04 June 2011

Butter Toffee Popcorn

Wanted to make something easy to eat while playing scrabble with a group of friends.  This may be just a little too easy to eat.  Reminds me of a discussion I had with my sixth graders about the cool toys that used to come in Cracker Jacks when I was a kid.  They had no idea what Cracker Jacks were!

Butter Toffee Popcorn

*Makes about 18 cups of toffee popcorn

1 cup unpopped popcorn kernels, white or yellow
2 sticks butter
2 1/4 cups light brown sugar
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
2-3 cups roasted, salted nuts (I used pecans, cashews and almonds)

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Grease two large rimmed baking sheets and set aside.
Pop the popcorn kernels, in shifts if needed to ensure your popcorn popper doesn’t burn the popcorn, and place the popcorn in a large bowl, sifting through to remove the unpopped kernels.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. When melted add the brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil while stirring. Once the mixture starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring often, for 3 minutes. The mixture will be slightly thickened. Take the pot off the heat and stir in the vanilla and baking soda. The mixture will bubble so be careful. Pour the caramel over the popcorn and mix slightly. Add the nuts and mix well but gently (so you don’t break apart the popcorn) until the popcorn is evenly coated and the peanuts are distributed through the mixture.
Turn the popcorn out onto the baking sheets, spreading into an even layer. Bake the popcorn for one hour, stirring and tossing every 20 minutes. Move the bottom tray to the upper rack and vice versa each time you stir. Stir the mixture after removing from oven.  The popcorn will deepen in color and harden a bit as the caramel bakes and sets. Cool the popcorn to room temperature. Store in an airtight container. I’ve found the popcorn will keep, stored tightly, for 1-2 weeks.

Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

03 June 2011

Hot and Smoky Baked Beans

This is my favorite recipe for baked beans.  I tend to add less chipotle depending on whom I'm fixing these for.  I've used all manner of beans from canned to Van Kamps Pork and Beans to dried. 

6 bacon slices
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 red pepper diced
1 1/4 cups purchased barbecue sauce
3/4 cup dark beer
1/4 cup mild-flavored (light) molasses
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 to 3 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chilies

1 pound small white beans cooked according to package directions, drained
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Transfer to paper towels and drain. Saute onion and red pepper 2 1/2 tablespoons bacon drippings.   from skillet to large bowl. Finely chop bacon; add to bowl. Add onion and next 8 ingredients to bowl and whisk to blend. Whisk in 4 to 6 teaspoons chipotle chilies, depending on spiciness desired. Stir in beans. Transfer bean mixture to 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Bake uncovered until liquid bubbles and thickens slightly, about 1 hour. Cool 10 minutes.
Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

To make vegetarian saute onion and red pepper in about 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil before adding to beans and leave out bacon.

Printable Recipe

Adapted from Epicurious

31 May 2011

Creamsicle Fruit Dip

Creamsicle  and Orange Julius, two of my favorites from childhood.  I remember the Good Humor Ice Cream Man playing his melody on hot Southern California summer days.  Every time I heard his song I would beg for a treat, rarely was I indulged.   Just had to try this for our Memorial Day cook out, which judging by the clouds may or may not be outside!

1 8 oz container whipped topping
1 small package instant vanilla pudding mix
1 6 oz container of frozen (concentrated) orange juice thawed out
Fruit for dipping

Mix the first three ingredients together. Add a little water to thin out to desired consistency, if needed. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Printable Recipe

From What Megan's Making

29 May 2011

Crispy Shrimp Tacos with Strawberry Avocado Salsa

Mark and I stopped at a seasonal strawberry stand on Saturday, after a friend had shared some with me as we drove to the city.  They needed to be eaten quickly and  I remembered seeing a recipe for chicken tacos with strawberry avocado salsa and sending it off to my good friend Candace.   She recommended a change that I made  and I gave it a try with shrimp because we had been eating so much chicken.  They were a success.  I might have to try the salsa on top of grilled chicken next.  I usually use pickled jalapeƱos because they are a staple in my fridge.

Serves 2

1/2 pound raw, deveined shrimp (tails removed)
1 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 lime
shredded lettuce

Make sure shrimp is clean and completely dry. Combine salt, pepper, garlic and cumin and sprinkle it over the shrimp. Add the flour to a small bowl, and dredge the shrimp through the flour to get a very light coating on it. Heat a skillet on medium high heat and add the olive oil. Once hot, add the shrimp and brown on each side, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove the shrimp and let drain on a paper towel.

Strawberry Avocado Salsa:

1 avocado, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/4 red onion, chopped
4 large strawberries, chopped
chopped jalapeƱo, to taste (I used about 1 tablespoon)
juice of half a lime
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Combine together in a bowl, adding a bit of salt and pepper. Assemble tacos, adding lettuce, shrimp, strawberry avocado salsa, cilantro, spritz with lime juice.

Adapted from How Sweet It Is