EASY Caramel Popcorn

IMG_5998

The other day, I was thinking about caramel popcorn and how much I wanted it (okay, so that’s pretty much every day, but whatever). I decided to do a quick search on Pinterest, only to discover that caramel popcorn takes a lot of time and effort to make. So, being the extremely clever person I am, I searched for EASY caramel popcorn recipes (pretty brilliant, right?). Still, most recipes required AT LEAST an hour… that’s not exactly what I would consider easy. After about a minute of scrolling, I stumbled upon an actually easy caramel popcorn recipe, modified it slightly, and BAM! Actually easy caramel popcorn (yay).

For the popcorn (1-4 servings, depending on who’s eating it):

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 10 marshmallows
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 cup popcorn seeds, popped OR 1 bag popcorn, popped
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Add brown sugar, butter, marshmallows, and vanilla to a microwave safe bowl big enough to hold all your popcorn. Microwave on high in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval (you’ll probably end up heating it for about 1.5-2 minutes) until smooth. Fold in the popcorn, folding until the caramel sauce is evenly distributed. Sprinkle on the salt. Allow to cool (optional) and enjoy!

Advertisements

Healthy Chocolate Chia Pudding

1cdca52546637a76f312061b612a8a05

I recently discovered this amazingly nutritious seed called the chia seed. Chia seeds are low calorie, yet high in fiber, protein, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and a ton of other good-for-you vitamins and such. Chia seeds also contain antioxidants. Chia seeds help fight weight gain, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses. Did I mention they’re reasonably priced (2 lbs. for $9.50 via Amazon)? So, basically, if you chia seeds are not currently part of your diet, they need to be.

Now, you can’t just eat a spoonful of chia seeds everyday or take them like pills because they expand in liquid (aka they’ll get stuck in your throat and there’s a good chance you’ll end up in the ER). So, after purchasing these strange little seeds, I made it my mission to find a healthy and delicious way to prepare chia seeds.

A couple months ago, I attempted to make vanilla chia pudding, and, although it was fine, it was a little soupy and just not as incredible as I was hoping; definitely not the kind of recipe I would put on my blog. Well, about a week ago, I tried making CHOCOLATE chia pudding. The cocoa powder (which, by the way, also has health benefits) made it lighter and fluffier. It was incredible: easy, delicious, and EXTREMELY healthy! What more could one possibly ask for? Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup milk (any kind)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons maple syrup (the real stuff)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 Tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder

Directions:

Mix all ingredients with a fork in a tupperware container, bowl, or mason jar (the order really doesn’t matter, just make sure it’s well-mixed). Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. Stir and serve (this pudding is great with fruit). Note: this pudding does have a tapioca-like texture, keep this in mind if you’re not a texture person.

Bruschetta Chicken

IMG_5281

This chicken dish is so delicious. It looks and tastes so fresh and elegant. Although it certainly doesn’t seem like it, it’s actually really easy. I served it with couscous, but you could really serve it with any carb you wanted (pasta, rice, bread, etc). If you’re looking for a light, fresh, healthy, and satisfying recipe, try making this bruschetta chicken!

  • 5 chicken breasts (or however many you need)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, & basil
  • 3-4 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 large red onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2+ Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Handful basil, chopped

Bush the chicken breasts with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, and basil to taste. Bake at 450ºF for 20 minutes. While the chicken is baking, combine the tomatoes, garlic, onion, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and basil. Once the chicken is cooked, top with the tomato mixture and serve. Ta-da!

Baked Cream Cheese Wontons

IMG_5246

I love baking things that are normally fried, it’s healthier and so much easier (I can’t stand working with hot oil). The problem is, most baked foods aren’t as tasty as fried. Well, not these cream cheese wontons. They are perfect. I’m currently obsessed with their amazingness. They are deliciously crispy yet not soaked in grease. So yummy… and extremely easy!

For the wontons (makes 16):

  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 16 wonton wrappers
  • add-ins of choice, optional (I used chives and garlic – yum)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Lay wonton wrappers on prepared baking sheet. Place 1 teaspoon cream cheese in the center of each wonton wrapper. Brush the edges with water, fold wrappers and pinch to seal (folding them in half into triangles would probably be the easiest way to go). Spray the wontons with cooking spray and bake for 4-7 minutes, until the edges are golden brown.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes

IMG_5126

Sometimes, pictures say more than a million words would. This is one of those times. These cupcakes were beautiful as well as delicious. The strawberry frosting uses strawberry extract and it is beyond delicious. Like, seriously.  They were actually somewhat easy, although they certainly don’t look like it! Here is the recipe if you want to make them (and we both know you want to):

For the cupcakes (makes 24):

  • 2 3/4 cake flour
  • 3 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 4 T (1/4 cup) strawberry gelatin powder
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 T (1/4 cup) fresh strawberry puree
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
     

Preheat your oven to 350°F. In a measuring cup, mix milk and vanilla extract and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. To puree your strawberries, place a few (around 8-10) hulled berries in a mini-food processor and pulse until it looks smooth. Beat the butter, oil, sugar, and gelatin and mix for about 1 1/2 minutes until it is light pink in color. Add the eggs one at a time and blend well, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Then add the strawberry puree and mix to combine. Add the 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix for a few seconds. Then add 1/2 the milk and vanilla mixture and mix for a few more seconds. Repeat this process ending with the final third of the dry ingredients. Take care to not over-mix this batter. Bake for 20 minutes.

 

For the ganache:

  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Boil heavy cream and pour over chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Whisk ganache until chocolate is melted and the consistency is even. Refrigerate ganache until the consistency is spreadable and spread a little on each cupcake with a knife.

 

For the frosting:

  • 1 (7-8 oz.) container marshmallow creme 
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. strawberry extract
  • approx. 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Beat the marshmallow creme and butter until light and fluffy. Add in powdered sugar and strawberry extract. Add heavy whipping cream until you reach your desired frosting consistency. Tint frosting pink, if desired. Frost cupcakes and top with a chocolate covered strawberry. Enjoy 🙂

Best Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

IMG_4391

It is officially fall, which makes pumpkin spice everything officially acceptable, which makes me EXTREMELY happy. Pumpkin spice anything is my favorite, and these cupcakes are no exception. They are wonderfully moist and spiced perfectly… and the cinnamon cream cheese frosting is to die for. I highly recommend making these, because they’re easy and delicious; what could be better than that?!?

For the cupcakes:

  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar 
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Whisk the eggs, oil, sugar, and pumpkin in a large mixing bowl.  Add dry ingredients and whisk until well blended. Divide into lined muffin tins. Fill about 2/3 full (I used a cupcake scoop). Bake in preheated 350 degrees oven for 20-30 minutes or a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool before frosting.

For the frosting:

  • 2 (8 oz.) pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 6 cups powdered sugar (more or less to taste)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

Blend all ingredients until well combined.

Basic Red Velvet Cake

photo 2

Red velvet is a very popular cake flavor, however, there’s so many recipes out there claiming to be the best that it’s easy to get confused… but let me share a secret with you: they’re all very, very similar. They all have buttermilk, vinegar, red food coloring, and a  hint of cocoa. So, here’s a recipe for basic red velvet cake… it’s delicious and guaranteed to please all of the red velvet cake fans you know! 🙂

For the cake:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1+ tsp. cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 oz. (2 Tbsp.) red food coloring
  • 1 tsp. vinegar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour 3 round cake pans. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In another large bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla. Beat the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and a smooth batter is formed. Divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Place the pans in the oven evenly spaced apart. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the cooking, until the cake pulls away from the side of the pans, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Remove the cakes from the oven and run a knife around the edges to loosen them from the sides of the pans. One at a time, invert the cakes onto a plate and then re-invert them onto a cooling rack, rounded-sides up. Let cool completely.

For the frosting:

  • 3 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 4-8 cups powdered sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Beat all ingredients together until well-combined. Frost cooled cake.