Hello readers! I'm Leighanne - a twenty-something scientist (and newlywed!) searching for a way to express my creative side. Welcome to my blog, Potions & Poppy Seeds! Here, you'll find everything from new recipes, to DIYs for the home, to my experiences in wedding planning, and my never-ending attempts at creating fabulous things. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sweet & Spicy Chicken Stir Fry

Hello, readers! It certainly has been a while. The past 2 months have been absolutely crazy for me, which explains the lack of posts. The holidays always seem to be crazy, huh? The normal craziness of the holiday season was compounded by my 2nd teaching job (you know, grading finals and what not) and me starting my 3rd job (yes, 3rd job) as a contract writer. I swear, I don't know how to not be busy. What the eff is wrong with me?

Anyway, even with all the craziness 2013 came to an end with, I managed to find this AWESOME recipe for Sweet & Spicy Chicken Stir Fry. This recipe has now turned into a weekly staple on my dinner menu. It's pretty simple, has only a few ingredients (assuming you have most of the sauce ingredients on hand), and is sure to please. 


  • 4 Tbs honey
  • 4 Tbs Sriracha or other chili sauce
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 6 Tbs soy sauce, divided
  • 6 Tbs rice vinegar, divided
  • vegetable oil
  • 2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into strips or bite size pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 inches freshly chipped ginger
  • 6 scallions, chopped
  • 2 heads broccoli, cut into florets
  • 2 cups cooked rice, optional
How to:
  • Whisk together honey, Sriracha, broth, cornstarch, 4 Tbs soy sauce and 4 Tbs rice vinegar. 
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining soy sauce and rice vinegar. Add chicken to the bowl and toss to coat.
  • In a large skillet, warm vegetable oil over high heat. Stir fry chicken until no longer pink, and then transfer to a clean bowl.
  • Reduce heat slightly, and add some more oil to the skillet. Stir fry garlic, ginger, scallions, and broccoli until fragrant (only ~30 seconds or so).
  • Return chicken to the skillet with the sauce you've prepared. Cook, stirring until sauce thickens, about 2-3 minutes. 
  • Serve over rice.
You can adjust the heat of this recipe by backing off (or adding more!) on the Sriracha. If you're not in the mood for chicken, try adding in tofu or beef strips instead. Let me know how your variation turns out!

This recipe was modified from the one found here.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Curried Pumpkin Apple Soup

Have I mentioned fall is my favorite season? Just making sure all you readers know that. I'm probably the only person in the world that doesn't want to hear Christmas music until AFTER Thanksgiving. Is that seriously too much to ask? Why are people always trying to rush right past Thanksgiving as soon as the Halloween candy goes on clearance? While Halloween is my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving is a close second. Turkey? Pie? Cranberry sauce that retains the shape of the container it came out of? All amazing things!

In honor of my approaching 2nd favorite holiday (and because I was craving soup like whoa), I whipped up this seasonal treat for myself. This recipe for Curried Pumpkin Apple Soup is sort of like a liquid form of Thanksgiving dinner (awesome), but even better because it has some of that delicious curry taste going on. 

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 large apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2-3 Tbsp honey or maple syrup
How to:
  • Melt butter in a medium sized pot over medium heat, and saute onion, celery, and apple until onion is transparent and ingredients are cooked through. 
  • Stir in curry and saute 1 min.
  • Add in broth and pumpkin and heat to a boil.
  • Reduce heat, and puree until smooth.
  • Add salt and bay leaf, and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
  • After 5 minutes, stir in heavy cream and honey. Adjust taste with salt and more honey if necessary.
  • Simmer 2 more minutes, then remove from heat and serve hot.
Obviously if you hate curry, this dish is not for you. But I love Indian food and flavors, so when I found this recipe, it was sort of a match made in heaven - curry + pumpkin + apple = perfection. Unfortunately, I cannot remember where I got this recipe from. It's one of those recipes that has been written and rewritten in my recipe books. Anyway, I hope you all enjoy this - let me know how yours turns out!


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Festive Chocolate Dipped Pretzels

Happy Fall, Y'all! We are in the middle of my favorite season. Leaves are changing, the air is getting colder, and I've been drinking hot cider for a good 3 weeks straight. A-mazing.

Fall brings another one of my favorite things - Halloween! Last weekend, Jake and I went to a Halloween party (check out my fab 80s costume). I wanted to bring something to the party, but was running short on time. I had an unopened bag of pretzel rods and some Wilton Milk Chocolate Candy Melts hanging around, so I decided chocolate dipped pretzels were the way to go. I decorated them with some festive sprinkles, and viola! Quick and delicious Halloween-themed deliciousness.

This weekend, Jake and I are headed to a pig roast. I picked up some large pretzels and decided to try dipping these instead of the rods. They look awesome, and taste even better than they look.
My sis-in-law and I on
Halloween this year!


  • Candy Melts (any flavor)
  • pretzel (rods or large pretzels)
  • assorted sprinkles, candies, chopped nuts, and/or coconut
How to:
  • Melt chocolate as according to package.
  • Dip pretzels.
  • Lay pretzels on parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  • Decorate with toppings.
  • Let set and serve.
I just love these things. They're so easy to make, and you really can't go wrong with a sweet & salty combo. And depending on the occasion, you can totally decorate the pretzels to match your theme. I actually made chocolate-dipped pretzels as wedding favors back in May, and my wedding guests only had great things to say about them. 


Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Perfect Cupcake

Happy 1st birthday to Potions & Poppy Seeds! I can't believe it's been a whole year! And what a year it's been for my little blog - in just 12 short months we reached 15,000+ page views, and I get emails every day from Pinterest letting me know that people are happily pinning recipes and crafts from Potions & Poppy Seeds. So thank you, readers!

In honor of my baby's 1st birthday, I decided to make some cupcakes. This recipe is very simple, but very delicious. I will admit - in the past, I've been a huge fan of making cakes/brownies/etc. from a box, and this is one of my 1st REAL attempts at baking from scratch. Honestly, after eating these babies, I will never again make cupcakes from a box mix.


Yellow Cupcake Batter:

  • 3 cups sifted cake flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
Buttercream Icing:
  • 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 2 Tbsp milk

How to:

To prepare batter:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with baking cups.
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a second large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add flour mixture alternatively with milk, beating well after each addition. Continue beating 1 minute.
  • Fill baking cups 2/3 full.
  • Bake 18-20 min or until toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean. 
  • Cool cupcakes in pan on cooling grid for 5 min. Remove from pan and cool completely.
To prepare icing:
  • In a large bowl, beat shortening and butter with an electric mixer. Add vanilla.
  • Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often.
  • When all the sugar has been mixed in, the icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.
  • Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.
The batter recipe makes 24 cupcakes, and the icing recipe makes about 3 cups. The cupcake recipe yields really light cupcakes - the consistency of mine was somewhere between an angel food cake and normal cake from a box, which I really enjoyed. The icing is also quite light tasting (although it clearly is the farthest you can get from 'light' - just look at the recipe!). I'm calling this recipe The Perfect Cupcake, because my coworkers raved about these, and Jake ate 3 cupcakes in less than an hour. I dare you not to eat more than one!

So, happy birthday again to my blog! And a special thanks to all of you for sticking with me over the past year!


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fresh Garlic Bread

Fall is FINALLY upon us! There's nothing better than that crisp chill in the air and when pumpkin and apple flavors start cropping up in everything from coffee to baked goods. Another thing about fall that I absolutely love is all the transition to grilling practically everything I eat during the summer to finding a way to eat soup and other savory comfort fall foods as much as possible. There's nothing better than a delicious bowl of hot soup and a good old fashioned grilled cheese sandwich on a wonderful fall afternoon. 

This post is not focused on soup, but it IS focused on savory bread that will accompany any bowl of soup perfectly. This recipe for Homemade Garlic Bread is definitely a staple in my house. Jake and I use it for pretty much any sort of sandwich we make (it's great with peppercorn turkey breast or grilled chicken), or slathered up with butter as toast. Our favorite use of this bread is - are you ready for it? - grilled cheese. This toasted garlic bread + melted cheese + butter = perfection. 

The recipe here is catered to those using a breadmaker (like me!).

  • 1 1/4 cup water, 90 degrees* 
  • 2 Tbs butter or margarine
  • 3 1/3 cups bread flour
  • 2 Tbs dry milk
  • 1 Tbs dried parsley flakes**
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 1 1/4 salt
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
How to:
  • Add water to the bread pan first, then the dry ingredients. Make sure the dry ingredients are leveled to ensure you achieve the proper consistency in your baked bread.
  • Quarter the butter or margarine and add it to the corners of the bread pan.
  • Make an impression in the center of the dry ingredients in the bread pan and add the yeast.
  • Bake according to your bread machine's specifications.
*My recipe (and most recipes utilizing a bread maker) recommend using water at 80 degrees. After fooling around with this recipe, I have found that water at a temperature of 90 degrees works best.
**I have also substituted half of the dried parsley in this recipe with Italian seasoning and was pleased with the results.

If you are looking for a good soup recipe to pair this bread with, I suggest taking a look at my recipe for Chunky Vegetable Soup or (my personal fave) Chicken Noodle Soup. I'd love to hear how you use this bread, so let me know!


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Heirloom Tomato Pizza with Pesto and Fresh Mozzarella

One of my favorite things about summer is visiting the local farmer's market to purchase some of the freshest produce around. But one thing that's even better than purchasing fresh produce is getting it for free - the tomatoes used in this recipe were grown in a friend's garden! They had some extra heirloom tomatoes lying around and graciously gave a bunch to Jake when he was over visiting them a couple weeks ago. 

This recipe (like the majority of pizza recipes) takes only a couple minutes to prep, and the pizza is ready to eat in under 15 minutes! Best of all, this recipe only requires 5 ingredients.


  • prepared pizza dough
  • cornmeal or flour for dusting
  • pesto
  • fresh mozzarella
  • heirloom tomatoes
How to:
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Allow pizza dough to come to room temperature. Dust a pizza peel or other surface with cornmeal or flour to prevent dough from sticking to surface.
  • Roll out dough using your hands or rolling pin on top of dusted surface.
  • Spread 2-3 Tbsp of pesto on top of the dough.
  • Top pizza with fresh mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes.
  • Spread 1-2 more Tbsp of pesto on top of the mozzarella and tomatoes.
  • Transfer pizza to oven and bake for 12-15 minutes.
Jake and I received a pizza stone as a wedding gift, and we absolutely love it. If you too are using a pizza stone, place it in the oven before turning it on, so it heats up as the oven is preheating. We use our pizza peel to then transfer the pizza into the oven.

I love that despite this recipe's simplicity, it tastes like a gourmet pizza! I'm so glad our friends gave us lots of heirloom tomatoes - we'll be making this pizza again very soon. I made the dough from scratch from my recipe I've previously shared with you. I didn't have enough basil on hand to make my own pesto, so I just used the store bought stuff (which was still delicious).


The original recipe can be found here.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Chicken Tostadas

As the summer is coming to an end, I find myself getting busier and busier. In the past month, Jake and I have had three weddings (although we could only make it to two of them), I've traveled to visit friends all over the place, and have started training to run the Baltimore marathon relay. Things don't seem to be slowing down anytime soon - Jake and I are making a trip up to Massachusetts in the next few weeks to attend ANOTHER wedding, and I'll be starting a second job in September. As hectic as things are, I've had a pretty fantastic summer, and am excited for all the fun things I have planned over the next year! But I can delve into that at another time...

Anyway, because things have been so crazy (especially with trying to fit in a work out after a long ass day in the lab), I'm finding less and less time to craft fab gourmet meals for Jake and I. Which leads me to introduce this recipe for Chicken Tostadas. This recipe uses leftover chicken, and can be assembled in less than 30 min.

  • 8 6-in flour or corn tortillas
  • 2 avocados, pitted, and cut into 1/2 cubes
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup fat-free refried beans
  • 2 cups shredded, cooked, boneless chicken breast
  • 1 1/2 cups (~4 oz.) shredded pepper Jack cheese
  • 2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup tomato salsa
How To:
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with heavy-duty foil.
  • Mist both sides of tortillas with cooking spray, place on sheet, and bake until crisp (~ 8 minutes). Set aside.
  • Toss avocado with lime juice, and season with salt.
  • Spread some beans on each tortilla, top with chicken and avocado, and sprinkle with cheese. 
  • Return to oven and bake until warmed through (7-10 minutes).
  • Top with lettuce and salsa and serve immediately.
Jake and I had a ton of leftover chicken from the last time we made Jerk Chicken using my recipe for Jamaican Jerk Marinade. I diced up a bunch of that chicken and used it in this recipe. The spices and heat from the marinade worked well with the coolness of the avocado here, so I recommend trying that out! You can also just use a rotisserie chicken if you don't have any grilled chicken laying around.