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Caramel popcorn wedding favors

Five or so years ago, I became obsessed with the goodness that is caramel corn, and went on the hunt for the best recipe. I tried quite a few versions - and ended up adapting a basic recipe from epicurious (their original is "caramel corn clusters," i think, if you want to search). I find that using coconut oil to pop the corn brings caramel corn to a new level of deliciousness - maybe you will, too. I also like mine a little salty-sweet. Bringing this to parties is always a big hit, and the recipe has been passed on many times. I have definitely had some around for longer than a week... but you have to make sure to keep it as airtight as possible so the popcorn doesn't go mushy and stale - ick. I keep mine in the refrigerator. I wonder if you could vac-seal it with the Foodsaver... it might crush it, though. Anyway, here you go:

• 1/4 cup coconut oil (or less... however you pop your corn)
• 2/3 cup popcorn kernels
• 2 sticks unsalted butter (butter quality really makes a difference since the recipe is so simple!)
• 3 cups packed light brown sugar (I find the organic kind has more flavor so i use that when I can)
• 1 cup light corn syrup
• 2 1/2 teaspoons salt (to taste - it's good saltier too, if you like that kind of thing...)
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 2 cups chopped nuts as you like, optional

Melt the coconut oil, pour in your popcorn kernels and pop.

Spray a turkey roaster or other large container with cooking spray, or lightly coat with oil or butter (things get pretty sticky). Pour the popped corn into the turkey roaster. If it looks a little full, use two containers - better to have room to stir it all around with the caramel.

Melt butter in a big heavy pot (a saucier is great, if you have one). Add brown sugar and corn syrup and bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring, then boil until syrup registers 300°F on a candy thermometer (your grandmother would know how to figure out when it's ready without the thermometer - but this works for me). This will take maybe 10 - 15 minutes. Turn off heat and work quickly - using a wooden spoon or a heatproof spatula, stir salt and baking soda into syrup. (If you want to add some vanilla in there, you could add a couple of teaspoons of extract now... watch out, though, because it spatters) If you're including nuts, stir them quickly into the caramel - then pour the caramel in with the popcorn and stir, stir, stir to coat the popcorn as evenly as possible. Keep stirring - aim for no blobs of caramel on the bottom of the turkey roaster (though some always remain). As the popcorn cools, you can pull and break it into clusters. Yum.
*one warning - make sure to extract any unpopped kernels when you decant the popcorn into the turkey roaster. you don't want them covered in caramel - dental disaster awaits!*

Mar 15, 2010
lodgegirl in Home Cooking

New Trader Joe's yea/nay thread - 1st quarter 2010 [OLD]

I think those giant "Pound Plus" Belgian chocolate bars may be one of TJ's best offerings: really, really good quality chocolate, so much less expensive than just about any other source. Great for melting/candy making - or just eating!

Mar 12, 2010
lodgegirl in Chains

New Trader Joe's yea/nay thread - 1st quarter 2010 [OLD]

Has anyone else heard this as well, about the TJ's frozen pizzas being from Amy's? I wonder... they don't have that characteristic "Amy's" taste, to me - I actually like them better than Amy's, though my kids are all about the Amy's ... in any case, I'd be really interested to know - and thanks for the tip, geg5150.

Mar 12, 2010
lodgegirl in Chains

Fabulous wheat berry recipes.........?

Bob's Red Mill sells wheat berries in 2 lb bags - cheap and delicious. They may have been serving farro at the restaurant, which could explain the "local to Italy" part - you can get farro, a relative of wheat berries, here - but it's tougher to find and much more expensive. You can also try whole spelt - similar to wheat berries.

Mar 10, 2010
lodgegirl in Home Cooking

Help with winter CSA overload please! cabbages and potatoes galore...

these are the clearest and most down-to-earth instructions I've ever read on this project. you've convinced me - sounds achievable! I will find a bucket this week. thanks so much!

Mar 09, 2010
lodgegirl in Home Cooking

Help with winter CSA overload please! cabbages and potatoes galore...

ahh.... sauerkraut. I have been thinking about this for years - we love sauerkraut around here, but I have been too scared to do it. why? don't have the right crock, maybe? not sure exactly. I'd love to hear your details, though - I have read many accounts of sauerkraut-making, but somehow none has seemed approachable for me. maybe yours will do the trick! thanks...

Mar 09, 2010
lodgegirl in Home Cooking

Help with winter CSA overload please! cabbages and potatoes galore...

Oh my goodness. this sounds crazy good... a very different approach from the last few months' potato + cabbage dinners. I'll definitely try this one - maybe even this week - thanks so much!

Mar 09, 2010
lodgegirl in Home Cooking

Help with winter CSA overload please! cabbages and potatoes galore...

This winter, I am a member of not just one but two CSA's (don't ask) - at this point, I've built up a sizable backlog of beautiful organic potatoes of all descriptions (yellow fingerlings, red norlands, yukon golds, some white variety too) and various cabbages (red, green, savoy, napa), this despite the fact that I've been preparing potatoes and/or cabbage a few times a week through the winter! Delicious vegetables, all of them... but we are just a little tired of them at this point. I've made potatoes mashed, pan-roasted, oven-roasted, salad, sliced thin and steamed with butter and herbs, soup (with and without cabbage)... spicy sauteed cabbage, roasted cabbage, cabbage soup (with and without potatoes), stir-fried. I'd love your suggestions to reawaken an interest in these vegetables - we've got a lot to go through, and spring is on its way! Thanks for anything you've got... much obliged!

Mar 09, 2010
lodgegirl in Home Cooking

Help with winter CSA overload please! cabbages and potatoes galore...

This winter, I am a member of not just one but two CSA's (don't ask) - at this point, I've built up a sizable backlog of beautiful organic potatoes of all descriptions (yellow fingerlings, red norlands, yukon golds, some white variety too) and various cabbages (red, green, savoy, napa), this despite the fact that I've been preparing potatoes and/or cabbage a few times a week through the winter! Delicious vegetables, all of them... but we are just a little tired of them at this point. I've made potatoes mashed, pan-roasted, oven-roasted, salad, sliced thin and steamed with butter and herbs, soup (with and without cabbage)... spicy sauteed cabbage, roasted cabbage, cabbage soup (with and without potatoes), stir-fried. I'd love your suggestions to reawaken an interest in these vegetables - we've got a lot to go through, and spring is on its way! Thanks for anything you've got... much obliged!

Mar 09, 2010
lodgegirl in Home Cooking

OBSESSED with chicken adobo

I've been buying the lundberg sushi rice by the case through my food coop, but I will search for those you suggest. Always up for saving $ - - I really appreciate your suggestions!

Mar 08, 2010
lodgegirl in Home Cooking

Time for some new ideas about broccoli....

Around here, my kids have developed such an attachment to this broccoli version that I find it hard to stray: saute florets and chopped stems (smaller than an inch seems to work best) in oil, allowing them to brown a bit, until they turn bright green - then throw in some chicken stock, a nice pinch of both salt and sugar. So it's kind of browned and braised, I guess. The original version is Bittman's; he may call it braised and glazed? Anyway - we do love it this way. Tonight, I am going to try Zuni's way mentioned by Karianne, though - sounds really great. And we do occasionally roast broccoli too - love that.

Mar 07, 2010
lodgegirl in Home Cooking

ISO Your Most Tried-and-True Healthy Vegetarian Weeknight Staples

My friend Alexandra, who grew up in Milan, taught me how to make her pasta w/broccoli years ago - another simple variant on yours. She chopped her broccoli nice and small, too - but she added it to the pot to cook along with the pasta. She warmed olive oil with garlic and crushed red pepper, and added the cooked pasta/broccoli to the oil (with a little of the cooking liquid). Some grated parmigiano and she was done. Over the years I've added lemon zest and a bit of lemon juice at the end, when I have it, and I've garnished the whole thing with lots of chopped parsley. So delicious and so simple.

Mar 07, 2010
lodgegirl in Home Cooking

OBSESSED with chicken adobo

As a relative newcomer to chicken adobo, this thread has been so exciting to peruse. Before last night, I had tried only Bittman's adobo version (in his world book), which calls for poaching a whole chicken in soy/vinegar with a few additions - chipotle etc. Not so memorable. When I came upon this thread, though, I saw I had had a misleading introduction to this dish! it was hard to decide where to start - but I went with a star anise version, lots of garlic and feather cut onion - and I did add the honey, because we like that sweet/sour/salty thing. Used white wine vinegar, which was fine, but I'm eager to locate a few of those filipino vinegars (pineapple? coconut? yum!) to try. Served with nice sticky sushi rice, simply prepared (no vinegar in the rice!). It was incredibly delicious; my family is already asking when I will make it again. Will try it with shallots next time. Wow - thanks to all for the big inspiration!!!!

Mar 07, 2010
lodgegirl in Home Cooking

OBSESSED with chicken adobo

thank you so much for this variation, yumamum! tried this last night - but added the honey too. yum!

Mar 07, 2010
lodgegirl in Home Cooking

Boneless chicken breasts bore me to tears

I second CI's chicken tikka masala! A great recipe which really makes the most out of those bland chicken breasts.

I also find that pounding, then marinating, even for a half hour or so, in whatever olive oil/garlic/citrus/herb combo we have around - then flour, buttermilk/milk or egg, and finally bread crumbs or panko, and into the saute pan produces something lovely from b/s breasts as well.

Mar 03, 2010
lodgegirl in Home Cooking

How to lighten classic carrot cake???

Cook's Illustrated has an interesting "light carrot cake" recipe (march '06 - you can get a trial online subscription on their site - not sure my link will work: http://www.cooksillustrated.com/recip...) - you might try their proportions to begin with. Their cake is very different than the dense and cloying versions out there - but it also omits the typical raisins, pineapple and nuts of the traditional recipe. it's more cake-y - really nice, but maybe too different from the traditional version for you and your family. see what you think... I was a skeptic, but it's a really good cake - just different. hope this helps!

Feb 28, 2010
lodgegirl in Home Cooking

So I received two ducks from my meat CSA - what to do with them?

I would love to know how that goes. Would be a nice variant for next super bowl! thanks...

Feb 27, 2010
lodgegirl in Home Cooking

So good that you make it over and over again (or at least 3 times!)

I recently tried Maria Bertuzzi's Lemon Chicken, from Lynne Rossetto Kasper's Splendid Table book from many years ago. My family loves chicken thighs, and i'm always looking for fresh ways of flavoring them - this recipe appealed to all of us. Chicken parts in a sage-y tomato sauce, finished with lots of fresh lemon juice. I find myself making it once every couple of weeks now. Just found it online:
http://splendidtable.publicradio.org/...

Feb 27, 2010
lodgegirl in Home Cooking

Cook's Illustrated.com....worth it?

I have subscribed to the magazine since it re-started (in the '80's - dating myself). In just about EVERY issue, I have found something worthwhile - a technique, a tip, a best grocery choice (peppercorns, supermarket olive oil, whatever), a recipe. I've also subscribed online (and they give you no print subscription discount - grrrr) for years. This year, to economize, I decided I really didn't need the print mag, though I love it - because like lulou23, I find myself going online to search, rather than leafing through past mags. I love this resource, no matter how you read it - it's up to you whether reading a magazine or searching a website is "how you roll."

Feb 27, 2010
lodgegirl in Food Media & News

So I received two ducks from my meat CSA - what to do with them?

I second jeremyn's thoughts - and you get 4 separate wonderful elements from the two birds.
-duck stock takes things you'd use chicken stock in, and elevates them to another level of deliciousness!
-you can use the duck fat as you'd use butter - to fry an egg, to saute greens (so yummy), etc. Once you start with this, you will want to have some in your refrig at all times.
-jeremyn, do you use the wings for something other than stock? i'm curious... I've just thrown them into the pot.
yum! enjoy them...

Feb 27, 2010
lodgegirl in Home Cooking

better-for-you spreads for bread

thank you so much for all these great ideas! Unfortunately this means we will be eating still more bread...
i also found a nice idea for carrot/miso spread here: http://justbento.com/handbook/johbisa... - haven't tried this yet, but sounds nice to use up those winter CSA carrots in the produce bin.
one more question - how about veg-based spreads with miso? any ideas?
again thank you so much for all these yummy ideas... I need to get cracking!

Feb 27, 2010
lodgegirl in Home Cooking

better-for-you spreads for bread

love all your suggestions. the muhammara is right up our alley - yum! would you mind posting suggestions on the pea/onion suggestion, and the carrot/curry? just veg. purees w/a little flavoring, or is there something else going on? I love that little funkiness that comes from adding tahini to the sweet potato in the josie's spread - sounds like the onion and curry do that in your ideas - anyway, details appreciated and thanks so much.

Feb 27, 2010
lodgegirl in Home Cooking

better-for-you spreads for bread

I've just started baking bread again, courtesy of Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day - so now we've got warm, crusty and delicious bread around the house ALL THE TIME. To make the indulgence a little healthier than it is when spread with sweet butter, I'm thinking of delving into the world of veggie- and other healthy spreads that satisfy as butter substitutes. Along the lines of NYC Josie's Restaurant's sweet potato-tahini spread, which they offer with bread before meals. Any ideas appreciated. Here's a link to a version of the Josie's spread, which I find delicious: http://www.purcellsisters.com/node/42...
thanks for the help!

Feb 26, 2010
lodgegirl in Home Cooking

Favorite shrimp recipes please

ok - to be clear, in Bittman's recipe the shrimp are barely pan-seared - you're just warming the garlic in the olive oil, then you turn up the heat, throw in the spices and shrimp and put the the pan under the broiler for a few minutes.

Feb 13, 2010
lodgegirl in Home Cooking

Favorite shrimp recipes please

Reading this and finding many new recipes to try (thanks to all!), I'm surprised no one's mentioned Bittman's delicious and super-quick "shrimp my way"; essentially pan-seared then broiled shrimp with olive oil, lots of garlic, cumin and some variety of paprika - I like to use sweet smoked paprika when I have it. I've also used whatever interesting not-too-hot crushed pepper I've got around, like aleppo pepper or urfa biber, with lovely results. There are never leftovers, no matter how many we serve. You can find the recipe online - here's one link: http://wineguyworld.blogspot.com/2008... - and it's in his How to Cook Everything.

Feb 13, 2010
lodgegirl in Home Cooking

Need suggestions for waffles or pancakes with NO egg

I can't find the recipe at allrecipes.com - yeasted and egg-free sounds so great... would you be able to supply a link or paraphrase the recipe? much thanks, father kitchen.

Feb 12, 2010
lodgegirl in Home Cooking

is it possible to make caramel with raw sugar?

I frequently make toffee and brittle, and I too have found that using organic sugar, which is somewhat less refined (though not raw) and not white (why does sugar have to be white?), gives richer, more flavorful results. I do find that I have to be a bit more careful while the sugar/butter is bubbling its way to the right temperature- it tends to want to brown the edges of the pan a bit more than does white sugar.

Mar 22, 2008
lodgegirl in Home Cooking

Why is my coffee so blah?

does the world need one more take on great coffee? Here's ours: after many years (20!) of working on our coffee making technique using many labor-intensive methods-- we made daily cappuccino for a while with a stovetop maker, then an electric machine; we used a french press for many years; I used a chemex for a while in college under the influence of a boyfriend-- we have settled on a great cup from an ordinary DRIP maker. For a truly satisfying cup- almost without fail- we make our coffee as follows: we use locally roasted or Starbucks beans- honestly just about any variety is good as long as beans are fresh (after years of thinking we did not like french roast, we've happily returned to it- but we like sumatra and any of the medium-to-darker blends). We leave the beans in a drawer in their bag, not in the freezer- we buy them by the pound and go through them quickly. We use a Krups ProAroma drip maker- pretty standard stuff- and a Braun grinder. To make 6 cups of coffee (as measured by Krups- I'm sure they are 5 oz. as other posters have mentioned), we fill the grinder exactly to the top with beans. A standard, non-burr grinder (we used a burr grinder for years but somehow have returned to this easy basic one), grind it fine, fill the filter (no paper cone, just whatever metal it came with, not gold) and let drip. Warm milk on the stove- 2% is fine- foam it a little with our whisk if we have the energy- and there's a GREAT cup of coffee. (we will also use the microwave to warm the milk- that's ok- right now I'm loving the stovetop steamed milk). Honestly I am not exaggerating when I say that for twenty years we have worked on a great cup of coffee. My husband and I both count this among our greatest pleasures. This works for us every morning! oh- one more thing- we pour ourselves a cup, then put the remainder in one of those vacuum pots- this makes a HUGE difference for that second cup!

Dec 02, 2007
lodgegirl in Home Cooking

Flavoured Stovetop Popcorn

I've been popping my corn on the stove with coconut oil. It makes for a nice subtle hard-to-define difference in the end result. when i make caramel corn with the coconut-oil-popped corn, as i do way too much, people often speak in superlatives. I honestly can't stop eating it when i make it-- bad, bad, bad. See http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec... for a good basic caramel corn recipe, with or without nuts-- I like chopped pecans or almonds rather than peanuts, and add a bit more salt to the caramel.
p.s. i can't wait to try some of the spicy suggestions above!!

Feb 24, 2007
lodgegirl in Home Cooking

Flavoured Stovetop Popcorn

I remember getting a bag of Black Cat Corn-- black kernels, obviously-- from my mother-in-law years ago. It was delicious as I recall. not sure where/if it's still available.

Feb 24, 2007
lodgegirl in Home Cooking