Popcorn with Lavender Pepper

A delicious popcorn snackI’ve been thinking a lot about my “brand.” What am I all about and what do I want to share with you, my reader. I’ve been making lists and thinking about what I love. And one thing that keeps making it on to those lists is snacks. Wait, what?! Hey, turns out I love snacks. And here is a super easy one for you. On my last trip to Temecula I picked up some lavender pepper from the spice shop. I’ve been dying to use it and this just made sense. I’m trying to eat healthier snacks (but you know me, my quest for health usually lasts just for a few weeks) and popcorn is an awesome option. And so I made popcorn with lavender pepper.

Popcorn with Lavender PepperIt’s healthiest if you make it at home in an air popper or special microwave bowl, but it should also be noted that “lazy” is on my list of things about me. Trader Joe’s has a bag of reduced guilt popcorn that is a great base. Then all you need is some lavender pepper and sea salt. Now, I realize that you probably won’t have lavender pepper. Especially since this is the first time I’ve ever seen it. But you can pick up edible lavender on amazon or some local markets. Just add that and some fresh peppercorns to a spice mill or old coffee grinder to make your own. And be sure to taste your popcorn first to see just how salty it is before adding more.

Lavender and Pepper popcornBecause I am trying to not add calories, only flavor, I usually spritz the tiniest bit of water on the popcorn to help the spices stick. Weird, I know. But it would also work to toss the popcorn with a little melted butter or olive oil.  What is your favorite way to eat popcorn?

 

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Bacon and Sage Dip Recipe

Bacon and Sage Dip RecipeSo there is this dip. And I love it. I love it so much that I decided to add bacon and sage to it and make it even better. Because why not. The dip is super easy and tasty. To eat this the right way, you must eat it with Ruffles. (Not sponsored.) Ruffles are the perfect saltiness and the perfect crunch. I didn’t have them on the day I shot this and I was super disappointed. The chips I had on hand were too crunchy and hard which does not provide optimum enjoyment for the dip experience. But I am sure that even with just a spoon to shovel it in your pie hole you will love this Bacon and Sage Dip Recipe.

Bacon and Sage Dip RecipeMayo. Gross. While I can’t eat this on its own I still use it in recipes. As soon as the other ingredients mask the smell I’m totally fine. When you have fresh sage and bacon bits around, well, that’s all you smell. Thank goodness. The cream cheese helps to make it super creamy and the one clove of garlic provides the right amount of flavor and heat.

Bacon and Sage Dip RecipeAnd the wooster sauce adds a nice depth of flavor and meatiness. Ain’t no body able to spell Worcestershire.  Wait, did I do it? Did I spell it right?

Bacon and Sage Dip RecipeWith a hand mixer you just beat all the ingredients together and once creamy, mix in the sage and bacon.

Bacon and Sage Dip RecipeAnd then eat it. Eat it all up.  And then play around with it. Add in other ingredients. Make it your own. All I know is that I love it and the sage makes it perfect for holiday entertaining.

Bacon and Sage Dip RecipeSee. These chips are all kinds of wrong. That is not the color of Ruffles.

Bacon and Sage Dip RecipeBut don’t worry. I powered through and ate the chips and dips anyway. I’m not generally going to turn away a snack food unless it is truly horrid. What is your favorite dip recipe?

Bacon and Sage Dip Recipe
 
I took my favorite dip and jazzed it up with bacon and sage. You're welcome.
Author:
Recipe type: Snacks/ Appetizers
Ingredients
  • 1 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 3 TBSP mayo
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Season salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Enough cream or milk to make desired dip consistency. (for me it's approx. 3 TBSP)
  • 2 TBSP chopped fresh sage
  • 2 TBSP bacon bits
  • Serve with Ruffles chips.
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients (except milk, bacon and sage) in to a medium bowl.
  2. Using a hand mixer, beat all ingredients together until smooth.
  3. Add milk or cream, a TBSP at a time until you reach your desired consistency.
  4. Add bacon and sage and stir in to the mixture.
  5. Season to taste.
  6. Enjoy with Ruffles.

 

Essentials for a Beach Day with Friends

*This is a sponsored post on behalf of Black Box Wines.  All opinions and tips are my own.  And, duh, it’s wine so I know you’ll love it as much as I do.beach-essentials-for-hanging-with-friends

There are two kinds of beach days for me, one with family and one with friends. They look REALLY different. With my kids, there is sand EVERYWHERE, there are lots of plastic beach toys and bone dry juice boxes littering the horizon. I’m also on constant watch, ready to spring in to action, to save my kids from getting too far out in the water or reaching for the wrong kid’s sand toys. But with friends, now THAT is where I can relax. That is where I can enjoy delightful conversation, probably some good music and perhaps catch up on some reading material. And if we’re lucky, there is a little wine. Here are my essentials for spending a fun afternoon, with friends, at the beach.

At the beach, I may or may not be in my swimsuit depending on the time of day or weather. The beach is sometimes even more fun on a cool, overcast day. But you certainly want to make sure to bring along healthy snacks so that you can still fit in to your swimsuit. Nuts and dried fruit are a great option. They bring the crunch, a little salt and the sweet touch that most of us crave. Similarly, popcorn is my new go to snack and it is easy to transport in a Tiffin type carrier.

Especially if the weather is warm, you want to make sure to stay hydrated with water. I love Boxed Water because there is no plastic and they are good to the environment. They also just look way cooler. Make sure to stay away from sodas that can cause you to feel the bloat. No one needs to look like they are wearing an inner-tube when they aren’t.

Sunscreen and sunglasses are not optional. Pack your favorite pair of sunnies and slather yourself up with your favorite sunscreen BEFORE you leave for the beach. It needs time to penetrate the skin. Make sure to bring it with you and reapply as sunscreen wears off and leaves your skin vulnerable to the sun. Don’t forget to bring a speaker along (and something to play music from like your iPhone or iPod!). I love this one by Nixon because it is sand, water and shock resistant. And if you think you might have a minute, bring a long some magazines to get caught up on. But do not ignore your friends and keep your nose buried in one. You DO want to get invited back for another friend beach day.

Depending on the beach and the time of day, wine is a great addition to a great afternoon with friends at the beach. Most beaches where I am from do not allow any glass so Black Box Wines are the perfect option. Lose the bottle and toast your friends with one of their tasty varieties like their new Pinot Noir (notes of fresh berry, rose petals an cocoa!). This 3L box is the equivalent of 4 bottles! So you won’t need to worry about running out AND you can take the rest of the box home with you to finish when you deem fit over the next month. I know what you may be thinking, boxed wine? But as someone who favors twist off bottles (oh the side eyes I’ve gotten when I pull out my screw tops! – which happen to be eco-friendly thankyouverymuch.) boxed wine is a great idea! This packaing is also eco friendlier than regular bottles, they stay fresh for WAY longer and you only need to take one box with you and you have a whole heck of a lot of wine. It just makes sense. AND it tastes good. The Black Box wines are award winning and are a much better value than comparable bottle wine. You guys, I’m dying to taste the Sauvignon Blanc!

Black Box also has 500 mL sized boxes, in 5 varieties, for when you just want to take a few glasses with you. These are perfect for smaller picnics and tailgates.

The only thing as fabulous as enjoying a high quality, award winning box of Black Box Wines is winning a $5,000 shopping spree! “Lose the Bottle” and grab your shopping bag! Enter the sweepstakes by visiting https://www.facebook.com/blackboxwines/

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Black Box Wines. The opinions and text are all mine.


black box wines logoThank you for supporting the brands that keep me doing the kinds of posts I love!

Best Caramel Corn Ever

Pinkleton's Caramel Corn with Orange Cardamom and Scotch.  OMG Yum! // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comYou know you have good friends when they gift you the world’s best caramel corn ever.  Well I mean, I think my recipe is the best caramel corn recipe ever, but prepackaged this is the stuff.  Kristin picked this Pinkleton’s caramel corn up on her recent vacation to Portland and knowing my love of snacks, caramel corn and cardamom, she knew I needed to try it too.  The flavor is outrageous.  It is at once bitter and sweet with subtle and bold flavors.  It’s the perfect crunchy texture.  And I didn’t want to share it.  I also knew that if I wasn’t careful, I would end up eating the whole bag in one sitting.  I ate some on the beach during a family picnic.  I packed this in my suitcase for my New York trip (I never like to be snacky in a hotel with only a mini bar available) and brought the rest home with me.  This would make a great gift for the foodies and snack lovers in your life.  I’m dying to try the other flavors too!  I mean – salted vanilla, salted molasses and spicy mexican cocoa?!  Order some for you summer vacations.  You’re welcome.  And thank you, Kristin, for knowing me so well!

 

Great Gift for Men and Foodies : Mantry

*I was sent a Mantry box to review.  Well, I kind of let my husband review this one because he’s a man.  But I am telling you my thoughts on the Mantry box as a gift idea. Themed artisinal food boxes for monthly subscription.  Great way to try out new products.  Makes a great gift! //  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI am always on the look out for great gift ideas.  I love to give gifts that are unique or super personal to the person I am buying for.  My husband is super hard to shop for.  So when I came across Mantry I was REALLY hoping it would be something I could get for my husband.  And it totally was.  Mantry is the “Modern Man’s Pantry” and is an artisinal, food-focused gift subscription aimed at men.  And I think this idea is amazing.  Each month is themed and the hand picked, American made items go together in some way.  The box we received was Thai themed.  This is totally something my husband would be in to.  He likes spice, he likes snacks and it’s always cool to try new things.  Sometimes it is hard to tell if a gift box subscription is going to be worth it.  I think this one totally is.  The amount and type of products received was great and I would happily gift this to our men friends.   

Mantry Gift Box Subscriptions for Men and Food Lovers  //  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI was going to hold this for his Father’s Day gift but decided that wasn’t really fair since he saw me shooting these photos.  And was asking a lot of questions.  I couldn’t really hide the part of the box that said “Mantry” so I guess his questioning was justified.  I had to do some traveling a few weeks ago and while away my husband made sure to tell me how delicious this jerky was.  I was hoping there was some left for me when I got home.  There was not.  We have not tried all the products yet but we are super excited to.  There are some really unique things in there.  Things we probably wouldn’t have picked out on a grocery store shelf but since they were sent to us, we are totally excited to try.  

Cool label design on this hot sauce.  //  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comWhat I love about this idea is that it is a great way to feature small companies that people might now know about.  And some of the product design was fantastic like this hot sauce right here.  And the site also features recipes of how to use the products included.  For example, they show you how to use the sauce above for Thai Chili Chicken Wings.  And I think I might like to test out the Thai Basil Margarita this weekend.

Great gift idea for men! //  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comEven better, each box contains a guide that tells you all about the products included and also a map showing where they came from.  This is a really well thought out gift box and I think Mantry is a great gift for men and foodies.

*Thank you for supporting the companies and brands that allow me to do what I do.  While some posts are paid and some are not, I strive to bring you the things that truly stand out to me that I think you will love too.  If there is a product you think I would love, shoot me and email! cupcakesandcutlery at gmail dot com.