than making a batch of brownies from scratch.  If you are happy in your box brownie life, read no more.  If you dare to dream of something beyond box brownies, read on. I have something special to share…

I’ve  set a boxed brownie next to a home made brownie.   I know the difference.  It’s huge.  Boxed brownies are dark, oily cakes. By no stretch of the imagination can they be called brownies. Scratch brownies are intense.  Fudgey.  Crackly on top.  Rich.  Pure chocolate. Buttery.  So I bother to make brownies from scratch.  Once you set your box brownie down next to your made from scratch one, I think you will too.

My daughter Abby made four types of from scratch brownies recently, and experimented a bit with the method.  The tip for mixing brownies from this month’s Good Housekeeping magazine proved to be a winner.  You know that melt-in-your-mouth, skinny meringue, crackly top on top of a really good brownie?  The secret is to beat the eggs with the sugar until the mixture is a very pale yellow and almost tripled in volume!  This means beating the eggs and sugar for up to ten minutes with an electric mixer! So, not only is making making brownies from scratch more expensive than buying a box of brownie mix, it also takes a bit longer to mix up. Are you turning back to your boxed brownie?  I didn’t think so!

Here’s a great recipe to get you started baking brownies from scratch.  This recipe has a long pedigree.  Abby found it at My Baking Addiction and that website specified that the recipe was inspired by Paula Deen and adapted from Allrecipes.com.  The recipe gets it’s name from the Hershey Symphony Bars, which are layered in the middle of the brownie.  Abby made hers with a Cadbury Dairy Milk bar (her favorite).  I am sure you can use any chocolate bar in the middle.  The name of the brownie is kind of cool though, so I kept it 🙂

The original recipe specified baking this in a 8×8 inch pan, which Abby did.  I found the brownies to be too thick and rich, and a bit too gooey, too.  The third batch found it’s way into a 9×13 inch pan and we were much happier with the results.

Symphony Brownies

1 ½ cups white sugar
3 eggs
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate; coarsely chopped
¾ cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 (4.5 ounce) Symphony Chocolate bars; broken into squares (then I cut each square into thirds)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 inch baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. With an electric mixer beat the sugar and eggs for ten minutes.
  3. Microwave chopped unsweetened chocolate and butter large bowl at 50% power for 3-4 minutes or until butter is melted, stir after every minute.
  4. With the mixer still going, stir the melted chocolate into the beaten eggs and sugar.  Stir in the vanilla and salt. Gradually add in flour and stir until just combined.
  5. Spread ½ the batter (about 2 cups) into the prepared pan.
  6. Evenly space the pieces of  Symphony chocolate over the batter in the pan.
  7. Add the remaining  brownie batter over the Symphony chocolate pieces.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes; do not over bake.
  9. Cool brownies in pan.  Allow to cool completely before cutting. Another hint, cut brownies with a plastic knife!  Really!  You’ll be amazed how nicely plastic knives cut brownies!

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!  Here’s hoping that you make some brownies–from scratch–for Valentine’s Day <3

05 Feb 2011 Top Ten Superbowl Snacks

Here is my Top Ten List of  Superbowl Snacks…  Enjoy!

Crockpot Bean Dip: A must!  Serve with tortilla chips (my kids prefer “Scoops” ). Mix up the dip the night before.  Put in crockpot two or three hours before the party starts and leave it on low/warm for the entire length of the party.

Meatballs on Toast: Men and teenage boys can’t get enough of these.  Mix up the meat mixture in advance (the night before is fine), then broil as needed.  The recipe is delicious “as is”, but you can certainly put your signature on it. A friend of mine adds some curry powder and ground lamb to make Curried Meatballs on Toast.  Add some cilantro and cumin and red pepper, Mexican Meatballs on Toast. Oregano, basil, garlic, lemon pepper, Greek meatballs on Toast?

Bacon Asparagus Rolls: All veggies can be forgiven when rolled in bacon.  Delicious, “two more-ish” as my English Aunties say (as in, “I’d like two more of those, please)  and different.  These will make you a legend in your own time.

Baked Chicken Taquitos: A bit more substantial, but can be cut in half for finger food. Don’t forget to sprinkle with salt before baking.  Serve with a salsa for dipping.

Mozzarella Sticks:   Fried Cheese. Fabulous. My 2011 addition to my Superbowl snack line up, I know it will be invited back every year.  Make the night ahead and freeze, then fry as needed.  Can be reheated in the oven as needed.

Baked Spinach-Artichoke Dip: Might be a bit girlie for a Superbowl spread.  But let’s get with the times.  Girls like football, too.  Some men eat quiche, but even more men will eat Spinach Artichoke Dip.  This one is really for the girls though.

Blue Cheese Dip with Veggies: Come on, you have to have some raw veggies set out.  What better to dip them in than a strong, assertive blue cheese dip?  Dip must be make two hours ahead, but making it the night before is fine. Veggies can also be made ahead and stored overnight in refrigerator in  air-tight bags.  You just need three veggies, really, in order of importance: celery sticks, carrot sticks, and cucumber slices.

Gringo Grandma’s Chili: One always needs a pot of chili for Superbowl Sunday, especially if the game is in Texas! Set up a chili bar. Small bowls with spoons, chili in the crockpot, mini corn muffins or cornbread, hot dogs, buns, fries, grated cheese, onion, Tabasco…  This recipe makes a lot of chili, leftovers will freeze well, but also make a fine dinner for Monday.

Oven Baked Chicken Nuggets: Make ahead and freeze.  Use any boneless chicken.  Most like cubed chicken bread.  I prefer chicken tenders.  Make ahead, and just pull out of the freezer and bake.  Set chicken nuggets out next to a bottle of ketchup and a bottle of Ranch dressing.

Oven Baked Fries: You can’t get a more economical Superbowl snack. Make two pans of these. These should be a staple.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  Have a great Superbowl Sunday (even if you don’t like football)!!  I always enjoy myself and I know next-to-nothing about the game 🙂

04 Feb 2011 Mozzarella Sticks

I had no idea it was so easy to fry cheese.  I also had no idea fried cheese was so delicious.  Dang it. There’s no looking back now, unfortunately. Fried Mozzarella sticks are here to stay and they are my 2011 contribution to my Superbowl Snacks Line up (do they have line ups in football?).

This recipe is so yummy that it is all over the Internet.  I found the source recipe at Pass the Sushi and the blogger that adapted it was Michelle from Une-Deux Senses.

I changed the recipe a bit. The quantities didn’t quite work for me, and I simplified the ingredient list.  I also added on reheating instructions.  The cheese can be prepared/coated in advance (up to two weeks or more), frozen, and then fried at the last minute (without defrosting).

Mozzarella Sticks

  • 1 lb. string cheese, 16 sticks (This recipe can be adapted to make any quantity.  Directions below are based on using the entire 1 lb. package.  Adjust quantities accordingly if you are making more or less)
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 ½ cups Italian-style Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tbs dried parsley (optional)
  • Canola oil, for frying


  1. Remove wrappers from the string cheese and slice cheese into thirds (slice across, NOT lengthwise).
  2. Place the flour in a Ziploc bag. Toss the cheese in the flour, shake off any excess flour and set aside.
  3. In a shallow bowl or tray whisk the egg with the milk to combine.  Pour the Italian-style Panko into another shallow bowl or tray. Set the flour covered cheese in position 1, set the egg in position 2, and set the panko in position 3, set a baking sheet that will fit into your freezer in position (4).  You should have nice line on your kitchen counter like this:  (1) (2) (3) (4).
  4. Dip the flour covered cheese into the egg mix­ture, cov­er­ing com­pletely, then roll in the Panko-press slightly to make sure the Panko adheres-then place the coated cheese on the bak­ing sheet.
  5. Place the coated cheese in the freezer for at least  30 min­utes (overnight is fine, two weeks is fine, longer is fine as long as you remove the frozen sticks from the cookie sheet and place in an air tight, freezer safe container).
  6. Just before serving, fill a small/medium saucepan with the canola oil until it reaches a height of about 2 inches. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until hot, about 360-375 degrees. (I have a dedicated small saucepan that I use just for frying.  I always use a thermometer to maintain the correct oil temperature, too.)
  7. When the oil is hot, carefully place the moz­zarella sticks, 4 pieces at a time in a small saucepan or 8 pieces at a time in a medium saucepan, into the hot oil. Watch the cheese closely and turn or stir to evenly brown.  It will take less than  2 min­utes to cook the cheese. Do not allow the cheese to bub­ble and leak.
  8. Carefully remove the fried cheese from the hot oil and drain on a paper towel.
  9. Serve.
  10. If you need to reheat the mozzarella sticks, place in a preheated 350 oven for 5-8 minutes.  Again, do not allow the cheese to bubble and leak.  Drain on paper towel again, and serve.

I hope  you enjoy your Superbowl Sunday!  If you stop by tomorrow, I’ll suggest some other recipes. I am not much into football, but I sure do enjoy setting out good Superbowl snacks for those ardent, noisy fans.  Superbowl Sunday is a great American holiday in my book!

03 Feb 2011 Caramel Corn

Ooooh, Caramel Corn!   Isn’t it lovely?  You know I am not talking about that stale, pale, powdery stuff out of a bright and cheerful tin.  No, no, no, no, no!  I am talking about real Caramel Corn, the homemade variety.  Caramel Corn made with love.  Lots of love.  Lots and lots of love.  Truthfully, Caramel Corn is a bit of a  bother to make.  It’s going to take a commitment.  It’s going to take some time.  And it is going to make a mess in your kitchen.  It’s kinda sorta along the same lines as giving birth  (Forgive me for this analogy). At first bite – that first crisp, sweet crunch – the pain of bringing it forth will be forgotten.

Here’s my recipe.  I think I first got it from Taste of Home about, oh, maybe, five years ago.  Over the years, after reading every other Caramel Corn recipe, and testing out and then incorporating the best tips, I have improved upon their recipe.  It’s still a mess to make, but, using this recipe has a guaranteed outcome.  I know this recipe works.

There are a lot of occasions coming up where Caramel Corn would be very welcome.  What’s happening back East right now?  Snow Days!  How about a Movie Night?  I just had friends over to watch a few of this years “Best Picture” Academy Awards nominees.  Then, in a few weeks it will be the Academy Awards themselves.  Let’s not forget abut Super Bowl Sunday: the best reason on the planet for the best snack layout of the year!  Touchdown! And, Valentine’s Day. Just pop Caramel Corn in those heart motif bags and you’re all set. Your Valentine will melt in your arms…

Need some more reasons to make Caramel Corn?  (Tough crowd today…) Caramel Corn can be made ahead, way ahead, like a week or more.  Once made, Caramel Corn is no more bother.  Just pour it in a bowl on put it on the table.  No refrigeration.  No reheating.  No slicing. No spreading.  No dip.  No utensils. Leftovers, highly unlikely, but if there are any, will keep for up to two weeks. The real reason to make Caramel Corn though?  The taste.  That sweet, crisp crunch.

Caramel Corn

  • 1 cup unpopped popping corn (divided use)
  • ¼ cup vegetable, canola, or corn oil (divided use)
  • 1 cup butter (no substitutions, no margarine)
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • ½ cup corn syrup
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda


  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.  Set out two large, rimmed baking sheets and one clean, large brown grocery bag.
  2. First, make the popcorn.  You’ll have to do this in two batches.  Get out your biggest pan (I use my stock pot) with the tightest fitting lid (if the lid is glass, you’ll have it made in the shade).
  3. Note:  I make my popcorn the old-fashioned way, on the stove, in some hot oil, as the directions below reflect.  I am guessing you could also make the popcorn in an air popper or in the microwave.  If you choose to go down that path, skip the popping directions below, use your own method, and have about 16 cups of popped popcorn warming in the oven when you start on the caramel part of this recipe.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the bottom of the pan.  When oil is hot, stir in ½ cup unpopped popcorn kernels.  Put the lid on and SHAKE the pan like crazy. After 2-3 minutes, the popcorn will begin to pop.  Keep shaking the pan!  When you can see (if you have a glass lid) or hear the corn has stopped popping for 2 seconds or more, remove pan from heat.
  5. Pour the popcorn onto a baking sheet and place in warm oven.
  6. Make the second batch of popcorn.  Wipe out the hot pan and repeat the steps above with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and ½ cup unpopped popcorn kernels. The popcorn will cook faster this time around because your stock pot should already be hot.
  7. Put the second batch of popcorn onto the second baking sheet and place in warm oven.
  8. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.
  9. Stir brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt into the melted butter and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Now, STOP STIRRING.  Let mixture boil, undisturbed, for four minutes.
  10. Remove warm popcorn from oven.
  11. Pour ½ of hot syrup over each tray of popcorn.  Stir to combine.
  12. You can skip this step if you want, but I find it helpful.  Pour the partially coated popcorn into a clean brown paper grocery bag.  Fold over the top to seal, then vigorously shake the bag to evenly coat with the caramel syrup.
  13. Pour the popcorn back onto two baking sheets.
  14. Place popcorn in preheated oven for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and stir to evenly coat caramel over all kernels.  Return pans to oven, switching pan locations.  Repeat three more times, so the popcorn bakes for 45 minutes total.
  15. Remove pans from oven and let cool.
  16. Serve, or store in air tight container until ready to serve.

Thank you for stopping by my kitchen today!  I hope you like the Caramel Corn. Want to serve it with Maple Bacon popcorn?  Stop by again, I have that recipe in my line up. Enjoy!

10 Jan 2011 Oven Baked Chicken Nuggets

I know a thing or two about chicken nuggets as I have been making them for two decades with a recipe very similar to the one Sara Moulton contributed to The 150 Best American Recipes.  Sara calls her version  “Garlicky Baked Chicken”, but I think she uses thighs or chicken-on-the-bone.  I don’t.  I use the same coating as she does, but I make chicken nuggets from boneless chicken tenders. To die for.

Make a bag-full of chicken nuggets to keep in the freezer. Double the recipe! You will be so glad you did. If you have kids at home, this recipe will probably become a staple.  Check out my recipe for Oven Baked Fries, too.  Put the two recipes together and you’ll be able to bake up some better-than-McDonalds Home Baked Happy Meals on a regular basis!

Oven Baked Chicken Nuggets

6 T. butter
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped (I use the minced-in-a-jar kind)
2 cups Panko* (Japanese breadcrumb, found in the Asian section of the grocery store-regular or Italian Herb)
1 t. kosher salt
½ t. black pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (not that stuff in the green shaker tube)
3 lbs. chicken tenders (for chicken nuggets cut each chicken tender into two pieces)

Melt the butter and the garlic in a shallow bowl. Mix the Panko*, grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper in another shallow bowl. Set out a cooling rack. One at a time, dip the chicken pieces into the garlic/butter, and then into the Panko/parmesan mix. Once the chicken is well coated with crumbs place on rack to dry for a bit. (Use one hand for dipping in the butter and placing in the breadcrumbs, use the other hand for dipping in the breadcrumbs and putting on the rack. If you don’t use this alternate hand method, you’ll get big clumps of gunk on the fingers of both hands). When chicken has dried a bit, transfer to a plate or tray and place in freezer until firm. Once chicken is firm remove from plate and place in Ziploc bag and return to freezer.

To bake:

You need a hot oven to get a nice brown color to the nuggets. I cook at anywhere between 375º and 425º (preferring 425º). Take desired quantity of frozen nuggets from freezer and place on cookie sheetwhich has been sprayed lightly with a cooking spray or lined with parchment paper (to prevent nuggets from sticking to pan). Place in hot oven for 6-8 minutes. Turn over and cook for an additional 6-8 minutes. DONE! Serve as is, or with any desired dipping sauce. My son likes ketchup.  My daughter likes honey mustard.  On of my daughter’s friends swears by ranch dressing.
Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  See you tomorrow!

*Panko is my current favorite to use for chicken nuggets but in the past I have also used a wide variety of homemade and boxed breadcrumbs (both the plain and the Italian kinds)—and one time I even used crushed Wheaties! Everything seems to work with this recipe. One of the notes in The 150 Best American Recipes suggests adding some chopped pecans to the breadcrumbs. Now I’ve never done this, but nut-lovers might want to consider it!