Apples and popcorn: what can I say about these two glorious foods. I love them so much, that I’m pretty sure I can live on just the two of them for my entire life and not get tired of them. My friends also know how much I love these two. It’s a rare day when I have neither of these items and it happens WAY more often than not when I have both of them.
For my 21st birthday, my friends made me a sign I had to wear around my neck with 21 things to do by the end of the night (and I finished!). They think my love of popcorn and apples is pretty amusing so one of the things on the list was to “have a serious conversation with someone about apples and popcorn.” Let me just start out by saying there were also more fun, exciting things on the list so you don’t think I’m lame (aka, rub a bald man’s head, sing to stranger, photobomb a stranger’s picture, get the whole bar to sing you happy birthday, etc.). I tried to start this conversation on early in the night, but some of my other friends weren’t going to bite–they wanted me to have to work for getting this box checked off on my sign. Anyways, I later on told a friend about the abundant benefits of apples and popcorn and decided to share a few with you.
Benefits of apples
1. They’re the perfect snack! Just around 100 calories.
2. The skin has fiber to help you feeling full.
3. The middle has a lot of water, so it helps you reach the daily requirement for water consumption.
4. They’re healthy. I mean they’re a fruit, c’mon. I choose not to listen to those who say fruit isn’t that great because it’s filled with sugar. After all, isn’t it better to have an apple than a bag of chips?
5. There’s variety! First of all there are three colors: green, yellow, and red. Then, within red there are at least 10 different varieties that can be crunchier or softer.
Are you craving an apple yet?
Benefits of popcorn
Let me start out by saying that I’m not taking about store-bought microwave popcorn. I’m taking about popcorn you either pop on the stove, air pop, or stick in a brown paper bag on your own.
1. Once again, the perfect snack! When do pop it yourself, you control how much butter, salt, etc. goes in, so it can actually be pretty healthy.
2. It has antioxidants? I have to admit, I don’t really know the science behind this claim, but it’s been popping all over the media lately. Because I was already a big popcorn eater, I didn’t feel the need to read about the antioxidants in popcorn because I was already obsessed with it and didn’t need any convincing.
3. Also once again, it has fiber to keep you feeling full.
4. You can customize it. You can add salt, seasoning, flavored butter, sugar, the list goes on! Any way you want it: plain, buttery, sugary, spicy…
5. It’s cheap. Have you ever looked at how much is costs to buy just the kernels and pop it on your own? Probably 10% of what it costs to buy microwave popcorn.
Do you really need any more convincing?
What do you love about apples and/or popcorn?
What’s your favorite snack?
One of my mom’s favorite dishes to make is her meaty tomato sauce. She uses Italian sausage as her meat of choice. Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of sausage (I would eat white meat, fish, and veggie meals any day of the week over sausage, red meat, pork, etc), but I do have to admit her sauce is good. Together, we make a sauce that includes store bought sauce (to add some simplicity), Italian sausage, green peppers, mushrooms and onions. It’s great! (and I get my veggie fix).
We ended up tossing it with some angel hair pasta (the pasta we had on hand). Usually we do penne, but realized we didn’t have enough.
Meaty Pasta Sauce
Italian sausage links (I think our package had six)
favorite jar of tomato sauce
1 medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
mushrooms, sliced (as much as you want)
– Cut up and brown Italian sausage in skillet on medium heat. (Don’t need to add oil to pan–the sausage has its own natural oils)
– When browned, remove sausage from skillet (place in separate bowl).
– Add oil to pan, if necessary. Saute onions, pepper, and mushroom until softened.
– Add sausage and tomato sauce into skillet and let simmer a couple minutes so all the flavors meld together.
– Toss with favorite pasta and enjoy!
What’s your favorite pasta sauce?
My mom’s 50th birthday was this past weekend and I told her any dessert she wanted, I would make. She asked for me to make a lemon dessert, which left things pretty wide open. I scoured the internet and found a TON of different lemon desserts–cakes, cupcakes, cookies, bars, cheesecake, and so much more! I finally decided on making cake pops for two reasons: 1) my Nana (my Mom’s mom) makes delicious lemon bars that I have been instructed to not even attempt to compete with, and 2) my mom said she had lemon cake mix in the house so I could use that.
I went to the story to get the rest of the ingredients and struggled to say the least. Typical cake pops have of course those lollipop stick things which I couldn’t seem to find. I then decided to make these cake “pops” into cake “balls.” My mom had never had either and I knew she would still appreciate the effort and taste of the cake balls. Another typical ingredient for cake balls/pops is a bag of vanilla candy melts, which I also couldn’t seem to find. I had read that almond bark and white chocolate could also be substituted. I decided that I would go with white chocolate since I had worked with that before. Unfortunately, I had extreme technical difficulties melting the white chocolate…it simply wouldn’t melt! It would start to melt, then when I would stir it just seized up and turned into a blob. So there I was, at 9:00pm on a Friday night, driving to the grocery store to pick up some almond bark (my mom’s birthday was Saturday and I HAD to have them done Friday night). Also, at this point I had already formed the cake balls and I had no clue how they would hold up in fridge/freezer/out over night and I didn’t want to take ANY chances after all I had already been through.
Almond bark in hand, I got back home and finished the dessert. They ended up turning out well, but I would just warn anyone making these that they take a LOT of time and are very messy too. There is probably a more efficient, less messy way to create these desserts, but I had neither the time or patience to figure it out.
Lemon Cake Balls
1 box lemon cake mix
20 oz vanilla almond bark
sprinkles or other decoration
store bought frosting OR make your own (recipe below for vanilla frosting)
– Bake cake according to package directions. Let cool.
– While cakes cool, make frosting (if you are using store bought, then you’re all ready to go!)
– Put cooled cakes into a large bowl and crumble into bits.
– Mix frosting in with the cake. I started with small amounts of frosting to make sure the cake was moist enough. (I used a 2 forks to mix cake and frosting together).
– Start rolling cake into balls (about 2 tablespoons big). If they start to crumble, add more frosting. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
– Once finished, place baking sheets in a freezer for at least 2 hours.
– Melt vanilla almond bark according to directions. (I did about 3 squares at a time).
– Roll cake balls in the almond bark, then set on sheet of wax paper. Sprinkle the sprinkles on top. I would recommend taking only a few cake balls out of the freezer at a time so that they don’t warm up to room temperature before they get doused in the almond bark–it’ll make your life much easier.
about 2 cups powdered sugar (rough estimate)
1 stick margarine (room temperature)
1/4 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
– Beat margarine, milk and vanilla together in stand mixer.
– Gradually add in powdered sugar until you get a thick consistency and not shiny appearance.
Now I realize these directions are horrible because they are so vague. I learned how to make frosting from my mom and am still not quite sure when it is actually “done.” I usually just ask her because she has the eye for it, but from what she had said, “thick and not shiny” is what you’re looking for.
What’s your favorite way to make vanilla frosting?
cream cheese frosting? buttercream? whipped? which do you think is best?
One of my mom and I’s favorite meals to make is risotto with shrimp and vegetables. We usually throw in whatever vegetables we have in the house. This week, my mom started the risotto, then when I got home from work, we walked to the local farmer’s market. We picked up some tomatoes, cremini mushrooms, and zucchini. The first day we made the risotto, my mom was too hungry to wait for the mushrooms and zucchini to cook, so we didn’t add it until day two. Both dishes were delicious, but day two was much more colorful! Also, for those who think risotto is hard to make, it’s really not!
Shrimp and Vegetable Risotto
About 24 shrimp, pealed, deveined and shelled
1 small onion, diced
1 cup risotto, uncooked
3 cups chicken broth
2 medium tomatoes, diced
10 cremini mushrooms, chopped
1 medium zucchini, diced
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
– Coat large skillet with extra virgin olive oil and toss onions into skillet. Saute until softened. (Make sure to use LARGE skillet)
– Put risotto into skillet. Add one cup of chicken brother and stir. Keep stirring until almost absorbed, then add another cup of chicken broth. Repeat again with the third cup. Keep stirring until the rice is puffed up, soft, and chicken broth is FULLY absorbed.
– Toss chopped tomatoes in with the risotto.
– Chop shrimp up into 3 pieces per shrimp (or keep whole, however you like to eat your shrimp).
– Remove large skillet from heat and place medium skillet on heat. (Or if you’re good at multitasking, you can complete these next steps while the risotto is cooking. Either way, you still need an additional skillet otherwise the large skillet will be too overcrowded for the shrimp and veggies to cook properly). Coat the medium skillet with extra virgin olive oil.
– Toss the shrimp into the medium skillet, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the shrimp is pink.
– Toss in the mushrooms and zucchini. Saute until softened.
– Toss the ingredients from the medium skillet into the risotto in the large skillet.
This dish is so versatile because you can add in whatever you have on hand. If you add garlic, add it in with the onions in the beginning. For all other vegetables or add ins, do that after the risotto cooks.
Welcome to my first Friday Favorites post! I’m excited to share a few of the things I’ve been obsessed with lately.
Starbucks Iced Passion Tea
The coffee where I work is less than desirable (and that’s putting it kindly). Lately, I’ve been left with a horrible coffee aftertaste in my mouth from bad coffee, bad creamer (the powdered cheap stuff) and it leaves me wanting something iced and refreshing. Enter passion tea. I’ve been hitting up Starbucks on my lunch break and getting this refreshing drink. Since I’m a special card member–green, not gold (yet..), I get free refills on tea when I stay on site! Which is perfect if just one glass isn’t enough or if I’m still tired and want to refill with green tea.
What’s your favorite Starbucks drink?
Earlier this week I made my stuffed bell pepper recipe, which was delicious and left me with lots of leftovers! I ended up cooking some shrimp and tossing it with the rest of the leftovers and had this for 2 more meals! Tasted great. Although, if you microwave quinoa as a leftover, I would HIGHLY recommend putting a paper towel over the plate–a lot of my quinoa splattered while reheating, leaving quite a mess.
What’s your favorite way to eat quinoa?
Essie Lavendar Nail Polish
Unfortunately, the name of this nail polish escapes me, but I’m still obsessed with it! I love Essie and wish I could every color in its colleciton. I bought this one a few months ago and still love it. Currently, I’ve been super busy and my nails have been polish free for probably 4 days–definitely the longest they’ve been bare for awhile. Will definitely have to paint them this color soon!
What’s your favorite nail polish color?
Egg White Omelet with Veggies
Confession: I’ve had this two times in a 3 day period–once out for brunch and once at home. It tasted so good! I sauteed up some zucchini, onions, mushrooms, and then added some tomatoes in and topped it with salsa. So good, so fast, and so easy! Another confession: I didn’t take pictures of my omelets, so that lovely picture is not mine 😦
What’s your favorite way to cook up some eggs?
I spent part of Memorial Day Weekend at my Grandma’s lakehouse in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. A lot of my family was there, so I decided to bake some chocolate peanut butter brownies from a recipe I found here. They were simple to back and turned out well! The batter was pretty thick, so I really had to spread it in the pan. I got a little lazy with appearance, so the top isn’t super smooth and pretty, but taste is more important, right? They tasted good enough that I couldn’t take a picture once they were cut because they were already eaten!
Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
– Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 8X8″ pan with cooking spray. (I only had a 9X9″ pan, so I used foil to make a smaller pan).
– Combing flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
– Combine sugars, oil, vanilla, and eggs in a mixing bowl. Beat until combined. Slowly add flour mixture and beat until just blended.
– Mix in peanut butter and chocolate chips by hand.
– Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake for 25-28 minutes, or until toothpick comes out of center with just a few crumbs. Cool on wire rack completely before cutting.
What’s your favorite brownie recipe?