Gather ‘round, people – I’m about to take you back to childhood. Remember spicy cheese popcorn back in the day? I have a homemade version for you! Made with powdered cheddar, spices, sriracha, and jalapeño powder! Trust when I say, this batch won’t last!
Song giving me life: Earth Wind & Fire – Boogie Wonderland
One of my favorite parts of spring is witnessing trees magically transform their bare branches into lush green. Our neighborhood is rather new – Formerly barren lots are now lined with three family homes. I am the owner of one of these homes and have been for about 14 years. Trees were planted right around the time these homes completed and as such, we have watched our homes grow and change alongside these trees. The trees have grown tall, and verdant; every spring is a pleasure to see how far their branches extend. One branch extended as far as the inside of a neighbor’s living room window and that was kinda cool.
All that changed this morning when a group of gentlemen drove to our street and butchered a vast majority of branches from these trees. I understand the reasoning behind it: In the event of powerful winds or a massive storm, these branches can take down a power line. But why not trim these branches? Why cut practically every branch except the very top ones? The most beautiful tree, the one directly in front of our house received what looked like a damn crew cut. My daughter cried this morning on her way to school and demanded I research if butchering branches actually harm these trees.
‘Will the branches grow back, mama?’
There’s a chance these branches may not grow back. I didn’t have the heart to tell her this, as preserving nature is so important to her.
I’m not sure where I’m going with this story. Perhaps it’s the sense of loss we felt this morning as the tree branches littered our street. Perhaps it’s the sense of loss in knowing this tree may not grow new branches and that beautiful greenery is lost to us forever.
Perhaps it’s a metaphor, a vivid imagery of the state the world.
Can we talk about popcorn now? Flow with me, y’all.
As a kid, I used to L.O.V.E. Wise Hot Cheese Popcorn. Was it the faux cheese flavor? Was it the mild spice? Perhaps it was how my fingertips would turn red/orange and I’d spend a good two minutes licking off the cheesy powder?
All I know is I would scoff at plain old potato chips and grab at that red bag of spicy popcorn every chance I got, which wasn’t very often.
I don’t indulge in chips much anymore because… You know, thick jiggly thighs and whatnot. Every once in a while, however, I have this craving for that old spicy popcorn. Soooooo… I decided to make my own.
I bought some cheddar cheese powder from Amazon. I wanted to make sure my cheese powder did not use Yellow #53 or whatever. This brand is pretty good. The orange hue comes from annatto, instead of Red #40. I kicked it up with some onion powder and garlic powder. I also added some paprika for earthiness and color.
For spice, I used a combination of jalapeño powder and this bomb ass sriracha powder I found in the Spice House. You can add more jalapeño powder if it’s all you have on hand. It’s super simple to make. Pop, mix and eat.
The result is cheesy and mildly spicy. It’s as close to the commercial brand as it gets, plus there’s the satisfaction of making something yourself.
Now, go pop a batch. Grab a chair, head to your nearest park.
Enjoy the leaves.
They are truly somethin’ his year.
Spicy Cheddar Cheese Popcorn
- Unpopped corn kernels - 1 cup
- Coconut oil - 3 tablespoons
- Sprinkle of salt
- Unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled - 4 tablespoons
- Cheddar cheese powder - ½ cup
- Paprika - 2 teaspoons
- Dried onion powder - 1 tablespoon
- Dried garlic powder - 2 teaspoons
- Jalapeño powder - ¾ teaspoons
- Sriracha chili powder - ½ teaspoon
Pop your kernels, old school style:
Set the heat to medium-high. Add coconut oil to a large pot with a lid and sprinkle lightly with salt. Add the kernels and cover the pot. When you hear the first sound of kernels popping, reduce heat to medium-low and allow the kernels to pop completely.
Every minute or so, give the pot a shake to ensure all your kernels have been hit with a heat situation (this will make them all pop).
Remove from heat, transfer to a very large bowl and set aside.
OR!! If you own a popcorn maker (I own a Whirley Pop, which I LOVE) pop your popcorn according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Make the spiced cheese mixture:
In a small bowl, combine the melted butter, cheese powder, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, jalapeño powder, and sriracha powder. Mix to combine until it makes a paste. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. I would prefer a spicier popcorn; however, I live with two wusses who can’t handle spice.
Pour the seasoned cheese paste over the popcorn and with clean hands mix to distribute. Some kernels will have large amounts of the cheese mixture and that is a good thing. Enjoy immediately.
Popcorn will keep in an airtight, sealed bag for about a week. It won’t last that long, though. We barely make it one day.