Well, maybe not fifty, but there are so many ways to eat popcorn! You might think butter and salt is enough, and while that is classic, there are oodles of alternative flavorings for popcorn, to make it savory and festive. This is the time of year for it, when you feel the urge to sink into a soft couch with a big bowl of snackage (as we refer to any little nibbly treat), and watch the playoffs. Popcorn is the little black dress of the food world; you can dress it up or down in a myriad of ways, and it always works.
Years ago, a young friend moved to Washington and found that his apartment rental had fallen through. We offered to put him up while he looked for another apartment, but we got along so well that he ended up staying for eight months. Jack became a member of our family, so much at home that one of the dogs started sleeping on his bed at night. Our girls were 17 and 13 at the time, and sometimes I would come home from work and find the three of them with my husband, watching movies and eating popcorn sprinkled with freshly-grated parmesan cheese and pepper. This was kind of a revelation for me, the idea of really fresh cheese on popcorn, because it tasted nothing like the over-processed neon orange stuff they sell at convenience stores. Since then we’ve experimented with lots of different flavors on popcorn. I think the lesson here is that you never know where a great recipe is going to come from, even a young bachelor who had probably never cooked a thing in his life!
Here are some things you can add to popcorn to give it a little pizzaz:
- Lemon butter
- Salt and Vinegar
- Caramel and apples
- Sesame, sugar and salt
- Truffle Oil
- Cheddar Cheese (sort of cross between cheese corn and nachos with melted cheese, and to die for)
- Peanut butter
- Freshly ground ginger
- Maple and sea salt
- Olive oil and herbs
There are some terrific new artisanal popcorns being made by American companies. Tiny but Mighty Popcorn sells delicious non-GMO popcorn from heirloom seeds. The kernels are smaller, but they are hull-less, and bursting with real flavor. If you’re addicted to microwave popcorn, Quinn Popcorn makes non-GMO microwave popcorn without artificial preservatives or ingredients, and they also sell pre-popped popcorn in many flavors.
Now that I’ve whetted your appetite for popcorn, here are recipes for peanut butter popcorn, sesame popcorn, sugar and salt popcorn, and melted cheddar popcorn. Enjoy!
Peanut Butter Popcorn
Serves: depends on your appetite for popcorn, but serves at least 4
Prep time: 5 minutes
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 8 cups popped corn
- Melt honey and sugar in small saucepan.
- Add peanut butter and combine.
- Add vanilla.
- Place popped corn in a baking sheet with sides and drizzle mixture over popcorn.
- Mix with a spoon to cover as much popcorn as possible. Serve.
- Prep time: 20 minutes
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2/3 cup sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 16 cups of popped popcorn (about one cup unpopped popcorn)
- Salt to taste
- Melt butter in small frying pan and add sesame seeds. Heat at medium heat for 4-5 minutes until toasted. Add sugar.
- Place popped corn in two baking sheets with sides and drizzle sesame mixture over popcorn, mixing well with hands. Add salt to taste and serve.
- Don’t add more butter than this: it will weigh down the seeds and they will all fall to the bottom of the bowl.
Prep time: 15 minutes
- 8 cups popped popcorn
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- Salt to taste
- Spread popcorn on a baking sheet and heat in the oven for several minutes at 350 degrees until cheese melts.
- Salt to taste and serve immediately, while cheese is still melted.