Pink Vanilla Popcorn

So for those of you who know me, you might know how much I love entertaining! Yes, I run around like a chicken with my head cut off leading up to the party/dinner/event – but I love every single second of it! I love figuring out the theme, the menu, the decor and it makes me so happy to see everything come together and have all of the guests enjoying themselves!

This past weekend, I headed down to Destin, Florida to play hostess for one of my best friend’s bachelorette parties. The theme – pink and sparkles, the bride-to-be’s favorite things in the world! Seriously, she opens her suitcase everything inside is pink and/or glittery!

For weeks, I scoured my cooking magazines, my recipe box and Pinterest to come up with the perfect items to make. I searched for fun things for her to wear and for some fun things for the rest of the crew (like pink glow in the dark cups for going out!). I decorated the condo with some fun pink, black and sparkly stuff – but a lot of stuff was concealed until the surprise shower!

So after lunch on Friday the plan was to get some sun at the beach and then head in around 4 for the shower. Well, mother nature had other plans and decided to literally rain on our parade – so we pushed things up a bit – so I made Jen hide in a bedroom so we could set up!

A pink satin piece of fabric covered the refreshment table and was scattered with black, pink and clear rhinestones. I made butter cake cupcakes with pink cream cheese frosting (with silver sparkles of course) and just cut some watermelon to  put on a platter with blackberries and raspberries for more of the black and pink theme. I also made a delicious Watermelon Honeysuckle Spritzer to drink (and, well, it was pink!).

I also found a cute shop on Etsy that does handmade soaps! I got lingerie shaped ones that were wedding cake scented – and had them individually wrapped and labeled as favors for the girls.

I was horrible about taking photos of the cooking process (I woke up at 5:30am, drove 4 hours and was on the go until the guests arrived!) but my darling friends did manage to capture some of the set-up – including the yummy recipe I will share with you today!

Pink Vanilla Popcorn (serves 8-10)

3 bags light microwave popcorn

8 oz. good-quality vanilla melting wafers (I purchase mine at a local baking supply store)

Red food coloring (or color of choice)

Silver sprinkles

Heat water in a double boiler to medium heat and reduce to medium low. You do not want the water to boil.

Add 8 oz. of the wafers to the double boiler. Let sit for a few minutes until the wafers start to soften. Using a rubber spatula, stir wafers around until melting.

In the meantime, cook your popcorn in the microwave. If you are like me – it is very difficult not to eat half of it right away! Remove any kernels that were not popped.

Add popcorn to a large bowl or a cookie sheet.

When your wafers have melted, reduce heat to low and be careful not to stir too much or it will thicken. Add a few drops of food coloring and stir until blended. You can always add more – but you can’t take away, so  just add small amounts until you get to your desired color!

Remove melted wafers from heat and add a few dollops at a time to popcorn, stirring to coat the popcorn with your hands (I know it’s messy, but trust me – it’s easier!) and repeat until all of the popcorn has been coated.

Spread into a thin layer on wax paper and dust with sprinkles. Let cool at least 1 hour. Break apart and store in air-tight container until ready to serve!

It’s the perfect blend of salty and sweet and it’s super easy to customize for a party since you can make it in whatever colors you want! Perfect for the rapidly approaching football season, or just for a weekend with your best girl friends…

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A Naughty Post…

When I was toying with the notion of starting a blog, it was tough for me to pick a name that conveyed what I wanted it to convey. That cooking could be fun. That preparing healthy meals isn’t as insanely difficult as it seemed. And that delicious meals didn’t take hours of preparation.

I originally wanted to do a blog about cooking on the “light” side – but I realized that would paint me into a corner. I have always loved cooking – long before I started losing the weight. That just made it even more fun for me! Now, no fear – a majority of these recipes I have taken the liberty of reducing – but sometimes, you can splurge!

So I landed on this title so that I could have some flexibility.

Last week was the husband’s birthday – so there was a lot of flexibility when it came to our meals. That included pizza from our favorite place.

Also, I may have mentioned before that baking is not exactly my favorite thing in the word. I like playing with spices and flavors, and baking much more, well, scientific. However, the husband loves baked goods! And he loves peanut butter and chocolate combinations. And I love him. And it was his birthday. So I wanted to bake him a special birthday treat!

All of this is to say, I love my husband SO much, that I now present you with a very non-diet friendly baked good. I started on Pinterest, and ended up landing here.

It is, very very naughty. But in the very best way possible. Like seriously, you will want to punch me in the face and then give me a big giant smooch.

Pretzel Crusted Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie

Oh, I finally named my outlet - meet "Sparky"!

1 1/2 cups crushed pretzels

1/2 cup sugar

6 Tbsp. butter, melted

2 sticks butter, room temperature

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. kosher salt

2 1/4 cup white whole-wheat flour

1 cup milk chocolate chips

1 (8 oz.) bag Reese’s mini cups

Preheat oven to 350.

Crush your pretzels and mix with melted butter and 1/2 cup sugar.

Press into the bottom of a pie dish. I covered the bottom and went about 1/4 the way up the sides. Bake for 10 minutes and remove from oven.

Cream together butter, sugar and brown sugar.

Add vanilla and eggs and beat until combined.

Add in baking soda, salt and flour. Scrape sides to ensure everything is mixed well.

Fold in chocolate chips.

Then fold in peanut butter cups.

Mix until well incorporated.

Pour and press into crust as well as you can – as you don’t want to press too hard and break the crust. The heat will allow the “cookie” to spread.

Bake pie for 30-35 minutes. I ended up baking mine for about 40 minutes until set.

Allow to cool before serving.

I would highly recommend throwing some ice cream on top. Because what’s a little ice cream at this point, right?

Enjoy and thanks for reading!

Happy Leap Day!

So today is a day that comes every 4 years – and only every 4 years! It’s February 29th, aka Leap Day!

Now apparently I’m a little behind the times. I usually start preparing dinner around 6:30 so I can catch my guilty pleasure, “Wheel of Fortune” (yes, I am actually a 70-year-old woman – I have just aged incredibly well). So after it came on, I think “30 Rock” was next – and from half tuning in while preparing dinner, I learned that on Leap Day, whatever you do doesn’t count! Who knew?

What would I do if I found out it didn’t count? I’ve kind of always wanted to bungee jump – but my mom said she would disown me. But she couldn’t if it didn’t count, right?

Honestly, I think all of the other things I’ve done and want to do should count! I’d love to sky dive, travel to Thailand, open a restaurant, go on an African safari…so many things on the bucket list. Why would I want any of them erased by Leap Day?

But okay, maybe Leap Day can be good. Because I made you these cupcakes…and they’re not diet friendly…but if you eat them today, they don’t count!

I know, I know. I’m like, such a good person.

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes (Makes 24 cupcakes)

1 box white cake mix + ingredients on box (egg whites, water, oil)

About 30-34 Oreo Cookies

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake pan with 12 cupcake liners.

Twist apart Oreo halves, trying to leave as much of the “cream” filling on one side as possible. (This is why you need extra – it might take a few tries!). Lay the cookie half, filling side up, in the bottom of each liner.

Take the remaining Oreo cookies and place in a plastic bag and take out your aggression on some cookies, breaking into very small pieces/crumbs.

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients for the white cake. Fold in about 3/4 of the Oreo crumbs – about 3/4-1 cup.

Fill cupcake liners a little more than halfway full and bake for 15-18 minutes until cooked through. Remove and cool. Repeat with remaining batter.

While cupcakes are cooking and cooling, mix together cream cheese, butter, vanilla and confectioners sugar. Mine came out a little runny from over mixing, so make sure your cream cheese softened so you won’t have as many lumps to get out!

Spread frosting onto cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle with remaining Oreo crumbs. If you have enough (e.g. you go through an entire package trying to pull the cream onto one side even though you know it doesn’t matter) break the plain sides into halves or quarters and place on each cupcake.

So throw back a cupcake or 10 with a glass of milk or a bottle of wine. Whatever you want – because hey, it doesn’t count on Leap Day!

(Does that mean I can order my favorite pizza tonight?!)