Snack Hacks That Really Pop
(Family Features) If spending more time at home than usual has you reaching for snacks more often, keep some quick, flavorful options on-hand to help fuel you and your family throughout the day when hunger pangs strike.
One versatile pantry staple that can fit a variety of snack cravings: popcorn. With no artificial additives or preservatives, light and airy popcorn is naturally low in fat and calories, non-GMO and gluten free, making it a sensible option to enjoy one handful at a time or sprinkled with seasonings that satisfy your taste buds. A whole-grain food, popcorn has energy-producing carbohydrates and fiber, which can help keep you satisfied longer. Plus, it’s simple enough to make that kids can help in the kitchen by popping it themselves or adding toppings.
Whether you’re craving something sweet, salty, spicy – or nearly anything else – freshly popped popcorn can serve as the perfect base ingredient to simply mix in your favorite toppings or create more unique tastes by combining a variety of herbs and spices. For example, consider these hacks to add easy flavor:
- Pop it on the stove. Stovetop popping allows you to choose your toppings. Cover the bottom of a pot with a thin layer of oil and popcorn kernels, shake to coat, cover with a lid then turn on the heat. Once popping has slowed to 2-second intervals, remove from heat and add toppings.
- Add some sweetness. When you’re in the mood for something sweet, add a dash of salt and a pinch of sugar (or more to meet your taste) to a bowl of popcorn. Or add sugar to the pan before it’s popped, like this recipe for Sugar Corn.
- Melt some butter. For a classic taste treat, melt a little butter and pour over your bowl of popped corn.
- Satisfy multiple cravings. Pop a large pot of popcorn and divide it in half; top one half with sweeter toppings like honey, which is a key ingredient in Honey Matcha Popcorn, and the other with something savory, like nutritional yeast or dill. When hunger strikes, you’re ready, regardless of the flavor craving.
- Spice it up. Cayenne pepper and a blend of other spices can be sprinkled on popcorn to create a spicier snack like Cajun Corn.
- Add mix-ins. Add dried fruits, nuts or candies to a bowl of popcorn to make your own trail mix.
- Cheese, please. A sprinkle of Parmesan cheese can make your snack a bit more substantial. Mix in some dried herbs like basil and parsley to create this Popcorn Con Pesto.
For more snack ideas that deliver on both flavor and nutrition, visit popcorn.org.
Yield: 8 cups
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil, for popping
- 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
- 1 pinch white sugar, plus additional, to taste
- In medium pan, heat oil until hot.
- Add popcorn to pan and sprinkle sugar over it. Add more sugar, if desired, to taste.
- Cover and shake pan continuously until popcorn is popped.
Honey Matcha Popcorn
Yield: 12 cups
- 12 cups unsalted, unbuttered popped popcorn
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 teaspoon matcha green tea powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
- Preheat oven to 300 F.
- Line large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place popped popcorn in large mixing bowl.
- In small saucepan over medium heat, melt together butter, honey, matcha powder and salt, stirring until dissolved. Pour over popcorn; toss to combine. Spread onto baking sheet. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Bake, stirring occasionally, 25-30 minutes, or until popcorn is dry. Let cool completely before serving.
Tip: Matcha powder can be found in the tea and coffee aisle at supermarkets.
Popcorn Con Pesto
Yield: 5 quarts
- 5 quarts popped popcorn
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 tablespoon dried basil leaves, crushed
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley, crushed
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup pine nuts (optional)
- Place popped popcorn in large bowl and keep warm.
- In small saucepan, melt butter; add basil, parsley, garlic, Parmesan cheese and nuts, if using.
- Stir to blend.
- Pour over popped popcorn, stirring well.
Note: Dried thyme or oregano, or combination of ingredients, may be used in place of basil.
Yield: 2 1/2 quarts
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 2 1/2 quarts popped popcorn, warm
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon lemon pepper
- Heat oven to 300° F.
- In bowl, pour butter over warm popcorn.
- In separate bowl, combine paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and lemon pepper; sprinkle over popcorn. Toss to mix.
- Bake 5-10 minutes for crispy popcorn.
Source: Popcorn Board
Fresh, Family-Friendly Flavors
(Family Features) One of the best parts of warmer weather for many families is the availability of fresh ingredients for meals at home. The unique tastes provide a variety of recipes that can be prepared with everyone in mind, including crisp flavors to help satisfy adults and kids alike.
For example, Michigan asparagus is hand-harvested at more than 120 family farms, meaning each spear is snapped at its optimal point to produce an all-edible product with no woody ends.
To help keep that fresh-picked flavor, the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board recommends storing asparagus upright in about an inch of water after trimming the ends. Loosely cover the container with plastic and keep it refrigerated.
Whether you’re enjoying it blanched, roasted or on the grill, it’s a perfect complement for warmer weather. This Asparagus Crust White Chicken Pizza from author Gina Ferwerda is a creative take on the seasonal vegetable. Find more inspiration in Ferwerda’s cookbook, “Meals from the Mitten.”
For more information and recipes, visit michiganasparagus.org .
Asparagus Crust White Chicken Pizza
Recipe courtesy of Gina Ferwerda on behalf of the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board
- 2 cups cut-up fresh or frozen Michigan asparagus, blanched
- 1 egg
- 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup chopped leeks
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup cubed rotisserie chicken
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed
- 1/2 cup cut-up fresh or frozen Michigan asparagus, blanched and seasoned with avocado oil and lemon pepper seasoning
- 1/4 cup chopped prosciutto
- fresh chives, for garnish
- fresh basil, for garnish
- Heat oven to 375° F.
- To make Asparagus Crust: In food processor, puree blanched asparagus until smooth. In large bowl, mix asparagus puree, egg, Parmesan, mozzarella and lemon pepper seasoning until thoroughly combined.
- Press asparagus mixture into circular shape on parchment paper-lined pizza stone or baking sheet. Place layer of paper towel over crust and gently press down to remove excess moisture. Repeat until paper towel is no longer absorbing moisture. Discard wet paper towels.
- Bake 12-13 minutes.
- To make White Sauce: In saucepan over medium heat, cook butter, leeks and garlic 3-4 minutes. Slowly whisk in flour and cook 1-2 minutes. Slowly add in milk, continue whisking and cook until thickened. Add Parmesan then remove from heat and set aside.
- Pour white sauce over partially baked asparagus crust and top with chicken and mozzarella. Add peas, asparagus and prosciutto. Bake 5-8 minutes, or until cheese is thoroughly melted. Garnish with fresh chives or basil.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (Asparagus on the grill)