How To: Make Stove-Top Popcorn

When my husband and I moved to New York, we no longer had the “luxury” of having a microwave oven.  We had one when we lived in Northern Virginia but left it behind when we moved to NYC as we knew kitchen counter space would be extremely limited.  We have gotten along quite well without this modern convenience and we barely ever missed having one except for when we had a craving for popcorn.  Yes, as artificial as it is, we only ever ate microwave popcorn.  I once tried to cook Jiffy Pop but I burned it.  Then we got to the point where we would only have popcorn when we went to a movie theater.

I started to think, “Geez, what did people do before microwaves when they wanted popcorn?”  When I was a little girl (pre-microwave ovens) my parents had a hot air popcorn popper.  Well, I don’t have one of those and I am not about to go buy one.  I tend to agree with Alton Brown regarding single-use kitchen items.  When space is at a premium, as it is in our apartment, I need my kitchen equipment to be multi-functional.

So, I did some experimenting and taught myself how to make stove-top popcorn.  It really only took 2 tries to get it right.  (The first time, I used too much oil and took the pot off the stove too soon, leaving a ton of unpopped kernels behind).  The second time, I got it right.  Here’s how I do it:

Stove-Top Popcorn

Using a large heavy-bottomed 8-quart pot over medium-high heat, heat just enough canola oil to generously coat the bottom of the pot (about 1 tablespoon).  Then add enough popcorn kernels (I used Arrowhead Mills Organic Popcorn) to form a single layer in the bottom of the pot (about 1/2 cup).  Shake the pan well to coat the kernels in the oil.

Stove-Top Popcorn

Cover the pan.  Once the kernels start to pop, occasionally shake the pot from side to side/front to back  to make sure that the unpopped kernels stay settled at the bottom of the pan and the popped corn does not burn.  When the popping has slowed significantly, remove the pot from the heat and carefully remove the lid away from you (beware of escaping steam!).

Stove-Top Popcorn

Pour popped corn into a large serving bowl, top with your favorite popcorn toppers (melted butter, fine sea salt, Parmesan cheese, chili powder, finely chopped fresh herbs, what-have-you) and toss well to evenly distribute the deliciousness.

Stove-Top Popcorn

Now, pop in a DVD of choice and enjoy some fresh, hot, all-natural homemade popcorn!

‘Tis Potluck Season!

One of my favorite dishes to make for a potluck supper is a rice casserole that my Grandmother Alexander used to make for large get-togethers.  I don’t really know the name of it, I just always refer to it as “my rice casserole”.  The name (or lack thereof) does not really do it justice, though…

This delicious side dish is a real crowd pleaser.  I’m always especially amazed at how much the men-folk enjoy it.  This recipe is extraordinarily easy to make and can be doubled, tripled, quadrupled as necessary.  The recipe may seem to require a lot of butter but keep this in mind — I’ve actually reduced the amount of butter by half; my grandmother used to use a whole stick!  If you make sure to always have the ingredients in your pantry, you can whip up this dish anytime you please.

Rice Casserole

Serves 4

4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 cup long grain white rice
1 10.5 oz can condensed French Onion soup
1 10.5 oz can condensed beef consomme (not broth)
1 4 oz can sliced mushrooms, drained

Preheat oven to 350F.  Combine all ingredients in a 2 quart casserole dish.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Enjoy.

Happy Holidays!

Rice Casserole

Rice Casserole

Tracy’s Homemade Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce

I was not able to enjoy my favorite cranberry sauce this Thanksgiving as my in-laws were in town and they took my husband and I on a Chinese food bender for the entire weekend.  So, this MSG-free weekend, I made my favorite condiment of all time:

Tracy’s Homemade Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce

1 (12 oz.) bag of cranberries, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
Zest of 1 medium navel orange, finely grated

Put all ingredients in a large saucepan; stir to combine and loosely cover.  Cook over medium-high heat until the liquid starts to boil and the skins of the cranberries start to pop.  Stir, loosely cover and lower heat to medium and allow mixture to bubble for about 10 minutes.  Stir yet again, and turn heat to low.  Simmer 10 more minutes or until mixture has thickened.

Cool, cover and store in the refrigerator.

Cranberry Sauce

Note: I make this sauce the day before I want to start using it as it seems to be one of those dishes that tastes better the next day.

This sauce is delicious with pork, poultry, brunch and dessert.  I even sneak a spoonful of it and enjoy it all by itself.  I love the ruby-red color, the chunky texture and the way it smells and tastes like the holidays.


Happy Summer!!!

Happy Memorial Day aka the unofficial start of Summer! Summer brings to mind barbecues and grilling and outdoor dining. Living in an apartment in NYC means I have no outdoor space to call my own so I do all I can to celebrate summer from my kitchen. Then, we pack up our goodies and walk over to Central Park for a picnic. This recipe for BBQ sauce is the best I’ve ever had. It’s great on ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, grilled chicken, burgers and adds fantastic flavor to baked beans.

Barbecue Sauce

2 Tbsp. liquid smoke
1 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

Stir all ingredients together in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and use immediately or cool for storage in the refrigerator.