Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Vanilla Carmel Corn Recipe

One of my plans for this blog is to periodically post some of my favorite recipes, especially for Vegetarian-friendly dishes. I'm starting out the New Year with a rather indulgent treat, so those looking to loose those holiday pounds beware! Vanilla Carmel Corn is super easy to make and I've found that it is even popular amongst those that aren't usually partial to carmel.

So, lets get started...

1 C. Margarine (or Butter)
2 C. Brown Sugar
1/2 C. Karo Syrup
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Vanilla
10-15 C. Cups Popped Popcorn (I actually use 20+ Cups because I like more popcorn. For popcorn with a lot of carmel, use 10 cups, for less carmel use more popcorn)

Also Needed:
Popcorn Popper
Wax Paper
1 Large Pot


-- Start by popping your popcorn. I use my vintage air popper and plain unpopped corn. This method takes only about 1 cup of unpopped corn to yeild the 10 cups needed for the recipe. As mentioned above, I used about 25 cups of popped corn rather than the recommended 10-15. You can also pop the corn on your stove, or use plain microwave popcorn (buttered popcorn does not work- it is too greasy for the carmel to stick. If you have to use microwave popcorn and cannot find plain popped corn, kettle corn or lightly salted are best.

-- Once the corn is popped, lay it out on the counter on top of sheets of wax paper. This will help you get an even coating of carmel. Try not to spread it too thick- a thinner layer allows carmel to coat each piece easier. At this time you may also choose to pick out any unpopped kernels and old maids (half-popped kernels) to avoid any unnecessary dental problems. Ouch!

-- Now, gather the ingredients you will need for the carmel. Be sure to use the largest pot possible for this. Although the ingredients don't look like much it will boil over if your pot is too small.

-- In your large pot, add the margarine, brown sugar, Karo syrup, and salt together and place over medium heat. Stir occasionally to prevent the sugar from burning. Be sure to scrape the bottom as well as the sides of your pot. Bring to a boil.

-- While stirring, allow the mixture to boil between 5 and 7 minutes. You will feel the mixture thicken the longer it boils. Once 5-7 minutes have passed, remove from heat and add the baking soda and vanilla. (If you like vanilla, like I do, it is ok to allow the vanilla to spill over the measuring spoon or add 2 tsp instead of the 1 that the recipe calls for!) The carmel will lighten in color and appear a bit "fizzy." Mix well.

-- At this point I transfer the carmel into a coffee mug to make it easier to drizzle over my popcorn (the pot is too heavy to hold with one hand!). Using my spoon to help the carmel along I drizzle the entire mixture over the popcorn I've already laid out on the wax paper. If you prefer a more thorough coating, skip the wax paper and fold the popcorn into the pot with the carmel, tossing lightly with a spoon.

-- Enjoy! You may want to store your treat in an airtight container or ziplock bag to prevent the popcorn from drying out (if it lasts that long!)

Some variations to this recipe:
- Add your favorite nut in with the popcorn for a sort of Cracker Jack effect. Plain peanuts work great, or liven it up with macadamia nuts, cashews, or pecans. Yum!

- For a great salty/sweet recipe lightly salt the popped corn before adding the carmel mixture to the batch.

- Looking for a unique spicy treat? Add Chili Powder into the mix in place of Vanilla for a kick!

Diet Season

Tonight is New Years Eve which marks, for many people, the start of diet season. After months of binging on rich holiday treats we find ourselves straining to button our favorite jeans. So now we vow to loose those holiday love handles by religiously following the workout plans of our favorite celebrities.

Wait. Did I actually say we?! Don't get me wrong, I'm all for healthy living, the problem is that crash diets are the exact opposite of true healthy living. So, for the New Years I am saying goodbye to diet season and hello to some healthier goals for my body, life, and business. The two I have already started are:
1. Starting a blog
2. Growing a wheatgrass garden

As mentioned in my last post, the Hubs got me a great DIY wheatgrass kit off of Etsy and I've been amazed at how fast this stuff grows! Just to show you how fast this really does grow, I've taken a photo per day starting on day 3 when the first little sprout peeked out. At this point I've realized I was a little frugal with the seeds and should have dumped the whole pack in, but now have plenty left over for round two.

Aside from being a beautiful indoor garden, wheatgrass is excellent for your health. I plan on juicing mine when it's ready. It has added the little touch of green I needed in my home, especially since outside we're still buried in snow.

Those of you ditching diet season this year too will want to check back tomorrow for the recipe for a very non-diet-friendly treat- Vanilla Carmel Corn. Yum!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Think green thoughts...

After spending the past few weeks watching snow lightly falling outside my windows, I am finally ready for this white mess to melt away and bring with it the green of springtime. I'm all for a white Christmas, but this is getting a little ridiculous! Our back yard is now holding over 35" of the white stuff in some places and I spent this afternoon at my parent's house watching their neighbor try to snow-blow his roof. C'mon people!

I've noticed cabin-fever setting in for those that are trapped inside and in order to quell the winter blues I have planted my own wheatgrass garden. (Courtesy of my husband who purchased it as a Christmas gift for me off of Etsy here) I'll keep you updated on it's progress, but while I am waiting for it to start sprouting I've scouted out my favorite green items available for purchase on Etsy.