Real popcorn

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My sister put it in my head that microwaveable popcorn has all kinds of chemicals on it. Since popcorn is our bedtime snack of choice, we invested in a proper popcorn popper that calls for vegetable oil and real corn kernels. It has a filter at the top that allows butter to drip down while it pops. When it’s done, you just flip it over and the lid becomes the bowl.

It tastes fresher and more fibrous. And it’s white instead of neon yellow.

The kids LOVE watching it pop. Look at their faces!

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Midwestern fried chicken & Swiss chard with honey-roasted garlic

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The kids love fried chicken, and so do I. The last time I made it, using an Alton Brown recipe, it took 3 long messy hours of active cooking. Ugh. The one I used last night was a lot easier. It’s from Amy Thielen’s cookbook Midwestern Table (she also recently made it on her Food Network show, Heartland Table). And it has a secret ingredient.

You marinate the chicken in buttermilk, thyme and garlic all day (or overnight) then roll it in a mixture of flour and — the secret ingredient — pulverized Ritz crackers. The butter cracker meal gives the chicken a crispy exterior and golden color. The chicken pieces are fried in an inch of Canola oil for about 10 minutes, then finished in the oven. Apparently, that’s the “Midwestern” way. I didn’t know there was another way to do it! It’s still a little bit of a production so I wouldn’t make this weekly. But so good…

I also made Amy’s Swiss chard with honey-roasted garlic.

It was a nice change from spinach, asparagus, the usual. You start by cutting a whole head of garlic length-wise, drizzling it with honey and olive oil and roasting it in a bundle of tin foil. The chard is sautéed in butter and pine nuts, then the honey-garlic cloves get squeezed in (along with the juice in the bottom of the tin foil bowl) to make a dressing of sorts. Next time, I’ll double this. The chard wilts down pretty significantly. I almost skipped the pine nuts because they’re so pricey. But Grandpa Jon happened to bring some over on Christmas Day. So glad because they’re critical.

Click here for the recipes on Food Network.

 

‘Twas the night before Christmas…

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Greta set out a plate of cookies for Santa and a carrot for his reindeer tonight. We brought these cookies home from Grandma’s. Santa was over Brazil when the kids went to bed, according to my WhereIsSanta tracker app.

Earlier this month, I made two of our traditional favorites: Barefoot Contessa’s rugelach, the Jewish pastry-like cookie and spiced chocolate chunk cookies made with cinnamon and ginger. They’re rolled in powdered sugar right before they go in the oven, which turns into icing.

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{Batches of rugelach in process}  {a spiced chocolate chunk cookie}

Merry Christmas!

Chicken & wild rice casserole

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In Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook “My Father’s Daughter,” she writes something that pops into my head every time I’m about to buy a carton of chicken stock at the grocery store: “Stock from a box is insipid.” Insipid, insipid, insipid, she scoffs in an imaginary bubble above my head. Ouch.

But I have to say, if you can do it, homemade stock really does make a difference.

Last night, I made Trisha Yearwood’s (I’m such a name dropper) chicken and wild rice casserole–one for us, one for my parents. It calls for 3 cups of chicken stock and I happened to have a Tupperware full of homemade turkey stock from when we boiled the carcass of our bird on Saturday. It made this casserole extra flavorful. It needed more salt but really hit the spot tonight. Best of all, Magnus had two helpings (little does he know it has pimientos in it). It’s a keeper.

Click here for the recipe on Food Network’s website.

 

Sweetness

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Greta has been leaving things for our elf on the shelf, Friend: Goldfish snacks (in appetizing holiday colors like green and red!), her Christmas list and Magnus’s list, a cookie, etc. Last night, I saw that she’d left her and her brother’s school pictures for Friend to take back to the North Pole, so Santa could put faces with names. I just thought it was so sweet.