Caramel Popcorn and Caramel Apples

Savannah hasn’t been feeling her best so we’ve stayed around the house and it seems that I’ve been in the kitchen all weekend.  I loved Halloween when the kids were smaller.  I had fun decorating, visiting Burt’s Pumpkin Patch and going on hay rides, helping the kids decide on the perfect costume then searching for everything to make it work, making my Halloween bags of candy, and living in a subdivision and “booing” others.  Now that they are older and I don’t live in a subdivision, I miss all of that.  I don’t have trick-or-treaters anymore either.  I guess moving to the country took care of that.

This weekend I made some Halloween treats.  This is my mother’s Caramel Popcorn recipe.  I use to put this inside clear plastic gloves with a spider ring on one of the fingers, tied up with curling ribbon it was a cute and delicious treat.  The caramel apple recipe can be found everywhere.  I watched Alton Brown make candied apples a few days ago and took a few of his hints on preparing the apples.  He suggested using chopsticks.  I didn’t have them, but used corn of the cob sticks instead.  I was able to find them at Walmart and they are very sturdy.  He also suggested putting the stick into the blossom end of the apple, but I can’t remember exactly why…I did it anyway.  Also, if you bought your apples at the store and not the apple farm do this…after you’ve washed the apples and put the sticks into them, dip them into boiling water for about 30 seconds.  This removes the wax that is on them, which can interfere with the candy sticking to the apples.  Dry them completely before dipping into caramel.  Enjoy and have a fun and safe Halloween!

 

Caramel Popcorn
 
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Ingredients
  • 3 quarts freshly popped corn
  • ½ c. pecans, optional
  • ½ c. butter
  • 1 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ c. light corn syrup
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease a jelly roll pan, set aside.
  3. Combine popcorn and pecans in a large, lightly greased bowl, set aside.
  4. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat. Stir in soda and vanilla. Pour syrup over popcorn and stir to evenly coat.
  5. Bake at 200 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes.
  6. Cool completely and break into pieces.

Caramel Apples
 
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Ingredients
  • 6-8 medium-sized crisp apples (I like Honey Crisp or Fuji)
  • 6 - 8 wooden sticks
  • 2 (14-oz.) pkg. caramels, unwrapped
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 tbsp. heavy cream
Instructions
  1. Line a pan with parchment or wax paper, set aside.
  2. Combine caramels, cream, and salt in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring often, until melted and smooth. Stir in vanilla.
  3. Tilt pan and dip one apple at a time. Hold over pan allowing excess to drip back into pan. Immediaely roll in nuts, candy, etc., if you plan to. Place on prepared pan. Place apples in the refrigerator. When caramel is completely dry wrap in a piece of waxed paper then place in a cellophane bag. Store in refrigerator.

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Chocolate Pound Cake with Chocolate Icing

In May of this year I took pictures at the 50th wedding anniversary of the parents of my friends, Beth and Retha Lynn.  Their Aunt Lynda made a delicious chocolate cake for the reception.  Her cake was a beautiful tiered cake, decorated with fresh strawberries.  I’m sure she had to double of even triple this recipe.  I am so happy that she was generous enough to share this terrific recipe with me.

Chocolate Pound Cake
 
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Ingredients
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • ½ c. shortening
  • 3 c. granulated sugar
  • 3 c. cake flour
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ c. cocoa powder
  • 5 eggs, room temperature
  • 1½ c. evaporated milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Chocolate Icing, recipe follows
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a tube pan and set aside.
  2. Cream butter, shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and cocoa.
  4. Add flour mixture and evaporated milk alternately, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in vanilla extract.
  5. Pour into prepared pan and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour 25 minutes or until cake tests done.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool in pan, on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack. Transfer to serving dish before icing.

Chocolate Icing
 
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Ingredients
  • 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 oz. bittersweet chocolate
  • 6 tbsp. butter
  • 1 (1-lb.) box powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • whipping cream
Instructions
  1. In a glass mixing bowl, add unsweetened chocolate, bittersweet chocolate and butter. Microwave on high for 30 to 60 seconds. Stir. Continue microwaving in 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until mostly melted. Remove from microwave and stir until completely melted.
  2. Add powdered sugar to chocolate mixture and mix with an electric mixer. Add vanilla and enough whipping cream to achieve a good spreading consistency. Spread onto cooled cake.

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Coconut Cilantro Rice

This rice is so delicious that I’ve made it twice this week!  I’m the only person in our household that likes coconut, yet everyone loved this!  We had it earlier in the week with a delicious and very simple slow-cooker chicken.  Because I wasn’t sure how it would go over I only made half the recipe then.  However, when Wes wanted me to make cubed steak and gravy with rice over the weekend I decided to make it again, only this time I made the full recipe.

 

Coconut Cilantro Rice
 
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Ingredients
  • 2 c. coconut milk
  • 3 c. water
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1½ tsp. sugar
  • 2 c. Basmati rice
  • 6 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
Instructions
  1. Combine coconut milk, water, salt and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add rice and stir. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer undisturbed until liquid is absorbed (about 20 - 25 minutes).
  2. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with fork. Add chopped cilantro and stir. Serve warm.
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Baked Potato Soup

Years ago, it seemed like every restaurant in the Atlanta area had this on their menu as an appetizer.  That’s about the time I found this recipe.  I haven’t lived in Atlanta in 13 years, so that gives you an idea of how long I’ve had it.  My cousin called last week wanting this recipe.  I had not made it in years but after talking to her about it decided we would have it for dinner too.  I think I had forgotten how delicious it is.  Serve the soup immediately, don’t leave it on the stove cooking.  My cousin did that and scorched her soup.  She had to throw out the entire pot.

 

Baked Potato Soup
 
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Ingredients
  • 4 lg. baking potatoes, baked and cooled
  • ⅔ c. butter
  • ⅔ c all-purpose flour
  • 6 c. milk
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2¼ c. shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
  • 8-oz. sour cream
  • 4 green onions, chopped (optional)
  • 12 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)
Instructions
  1. Cut potatoes in half and scoop out pulp. Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat; add all-purpose flour, stirring until smooth, cook 1 minutes. Gradually add 6 cups milk, cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Add potato pulp, salt, pepper and 2 cups cheese. Stir in sour cream. Serve with onions, bacon, and remaining cheese, if desired.
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Candy Bar Shortbread

While searching for something to take to my Aunt Sara’s birthday party I saw this recipe in my favorite cookbook A Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman.  I usually don’t like to take a dish that I’ve never tried before to a party.  From my experience, with everything I’ve tried in this cookbook, I knew it would be great.  It did not disappoint and it may just be the easiest thing I’ve ever cooked.  This will be on my Christmas baking list this year.

 

Candy Bar Shortbread
 
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Ingredients
  • 1 c. unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅔ c. sugar
  • 2¼ c. all-purpose flour
  • pinch salt
  • 4 (3.52 oz.) Toblerone chocolate bars, coarsely chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Stack two baking sheets together and line top sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cream butter and sugar in a mixer until blended. Add flour and salt and mix to make a stiff dough that does not quite hold together.
  3. Pat dough into a 13 x 9-inch pan lined with parchment paper and set on prepared baking sheets. Bake until lightly golden, 25 to 40 minutes. Sprinkle chopped chocolate on hot uncut shortbread.
  4. Let set about 5 minutes and smear chocolate around. Cut into small squares and remove cookies to fridge or freezer to set up.
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