Ordinary? No, it’s Extraordinary…Peanuts in the Shell!

Every now and then, the little things I see or use every day suddenly appear unique and amazing. Today, it’s peanuts in the shell (or, “out” of the shell for eating!).Not that I don’t love peanuts out of a jar.Or out of a can.But there is something unique about cracking the peanut out of the shell.

I’ve never eaten a burger at Five Guys but I have certainly feasted on their peanuts in the shell. And, what’s more fun than eating peanuts at a baseball game?Staring at one peanut…after I’ve eaten a thousand over the years…got me thinking about how exactly they grow. If you click on this photo, you can learn a bit more about their growth process.Although it was interesting, I’m going to give my perpetual-student mind a break and merely enjoy how cool these little things are. Appreciating something so ordinary in our everyday cuisine is really quite extraordinary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ordinary? Nope, it’s Extraordinary – And, it’s National Popcorn Poppin’ Month!

God has given us some really cool things to enjoy. Even though I usually pass right by them because they appear ordinary, I’m trying to pay attention to how they are really quite extraordinary!

Today, it’s popcorn. Or, should I say, the kernel. Who thought to pull that tiny thing off the cob, let it dry, cook it and flavor it? It’s extraordinary.

When my youngest was an infant, she had this habit of waking up every night around 11pm screaming. She was about a year old and the pediatrician said it was normal, and that we should settle her down and let her fall back to sleep.

My baby went to sleep nightly at 7pm, but for a few months, it was literally every night she awoke at 11pm with a piercing cry that demanded our attention (lest we allow her to wake her twin toddler siblings in the next room).

Unable to calm her down by merely holding, rocking or walking, I did what all smart Moms do when they are so tired they can barely see straight: I turned on the television. Back in 1999, there was a popular unit called the VHS player and I inserted a Little People video that showed a farmer harvesting corn on the cob. But, the weather at the farm was so incredibly hot, the farmer watched in amusement as the corn fields began popping kernels by the thousands.My baby would suddenly catch her breath from the sobs, and stared at the popcorn video until it ended. She watched that same Little People popcorn video over and over and over for three months.

As the kids grew up, popcorn was a staple for my girls and me. My husband and son aren’t big fans, but us gals have multiple flavorings, tried a few air poppers over the years and also completely enjoy regular ‘ol butter and salt shaken in a bag – always cooked in a pot, not in a microwave.

Recently, I’ve been missing Saturday nights with my girls, the Hallmark channel and popcorn. Them being at college has ruined my interest in popping corn just for myself (sigh). But, recently I did pull out the kernels and oil to make a batch and stared at one little kernel for a long while. I mean, really, the popping process is extraordinary.I thought of all the popcorn we’ve stuffed ourselves with at the movies…I reminisced about the elementary years when popcorn was part of the Thanksgiving pilgrim skits, harvest season and Christmas decorations.

Ahhhh, but those days are long gone, as are the baby years (double-sigh).

October is National Popcorn Poppin’ Month so here a few fun popcorn facts (courtesy of popcorn.org):

  • Americans consume some 13 billion quarts of popcorn annually!
  • There are 4 main types, but only one “pops”!
  • One kernel can pop up to 3 feet in the air! (That’s higher than our pet bunny leaps!)
  • There is no such thing as “hull-less” popcorn. All popcorn needs a hull in order to pop. (I was glad to learn this because I was considering purchasing the latest greatest “hull-less” popcorn options for sale out there.)
  • 2 Tablespoons of kernels = 1 quart popped.

Popcorn.org is a great site for additional information and neat things like free download popcorn coloring sheets!

Reuben Braids and Irish Cream Coffee

ReubenBraidCutReubenAlthough it’s rare that I post recipes, I tried two St. Patrick’s Day recipes yesterday with my youngest daughter and decided to share them! Both recipes are from Taste of Home, but I altered both, which is noted below. Click on the titles to be linked to the original recipes (and if you would like to see more professional photos!).

This was the very first time I’ve ever purchased corned beef! Both recipes are quick and very easy! Even those who don’t like corned beef (there are a few in my house) may find the Reuben tasty!

Homemade Irish Cream CoffeeIrishCream

Ingredients
12 oz. (1 can) evaporated milk
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup 2% milk (I used 1%)
¼ cup sugar (I used a few packs of Splenda)
2 T. chocolate syrup (I eliminated this)
1 T. instant coffee crystals
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used 3)
¼ almond extract (I eliminated this)
Need ½ cup brewed coffee for each cup of Irish Cream

Directions
In a blender, combine the first eight ingredients; cover and process until smooth. Store in the refrigerator.
For each serving, place coffee in a mug. Stir in 1/3 cup Irish cream. Heat mixture in a microwave if desired.
Yield: 3-1/3 cups.

Our own addition – we topped the drinks with whipped cream and green sugar!

Reuben Braids

Ingredients
6 oz. (1 cup) cooked corned beef brisket (I purchased ½ lb. thin sliced corned beef)
1 ½ cups (6 oz.) shredded swiss cheese (I made one braid with cheese & one without-both great!)
¾ cup drained and dried sauerkraut
1 small onion, chopped finely
3 T. Thousand Island dressing
1 T. dijon mustard
½ teaspoon dill weed (I used 1 & ½ t.)
2 packages (8 oz. each) refrigerated crescent rolls
1 egg white beaten
Sesame seeds

Directions
In a large bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. Unroll one tube of crescent dough onto an ungreased baking sheet; seal seams and perforations.

Spread half of corned beef filling down center of rectangle. On each long side, cut 1-in.-wide strips to within 1 in. of filling. Starting at one end, fold alternating strips at an angle across filling; seal ends. Repeat with remaining crescent dough and filling. Brush egg white over braids; sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. (Mine were golden brown within 20 minutes, so keep an eye on them.) Cool on wire racks for 5 minutes before cutting into slices. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 2 loaves (8 servings each).

Enjoy! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

How to cut dough to form braid.

How to cut dough to form braid.

 

Autumn Apple Brownies

I hope your family is enjoying the spectacular skies and colorful leaves of this autumn season. I recall seeing the first bright red leaves appear in late August, and now, those same trees have many empty branches.

While pumpkins are everywhere, I’m still holding on to apple season! This is a very simple, quick brownie recipe that can be prepared in 15 minutes, with a bake time around 30 minutes. The bonus is that there is no need to use beaters! I’m all about quick clean up!

Ingredients:

    1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

    ½ cup melted butter

    1 egg

    2 teaspoons vanilla extract

    1 cup flour

    1 ¾ teaspoons baking powder

    ½ cup toffee chips (I use Heath)

    1 ½ cups peeled and diced apples of your choice     

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350º.  Stir together brown sugar, butter, egg and vanilla.  Add flour and baking powder, mixing ingredients well. Stir in apples and toffee chips.  Spread batter into a greased and floured 8×8 inch pan.

Bake at 350º for 30-35 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Completely cool before cutting.

Tips: *Substitute chopped nuts for the Heath toffee bits, if desired. *Double recipe for a 13×9 pan.