Oh Popcorn, Perfect Popcorn

I love popcorn. If I run out of popcorn I have a nervous breakdown.Seriously. One day we ran out of popcorn and I just about had a melt-down. Then I found the back-up popcorn I had stashed in the pantry and we were saved.

 

Yes I have back-up popcorn.

 

The first year of our marriage, my hubby was amazed at how much popcorn I eat. Just about every night.

Actually, it is pretty good for you if you don’t drown it in butter.

A note on popcorn types. Not all popcorn is created equally. For basic every day popcorn I like Orville Redenbacher. It is kind of spendy, but it isn’t full of old maids (unpopped popcorn) or hard, kernally popcorn. It is more tender and fluffy than the store brands or cheaper stuff you can get. Gourmet popcorn is nice too, but I have to order it online and it is usually a bit out of my price range. Orville Redenbacher is usually a pretty good happy medium between price and quality.

The Perfect Popcorn

3 tbsp oil

1/3 cup popcorn kernels.

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 quart heavy bottom saucepan (with a lid)

2 tbsp of melted butter

Heat the oil in the sauce pan over medium-high heat. Put about 3 kernels in and wait until all three pop. Then add the rest of the popcorn and salt and shake it really firmly to coat all the popcorn in the oil and salt.

Crack the lid, so that the steam doesn’t drip on your popcorn. Leave it alone and wait until the popcorn is popping about 15-20 seconds apart. You can give it a shake if you want to , but I find that it doesn’t need it. It usually takes about 5 minutes, but listen just in case. Burnt popcorn is not yummy.

Pour it out into a giant bowl and drizzle with the melted butter. Use the bowl you melted the butter to stir the popcorn. Then it is time to chow down. Nom, nom, nom…..Everyone at our house LOVES popcorn, so we fight over it until it is gone.

 

This is a pretty good Soda to go with it:

Sipp

 

This stuff is 100 calories a bottle and sweetened with agave AND its organic. My favorite is the Ginger Blossom, but don’t dis the Lemongrass flavor. Yummy. Our local Organic store has these as well as a local organic burrito place. We might live in the sticks, but it is touristy enough we have a few trendy places around here.

Put the kids to bed, kick back on the sofa, pull up a warm blanket, turn on the fireplace and watch something on VidAngel. Or Netflix, but VidAngel has new releases for a dollar. Shoot, I should really be getting paid for all this free advertising I’m doing!

 

 

Split Pea Soup – Surviving February

We are having an early spring. My tulips are coming up, and I keep yelling at them: DON’T, YOU’RE GOING TO DIE IN A SNOWSTORM!!!!

For we have snow storms  all the way until April some years. A few years ago in February it snowed EVERY DAY OF THE MONTH. Or nearly. I think it was 24 out of 28 or something.

Something about the coming of spring screams SPLIT PEAS. I think it is the spring-y flavor of the soup, earthy, warm and sunny.

Can a soup taste sunny? I’m not talking about bright and sparkly, more that warm, toasty feeling you start to get from the sun again in the Spring after freezing your butt off all winter.

Well, this soup does its best. It is the promise of summer and the earthy smell of dirt in the spring. Mmmmm….

Okay, so here it is.

Split Pea Soup

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter

3 carrots, cut into pieces

1 onion, diced

3 medium celery stalks

1 medium apple, cut into pieces

1 package of spicy sausage of choice (and as much as you want)

2 bay leaves

1 (1lb) bag of split peas

6 cups of water

½ tablespoon salt

Directions

In a large sauce pot, melt butter over medium high heat. Add carrots, onions, celery and apples and cook 20-25 minutes or until vegetable mixture is tender and golden, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, cook sausage.

To vegetable mixture in sauce pot add sausage, bay leaves, split peas, water and salt. Heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low; over and simmer 1 hour or until peas are very tender. (or you can chuck it in the crock-pot and cook on low 6-8 hours or on high for 4-6 if you want)

Remove bay leaves and serve!

This is really good, and one of my hubby’s favorites. I like it too. It is very….earthy. Pair it with a crusty loaf of bread and you have a cheap easy dinner! You can find the dried split peas in the bean and rice aisle at the grocery store.

Pantry Tomato Soup

I ended up at Target today. They were clearing out all the winter stuff for the spring stuff so I scored a bunch of cute $1.80 shirts for my kids and a couple of pairs of rainboots too.

We need rainboots. It gets MUDDY where we are in Montana. Mostly because our street is rural enough that we don’t have rain sewers. And we live right above an underground spring. No drainage.

Rainy days and mud call for soup. Tomato soup is one of my favorites, mostly because I almost always have the ingredients to make it with out needing the canned tomato soup or the boxed stuff. I really hate pre-made food. Well, most of the time. (yes I bought chicken nuggets at Costco today. Shut up.)

Speaking of Costco, I like to buy those huge number 10 cans of diced or crushed tomatoes and sauce. It is WAAAAAAAYYY cheaper than buying the individual cans and you can separate them into containers and freeze them. I put them in containers that are about the same size as a can of tomatoes so that I don’t have to measure it out every time I make something that calls for ‘one 15 oz can of tomatoes’. Easy and cheap. We have a chest freezer.

Pantry Tomato Soup

1-2 TBS oil

2 TBS minced garlic

½ onion, chopped (or one small onion)

1 shredded carrot

2 (15 oz) cans of diced or crushed tomatoes (or about 3 ½ cups)

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

2 tsp dried basil

about 1 cup of dried pasta (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste.

about ¼ cup milk or cream

1 TBS cornstarch (optional)

Directions:

1. Heat up the oil in a stockpot. Add the garlic, onion and carrot and cook until the onion is soften (about 5 mins or so).

2. Add the undrained tomatoes, broth and basil. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes or so.

3. After the soup has cooked use and immersion blender or a regular blender to get all the chunks out. We like ours pretty smooth.

4. Return the soup to a boil. Add the noodles and let boil according to the noodle’s packaging, about 10 more minutes.

5. Once the noodles are done, check to see how watery the soup is. If it is the way you like it, add the milk (or cream) and stir. If it is a little watery (and sometimes mine is, I really like mine thick) put the cornstarch in a cup, add the milk and stir. Then add the mixture slowly to the soup, WHILE IT IS BOILING (if it isn’t boiling, it won’t work). Then stir to combine. It should thicken immediately.

6. Season with salt and pepper (I like LOTS and LOTS of pepper) and serve.

You don’t have to add the noodles, but if you don’t you will probably need to add the cornstarch. It can been pretty watery.

We like this with Cheese Zombies. I usually make the Cheese Zombies ahead of time and just pop it in the oven right before dinner. Then we have yummy, hot, soup and cheese sandwiches.

Perfect for a rainy day. Or snowy. You never know around here.