Caramel curry popcorn

I love popcorn. I especially love home-popped popcorn, and I extra-especially love this funny concoction I’ve made up: caramel curry popcorn. Here’s how I make it.

Take 2-3 tablespoons of butter and put it in a microwaveable dish. I usually use a mug.

Add one tablespoon of your favorite curry powder to the mug with the butter.

Add a heaping tablespoon of brown sugar to the mug as well.

Microwave the mug containing the butter, spices, and sugar, on half power for about 2 minutes. You might want to cover the mug with a paper towel or something — sometimes butter will explode in the microwave.

When you take out the mug, the concoction should look like this:

Real talk: this isn’t proper caramel. But it’s close enough for my purposes.

While you’re at it, pop the popcorn. I like the stovetop method.

When the popcorn is popped, pour it into a big bowl. Then drizzle the caramel over the corn.

This works best if it’s still quite bubbly; if it subsides for too long, the sauce will “break” a little and the spice and sugar won’t disperse itself as evenly through the popcorn. So if your sauce is a little broken (if you can see the butter separating from the brown stuff), put it back in the microwave on high for 15-30 seconds.

Salt (and pepper!) to taste, and then toss the popcorn in the bowl to spread the curry caramel around as thoroughly as it will let you.

I tend to eat this with a dish towel close at hand, because it’s on the sticky/greasy side. Pair with a lager, a white wine on the sweetish spectrum, a light Gamay, sangria, or a cocktail. Enjoy!

Dinner wins: Mexican Pizza

‪Last night’s dinner was Mexican pizza, which is definitely neither Mexican nor pizza, but was very delicious and actually reheated quite well for lunch today!

Spread one burrito-size flour tortilla with refried beans (as much as 2 cups) and sprinkle with a little shredded cheese (maybe a cup). Lay the loaded tortilla in a warmed large frying pan with a little — maybe a teaspoon or so — oil in it (if you have some leftover bacon grease around, this is a good use for it). You’ll want medium heat for this. Top with another flour tortilla and, when the bottom tortilla is golden and crispy, carefully flip over. (I use one of those wide fish spatulas.)

Top the crispy side with more shredded cheddar and other toppings that appeal to you. Last night, I cooked off a little chorizo and opened a can of sliced olives and sprinkled all that on top. Cover with a lid and remove from heat, to let the cheese melt.

Once the bottom tortilla is crispy and the cheese is melty, carefully lift or slide the “pizza” out of the pan and onto a cutting board. If the bottom is getting too brown but the cheese hasn’t melted, it’s ok to remove from heat early and let it rest, covered, on the cutting board until melting happens.

Slice like a pizza and serve with salsa and sour cream or whatever you like on a taco. Yum!

Meal plan for Jan 25-31

One of the ways I ensure our family eats healthfully while managing my mid-week stress, is to plan out our meals every week. I try to incorporate leftovers from other meals, as you can see below. I also consider what kind of evening activities we might have scheduled, and if I know an evening will be rushed, make that dinner dish on the weekend if I can.

Here’s this week’s plan:

  • Sat: Indian Butter Chickpeas w/rice (pictured)
  • Sun: cannellini bean pasta with beurre blanc
  • Mon: fried rice w/leftover poached chicken (make ahead)
  • Tues: chicken and wild rice soup (make ahead)
  • Wed: black bean bowls
  • Thurs: leftovers
  • Fri: pizza
  • Cauliflower and Rutabaga Curry

    img_7318I really like eating vegetarian lunches, to cut down on my meat consumption, and also because most vegetarian meals are high in fiber and low in calories. This usually means that I cook a big pot of something over the weekend that I eat for lunch all week. It might sound like a lot of work, but when you tend to forget to eat lunch until you’re starving past the point of thinking straight (cough), it’s really nice to know exactly what you can eat to fix that calorie deficit, pronto.

    Andrea’s Lunch Dish is also handy for getting my fix of foods that the rest of my family doesn’t much like. The kids aren’t about to start eating spicy Thai red curry anytime soon, and it would just be a misery for us all if I asked them to. So last week, my pot-of-lunch was a cauliflower and rutabaga curry, over wilted spinach and quinoa. A friend mentioned wanting the “recipe” and voila! a blog post is born.

    This dish is dead simple, if you have the ingredients handy. I started with 1 whole cauliflower, cut into florets, and 3 rutabagas, peeled and cubed to about a 1/2 inch size. I minced up about half a small onion and sauteed it in about a 1 tbsp of vegetable oil, until it was soft. Then I tossed in the cauliflower and rutabaga and sauteed on medium for about 5-10 minutes, until it was starting to soften. Then I tossed in about a tablespoon of red curry paste — Taste of Thai is easy to find at most grocery stores, but that’s an affiliate link if you need to mail-order; it keeps forever and is very versatile — and move that around for a while in the pan to try to coat the veggies with the paste. This is just to avoid having big chunks of curry paste hiding in the dish, ouch. You can use more or less curry paste, depending on your heat preference. 🙂

    Once the paste has kind of melted around the veggies, toss a can of coconut milk on top — can be light or full-fat coconut milk, as you prefer (I prefer regular coconut milk; the light version tastes thin to me), and mix it all up. Simmer until the veggies are tender. Hopefully the veg was mostly cooked before you threw the coconut milk on, but if you underestimated and you need to simmer it for 20 minutes longer, that’s fine. When the veg is soft enough for you, take the whole thing off the heat. I let it cool on the stove for an hour or two before I put it in the fridge, to keep my fridge from having to work too hard.

    I happened to also make a big pot of quinoa on Monday of the week that I was eating this, so this week I ate the curry over that. But it could have been nearly any kind of starch — rice, noodles, etc. When it was lunch time next, I just put a few handfuls of  fresh baby spinach on about 3/4 cup of  cold quinoa, and microwaved that for about 2m to wilt the spinach. then spooned about a cup of curried vegetables with sauce on top of that, and then microwaved another 2m or so until hot. Toss some chopped cilantro on top if you want to be SUPER fancy.

    You can make this same kind of curry with practically any vegetable. Cubed butternut squash with broccoli, cauliflower with potato, rainbow carrots and kale, japanese eggplant and snap peas maybe. If you keep a few cans of coconut milk in the pantry and curry paste in the fridge, you also have the base ingredients for a delicious coconut curry soup made from pureed squash, potato, cauliflower whatever. Many yummy dishes await you! Enjoy.

    Your typical late-December internal monologue 

    Lizard Brain: “The body feels bad, why? A cookie will probably help.” 

    Thinking Brain: “That bad feeling is menstrual cramps, not hunger. Take some ibuprofen. Cookies taste good at first but end up making us feel crappy and sad later.”

    Lizard Brain: “Oh yeah, ibuprofen. Cool. But also probably a cookie.”

    Thinking Brain: “How about some water? Cookies will make us feel more tired. It’s 9am for heaven sake. We had a big, healthy breakfast and are not feeling hungry at all.”

    Lizard Brain: “Water and three cookies? On it.”