Saturday, February 12, 2011

Caramel Popcorn Indulgence for Valentines Day: Two Recipes

I don't often make and post indulgent recipes, but this is one I must confess and also share. Zac is going on a road trip to a theatre conference for a week in Northern California over Valentines. He is roadtripping with some friends. So for a Valentines treat, I made him a tin of the best caramel popcorn I have ever had in my life. I got this recipe from a good friend, Chantelle Bender. She made this for me when we were in college together. I have never fogotten how amazing it is and have made it only a few times since. It is super sugary and fatty, so it's a very special occasion treat. However, it is SO AMAZING that I can't cut it out of my life completely.

Bender Family Soft Caramel Popcorn Recipe

1 very large bowl of popped popcorn (about16 cups)
2 1/2 c. brown sugar
1 cube of butter- softened
1 c. karo syrup
2 tsp. vanilla
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Combine brown sugar, butter, vanilla, and karo syrup into a pot. Heat on the stove over medium until boiling. Remove from heat. Add sweetened condensed milk and mix thoroughly. Pour over popcorn a bit at a time and mix well to ensure even coverage. If you are putting it into containers or bags, let cool for 10-15 mintues. Then indulge! YUM!!!

 It made me cringe to even figure out the points on this one. A one-cup serving is 9 WW PointsPlus. However, it's completely worth every point!

Zac's Valentine's Tin of Bender Family Soft Caramel Corn

Mindy's Vegan Caramel Popcorn Recipe

I also made a second batch with a vegan recipe I came up with on my own. I did this because one of the friends driving with Zac is vegan and I'm an equal opportunity treat distributor. This recipe is still completely full of fat and sugar, but it totally vegan friendly and still incredibly delicious! In fact, I had just as much temptation to snack on this recipe as the other.

1 very large bowl of popped popcorn (about 16 cups)
2 c. brown sugar
1 c. karo syrup
1/2 c. canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla


Combine brown sugar, oil, vanilla, and karo syrup into a pot. Heat on the stove over medium until boiling. Remove from heat. Pour over popcorn a bit at a time and mix well to ensure even coverage. Let cool if you are putting it into bags or tins. Enjoy all you vegans out there!

This is a vegan-recipe, but not low sugar or low fat. A one-cup serving is still 7 WW PointsPlus. Worth it though!

A bowl vegan-friendly caramel corn

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Whole Wheat Blueberry Cinnamon Rolls

I have been craving cinnamon rolls for about six months straight. The first time I made them, in October, I used a recipe full of butter and sugar. They were delicious, but were definiately not something I could treat myself with often. Since then I have been experimenting with healthier cinnamon roll recipes. Over superbowl weekend, I used my bread machine to mak these blueberry cinnamon rolls and, if I do say so myself, they were delightful. I took them to a girls night and the super bowl party we went to. They take a bit of time, but are totally worth it!

Whole Wheat Blueberry Cinnamon Rolls


1 1/4 c. water
4 egg whites
3 Tbsp. canola oil
1/3 c. sugar
2 1/2 c. whole wheat bread flour
1 1/2 c. white bread flour
3 tsp. dry active yeast

3/4 c. unsweetened applesauce
3/4 c. fresh or frozen blueberries
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon

1/2 c. light cream cheese
1 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. skim milk


To start dough, combine wet ingredients in bread machine. Add dry igredients. Make a well into the dry ingredients and add yeast, making sure it doesn't touch the wet ingredients. Run dough setting on the bread machine until your dough has completely risen (this usually takes about an hour and a half.) While your dough is in the bread machine, combine filling ingedients into a small bowl and mix completely.

Preheat oven to "warm" or the lowest setting (around 150 or 200 degrees). Clean and cover your counter in a thin layer of flour. When dough is complete in the bread machine, roll out the dough with a rolling pin into a large rectangle, approximately two feet long and one foot wide. Spread filling mixture thinly and evenly over your rectangle of dough.

Slowly and gently, roll dough up into a long tube. Spray two 9 x 13" cake pans with cooking spray.  Cut your tube of dough into 24 1-inch rolls.

Place your rolls into the cake pans, 12 rolls in each pan. Place your cake pans into the warm oven for about 20 to 30 minutes to allow your dough to rise a second time. Check your rolls every 10 minutes or so. They are ready when they are fluffy and touching eachother.

Once they have reached this point, turn the heat on the oven up to 350. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven. Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes. While they are cooling, make icing by putting cream cheese into a small bowl and softening it in the microwave for 30 seconds on medium heat. Add milk and stir until combined thoroughly. Slowly mix in powdered sugar until you have a thin, yet consistent icing.

Drizzle icing over cinnamon rolls using a spoon or knife.  Serve and enjoy your work!

Best served warm. They can easily be frozen and reheated in the oven at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes. Each cinnamon roll is 4 WW PointsPlus.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Tale of Two Cornbreads

 Last night our church held a chili and cornbread cook-off. I signed up to bring cornbread, because I don't have a great cornbread recipe as of yet and I wanted to experiment a bit. So I searched online for recipes and ended up making two cornbreads: one yummy super-fatty cornbread (for the masses), and one yummy health-friendly cornbread with red-peppers and jalapeños (mostly for me). The result: two really yummy cornbreads! I will share both recipes.

Recipe 1: Yummy Super-Fatty and Sweet Cornbread

I started with a cornbread recipe from My Sister's Cucina, doubled it, then adapted it by reducing the sugar a bit and adding creamed corn. I like corn in my cornbread though, you could easily leave it out.

1 c. cornmeal
3 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2/3 c. canola oil
6 Tbsp. butter, melted
4 eggs, beaten
2 1/2 c. milk

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl, make a well and add oil, butter, eggs, and milk into the center. Stiruntil just mixed (batter will be runny - don't be alarmed!). Bake in a 9" x 13"  pan at 325 degrees for about 45 minutes (I used a low heat  and long cooktime because it was so thick) or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

I didn't calculate the WW points on this one, because I don't want to know!!!

Recipe 2: Yummy Health-Friendly Red Pepper and Jalapeño Cornbread

For this version, I started with a recipe from I altered it quite a bit in a few different ways and I really liked the way it turned out and thought it is no longer fat-free (because of the oil). It is still very healthy and also yummy.

1 1/2 c. cornmeal
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp. baking powder
4 Tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. salt
3/4 c. unsweetened applesauce
1/4 c. canola oil
1 1/4 c. skim milk
4 egg whites
1 15 oz. can creamed corn, optional
1/2 c. fresh red bell pepper finely chopped
1/3 c. fresh jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients into a large bowl and wed ingredients into a small bowl. Combine together. Stir in corn, bell pepper, and jalapeno. Stir unitl it is a consistent batter. Coat one 9"x13" cake pan with cooking spray. Pour Mixture into pan and bake for about 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

This recipe can also be done without the corn and peppers for a more basic cornbread. As is, the recipe yields 18 servings at 3 WW PointsPlus per serving.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

I guess I have been on a blueberry and breakfast kick lately. I originally got this recipe off of the Weight Watchers website, but then a modified it and actually got it down a point from their recipe. I didn't try these myself, but I made these and sent them with Zac to rehearsal and all of the feedback was great. I don't think people knew they were a "healthy" recipe. Try them out!

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

1 1/4 c.  all-purpose flour, divided
1 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. table salt
2 large egg whites
3/4 c. sugar, divided
1/2 c. reduced-fat sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. skim milk
1 c. fresh or frozen blueberries
2 Tbsp. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Place muffin liners in a 12-hole muffin tin or coat tin in cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of all-purpose flour,  whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites with 1/2 cup of sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add sour cream and beat until thoroughly combined; blend in vanilla extract. Add wet mixture and milk to dry mixture; beat until combined into a batter. Fold in blueberries.  Fill each muffin liner about 3/4 full of batter; set aside. To make streusel topping, in a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup each of sugar and flour. Pour in melted butter and combine with fingertips. Divide crumb mixture over muffins; gently press into top of muffin batter with fingertips. Bake about 25 minutes or until slightly golden and a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool in pan for about 10 minutes, then transfer muffins onto racks to cool completely. Yields 12 servings with 5 WW Points Plus per serving. You can substitute blueberries for any type of berry you prefer.

I used's picture for this post.