Archive | April, 2012

A New Way to Pop

19 Apr


One of the latest bad boys in the world of nutrition is microwave popcorn.  Supposedly, the vapors released just after cooking can be toxic to humans.  And even though the main culprit- diacetyl- has been removed by most manufacturers, some say the replacement isn’t much better.  Another story is that, when heated, the chemicals in the lining of the bag produce a carcinogen, known as PFOA.  This is bad news for me.  I like popcorn, but not enough to go through any trouble to make it.

Even if you don’t buy into these alarmist stories, there’s another good reason to leave the bagged stuff behind: your wallet.  For a fraction of the cost of microwave popcorn bags, you can microwave your own kernels in a simple brown paper bag!  It is just as convenient, but more natural and less expensive.  It’s a win-win situation in my book.  You may be skeptical, as I was, thinking it’s too good to be true.  So, I will tell you up front there is some trial and error in learning how to season your own popcorn if you’ve never done it before.  But, that’s why I’m here to help!

Microwave Popcorn

  • 1 Brown Paper bag
  • 1/2 Cup Popcorn Kernels
  • Seasoning

Measuring kernels and place in paper bag.  Fold top over loosely.  Many suggested taping the bag shut, but I found that the popcorn burst through the bottom of the bag if it didn’t have room to go up.  My microwave is just tall enough to contain the popping corn without sealing the bag.  Definitely do not staple the bag when using the microwave!  Set microwave to heat for several minutes, but stay close and stop as soon as the popping begins to slow down to avoid burning the popcorn.

My preferred method of seasoning is to first drizzle one tablespoon of melted butter and then add “Spritzer” butter (available in the popcorn aisle) to help other seasonings stick to the popcorn.  You may want more butter, like 2-3 tablespoons.  Sometimes I season with salt, other times I’m in the mood for cinnamon sugar.  There are all kinds of flavors available at any grocery store, if you desire more exotic tasting popcorn!

Try it, I dare you!  And let me know how you like it!

Living Gluten Free

11 Apr


It was this week one year ago that I announced we were going to begin a month long gluten-free experiment.  Twelve months later, my brave husband is holding strong to this commitment!  For his sake we now eat completely gluten-free dinners every night (Although I must admit one night last month my son and I sneaked over to our favorite former pizza joint while the hubby was away on a business trip!!).  I can say with complete honesty, that gluten free dinners are not hard to do.  The difficult parts are dining out and dessert.  In this one year finding gluten-free products at the grocery store has become much, much easier!  There are very few items for which I make special trips.  Unfortunately though, it’s still very expensive to stock your pantry with gluten-free alternatives.

In honor of our one year anniversary, here is a very satisfying GF muffin recipe.  You won’t believe how normal these taste!

Banana Oatmeal Cups

  • 3 Mashed Bananas (the more ripe the better!)
  • 1 Cup Vanilla Almond Milk (I used lowfat milk with 1/4 Cup Sugar)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
  • 3 Cups (240g) Old Fashion or Rolled Oats
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 3 Tablespoons (42g) Mini Chocolate Chips (or other add-in: blueberries, raisins, nuts, etc)

Preheat oven to 375°.  Mix all ingredients except the chocolate chips together, and let sit while you prepare the muffin pans.  Spray a muffin pan or liners with with non-stick spray. Stir the chocolate chips into the oatmeal batter.  Divide batter into 15-18 muffin cups. They should be just about filled.

Bake 20-30 minutes, you’ll see the edges just starting to brown and they will be firm to the touch.  The muffins may stick when hot but are removed easily when cooled for a bit.

Tropical Slush Punch

7 Apr

Tropical Slush Punch

Yesterday we held our third annual Easter egg hunt and brunch.  I LOVE celebrating Easter by hosting friends in our home!  This year was a bit challenging because we returned from a spring break trip just in time for this event.  So, not only did I have to create gluten-free brunch food, but I also had to recipes that lend themselves to being stored frozen.  Seriously, I had 80% of the food done before I left town and not one inch of free space in my freezer.  One of the favorites this year was the punch.  It’s a recipe from my sister-in-law‘s family, specifically chosen because it is made to be frozen before serving..  Even if you’re not out of town before your next big event, it’s very handy to have the punch made ahead of time!

Tropical Slush Punch

  • 4 Quarts Water, divided
  • 3 1/2 Cups Sugar
  • 1 Large Can Pineapple Juice
  • 1 Small Can Frozen Orange Juice
  • 1 Small Can Frozen Lemonade
  • 4-5 Chopped Bananas

Bring 1 quart water to a boil.  Dissolve sugar in water. Add 3 quarts cold water. Add  pineapple juice, orange juice, and bananas.  You will need a very large bowl!  I used the lid of my Rubbermaid cake keeper.  Stir and place in containers for freezing.  I used three gallon-sized freezer bags. If your freezer container is narrow, you may want to stir the bananas during the freezing process so they don’t clump together.  I avoiding this problem by laying the freezer bags horizontally in the freezer.

Keep frozen until approx 12 hours before serving.  You want it to be slushy, not frozen hard or completely liquified.  If it’s thawing too fast, keep it in the refrigerator; if it’s thawing too slowly, thaw it at room temperature.  If you’re desperate, it can be thawing in the microwave (although this is not recommended for storage bags!).