COCONUT OIL POPCORN

pop! pop! pop!

Popcorn really is the perfect snack. There is definitely a time and a place for movie theatre butter popcorn but as we all know, it’s not often. I wanted to share my method for stovetop popcorn cooked in coconut oil! Coconut oil has a very high smoke point (higher than olive oil!) so it’s perfect for popping and as an added benefit, it provides a wonderful nutty flavor to the popcorn that allows you to skip the butter. And to top it all off, coconut oil is a good-for-you fat.

You’ll Need:
5 quart cast iron dutch oven with lid (or the heaviest bottomed pot you have)
1/2 cup popcorn kernels (personally, I like the flavor of white popcorn)
2 tablespoons of extra virgin coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Method
Put the coconut oil in the unheated pot. Bring the oil to the correct “popping point” by heating the oil over medium high heat. Add salt to pot. While the oil is melting, put 3 or 4 popcorn kernels in the oil. As soon as all of the kernels pop, your oil is ready to go!

As soon as the oil is ready, put all of the popcorn kernels into the pot and cover. Remove pot from heat for 30 seconds. This allows the popcorn kernels to all come to the same temperature which will result in even popping and less burning. 

Return to heat and offset the lid by a half an inch or so (not wide enough for popcorn to pop out of the pot) to allow steam to be released. Less steam means that the popcorn will come out crispier. Get ready to use some muscle for this part! Shake, rattle, and roll the pot all around while the popcorn begins to pop. The popping should start happening in about 30 seconds or so. It will take about 3 minutes of shaking at the most for all the popcorn to pop. Remember, don’t stop moving it all around! There is nothing worse than burnt popcorn, blech. As long as you keep it moving, it’s virtually foolproof.

Voila! Now, add your favorite toppings. I promise, butter is not necessary. The coconut oil has a way of coating the popcorn that eliminates the need for butter. I tried adding butter once using this method and it was way too greasy to eat! But hey, maybe that’s just me. Do what makes you happy!

My latest popcorn creation is Spiced Dilly Popcorn:

Ingredients
6 cups of freshly popped popcorn (1/2 cup unpopped)
3 springs of finely chopped fresh dill
2 teaspoons of celery salt
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt

Mix dill and spices in a small bowl. Sprinkle over bowl of popcorn and toss. 

Dilly Popcorn!

0

KOLDUNY

one potato, two potato

Have you ever heard of a Byelorussian Kolduny? I hadn’t until recently when I saw an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives (don’t judge, I know you all watch it too) that featured a Russian restaurant in Arlington, TX. It is essentially a potato pancake stuffed with ground meat. Here is my take on the dish–Scallion and Herb Vegetarian Kolduny.

Ingredients (makes 4)

Scallion and Herb Mixture
2 scallions
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup of flat leaf parsley
2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Potato Batter
3 medium sized russet potatoes peeled and cubed
1 small white or yellow onion in pieces
4 tablespoons whole wheat flour
2 vegetarian sausage patties cut down the middle to create 4 thin patties (I used Morning Star hot and spicy breakfast sausage)
1/2 of a beaten egg

Toppings
Sour cream
Flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

Directions
First task is to create the scallion and herb mixture that will be incorporated into our potato batter. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees and roast the scallions in a little bit of olive oil until soft. Food process the roasted scallions with the parsley, garlic, and salt & pepper. Set aside.

one potato, two potato

Now, onto our potato batter.

one potato, two potato

Purée potatoes and onions until smooth. Stir in the beaten egg and flour. The consistency of the batter should be pretty thin so restrain a bit on the flour if it appears too thick. If your batter is too thick, just add a little water. To complete the batter, incorporate the scallion and herb mixture.

one potato, two potato

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet. You want the oil to be pretty hot so that you get a nice sear on your kolduny. Test the oil heat by putting a tiny bit of batter in the pan and if you don’t get instant sizzle, the oil isn’t hot enough yet! Spoon batter into a pan in a thin layer. You’re going to use about a 1/4 cup of batter for each one but you can absolutely eye it. Place your veggie sausage patty in the center of your batter. Spoon a little more batter on top so that the sausage is no longer visible.

one potato, two potato

Cook over medium heat for two to three minutes on the first side or until golden brown. After you have flipped your kolduny, put a lid on the skillet and lower the heat. Cook for 5 more minutes to make sure the potato is cooked all the way through.

To finish it off, top with a little sour cream and more parsley.

one potato, two potato

one potato, two potato

0

SPICY KALE & CHEDDAR BAKED PASTA

There is so much that can be done in a baked pasta style dish. Not only does the pasta style have a wide range of ingredient possibilities, there is also a huge variety of calorie counts (can anyone say, baked ziti?). I made a healthful version for a Sunday treat this weekend and was beyond pleased. In fact, I made an extra portion to share with my neighbor and let's just say, it never made it there.

I introduce to you…Spicy Kale and Cheddar Baked Orichette!

YUM

Ingredients

what you need!

{1}  2 cups slightly undercooked orichette pasta–I used quinoa pasta! (can substitute any smaller shape! i.e. penne, elbow macaroni, rotini)

{2}  1 cup sharp cheddar cheese 

{3}  1/4 cup almond milk (MUST be unsweetened and not vanilla flavored–blech!)

{4}  1/4 cup breadcrumbs (I used whole wheat breadcrumbs–can be homemade or store bought)

{5}  3/4 cup cooked kale, shallot, and crushed red pepper mixture pulsed in food processor (you can chop, if you don't have a food processor)

{6}  1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°.

First, create your kale, shallot, and crushed red pepper mixture by sautéing 1 slice shallot in 1 tbsp of olive oil along with 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes for 2 minutes or until shallots are soft. Add 1 1/2 cups of fresh kale (loosely packed) and continue to cook down for 3 – 4 minutes. Pulse the sautéed ingredients in the food processor until coarsely chopped and mixed. 

In a medium sized mixing bowl, add the slightly undercooked pasta (remove from boiling water 2 minutes before the indicated cooking time on package), kale mixture, half of cheese, half of breadcrumbs, spices, and almond milk. Stir well!

MIX WELL!

Split mixture into two 10 oz ramekins (Shopping tip: ramekins are sold at most grocery stores in the baking equipment aisle for only a few bucks a piece. It's worth it, I promise!). Top with remaining cheese, breadcrumbs, and a drizzle of olive oil.

ALL TOPPED!

Bake with foil loosely covered ramekins for 15 minutes. Uncover and cook for an additional 10 minutes! Basically, until it's all bubbly and wonderful looking like this:

EAT! 

0