Valentine's Day Popcorn That Will Steal Anyone's Heart!

 
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So I realized the other day that National Popcorn Day and Valentine's are in the same month!!! OMG! I love popcorn, and I kind of do love Valentine's Day. Not because of all of the lovie dovie stuff. Our wedding anniversary is February 10th, so we kind of lump the two together anyway. I just like all the candy! (Does that surprise you?) 

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to talk a little about both popcorn and Valentine's Day! More about popcorn, and then Valentine's Day Popcorn!


Americans currently consume 14 billion quarts of popped popcorn each year! That's a lot of popcorn. And, who knew it was so good for you? At the heart of popcorn is a healthful whole-grain that is naturally low-fat, low in calories, and gluten-free! WHAT? Yep! One serving can provide about 70% of a person's recommended daily intake of whole grains.

FUN FACTS

I have some fun popcorn facts (at least I thought they were fun and super interesting)!

  • Most people think of popcorn as a snack, but in the early 1900's, popcorn was a popular breakfast food - much like cereal today.

  • It is most popular around holidays like Halloween, Christmas, and VALENTINE'S DAY!!!

  • At one time, popcorn balls were one of the most popular foods given as gifts.

  • Most of the popcorn consumed throughout the world is grown in the United States, but Americans consume the most!

  • Most of the popcorn grown in the United States is grown in Indianan, Nebraska, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky and Missouri.

  • Microwave popcorn became popular in the early 1980's and is one of the main reasons people use microwaves. Most microwaves have a "popcorn" control button.

  • It is a great snack for diabetics as well as people on a low cholesterol diet. 

Who knew all of that about popcorn? I surely did not. I knew it was good for you, but I definitely had no idea that we consumed that much, or that people used to eat it for breakfast!


I always associated popcorn with the movie theatre. You know when you walk in the theatre and that fresh popped popcorn smell hits your first thing? Also, in a gym at a basketball game....that was random. Look, my dad was a basketball coach, so the smell of popcorn and the sound of squeaking tennis shoes and whistle's blowing is comforting to me - I may or may not need counseling....

Anyway, you may or may not know that my mom has Multiple Sclerosis and was diagnosed with Lupus in 1983-1984. Part of her early treatment was chemotherapy. She would be in a hospital in Houston, TX, for extended periods of time to receive treatment, and then she would come home for a few weeks to recuperate, and then head back to Houston. Most of the time, when she came home between treatments, she did not feel well. She was experiencing all of the side effects that come with chemotherapy. One of which was nausea. Most anything made her sick, but she loved some movie theatre popcorn. My sister or my dad would drive me to the theatre to get her some popcorn and it made her happier than happy. She loved it and would eat it for days. The people at the movie theatre got to know us very well. I never wanted a ticket, I just needed to get to the concession stand! I'll never forget getting her that popcorn and how much she truly enjoyed eating it.


My kids LOVE, LOVE, LOVE popcorn. My youngest daughter, Emily, likes it a lot, but kind of has to be in the mood for it. My oldest, Katelyn, Lordy watch out. That child can eat some popcorn. And she goes on binges. She tends to eat it late at night and she will eat it nightly for weeks and weeks. And then is done with it for a while. I popped some today and she perked up...I'm sure she'll be back on the popcorn kick tomorrow! Anyway, I thought what better way to celebrate National Popcorn Day and Valentine's Day than with Valentine's Day Popcorn?? 

 
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Did you hear the bells and cheers? Oh, well, they are going off over here. Because popcorn AND chocolate? Sweet and salty? Yes ma'am I think so! I have seen a few recipes for sweet and salty popcorn, but most of them seem to use caramel. I decided to try white chocolate and popcorn, and to make it for Valentine's Day, I added some red and pink M&M's....I did...I really did. You know what I'm going to say...O.M.G....it was delicious. Like so delicious, that after Valentine's Day it will just be M&M popcorn!!! 


I literally popped some microwave popcorn and melted some white chocolate. I drizzled the chocolate over the popcorn and let it set. I then mixed the white chocolate covered popcorn with Valentine M&M's and mini pretzels. I then continued to eat almost the entire thing! This should be called Valentine's Popcorn Crack...I could not stop eating it...it's salty and sweet and it's just the perfect combination. Ok, let me tell you what I did so you can get on out there and make it!


What I used:


Cookie sheet

Spatula

Metal Buckets (you could use ANYTHING)

Microwave popcorn

White chocolate morsels

Valentine M&M's

Mini Pretzels

VALENTINE'S DAY POPCORN!

Prep time:

Cook time:

Ingredients:
  • 1 bag microwave popcorn
  • 1 package of white chocolate morsels (11 oz)
  • 1 Tbsp shortening
  • 1 cup mini pretzels (or however many you want to use)
  • 1 cup Valentine's M&M's (or however many you want to use)

Instructions:
  1. Pop the bag of popcorn in the microwave. Once it is popped, pour it onto a cookie sheet in a single layer.
  2. In a microwave safe bowl, melt white chocolate chips and shortening in 30 second intervals. Stirring every 30 seconds to ensure you do not burn the chocolate.
  3. When the white chocolate is melted, drizzle it over the popcorn. Add the M&M's and the pretzels and gently fold it together.
  4. Set the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to help the chocolate set.
  5. Keep the popcorn stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
  6. If it is left out of an airtight container for too long, the popcorn will become soft, so ensure once it is served to cover it back up.

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When I tell you to make this with caution…I mean be careful! You will eat the entire thing! OR, better yet, make it for your Valentine and steal their heart!! :)

Happy Valentine’s Popcorn,

Jennifer

Perfect Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs

 
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The Instant Pot Story

So, my sister, Tracy, got an Instant Pot last year in December, and she has told me all year how much she loved it. And, I have seen all over the internet and all over Pinterest that it was the "rage". 

I was hearing things like:

-You can put all of your ingredients in the pot together and cook them for 30 mins to an hour and have supper just like that!

-It cooks everything super fast and it still comes out tender and delicious.

-You will never cook hard-boiled eggs the same again.

And, that is why my sister is a die-hard fan. 

You see, Tracy makes these deviled eggs THAT. ARE. TO. DIE. FOR!! She makes them every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas and we literally have to hide them until it's time to eat because we will ALL eat them ALL before lunch has even started.

Anyway, she said this Instant Pot was a game changer when it came to hard boiling eggs.

You know, I've always boiled them on the stove, and quite honestly, it's hit or miss. Sometimes they are perfect! Easy to peel and the yolk is a perfect yellow color...but usually, it's not that fairy tale story. More often than not, I'll at least have a few that are hard to peel, and there is a not so nice gray outline around the yolk. 

Searching for the Perfect Hard-Boiled (Pressure Cooked) Egg

Ok, so guess what? I got an Instant Pot for Christmas! Yay! I got THIS ONE and I love it! I couldn't wait to use it either. Mine didn't come with a basket, so my sister did what any good big sis would do....she ordered me one:) She ordered me one LIKE THIS and she knew what she was talking about. And, yesterday, I decided I was going to try doing hard boiled eggs in it. (I will link both of these at the bottom of the post with pics).

Well, I don't ever doubt my sister, because she's older than me and she knows what she's talking about (I tell her that all the time, UNLESS I'm telling her what to do!!!). And, again, she was right. I hard boiled 8 eggs and they were perfection. Now, I read up on hard boiling eggs in the Instant Pot and there were so many options, it kind of made my head spin...super soft boiled, soft boiled, medium boiled, hard boiled, super hard-boiled. I'm like, just cook the dang egg!

I did figure out that I don't want that yolk soft or super soft....I DO NOT need a squishy boiled egg. So it I cooked the eggs for 8 minutes (which is the second to last hardest yolk) and they were perfection. The directions say to take them out of the pot and put them directly in an ice bath to stop the cooking process.

 
These eggs hanging out in their ice bath!

These eggs hanging out in their ice bath!

 

The Result!

So, I did as I was told. I let them cool about 15 minutes and took to peeling....and they really were the easiest I have ever peeled boiled eggs. Like EVER. The eggs, with the peel off, were so smooth. I don't think I've ever made eggs like that. Mine usually have a few holes in them and part of the white pulled off.

 
I mean look at these, they kind of don’t even look real!

I mean look at these, they kind of don’t even look real!

 

So, I cut one of them open and it was the prettiest yellow yolk you've ever seen. It didn't even have that dark line of gray that it normally has!

I looked at them for a long time, just in satisfaction because I have battled boiling eggs for years. And then I decided I had to do something with these 8 eggs! So, I decided to make deviled eggs (which I didn't photograph and they didn't taste near as good as Tracy's). But they were good and my family devoured them. And I'm so glad I finally got the chance to try cooking them in the Instant Pot. My days of boiling them on the stove are OVER. 

 
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This INSTANT POT has been a game changer for me. I mean, I've read lots of reviews of people that love it, and I've even read quite a few people who have said it is way over-rated. Well, let me tell you, I love it and I have used for so many things just in the past month I've had it. It has changed the way I cook supper for the better.

I can't wait to show you all more of the things that I am making in the Instant Pot and you will see how fabulous it is!

Okay! Here is the recipe that I used!


INSTANT POT HARD-BOILED EGGS

Prep time:

Cook time:

Ingredients:
  • Large Eggs - any amount - I used 8
  • 1 cup water (for 8 eggs)

Instructions:
  1. Put 1 cup water in Instant Pot insert.
  2. Place eggs in the instant pot basket.
  3. Close the lid and the steam valve.
  4. Set Instant Pot for 5 minutes on Manual at HIGH pressure.
  5. Allow pot to release the pressure naturally for 5 minutes, then very carefully quick release any remaining steam.
  6. Take the eggs out and set in an ice bath for at least 5 minutes
  7. Remove eggs from the ice bath and either peel or store in the refrigerator until you are ready to use.

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Happy Instant Potting,


Jennifer

Strawberry Banana Smoothie *Copycat Angel Food Smoothie from Smoothie King*

 
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I’m on my smoothie making spree again. This time, I did strawberry banana and I have to say…it is pretty amazing! I made it once to make sure the recipe was the right flavor and consistency, and I have probably made it at least 2 more times in the past week! So, it’s a winner.

Like I said in my Mixed Berry Smoothie post, I use the NINJA, BLENDER/FOOD PROCESSOR, to make my smoothies. I had a blender, but I have found that the Ninja just blends everything better. In a blender, the blades are just at the bottom, but in a Ninja, the blades are all the way through the center of the pitcher. It’s quite fascinating can you tell? lol! Another thing I LOVE about the Ninja, and especially the set that I have linked, is that it comes with different size pitchers AND it includes a lid to go on it. So, when I’m in a rush, make a smoothie, don’t drink it all, I just pop the top on the pitcher and stick it in the fridge!! It’s amazing! (At least in my world this is amazing!) I have added a picture of the Ninja that I purchased, at the end of this post.

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Here is the recipe and I, of course altered the original recipe, because that's what I do!!! The original recipe calls for vanilla yogurt, and I used strawberry yogurt. I wanted more strawberry and less banana taste, because, in case you didn’t know already, I DON’T LIKE BANANAS!!!!

Also, if you notice that little stainless steel straw in the smoothie below? I. LOVE. THOSE. THINGS. They have a wider mouth (which is better for drinking smoothies and milkshakes) AND they keep it so cold. I bought them here, and I will put the pic and link at the end of this post. We use them for everything because they are awesome!

STRAWBERRY BANANA SMOOTHIE

Makes: 2 servings

Prep time:

Cook time:

Ingredients:
  • 1 banana, sliced, frozen
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 cup strawberry yogurt
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • honey to taste

Instructions:
  1. Combine frozen bananas, frozen strawberries, yogurt and milk
  2. Blend well in blender/smoothie maker
  3. Add honey to taste
  4. Enjoy!

*If you do not have a frozen banana, add 1/2 cup more yogurt and a handful of ice.

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So, go try this smoothie and let me know how you like it! My family thought it was a for sure hit! And you can add anything to it. If you add a protein powder or energy mix, just add it in and blend it!

Happy Smoothie Making,

Jennifer