Friday, May 25, 2012

Popcorn Peanut Cookies with Red Grapefruit Soda

Summertime is for county fairs and carnivals, popcorn, funnel cakes, lemonade stands and cookies.  And maybe even a deep-fried candy bar if you're feeling like laughing in the face of healthy choices that day.  I tried a deep-fried Snickers bar once, and only once!

It seems strange that it already feels like summer out, when it seems that spring only just arrived to stay, but here it is, with all its fresh seasonal fruit, corn on the cob and juicy watermelon.  I cannot wait for peaches.

I'm also incredibly excited that I found a farm near us that allows customers to pick their own produce (only a select few, but still), and I've been waiting, very impatiently, for the e-mail announcing that berry picking is open to the public.  I just received an e-mail this week that the first crop of strawberries is available for picking, but only in the morning for a few days a week through May, so I'm hoping that Jamie won't mind a little strawberry excursion on his birthday next week, which we both happen to be taking off work.

Their second strawberry season will come a little later this summer, but I want to make fresh strawberry ice cream and shortcake from strawberries we picked sooner than that

The thought of summer fair food and hot sunny days inspired me to make a batch of cookies with peanuts and popcorn.  Unusual, but a wonderfully salty and sweet cookie with crunchy bits of the popcorn and peanuts.  The dough is the basic dough of a chocolate chip cookie, so there's that familiarity to it as well, even with its unique add-ins.

Since we don't buy microwave popcorn and don't own a popcorn maker, I make popcorn the old-fashioned way, in a saucepan with a little oil, scooting it back and forth across the burner to keep from burning the popcorn once it starts popping.

When I was a kid, my mom would make popcorn the night before and fill bags of it to put in our school lunches the next day for an inexpensive snack.  Which actually kind of turned me off popcorn for a while, since stale, unseasoned, day-old popcorn isn't exactly appetizing.

But this past winter, Jamie and I got on a popcorn kick as a late night snack on Sundays, and my favorite way to make it was to pop the kernels in a little olive oil, then sprinkle the popcorn with a little more olive oil, salt, pepper and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  So much healthier than its movie theater cousin, and tastier, too, in my opinion, although Jamie has a weakness for those buckets of buttery, salty popcorn during movies.

Saturday was hot, and Jamie was working outside on his car, so I made a cold drink to take down to him, along with peanuts in the shell and some freshly baked cookies.  All in a cute little basket.  How very Martha Stewart of me, right?

The drink was something my sister suggested, and she had made something similar with one of her girls lately.  Freshly squeezed grapefruit and orange juice, with club soda and simple syrup.  I made mine with red grapefruits, navel oranges, lemons, club soda, sugar and mint.  It was so refreshing, I could have drunk the whole pitcher of it.

My sister and I used to sneak snacks into movies all the time, since we couldn't afford the extra $30 we'd have to cough up for candy, popcorn and drinks, so sometimes we'd stop at the grocery store to buy pints of Ben & Jerry's or boxes of Hot Tamales and Junior Mints and then hide them in our purses when we went into the theater.  The shy, good girl in me was always somewhat afraid that they were going to catch us and give us some horrible punishment, although I'm not sure what that would be since it's not like we were doing anything illegal.

So one day Laura decided she just had to have a bean burrito from Taco Bell.  For whatever reason, she wasn't carrying a purse, so she thought she could hide the burrito in her pants.  But this was the 90's, and we were in the midst of our grunge phase (my own personal favorite outfit was a wife-beater tank top, my favorite baggy orange pants with drawstrings at the ankles and a bandanna tied over my hair like a doo-rag).

Her jeans were way too loose to wedge anything inside and not have it slide right down her pant leg, so she tucked the burrito inside her underwear.  I think you might suspect how this story is going to end...

We got into the theater and picked our seats, with Laura looking pretty uncomfortable.  She turned to me and whispered, "Heather, I think the wrapper broke and beans got in my underwear.  And they're burning me!"

She disappeared into the bathroom and came back a few minutes later, minus one bean burrito and one pair of underwear.  Which some poor cleaning person likely found in the bathroom trashcan that night and thought, Yeah, I'd rather not know.

Maybe one of these days I'll sneak some of my olive oil Parmesan popcorn and grapefruit soda into a movie...  just not in my underwear!

Red Grapefruit and Mint Soda
printable recipe

  • juice of 2 red grapefruits
  • juice of 2 navel oranges
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (or unflavored simple syrup)
  • 4 cups (about 1 liter) club soda
  • handful of fresh mint leaves, torn

In a 1-quart pitcher, combine all ingredients, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Serve over ice, garnished with a slice of citrus and sprig of mint.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

Popcorn Peanut Cookies
printable recipe

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup salted peanuts
  • 2 cups plain popped popcorn

Note:  I think these cookies are best warm from the oven or the same day they're baked, so I would suggest keeping the dough in the refrigerator and only baking small batches at a time, or whatever you plan to eat that day.  The dough will keep in the fridge for at least a week.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Scrape the bowl down and beat in the egg and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.  Add the flour mixture to the mixing bowl in spoonfuls, mixing on low until combined.  Stir in peanuts and popcorn; batter will be very thick.

Refrigerate dough for at least two hours, until well chilled.

Preheat the oven to 350.  Place rounded spoonfuls of chilled dough 2 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper.  Bake for 8 - 8 1/2 minutes, just until pale golden.  Cool for 2-3 minutes on the baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool until the cookies are set.

Yields about 3 dozen cookies

From Curly Girl Kitchen.