Caramel Corn

The first time I made this caramel was back in college when I still lived in the dorms. We had this tiny kitchen to cook in and a pretty random assortment of mismatched pots and pans. But, even with the less than ideal kitchen set-up, the recipe worked well and the caramel corn was delicious.

As much as I look forward to apple and pumpkin flavored desserts in the fall, this might be the treat I look forward to making the most. Next week I’m traveling to visit some family for Thanksgiving and I’m planning to bring some caramel corn with me. Hopefully everyone will enjoy it as much as I do!

Caramel Corn

Ingredients

  • 7 quarts popped popcorn (about 7 oz. un-popped)
  • 2 cups peanuts or cashews (optional)
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Grease two large metal baking pans. Add the popcorn and nuts, then set aside.
  2. Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Bring the mixture to a boil, then boil for 5 minutes stirring constantly.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda and vanilla; the mixture will be light and foamy. Drizzle over the popcorn, don’t worry about making sure the popcorn is evenly coated.
  4. Bake the popcorn for 1 hour, removing the pans and stirring every 15 minutes. Line the counter with waxed paper. When the popcorn is done, dump it onto the wax paper and separate the pieces. Allow the popcorn to cool completely then store in an airtight bag.
Makes: 7 quarts
Adapted from All Recipes

Cherry Chocolate Granola

I doubt I’ll ever completely break my cereal for breakfast habit, but I’m trying to change things up occasionally. My main criteria for a weekday breakfast is that I can throw it together in just a few minutes.

Granola stores well, so once a batch is prepared it’s ready for a quick breakfast or snack. Mixing granola, fruit, and yogurt only takes about 30 seconds longer than pouring a bowl of cereal, and it tastes so much better. This recipe could be adapted in all kinds of ways- different types of fruit, different nuts, maybe some maple syrup instead of honey? The options are limitless!

Cherry Chocolate Granola

Ingredients

  • 1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 3 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips (or coarsely chopped)
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil.
  2. Place the coconut in a skillet over medium heat and stir frequently until the coconut is toasted. Pour in a separate bowl and set aside.
  3. Wipe out the pan and return to the heat. Add the chopped walnuts and almonds and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the nuts are lightly browned. Stir in the oats and oil and cook for about 3 minutes until the oats are lightly toasted.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the honey, cinnamon and salt. Spread in a thin layer on the baking sheet. Bake, stirring every 5 minutes, for about 15 minutes until the granola is light golden brown.
  5. Add the toasted coconut and dried cherries. Push the granola to one side of the baking sheet and gently press into a slab. Allow to cool to room temperature, then break the granola into small clusters. Add the chocolate then store in an airtight container.
Makes: About 7 cups
Adapted from Annie’s Eats

Hummus Two Ways

I’m embarrassed to admit that I spent at least a year or two buying hummus before I realized how easy it is to make at home. Hummus is great to have in the fridge for a quick snack or light meal. Plus, most of the ingredients are things I have in the cupboard all the time anyway, so it’s simple to throw together at the last-minute.

Personally I’m in love with pita chips, so that’s usually what I eat my hummus with. If you’re trying to be a little healthier, it’s also great with vegetables or you can spread it on a sandwich!

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Ingredients

  • 15 oz. can garbanzo beans
  • 4 oz. roasted red peppers (jarred or fresh)
  • 3 tbl. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tbl. tahini
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Directions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend. Slowly add additional water or lemon juice if needed to reach your desired consistency.

Black Bean and Chickpea Hummus

Ingredients

  • 15 oz. can black beans
  • 15 oz. can garbanzo (chickpeas) beans
  • 1 tbl. olive oil
  • 2 tbl. lemon juice
  • 2 tbl. plain, nonfat yogurt
  • 1 tbl. tahini
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp. curry powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Directions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend. Slowly add additional water or lemon juice if needed to reach your desired consistency.
Adapted from All Recipes

Cookies ‘n Cream Popcorn

I’ve never been a big popcorn eater, I’ll munch on some caramel corn if it’s around, but in general it’s not the kind of thing I crave. This Christmas I was making some goodies for my Secret Santa and she mentioned that she loved popcorn. I was at a bit of a loss on what to make using popcorn, so I searched around online and found this great recipe for Peppermint Cookies & Cream Popcorn. I already had a few peppermint flavored items that I was making for her, so I decided to go the straight Cookies ‘n Cream route for this batch.

And… even as someone who’s not a popcorn fanatic, I have to say it was pretty darn good! When I couldn’t get the entire batch to fit in her care package, I was more than happy to polish off the rest on my own!

Cookies ‘n Cream Popcorn

Ingredients

  • 2 bags microwaved popcorn, plain or lightly salted variety
  • 1 package Oreo cookies, crushed
  • 1 1/2 packs (36 oz. total) Almond Bark
Directions
  1. Place the popped popcorn in a very large bowl, picking out un-popped kernels. Pour the crushed Oreos on top.
  2. Melt one pack of almond bark according to the directions on the package. Pour over the popcorn and start melting the remaining almond bark. While its melting, stir together the popcorn, crushed Oreo’s and almond bark. Pour the remaining almond bark over the popcorn and stir until fully coated.
  3. Pour popcorn in a thin layer on wax paper and allow to cool and harden. Then break into pieces and store in an airtight container.
Adapted from Plain Chicken