Hello, fellow snow day participants! We’re in the midst of a wintry mix extravaganza here. Freezing rain, sleet and snow has been falling since early this morning and is forecast to continue throughout the day into the night, so we can pretty much write this day off as a snow day.
That doesn’t have to be a bad thing, though.
I know most people are really tired of the winter weather, but there isn’t much we can do about it except embrace it as a part of the season. So, go on out and give winter a big ‘ol hug!
Go on! A nice tight squeeze will do.
Okay, so you probably don’t want to do that and you’re probably cursing and shaking your mitten-covered fists at the sky. I get that too.
What if we compromised and embraced the fact that we have a day to spend snuggled up watching movies, catching up on DVR’d shows, reading that book we’ve been meaning to get to, or playing board games with the family?
And what if I told you I’ve got some yummy snacks to make the day a little more bearable?
That helps, doesn’t it?
These are Strawberry Vanilla Malted Milkshakes and Black Pepper Parmesan Popcorn.
All you need is that book, movie or board game and you’re all set for a cozy afternoon. Bonus: They aren’t difficult to make either! Let’s get to it.
Strawberry Vanilla Malted Milkshakes
1 large scoop French Vanilla Ice Cream
2 c. frozen Strawberries (Use fresh if they are in season)
1 c. Milk (Skim or 1%)
1/4 c. Malted Milk Powder
3 T. Powdered Sugar
1/2 t. Vanilla Extract or 1 Vanilla bean pod*
*If using vanilla bean pod, split in half lengthwise, and using the back of a knife, scrape the seeds out. Add the seeds to the shake. You can use the pod by sticking it into granulated sugar (It will flavor the sugar gradually), dropping the pod into a bottle of real maple syrup, toss it into vodka to steep and use for cocktails or even stirring it into a pitcher of lemonade to infuse with a lovely vanilla note.
Add all of the ingredients to a blender and blend on low speed until combined. Taste for desired level of sweetness and adjust using extra powdered sugar, if you’d like. Your level of sweetness will depend on the strawberries. If you like thick, frothy shakes, blend on high speed for 30 seconds or so to blend some air into them.
You can also change things up by adding Almond Milk in place of the milk and 1/4 t. Almond Extract in place of the Vanilla. Strawberry Almond Malted Milkshakes = YUM!
Black Pepper Parmesan Popcorn
3 T. Vegetable Oil
1/2 C. Popcorn Kernels
3 T. Butter. melted
3/4 c. Finely grated Parmesan Cheese (Freshly grated if possible)
Ground Black Pepper
Fine Sea Salt or Regular Salt
Add oil and three of the kernels to a heavy bottomed pot with a tight fitting lid. Place over medium heat and let sit until you hear the three kernels pop. Add the remaining kernels, cover the pot and remove from heat for 30 seconds. This gives the kernels time to come to temperature and pop more evenly. Place the pot back over the heat until the kernels begin to pop. Start shaking gently to keep them moving. When the popping slows down or stops, remove the pot from the heat and take off the lid so the steam doesn’t build up and create soggy popcorn.
In a large bowl, place about 1/3 of the popcorn in the bottom. Top with 1/3 of the butter, 1/3 of the parmesan, a little salt and some ground black pepper. Repeat, using this layering method until all the popcorn and toppings are used. Combine using a large spoon, your immaculately clean hands, or you can get ambitious and mix it by using a flipping motion to toss the bowl. It’ll make you feel all chef-y and cool. You can also eat any kernels that escape during the toss and call it checking for quality control. Someone has to do it, and you’ll take one for the team, you martyr, you!
A few nice (but not necessary) tips:
- Use a microplane to grate the parmesan cheese yourself. It’ll result in fluffy, feathery grated cheese that melts right onto the popcorn.
- Use freshly ground black pepper. The flavor is much more pronounced and you’ll make the most of your ingredient.
- Mustard and garlic makes cheesy things taste cheesier. Adding a pinch of ground mustard or garlic powder to the melted butter will boost the flavor even more.
This method of popcorn making lends itself to all kinds of seasonings and flavor combinations, so get creative! Let me know what you come up with. Or better yet, invite me over to try your creations. I’m all about testing for quality control too!
Happy Snow Day!