Sunday, October 21, 2012

Zombie Popcorn!

Hey y'all. Those of you that know me, (or follow me on Facebook), know that I have decided to get my head wrapped around my new job and not worry about blogging for a while. Well, it's time that I got back on the horse. I think I have the perfect story for you too.

Anyone that pays attention know that Halloween is my favorite holiday. I could spend an entire post telling you why, but I think I'll save that for now. My family and I decided, in August, that we would go as Zombies. It's trendy this year, but it turns out we were ahead of the pack. We liked it before it was trendy and all, (so picturing myself in hipster glasses right now). I love to make costumes out of random finds from the thrift store. That's how my mother raised me I guess. A few accessories, a couple t-shirts, a big bottle of blood, etc., and we were good to go. The gorier the better too. Keep that in mind as I go off on a slight tangent for a moment

My new work friends have turned me on to Pinterest. It's a great way to card catalog your recipes and crafty things all in one place. Your friends and family can check them out too. What else is there to want? I decided since no one was going to get on the Stumble Upon train, that I would just move my stumbles to Pintrest. During this move, I found the funnest recipe for Zombie Popcorn. Yeah, that's right. See? I told you it would tie together. Zombie popcorn and zombie costumes. It's so cheap to make massive amounts too. I think including the popcorn kernels, I think I only spent about $0.75 a person. Don't forget to price match to bring that price even further down. Okay so let's get crackin'! For the original posting, click here.

The recipe calls for:

16-20 cups of popped popcorn
1/2 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon green food coloring (I used about 6 drops of dye and it looked fine)
1 teaspoon baking soda

I couldn't find my salt so I didn't use it. I honestly don't know if it would have tasted any better with it, so I guess that could be optional for anyone who needs to cut their sodium.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (95 degrees C).

Place your popcorn in two large shallow baking dishes. For me, shallow was my 13x9 casserole dish. I think it worked fine. You don't really need "shallow."

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to boil while stirring consistently. They are NOT lying about the stirring. Boil without stirring for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and green food coloring until the mixture is evenly colored and combined. Stir in baking soda. Mixture will double. Pour the mixture over the popcorn and stir to combine and evenly coat. Don't freak out too much if it doesn't coat evenly. You will be able to coat it much better once you get it into the oven. Basically just get it one there and stir it until it cools too much to stir anymore.

Get the pans into the oven.. Stir the popcorn every 15 minutes for 1 hour. Remove from the oven. Let cool for about 5 minutes and then break into pieces. Be careful popcorn will still be hot.

It's going to turn into a sweet, kettle corn style popcorn. If there is one thing to stress about this recipe is PORTION CONTROL! You will eat about half of it while you are stirring it. It's that good. Check out these pictures.

I did mention my camera was broken right? Well, with the vanilla it looks very Zombie-esc.It tastes so fabulous too!  I am making this for work and I think it's going to be epic. The original poster has some "Zombie bags" it her etsy story for sale if you want to complete the effect. Enjoy peoples!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Farmer's Market: Day 3

Hey guys! How was last week's recipe? I don't love tomatoes, but I loved that.

For this week's recipe, I decided that I was going to try to use corn in a way that is rarely thought about. I wanted to use corn as a dessert. No, that's not a typo. I got the idea from Master Chef (Fox, check your local listings), when they had people making desserts using beets, corn, or bacon. I thought, "Hey, if they can do that, I can do that."

So I went surfing the web. I'm not great at writing my own recipes, but I AM great at tweaking a current recipe that I find. I'm great at making it low cal or skipping a step to save you time, whatever. In the course of my research, I found this site, "She Knows Food and Recipes," that has a section on savory recipes with corn as a primary ingredient. You can view her blog here.

So the recipe I really wanted to try was her Sweet Corn Panna Cotta. It seemed easy enough, and her pictures were so pretty. So here's what you'll need:

1 Large Ear of Sweet Corn, Husked and De-Kerneled.
4 1/2 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream (try it with the cream first and if you don't love it, sub out Whole or 2% milk for a lower calorie version.)
1 (.25 oz) package of unflavored gelatin. If you can't find this next to the jello, try the Mexican aisle.
1 TSP Vanilla Extract
1/2 Cup Sugar

Combine the corn with 3 1/2 Cups of cream in a sauce pot on the stove until it simmers. Take off the heat and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.
Once the corn is cooled, puree it in a blender. Then strain it back into your pot.
Pour the rest of the cream (1 Cup) and your gelatin into the sauce pan. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Then heat the mixture over medium heat until the gelatin is dissolved.
Add your vanilla, sugar, and gelatin mixture to your corn puree. Stir over low heat until your sugar is nice and dissolved, and strain again.
Finally, get your mixture into 4 - 6 ramekins or custard cups. They need to chill for 4 to 6 hours. This is NOT a suggestion. If you don't chill them, you will be upset. Once they're nice and cold, I sliced some fresh local fruit (red peaches) on top. You could also do berries and whipped cream if you want as well.

So there you have it. I hope that this recipe is as good for you as it was for me.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Farmer's Market: Day 2

Hey folks. How many of you tried my recipe from last week? Was it yummy?

Okay, so for this dish my ingredient was tomatoes. My cherry tomatoes were TINY. They were better used as a snack then a ingredient. Because they were so small, I made Spaghetti sauce. Not the epic recipe I was planning on, but it's a good one. The trouble is, when I cook, I don't measure. This ingredients are going to be aproximate. I would start small and work your way to the full amount.

3 Pounds cherry, pear, or other tomatoes
1 TBS Basil
1 Onion Chopped small, but not minced
2 TBS Garlic Powder or 1 1/4 Garlic Salt
1-2 TBS Cayanne Pepper (Optional if you like heat. I don't)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Like I said originally, this is just to your taste. Feel free to edit this. So, first thing's first. Stem your tomatoes, and steam, boil, blanch, or saute them until they are soft enough for the peel to slide off easily but not mushy. Peel the tomatoes and mash with potato masher. Place your mushy tomato mixture back on the stove on medium to low heat. Let it simmer until it resembles tomato sauce. Add your spices and stir WELL. If you're not going to use this right away, I recommend you bottle or freeze the sauce right away. It will only keep a few days to a week in the fridge. Freezing is most convenient because A) most people don't know how to bottle (unless you come from my family), and B) you just have to pop the frozen sauce in hot water or the microwave and you're ready in minutes. Makes 1-3 Cups depending on how far you reduce it.

Okay, now, this is NOT where I am leaving you. Because this posting did not go live until Monday (for whatever reason), I am throwing in a FREE RECIPE. Aren't you special? This recipe I first discovered via the Nintendo DS and Cooking Chef. After EXTENSIVE searching, I cannot find the exact recipe. There is a massive amount of varieties on this recipe, so feel free to Google another one if you don't like mine. From the best of my memory...

Stuffed Tomatoes

4 Slicing tomatoes, medium sized and firm
1 LB Ground Beef/Pork/Turkey/Chicken/Tofu (there will be leftovers)
1 Small Onion, chopped well
2 TBS AP Flour
2 TBS Oregano
2 OZ Cheese This recipe calls for a french cheese I have NEVER heard of. Mozzarella or a mild cheddar work well in my opinion. Mozzarella is best.
Paper towels
Baking/Casserole Dish
Preheated Oven to 400 Degrees

First things first. Wash your tomatoes and remove the stems and stickers. Take a sharp knife and slice an inch or less off the top. It HAS to be the top. You're making it's hat. Set aside "hats," and with spoon, scoot out the pulp. The recipe calls for you to just toss it, but that's such a waste! I preserve my pulp in a medium container and make omelets with it the next day. Sprinkle the inside bottom of your tomatoes generously with salt. Take your paper towels, place on a plate, and turn your salted tomatoes upside down to drain.

On to the filling. Brown your protein, drain EXTRA well, set a side, and do your BEST to keep it warm. Caramelize your onion, and add your cheese and warm until melted. Reintroduce your protein, and add your flour. The purpose of the flour is to hold the filling together so it does not fall apart. Depending on your protein, you may need more or less. Add your spices and pepper to taste. Notice, I didn't say salt. If you add more salt here, it will wind up over salted because of the salt you added in the first steps.

With your spoon, add one compacted spoonful of mixture to your tomatoes. Keep going until you either are out of filling, or your cannot possible add more for fear of exploding tomatoes (joke). Add back the tops of your tomatoes and place into your UNGREASED casserole dish and into the oven for 9 minutes. 9 minutes will keep the tomatoes firm. I like mine slightly un-firm, so start at 9 and cook longer depending on your personal texture likes. Once cooked, let rest NO MORE than 5 minutes. Serve with a fork and knife. Serves 4.

Okay folks. On to more recipes. I hope you enjoyed day 2!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Today in Geek History

Hey guys. It's Wednesday already. Can you believe it? This week has just FLOWN by for me.
Today is July 25th and today in Geek History...

1837 The first commercial use of the electric telegraph is has a successful demonstration from Euston and Camden Town in London.

1978 Louise Brown is born today in Oldham England. Why is she significant? She is the world's first "Test Tube Baby." Happy Birthday.

2008 X-Flies movie, "I Want to Believe" is released 6 years after X-Files is canceled. Took them long enough.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Today in Geek History

Happy Pioneer Day to all my Utah peeps.. Today is June 24th and today in Geek History...

1936 Mark Goddark, (Major Don West in the TV version of Lost in Space), is born in Lowell Mass today.

1951 The star of TV series, "The New Adventures of Wonder Woman," Lynda Carter, is born today in Phoenix Arizona. Her invisible plane gets me every time!

1968 Comic book writer and artist Colleen Doran is born today. He illustrates Disney, Marvel, DC and SO much more!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Farmer's Market Recipes: Day 1

Hey guys. Glad some of you liked my post from last week. So let me tell you about some of the stuff I made this week.

Now, I know dictated on Sunday that I was going to use apricots in my next recipe, but there was a snafu. My husband and son discovered them before I had the chance to tell them they were being saved. When I woke up in the morning they were gone! Oh well. That stuff happens on occasion. So I used to determine what I should do now. "Oh essence of randomness, what be-ith your all mighty plan?" No, not really. It did spit out a different option for me though. Zucchini. Well that works for me.

If you'll remember from last week, I said the worst part of a vegetable in which you get a large harvest is the repetition. Most people that get zucchini will slice it for a stir-fry, grate it for zucchini bread, or maybe throw a few on top of a salad. BORING! I was determined NOT to allow this to happen! I believe I have acheived this goal. During my research, I discovered a great website that I want to share with y'all. It's called "Not Your Usual Zucchini Recipes", and you can view it here.

While there were TONS of recipes that looked fantastic, (from zucchini soup to chocolate and zucchini cake), the first recipe really caught my eye. The author called it "Zucchini Mock Crab Cakes," but I like the term "Vegetarian Crab Cakes," or "Veggie Cakes" better. It's more true to what it actually is; crab-less crab cakes. Now, I'm not a vegetarian, but I loved these crab cakes. Keep in mind, they are NOT vegan because of butter and eggs. However, they are vegetarian so that should give you some peace of mind. And I think that they could be a great way to get your family to eat healthier. Here's the recipe for ya:

2 cups grated zucchini
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup minced onion. I used the bottled, dehydrated kind but fresh would work. 1/4 cup is about 1 small onion
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil for frying. I used olive oil; just as good.

In a large bowl, combine zucchini, egg, and butter or margarine. Stir in seasoned crumbs, minced onion, and seasoning. Mix well. Shape mixture into patties. Dredge in flour, and dredge WELL. In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium high heat until hot. Fry patties in oil until golden brown on both sides.

Now, I didn't have Old Bay Seasoning, and you need it to make this taste like it's supposed to. So, I made my own seasonings. Here's the recipe:

2 1/2 TBS Paprika
2 TBS Salt or Celery Salt
2 TBS Garlic Powder
1 TBS Pepper
1 TBS Onion Powder or 1/8 - 1/4 Cup Dry Minced Onion, to taste
1 TBS Cayenne Pepper (optional)
1 TBS Dried Leaf Oregano (I used basil and if you half it, it's not bad)
1 TBS Dried Thyme

You want to put everything into a air tight, seal-able container. It will make about 2/3 Cup, but I found it makes 2 batches of Veggie Crab Cakes perfectly. I think I over did the seasoning just a little though.

Here's some tips for ya. Do NOT assume that you can put one crab cake on the stove while you form the others without it burning. It burns FAST especially on high heat. If you're going to work as you cook, put your stove on low-medium heat. My stove is electric, with a 9 max. To cook these right, I had it on a 4 or 5. That should give you an idea of how low you should go. 

Another tip is to keep a prepared plate with a napkin or paper towel near by. As is common with frying food, there was extra oil left over. I found that the napkin soaked up the excess oil so my kidneys didn't have to do it for me. I made this recipe twice, once with me preparing the veggie cakes and once with my husband. He didn't put a paper towel down and he didn't have the same problem. He also commented that my crab cakes seemed a little dryer than his. I couldn't tell the difference, so, to each their own.

If you don't know how much 2 cups of zucchini will equate to in uncut vegetable, I have a rule of thumb for you. If the zucchini is thicker than your wrist (and I'd say I have a pretty average wrist), you want about 6 inches or so of zucchini to grate up. That's about half the distance from your middle finger to your elbow. It's not terrible if you go over slightly though. If you go UNDER, you will have some issues as the zucchini is a basic building block to the entire recipe and your cakes WILL fall apart. You do have the option to compensate with more bread crumbs, but the result will be dry veggie cakes. Crab cakes in general are a little dry for my taste, so I would NOT go that route. 

Finally, I squired a dash or so of fresh lemon and lime juice on my finished veggie cakes. (Ha HA! Another ingredient from the list!) Personally, lime gave it a better flavor, but I do also believe that lemon juice and zest is over done these days. It helped to give it a better depth of flavor. Keep in mind that I would serve these as a side dish, NOT a main course. The reason behind this is that they were small, even when I thought I was forming them kinda on the large size. Also, they went FAST! If you are going to attempt to serve them as a main dish, double or even triple the recipe. Then, form the veggie cakes to the size of a pancake (my sides were about the size of two silver dollars), and you might want to adjust your cooking time a little. The small ones will literally take just a minute or two before their done.

Now, I did take pictures of this. Good ones. The problem is, my camera broke (you may remember this from an older post), and I took all my pics on my new camera phone. Can you guess where this is going? That's right; I haven't yet figured out how to get the pics off yet. DOH! As soon as I can, I will get them posted up on here for y'all to see. Until then, be patient, and try sending me any pictures you have of your own veggie cakes. The more the merrier. 

Before I end this post I want to answer one question. Would I make this again? Yes. 100% yes. I love the fact that it has the great crab cake flavor and no crab. My son is allergic to shell fish, and I haven't had crab, oysters, or shrimp in 3 years. I could give this to him without having to worry about a reaction. This makes the worried mom in me a little calmer. So go out and make your own and experience what I did first hand!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Farmer's Market

Hey guys. Check out my Facebook page for some important updates about the blog.

So for this week's post I was thinking about the farmer's market I went to on Thursday. I was so upset. First, it was less farmer, and more market. Since when did fuzzy flip flops dominate produce?! Second, I went there specifically for berries, and no one had them. I walked around for more than an hour just to find out that I could have got some right away if only I knew how to speak Spanish. Grrr!

I did get some pretty good veggies. But the problem is, all of what I got was just common, regular Utah produce overflow. Like zucchini. Utah is so infamous for zucchini, there's even a joke about it. (Too long to post it here, but I will post it on the blogs's Facebook page on Monday). I decided that I wasn't going to just make the same old...well, crap. The same snacks, stir fries, salads, BORING!!

So, I am going to make a new recipe every day this week, and post them every Sunday for you to enjoy. I bet that sounds great right?

Okay, so let's start with the list of what came home with me today (in no particular order):

  1. Lemons
  2. Limes
  3. Green Zucchini
  4. Yellow Zucchini
  5. Red and Yellow Cherry Tomatoes
  6. Apricots
  7. Bulbs of Garlic
  8. Corn
I was going to allow you to vote for what I'm going to use first, but since the items were picked fresh at a farmer's market, I used to select one from the list. The lucky number is...6! Okay so for tomorrow/today's meal, (it's past midnight), I'm making something with Apricots. I'll make sure to post plenty of pictures. This posting may not run until next week, but it'll give you something to look forward too. Have a great day folks!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Today in Geek History

Hey guys. It's Monday again. According to a recent trivia I heard on the local radio, Monday is the most depressing day of the week. Sad huh?
Today is July 9th and today in Geek History...

It's National Sugar Cookie Day! If accordion awareness can get a MONTH, sugar cookies can definitely get a day!

1955 Jimmy Smits, known in Pee-Wee's Playhouse and Senator Bail Organa in Star Wars, is born in Brooklyn New York. Happy Birthday.

1956 Tom Hanks is having a birthday today. Born in Concord California, he would go on to star in my favorite movie of all time, Forest Gump. What's your favorite movie starring Tom Hanks?

1976 Fred Savage is born today in Chicago Illinois. He plays in The Wonder Years and The Princess Bride.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Today in Geek History

TGIF people! Today is July 6th and today in Geek History...

1958 Jennifer Saunders, (the wicked Fairy Godmother in Shrek 2), is born in England. I love that movie and she sings really well too.

2003 EPR (Eupotoria Planetary Radar) sends a message to 5 stars. The message will arrive between the years of 2036 and 2049. Can you imagine?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Today in Geek History

Hey guys. How was your Fourth of July celebration? Today is July 5th and today in Geek History...

1968 Isaac Newton publishes Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica. In English that means Principles of Natural Philosophy of Mathematics.

1810 PT Barnum, the guy that founded the soon to be called Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, is born.

1937 SPAM is 75 years old today. My local NBC news station even did a piece on it. Monty Python ad email marketers rejoice.