Apple Caramel Popcorn

I like to bake things for people on my hall, but I don’t like digging deep into my pocket for ingredients that I’ll be sharing with more than 30 other people. Call me cheap – I accept it.

Apple Caramel Popcorn | Netflix & Nutella

I’ve been trying to buy only a limited number of ingredients anyway, so I needed to find a recipe for a fun Halloween-style snack that used limited ingredients.

Apple Caramel Popcorn | Netflix & Nutella

The popcorn was a crowd pleaser. It was really sweet, but it’s Halloween, after all!

Apple Caramel Popcorn

9 cups of unsalted popped popcorn (about 3 bags of microwavable)
3/4 16 oz. container of caramel dip (I used Litehouse Old Fashioned Caramel Dip)
2 bags apple chips
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

{4 ingredient treat}

{4 ingredient treat}

1. Preheat oven to 300. Line two baking sheets with high edges with parchment paper.
2. Pop all of your popcorn. Empty into bowls (I had to use 3 large bowls).
3. Transfer caramel dip into microwavable bowl. Microwave for 15 seconds. Add cinnamon, and stir with rubber spatula until combined.
4. Evenly distribute caramel among popcorn bowls. Mix with rubber spatula until each batch is well-combined.
5. Lay an even layer of the caramel popcorn onto each baking sheet. Crush apple chips, and sprinkle on top. Add another layer of popcorn on top.
6. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until slightly golden. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on pan, and transfer into serving dish or bowl.

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Parks and Rec

“I’m a feminist, okay? I would never ever go to a strip club. I’ve gone on record that if I had to have a stripper’s name, it would be Equality.”
-Leslie Knope

Have you had those moments where people keep recommending that you start watching a certain show? Everyone thinks you’ll love it, but you resist jumping on the bandwagon?

Parks and Rec

Give in.

Everyone told me how much I’d love Parks and Recreation. I don’t know what stopped me. Maybe my desire to watch a movie as opposed to getting hooked on yet another TV show.

But Parks and Rec is the perfect 20-30 minute break from my day. It’s witty, the characters are surprisingly realistic, and the actors are truly some of the best comedians on TV. I’m not sure what my life would be like without Amy Poehler, but I think it would be a sad, sad place.

Parks and Rec

Fall Festivites

This weekend was full of delicious food conquests.

Apple picking | Netflix and Nutella

Apple picking is one of those things that will always make me feel like a kid again. There’s nothing like taking a bite out of an apple that you just twisted off its branch. I’ve mentioned my apple obsession and how they’re one of the few fruits I’ll eat cooked. No matter how many I eat – from 1 to 3 in a day – I’ll never grow tired of them.

Apple picking | Netflix and Nutella

My friends and I went to Millstone Creek Orchard this weekend for one of their last weekend pickings. Our only option were the late-ripening Red Fuji, which are deliciously sweet and crisp.

Apple picking | Netflix and Nutella

The next day, we went to the NC Food Rodeo, a collection of food trucks that gather by our school once a month, and I indulged in a shrimp po’ boy.

NC Food Rodeo | Netflix and Nutella

For dessert, my friend and I shared a Cakewich from Chez Moi.
Brownsugar vanilla rum cake + salted caramel ice cream from The Parlour in Durham = heaven.

NC Food Rodeo | Netflix and Nutella

All in all, it was a successful weekend for food and a great excuse to get away from cafeteria food for a while.

 

Strawberry-Cinnamon Jam Thumbprints

One of the dilemmas I’m facing this year is definitely the “kitchen” thing.

As you can tell, my cooking and baking posts are few and far between. Last year, I was spoiled to have a kitchen I shared with 3 roommates. This year, I’m back to my freshman days of living on a hall and sharing a kitchen with 36 other people.

I’m adjusting, and though I don’t get in there as much as I’d like, I savor my moments of making easy college bolognese and (deep-breath) store-bought cookies.

Strawberry-Cinnamon Thumbprint Cookies | Netflix and Nutella

Since I don’t use the kitchen too often, I don’t find it necessary to buy the baking essentials you rarely think twice about – vanilla, cinnamon, baking powder, even flour. So, I’ve had to improvise and figure out ways to spice up products and use as few ingredients as possible. With my limited ingredient supply, there’s bound to be many product makeovers this year.

Strawberry-Cinnamon Thumbprint Cookies | Netflix and Nutella

One of my discoveries? Thumbprint cookies. They’re not as flavorful as the ones my aunt makes every Christmas using a family recipe, but the buttery store-bought dough and my strawberry-cinnamon jam from a local farmer’s market make these ever-so special (so many great jams in Alamance County).

Strawberry-Cinnamon Thumbprint Cookies | Netflix and Nutella   Strawberry-Cinnamon Thumbprint Cookies | Netflix and Nutella

I know what you’re thinking: strawberry and cinnamon?! Sounds kind of weird. But it’s a delicious summer/fall combo. The perfect accompaniment to this Indian Summer we had this past weekend.

Thumbprint Cookies

Recipe loosely via Pillsbury.com

1 roll sugar cookie dough
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup of your favorite jam

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or spray with non-stick spray.

2. In a large bowl, break up the sugar cookie dough. Add flour, and combine well with your hands. Let it sit for a few minutes to come to room temperature.

3. When the dough is more easily manageable, roll into 1 inch balls. Place the balls 2 inches apart on your prepared cookie sheet, pressing into the center with your finger to create a hole. Don’t press all the way through – just enough for a little pool of jam. Place about 1/2 teaspoon of jam into each thumbprint.

Strawberry-Cinnamon Thumbprint Cookies | Netflix and Nutella

4. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes, or until they’ve spread out and the dough has set. Do NOT wait until they are browned. Let them sit on the baking tray for 3-5 minutes, and transfer to cooling rack.

Strawberry-Cinnamon Thumbprint Cookies | Netflix and Nutella

Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Paris feels like a faint memory in my mind. It was officiated by an ever-so disappointing bite of a store-bought croissant.

Yes, I’m now spoiled about French pastries.

Stuffed Zucchini Boats | Netflix and Nutella

The other day, I was craving  a green apple, endive, and vinaigrette salad (with real French mustard…another thing I’m a snob about). It was the first meal my sister made for us when we arrived to Paris. It was New Year’s Day, and we couldn’t stomach much. Out came the potatoes cooked in duck fat and this perfect salad. The sweet and tangy salad became a staple in our house during my stay.

Stuffed Zucchini Boats | Netflix and Nutella

Though it’s not the same unless Emiglia makes it for me, I’ve been looking to her blog for culinary inspiration. After years and years of school, she’s finally graduating (with honors, I’ll add) from La Sorbonne with a master’s in French Lit. She has a “real person” job. It’s safe to say we’ve lost her to France. I’m so lucky that I was able to spend time with her, adding to her crazily busy schedule. And I appreciate the nightly dinners en français that we would share with Tom (who happily sacrificed his second serving of salad for our benefits).

Stuffed Zucchini Boats | Netflix and Nutella

But it’s nice to know, that roughly 4,000 miles away, we’re enjoying the same dish. Zucchini is a favorite in our family, and with one of the last ones I could find at my local farmer’s market, I copied my big sis. Unfortunately, mine was a bit less fancy with my limited supply of ingredients. But I did my best!

Stuffed Zucchini Boats | Netflix and Nutella

Congrats, Big Em. J’ai hâte de te voir en décembre.

Stuffed Zucchini Boats

1 zucchini
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 turkey burger patty
1/2 cup tomato sauce
parmesan cheese (optional)
crushed red pepper (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Over medium heat, add oil to pan and add turkey patty. Once defrosted enough, shred the patty into bite-sized pieces. Cook just until the last bit of meat is no longer pink.

3. While the turkey is cooking, slice zucchini length-wise. Using a spoon or a knife, hollow out the inside of each half of zucchini (don’t discard insides). Place zucchini boats into greased baking pan.

4. Chop the zucchini insides into bite-sized pieces, and add to pan when turkey has almost fully changed color. When the meat is all grey, add sauce and crushed red pepper. Stir until combined. Fill mixture into zucchini boats.

5. Bake zucchini boats for about 10-13 minutes, or until zucchini is turning golden. Sprinkle with parmesan Enjoy!

Serves 1-2

Spaghetti Squash

I’m hesitant to try health food things. I understand the health benefits of things like kale and chia seeds, veganism and paleo diets. Power to the people who make these healthy and vitamin-heavy changes to their diets.

Spaghetti Squash with Tomato Sauce | Netflix and Nutella

As for me – I’ll stick to my sauteed spinach and steak, merci beaucoup. But I’m always looking for ways to lighten up some of my favorite meals. Because let’s face it – a college kid’s diet needs to consist of more than just bottled dressings, grilled cheeses, and pasta.

Spaghetti Squash with Tomato Sauce | Netflix and Nutella

The dressings I can replace with oil and red wine vinegar. The grilled cheeses can be peanut butter on whole wheat pita instead. But pasta? Ugh. It’s just too good.

I’ve heard a lot – via Pinterest, among other things – about the benefits of spaghetti squash. A vegetable that mimics my favorite grain dish? Yes, please! But I was wary to try it, not only because of my hesitation with “health foods” but also because of the effort it must have needed to take.

Spaghetti Squash with Tomato Sauce | Netflix and Nutella

It may or may not have been more simple than boiling water for pasta. Spaghetti squash will definitely become a health staple in this doubter’s diet.

Spaghetti Squash

spaghetti squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt
pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Cut squash length-wise (or “hot-dog” style as we would call it in elementary school). Gently scoop out the seeds from the squash without taking too much of its delicious meat. Do your best to look for seeds that grow sideways into the squash.

Spaghetti Squash with Tomato Sauce | Netflix and Nutella

3. Drizzle 1 tablespoon on each of the cut-sides of the squash, and rub it around to cover all of the surface area of the interior of the squash. Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper.

Spaghetti Squash with Tomato Sauce | Netflix and Nutella

4. Spray a baking sheet with a little nonstick spray. Place the spaghetti squash face down on the baking sheet. Bake for about 40 minutes. Let squash cool until you can easily manage it with your hands (about 20 mins).

Spaghetti Squash with Tomato Sauce | Netflix and Nutella

Before/ After of Step 5

5. With a fork, gently scrape at the inside of the squash. It should fall right off the skin. Make sure you go as close to the skin as possible for maximum squash goodness!

Spaghetti Squash with Tomato Sauce | Netflix and Nutella 6. Serve with marina sauce and cheese, pesto, or alfredo sauce (if you’re feeling decadent), and enjoy! DSCF2346 Makes 2 servings