Candy Popcorn for Easter (Taste and Create)

This month we were invited to join Taste and Create, a group of food bloggers who are partnered up to cook recipes from each other's blogs. We were partnered up with No Reason Needed. If you are looking for a great variety of interesting recipes, you should definitely check it out - you can see all of them listed on the bottom right of the homepage. At first we were going to bake - perhaps some "Big Soft Ginger Cookies," or a "Lemon Drizzle Cake," but with the stress of work lately, we've been indulgent, and didn't want to have more baked goods around the house waiting to be gobbled up. 

Then Amy spotted this recipe for Candy Popcorn and immediately remembered this storefront at the Fairfield Mall in Chicopee where she grew up. It was called Kandy Korn or something similar and was a bright yellow place with containers of popcorn of every color and flavor - cherry, lime, strawberry. Oh, it was amazing, especially to a kid in the late 70's with a sweet tooth. That place made the mall smell like heaven, and when she saw this recipe, it all flooded back. This was the one.

We decided on grape flavor, in honor of nostalgia. We also used one of Amy's favorite appliances, The Whirley Popper. It is simple to make, festive for the Easter holiday, and tastes just like Amy remembered. Thanks for the memories!!!

To read more about, or to join Taste and Create, go here.

Candy Popcorn


1/3 cup margarine
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 3-ounce package flavored gelatin mix
9 cups popped popcorn

Combine honey and margarine in a microwave safe bowl and cook until melted, about 1 minute on high. Stir in sugar and gelatin powder. Microwave on high until it comes to a boil and turns foamy, doubling in size, about 2 minutes. Pour mixture over popcorn in a large bowl and stir to coat. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and turn coated popcorn onto the sheet. Bake at 250 degrees for 1/2 hour, stirring every 10 minutes. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container.


Portuguese Wine Dinner at O'Porto, Hartford

Last week we planned a special-but-for-no-particular-reason date night by making a reservation for O'Porto's Portuguese wine dinner. For a very reasonable $70, inclusive of tax and gratuity, we enjoyed an espumante toast followed by a six-course dinner with wine pairings. The wine maker, a certain Joao Silva E Sousa, was there and he explained the various wines and visited each table. When he visited ours, he and Chris got into a very educational conversation about the geography/geology of Portugal and how that affects the wine production. The wines were delicious, the food was too, and we were entirely full when we left. Suffice it to say, we had a wonderful time. The following menu with descriptions is from the restaurant, while the photographs were taken by us.

Course 1
Scalopes, Chouriço e Camarão
Scallops, Shrimp and Roasted Portuguese Smoked Chouriço Flambéed in Aged Brandy.

paired with
Azul Portugal – (Ribatejo Branco)
This a well-balanced white wine with perfumed aromatic fruit suggesting peach, citrus
fruit and honey blossom aromas with full bodied flavor. A complex and balanced wine.

Course 2
Frango com Ananaz
Grilled Boneless Chicken with a Slice of Grilled Pineapple Served with Sautéed Vegetables

paired with
Azul Portugal Rosé - (Terras Do Sado)
Harvested in early September, crushed light maceration. Fermented in stainless steel. 
This Rosé is made using 100% Castelão grapes giving this rosé a clean finish with notes of watermelon and oranges.

Course 3
Peito de Pato
Magret Duck Breast in Orange Sauce 
with Toasted Almonds Served with Sautéed Vegetables

paired with
Catapereiro, Tinto – 2010
Bright deep purple color with complex aroma of ripe berry fruits and toasted aromas; the palate is rich and well-structured with sweet tannins.

Course 4
Medalhões de Bife
Medallions of Grilled Filet Mignon in a Port Wine Reduction

paired with
Azul Portugal Douro - 08
Ripe and smooth wine, with a rich Port-like aroma, the sweet fruit structured with some fresh stalky tannins.

Course 5
Costuleta de Borrego
Lamb Chop in a Cabernet Sauvignon Reduction with Sautéed Spinach and Roast Potato

Casa Das Mouras Reserva - 04 (Douro) Northeastern Portugal
A rich and full-bodied wine loaded with notes of blueberry, roses, black tea, chocolate, coffee and balsamic. Very long finish and pronounced fruit flavors. 

Course 6
Queijo, Marmelada, Nozes
Imported Portuguese Cheese with Quince Marmalade and Nuts

paired with
Claustru's Porto Tawny
Claustru’s Tawny has a long and smooth finish and is characterized by the flavors of raisins, almonds, cherry and chocolate.


Meyer Lemon Bars (Secret Recipe Club)

It's Secret Recipe Club reveal day once again and we were assigned Life's Simple Pleasures, a beautiful blog that is completely overflowing with recipes for bars, breads, cakes, cookies, pies, tarts, and snacks, as well as a few savory dishes. We scrolled our way down the recipe list trying hard to decide what to make. It wasn't easy! Should we try to make challah bread? How about a fallen souffle chocolate torte - doesn't that sound amazing?!?!? Or candied bacon chocolate chip cookies? Um, yum!!! All of these are most assuredly on our to-do list. 

What forced our final decision for this month, though, was that we have made two batches of Meyer lemon curd in the last couple of weeks and we have been looking for something way with which to use it when we spotted LSP's lemon bars. They looked so lovely and reminded us so much of sunshine and springtime that we just had to go with them. 

We made them to take to our neighbors' St. Patrick's Day dinner so we gave them a little Irish twist by tinting some powdered sugar green with green food coloring and making shamrock decorations on them. Chris finnagled a cookie cutter/aluminum foil thingie to make that work. He's a good problem solver!

Although we didn't use the lemon topping part of the recipe (since we used our lemon curd instead), the crust was to die for. Flaky, tender and buttery indeed. They were sunny bites of citrus heaven. Now if spring would just get here already, we'd be all set!

Meyer Lemon Bars


2 cups unsalted butter, softened
4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/2 cup Meyer lemon curd
additional powdered sugar for garnish
green food coloring (if desired)

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and powdered sugar. Add salt, lemon zest and flour; mix only until combined and crumbly. Spread dough evenly in a 12x18-inch sheet pan. Using a piece of wax paper, press down down as flat as possible. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes. Heat oven to 350 and bake crust for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside to cool. Spread lemon curd evenly over crust and return to oven. Bake additional 15 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar and refrigerate 1 hour to set. Cut and serve.


Guinness Glazed Chicken Wings for St. Patrick's Day

We are heading out to our neighbors' house for our annual St. Patty's Day corned beef and cabbage dinner. Our part of dinner consists of the appetizer and the dessert, so we have today's post as well as tomorrow's post all set and ready to go. Read on!

Today, we bring you the appetizer: Guinness Glazed Chicken Wings. These little lovelies get their flavor from a mix of root vegetables and a can of Guinness, Ireland's popular dark stout. Reducing this gravy-of-sorts turns it into a nice glaze to brush on the wings right before broiling and serving. 

The rest of the meal was equally delish. Corned beef with cabbage, carrots, turnips and potatoes, with roasted vegetables, and mashers. Our ancestors would be proud!  (Check out the photos below!) 

And, of course, tune in tomorrow to find out what we had for dessert.

Guinness Glazed Chicken Wings


2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds chicken wings, butchered into blades and drums
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and quartered
1 carrot, peeled and quartered
1 parsnip, peeled and quartered
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 can Guinness Stout

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sweat for 2-3 minutes. Remove onion and garlic with a slotted spoon. Season wings with salt and pepper. Add chicken wings to the pan and cook, about 5 minutes each side, until nicely browned. Return onion and garlic to the pan and add ginger, carrot, parsnip and thyme. Pour Guinness into the pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and reduce heat to low; simmer for 30 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken wings from the pan and place on a baking sheet. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve; discard vegetables. Pour sauce into a small saucepan and boil over high heat until reduced by half. When ready to serve, heat broiler on low. Brush wings with glaze and broil for 5-6 minutes; turn, baste and broil other side 4-5 minutes. Eat with a freshly poured Guinness to wash them down - Slainte!


Today Was a Good Day for ACK

Today was a good day for A Couple in the Kitchen (aka ACK) and we wanted to share it with all of you.

First, we received a very nice comment from Lillian of My Recipe Journey nominating us for the Liebster Award. Lillian has a post about the award on her website that you can check out. We also did a little research ourselves and found out that the Liebster Award has been circulating for a few years now and it is awarded from one blogger to another to let them know they are "liebster" - German for "beloved." While Lillian's version of the award came with some tasks, we found a loophole during our search that allows one to accept an honorary version without doing the tasks. Since we teachers have enough tasks to complete, and we like our blogging tasks to be food-related, we're going with the loophole. Thank you so much, Lillian, for thinking of us. We are honored!!!

Next, we got an email from the Blogger Outreach Program at OXO and they are going to be sending us some egg tools to try out and review. Just in time for Easter (although we wish we had that egg separator when we made that Meyer lemon curd!)!!! So that's something to look forward to.

And finally, we had entered our Moonshine Sticky Wings recipe into a recipe contest and found out today that we won an Editor's Choice award (which, happily, also happens to come with a little bit of prize money!). The contest was called "Stick a Fork in It" for SplashPad Mobile's new Android app "Top Recipes." You can get the app here if you are interested! Look for our recipe, which is designated by this special ribbon:

So, yeah! It was a good day for ACK!!! Time to uncork a bottle of vino and celebrate!


Meyer Lemon Curd

Amy writes:

So a couple of weeks ago we took a baking class called Baking for English Tea, and one of the recipes we learned to make was lemon curd. Then Chris went away for the weekend, off to a theoretical physics conference in Santa Barbara, California. Yeah, I don't really know what that is, either. 

Anyway... I was feeling a little bored, and I knew that if I made something yummy, I could bring it to the last winter farmers' market and enter it into the swap for something else. I had a bunch of Meyer lemons at home, so I decided to make a batch of Meyer lemon curd. The recipe made enough for 2 decent-sized jars, so I kept one for myself (well, I may share it with Mr. Science) and brought one to the swap where I swapped it for a pretty little dragonfly made from recycled silverware (Thanks, Ed)! Love it!

So, as hinted at in an earlier post, here's the recipe for Meyer lemon curd. The recipe is from Chef Chris French, who makes his with "normal" lemons, but there is something I just love about the hint of sweetness the Meyer lemon offers. If you like things a little more tart, use regular lemons but add another 2 tablespoons of sugar.

Meyer Lemon Curd
recipe courtesy of Chef Chris French


5 Meyer lemons, zested and juiced
8 egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pats

Whisk the lemon zest, lemon juice, egg yolks and sugar together in a stainless steel bowl. Create a double-boiler by placing the bowl over a sauce pan with simmering water. Gently heat the contents of the bowl on low to medium heat, stirring frequently. Continue to heat until the mixture is very thick and reaches 180-185 degrees. Immediately remove the bowl from the pan and pour the contents through a fine mesh sieve to remove the zest and any egg solids (discard those). Immediately put 2 pats of butter into the lemon curd and whisk in until incorporated. Continue by adding 1 pat at a time, whisking until incorporated before adding the next. Cover with plastic wrap in contact with the lemon curd and refrigerate until set, 4 hours or longer. Serve with scones as a spread or to fill mini tarts, or as a topping on shortbread.