Popcorn Trio

Introducing the popcorn trio: Dark Chocolate; Parmesan and Olive Oil; and Smoked Paprika, Rosemary, and Olive Oil.  Air popped popcorn with a light sweet or savory coating is a snack that will let your junk food craving be satisfied without excess calories, fat, and sodium. It’s as fun to make as it is to eat!

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This post is the third in a series about a six course dinner served at the Iron Clad in Wamego, KS.

Click here to read the Non-Baker contribution to this series.

When planning this event, I immediately knew that I wanted to make a salad that incorporates acorn squash and make Fancy Weeknight Rigatoni. I was stuck on a third dish.

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I wanted my final course contribution to be low in calories after heavy pasta. More than that, I wanted this dish to be something fun to make and eat.
I went to a local restaurant recently, Bourbon and Baker, and was thrilled to find truffled popcorn on the menu! Popcorn is one of my all time favorite foods! Another fun way to have a taste of Christmas in August, a savory and sweet popcorn trio! Everyone can find a popcorn that they enjoy!

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Salted Dark Chocolate Popcorn

I always forget that chocolate is messy! I was finding chocolate everywhere after making it, including on the baby, oops. The good thing is that I made every mistake, so you don’t have to.

An air popper is the easiest way to control fat and sodium intake with this snack, but pan popped or microwave popped popcorn will work.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c unpopped popcorn (or 1 microwavable bag)
  • 1 standard candy bar of dark chocolate (or less, I had more than enough)
  • 2 gallon ziplock storage bags
  • Salt to taste

Instructions:

  1. Pop your popcorn.
  2. Put the popcorn into one or two storage bags depending on how much there is after it pops. You want each bag to be half full or less.
  3. Put your chocolate into a microwave safe bowl microwave on high for 30 second increments until the chocolate is just about melted, then stir until completely melted. Chocolate burns easily, and burned chocolate is just sad, so make sure to keep an eye on it.
  4. Turn on your favorite dancing music. Pour the chocolate in the bags and shake until distributed evenly. (A workout and a fun snack rolled into one!)
  5. Place bags of popcorn in the freezer until the chocolate hardens. It should be fine after 10 minutes or so. (This was the important step that I unfortunately wasn’t warned of.)
  6. Pour into a bowl and enjoy with friends!

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Parmesan an Olive Oil

The second in the trio. Finely grated parmesan would probably work better than what I used, but they’re equally tasty!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c unpopped popcorn
  • olive oil spray
  • 1/4 c fresh parmesan

Instructions:

  1. Pop your popcorn!
  2. Put popcorn into a gallon ziplock bag. Spray popcorn lightly with olive oil.
  3. Sprinkle with desired amount of cheese and enjoy!

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Smoked Paprika, Rosemary, and Olive Oil Popcorn 

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c unpopped popcorn
  • olive oil spray
  • 1-2 tsp smoked paprica
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • Salt to taste

Instructions:

  1. Pop your popcorn!
  2. Put popcorn into a gallon ziplock bag. Spray popcorn lightly with olive oil.
  3. Sprinkle with spices and shake bag until dispersed. Test and adjust to taste.

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Kale and Roasted Acorn Squash Salad with Honey Balsamic Dijon Dressing

This salad–kale, roasted acorn squash, goat cheese, sliced pears, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and honey balsamic dijon dressing–is dramatic yet packed with fiber-rich superfoods. An attention getting show-stopper that is perfect for any meal or event.  It is the remedy for the end of summer blues and eases the transition to fall. Save this recipe for the honey balsamic dijon dressing alone! So yummy! Thank you to Iron Clad in Wamego, KS for allowing us to use your beautiful facility!

This salad--kale, roasted acorn squash, goat cheese, sliced pears, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and honey balsamic dijon dressing--is dramatic yet packed with fiber-rich superfoods. An attention getting show-stopper that is perfect for any meal or event. It is the remedy for the end of summer blues and eases the transition to fall. Save this recipe for the honey balsamic dijon dressing alone! So yummy!

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My sister, Anna at Non-Baker, and I are celebrating the end of summer with a six course dinner for our immediate family at Iron Clad in Wamego, KS.

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Life gets busy again over the next couple of weeks. Schools will be resuming, and pools will be closing.

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Almost all of the family works in education in some capacity. We have the blues because summer is ending.

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This salad welcomes fall flavors with outstretched arms.

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Thanks to Iron Clad Coworking and Events for allowing us to use this beautiful facility. Keep them in mind for your next event. Or, consider coworking in their facility if you work from home or crave work in a beautiful creative space. They are great to work with!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 acorn squash
  • 2 pears
  • 2 large bunches of kale, or one large prewashed bag
  • 1/2 c dried cranberries
  • 1/3 c dried pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 c goat cheese crumbles

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 4 tsp dijon mustard (or 1 tbsp + 1 tsp… I was trying to save you from having to wash two measuring spoons for 1 ingredient.)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash the acorn squash, and pierce the skin with a knife in 10-20 places. Place on a microwave safe dish and cook on high for 10-15 minutes on 5 minute intervals, depending on the microwave. (We just want to soften the squash so that it’s easier to slice.
  2. Once it is softened, cut off the top and slice into rings. Use the knife to remove the seeds and pulp.
  3. Lay out rings onto a greased cookie sheet and bake about 15-20 minutes or until tender. Slice pears and combine other ingredients while squash is baking. Combine all dressing ingredients into a mason jar and shake.
  4. Place squash atop salad and serve.

Read Anna’s post on Monday Inspiration: The Importance of Family Togetherness!

The Tea Party

There is power in matching words of gratitude with the good in your life.

 

That’s why I want to speak a bit about these exceptional women.  They happen to be related to me, and I am so thankful to be surrounded by them.

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We are turning the page into a new chapter in our family.  I have mentioned before that my grandma is in the middle of preparing to sell the family farm.  We’ve come together over the last several months to tackle the huge job of preparing the property to go on the market.  It has been exciting to see the farm come back to life in preparation for its next chapter, and exceedingly sad, because this place is full of fond memories and radical hospitality.

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It has been a gathering place not only for multiple generations of my family, but also many others.  In fact, most people I know have probably partaken in a Cassel-role dinner at the farm at some point. And if not, join us for Sunday dinner. It’s that kind of place.

As my grandmother, mother, sister and I carefully cataloged each of the collectable or antique items in the house over the summer, we had an idea: a tea party. Girls only. No boys allowed. (Although, we made an exception for the baby.)

How could we resist one more party at grandma’s house.

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My sister Anna, the Non-Baker, and I offered to cater.  We thought it would be a fun photo shoot for our blogs.  Grandma graciously donated her beautiful delicate things.  My cousins and their daughters and a few teddy bears and dollies were invited.  Everyone dressed in their tea party clothes.

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I have to stop and say here that we were severely missing the members of our family who live too far to attend a tea party on short notice!  We wish you could have joined us too!

 

Posts will be published throughout the week containing the tea party recipes.  Please, stay tuned!

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At the beginning of the year, a few friends and I picked a word to focus on for that year.  I picked community.  And on January 5, I printed this page and put it up on my fridge:

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I’ve accomplished a few things on the list: I have gone outside, I have visited my local library, I have given LOTS of hugs, I have bought food at farmer’s markets, I have hosted parties, I have made friends with my neighbors, I have read books with my child, I have supported local artists.  But there are plenty of community building activities I still should do.

 

Being hospitable, for instance.  Building a community also includes my own hospitality.  Just look at #6 on the list.  Nobody, nobody is more hospitable than my grandparents.  I myself have eaten there at least once a week for the majority of my life.  Even when it’s not perfect, the door is always open.

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Hospitality is not about being perfect.  It’s about the coming together.  At the farm, it typically happens over pot-luck dinners and paper plates, but today it happened over tea and flowers.  Let’s celebrate tea parties this week!

-Brohgan

This is one of ten posts in a series called The Tea Party. Please check back this week for additional recipes and tea party tips!

Also, check out Non-Baker for their delectable contribution to the series!

Tomatillo Ranch Chicken

Tangy tomatillo ranch smothered over chicken and rice! While the chicken and rice are served immediately after cooking, the sauce is cold, which makes this a very enjoyable  summer dish.This creamy dish is quick and easy to make. It makes dinner time a breeze! Exactly the relief we need in this Kansas summer heat!

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This recipe provided an opportunity for self-growth. A new ingredient, and an unfamiliar flavor. Oh, I am so glad I embraced the tomatillo goodness, because the tangy ranch sauce just hit the spot!

Tomatillos are common in the Deep South. However, I was unfamiliar with this ingredient when I ordered from it as a part of my weekly produce co-op basket. I’ve never even seen the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes.”  Basically, I had no idea what to do with it.

Tomatillos are basically the flavor of a sweet lemon. Peel off the husk and rinse off the sticky film that is commonly found underneath. Handle like a tomato.


Let’s talk about the ranch seasoning, because seasoning mixes are one of my favorite things, and this ranch is certainly the most commonly used mix in my kitchen.  Powdered ranch seasoning is extremely versatile to be used on both vegan and non-vegan dishes without adding tons of unwanted extra calories or sodium.

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While fresh herbs have a better taste, this dry mix is much more convenient to have on hand.

Firstly, rub the the chicken in the ranch mix and get it into the oven.  While the chicken roasts, put together the tomatillo ranch sauce and cook the rice.

Ingredients:

-3 medium chicken breast

-1 tbsp homemade ranch mix (see ingredients below)

-1 c white rice, uncooked

-2 c water

-1 C mayo

-1/4 C milk

-2 cloves garlic

-1 C fresh cilantro

-3 medium tomatillos

-2 tbsp homemade ranch mix
Homemade Ranch Mix:

-1 tsp Black Pepper

-1 tbsp Parsley, dried

-1/2 tbsp Garlic Powder

-1/2 tbsp Onion Powder

-1 tsp Dried Dill
1. Top raw chicken with ranch mix and put in 375 degree oven for 25 minutes until fully cooked.

2. Cook rice per package directions.

3. Combine mayo, milk, garlic, cilantro, tomatillos, and 2 tbsp ranch mix in a food processor until creamy.

4. Slice chicken into strips. Spoon rice into 3-4 bowls. Top rice with chicken and sauce. Enjoy immediately.

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After I made this, I just realized a vegetarian or vegan version using this sauce could be amazing!  Unfortunately, my leftover sauce was left out, and I had to throw it out.  Someday, I will figure this out.

Tangy tomatillo ranch smothered over chicken and rice! While the chicken and rice are served immediately after cooking, the sauce is cold, which makes this a very enjoyable  summer dish.This creamy dish is quick and easy to make. It makes dinner time a breeze!

Garlic Salsa

This recipe for red salsa leaves out one key traditional ingredient: onions. What’s left is a sweet, tangy blend and a spicy kick that can be adjusted to taste. Fresh ingredients–summer tomatoes, fresh cilantro, lime, fresh garlic–are the key to transforming this recipe from similar-to-jarred into “restaurant quality.” (As my cousin put it. Thanks again, lady!).  Best of all, it only takes a few minutes to make and requires almost no chopping!

This recipe for red salsa leaves out one key traditional ingredient: onions. What’s left is a sweet, tangy blend and a spicy kick that can be adjusted to taste. Fresh ingredients–summer tomatoes, fresh cilantro, lime, fresh garlic–are the key to transforming this recipe from similar-to-jarred into “restaurant quality.” (As my cousin put it. Thanks again, lady!). Best of all, it only takes a few minutes to make and requires almost no chopping!

My grandmother has been known for her gigantic tomato collection for decades.  Ceramic tomatoes, Campbell’s tomato soup signs, tomato shaped mugs, tomato salt and pepper shakers of all sizes, tomato cutting boards, tomato magnets, and so much more decorate every surface her sunny country kitchen.  Now that she’s preparing to sell the farm, my sister, my mother, and I have been photographing and cataloging a lifetime of tomatoes piece by piece.

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My grandpa was known in the family for his love of eating tomatoes.  Maybe that inspired her collection?  I have never asked.

Confession: despite the family history, honestly, I don’t really like tomatoes.  Years of training keeps me from not picking them off burgers and sandwiches.  Let me tell you, I am really the black sheep of tomato enjoyment in my mom’s side of the family.  I like looking at them.  I love the juxtaposition of grandma’s red tomatoes in front of her country green plaid wall paper.  I just don’t feel like eating them.

So when I received a pile of Roma tomatoes in my weekly produce co-op basket, I was less than thrilled…

…until the clouds above opened and the idea for this salsa floated down. Hallelujah salsa!

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I brought this salsa to my grandma’s house for Sunday dinner with the family, and they gobbled it up! (On Sundays only, dinner equals lunch, supper equals dinner. Local Kansas country colloquialism lesson for the day!)

This salsa is a hit!  I’ve had people asking for more!

Ingredients:

-3 garlic cloves

approximately 1/4 c fresh cilantro

-3 Roma tomatoes

-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded (leave seeds in for spicy salsa!! Ay-yay-yay!)

-1 tsp cumin

-1/2 tsp salt

-juice from half a lime (or the whole lime, because it’s yummy that way too)

 

Directions:

  1. Blend cilantro and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and pulse food processor until uniform texture is achieved.  Easy!
  3. Chill and serve cold as dip for chips or a topping on any Mexican flavored dish.  Be prepared for it to disappear quickly!

Creative option:

Adjust to your taste.  If it’s too spicy, add more tomato.  If it’s too bland, add the jalapeno seeds.  If you don’t like cilantro, well, I don’t understand people who don’t like cilantro. But, we can overcome our differences and still be friends, ok?

Side note! For me, I’ve learned that my dislike of tomatoes is limited to heirloom tomatoes.  Even though it seems like the opposite should be true, heirloom tomatoes are the type of tomato that embraces that watery, bland flavor that you find placed on a fast food burger.  The newer strands of tomatoes that have been developed in recent years highlight the acidity and provide actual flavor.  But, I know this is a controversial opinion… you heirloom tomato people are crazy about your watery tomatoes.  Look at it this way: I’m just leaving more available for you to eat!