Hot Chocolate with Marsh-Meows

Hot Chocolate with Cat Marshmallows Low-Res

What can be better than homemade marshmallows? How about Marsh-Meows? Cut into kitty-cat shapes, just in time to celebrate the Netflix original, The Adventures of Puss in Boots, which lands in Netflix queues on January 16. Since Puss is such a milk connoisseur, why not cuddle up to a mug of milk-based hot chocolate with floating cat marshmallows? Or usher in the new adventures of Puss in Boots with a friend. Bring a jar full of hot chocolate mix, along with wrapped Marsh-Meows and share the purr-fect chocolate treat.

Hot Chocolate with Marsh-Meows

Yield: around 20 to 25 marshmallows plus extra squares


For the marshmallows:

Cooking spray

2 cups granulated sugar

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

4 packages (¼ ounce each) unflavored gelatin

¾ teaspoon vanilla extract (or peppermint extract, if desired)

2 extra-large egg whites

1 cup cornstarch

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Cookie cutters in the shape of cats or paws

  1. Line a 12-inch by 18-inch baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly coat parchment paper with cooking spray.
  2. Add sugar, corn syrup, and 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Stop stirring; let mixture come to a boil. Raise heat to medium-high; cook until mixture registers 260 degrees on a candy thermometer.
  3. Meanwhile, sprinkle gelatin over 3/4 cup water in a heatproof bowl; let stand 5 minutes to soften. Set the bowl with the gelatin mixture over a pan of simmering water; whisk constantly until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat, and stir in extract; set aside.
  4. Beat egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Whisk gelatin mixture into sugar mixture; with mixer running, gradually add to egg whites. Mix on high speed until very thick, about 15 minutes.
  5. Pour mixture into prepared lined pan, quickly using a spatula to make into an even layer. Let marshmallow stand, uncovered, at room temperature until firm, at least 3 hours.
  6. In a baking dish, combine cornstarch and confectioners’ sugar. Dip cookie cutters into cornstarch mixture and then cut into marshmallow sheet. To prevent sticking, making sure to dust cutters with cornstarch mixture between cuttings.
  7. Toss all the cat-shaped marshmallows with the cornstarch mixture to prevent them from sticking together. Any remaining marshmallow pieces not able to be a cat shape can be cut into pieces and still used.

For the hot chocolate:

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

¼ cup granulated sugar

½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chip morsels

Milk, as needed

  1. In a jar, mix together the cocoa powder, sugar, and chocolate chips morsels.
  2. To prepare, bring milk and hot chocolate mix to a boil over medium-high heat in a heavy-duty pot. (Use about 2 to 3 tablespoons hot chocolate mix for 1 ¼ cups milk.) Gently whisk together until chocolate morsels are melted. Transfer to a cup and decorate with marsh-meows.

New Year’s Eve Mocktails


Homemade sparkling cider with maraschino cherry “ice cubes”

New Year’s Eve doesn’t have to be just an adult affair. With these two mocktails, kids can get in on the fun, champagne glasses included. The first idea is Milk with Chocolate Chip Cookie Stick—pour milk into a champagne glass and then garnish with the Chocolate Chip Cookie Stick for supreme dunking. This is a chocolate chip cookie recipe baked biscotti-style—so the sticks are crunchy and can withhold dairy dipping with ease.

The second New Year’s Eve mocktail is homemade sparkling cider, which is just an easy combination of apple juice concentrate and seltzer. But here’s where the fun can come in—freeze some maraschino cherries and use them as fruity “ice cubes” in the sparkling cider. For an adult riff on this mocktail, use pomegranate seeds in the sparkling cider (which will float) instead of maraschino cherries.

So cozy up to Netflix’s original All Hail King Julien (released December 19), and ring in the new year with these celebratory mocktails.

Milk Flutes with Chocolate Chip Cookie Sticks

Makes around 14 to 18 sticks


½ cup melted butter

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup mini chocolate chips

½ cup walnuts, very finely chopped (optional)

Milk, to serve

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl, add melted butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Add flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the wet mixture until combined. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts into the cookie batter.

2. Line a 9-inch by 12-inch Pyrex dish with parchment paper and coat with cooking spray. Press the dough into a rectangle in the dish. Bake in the preheated oven until the cookie dough is golden on top, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool at least an hour.

3. Preheat oven to 325°F. Lift up the parchment paper to easily remove the chocolate chip cookie loaf from the baking pan. Place it onto a cutting board. Use a serrated knife to cut the cookie into 1-inch sticks.


cutting into cookie sticks

4. Arrange sticks on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet so the sticks are cut side down. Bake in preheated oven for 12 minutes. Turn the oven off and let the sticks sit in oven for 1 hour. Keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

5. To serve, fill champagne glasses with milk. Place a chocolate chip cookie stick into the milk to serve.

Homemade Apple Cider

Makes 4 ½ cups


1 (12-ounce) container apple juice concentrate, thawed in the fridge overnight

3 cups seltzer

Garnishes: frozen maraschino cherries or cinnamon sticks

In a pitcher, add the apple juice concentrate. Top with the seltzer, gently stirring to combine. Pour into cups or champagne glasses. Garnish with cinnamon sticks or frozen maraschino cherries.

Cucumber Rolls with Veggie(Tales) Cream Cheese

Cucumber Rolls2 Low-res

Cucumber Rolls with Veggie(Tales) Cream Cheese

Have you ever watched VeggieTales? It’s a parade of singing vegetables with super-catchy tunes that immediately get stuck in your head.

With more VeggieTales episodes slated for November, including the new “VeggieTales in the House” produced by Netflix, this is just one of a slew of original kids programing on the horizon for Netflix. And to celebrate this occasion, I’ve made a snack worthy of Larry the Cucumber’s love—cucumber roll-ups stuffed with veggie cream cheese.

Anything can go into cucumber rolls—tuna fish, pimento cheese, or chicken salad. But for this recipe, I’m using a homemade Veggie(Tales) Cream Cheese—let kids pick what goes in the cream cheese based on VeggieTales’ characters. For example, I did sun-dried tomatoes for Bob the Tomato, a celery stalk for Frankencelery, and baby carrots for Laura Carrot. As long as you have around 1 cup of chopped vegetables to the 8 ounces of cream cheese, you’re good.

The cucumbers are thinly sliced via a mandolin or a vegetable peeler before being slathered with the cream cheese and rolled into a cute snack, just perfect for pairing with a VeggieTales episode.

Cucumber Rolls with Veggie(Tales) Cream Cheese

Cucumber Rolls1 Low-res

Cucumber Rolls with Veggie(Tales) Cream Cheese

¼ cup roughly chopped roasted red peppers

¼ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes

6 baby carrots or 1 small carrot

1 stalk celery

Pinch salt and pepper

1 (8-ounce) package regular cream cheese or reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature

A few cucumbers, either English cucumbers or medium garden cucumbers

In the bowl of a food processor, add all the vegetables plus salt and pepper. Pulse until the vegetables are finely chopped, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the cream cheese into the food processor, and continue to blend until cream cheese is incorporated with the vegetables, scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed.

Now for the cucumbers: There are two ways to achieve cucumber slices. You can use a mandolin to make the thin, lengthwise cucumber strands. Or, you can do as I did and use a vegetable peeler to also make lengthwise strands. With either one, you want to stop once you reach the seeds of a cucumber, switching to use the other side of it. (Save any remaining cucumber parts to toss into a future salad.)

Then, place 1 or 2 cucumber strips on a cutting board (2 cucumber strips on top of each other allow for a sturdier vessel). Spread a thin layer of the veggie cream cheese down the cucumber strip. Starting on the smaller end of the cucumber, roll it up. Continue with remaining cucumber strips, making as many rolls as needed. Note: There will be leftover veggie cream cheese—all the better to slather on things like bagels, crackers, cherry tomatoes, and more.


Queens: A Culinary Passport


Queens A Culinary Passport by Andrea Lynn PHOTO

It’s finally here!! What I’ve poured my Queens-loving heart and soul into for the past couple years has finally translated into a book recently published by St. Martin’s Press. There are walking food tours, recipes adapted or based on restaurant dishes, restaurant profiles…and more. It’s a slice of exploring Queens–where I’ve lived for 7 years–through my food-loving eyes. My hybrid cookbook/ guidebook, Queens: A Culinary Passportis available on Amazon.

And the official blurb: Everyone knows New York City is the culinary epicenter of the United States. And while Manhattan gets Michelin stars and Brooklyn gets blogger hype, real culinary fanatics know that authentic ethnic food experiences happen in the restaurants of Queens. There, New York’s celebrated ethnic diversity is the most potent, with more than one million foreign-born residents. This means food lovers can travel the globe without using any vacation time: take a culinary tour of China, sip a frappe in Greece, dine on authentic Italian sausage–all without ever leaving Queens! Queens: A Culinary Passport welcomes visitors to the borough, serving as your guide to more than 40 hand-picked ethnic restaurants and food stands, complete with chef profiles and recipes for recreating signature dishes at home. Also included are highlights of not-to-be-missed hidden spots, like ethnic grocery stores stocked with Greek essentials, fish markets that boast of foodie visitors, and delis that turn out freshly made mozzarella and sopressata. For Queens novices, the book includes easy-to-follow subway directions and even detailed walking tours of each neighborhood, ensuring that your next trip to Italy, India, Greece, Latin America, and the Caribbean is only a borough away.

Mini Milestones: Chocolate-Dipped Pretzel Rods


Chocolate-Dipped Pretzel Rods in Mason Jars

In busy, hectic times–especially with the start of cool weather signaling impending holiday craziness—it’s important to take a breather and celebrate any child mini-milestone: losing that first tooth, that first training-wheel-free bike ride, first shoelace tying or being fitted with that first pair of eyeglasses. And they all deserve little rewards.

I’ve always enjoyed the sweet-salty combo of chocolate-covered pretzels. But using pretzel rods and dusting them afterwards in candy ups the ante to create an impressive yet easy treat, perfect for a milestone celebration. The real fun and creativity comes in the abundance of what to roll the chocolate-covered pretzels in:


Chocolate-Dipped Pretzel Rods Topping Choices

Roll these in your kid’s favorite candy or sweet item. From Oreo dust (or Wilton’s Cookies & Cream Crunch), shredded coconut, chopped nuts, or sprinkles—really the sky is the limit. Basically, anything pulverized into small pieces in a food processor works. Then, pile these pretzels into a mason jar, a wide-mouthed glass, or even a vase. Tie with a ribbon and ring in this newest mini milestone along with Netflix’s October titles in the same vein, like “Arthur: Through the Looking Glasses.”

Keep these gorgeous pretzels in mind for any homemade gift-giving as well—just wrap each one individually in cellophane and tie with a ribbon.

Chocolate-Dipped Pretzel Rods


Chocolate-Dipped Pretzel Rods

Yield: about 16 pretzels

½ (12-ounce) package semi-sweet chocolate morsels

16 pretzel rods or 1 (8-ounce) box

Various toppings: shredded coconut, chopped nuts, sprinkles, crushed Oreos, crushed toffee, etc.

1. Line a large baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.

2. Make a double boiler to melt the chocolate. Fill a medium heavy-duty pot almost halfway with water. Bring to a rolling simmer over medium-high heat. Add chocolate into a heat-proof medium bowl and place on top of the simmering water. Let chocolate melt, stirring occasionally, until mostly melted, a few minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a flat Pyrex dish or baking dish (at least 8 inches wide to fit pretzel rods), add the topping to coat the bottom.

4. Using an oven mitt or a dish towel, carefully move the bowl with the chocolate off the pot. Using a spatula, stir the chocolate until completely melted and smooth. Working quickly, use a small spatula or knife to spread the chocolate over two-thirds of the pretzel. Gently shake the pretzel, letting any chocolate excess drip off.

5. Roll the chocolate-covered pretzel in the topping, fully covering the chocolate. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining pretzel rods. If the chocolate becomes difficult to work with, just place back over the double boiler for a few minutes until melty again.

6. When done, refrigerate pretzels on the baking sheet about 1 hour to let chocolate harden. Place in an airtight container for up to a week.

Note: If you’re wanting to go the white chocolate route, use white chocolate wafers or disks. Available in a variety of colors, these also melt far superior to white chocolate chips. To make white chocolate swirls on the semi-sweet chocolate like I have, melt the white chocolate in the double boiler; transfer to a small Ziploc bag. Snip off a tiny corner of the end and drizzle the white chocolate over the dark.

Mediterranean Chicken with Feta Cheese and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Sun-dried tomatoes are my cure-all for a menu-planning drought. As long as a jar of sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil are in the fridge, I know a variety of meals are at my disposal. Sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese, and arugula packed into an omelet for lunch; pizza popcorn for a snack or movie night; or Mediterranean Chicken for dinner, one of my favorite (and quickest!) recipes from my I Love Trader Joe’s College Cookbook.


Mediterranean Chicken with Feta Cheese and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Yield: 2 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: around 6 minutes

This dish is easy enough to make for yourself on a weekly basis, but flavorful and colorful enough to serve on a special occasion. No Trader Joe’s near you? That’s perfectly fine–simple enhance 1/2 cup regular crumbled feta with 1/4 teaspoon each of dried basil, dried oregano, and dried thyme.

1 pound chicken breast tenders
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup Trader Joe’s Sun-dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil, plus 1 tablespoon of the oil
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives (chopped if you desire)
1/2 cup Trader Joe’s Crumbled Feta with Mediterranean Herbs

1. Season chicken tenders with salt and pepper. In a medium sauté pan, warm the oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and sauté until golden on one side, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the chicken tenders over and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes. Cut into the thickest chicken tender to check for doneness.

2. In a small bowl, stir the sun-dried tomatoes with the olives and feta to combine.

3. When the chicken is cooked, transfer to a serving plate and top with the feta mixture. Serve.


Double-Cheese & Pepperoni Pizza Nachos for Movie Night


Pizza Nachos are a family moment in the making.

You know what’s always a family dinner winner? Pizza piled high with everyone’s favorite toppings. The only hitch is that it can be a bit of a pain to make at home. Stretching out the store-bought dough never goes smoothly for me: half of the dough might puff up too high with thin holes in the other half. I can never get it perfect. So behold an easier, quicker way to get your pizza fix: Pizza Nachos, tying into Netflix’s September theme of “Pizza and a Movie.” It’s quick to make and easily devoured in front of a movie.

And the best thing is that you can use whatever pizza toppings you want. I went the pepperoni and double cheese route: there’s a layer of garlicky fondue-like cheese sauce made from a 6 Cheese Italian blend. I think the cheese blend is the best route since it’s a combo of mozzarella, provolone, Parmesan and more—but all mozzarella can be used instead. Then, I layered with my favorite toppings: mushrooms, roasted peppers, olives, tomatoes, jalapenos, and two types of pepperoni (turkey and regular). My toppings are lined up below but you can add any pizza toppings that your heart desires to these nachos.


The options are pretty endless at this point—pineapple and ham; cooked sausage crumbles and peppers; crisp bacon and jalapeno. Make two batches of nachos, so kids and adults can design their own just like they would a pizza. Then, another layer of shredded cheese is spread on top of these toppings for double cheesiness. A stint in the oven makes these all oozy and warm.

Note that the measurements for the toppings are what worked for me–feel free to increase/ decrease any toppings. Like more pepperoni? Pile it on! Don’t like mushrooms? Nix it all together. Turn this into a family activity before movie night to brainstorm the best ultimate pizza nachos you can make.

Double-Cheese & Pepperoni Pizza Nachos

Yield: 4 servings


2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups whole milk

2 medium cloves garlic, finely minced

2 cups finely shredded 6 Cheese Italian blend, divided

Tortilla chips, as needed

3/4 cup to 1 cup halved pepperoni slices

3/4 cup to 1 cup diced roasted red peppers

3/4 cup to 1 cup diced tomatoes

1/4 cup finely diced red onion

3/4 cup sliced white mushrooms

1/3 cup sliced olives

1 jalapeno, finely chopped (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 450 F degrees.

2. First, make the cheese sauce: In a medium, heavy duty pot, let butter melt over medium-high heat. Add flour, using a whisk to combine with butter. Pour in milk, again whisking to combine, until thick, just about 1 minute. (If mixture cooks too long and get too thick, just add a little more milk to thin out.) Reduce the heat to low. Stir in garlic and 1 cup shredded cheese, stirring until cheese is melted and incorporated into the sauce. Remove from heat.

3. Next, make the nachos: In an oven-proof dish or a foil-lined baking sheet, lay out one layer of chips. Pour some of the cheese sauce over the chips and layer with half the toppings: pepperoni, red peppers, tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, olives, and jalapenos. Sprinkle with ½ cup cheese. Top with another layer of chips, again drizzling cheese sauce over them (you may have extra cheese sauce leftover). Add remaining toppings and another ½ cup cheese.

4. Place nachos in the oven until the top is melty, about 5 to 7 minutes. Devour.


(Salted) Caramel Monkey Bread


Don’t you just want to dig in?

Netflix’s August movies take the message of the Netflix Original Series, Derek, one step further under the theme of “kindness is magic,” encouraging acceptance of everyone of all ages and abilities. A perfect recipe for togetherness is Monkey Bread, a classic shareable family pull-apart treat.

So how do you improve on a classic like Monkey Bread? It’s already  a tower of dough pieces rolled in a cinnamon-sugar mixture drizzled with butter. But adding caramel–even salted caramel–takes it up a notch. Using brown sugar in place of granulated white sugar decreases the cooking time for a homemade caramel, making it less of a pain to accomplish. And what a show-stopper this is once magically flipped-over onto a plate. The caramel adds a gorgeous brown hue to the Monkey Bread, along with a nutty sweetness. The salt in the caramel is completely optional, of course. But it’s an added taste that adults can appreciate, all the while being the same ooey, gooey Monkey Bread that kids devour.

While you’re serving it, watch Curious George to tie into the monkey theme and other programs that promote the universal kindness theme like Thomas & Friends: Hero of the Rails, Mulan: Special Edition (a love of mine, even as an adult), and Charlotte’s Web.

(Salted) Caramel Monkey Bread

Shaking the dough pieces in the cinnamon-sugar Ziploc bag is a kid-friendly task. Just be warned: the caramel is still quite warm while using, so make sure the kids stay away from the caramel-drizzling part of the recipe.

6 to 8 servings


 For the caramel:

¾ cup packed brown sugar

½ stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter

¼ cup heavy cream

¼ teaspoon sea salt (optional)


For the monkey bread:

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

4 cans (4.5-ounce) Pillsbury buttermilk biscuits

1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1/3 cup melted butter

Make the caramel: In a heavy-duty medium pot, add brown sugar and butter. Warm over medium-high heat. Stir together with heatproof spatula, getting rid of any brown sugar lumps. Let sugar cook, stirring constantly, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in heavy cream and (optional) salt.

Make the monkey bread: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 12-cup or 10-cup fluted tube pan with cooking spray. In a large Ziploc bag, mix together sugar and cinnamon until combined. One at a time, remove each batch of biscuit dough from the can. Cut each biscuit dough in half, adding into the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Shake in the bag until dough is coated in sugar.

In the bottom of the pan, pour ¼ of the reserved caramel and ¼ cup walnuts. After each biscuit batch is arranged into the pan, top with ¼ caramel and ¼ cup walnuts. When all the dough is used, pour the melted butter over entire dough. Bake in the oven about 30 to 40 minutes until dough is golden brown and fully-cooked inside. Remove from oven and let cool about 10 minutes. Turn monkey bread upside down onto a plate, serving warm, if desired.

Brain Booster: Strawberry-Yogurt Swirl Popsicles


The swirling is the best part of making these–for adults and kids alike.

I’m obsessed with brain foods. In a sense, these foods have been scientifically dissected and are known to wire your brain with a focused energy. They’re also assumed to keep your mind sharp for years to come. Berries are one of the best brain foods there are–blueberries seem to have the highest amount of brain power, but all berries rate very high. (Other honorable mentions are salmon, eggs, and nuts.) I took that knowledge to create the most brain-boosting popsicles possible by merging berries with brain-friendly pomegranate juice and the protein powerhorse, Greek yogurt. Watermelon juice is added for sweetness, so less honey is needed.

In light of the dog days of summer, where kids’ brains are also on hiatus along with school, Netflix has rolled out featured educational shows like Leap Frog: Math Adventure to the Moon to documentaries like National Geographic: Secret Yellowstone and When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions. My husband is a teacher and will sometimes incorporate documentaries like these to jazz up a science lesson for his students. So he’s especially grateful to these year-round. Pair a popsicle with an educational program via Netflix to keep your kids’ brain active throughout summer. The popsicles are so refreshing and scrumptious, kids don’t need to know that they’re good for them as well. I won’t tell if you won’t.

Strawberry Yogurt Popsicles2

These brain-powered babies aren’t just for dessert–they also work as a snack or for breakfast.

Strawberry-Yogurt Swirl Popsicles

Two cups of any type of berries can be used, whether that’s blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries.

Yield: 6 to 8 Popsicles, depending on mold size

1 cup chopped watermelon

2 cups sliced strawberries (about 1 pound strawberries)

3 tablespoons pomegranate juice

3 tablespoons honey, divided

1 cup no-fat or low-fat Greek yogurt

1. In the bowl of a food processor, add watermelon, strawberries, pomegranate juice, and 1 tablespoon honey. Process about 1 minute until mixture turns into a puree. Taste; add just a bit more honey, if needed; a lot of this depends on the sweetness of the watermelon and strawberries.

2. In a small bowl, combine together yogurt and remaining 2 tablespoons honey.

3. Fill the popsicle molds: First, pour the strawberry mixture in the bottom of each popsicle mold. Spoon yogurt into it; again, top with strawberry mixture and then yogurt. Use a wooden popsicle stick or a skewer to swirl the strawberry mixture and yogurt together. Place in the freezer overnight.

4. To remove from popsicle molds, hold under warm water until popsicle can be easily pulled free of mold. Serve.


Snack Like a Scandal Gladiator: Red Wine Spritzer and Pizza Popcorn


Scandal snacks: red wine spritzer and pizza popcorn

I like to spread the Scandal love.

“You haven’t seen Scandal?” I’ll say. “Stop what you’re doing and watch now.” I’ve started many Scandal addictions this way–for friends, family, strangers. I’m basically a walking, talking Scandal promo. The first two seasons I watched on Netflix with this past third season in real time. Can I admit something? This fast-paced, soap opera-esque thriller is best for binge watching, which is great because Netflix now has all three seasons of Scandal.

Because everyone deserves a little me-time to refresh and recharge from hectic lives, I devised these Scandal-worthy snacks for the ultimate viewing experience. It doesn’t take many episodes of Scandal to realize main gladiator, Olivia Pope, basically consumes nothing but copious amounts of red wine and bowls of popcorn. So naturally, a Red Wine Spritzer and Pizza Popcorn were in order. While these recipes were inspired by Scandal, they’ll also work for other guilty-pleasures, like Orange Is the New Black, House of Cards or such.


pizza popcorn

First, this is the popcorn to beat all popcorn. I could barely stop snacking on it long enough to take a photo. Pizza seasonings like dried oregano and basil are mixed with chopped sun-dried tomatoes and Parmesan for an addictive twist on popcorn. And, of course, you’ll need to pair this salty snack with a drink. If you’ve never had a wine spritzer before, it’s a light and refreshing–not to mention easy–wine cocktail for the summer. If you can’t find the Italian orange-flavored San Pellegrino Aranciata, there are a variety of other options like Sprite, 7-Up, or even seltzer with a squeeze of lime. Spritzers are a 1:1 ratio of wine to soda/ seltzer. If I know a spritzer is in my future for the evening, I’ll go ahead and put the red wine and Aranciata in the fridge to chill for later.

So crash on the couch, pull up Scandal on the iPad and eat like Gladiator.

Pizza Popcorn

Makes 8 cups

8 cups popped popcorn (around ½ cup popcorn kernels)

1 tablespoon melted butter

2 tablespoons finely chopped sundried tomatoes

1 tablespoon sun-dried tomato oil

1/8 teaspoon each of dried oregano, dried basil and garlic powder

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon finely grated Parmesan cheese

1. Make popcorn via either microwave popcorn or the stovetop. If going the stovetop route, I highly recommend Mark Bittman’s method.

2. Add 8 cups of popped popcorn to a large bowl. In a small bowl, mix together, melted butter, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, sun-dried tomato oil, herbs, and salt. Mix to combine.

3. Slowly drizzle sun-dried tomato mixture over popcorn, tossing to coat all the popcorn. Top with Parmesan cheese, again tossing to combine. Serve.


red wine spritzer

Red Wine Spritzer

Any type of red wine can be used for a spritzer–just utilize whatever you already have around.

Makes 1 drink

½ cup red wine

½ cup San Pellegrino Aranciata

Slice of orange

In a glass, add red wine and Aranciata. Squeeze the orange slice into the glass and then garnish with it. Add ice to chill if needed. Serve.