Garlic Dill Popcorn

Happy Labor Day weekend everyone!  I hope you all have three days off in this gorgeous weather for festivities or just some R&R.  
If you know me, you know that I have a passion, well, slight obsession, with popcorn.  It’s cheap, it’s easy, it’s versatile and has a satisfying crunch-factor.  I grew up with air-popped popcorn so I’ve been snacking on it since I was a toddler (I even have a scar to prove it). 

Historically, corn has been around for thousands of years however, popcorn was first introduced into mainstream cuisine as a breakfast food (see what I mean about versatile) and now it is most popularly sold at the movies, baseball games or fairs.  Microwave bags increased the popularity of popcorn at home but unfortunately, some recent health concerns about what goes in the bags have popped up.

Here are some easy ways to make popcorn at home:
Air popper – No oil needed, follow manufacturer instructions.
Paper bag –  Also, no oil needed.  Place 1/4 -1/3 cup kernels in a paper lunch bag.  Fold the top down several times, about ½ inch folds.  Place in microwave for about 2 minutes, depending on microwave.  Stay close and listen for the popping to slow and remove, otherwise popcorn may burn.  Open carefully and pour into a large bowl.
Stove-top – Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a large saucepan on the stove at medium-high heat.  Add 1/4-1/3 cup kernels, cover with lid and shake back and forth until popping almost stops. Being extremely careful of steam, remove from heat and pour into a large bowl.

Try this version below for a savory snack that's perfect for after work or cuddled up with your favorite movie.

Garlic Dill Popcorn
Serves 2-3

1/4 cup popcorn kernels (about 8 cups popped)
1 tbsp. unsalted butter (or olive oil)
1 tbsp. lemon juice
¼ teaspoon minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon dill

Directions: Air pop popcorn into large bowl.  Over low-medium heat, melt butter and garlic in a small saucepan (or heat butter and garlic in microwave until melted).  Remove from heat and add lemon juice and dill to garlic butter.  Drizzle garlic butter over popcorn with a spoon and stir occasionally.  Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts: 122 Calories, 5g Fat, 17g Carbohydrate, 3g Protein, 34mg Sodium 81mg Potassium


Avocado Tuna Boats

Hope you all had a fantastic weekend!  I can feel a hint Fall in the air and I'm loving it!
Okay, truth time.  I'm not the biggest fan of mayonnaise.  I know some of you love it but about a year or two ago I was noticing I was adding the teeniest drop of mayo to tuna, egg or potato salads because I just didn't like the taste.  I figured there had to be a more flavorful way so now I usually season my tuna with olive oil and lemon juice.  This brightens the fish right up and makes it a great addition to salads or on its own with crackers.  The fact that it is lower in calories is just an added bonus.
Occasionally, when I'm looking for a light lunch I turn to this tuna salad with avocado.  I bulk up the tuna with tomatoes, onions and peppers and serve on top of half a ripe avocado.  It makes for a pretty, delicate meal and is perfect for sharing.  The avocado adds creaminess that some of the mayo fans may be missing.

Avocado Tuna Boats
Serves 4

2 ripe avocados
1 - 5oz can of solid white tuna fish, drained
1/4 cup diced onion or shallot
1/4 cup diced orange pepper
1/4 cup diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Flake tuna with a fork and combine gently with onion, tomatoes and peppers in a small bowl.  Pour in olive oil and lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Slice avocados in half and remove the pit.  Top each half with a quarter of the tuna salad and serve.

Nutrition Facts: 274 Calories, 23g Fat, 11g Carbohydrates, 9g Protein, 7g Fiber, 81mg Sodium , 602mg Potassium


My Weekend with Mom

So, this week may be somewhat of a letdown on Lemon Pantry, as in no new recipes this week.  I have been a teensy bit under the weather (just kidding, I have gastroenteritis apparently?) since Saturday and I am currently sipping on some rockin' vegetable broth.  Basically, it hurts when I eat so the clinical dietitian in me immediately thinks worst-case scenario and it also leaves very little for me to blog about.  Cue the tiny violin.

However! I did get to enjoy a really nice Saturday with my mom including a trip to Winterport for a quilt show.  We also stopped at Winterport Winery for their new Pear Cider (so good!) and share a yummy cheese plate for lunch.  The weather, the atmosphere, the company were perfection :)

Lastly, we visited Tea Maineia where Mom purchased the Cream Earl Grey and I got the Raspberry Black Tea after tasting a few samples.  They were also featuring a free blueberry iced tea with purchase which I highly recommend as well. What could be better than that on a gorgeous day with the hint of fall in the air?

Winterport Winery Pear Cider 

State of Maine Cheese Co. Chive and Tarragon Cheese
Sharp cheddar
Winterport Co. Boursin Cheese Dip
Stonewall Kitchen Fig and Ginger Jam
Assorted nuts and olives

Anyways, enjoy your week everyone! Hope to see you back here soon!


DIY: Wall Decor Re-Do

Over the past few months while I was envisioning (Pinterest-ing) the d├ęcor for my new room I routinely was drawn to photos like these…

They all feature a mirror with a type of sunburst centered over the bed.  Several months ago I found a similar piece at Burlington Coat Factory that was originally $39.99 however, a few pieces of glass were missing from two of the “spoke” and it had been marked way down.  I decided there must be a way I could fix it so when I cashed out I also asked if there was any way they could mark it down even more since it was clearly broken.  They agreed to give me further 10% off so I ended up stealing this little bugger for 9 dollars.

Since then, it’s ridden around in the trunk of my car for a few weeks, moved to a new place and then sat some more in a spare bedroom.  All the while I was pondering its mini-makeover.

Then I came across photos like this...

... and I decided the fastest, easiest and maybe prettiest way to tackle this project was spray paint!  I read up on a few blogs about how to spray paint plastic, as my mirror was made of metal, glass and plastic, the latter being somewhat tricky to spray paint.
There is a newer product out there by Krylon called Fusion, which is made specifically for plastic.  I picked up a can in Satin White as well as some masks and a thin layer of plastic for about 8 dollars meaning this entire project was completed for under 20 bucks!  That is what I call a win.

  1. Remove excess glue, paint, etc. from surface.

  2. Gently sand down all surfaces to be painted.

  3. Clean surfaces.
  4. Cover any areas that will not be spray painted with painters tape. 
5. Begin spray painting as normal. Several coats may be needed depending on your surface.

6. Let dry for several hours and hang your masterpiece!


Protein Powerhouse: Crispy Chickpeas

Things have been a little crazy around here lately.  I am in the middle of a work-17-out-of-19-days stretch, which includes 3 different jobs, one of which is full-time.  We also have a new member of the family at my house, my roommate's new, 8 week old puppy, Rex.  If I thought summer was flying by before, it sure is now.

In the midst of preparing the house for my friend, Mary to stay with us this week while she is in her last week of her dietetic internship (hooray!), I found some time to make these crispy chickpeas.  I had made some delicious pancakes for breakfast (my FAVORITE) but neglected to make an egg or some other protein so I ended up ravenous barely two hours later.  I always have a few cans of black beans and garbanzo beans on hand for just such an occasion, when protein is just what the stomach ordered.

I've made this recipe various ways in the past and they key is to PAT THE CHICKPEAS DRY.  If you don't, they just will not crisp up the same way.  I'm telling you now.  Don't forget this.  (Can you sense that perhaps I forgot to do this amongst puppy potty breaks this weekend?)

Like other beans, nuts or seeds, chickpeas are high in calories (about 730 per cup), which is why it is important to watch your serving size.  However, they are high in fiber and an excellent source of protein so you can feel good about snacking on a handful or adding them as salad toppers.

These things are addicting and some other equally delicious flavor variations include Lemon and Dill or Garlic and Parmesan (just add the Parmesan cheese close to the end of cooking time).  

Shake, shake, shake.
Take a break to let the newest roommate outside for a snack!

Crispy Chickpeas
Serves 6

2 cans chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans)
Non-stick cooking spray (I use olive oil blend)
2 tbsp. olive oil
½ tbsp. Old Bay seasoning
½ tbsp. Italian Seasoning or other dried herbs
½ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Drain and rinse chickpeas.  Be sure to pat dry with a paper towel.  In a medium bowl, combine chickpeas, olive oil and seasonings.

Spray large cookie sheet with non-stick spray.  Spread chickpeas onto cookie sheet in single layer.

Cook for about 50-60 minutes. Every 20 minutes shake the pan gently to rotate chickpeas.  Let cool for about 1 hour to let chickpeas crisp up.  Enjoy within 1 day.

Nutrition Facts: 286 Calories, 9g Fat, 40g Carbohydrates, 13g Protein, 12g Fiber, 370mg Sodium, 584mg Potassium


Summer Squash Bake

It’s that time of year where gardens are in full bloom and tomatoes and zucchini seem to be multiplying by the minute.  I personally love zucchini in breads or as zucchini pancakes but I’m not as crazy about summer squash.  This recipe I made over the weekend for my mom and I turned out to be a delicious way to use those suckers up before they grow too big. 
This recipe happens to be vegetarian and can be served as a main dish or as a side.  We paired it with salmon and roasted red potatoes and green beans where it got a stamp of approval from my carnivorous dad!  Love it when that happens.
Happy, healthy eating!

Summer Squash Bake
Serves 4-6

2 small zucchini
2 small summer squash
2 medium tomatoes
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tbsp. flour
½ cup shredded cheese (such as mozzarella, cheddar or parmesan)
¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
½ tsp. Italian seasoning or Herbs de Provence
¼ tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Slice zucchini and summer squash into ¼- ½ inch rounds, trying to keep pieces the same size.  Place in baking dish, alternating zucchini and squash until you fill the bottom of the dish.  Slice tomatoes and place on top of squash and zucchini.
In a small bowl, combine milk, egg, flour, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and garlic powder.  Whisk with a fork and pour over vegetables in baking dish.  Sprinkle cheese on top of tomatoes. 
Season the breadcrumbs with a small amount of salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.  Pour in an even layer over contents of baking dish.  Cook for 25 minutes or until golden brown and vegetables are tender but not overcooked. 

Nutrition Facts: 171 Calories, 7g Fat, 19g Carbohydrates, 10g Protein, 2g Fiber, 146g Sodium, 419g Potassium