Peanut Butter and Jelly Popcorn

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I am loving my first fall in the midwest. I have been cooking a lot more soups and cold-weather dishes when the temps are cooling off (and then heating up, and then cooling off again).

October is a snack and sweet month with Halloween, and this popcorn is a great sweet snack. You pop your own popcorn, and coat one half in a jelly sauce and the other in a PB or any other nut butter sauce. It’s a nice sweet snack with good crunch. Perfect for eating while watching a movie while ti’s cold outside.

PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY POPCORN
Barely Adapted from Something Swanky

INGREDIENTS

6 cups popped popcorn
1 cup white chocolate chips, divided
2 tablespoons jelly
2 tablespoons peanut butter
Salt

DIRECTIONS

Divide popped popcorn into two separate bowls (3 cups in each bowl).

Using the microwave or a double broiler, melt 1/2 cup white chocolate. When chocolate is almost melted completely, stir in jelly and a pinch of salt. Pour on top of one bowl of popcorn and stir to mix. Spread popcorn into a single layer on a baking sheet and let sit until hardened, about 20 minutes.

Using the microwave or a double broiler, melt the remaining 1/2 cup of white chocolate. When chocolate is almost melted completely, stir in peanut butter and a pinch of salt. Pour on top of the remaining bowl of popcorn and stir to mix. Spread popcorn in a single layer on a baking sheet and let sit until hardened, about 20 minutes.

Break popcorn into pieces and mix together.

Feta Dip

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Dips are just the best. A dinner of dip(s) a great, easy (and usually oven-less) summer dinner, and that is exactly what I did with this feta dip. I had eaten some feta dip at a get together a few weeks ago, and ever since I have been hell-bent on re-creating it at home.

This dip was particularly great outside on a hot day with a margarita. A highly recommended combination. Or any dip with a margarita.

If you will now excuse me, I have a whole bowl of it in the fridge just calling my name for dinner. And it’s all for me since I am the only feta-lover in this household.

FETA DIP

INGREDIENTS

4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces feta cheese, room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2-3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup chopped chives
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Cayenne pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

Heat olive oil in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Set aside and let cool.

In a bowl, break up feta cheese into small pieces (you can also use a food processor as well). Mix in cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise until combined. Stir in garlic olive oil, chives, lemon juice, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Adjust seasoning to taste. Let sit in fridge at least 1 hour, preferably overnight to let the flavors develop. Serve chilled or at room temperature with Pita chips or vegetables.

Recipe from Cinnamon Freud.

Fig and Walnut Empanadas

2-17 Fig and Walnut Empanadas

Food cravings- I get them all the time. Sometimes I crave a salad, or some veggies, and that is great- my body thirsts for nutrition when I deprive it too long. And sometimes I just need some chocolate, red meat, or salty potato chips. Fine too, a little snacking and indulgence never hurt anyone. But the worst cravings are when I crave food I ate in another city. I’m looking at you, beaver tails

Well, practically every time I head home to Houston, I stop at this amazing empanada place. In fact, last trip, it was the first stop in town. I was grouchy and “witchy” after a long drive home, but all that grumpiness melted away as we stopped and I took my first bite into my empanada.

But what’s a girl to do when she is grumpy at home with no empanadas to listen the mood? Well, make her own! The emapanda dough I use is quick to whip up, only takes a little chill time the refrigerator, and is very easy to work with. Cheese and fig may seem weird, but think of it as a warm cheese plate wrapped in pastry dough. It just works. Then dollop some of your favorite fillings, bake, and devour.

FIG AND WALNUT EMPANADAS
Inspired by Marini’s Empanada House

INGREDIENTS

For the Crust:

1/2 cup water
5 ounces butter
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
Pinch of salt

For the Empanadas:
3/4 cup fig preserves
1/2 cup chopped walnits
3-5 ounces fresh mozzarella, shredded

DIRECTIONS

For the Crust:

In a small saucepan combine water and butter. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted.

In a bowl combine flour and salt. Slowly pour in butter mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until a wet, oily paste forms. Pour dough onto a sheet of cling wrap. Wrap cling wrap around dough, forming into a disk. Chill for at least 1 1/2 hours, preferably 2 hours.

For the Empanadas:

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Divide the dough into 20-25 small equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece into a 4-5 inch circle. Place about 2 teaspoons of fig preserves in the center of each piece of dough. Sprinkle walnuts and mozzarella cheese on top. Fold over the dough tightly, forming a half moon shape. Crimp closed with a fork.

Place on lined baking sheet. Freeze for 15 minutes. Bake for 18-25 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool slightly before eating.

**To reheat, I have found the empanadas still get a crispy shell when you bake as directed above, let cool and store at room temperature, and reheat for 5-7 minutes at 400°F.

Makes 20-25 empanadas.

Carmelized Onion, Tomato, and Goat Cheese Tartlets

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Ina Garten was the lady who first helped me realize that homemade food can be just as delicious, if not more so, than eating out. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love eating out. I can never resist the temptation to hit up my favorite spot for local margaritas and chips, and no homemade popcorn tastes as good and artery clogging as movie theater popcorn. But in my teenage years, Ina Garten’s recipes showed me I can cook, and it can taste good.

I first made these tarts when my friends and I back home got together for weekly cooking nights the summer after our freshman year in college. We went through many of Ina’s recipes (hello roasted potato and leek soup) that I have made multiple times since. These tarts were also part of my first dinner I made entirely by myself for my parents and my aunt.

These tarts are pretty simple but involve a few steps to prep. But they turn out great. I made mine a smaller side to serve as a side dish this time, but they are great when you make ’em bigger and serve as a meal with salad or soup.

CARMELIZED ONION, TOMATO, AND GOAT CHEESE TARTLETS
Slightly Adapted from Ina Garten

INGREDIENTS

2 onions, thinly sliced
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons white wine
2 teaspoons dried thyme
Salt and pepper
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
2-4 ounces goat cheese
Parmesan cheese, grated
3 tomatoes, sliced
Herbs de Provence

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425°F. Prepare baking sheets.

In pan, combine olive oil and onions. Cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes. Stir in white wine, thyme, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for another 5-10 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat.

Roll out sheet of puff pastry slightly. Cut into small tart-size squares (about 1 1/2 inch by 1 1/2 inch). Place on prepared baking sheets. Spoon onion mixture evenly across tarts. Place tomato slices on top. Crumble goat cheese and sprinkle parmesan cheese on top.

Bake for 20-15 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Sprinkle herbs de Provence on top. Serve warm.

Sweet and Salty Almonds

Hello…hello anyone out there? It has been quite a busy few months (internshipinternshipinternship), and honestly, much of the time when I am cooking dinner i was just too lazy to prepare natural light, plate the food pretty, and take a picture. So I have still been cooking- albeit a little less creatively due to a certain picky-eater boy who has been hanging around, but excuses, excuses.

Enough is enough- time to get back in the kitchen more and dust off my old camera. I realzied that I missed having a blog to “store” my recipes open, and it’s time to get things back up and running. So let’s start with these almonds. I have made them multiple times, and each batch disappears faster than you can say “so stressed about internship applications.” Sweet, salty, and spicy (if you want). These are a great snack food. And it’s almonds, so really, it’s pretty healthy.

SWEET AND SALTY ALMONDS

Slightly Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

INGREDIENTS

2 cups whole almonds
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon canola oil
Cayenne pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 250°F. Line baking sheet with foil.

Combine soy sauce, light brown sugar, and cayenne pepper in small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Stir in almonds and and canola oil. Cook until liquid has been absorbed, 4-5 minutes approximately.

Spread almonds onto baking sheet in single layer (may need more than on baking sheet, depending on the size). Bake until crisped, 8-12 minutes. Let cool and store in seal container for snacking.

Baked Fontina

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Oh, cheese. Glorious, glorious cheese.

Some days you really just need some bread with some warm melty cheese on top. This is a simple appetizer and/pr meal for one that will be warm and filling. Perfect for a romantic Valentine’s Day in.  Warm cheese, bread for dipping- that is true love.

BAKED FONTINA
Barely Adapted from Ina Garten

INGREDIENTS

1/2 pound fontina cheese, cut in 1 inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the broiler.

Grease a 9 inch square cast iron pan. Toss cheese in pan in a somewhat equal layer. Season with salt, pepper,thyme, and garlic. Drizzle olive oil on top. Broil for 6-8 minutes, until bubbly. Let cool slightly. Serve with crusty bread family style.

Serves 4 as an appetizer.

Olive and Pineapple Nachos

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Summertime means lots of snack foods.  Preferably with a nice, cold, fruity adult beverage.

When I was younger, my nachos always were cheese- just cheese.  Usually just cheddar.  Maybe a Cheddar and Monterrey Jack combo if I was feeling daring.  And every single nacho needed a decent amount of cheese on it. Eventually, I progressed into more daring topings starting with sour cream and progressing up to refried beans and pico de gallo.

Now, plain cheese nachos are boring. I will now bravely go where no other nacho has gone before (look out for my version of Thanksgiving on nachos this November).  Here we have one of my ideas of “that might be good on nachos”.  A bit of strange bedfellows but it works out well: you get savory cheesy taste, salty olives, and tangy pineapple.

OLIVE AND PINEAPPLE NACHOS
From Cinnamon Freud

INGREDIENTS

Tortilla chips
Shredded pepper jack cheese
Spanish olives with pimentos, sliced
Pineapple, chopped

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place tortilla chips in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle cheese on top. Top with olives and pineapple. Bake for 7-12 minutes, until cheese is melted.

Homemade Microwave Potato Chips

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Hello? Anyone out there?

It’s me again, your long lost friend who loves to eat a lot.

I started a lot of blogs in my adolescent years (anyone else remember xanga?), and I would always start off posting “I am finally going to start a website and actually keep up with it!”.  Then, like clockwork, I would post 3-7 posts and then lose my way.  Well, with this site I’ve had a pretty good track record since I started it almost 3 years ago but recently it’s been a lot of radio silence.  My bad.

So, I am back with a resolution to resume cooking and posting more. And today we are back with a doosie: homemade potato chips.

I’ve been thinking about food a lot lately- how it’s linked a lot to family memories.  So I am commemorating my return to Cinnamon Freud with a food my family (especially my dad) loves: potato chips.  And they are fun to make homemade and (despite the damage of a permanent black circle in the middle of one of my mom’s plates and burning the tips of my fingers) all in the microwave.  I promise: it really works!

HOMEMADE MICROWAVE POTATO CHIPS
From the kitchn

INGREDIENTS

Russet potatoes
Kosher salt (or other desired seasonings)
Paper towels

DIRECTIONS

Slice potatoes extremely thin using a mandolin. Soak potatoes in warm water. Working in small batches at a time, dry sliced potatoes.

Line a plate with a paper towel. Place potatoes in a single layer on top. Season with salt. Microwave at full power for 3 minutes. Flip over. Microwave at 50% power for 3 minutes until golden brown. Repeat with remaining batches.