Sriracha-Sesame Popcorn

After a bit of a hiatus from RITK we are back and I have some great recipes coming up for your reading pleasure in the next few weeks. It’s been a crazy last few months with lots of cake orders, some blog construction, and just general life business. Today’s recipe is one of my favorite snacks to make for parties, I hope you enjoy it!

I’ll have a new recipe next week on the blog so, be sure to subscribe to RITK so you never miss a delicious post!

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I started making stove top popcorn as a way to make popcorn a bit healthier (this is way better than those microwave packets full of salt and fake butter!)  I love stove top popcorn with just a bit of salt but after a while I thought of ways to make my snacks more savory and spicy. Today’s recipe is one of my concoctions to keep my snacks interesting. This recipe is also great to make in large batches, store in a airtight container and pack in lunches.

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So let’s talk about the method, below I will guide you through popping kernels on the stove, this is my favorite way to make popcorn at home and the method I use even if I’m not adding this sauce. I use olive oil although you can use sesame oil or coconut oil. After the popcorn is coated in spicy sauce, it goes into the oven to dry out. Before I added this last step I was eating soggy popcorn that required a few napkins, however drying the popcorn out in the oven cuts down on the messiness and also adds some more crunch.

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Sriracha-Sesame Popcorn

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 c olive oil
  • 1 1/3 c unpopped corn kernels
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 Tbsp Sriracha

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

To pop the popcorn; I find it’s easier to do this in two batches. Start with a large-sized pot and heat 6 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat. Heat until the oil is shiny and easily coats the bottom of the pan. Add 2/3 c of corn kernels to the warm oil and stir with a wooden spoon so that the kernels are evenly coated and spread out over the base of the pot. Cover and let the kernels pop (approximately 10-12 minutes).

Stay close to the pot, if you don’t hear any popping within a 4-5 second interval it’s time to take the pot off the heat. Once the kernels are all popped remove from heat. VERY CAREFULLY, using hot-pot-holders, firmly hold the lid down on the pot while you flip it over 2-3 times. This releases the steam from the popcorn. Next pour the popcorn into 2 shallow baking pans and pick out any burned or unpopped kernels and throw away.

Next, in a small saucepan combine the hot sauce, butter, and sesame oil over low heat until well combined and makes a thin sauce.

Distribute the sauce as evenly as possible over the popped corn (I like to use a combination of a slotted spoon and my hands). Then bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Store the popcorn in airtight containers or plastic bags.

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Homemade Sour Gummies

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I’ve seen these all over Pinterest and I really wanted to make some homemade sour gummies (aka sour patch kids) that weren’t artificially flavored.

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Before I jump into this recipe, I would like to talk about some of the ingredients listed below; I rarely name brands in my recipes, because while there are a few brands I always go to, in general I like to let readers choose which products to use, it’s your food after all! However, for this recipe I have noted the brands for two ingredients and here’s why;

I strongly recommend Simply Lemonade since the whole point of this recipe (for me) is to cut back on artificial flavors. If you look at their ingredients, it is just water, lemon, and sugar. So the way I see it, it’s just saving me the trouble of making lemonade from scratch. You can certainly use any kind of juice, freshly squeezed, or store bought that strikes your fancy.

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The other brand I mention is Knox for the gelatin. This is because not all gelatin is created equal, and I can’t with confidence say you will get the same results with other products. So, save yourself the trouble and use Knox gelatin, it can be found in most large grocery stores. I promise they are not paying me!

Homemade Sour Gummies
Recipe Adapted from Knox Gelatine

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Ingredients:

  • 1 c Simply Raspberry Lemonade*
  • 1/4 c freshly squeezed lemon juice (1-2 lemons depending on size)
  • food coloring (optional)
  • 2 packets of Knox Gelatin

*A note on ingredients; as noted above, you can use any kind of juice, lemonade, or flavoring you like but the trick is, that all of your liquid adds up to 1 1/4 c. The ratios in this recipe are really important to ensure the gummies hold their shape.

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Directions:

In a small sauce pan over low heat, warm the lemonade, lemon juice and food coloring (if using). Once the mixture is warm (not even boiling or simmering), add the gelatin.

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Stir with a fork until completely dissolved (2-3 minutes).

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Pour the mixture into a mold of your choice. I used a square brownie pan, but candy molds or a cake pan would work equally well.

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Place in freezer for 10-12 minutes. To de-mold the gelatin, run a butter knife around the edges.

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Then cut the gummie into 4 sections for easy removal from the pan.

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I then placed the gelatin on a paper towel and cut out shapes with a cookie cutter.

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I used the smallest cookie cutter I own so they are little bite-sized adorable gummies, but they are just as good at any size.

Store the gummies in a an airtight container and keep at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

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Homemade Sour Gummies

Recipe Adapted from Knox Gelatine

Ingredients:

  • 1 c Simply Raspberry Lemonade*
  • 1/4 c freshly squeezed lemon juice (1-2 lemons depending on size)
  • food coloring (optional)
  • 2 packets of Knox Gelatin

*A note on ingredients; as noted above, you can use any kind of juice, lemonade, or flavoring you like but the trick is, that all of your liquid adds up to 1 1/4 c. The ratios in this recipe are really important to ensure the gummies hold their shape.

Directions:

In a small sauce pan over low heat, warm the lemonade, lemon juice and food coloring (if using). Once the mixture is warm (not even boiling or simmering), add the gelatin. Stir with a fork until completely dissolved (2-3 minutes).

Pour the mixture into a mold of your choice. I used a square brownie pan, but candy molds or a cake pan would work equally well. Place in freezer for 10-12 minutes. To de-mold the gelatin, run a butter knife around the edges. Then cut the gummie into 4 sections for easy removal from the pan.

Place the gelatin on a paper towel and cut out shapes with a cookie cutter. Store the gummies in a an airtight container and keep at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

 

Homemade Caramel Corn

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Oh, caramel corn! Cue dramatic sigh. I love caramel corn! This is a childhood favorite of mine. My Nana used to make huge batches of this during the fall/winter and it brings back memories of watching football games at my Nana and Papa’s house where my Dad and Papa are yelling at the Buffalo Bills.

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My Nana was a huge influence on me growing up. Like myself, she loved cooking and baking. She especially loved candy making, and I remember the homemade peanut butter cups and turtles she used to make at Easter time. But that’s another story. My Nana had a huge collection of recipes, and over the next few months I hope to share a few more of my favorites from her collection. Here is her recipe for caramel corn.

Homemade Caramel Corn

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 c olive oil
  • 1 1/3 c unpopped corn kernels
  • 2 c nuts (optional)*
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 c brown sugar
  • 1 c butter (2 sticks)
  • 1/2 c light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt

*I used a combination of peanuts and walnuts but you can use any nuts you would like (or none at all).

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Directions:

First let’s get this popcorn popped. I find it’s easier to do this in two batches. Start with a large-sized pot and heat 6 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat. Heat until the oil is shiny and easily coats the bottom of the pan. When I say medium-low heat I mean somewhere between a 3-4 on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest) Every stove is different, but I can tell you that if you have the temperature too high the kernels will pop very quickly and it will burn easily; if you have the temperature too low you will be waiting for the kernels to pop for a while. You know your stove top best, so adjust as needed.

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Add 2/3 c of corn kernels to the warm oil and stir with a wooden spoon so that the kernels are evenly coated and spread out over the base of the pot. Cover and let the kernels pop (aprox 10-12 minutes).

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Stay close to the pot, if you don’t hear any popping within a 4-5 second interval it’s time to take the pot off the heat. Once the kernels are all popped remove from heat. VERY CAREFULLY, using hot-pot-holders, firmly hold the lid down on the pot while you flip it over 2-3 times. This releases the steam from the popcorn. Next pour the popcorn into a large bowl.

Pick out any burned kernels and throw away.

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This will make 3 quarts of popped corn, so if you’re going for the whole 6 quarts repeat this process, if you are looking to only make a half batch stop here. If you make a half batch be sure to cut the measurements in half for the caramel sauce. I note this because, this is my Nana’s recipe. And it makes a lot. A whole lotta caramel corn.

Before we get the caramel sauce started, preheat the oven to 250 degrees, and spray 2 shallow pans with cooking spray. If you do not have large shallow pans I recommend foil roasting pans. Also, before starting the caramel sauce measure out the baking soda, set aside, and add the nuts to the bowl of popped corn.

Next, in a saucepan (large enough to hold 2 quarts), combine the brown sugar, butter, light corn syrup, and salt.

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Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and let the mixture boil for 5 minutes stirring constantly. Tip: if your hand gets too hot while stirring put a pot holder over your hand for while you stir.

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After boiling for 5 minutes the caramel should look something like this:

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Now comes the fun part! After the caramel sauce has boiled for 5 minutes remove from heat and stir in the baking soda. The mixture will bubble slightly, lighten in color, and the texture will become slightly fluffy. Pour the sauce over the popped corn. Working quickly using a slotted spoon, mix the caramel sauce over the kernels, it will start to cool and harden quickly.  Warning: this caramel sauce is hot, and it will make the bowl hot, so watch those fingers! Also note it’s helpful to have a lovely assistant present to hold the pan while you scrape the caramel sauce over the kernels. Distribute the sauce as evenly as possible over the popped corn and nuts. Then pour the mixture into the prepared shallow pans.

Bake for 25 minutes, remove the pans from the oven and stir the caramel corn. Return to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes.

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After baking allow the caramel corn to cool slightly and then break into small pieces.

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Store in zip lock bags. Or large Fall-themed mugs.

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Don’t fret over the caramel sauce pot; some hot soapy water will dissolve the caramel in a jiff.

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Homemade Caramel Corn

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 c olive oil
  • 1 1/3 c unpopped corn kernels
  • 2 c nuts (optional)*
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 c brown sugar
  • 1 c butter (2 sticks)
  • 1/2 c light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt

*I used a combination of peanuts and walnuts but you can use any nuts you would like (or none at all).

Directions:

To pop the popcorn; I find it’s easier to do this in two batches. Start with a large-sized pot and heat 6 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat. Heat until the oil is shiny and easily coats the bottom of the pan. Add 2/3 c of corn kernels to the warm oil and stir with a wooden spoon so that the kernels are evenly coated and spread out over the base of the pot. Cover and let the kernels pop (aprox 10-12 minutes).

Stay close to the pot, if you don’t hear any popping within a 4-5 second interval it’s time to take the pot off the heat. Once the kernels are all popped remove from heat. VERY CAREFULLY, using hot-pot-holders, firmly hold the lid down on the pot while you flip it over 2-3 times. This releases the steam from the popcorn. Next pour the popcorn into a large bowl. Pick out any burned kernels and throw away.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees, and spray 2 shallow pans with cooking spray. If you do not have large shallow pans I recommend foil roasting pans. Also, before starting the caramel sauce measure out the baking soda, set aside, and add the nuts to the bowl of popped corn.

Next, in a saucepan (large enough to hold 2 quarts), combine the brown sugar, butter, light corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and let the mixture boil for 5 minutes stirring constantly.

After the caramel sauce has boiled for 5 minutes remove from heat and stir in the baking soda. The mixture will bubble slightly, lighten in color, and the texture will become slightly fluffy. Pour the sauce over the popped corn.

Working quickly, using a slotted spoon, mix the caramel sauce over the kernels, it will start to cool and harden quickly. Distribute the sauce as evenly as possible over the popped corn and nuts. Then pour the mixture into the prepared shallow pans. Bake for 25 minutes, remove the pans from the oven and stir the caramel corn. Return to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes. After baking allow the caramel corn to cool slightly and then break into small pieces. Store in airtight containers or plastic bags.

Satisfying the Crunch Factor

The crunch factor; a craving that can only be satisfied by consuming crunchy food items. Food items can be of either the sweet or salty persuasion. The crunch factor often occurs; while working on the computer for a prolonged amount of time, watching the tv or movies, playing video games, or around 4 pm (aka snack time).

Ah, yes, the crunch factor. I’m always looking for ways to keep it healthy and still satisfy the CF. While I’ve tried out a variety of crunchy snacks, roasted chickpeas is my new favorite way to satisfy my crunchy cravings.

Roasted chickpeas are an ideal CF snack because they are (1) easy to make, (2) store well in air tight containers, and (3) are a healthy and flavorful alternative to potato chips.*

*Ok, fine I’m not a nutritionist, but I swear these crunchy beans are better than Doritos and Cheese-its.

So here it is, roasted chickpeas two ways; spicy and sweet.

Spicy Roasted Chickpeas
Ingredients:
2 cans of chickpeas (15 oz cans)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
Optional Add-in: a dash of “Perfect Pinch” for chicken (or any other pre-mixed spice combination of your choice)

First drain the chickpeas in a strainer.

Wash with cool water to rinse the starch off.

Next pour the beans onto a clean kitchen towel or paper towels to air dry. The key to these becoming a crunchy snack inside-out is allowing them enough time to thoroughly dry. I recommend allowing them to air dry for at least 1 1/2 hours-2 hours.

After allowing the peas to dry, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Next, in a small mixing bowl combine the chickpeas with the olive oil and all spices.

Give it a good toss to evenly distribute.

Next, pour the chickpeas onto the prepared baking sheet so that they are in a single layer and pop into the oven.

These will take 40 minutes in the oven before reaching optimal crunchiness. Every 10 minutes take the tray out and toss with a spatula. Do not shake the pan to rotate the peas when they are hot, as this might cause them to pop/explode in one’s face. You’ve been warned.

Sweet Roasted Chickpeas
Ingredients
2 cans of chickpeas (15 oz cans)
1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp granulated sugar
Optional Add-in: a dash of apple pie or pumpkin pie spice
1 tbsp honey

To make the sweet version of these crunchy peas follow the directions above EXCEPT only toss the dried chickpeas in olive oil, cinnamon, sugar, and any additional spices you have selected. Immediately after taking them out of the oven, pour the chickpeas into a small mixing bowl and toss them with the honey while still piping hot. Pour them back onto the baking sheet and allow them to cool and the honey to harden.

Also, since these have sugar on them they need to be monitored more closely in the oven to prevent burning. Bake for only 30-35 minutes.

 

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Spicy Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of chickpeas (15 oz cans)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne

Directions:

First drain the chickpeas in a strainer. Wash with cool water to rinse the starch off.

Next pour the beans onto a clean kitchen towel or paper towels to air dry. The key to these becoming a crunchy snack inside-out is allowing them enough time to thoroughly dry. I recommend allowing them to air dry for at least 1 1/2 hours-2 hours.

After allowing the peas to dry, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Next, in a small mixing bowl combine the chickpeas with the olive oil and all spices.

Give it a good toss to evenly distribute.

Next, pour the chickpeas onto the prepared baking sheet so that they are in a single layer and pop into the oven.

These will take 40 minutes in the oven before reaching optimal crunchiness. Every 10 minutes take the tray out and toss with a spatula.

 

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Sweet Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of chickpeas (15 oz cans)
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • a dash of apple pie or pumpkin pie spice (optional)
  • 1 tbsp honey

Directions:

First drain the chickpeas in a strainer. Wash with cool water to rinse the starch off.

Next pour the beans onto a clean kitchen towel or paper towels to air dry. The key to these becoming a crunchy snack inside-out is allowing them enough time to thoroughly dry. I recommend allowing them to air dry for at least 1 1/2 hours-2 hours.

After allowing the peas to dry, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Next, in a small mixing bowl combine the chickpeas with the olive oil and all spices.

Give it a good toss to evenly distribute.

Next, pour the chickpeas onto the prepared baking sheet so that they are in a single layer and pop into the oven.

These will take 30-35 minutes in the oven before reaching optimal crunchiness. Every 10 minutes take the tray out and toss with a spatula.

 

Oven Baked Fries Done Right

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Like many, I am a lady with cravings.  These cravings aren’t usually of the sweet kind, but mostly I long for something that has been deep fried and covered in salt.  No matter how healthy I try to eat I can never kick my cravings for fried food, specifically for French fries.  I’ve experimented with oven baked fries regularly however they rarely satisfy my cravings.  When I came across this recipe in a Cook’s Illustrated Magazine I just knew I had to give it a try.  If I could recreate the taste and texture of yummy French fries in an oven I knew I would be a happy lady.

This recipe is a bit more high maintenance than my usual (slice up a potato, toss it in some oil and spices, and bake in a hot oven until it looks done-ish or I until I can’t wait any more), but the results are worth the effort.

This recipe doesn’t require much in the way of ingredients.

I have to be honest and admit I started off on the wrong foot with this recipe.  The recipe calls for russet potatoes, however at my grocery store these don’t come loose and since I’m not trying to feed a family of 10, so I settled on your standard baking potato rather than a large bag of russets.

When you slice up your potatoes into wedges, first of all be careful with your knife.  When I was slicing my potatoes up I slipped and cut one of my fingers with my knife, which is apparently getting a little dull.  But also, you want to make sure you are slicing up the potatoes into wedges that are even in size so that they cook evenly.

One more note about when you slice the potatoes; if you feel you need to express yourself by peeling the potatoes don’t feel like you’re wrong.  Do what you think is right.  However, this recipe notes that it tested much better when the skins were left on and also I’m told the nutrients are all in the skin anyway. Yay nutrients!

After you have your potatoes sliced preheat your oven to 457 and adjust the oven rack to the lowest position in your oven.  Positioning your tray in the bottom of the oven will guarantee that your fries are browned evenly and quickly and will prevent overcooking to occur on the inside of your fry. Also note that with an oven this hot standard baking pans don’t always hold up, you’ll need to use a heavy duty pan.

Next it’s time to soak the potatoes in hot tap water for 10 minutes.

In order to get the desired texture of a delicious French fry this recipe employees a soaking and steaming method.  Soaking the potato is a technique that is frequently used in making French fries that are actually fried.

While the potatoes are soaking coat your pan with ¼ cup of oil.

After the pan is evenly coated sprinkle your spices on the pan.  The recipe calls for table salt and pepper.  I used Jane’s Crazy Salt, because I love the stuff and I also like my fries to have a bit of a bite to them so I experimented with a pinch of cayenne pepper.  Coating the pan with oil and spices assures that the potatoes are evenly covered with oil and the spices prevent the fries from sticking to the pan.

Now back to the potatoes, once they are done soaking put the wedges on a plate with paper towels and pat them dry.

Then place them in a bowl and coat them with 1 teaspoon of oil. Next assemble your army of potato wedges in a single layer on your baking sheet.

Cover the pan tightly with foil and put them in the oven for 5 minutes (this is the steaming part).

After 5 minutes remove the foil, bake for 10 minutes and rotate the pan.  Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes until the bottoms of the wedges are spotted with patches of golden brown.  Using a metal spatula flip over the wedges and put them back in the oven to cook for another 7-10 minutes.  Once they are done cooking remove them from the pan and put them on paper towels to blot excessive oil.  Season to taste and serve ‘em while they’re still hot.


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Baked French Fries

Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 russet potatoes, cut into evenly-sized wedges
  • hot water
  • salt
  • pepper
  • paprika

Directions:

Adjust the racks in the oven to the lowest positions and preheat to 475 degrees. Fill a mixing bowl with hot water and soak the potato wedges for 10 minutes.

While the potatoes are soaking coat your pan with ¼ cup of oil and sprinkle the salt, pepper, and paprika on the oiled pan.

Now back to the potatoes, once they are done soaking put the wedges on a plate with paper towels and pat them dry. Then, place them in a bowl and coat them with 1 teaspoon of oil. Place the potato wedges in a single layer on your baking sheet. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake in the oven for 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes remove the foil, bake for 10 minutes and rotate the pan.  Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes until the bottoms of the wedges are spotted with patches of golden brown.  Using a metal spatula flip over the wedges and put them back in the oven to cook for another 7-10 minutes.  Once they are done cooking remove them from the pan and put them on paper towels to blot excess oil.  Season to taste and serve warm.