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Sweet and savoury recipes using popcorn: chicken entree and snack

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Sisters Julie Albert and Lisa Gnat love entertaining and have compiled more than 700 recipes on their website, bitememore.com. They think popcorn can bring a lot of fun to the table.

Here are two of their recipes, one for chicken that uses popcorn as a crunchy topping and one for a creative combination of popcorn and pretzels with caramel and chocolate.

PEANUT AND POPCORN CRUSTED CHICKEN

This recipe for peanut- and popcorn-crusted chicken is juicy on the inside, crunchy on the outside and topped with an Asian-style peanut sauce. Not only is this super-flavourful chicken easy to make, but it also gives a boost to any lacklustre chicken repertoire.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

750 ml (3 cups) popped plain popcorn

175 ml (3/4 cup) coarsely chopped peanuts

2 ml (1/2 tsp) kosher salt

30 ml (2 tbsp) flour

1 egg

5 ml (1 tsp) soy sauce

5 ml (1 tsp) fresh lime juice

30 ml (2 tbsp) vegetable oil

Citrus Marinade

50 ml (1/4 cup) fresh lime juice

15 ml (1 tbsp) Dijon mustard

15 ml (1 tbsp) olive oil

2 ml (1/2 tsp) chili powder

2 ml (1/2 tsp) lime zest

0.5 ml (1/8 tsp) kosher salt

0.5 ml (1/8 tsp) freshly ground black pepper

Creamy Peanut Sauce

90 ml (6 tbsp) smooth peanut butter

45 ml (3 tbsp) honey

30 ml (2 tbsp) soy sauce

30 ml (2 tbsp) fresh lime juice

Pinch cayenne pepper

Marinade: Whisk together lime juice, Dijon mustard, olive oil, chili powder, lime zest, salt and pepper. Place chicken in a large glass bowl, coat with marinade and refrigerate for 1 to 8 hours.

In a blender, process popcorn until finely ground. Pour into a shallow dish and stir in peanuts and salt; set aside. Place flour in a shallow dish. In another shallow dish, whisk egg, soy sauce and lime juice until combined.

Preheat oven to 190 C (375 F). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with non-stick cooking spray. Remove chicken breasts from marinade and dip each piece in flour; shake off excess. Dip in egg mixture and then into popcorn mixture, patting well to adhere.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add vegetable oil. Brown chicken in skillet, cooking 2 minutes per side. Place chicken on baking sheet and finish cooking in oven for 15 minutes or until cooked through. Serve immediately with peanut sauce.

Peanut sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together peanut butter, honey, soy, lime juice and cayenne until smooth.

Makes 4 servings.

CHOCOLATE CARAMEL PRETZEL POPCORN

In this sweet and salty treat created by Lisa Gnat, popcorn and pretzels are tossed with a homemade caramel sauce, baked and then drizzled with melted chocolate. This also makes an amazing edible gift.

3 l (12 cups) unsalted popped popcorn

625 ml (2 1/2 cups) mini pretzels

250 ml (1 cup) brown sugar

125 ml (1/2 cup) butter, cubed

50 ml (1/4 cup) light corn syrup

2 ml (1/2 tsp) kosher salt

1 ml (1/4 tsp) ground cinnamon

2 ml (1/2 tsp) baking soda

125 g (4 oz) white chocolate, melted

125 g (4 oz) semi-sweet chocolate, melted

Preheat oven to 120 C (250 F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Coat a large mixing bowl with non-stick cooking spray and place popcorn and pretzels in the bowl.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, salt and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda (mixture will bubble up a little). Quickly and carefully pour over popcorn and pretzels and toss using wooden spoons to mix. Spread over prepared baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and transfer popcorn mixture to parchment paper to cool. Drizzle with melted white chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate. Let cool completely to let chocolate set. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Source: Lisa Gnat and Julie Albert, Bite Me More.

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