cheesy popcorn

At our house, Sunday evenings are family night. We get a movie, cut up apples, and make two giant bowls of popcorn: one spicy and the other cheesy. Actually, I wrote about the tradition here. No need to say more.

Except to share the recipe for the cheesy popcorn! It’s not really a recipe, but since you can’t buy it in the store and I don’t see recipes for this particular snack floating around the web, I can only assume that your cheesy popcorn enjoyment rests firmly on my shoulders. DO NOT FEAR. I, the bearer of cheesy popcorn deliciousness, AM HERE.

Responsibility is such a burden.

But before the recipe, here’s a list of some of the family-night movies we’ve watched. I’ve only just recently started to keep track and I’m kicking myself for my shortsightedness. Finding a good family movie is no small feat (I get so sick of cartoon trash), and I regret not keeping more detailed records to, you know, share with the world that is resting on my shoulders.

Family Night Movies 
Disclaimer: my children are ages 9-15. My oldest, by age nine, had only been exposed to basic Disney stuff. My youngest, by age nine, has seen all of Harry Potter. 
In other words, my standards have evolved. 

Christmas Story: classic!
Jamaican Bobsled Team: fun movie.
Akeelah and the Bee: excellent. I wish there were more movies like this.
Guardians of the Galaxy: they loved it, I didn’t.
Tangled: basic fun.
The Black Stallion Returns: a certain horse-lover was in heaven.
Alice in Wonderland: I hate Alice in Wonderland but the kids liked it.
Babies: more of a “schooly” movie, but eyeopening and interesting.
Whale Rider: pretty good.
Ransom of Red Chief: an old movie. Fun.
The Karate Kid 1 and II: some tense parts, but a fun watch.
Princess Protection Program: can’t remember (maybe I wasn’t home for this one?)
Secretariat: good, but a little slow. The adults and bigs enjoyed it.
Ghostbusters: scary moments, but over all an innocent show.
The Little Red Wagon: the older kids thought this would be stupid, but they liked it.
The Princess Diaries: Entertaining.
Maleficent: Predictable.
Sound of Music: CLASSIC.
Wall-E: They loved this one!
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: fun.
Ella Enchanted: sweet and simple.
Richie Rich: lots of slap-sticky laughs
Chicken Run: fun.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: an easy classic, slow-paced.
National Treasure: delightfully intense, we all enjoyed it.
Napoleon Dynamite: a family classic (younger kids don’t get the humor)
Princess Bride: another family classic.
The Cotton Patch Gospel: not your regular Hollywood movie. A gem. And the music is great.
Celine: some romance, but not too racy. Slower-paced but intriguing.
Runaway Bride: again, some romance, but okay.
Into The Woods: enjoyed by all.
Dolphin Tales I and II: pleasant.
Front of the Class: about a teacher who has Tourette Syndrome. Worthwhile.
The Parent Trap: an older movie. Fun.
The Night in the Museum I, II, and III: the kids loved it.
Free Willy: fun.
The Lego Movie: I think I saw it twice.
Jumanji: fun, but a little scary.
Finding Nemo: for younger kids (but it terrified my older children when they were younger).
Puss in Boots: funny.
Shrek I, II, III, IV: the first one is the best.
Narnia: much-loved.
The Incredibles: one of my favorites.
Flicka: another horse movie.
Black Beauty: sad but good.
The Ron Clark Story: enjoyed by the whole family.
Finding Rin Tin Tin: probably fine. I don’t even remember.
Mr. Bean: the kids love his humor.
Searching for Bobby Fischer: so good.
Harry Potter, all of them: watched so much they’re a part of our family.
Kayla: about a dog sledder. Sad but okay.
The Giver: quite good.
Monsters Inc.: a favorite.
Fiddler on the Roof: makes me cry, but so good.
Over the Hedge: funny.
Big Hero Six: sweet and funny.
How To Train Your Dragon I and II: fun.
Holes: quite good, a bit tense.
Anne of Green Gables: gentle and lovely.
Babe: nice.
Up: a good one (squirrel! squirrel!)
Ramona and Beezus: fun.
Home Alone I and II: good laughs.
Cheaper By the Dozen: not as good as the book, but entertaining nonetheless.
Toy Story I, II, and III: yes! (The first one is best. The third one is pretty good, too, yes?)
Matilda: delightful.
Goonies: good.
Brave: fun.
Ever After: pretty good (I can’t really remember)
Ratatouille: cooking! food! I loved it!
Radio: so good!
Hook: pretty good.
Wallace and Grommet: gently and fun.

Do you have any good family movies to recommend? I’m always on the lookout. (Updated: thanks for all your suggestions in the comments and on Facebook. I’m adding to the list of what we’ve seen and making a quality to-watch list. You guys rock!)

And now, the popcorn!

When I was growing up, my parents made cheesy popcorn by grating block cheese (like cheddar or Monterey Jack) directly into a bowl of hot popcorn. Softened slightly from the heat, the cheese would cling to the kernels. It was good, but the cheese didn’t distribute evenly so some mouthfuls would be cheese-loaded and others not. Small problems, but still. (I suppose grating a hard cheese on the fine side of a box grater would fix much of that problem, but then you’re left with a dirty grater. Yuck.)

So I skip the cheese altogether and sprinkle my popcorn with nutritional yeast. It sounds grossyeast on popcorn!but this isn’t yeast yeast. It’s murdered (er, deactivated) yeast and it’s yellowish in color and tastes nutty and cheesy. In other words, delicious. And there’s no bothersome grater to wash afterwards. Win!

Cheesy Popcorn 

½ cup popcorn kernels
1 heaping tablespoon coconut oil
2 tablespoons butter, melted
½ teaspoon salt
2-3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Melt the coconut oil in your whirley pop (or popcorn kettle of your choice), add the kernels, and pop. Dump the popcorn into a large bowl. Drizzle with butter, and sprinkle with salt and nutritional yeast. Devour.

This same time, years previous: crispy almonds, fun and fiasco, chapter one, wild hair, asparagus walnut salad, and asparagus with lemony creme fraiche and boiled egg.


  • Rebecca

    Hey! I've got a really good one for you that we just finished watching. Wondrous Oblivion is about the friendship, formed around cricket, between a recent Jamaican immigrant and a Jewish boy, both living in a working class neighborhood in post-war London. Really excellent and PG.

  • Rachel

    We use Common Sense Media's website or app to figures out ages and what is questionable/scary about specific movies. It's super helpful since we know what our children are more sensitive to–our youngest definitely can't stand too much tension. And we love silent movies: The General, Steamboat Bill Jr., Modern Times, The Music Box (not silent but SO FUNNY)

  • Anonymous

    I grew up on the Disney live action stuff, and still love it – Swiss Family Robinson, Monkey's Uncle, Escape to Witch Mountain, all the Don Knotts/Tim Conway movies, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken and The Incredible Mr. Limpet with Don Knotts, the Kurt Russel/Medfield College movies (Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, etc). Non-Disney: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Support Your Local Sherrif are clean and great. For newer stuff check Enchanted, Sky High, Kung Fu Panda, the Seeker, and if you want something clean, but scary – the '99/Brendan Frasier Mummy (but preview it first).

  • dr perfection

    I have a whole box of this stuff I got some time ago from Amazon. I'll bring you some because I'll never use it up.

  • ShirleyHS

    I have just ordered the nutritional yeast. Thanks for a tip I think I'll enjoy. Could replace grated Parmesan as my "cheese" of choice.

  • marie

    Thank you, thank you! We also do dirty popcorn, but looking forward to some alternatives. My kids are still pretty young, but your crew might enjoy Man on Wire. The hubby and I really loved it, but I had a toddler at the time… (:

  • Suburban Correspondent

    I keep meaning to try and find the original version of Yours, Mine, and Ours and see how it holds up. I had to laugh at your description of the oldest v the youngest at age 9. Ain't it the truth!

  • Rebecca

    I never touched nutritional yeast until I had it on Margo's Popcorn. It was suspiciously linked in my mind with the brewer's yeast that my parents used to blight my 70's childhood. In case anyone else is in my boat, they taste nothing alike. Nutritional yeast is delicious.

    If you, like we, have a high tolerance for slapstick, how 'bout the classics like: Pink Panther, It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, Make Mine Mink, The Apple Dumpling Gang? Their gender politics tend to stink but we consider it a small price to pay for people humorously falling down stairs.

  • Camille

    Oh, yes….I agree with Kate on many of her suggestions. Anne of Green Gables with Megan Follows is classic family viewing at its best. The movies are long (approximately 3 hours each) but so well worth it. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (scary ending) but, so well worth the watch. Courageous, Facing the Giants, and Fireproof (all by the Kendrick Brothers)….Happy weekend to you! Hugs, Camille

  • Margo

    oh good, I need family movie ideas. We rarely do this because I rarely know what to get.

    That cheesy popcorn is known in these parts as "margo's popcorn" and I know of 4 households that now regularly buy nutritional yeast to use on popcorn. I think they just call the popcorn after me because they never heard of nutritional yeast before me. I learned of it from a vegan in deep-south Georgia who used it to make mac and "cheese."

  • Eldon

    Over the Hedge – This movie will have your entire family laughing hysterically. Make sure to watch the short extra called Hammy's Boomerang Adventure… I laughed so hard I cried the first 4 times I watched it.
    The Apple Dumpling Gang – Old school silly clean fun.
    Where the Red Fern Grows – needless to say this will have everyone bawling at the end
    The Sandlot
    A Christmas Carol (the 1951 version with Alastair Sim as Scrooge)
    The Goonies

  • Kate

    HOOK. Anne of Green Gables (and the sequels), Up, Bolt, Sarah Plain and Tall, Skylark, The Secret Of Roan Inish, Andre, Pollyana, Elf, The Emperor's New Groove, Robin Hood (Disney version), Finding Nemo, Mary Poppins.

  • Becky

    I got so excited about the prospect of a recipe for cheesy popcorn, only to get to the end and realize, that's my standard popcorn recipe!
    What about Star Wars? We've watched all of those.

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