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  1. Thursday, May 19, 2016

    Chef and Food Network Star Winner Justin Warner Shares Experiences Around Owning a Restaurant as well as Recipes and Kitchen Tips (Ep. 43)

    This Week for Dinner Podcast #43: Tips for Cooking Popcorn + an Interview with Chef Justin Warner

    It’s Thursday, which means a new podcast episode! Today I kick things off with various tips for cooking popcorn, including my most favorite technique, along with a delicious and easy recipe for using that perfectly popped popcorn. Afterwards I talk with Justin Warner, a self-taught chef, the winner of the eighth season of Food Network Star and the author of The Laws of Cooking: And How to Break Them (Flatiron Books, 2015). In addition,  Justin also served as chef and co-owner of Michelin-rated restaurant Do or Dine in Brooklyn, and he continues to be a frequent guest on Food Network and hosts Foodie Call. Justin talks about what he loved about owning a restaurant, shares a few of his favorite recipes and offers up a kitchen tip that I am especially excited about. I met Justin a few months ago on my trip to General Mills, where we bonded over cereal and 90s rap music. It was great to chat with him again! Enjoy the show!


    It’s easy to listen to the show!

    • Via the web: Just click play below!
    • Via an app: For iPhone and iPad, subscribe to the This Week for Dinner Podcast on iTunes and listen to it through the purple Podcasts app. For Android devices, use the Stitcher, Podcast Addict or Pocket Casts apps. In all cases, launch the app, then search for This Week for Dinner Podcast. The benefit of using an app: once downloaded, you can listen to the show without an Internet connection.

    Other Stuff!

  2. Wednesday, January 15, 2014

    Salted Caramel Corn Perfection

    You GUYS. I found a truly perfect recipe for salted caramel corn. It’s just, well, perfect. Each piece of popcorn is coated just right, the texture is light and crispy, the flavor is amazing. The best part? The popcorn is wicked easy to make.

    perfect salted caramel corn

    I found the recipe on my friend Brenda’s food blog A Farmgirl’s Dabbles. It’s her mom’s recipe for microwave caramel popcorn. I love Brenda and her mom forever for sharing it with us. Seriously, I don’t even know how many times I’ve made it in the last two weeks. Good thing I’m not on a diet for new year’s!

    perfect salted caramel corn

    Because Brenda’s recipe makes a TON of popcorn, I figured out how to adjust everything down for a half batch. I wrote a post on Babble with step-by-step photos and instructions, but the recipe is also listed below.

    Whether you make a little or a lot, you need to make this stuff. You’re welcome.

    Salted Caramel Corn Perfection
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
    I got this recipe from my friend Brenda on A Farmgirl's Dabbles. It's her mom's recipe. I've halved it and written the directions in my own words, but you can click here for the original recipe.
    Recipe type: Dessert
    • ~ 2 qts popcorn (1/2 cup un-popped)
    • ½ cup packed brown sugar
    • ¼ cup butter
    • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
    • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt + more for sprinkling
    • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
    • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
    1. Pop ½ cup uncooked popcorn and place in a large brown paper bag. Pop your popcorn however you want, starting with ½ cup kernels, which will yield about 2 quarts.
    2. Place brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and kosher salt in a microwave-safe bowl, preferably with a spout. Cook in microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove, stir to incorporate, then microwave for 1 more minute on high. Caramel should be boiling.
    3. Add baking soda and vanilla to caramel. Mix well then pour over the popcorn in the back, stirring to evenly spread caramel throughout the popcorn. (It does not need to be mixed perfectly.)
    4. Roll down the top of the brown paper bag and place in the microwave. Cook on high for 1 minute. Remove from microwave, keeping bag closed, and shake a LOT in every direction. Return bag to the microwave and cook on high for 1 minute. (Note: Since the bag is so big, it will not rotate while cooking. When I cook it for the first minute, I make sure the fold in the bag faces the back of the microwave. Then, for the second minute of cooking, I make sure the fold faces the opposite directly, to help distribute the cooking evenly.) Remove from microwave. Shake the bag a whole lot more.
    5. Pour popcorn out onto a rimmed cookie sheet. I like to line the tray with a large piece of parchment paper to help with clean up. This size batch will fill one tray completely. Sprinkle the popcorn evenly with a bit more kosher salt, then break up the popcorn with your hands to mix it up.
    6. Eat!


  3. Thursday, March 28, 2013

    Sweet and Salty Holiday Popcorn {Bunny Bait}…and a few thoughts on parenthood

    I’m an artist and designer, so I like things to look good. Sadly, though, I am also lazy lazy LAZY. Rarely do I pull out all the stops for cute holiday crafts and treats and such. Once in a while, though, I stumble on an idea that is super cute but also very simple and I actually do get a little holiday pizazz goin’ on.

    Bunny Bait is one of those very ideas! My friend Erin wrote about it on Today’s Mama. She got the idea from Sing For Your Supper, who got the idea from Bake at 350, who got the idea from Nest of Posies. Bottom line? Bunny Bait gets around, people.

    Here’s the thing. Bunny Bait is perfectly cute for Easter and I love the name. But the beauty of this recipe is it is so easily adaptable to any holiday or event. Just pick up the M&Ms du jour and change up the candy melt color and you have deliciously sweet and salty popcorn goodness for any holiday. In fact, this is what we will be making for our holiday gifts this December. It’s easy to throw together a large batch, the popcorn is super cute, it tastes awesome and you can dress it up with matchy-matchy baggies and bows. Done and done.

    Erin mentioned that Bunny Bait may be slightly addictive. She’s right, and here’s why. You inevitable take a bite that has popcorn and an M&M. And it’s delicious, but then you realize that you didn’t get a pretzel in that bite, so you dig back in and get a pretzel-ful bite, only to discover it was missing the popcorn. And the cycle continues until you have eaten the whole bowl. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Probably best to make this with purpose and get it bagged up and given away ASAP.

    Also, lest you look at these pictures and think we are a perfect family with a patient mother who cooks with her kids while birds flit about our heads and sing pretty songs…Anna did have a lot of fun making this with me and it was really sweet and cute. But, I must admit, towards the end a few things got me frustrated (that had nothing to do with the recipe or with Anna but everything to do with me and my lack of sleep and patience) and I ended up yelling at her for something stupid and felt terrible as she ran away crying with her blankie. I realized my mistake immediately and was overcome with regret and sadness. I hate these moments as a mom. I ran to my sweet girl and gave her a good, long hug. She quickly forgave (kids are amazing that way) and we finished our Bunny Bait adventures with smiles. But, looking at these photos of the Bunny Bait, I still have a twinge of guilt. But I also have a resolve to do better next time. This parenting gig certainly is salty and sweet, but I suppose the salty just helps me truly appreciate and seek after the sweet.

    Sweet and Salty Holiday Popcorn {Bunny Bait}
    From all over the place, original idea from Nest of Posies
    • ½ cup unpopped popcorn (yields about 24 cups)
    • 8 ounces candy melts (you can just use white and let the M&Ms and/or sprinkles add the color, but feel free to use a colored candy melt, too!)
    • 1½ cups rod pretzels, broken into smaller pieces
    • 1 12-oz package M&Ms (holiday themed)
    • Sprinkles to match your color theme (optional)
    1. Pop your popcorn (I used my Whirley Pop). Pour into a giant bowl. Add pretzels and M&Ms, but don’t stir anything yet. Melt the candy melts as per package instructions, then drizzle over the popcorn mixture. Toss and toss and toss to coat. (It takes a lot of tossing!) The pretzels and M&Ms will want to sink to the bottom, so when you serve it or put in bags for gifts, be sure to toss again and then scoop. Also, if you do plan to bag it for gifts, let it sit out for a bit to allow the candy melts to temper.
    2. For the bunny bait, I used pink and green candy melts. I poured the green first, tossed it, then let it sit for a bit before drizzling the pink, so that they didn’t mix together. The result was cute, but next time I’m just going to use one color – it’s just as cute and less effort.