#VoiceTailgate: Popcorn + Soda


As you probably know by now, I love The Voice on NBC (I mean, there was even this cake).  So you can imagine how thrilled I was when they asked me to participate in their new #VoiceTailgate: a place for fans to connect with the coaches, contestants and others across social media before every live show (check it out on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest).  What's my part, you ask?  I will be creating a special appetizer and beverage (with Carson's help in that department) to contribute to the social party, Voice-themed of course, and then YOU can recreate it at home for your own viewing pleasure!  First up, popcorn!

         Who doesn't love popcorn?  No, seriously, who?  Come out, come out, whoever you are, so I can study your brain.  It's a classic snack that brings people together (unless you're me at the movies because I will NOT share my popcorn oh, no).  Place a large bowl of it on a coffee table with The Voice on the TV and you'll have an instant snack fest.  The best part is you don't have to rely on those microwavable bags full of lordknowswhat because it's extremely simple to make from scratch.  All you need is a pot, some kernels, oil and salt, and after that... the possibilities are endless.  You can create your own unique flavor, as I did here for each of the four coaches:
Classic Pop for Adam (get it? pop music? get it?), RED hot buffalo-flavored popcorn for Usher (okay I know his shoes are gold this year, but just go with it), kettle corn for sweet Shakira with a touch of salty sass and bacon plus whiskey for Blake.  That one needs no explanation.  

How do you pop?  (I should write commercials...)

Printable Recipe

For the popcorn (makes 3 1/2-4 quarts):

3 tablespoons vegetable (or canola/peanut) oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels

Place oil and kernels in a large pot, and turn heat to medium.  Cover, leaving lid slightly ajar to let steam out.  It may take a few minutes to begin popping.  Once popping slows down considerably, remove from heat.  Be careful when removing lid, as kernels will continue to pop.  

Blake's Maple Bourbon Bacon:

6 slices of bacon
1/3 cup good maple syrup
2 tablespoons bourbon

Preheat oven to 400.  Place the bacon on a foil lined baking sheet (you can also use a baking rack if you have one).  Bake for 15 minutes.  While baking, whisk together the maple syrup and bourbon in a small bowl.  Carefully remove bacon, and brush with syrup on both sides (reserving some of the syrup for later).  Place back in oven and cook for another 5 minutes.  Let cool on a rack or parchment paper (do not use paper towel, as syrup will stick to it).  Cook popcorn as directed above.  While kernels are popping, break apart bacon into small pieces.  Once popcorn has popped, place in bowl and toss with bacon, salt to taste and desired amount of reserved syrup (optional).


Shakira's Sweet & Salty Kettle:

1/4 sugar
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste

Begin to cook popcorn as directed above.  Once kernels start to pop, sprinkle in sugar and salt and stir  quickly.  Cover, leaving lid slightly ajar to let steam out.  Once popping slows down considerably, remove from heat.  Place popcorn in bowl, and add more salt to taste.  

Usher's Red Hot Buffalo:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup buffalo sauce
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese

Cook popcorn as directed above.  While kernels are popping, heat butter and buffalo sauce over medium-low heat in a small saucepan.  Let cool slightly.  Once popcorn has popped, place in bowl and toss with buffalo sauce.  Sprinkle in blue cheese and salt to taste.

Adam's Classic Parmesan Pop:

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook popcorn as directed above.  Once popcorn has popped, place in bowl and toss in Parmesan and salt to taste.

Now, you can't eat popcorn without drinking soda.  I mean you can, you can stick with water and be all healthy and boring, but a bubbly beverage with the salty snack is preferable in my opinion.  Carson came up with some classic fountain sodas, for the kiddos/pregnant ladies and the grown-ups... 

And by grown-ups I mean Blake.

(And by Blake I mean, really tall kid who sort of resembles a grown-up.)   

Carson's Shirley Temple

Diet Lemon Lime Soda
Cherry Grenadine 
Cherries for garnish
Vodka (optional)

Place ice in glass.  Add soda and drizzle in desired amount of grenadine (about a spoonful).  Stir, and garnish with cherries.  For adult version, add desired amount of vodka and lemons.

Carson's Roy Rogers

Diet Cola 
Cherry Grenadine
Cherries for garnish
Whiskey (optional)

Place ice in glass.  Add soda and drizzle in desired amount of grenadine (about a spoonful).  Stir, and garnish with cherries.  For adult version, add desired amount of whiskey and limes.

Enjoy the first live show of Season 6 tomorrow night at 8/7 Central on NBC!

Cheesy Vegetable Soup


I have to share a recipe from one of my favorite blogs, because perhaps like me as soon as you see it you will decide to make it this very day.  Especially today, when most of the country is COLD?  Covered in SNOW?  Poor Easter Bunny, whom, by the way, I've had to answer many questions about lately.  Is the bunny a boy or a girl?  Big or little?  An actual rabbit, or some sort of magical creature? My answer has been, "I don't know!  No human has ever seen it!"  Good, yes?

Back to the recipe, Cheesy Vegetable Soup.  A soup you can make with any vegetable you have in your fridge.  I was prepared to freeze the leftovers but both Carson and I had seconds it was so good, leaving nothing to freeze.  Here is the recipe.  Now go make it, and mourn your Spring flowers.


More Easter ideas...


Last week, I gave you some Easter/Spring ideas from my blog, but today I thought I would share some new recipes that I'm thinking of trying this year.  We're having an Easter Brunch in place of a dinner, and all of these recipes are making me crazy.  Especially the bread pudding - I bought croissants a month ago and froze them, that's how excited (and pregnant) I am.  

Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding

Cream Cheese Chocolate Chunk Cookies


I joined a book club!  I'm making friends in my new town!  Moving to a place where you know NO ONE and trying to meet people as an adult feels a lot like dating all over again.  You have to take chances, and actually put yourself out there, which can be terrifying.  But when a lovely reader contacted me, saying she too moved to this town a few years ago knowing not a soul, and suggested I join a mothers group/book club I thought, why not?  Put yourself out there, Siri, do things your mom would tell you to do.  And so I did, and I met some wonderful people and I read a wonderful book.  I deserve a cookie, don't you think?  I'm glad you think so, because I have some leftover from book club last night...

Yes, I know, another chocolate chip cookie.  But this one has cream cheese in it!!!  How do you see a recipe for a cookie with cream cheese in it and NOT give it a go?  Well I gave them a go, and they are rich, and moist, and I have a feeling they will stay that way for days.  I'm going to eat one for breakfast, because, cream cheese.  Right?  Totally breakfast food.  Find the recipe here.

Chicken Piccata


As I came across the Rice Pilaf the other day, I also stumbled upon this recipe for Chicken Piccata.  I'm a little weird with chicken when I'm pregnant, usually only craving it if it's fried or if it's the dark meat from a roasted bird.  However, I really enjoyed this meal!  I tend to overcook thin chicken, but if you follow the recipe carefully and stick to 2 minutes per side, your chicken will come out perfectly tender.  It takes ZERO time to actually cook, so it does help to have everything prepped and ready.  Just pretend you're hosting a cooking show like I do sometimes JUST KIDDING, I do NOT do that.

A great light, spring meal for this warm weather we're all experiencing YAHOO!
Ugh, I'm such a mom when I say things like that.   

Rice and Noodle Pilaf


I love rice pilaf, but I've only ever made it from a box.  Well, hey now!  I was recently surprised to find this recipe for a homemade version that looked extremely simple.  Of course, I had no idea what a vermicelli noodle was, but I found it at Whole Foods (and I wouldn't be surprised if regular supermarkets carried them too).  And guess what?  It WAS extremely simple, and it made enough rice to feed a small army (or a family of 4, if you're Carson and I and you stand over the pot after dinner eating the leftovers with a giant serving spoon).  You should make this, it's the perfect side.  I used white basmati rice with a whole grain vermicelli, but you could use brown rice as well.  Add peas, add chicken, a fried egg - the possibilities are endless!  Yum.

Tomorrow: check back for an easy Chicken Piccata.  

Easter + Spring Ideas


Sorry for the radio silence - we were in LA last week at various hotels, hence, no cooking.  Do people still say 'hence'?  Anyway, I have some good posts lined up for this week, but until then, please enjoy some ideas for the upcoming holidays.  Happy Spring!  (I think...)


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