Air popped popcorn

Popcorn is my favorite snack food.  Over the years, I have had many types of poppers.  This one is new to my home, and it has been an easy transition into use.  Cuisinart offers this new popper which allows for no use of oil.

The air popped popcorn is super fluffy and light.  There is almost no clean up to this popper, as the chamber wipes clean after use.  The plastic chute is the only part that needs a quick wash in the sink.  The unit uses 1500 watts of power, so it is a fast process.

The best part of this machine is that it works in under 3 minutes.  10 cups of perfect popcorn in less than one commercial break is nothing short of amazing. This is a super fun tool to use.  So glad that I added it to my home this winter.

If you need a gift idea for that next party, this is one that everyone should love.

Chicago Popcorn

So a visit to Chicago must include a visit to Garrett’s Popcorn shops. This popcorn has been a tradition since 1949. With ten locations all over the city and two booths at O’Hare Airport, it has become a very popular stop for residents as well as visitors to the city.


We made it to three locations during our visit and totally appreciate the air popped quality of the large kernels of freshly popped corn.  The signature recipe that gives the ultimate high quality taste and flavor to the corn makes this the best popcorn I have ever tasted.


For real foodies, this is a must stop on the list when visiting the area.  Flavors offered included:  buttery, cheese corn, caramel crisp, cashew caramel crisp, pecan caramel crisp, almond caramel crisp, macadamia caramel crisp, and then seasonal flavors of mild and dark chocolate caramel crisp, pumpkin spice caramel crisp, and mixes of these flavors. They even featured strawberry popcorn for this summer.


The secret family recipe includes blending the flavors in old-fashioned copper kettles fresh and warm all day for sale to the customers.  Every bag is packed fresh while you wait. We purchased the buttery and the cheese corn flavors and enjoyed them for our entire trip.

Garrett’s have also opened shops in New York, Las Vegas, Atlanta and even now in Novi, Michigan. With their hashtag of #LoveIsMessy, remember to have a napkin with you as you enjoy your bag.


sweet and salty pretzels

We had a rainy Halloween night here in Michigan.  So, we had fewer than expected Trick or Treaters, which was a bit sad.  Just like so many things from years ago, I feel that this American tradition is going to be extinct soon.

However, in the past few weeks, I have still managed to keep the fun of Halloween alive in our home.  After my husband commented that he loved chocolate dipped pretzels one day in the Sanders store near Ann Arbor, I decided to make some of my own.

By simply using some white chocolate melted over a double boiler, I dipped the ends of pretzels, and decorated with some holiday decors.  I could have done the whole bag, even though it is a bit time-consuming dipping one by one.  I used waxed paper and allowed them to dry.  The pretzels dried within an hour and I was able to bag them for a couple of friends as well.

This was very fun and I would recommend for any holiday.  I have made some other pretzel snacks in the past, and they always seem to be well-liked by everyone.

Ours were quickly gobbled up, so be sure to make a big batch, because they are quite delicious.






Oscar’s awards appetizer: Taco dip

Just like the big sporting events broadcast on television, we celebrate the awards shows with a few appetizers while watching the Red Carpet coverage.

Here is a great appetizer for one of those types of parties. It is a compilation of many recipes I have collected over the years from Internet websites.


I use 4 ounces/ 1/2 block of Philadelphia low-fat cream cheese at room temperature mixed with 1/2 to 1/3 cup of low-fat sour cream. Mix well and spread on a flat dish.  Refrigerate.  When ready to serve, top with shredded lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped cherry tomatoes, chopped black olives, and 1-2 chopped green onions. All of these ingredients can be ‘sized-up’ for a larger party.  This recipe will serve 6 people at an appetizer party.

Serve with tostito chips.




Neiman Marcus cheesy bacon spread

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI  have had this cracker spread recipe for a number of years, so I am not certain how it dropped into my recipe box.  It is a very tasty spread, especially for those who love bacon.  It can be served with a variety of crackers, corn chips, or even sturdy tortilla chips.  This is not a dip, so thinner chips will break.  Always plan to have a small spoon or spreader available for presentation.

To make the spread, assemble these ingredients:  8 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese, 1 1/2 cups low-fat or light mayonnaise, 5-6 sliced green onions, chopped cooked bacon or bacon bits, and slivered almonds.   (add desired amount of bacon and almonds to taste)

Mix together and chill before serving.


pizza bread appetizer

Many variations of this recipe are featured in the online cookbooks including Pinterest.  These round appetizer breads remind me of the 1970’s spinach dip in a bread round era. Those dips, served with the surrounding bread cubes, were popular for more than ten years, and this pizza bread recipe seems very similar to those popular dishes. In fact, I have already shared a recipe for an appetizer herb and cheese bread called cheesy herb bread during the month of December, 2012.

If you have an upcoming football or other sports party where an easy quick appetizer is needed, try this one.  I promise you that your guests will enjoy it as much as those seventies bread dips.

This recipe is for pepperoni pizza bread, but the pepperoni could very easily be omitted and other sautéed vegetables added instead, or even bacon could be used for another meat-lover option.   I purchased regular sized turkey pepperoni and chopped them in small stacks which took very little time and is a cost saver.

To make the appetizer:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Using a medium-sized round loaf of bread, slice the bread into cubes without slicing through to the bottom crust.  Place the bread loaf on a silicone mat or a foil lined baking sheet.  This is an important step, as some of the cheese will ooze out of the bread during baking.

Insert one package of small-sized or chopped turkey pepperoni into the cubes.  Follow with 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese.  Make certain all of the openings/cubes are filled.  Next, melt 3 tablespoons of margarine and add 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder and 1/2 teaspoon oregano.  Pour these ingredients over the loaf into the slices.  If desired, sprinkle the loaf with sesame seeds or Parmesan cheese.  Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

Remove and unwrap and return to the oven for 10 more minutes until the cheese is completely melted and the loaf is golden brown color.  Serve with your favorite pizza sauce for dipping.


Searching for more ideas? Check out Baking with Blondie on


tomato cheese bruschetta



appetizer time.  here is an old standby that i haven’t made in years.  toast some crusty bread with seasoned garlic butter for about ten minutes.  add some mozzarella cheese and tomato topping in a jar.  i sprinkled the tops with chopped parsley and baked at 350 degrees for another ten minutes.  delicious!

this can be served as an appetizer to a pasta meal or along with a baked fish entrée.  the garlic flavor is a nice match for the tomato topping. the cheese is a perfect addition.

this is a ideal appetizer to serve at any type of party, including any sporting events.  other options could be to use Gruyère or Monterey jack cheese for a different taste profile.