Parmesan Poppy Pops

Cake pops have had their 15 minutes of fame. Move over sugar balls, it’s time to present cheese pops! Not being from the Midwest, I may be slow to this wagon, but I am here now. I learned the recipe from Cooking Channel newcomer and former model, Lorraine Pascale.

Add this quick appetizer to your recipe file. Not only are these Parmesan Pops really yummy, they are ready to eat in under ten minutes! Don’t skip out on the extras, they give texture, color and a different bit of flavor. The standard recipe uses poppy and sesame seeds. Don’t be afraid to try out new combos, including spice mixes.


Parmesan Poppy Pops
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 10
  • Butter or Spray for pain
  • 1¼ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds
  • 1tsp sesame seeds
  • Special equipment: 10 white round lollipop sticks; round 3½in (9cm) cookie cutter; 2 baking sheets
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and grease
  3. Toss the cheese and seeds together in a small bowl.
  4. Sit a 3½ inch ring or cookie cutter on one of the baking sheets and sprinkle a small handful of the cheese mixture into it, in a thin layer.
  5. Carefully lift the ring off to reveal a neat-edged disk of Parmesan and lay a lollipop stick on top, with the tip of the stick touching the middle of the disk. Repeat with the remaining cheese and sticks to make 10 in total (leaving about 1¼in spaces between them to allow for any spreading during cooking).
  6. You should have a little Parmesan left over, so use it to cover up the part of the lollipop stick resting on the disk.
  7. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes, swapping to a different shelf halfway through. The cheese should be lightly golden and bubbling.
  8. Remove from the oven and slide the paper off the baking sheets and onto a rack to help speed up cooling.
  9. Let cool for 1 to 2 minutes until the lollipops have become crisp.
  10. Very carefully remove each one with a spatula.
Leftover Notes

Here is what I did with the major takeover of chickpeas in my kitchen! I mixed some brown basmati rice (found also at the Indian store) with some quickly wilted spinach, roasted butternut squash that had been sweetened with brown sugar and cinnamon and topped it off with parmesan and shredded mozzarella. I expected my family to veto, but they all loved it.

Moroccan Roasted Chickpeas

I’m hoping to roll out as many healthy appetizers and desserts as time will allow in December. Partially for selfish reasons; if I make cupcakes, I eat cupcakes. Partially for the purpose of sharing healthy options during this potluck heavy month and partially to show that there are other options in December than sugar cookies.

I think I have mentioned before that I’m not a chickpeas and lentil chick. I’m more of a butter and salt gal that needs a change. Now  I am taking note from a majority of the globe and leaning lentil. Roasted chickpeas are purported to be a great popcorn replacement (for us protein challenged) and a super snack that leaves no trace of guilt. I have finally jumped on board.

The local Indian store, Mirch Masala, is stocked with bags and bags of dried chickpeas. I bought a giant bag of the dried garbanzo beans for $2.99, which is the equivalent to three 15 oz. cans on sale at a large grocery store. This bag is probably a good five or six cans worth of beans. As with all beans, the hassle of soaking overnight seems to be more of a mental issue than a physical chore. Be sure to cover your chickpeas with lots and lots of water if you bought the dried variety, they are thirsty little suckers!

Moroccan Roasted Chickpeas
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Appetizer
  • 2 cans or 4 cups Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)
  • 3 T. Olive Oil

  • Moroccan Spice Mix
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander (I didn’t have any, only green cilantro!)
  • 1 tsp. chile powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground allspice
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Salt to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse, drain and pat beans dry. Mix olive oil and spice mixture and let roast for 40 minutes.
You’ll know they are done when they scream like little lobsters. It’s hilarious. Don’t believe me? Test it out, it’s awesome.

Added bonus, they are four-year old approved! I have a second batch with cinnamon and sugar roasting right now. When I took my first taste, I was disappointed at the lack of zing. I took my second and third thinking I did something wrong. Half a bowl of chickpeas later, I realized they are in fact, healthy popcorn beans. Totally addicting!

These were created using a recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen. Check out her blog and learn why these are a million times better for you than a cupcake.

Deep Spiced Dip

After eating a blog-worthy dinner last night (alas, a camera-less dinner), I was inspired to create some heat in my kitchen. Not another doughnut fest (I wish), this time a healthy appetizer that can help starve off a sportless carbo-load or present itself as a fun appetizer option for those looking to avoid butter.

If you can’t find Garam Masala in the spice section of your store, don’t feel alone. The first time I asked where to find the Indian staple I was asked if what I had meant to say was, wait for it…hummus. Sure, Greece, India, same thing right? Mama pajama.

While I used cream cheese for this dip, plain greek yogurt would also do well. The main reason I chose cream cheese is for its staying power. If this is something you’ll be eating at home, opt for the yogurt. If you plan to carry this to a party, be sure to keep the dip cold until the last minute. Or, if you are awesome and have one of those teeny-bikini slow cookers, keep your dip plugged in and warm. Either way it is yummy and sure to keep your smackers warm and toasty on a cold night.

I’m fairly new to Indian food and I’m pretty sure I have stumbled on to a fact that more seasoned eaters already know. Apples don’t cool down spice. I thought they would, as they are cool, sweet and juicy. For some reason, they seem to amp up spice though! So, rather than serving this dip with apples alone, I’d throw in some sliced bell peppers and crackers. And keep the egg nog close by!


Deep Spiced Dip
Prep time
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Recipe type: Dips & Spreads
Serves: 6
  • 8 oz. package of Cream Cheese, softened (or 16 oz. Greek yogurt)
  • 1 cup Shredded Chicken (if desired)
  • 1 tsp. Garam Masala
  • 1 tsp. Curry Powder
  • 2 tsp. Toasted Sesame Seeds
  • 1 tsp. Chipotle Chili Powder
  1. Mix ingredients and serve chilled or melty (yeah, I said melty) in a crock

Before I show you the end result, I want to share a funny conversation. Last night, at a Pho restaurant, the waiter brought a plate of herbs and veggies for our soup. I mentioned that I didn’t realize the green small leafed herbs were coriander, they looked like cilantro to me. My pal Jody agreed. However, our friend Geeta assured us that it was in fact coriander. As we tried to continue with our argument, she stopped us and said, “Dude. I’m Indian, we invented spices. Trust me.” Doh!

Baked Donuts

For $10.95, you too can have your own donut pan. I bought mine from the store with the most pretentious name around, Sur La Table. If I say it wrong, I sound like Mater. If I say it right, I sound drunk. Alas, I just say “That Sur La Taaaabul place.”

While it is not necessary to buy your own colored sugar, you sure can at SLT as well. Be prepared to say goodbye to $6.

The donut pan makes 6 cakes and is complete with a doughnut recipe and topping variations on the back. The half dozen dessert rounds turned out light and spongy, as donuts should.

The only variation I plan to make  is the subtraction of the 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg called for. Perhaps cinnamon or vanilla may make for a more pleasing doughnut. I should mention, I am the only person who complained of the nutmeg taste.

Baked Donuts
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Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
  • 2 cups cake flour, sifted
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and spray pan with nonstick spray.
  2. In large mixing bowl, sift together all of the following: cake flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. Add buttermilk, eggs and butter. Beat until just combined. Fill each doughnut cup approximately ⅔ full.
  3. Bake 7-9 minutes or until the top of the doughnuts spring back when touched. Let cool in pan for 4-5 minutes before removing. Finish and decorate as desired. I melted butter, brushed the tops of the doughnut with a basting brush and dipped them in sugar.
  4. If you’d like to try powdered sugar doughnuts, use a large zip top bag and shake the plain doughnuts inside.
If you do not have cake flour (I didn’t) you’ll want to substitute 2 cups all purpose flour minus 4 tablespoons. Don’t skip the sifting step, though!

And now, the coffee winner! Make that winners! We are going to pretend this is poker and chop the prize! One ten dollar gift card will go to Jody and the other to Jessica! I’ll be emailing you ladies soon. Thanks for playing!

Movie Fuel: Thanksgiving Double Feature

Don’t forget to set your DVR for the two Charlie Brown specials and another short Ice Age show!

The Family Stone (2005) and Home for the Holidays (1995)

Thanksgiving is often a reflection of what we are grateful for.  It is also about food and is most certainly, family.  Poet Robert Frost once said, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” The dysfunctional family has always been open game for movies, especially comedies.  Because everyone’s family has some component of dysfunction (at times the tradition of getting together for the holidays can seem forced for some), we as the viewer can relate to other fictional families who love each other despite their faults.  We don’t always get to choose our family, but we can appreciate them in their own unique way.

The Family Stone and Home for the Holidays are two films about family gatherings that emphasize that “unique” designation.  In a nutshell, The Family Stone is about a man who brings his future fiancée home for the holidays only to find that his family doesn’t welcome her with open arms.  At first glance, The Family Stone can seem awkward, a collection of bad behavior by unlikeable characters.  The characters are less introduced to the viewer than just thrown at you right away, but by the end of the film, you get a feel for who everyone is and you are glad to know them.  Some films are designed in a way for the viewer to take what is presented in its entirety; as a whole rather than in parts.  It is too easy to be turned off early; the family with bad hospitality and two main characters that seem empty and misdirected make for uncomfortable viewing at times.  But  it is the story that, when allowed to play out fully, keeps your attention and captures a realistic picture of a family who has more going on than what is on the surface.  Home for the Holidays is about a single mother, down on her luck, coming home alone once again while trying to put all the pieces together.  The film has less depth and strives more for the humor within the quirks of the family dynamic. I would guess more people may see themselves with the family depicted here.

Common themes between the two films, touch on the overbearing parents and their children that are at a crossroads, seeking to create their own identity apart from their family dynamic.  Both films also push the limits on the extreme stereotypical characters; the gay brother, the crazy angry sister, the old flame that’s also back in town, etc.  Aside from the stereotypes, both films have similarities in style as well; they teeter between drama and comedy (similar to a real life family) and both start with the main characters as the children in the family, but the parents are really the center of the story.

Just like we cringe sometimes at the idea of family plans, in the end, we like the company of someone or something familiar and welcoming.  So, this holiday, hug your family, savor the rich calories and of course, enjoy a movie with that meal.

Thanks Mr. Movie Fuel and Happy Thanksgiving to you! You know what you forgot to mention? Claire Danes shows up in both movies!

One of the reasons we disagree on The Family Stone can been read within Mr. Movie Fuel’s film comparison. Where he sees Stone as a dysfunctional family movie, I see it as a movie about a family’s love for their mother. Diane Keaton’s character is sick and each member of the Stone family uses the strengths and weaknesses of their own personality to deal with the inevitable future. I believe this is a story about finding love in unexpected ways.

Small Home Big Start has a great tutorial on the Morton Family Strata that Sarah Jessica Parker’s character makes. I think a wheat bread version would be fun to try. Home for the Holidays is great to watch with Thanksgiving leftovers. Wondering where all my recipes are? I am taking the day off of cooking!This is the first year in many that I have not been slaving away.

Dallas and I took a morning trip to Starbucks and I ate cereal for lunch. So today is just really a double feature movie review, I’m not cooking, just eating. Alas, recipes will be back again tomorrow!

Don’t forget about posting a comment on yesterday’s 100th post. You have until tonight at midnight to try and win a $20 gift card to either Peet’s or Starbucks. That’s one good Black Friday (with cream and sugar) deal!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Enjoy your day and dinner and come back tomorrow for some fresh eats!