Saturday, September 20, 2014

World's Best Caramel Corn


So last weekend, we had our good friends over for an 11:00 am Mizzou game. It was an awesome fall day, so the menu of chili, crackers and hummus, and pretzels and dip was perfect for a day of "grazing" during the game. To top it off, we did some fall crafts with the boys, played outside, and ate this delicious, melt in your mouth, caramel corn well into the evening. Someone from school brought this to a carry in last year, and it was so good that I came home and looked it up on pinterest. I've had it pinned for almost a full year and now that I've made it once, I will probably make it  few more times this year, and every year to come.

Those who know me well know that I am a popcorn fanatic. I mean I eat it every. single. day. I make a pan every evening and usually have enough left to crunch on some with my breakfast or pack some in my lunch. And not just any popcorn. I am a popcorn purist. I use a seasoned pan that I've been using since Jeremy and I got married almost 18 years ago and cook white popcorn kernels in canola oil. Once it's done, I salt it. No seasoned salt, no butter, no butter salt. If it's made right, you don't need those extras. Every once in a while, I meet someone who has a similar obsession with popcorn and I automatically feel as if I've found a kindred spirit.

I say all that to say this: If I have found a variation to the purist form of popcorn that I like, well then, it must be really, really good. Do you like popcorn? Do you like caramel? Do you like BACON?!? If so, make your shopping list now (maybe you don't need to...it's really easy so you might have everything you need), and get a poppin'. I slightly adapted it from this recipe from justataste.com

Here's how it goes down....

Caramel Corn

Ingredients:



 10  slices bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup unpopped popcorn (I prefer the white kernels over yellow)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 cups light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 250ºF.

1.) In a skillet or sauce pan, cook the bacon until it's crispy. Remove it from the skillet and let it continue to drain the fat onto a paper towel. Reserve a couple of tablespoons of the bacon grease for the popcorn.

2.) In a heavy duty sauce pan, add the oil plus 2-3 tablespoons of bacon grease, and popcorn and heat to over medium heat.



3.) When you hear the popcorn begin to pop, shake the pan periodically until the popcorn slows to 3-4 seconds between pops. Remove to a bowl.

**Note: If you have a different method for cooking popcorn, by all means use it. This is the method I use but it's different than the original recipe. If you regularly pop corn on the stove, then you probably have a method that works for your stove, your pan, and your taste. The amount of popcorn is important though, because the amount that is popped from the 3/4 cup of popcorn is just right for the amount of caramel.

I love using this roasting pan for caramel corn. It's the perfect size for a big batch going into the oven, and is easy to access to stir while it's in the stove. This pan was a wedding present and the only other time I use it is for cooking Thanksgiving turkey. 

So now, back to the recipe...

4. Add the cooked bacon to the popcorn. 

 5. To begin the caramel, melt the butter over low-medium heat in a medium saucepan.

6. In the melted butter pan, stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Stir constantly as it comes to a boil. Once it starts boiling, allow it to continue boiling undisturbed (no stirring) for 4 minutes.

7. Remove the caramel from the heat and stir in the baking soda and vanilla extract. When you add the vanilla, the caramel will bubble heavily. 

I don't make a lot of candy, so I always find it fascinating when I make caramel. The truth is though, it couldn't be any easier. 

8. Immediately pour the caramel over the popcorn in a roasting pan or 2 9X13 baking pans. Stir to coat the popcorn and bacon.  
9. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15-20 minutes. 
10. Lay out on parchment paper until popcorn is completely cooled. 

That's it! That's all you need for this perfect, mouth watering fall snack.


This serves a crowd, so bring it to a tailgate, a carry-in or serve it for friends, or store it in an air-tight container to stretch it over several days.We ate on ours for 4-5 days and it stayed perfectly chewy and delicious. The bacon really adds an unexpected saltiness and people will love it. 

 Happy fall! I hope you enjoy this treat!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Signs of Fall

So the calendar may not have marked the autumn equinox yet, but around here, fall has arrived. The weather has dipped below 50 degrees at night and is just a tad chilly during the day. High school, college, and NFL football seasons are all underway and we have broken out some long sleeved shirts. Our yard work is now focused on preparing for winter rather than preparing for the next round of running through the sprinkler. 

Here are some other signs that fall has unofficially arrived in our house.


Fallscapes on the mantle, accompanied by pumpkin scented candles.


Keeping warm in jackets at our town's Fall Festival Parade.


Cozy jammies. Need I say more?


Mums for the flower bed by the front stoop. Just need to plant them now, but how pretty is that color?


The world's best caramel corn, complete with little pieces of bacon. Yep. You read that correctly. Recipe coming soon! Seriously some melt in your mouth, can't stop eating, make a double batch, delicious caramel corn.


Time for some outdoor play while it's still sunny and warm enough to not need gloves and scarves!


What's the sign of fall around your house?

Friday, September 5, 2014

High Five for Friday

Please excuse me for a minute while I dust the cobwebs off my neglected little blog.

There. All done.

School is well underway for me. This time of year is one of my favorites as a teacher. I mean I love winter holiday, spring break, and summer just like the rest of them, but I also love that teaching is one of the few professions that has a definitive beginning and end each year. The endings in the spring makes me appreciate the fall beginnings so much more. A bit cheesy sounding? Yes. But nonetheless, it marks number one on my high five for this week.

Here we go.

1. Back to school. Love my students. Love my classes. Love my job.

2. Nothing says fall like football season! Last week, our Mizzou Tigers opened their season with a win, and this weekend we get to watch our Colts take on the Broncos. Hello weekends full of crockpot meals, matching family football jerseys, and yelling at the t.v.



3. Speaking of t.v., have I mentioned that we got rid of our television service at the beginning of summer? We are now a Netflix family supplemented by a digital antennae. Seriously. I have become 100 times more productive. No more spending hours mindlessly flipping through a hundred channels just to find something that I don't really want to watch but will since it happens to be on. I feel like I've added hours to my day. And then there's the added bonus of watching Parenthood on demand on Netflix. Love that show.

4. I'm trying these cream cheese filled snicker doodles this weekend. Yum!

5. I haven't made lasagne in a long time, but my boys have been asking for it recently after watching an episode of Garfield. At some point Lex started calling it "basagne," which was pretty cute. Then Eli started calling it "bazombies." Like he really thought that's what it was called. "Mommy, can I have some more bazombies?" And then Lex would say "bazombies aren't real, Eli." I love having little boys.

I'm linking up with Lauren today. Have a great football weekend!