Homemade Caramel Corn

 

Every year, I use Halloween as an excuse to make homemade caramel corn.  It’s a delicious treat that both kids and adults will enjoy.  It’s so easy to make and tastes much better than any caramel corn you’ll purchase at the store.  It’s great at Halloween parties or as a treat for trick-or-treaters.  For an adorable package, use clear plastic gloves.  Fill the gloves with your homemade caramel corn, making sure to push into the fingers.  Cut the back of a plastic spider ring and put a ring on one finger of the glove.  Twist the top of the glove tight to close and secure with curling ribbon.  Cute and delicious!!

Make sure you discard the unpopped kernels after popping.  If you prefer you can use a plain or kettle corn microwave popcorn.  If you don’t like pecans, try roasted and salted cashews or almonds.  If you want to add candy corn, gummy bears or M&M’s to the cooled mixture it adds color and the kids love it!

Homemade Caramel Corn
 
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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 two jelly roll pans, 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 every 10 minutes.
  6. Cool completely and break into pieces.
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Sugar Cookies

Many of you may have seen this Sugar Cookie recipe posted on Not Just Sunday Dinner, August 2011, by my dear friend, Loretta.  I recently featured this recipe in my newspaper column and was reminded of how delicious they are when I made them again.  Here’s a copy of my column.  Click here to see the recipe.  

Whether you are making cookies for a party or making a treat for special trick-or-treaters, these cookies are sure to be a hit.  This is an old sugar cookie recipe that I have had since I was a teenager!
This recipe belonged to a sweet lady, Burma Gibson, who was nice enough to hire me when I was 16 years old.  She and her husband owned a restaurant and I’m sure they hired me as a favor to my parents, since my daddy was the pastor of their church.  I’m also sure that it was a decision they probably regretted when I quit one month later.
I’ve tired many different recipes over the years but always come back to this one.  I’ve made it for countless birthday and school parties, I have colored them light pink or baby blue when friends had babies, and this was always the recipe that my kids helped me make when they were little.
As with all cookie recipes, watch the first pan or two closely to determine exactly how long they need to bake in your particular oven.  To take the guesswork out of future batches make sure to make a note on your recipe.
If you plan to color your cookies with food coloring please remember that some colors will affect the taste of your cookies, particularly reds and oranges.
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Turkey and Spinach Wraps with Cranberry-Walnut-Cream Cheese Spread


When Wes was born twenty years ago, I quit my job to stay home with him.  I’ve been fortunate enough to stay home all these years.  I have had odd and end part-time jobs over the past 10 years, but nothing too demanding.  Everything I’ve done has been based out of our house.  So, unlike those people who work outside the home, I am usually having lunch here at the house.  There are those days that a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is about all I will do.  However, I like to keep something on hand that will be a little more satisfying than that.  This wrap makes a perfect lunch.

I love goat cheese and it adds a perfect tang to this spread.  If you aren’t a goat cheese lover though, you can substitute additional cream cheese for the goat cheese.  I used Flatout Flatbread for my wraps.  The Multi-Grain with Flax is a great choice.  The wrap will hold together a little better if you’ll make it a few hours before you plan to eat.  Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Turkey and Spinach Wraps with Cranberry-Walnut-Cream Cheese Spread
 
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Ingredients
  • Cranberry-Walnut-Cream Cheese Spread
  • 1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (4-oz.) pkg. goat cheese, softened
  • ¾ c. sweetened dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ c. chopped toasted walnuts
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
  • salt to taste
  • Sandwich:
  • 4 - 6 flatbread wraps or flour tortillas, depending on the amount you want on your wrap
  • 1 lb. thinly sliced turkey
  • 4 c. baby spinach mix
Instructions
  1. Stir together cream cheese and goat cheese. Add chopped cranberries, toasted walnuts, honey, minced garlic, chopped rosemary, black pepper, and salt and mix well. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for several hours for flavors to blend.
  2. When you are ready to assemble wraps remove cream cheese mixture from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Spread 2 tbsp. cream cheese mixture on each flour tortilla, leaving ½-inch border around edges. Divide turkey and spinach among tortillas. Roll up. Cut in half or into slices to serve.
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Chewy Chocolate Cookies



I was a little late getting my fall decorations out this year.  As I was going through the storage container I found a few of Wes and Savannah’s old Halloween costumes.  My kids always had to pick out their Halloween costumes about a month ahead of time.  Then, they just about wore them out playing dress up before Halloween ever rolled around.  Seeing the old costumes suddenly made me sad.

Wes is in his second year of college.  Not only is he a full time student, he is student coaching at his old high school and working a part time job.  He stays so busy that he doesn’t have much time for a social life.  His eye is on his goals right now, and I’m very proud of him.  He is a wonderful young man and I have no doubt that he’s going to be a terrific coach!  When I saw his old cowboy hat and boots it just reminded me of how fast time has gone by.

Savannah is a senior in high school this year.  We’ve already had the senior pictures made, ordered the cap and gown and she has started applying to colleges.  She has already received two acceptance letters and a scholarship offer.  I am so happy for her.  She has so many wonderful adventures ahead of her.  I look forward to watching where life takes her.  Still, seeing her old clown costume and remembering how we tried and tried to make that big red nose stay on makes me smile and cry at the same time.  (This isn’t the clown costume with the nose.  Obviously she was a clown more than one time.  Funny how clowns freak her out now.)

This is a recipe I found years ago in an old Hershey’s cookbook.  I have made this recipe using peanut butter chips, butterscotch chips, chocolate chips and white chocolate chips.  The cookies pictured are made with the Nestle Toll House Halloween Morsels.  (They are a combination of semi-sweet chocolate chips and orange colored white chocolate chips.)

I do NOT share recipes that I don’t like, I think I’ve told you that before.  I try new recipes everyday and only a select few make it to NJSD.  These cookies are delicious!  In fact, one of my favorites that I’ve made over and over.  However, they need to be made and served within about a 24 hour period.  I prefer these on the day they are made.  I don’t know what it is, but something about them just does not age well.  If you’re cooking for a crowd that will eat them up, this is a perfect recipe.  If you’re looking for a good “cookie jar” cookie, this isn’t the recipe you need.

Chewy Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients:
1 1/4 c. butter, softened
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. chips (peanut butter chips, butterscotch chips, semisweet chocolate chips, or white chocolate chips)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and sugar together.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.  In another bowl combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; gradually blend into creamed mixture.  Stir in chips.

Drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 8 – 9 minutes.  DO NOT OVERBAKE!

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Crackers with a Kick

My friend, Joyce, recently made these for a tailgating party.  These seasoned crackers are habit forming.  Remember the old Lay’s Potato Chip commercial, “you can’t eat just one”?  Well, that is the case with these, I couldn’t stop!

Joyce had a full tablespoon of red pepper flakes on her crackers and they were perfect.  However, the first time I made these, one tablespoon of red pepper flakes made them too hot, and I can handle some heat.  Since then, I have cut the red pepper flakes back to 1/2 tablespoon.

As mentioned in past posts.  I buy a big wedge of Parmesan cheese then process in a food processor to grate.  I store the cheese in an airtight container, in the refrigerator, and use as needed.

When you spread the crackers onto the baking sheets make sure the seasoning is well distributed.  If one cracker has too much seasoning use another cracker to remove some.  Also, I like to make sure that Parmesan cheese is on each cracker, if possible.

Crackers with a Kick
 
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Ingredients
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 pkg. Ranch dressing mix
  • ¼ c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ to 1 tbsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 box Town House Original crackers
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Pour crackers into a gallon zip-top bag, set aside.
  3. In a small bowl combine the melted butter, Ranch dressing mix, Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder. Pour mixture over the crackers and seal bag. Gently toss together to coat crackers without breaking them.
  4. Spread crackers in a single layer over baking sheets. Bake at 300 degrees for 15 minutes. Cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
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