I’ll admit that there are times when I straight-up bribe my kids. Like during potty training when we gave my son chocolate chips every time he went #2 on the potty. (No, the humor of that transaction is not lost on me. And no, we didn’t also give him lemonade for every success with #1…but hey, that’s a slam-dunk idea!) Probably most parents engage in this type of activity, and in our minds, maybe we like to think of it as “positive reinforcement.” Maybe it’s a fine line. My most recent child-bribery–er, positive reinforcement–incident occurred yesterday. My two older children, whether because they’re getting too old for it or out of sheer grumpiness, really do not enjoy going to the child care center at my gym while I work out. It’s an exercise in itself just getting them to go with me. But yesterday afternoon I had the time and opportunity to get to the gym for a class I really, really enjoy and haven’t been to in quite awhile: LifeBarre at Lifetime Fitness. It’s a combination of cardio, ballet, Pilates, and weights–basically a kick-butt full body workout. I knew if I was going to get Mr. Grumpy and Mr. Too-Old-For-It to come without complaint, I needed a plan. And that plan was…….
Well, cinnamon-sugar popcorn and two episodes of Pokemon before we left for the gym. My kids are suckers for this stuff–both the Pokecorn and the Popmon. I mean, the popcorn and the Pokemon. When presented with this negotiation, my boys’ “But-I-don’t-WAAAAANNNA-go-to-the-gym” attitude actually turned into “Wellll-I-guess-we-could-go-to-the-gym,” which is good enough for me. And you know, I could probably be coaxed to do things I don’t want to do with the offer of this popcorn, too. I’ve made a couple of other recipes for cinnamon-sugar popcorn before, and I’m here to tell you this is the one to beat. A drizzling of butter-vanilla mixture over the popped kernels allows them to soak up buttery flavor and moisture before getting the red-carpet treatment of sweet-and-spicy cinnamon-sugar. I don’t often say this of foods, but this snack is genuinely addictive. I keep thinking of occasions for which I can make it again: movie nights, casual potlucks, kids’ playdates…
Try this recipe and I think you’ll see what I mean. What could you bribe–uh, positively enforce–someone to do for a taste?
Cinnamon Sugar Popcorn
(Inspired by Five Heart Home)
1 bag unflavored microwave popcorn
5 Tbsp. salted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. white sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- Make popcorn according to package directions. When cool enough to handle, transfer to a large glass bowl.
- In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. When butter begins to foam, remove from heat and add vanilla. Stir until combined. Let cool slightly.
- While butter mixture cools, combine sugar and cinnamon.
- Drizzle butter mixture over popcorn and stir to coat. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring to coat evenly.
Makes about 12 cups.