Appetizers · Family · Family Favorites · Holidays

January 19 – National Popcorn Day

Who knew there was a National Holiday for Popcorn? I am a popcorn fan from way back. I generally take mine with real butter and salt along with a great movie. Although, I would never turn down a bag of kettle corn at the farmer’s market!  I’ve been known to make myself a popcorn birthday cake, too!

Whenever I travel back to Iowa, you can always find a bag or two of local popcorn in my luggage for the trip home.

Researching the history of popcorn, I found popcorn.org to be a great resource of the history and recipes:

Popcorn Dates Back Thousands of Years

Biblical accounts of “corn” stored in the pyramids of Egypt are misunderstood. The “corn” from the bible was probably barley. The mistake comes from a changed use of the word “corn,” which used to signify the most-used grain of a specific place. In England, “corn” was wheat, and in Scotland and Ireland the word referred to oats. Since maize was the common American “corn,” it took that name – and keeps it today.

It is believed that the first use of wild and early cultivated corn was popping. The oldest ears of popcorn ever found were discovered in the Bat Cave of west central New Mexico in 1948 and 1950. Ranging from smaller than a penny to about 2 inches, the oldest Bat Cave ears are about 4,000 years old.

Popcorn in the New World

Popcorn was integral to early 16th century Aztec Indian ceremonies. Bernardino de Sahagun writes: “And also a number of young women danced, having so vowed, a popcorn dance. As thick as tassels of maize were their popcorn garlands. And these they placed upon (the girls’) heads.” In 1519, Cortes got his first sight of popcorn when he invaded Mexico and came into contact with the Aztecs. Popcorn was an important food for the Aztec Indians, who also used popcorn as decoration for ceremonial headdresses, necklaces and ornaments on statues of their gods, including Tlaloc, the god of rain and fertility.

An early Spanish account of a ceremony honoring the Aztec gods who watched over fishermen reads: “They scattered before him parched corn, called momochitl, a kind of corn which bursts when parched and discloses its contents and makes itself look like a very white flower; they said these were hailstones given to the god of water.”

Writing of Peruvian Indians in 1650, the Spaniard Cobo says, “They toast a certain kind of corn until it bursts. They call it pisancalla, and they use it as a confection.”

In South America, kernels of popcorn found in burial grounds in the coastal deserts of North Chile were so well preserved they would still pop even though they were 1,000 years old.

Recent History

The use of the moldboard plow became commonplace in the mid-1800s and led to the widespread planting of maize in the United States.

Breakfast Food

Although popcorn is typically thought of as a snack food today, popcorn was once a popular breakfast food. Ahead of its time and very likely a role model for breakfast cereals to come, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, popcorn was eaten just as we eat cereal today.

Long before the advent of the corn flake, Ella Kellogg enjoyed her popcorn ground with milk or cream. Although she discouraged in-between meal snacking, she urged others to eat popcorn at meals as popcorn was “an excellent food.” Ella understood, as her husband did, that popcorn was a whole grain. John Harvey Kellogg praised popcorn as being “easily digestible and to the highest degree wholesome, presenting the grain in its entirety, and hence superior to many denatured breakfast foods which are found in the market.”

The Great Depression

Popcorn was very popular from the 1890s until the Great Depression. Street vendors used to follow crowds around, pushing steam or gas-powered poppers through fairs, parks and expositions.

During the Depression, popcorn at 5 or 10 cents a bag was one of the few luxuries down-and-out families could afford. While other businesses failed, the popcorn business thrived. An Oklahoma banker who went broke when his bank failed bought a popcorn machine and started a business in a small store near a theater. After a couple years, his popcorn business made enough money to buy back three of the farms he’d lost.

Popcorn and the Movies

Unlike other confections, popcorn sales increased throughout the Depression. A major reason for this increase was the introduction of popcorn into movie theaters and its low cost for both patron and owner. One theater owner actually lowered the price of his theater tickets and added a popcorn machine. He soon saw huge profits.

The “talking picture” solidified the presence of movie theaters in the U.S. in the late 1920’s. Many theater owners refused to sell popcorn in their theaters because they felt it was too messy. Industrious vendors set up popcorn poppers or rented storefront space next to theaters and sold popcorn to patrons on their way into the theater. Eventually, theater owners began installing popcorn poppers inside their theaters; those who refused to sell popcorn quickly went out of business.

Popcorn sales increase throughout the Depression. A major reason for this increase was the introduction of popcorn into movie theatres.

World War II

During World War II, sugar was sent overseas for U.S. troops, which meant there wasn’t much sugar left in the United States to make candy. Thanks to this unusual situation, Americans ate three times as much popcorn as usual.

Slump and Bump

Popcorn went into a slump during the early 1950s, when television became popular. Attendance at movie theaters dropped and with it, popcorn consumption. When the public began eating popcorn at home, the new relationship between television and popcorn led to a resurgence in popularity.

Today

Whether stovetop popped, fresh from the microwave or ready to eat, Americans love popcorn. In fact, Americans today consume 15 billion quarts of popped popcorn each year. That averages to about 47 quarts per person.

Americans today consume 15 billion quarts of popped popcorn each year.

 

 

Cakes · Family · New Traditions

Fresh Peach Cake

Fresh Peach Cake is delicious, even though the photo of the finished product is not.  I was disappointed by the appearance of the finished product, but the taste was delicious.

Next time, I would use a slightly bigger pan, since the batter cooked over the side.  However, a few crispy bites of dessert are equally good!

FRESH PEACH CAKE

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup chopped pecans

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch-square baking pan.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 1 cup of the sugar for 3 to 5 minutes on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time, then the sour cream and vanilla, and mix until the batter is smooth.
  • In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the batter and mix just until combined.
  • In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the cinnamon.
  • Spread half of the batter evenly in the pan. Top with half of the peaches, then sprinkle with two-thirds of the sugar mixture. Spread the remaining batter on top, arrange the remaining peaches on top and sprinkle with the remaining sugar mixture and the pecans.

  • Bake the cake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Cakes · New Favorite

Gin and Tonic Drizzle Cake

Gin & Tonic Cake sounded delicious when my sister-in-law, Betty, told me about it a few years ago.  Summer time evenings on the patio with a G&T and good friends inspired me to make this wonderful cake.  Warning…it is a bit boozy but oh, so delicious!

I converted the recipe to American measures (in parenthesis) and it worked well.  Instead of baking a big pan of cake, I baked in several smaller cake pans and froze a few cakes, minus the lime slices.  It freezes well.

GIN & TONIC DRIZZLE CAKE

Cake:
250g unsalted butter (8.8185 oz. or 1.102 cups)
250g sugar (8.8185 oz. or 1.102 cups)
250g self rising flour (8.8185 oz. or 1.102 cups)
5 medium egg
1 lime, zested

Drizzle:
75g sugar (2.6455 oz. or 1/3 cup)
5 tbsp. Gin
5 tbsp. Tonic Water

Icing:
200g powdered sugar (7.0548 oz. or .8819 cup)
3-4 tbsp Gin

Decoration:
1 lime, zested
lime sliced

For the Cake:

  • Grease and line a 2 lb. loaf tine (i used several small loaf pans instead).
  • Preheat the oven to 180 centigrade or 350 degrees fahrenheit.
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until light an fluffy.
  • Add in the eggs, flour, and lime zest. Beat again until smooth and combined.
  • Pour the cake ingredients into the cake pan(s) and bake for 40-45 minutes.  When baked fully, a cake skewer should come out clean and the cake shouldn’t be making a bubbling sound.
  • Remove the cake from the oven and cool slightly while making the drizzle.

For the Drizzle:

  • In a small pan, add the sugar, Gin and Tonic.
  • Heat on a low-medium heat while stirring.  Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from the heat.
  • Poke the cake lightly with a cake skewer and drizzle over the cake. Allow the cake to cool fully in the cake pan.

To Decorate:

  • Once the cake has cooled, remove it from the cake pan.
  • In a small bowl, add the powdered sugar and gradually mix in the Gin until you get a thick, pourable consistency.
  • Pour the icing over the cake, sprinkle with lime zest. Add lime slices to the top for decoration.

Recipe slightly adapted from Janespatisserie.com

Book Club · Cakes · Holidays · New Favorite

Cinnamon Apple Pie Cake

Cinnamon Apple Pie Cake is absolutely yummy!  I’ve served it multiple times with great reviews and requests for future events.  This is a definite favorite in my recipe box!

CINNAMON APPLE PIE CAKE

6 to 8 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon- sugar (1 1/4 T. sugar + 1/4 t. cinnamon)
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups superfine white sugar (see *Tips below)
1 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil (see notes below!)
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-Purpose Flour
more cinnamon-sugar to sprinkle on top (same as above)

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 1/2 to 10-inch springform pan with nonstick spray. Line the bottom with a round of parchment paper and then spray again.
  • Layer the apple slices in the pan until they come about 2/3 of the way up the side. (I went a little higher than that and it worked out fine). Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar over the apples.
  • Prepare the batter by beating the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the oil (see notes below about the amount of oil called for) and the vanilla and beat well, then stir in the flour. Pour the batter on top of the apples, and sprinkle with additional cinnamon-sugar. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to allow the batter to sink down and around the apples.
  • Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool *completely* in the pan. If you try to remove the cake from the pan while it is still warm, it will tend to break apart. I refrigerated my cake before slicing, and that worked out well. Serve slices with ice cream (warm individual slices in the microwave, if desired).

TIPS:

  • You want “caster sugar” for this recipe: It is a finer grind than table sugar, but not as fine as powdered. Look for “Baker’s Sugar” at the store, or simply put regular white sugar in your food processor and give it a few whirls to create superfine sugar.
  • NOTE:  In the original recipe from this cookbook, the author calls for 1 1/2 cups of oil.  Although my pie cake turned out just fine the way the recipe was written, when I make it again… I will definitely try using 3/4 cup oil and 3/4 cup applesauce instead.  Some readers have noted that this has worked well for them.
Cakes · Gluten Free · New Favorite · Vegan · Vegetarian

Chocolate Cake…Vegan and Absolutely Delicious

Who doesn’t like chocolate cake?  I wanted to make a chocolate cake for a gathering of friends, two of which are Vegan.  We all love to share salads, fruits, pastas, but dessert is always a bit tricky.

This cake was moist, delicious and almost healthy!  I would make it again and again whether my guests were Vegan or not. Even one of my Grand Dogs thought it was worthy of his attention!

Chocolate Cake…Vegan &Delicious

3/4 cup plain flour/GF flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup unrefined cane sugar/brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Frosting: 

This makes a small amount of frosting as the cake doesn’t need much, but for a full batch

    1 1/2 tbsp. lite Nuttelex or other dairy free butter/margarine alternative
    1 1/2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
    1/2 cup sifted icing sugar
    1/2 tsp. vanilla

    • Preheat oven to 180°C/355°F.
    • Grease and line a small cake tin (or cupcake tins)
    • In a large mixing bowl combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
    • In a separate medium mixing bowl combine applesauce, sugar and vanilla and pour into dry ingredients.
    • Mix until just combined and pour into cake tin.
    • Bake for 20-35 minutes or until cooked through and a skewer inserted removes clean. If making cupcakes, cook for ~10-15 minutes or until cooked through.
    • For the frosting, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy in a mixer, adding in the cocoa and vanilla and mixing until combined. If needed, add a couple of drops of milk/non dairy milk until your desired consistency is reached

    Recipe from Southerininlaw.com

    Cakes · New Favorite

    Pumpkin Zucchini Bundt Cake

    Pumpkin Zucchini Bundt Cake

    3 cups all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (I used 1/8 teaspoon)
    1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (I used 1/4 teaspoon)
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    3 large eggs
    1 cup pumpkin puree
    1 cup packed brown sugar
    1/2 cup butter, softened
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    2 cups shredded zucchini
    1 cup Raisins (I skipped the raisins since the family doesn’t like)

    • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a Bundt or 9 inch loaf pan.
      In a bowl, add the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, salt, baking powder, and baking soda and combine.
    • In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, pumpkin, brown sugar, butter, and vanilla until
      light and fluffy. Stir in the shredded zucchini. Then transfer this batter to the flour mixture and stir until everything is combined. Fold in the raisins.
    • Pour into the baking pan. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in
      the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack to completely cool.
      ** Please note, cook time for Bundt pan will be around 60 minutes and for the 9 inch loaf pan, around 1 hr 10 minutes. Always check after 1 hr for doneness as all ovens are different.

    Slightly adapted from Lovefoodies.com 

    Breads · New Favorite

    Yogurt Cake with Pear and Dark Chocolate

    Fresh, sweet pears have always been a favorite of mine. Rarely have I baked with pears but this recipe sounded too delicious to resist.  It has a wonderful texture and so very moist!
    Yogurt Cake with Pear and Dark Chocolate

    YOGURT CAKE WITH PEAR AND DARK CHOCOLATE

    1 1/2 cups flour
    2 tsp. baking powder
    1/4 tsp. salt
    1 cup plain yogurt (I used vanilla Greek yogurt)
    1 cup sugar
    3 large eggs
    1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
    1/2 cup canola oil
    1 large pear, ripe but still firm, cored and cut into small pieces (leave the skin on)
    1/2 cup bittersweet (dark) chocolate chunks.

    • Preheat your oven to 350F and grease an 8 inch loaf pan with butter (I found the recipe made too much for one loaf pan–I made an 8 inch loaf and a small loaf pan).
    • In a small bowl combine all the dry ingredients (flour through salt). In medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, yogurt, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Then, stir in the dry ingredients, a bit at a time, until well blended. Finally, use a rubber scraper to fold the oil into the batter until it is fully incorporated.
    • Pour about one-third of the batter into the greased loaf pan. Sprinkle 2/3s of the pear pieces and the chocolate chunks all over the batter. Then, scrape the rest of the batter on top of this and gently spread it smooth. Sprinkle the rest of the pear and chocolate over the top of the loaf and gently press all the pieces down into the batter to partially submerge them.
    • Bake in the middle of the oven until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean – 55-60 minutes or so. Then, take the cake out of the oven and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Carefully turn the cake out of the pan, and then put it upright on a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. The cake will keep for several days (refrigerate if it’s more than 2 days), and slices are delicious lightly toasted before eating. Serve with sweetened whipped cream.
    Slightly adapted from FiveandSpice.com

     

     

    Cakes · Cookies and Bars · New Favorite

    Apricot Crumble Cake

    Fresh Apricots are tangy yet sweet and not something I purchase on a regular basis. Last year our CSA delivered a large bag of apricots week after week. This recipe was a delicious way to use the fresh apricots and have a chewy, moist dessert or breakfast treat.

    IMG_6960

    FRESH APRICOT BARS

    2 lbs ripe Apricots
    2/3 cup sugar
    1 Tablespoon orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier) or orange juice
    1 cup flour
    1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    1/2 teaspoon Kosher or Sea Salt
    1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
    1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
    1 cup old fashioned oats

    • Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 2 quart baking dish.
    • Combine the apricots and sugar in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and the apricots are soft (will vary tremendously depending on the ripeness of the apricots-very ripe apricots will only take minute or two). Stir in the orange liqueur.
    • Puree the apricots in a blender or food processor until smooth. Pour into a bowl and set in freezer to chill while you make the crust.
    • In a bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, salt, and baking soda. Pinch in the butter pieces into the flour mixture (or cut them into the flour with a pastry cutter), until it resembles coarse sand. Pinch in the oats until well combined.
    • Press 2/3rds of the crust mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Spread the apricot puree over the crust bottom. Sprinkle the remaining crust over the top of the apricot puree.

    IMG_6940

    IMG_6950 IMG_6955

    • Bake for 1 hour or until the crust is golden brown.

    IMG_6957

    • Allow to cool, then slice and serve. Store in the refrigerator.
    Recipe Adapted from: WhiteOnRiceCouple.com.

     

    Family Favorites · New Favorite · Sandwiches

    Runza

    I know Runzas are a staple to my Nebraska and Kansas friends but not something we grew up with in Iowa.  A few years ago I was watching the television show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives where they visit Lauer-Krauts  in Brighton, Colorado.  A friend and I made the trek to Brighton to try one of their krautburgers and they were delicious, but frankly, too far a drive when you have a craving.

    This recipe was close to what we experienced and I decided to give it a try.  It was very good and I would love to try making them with either a mixture of fresh cabbage and sauerkraut or simply with sauerkraut.  Growing up in Iowa, Mom’s homemade sauerkraut was amazing and I now love all things kraut!

    IMG_7620 IMG_7616

    RUNZA

    Makes 10 Runzas

    Dough:

    1/4 oz packet of dry yeast
    3 tablespoons sugar
    4 large eggs
    3 1/2 cups bread flour
    12 tablespoons salted butter
    2 teaspoons salt

    Filling:

    1 pound lean ground beef
    salt and pepper to taste
    1 tablespoons salted butter
    1 Vidalia onion, diced
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1/2 teaspoon thyme
    1 teaspoon rosemary
    1 tablespoon canola oil
    1/2 head cabbage, chopped

    • To make the dough, combine 3/4 cup of very warm water, a pinch of sugar, and the yeast in a bowl. Let it sit until it blooms. If you’ve never done this before, pop yourself some popcorn and sit back and enjoy the show. You’ll know what I mean when the “blooming” begins. Okay, maybe it’s not that cool…
    • Add 3 of your eggs and whisk with your yeast mixture.  Add 2 cups of your flour to the liquid and mix well with a wooden spoon.  Add the butter, the sugar, the remaining flour and salt and mix well.
    • Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 5 minutes.  Place the dough ball in a buttered bowl and let sit for one hour at room temperature.  Transfer to the refrigerator and let sit for at least an hour.
    • Remove the dough and divide into 10 equal portions. Roll into separate balls and let sit covered while you make the filling.
    • Speaking of the filling, get your ground beef sizzlin’ on a skillet.  Season as desired with salt and pepper.  Cook until lightly browned, then remove the beef from the skillet with a spoon and place it in a bowl, leaving most of the grease behind.  Add your butter to the skillet and begin sizzlin’ your onion.  Cook until translucent, about 10 minutes or so.  Add your garlic, thyme and rosemary and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.  Add this whole mixture to the bowl with the beef.
    • Next, using the moisture still in your skillet, get the pan nice and hot.  Add your cabbage and stir constantly until the cabbage is lightly browned and translucent-ish.  It may seem like a lot of cabbage at first, but it shrinks down substantially.  Add the cabbage to the beef mixture.
    • Flatten your balls of dough with a rolling pin.  Each dough saucer should be about 8 inches in diameter.  Place 1/3 to 1/2 cup of filling in the center of each dough-saucer and pull the edges together and pinch to enclose the filling in the dough.  To avoid a thickened dough-seal, I actually cut off the excess dough with cooking shears.  If you don’t do something like this, you’ll find a doughy center as you take your first chomp.
    • Preheat the oven to 375° while the runzas sit and rise for a bit.  Brush some of the egg (your remaining egg of the 4 you originally had) on the top of each runza to give it a nice browning while in the oven.  Cook the runzas on a greased baking sheet for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.

    Recipe from Highheelsandgrills.com 

    Cakes · Garden · New Favorite

    Chocolate Zucchini Cake…good for you, right?

    Zucchini has been plentiful this year and I was craving a chocolate fix.  I found this recipe and LOVED the cake. The glaze turned into chocolate globs which I did try to spread on top of the cake.  Next time I’d either just skip the glaze, or make my own.

    The cake is moist and delicious…a keeper!

    CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI CAKE

    Unsalted butter, for the pan
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
    1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
    1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg or allspice
    1 1/4 cups sugar
    1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
    2 large eggs
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 medium zucchini, grated and squeezed dry
    1 teaspoon honey

    • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch-square cake pan. Dust the pan with flour, tapping out the excess.
    • Toss 1/2 cup chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon flour in a small bowl. Whisk the remaining flour, the cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and nutmeg in a medium bowl; set aside.
    • Beat the sugar, 1/2 cup olive oil, the eggs and vanilla in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed until smooth and pale, about 3 minutes. Add the flour-cocoa mixture; beat on low speed until combined, about 2 minutes (the batter will be thick). Add the zucchini and beat until combined, about 2 more minutes. Fold in the flour-coated chocolate chips with a wooden spoon.
    • Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely.
    • Make the glaze: Combine the remaining 1/3 cup chocolate chips, 1 teaspoon olive oil and the honey in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium-high power in 30-second intervals, stirring, until the chocolate is melted. Spread over the cake, then cut into pieces.

    Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/chocolate-zucchini-cake-recipe.html?oc=linkback

    NOTE:  I made this recipe again and used a different glaze that was perfect:

    GLAZE
    3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
    3 tablespoons butter
    1 tablespoon light corn syrup
    1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Combine all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir. Microwave at 15 second intervals and stir each time until mixture is smooth. Pour over cake.