Thursday, January 24, 2013

Orange-Scented Honey Butter Popcorn

You know one of the best benefits of working from home? You can wear your pajama pants all day if you choose. I don't often go this route because I'm trying to maintain some semblance of humanity. But y'know there are days where even leggings are too much.

And then there are days when plain buttered popcorn is simply not enough. You know I love to play around with my popcorn-- cinnamon toasta trifecta of tropical flavors, and an herby mix have all made appearances. 

I grew up eating honey butter with my hushpuppies but never thought to put it on my popcorn. And let us not forget that in the midst of a dreary winter there is vibrancy to be found in citrus. It's the perfect lunch snack.

You'll need: butter, honey, an orange, popcorn kernels, salt, and vegetable oil (not pictured).

Toss the kernels with oil and a touch of salt in a medium saucepan. You need it to be big enough to accomodate the popped corn. 

When the first kernels begin popping, slap the lid over the pot and start moving it over the burner. Keep it moving until the sound slows to a few seconds between pops.

Okay real talk. I should've just melted the butter into the honey. It would've been easier.

Because they're kind of hard to stir together. You might lose butter and that's just not cool.

Toss the popcorn with the honey butter in a large bowl. Trust me on this. I've tried too-small bowls before and it just ends in frustration and poorly coated corn.

Grate a little orange peel in there with a zester and toss to coat evenly. Honestly, just a teaspoon will do.  Oh and add a little more salt.

The bright, fragrant scent of orange and floral honey are grounded by rich, salty butter. Don't let the small serving bowl fool you-- I ate the whole thing.

Orange-Scented Honey Butter Popcorn (makes about 5 cups)

2 tsp vegetable oil
1/4 c popcorn kernels
Salt to taste
2 tbs salted butter
2 tbs honey
1 tsp orange zest
  • In a medium saucepan with a lid, toss the oil, kernels, and a pinch of salt together. Heat the pan over medium-high heat. When the first couple of kernels pop, cover the pan with the lid and slide the pan back and forth over the burner
  • When popping slows to a 3-4 seconds between sounds, take the popcorn off the heat. Pour it into a large bowl.
  • Melt the butter into the honey and pour over the popped corn. Toss with a little more salt and the orange zest. Serve right away.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Hazelnut Banana Bread

It's good to be back in the swing of things. And with stellar banana bread at that. And Downton Abbey.  Oh mah gahhh, Lady Mary's wedding (and wedding dress)! Will Downton survive? Is Edith really going to marry Sir Anthony? And goodness, will Bates be set free?! So many questions.

A few things are certain. The Dowager Countess will have at least a few good one-liners each episode, Thomas will be an asshole (there's no polite word for it), the fashions will be incredible, and I will want to eat a whole loaf of banana bread. 

Banana bread is simple. Flour, ripe bananas, salted butter, an egg, vanilla extract, hazelnuts, baking soda, a bit of extra salt, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and brown sugar.

Yeah, I'm still using pumpkin pie spice. Well you might as well, or it'll lose its potency by next year. Plus it's all the spices I love-- cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, etc. 

Mix the flour, spices, baking soda, and salt with the hazelnuts. I chose hazelnuts simply because I had them in the cabinet. Walnuts or pecans (or no nuts at all!) would be fine substitutions.

Ripe bananas are crazy easy to smush with a fork. 

Add the butter and brown sugar to the bananas. I used salted butter because it was in the fridge, but you can of course use unsalted and add a little more salt to the flour mixture.

Add the egg and stir it in.

Then follow it with the vanilla. 

Adding the flour is the final step. 

It's a thick batter with a gorgeous caramel color. I couldn't resist sneaking a taste.

I lined my loaf pan with parchment paper, but buttering and flouring the pan works just fine.

The crust is a deep golden brown when it's ready and has lovely cracks that let you know the baking soda worked.

The inside is somewhere in the middle between light and dense and so very tender.

It needs butter about as much as Pinterest needs another crock pot recipe. But! It's bread and bread is supposed to be buttered, right? Legit.

Hazelnut Banana Bread (makes one 8x4 loaf)

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Pinch of salt (Note: If using unsalted butter, use 1 tsp)
1/2 c hazelnuts, skins removed and roughly chopped
3 ripe bananas
1/2 c salted butter, melted
3/4 c brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Preheat oven to 350ยบ. Prepare an 8x4 loaf pan by either buttering and flouring it or lining it with parchment paper.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, PP spice, and salt with a fork. Add the hazelnuts and gently mix in.
  • In a larger bowl, smash the bananas with a fork until mostly smooth. Pour in butter and brown sugar and stir to combine. Add the egg and vanilla extract and stir until combined.
  • Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and gently stir until just incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Let the bread cool in the pan 5-10 minutes and run a knife around the edges to loosen it. Pop the bread out of the pan and let it cool on a wire rack. If you used parchment paper, you can just lift the bread out of the pan. Serve with salted butter if desired.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Ringing in 2013

Well Happy New Year, y'all! I'm a little late on this, aren't I? Like everyone else, I'm winding down the craziest time of year for me. Let's have a look at how it all went.

Photo by sweetsaltysc
I rang in the New Year in Alabama with the Moon Pie Drop.

Photo by sweetsaltysc
Christmas brunch had two kinds of Eggs Benedict-- the traditional and a crab version. And probably the best hollandaise I've ever had, courtesy of my cousin Casey.

Photo by sweetsaltysc
I finished off my birthday night with a shot of peppermint schnapps in a little chocolate cup. It was rough...and delicious.

My cousin Erin totally surprised us all by decorating the table at my birthday lunch. It was so sweet and so wonderful. She's an event planner. You should totally hire her.

Photo by sweetsaltysc
Erin had also set up a little bottle of champagne and chocolates. Oh and Bistro 217 also surprised me with tiramisu. Honestly, I'm not even a big tiramisu fan, but it was beyond lovely. Seriously, a great birthday lunch.

Photo by sweetsaltysc
My sister and I made a tacky Christmas sweatshirt for an oyster roast. It turned out awesomely bad, including an actual bow pinned to it and jingle bells sewn on.

Photo by sweetsaltysc
I've only recently moved back to Columbia full-time, but I tell you the cover bands at Tin Roof never disappoint. This here is the Twang Bangers from Johnson City, Tennessee.

Roast beast! No really, it was a massive prime rib that Roddy cooked beautifully. 

I was SO ready for our bowl game. I had my cup, scarf, sweatshirt, t-shirt, and bracelet. A win made it all worth it. 

Naked buns. These Gingery Cinnamon Rolls were a decadent birthday morning treat.

I still am craving orange & cinnamon together. Look for that combination to make an appearance soon.

A New Year means new goals. So far I've got:
  • Run a 10k. I accomplished my goal of running a 5k last year, so this year I'm aiming for a 10k. I'm pretty sure I'm doing the Charleston Bridge Run in April, which will make sure I train and get it done.
  • Make my own butter. Mostly because Emily got me a little DIY kit. C'mon, if anyone's going to make butter it's gonna be me.
  • Make good bread to go with that butter. It was on my list last year but got lost in the shuffle.
  • Visit a city I've never explored. Now that I work in the travel industry, I feel like this is important and quite likely.
  • Find a place to live and make it my own. It'll be my first grown-up apartment, and I want to start collecting pieces that mean something to me. I've got a few things already, so I'm not starting from scratch. It's more about the atmosphere I create for myself moving forward. Maybe I'll even give y'all a tour.