Tag-Archive for ◊ Halloween ◊

03 Feb 2011 Caramel Corn

Ooooh, Caramel Corn!   Isn’t it lovely?  You know I am not talking about that stale, pale, powdery stuff out of a bright and cheerful tin.  No, no, no, no, no!  I am talking about real Caramel Corn, the homemade variety.  Caramel Corn made with love.  Lots of love.  Lots and lots of love.  Truthfully, Caramel Corn is a bit of a  bother to make.  It’s going to take a commitment.  It’s going to take some time.  And it is going to make a mess in your kitchen.  It’s kinda sorta along the same lines as giving birth  (Forgive me for this analogy). At first bite – that first crisp, sweet crunch – the pain of bringing it forth will be forgotten.

Here’s my recipe.  I think I first got it from Taste of Home about, oh, maybe, five years ago.  Over the years, after reading every other Caramel Corn recipe, and testing out and then incorporating the best tips, I have improved upon their recipe.  It’s still a mess to make, but, using this recipe has a guaranteed outcome.  I know this recipe works.

There are a lot of occasions coming up where Caramel Corn would be very welcome.  What’s happening back East right now?  Snow Days!  How about a Movie Night?  I just had friends over to watch a few of this years “Best Picture” Academy Awards nominees.  Then, in a few weeks it will be the Academy Awards themselves.  Let’s not forget abut Super Bowl Sunday: the best reason on the planet for the best snack layout of the year!  Touchdown! And, Valentine’s Day. Just pop Caramel Corn in those heart motif bags and you’re all set. Your Valentine will melt in your arms…

Need some more reasons to make Caramel Corn?  (Tough crowd today…) Caramel Corn can be made ahead, way ahead, like a week or more.  Once made, Caramel Corn is no more bother.  Just pour it in a bowl on put it on the table.  No refrigeration.  No reheating.  No slicing. No spreading.  No dip.  No utensils. Leftovers, highly unlikely, but if there are any, will keep for up to two weeks. The real reason to make Caramel Corn though?  The taste.  That sweet, crisp crunch.

Caramel Corn

  • 1 cup unpopped popping corn (divided use)
  • ¼ cup vegetable, canola, or corn oil (divided use)
  • 1 cup butter (no substitutions, no margarine)
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • ½ cup corn syrup
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.  Set out two large, rimmed baking sheets and one clean, large brown grocery bag.
  2. First, make the popcorn.  You’ll have to do this in two batches.  Get out your biggest pan (I use my stock pot) with the tightest fitting lid (if the lid is glass, you’ll have it made in the shade).
  3. Note:  I make my popcorn the old-fashioned way, on the stove, in some hot oil, as the directions below reflect.  I am guessing you could also make the popcorn in an air popper or in the microwave.  If you choose to go down that path, skip the popping directions below, use your own method, and have about 16 cups of popped popcorn warming in the oven when you start on the caramel part of this recipe.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the bottom of the pan.  When oil is hot, stir in ½ cup unpopped popcorn kernels.  Put the lid on and SHAKE the pan like crazy. After 2-3 minutes, the popcorn will begin to pop.  Keep shaking the pan!  When you can see (if you have a glass lid) or hear the corn has stopped popping for 2 seconds or more, remove pan from heat.
  5. Pour the popcorn onto a baking sheet and place in warm oven.
  6. Make the second batch of popcorn.  Wipe out the hot pan and repeat the steps above with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and ½ cup unpopped popcorn kernels. The popcorn will cook faster this time around because your stock pot should already be hot.
  7. Put the second batch of popcorn onto the second baking sheet and place in warm oven.
  8. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.
  9. Stir brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt into the melted butter and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Now, STOP STIRRING.  Let mixture boil, undisturbed, for four minutes.
  10. Remove warm popcorn from oven.
  11. Pour ½ of hot syrup over each tray of popcorn.  Stir to combine.
  12. You can skip this step if you want, but I find it helpful.  Pour the partially coated popcorn into a clean brown paper grocery bag.  Fold over the top to seal, then vigorously shake the bag to evenly coat with the caramel syrup.
  13. Pour the popcorn back onto two baking sheets.
  14. Place popcorn in preheated oven for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and stir to evenly coat caramel over all kernels.  Return pans to oven, switching pan locations.  Repeat three more times, so the popcorn bakes for 45 minutes total.
  15. Remove pans from oven and let cool.
  16. Serve, or store in air tight container until ready to serve.

Thank you for stopping by my kitchen today!  I hope you like the Caramel Corn. Want to serve it with Maple Bacon popcorn?  Stop by again, I have that recipe in my line up. Enjoy!

24 Nov 2010 Pumpkin Roll

One of my friends has been making this for years.  I was intrigued by her pictures posted on Facebook of roll, after roll, after roll lined up along her kitchen counter, and then the comments from a number of people begging her to stop by and drop off a roll.  It took a few years, but finally she shared the “closely guarded secret family recipe” (with a wink and a smile).

I made my first pumpkin roll from Kim’s recipe last year, and my mother fell instantly head-over-heels in love.  She ate it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner plus had another slice for her 10 o’clock and then again for her 3 o’clock.  My mother eats like a sumo wrestler, and weighs 100 lbs dripping wet. I on the other hand look like a sumo wrestler and weighed 100 lbs in third grade.  Life is just not fair…

Ok, back on subject. Here, on my blog,  is Kim’s “closely guarded secret family recipe”.  There are a few changes, but it looks a lot like the recipe on the can of the Libby’s Pumpkin.  REALLY!!!  Have you ever read the recipe for Pumpkin Roll on the can?  Me neither, and I have been looking at it for 40 years!  It’s a good recipe.  The Pumpkin Roll is good.  Just ask my Mom.

I like Kim’s recipe.  It has more spice, and the filling is lower fat than the actual recipe on the Libby’s can.  Disclaimer: I did NOT say “low fat”, I said, “lower fat”. Got it?! The Pumpkin Roll recipe, according to Libby, can be successfully doubled, but not tripled. I made a double batch last night, and since my mom will not be here tomorrow, we’ll probably have enough!

Pumpkin Roll

3 eggs
1 c. sugar
2/3 c. pumpkin puree
1 tsp. lemon juice
½ tsp. salt
¾ c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
1 c. chopped walnuts (optional)
¼ cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375º.

Beat eggs on high for 5 min.

Gradually add sugar to eggs. Then stir in pumpkin and lemon juice.

In another bowl, sift dry ingredients then fold into pumpkin mixture.

Spread batter evenly in a greased and floured (I use Pam for Baking) edged cookie sheet, 15x10x1. (Kim and I use a regular edged cookie sheet as opposed to the jelly roll pan specified on the Libby’s can. The jelly roll pan is smaller and cake doesn’t roll up as well when it’s that thick.)

If desired, top the batter with chopped walnuts.  Bake cake at 375º for 13-15 minutes.

Spread a cloth kitchen dish towel onto the counter.  Spread 1/3 cup powdered sugar evenly over the dish towel. DON’T use a fuzzy dish towel!  Use something like a flour sack dish towel!

Remove cake from oven. Immediately, turn out cake onto the  dish towel sprinkled with powdered sugar.  While cake is  still hot, starting at narrow end, roll towel and cake together and set aside to cool.

Cream Cheese Filling

1 c. powdered sugar
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons butter, softened
½ tsp. vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl until smooth.

Unroll cake and spread filling over cake.

Roll up again (without the towel!) and refrigerate overnight (if at all possible).

Cut roll into slices to serve  (Discard the ugly end slices).

Makes 10 – 12 servings.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today. Sorry I am so late with this recipe, I should have posted it the week before Halloween…!

23 Nov 2010 Pumpkin Pancakes with Maple Apples

My daughter Hannah has started a new Thanksgiving tradition for our family, and I rather like it.  She invites our neighbors and friends over for Pumpkin Pancakes on Thanksgiving morning.  She suggests they come in their jammies.  (I am not seen in my jammies!  Slippers, yes, jammies, nooooo.) The pancakes are hot by 9 AM, and she keeps making them until about 11.  Some people stay for ten minutes, some for forty, others  for a bit longer than that.  It’s very informal and relaxed.  The parade is on.  There’s a jigsaw puzzle set up.  We serve Pumpkin Pancakes with Maple Apples, Syrup, Sausages, Spicy Sweet Bacon, Pumpkin Roll, and coffee (with pumpkin creamer!).

I must have tried out eight pumpkin pancake recipes.  Some have one egg, others have four for each cup or cup and a half of flour.  Some have buttermilk, some have whole milk, one even had coconut milk.  There’s been every permutation of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and/or pumpkin pie spice.  Some use one-third a cup of pumpkin, some use three-fourths cup of pumpkin.  Some use baking powder, others baking soda, some use both. At the end of the day, I ended up liking our original recipe; the one we had been using before I started this testing nonsense.  My preferred recipe is the only one calling for whipping the egg whites separately from the rest of the batter, and then folding them in.  I think that’s the secret.  Pumpkin pancakes can be a bit stodgy, but folded egg whites keep them light. There has been a benefit to all this testing though, my grandson has a favorite food now, pumpkin pancakes!  He’s not too picky about them,  just so long as he can dip his pieces in real maple syrup.  He’s usually not a big eater, being only in the 17th percentile for weight, but he can eat his way through a man-portion of pumpkin pancakes.

Last week I found this recipe for Maple Apples.  Now I am in heaven.  Please put some warm maple apples on top of my pumpkin pancakes and top that with a bit of whipped cream. (I have a bit of a sweet tooth….)  If you are not into Maple Apples, you might enjoy adding 5 or 6 chocolate chips or blueberries to each pancake.  Add the chips or the blueberries before before flipping the pancake.  If you are into “healthy” pancakes, I have made these with King Arthur’s White Whole Wheat Flour and they have turned out very well.  When I feel up to experimenting again, I am going to play with replacing some of the flour with oatmeal.

Be careful cooking these pancakes, they can easily over brown.  Cook on low-ish heat, but be sure the pan is hot before adding the batter.

The recipe for Pumpkin Pancakes, as well as the recipe for Maple Apples, is from Epicurious.com.

Pumpkin Pancakes

1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
4 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Vegetable oil
Maple syrup

Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend.Whisk milk, pumpkin, egg yolks, melted butter and vanilla in medium bowl to blend well. Add pumpkin mixture to dry ingredients; whisk just until smooth (batter will be thick). Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in another medium bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold whites into batter in 2 additions. Brush large nonstick skillet with oil; heat over medium heat. Working in batches, pour batter by 1/3 cupfuls into skillet. Cook until bubbles form on surface of pancakes and bottoms are brown, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing skillet with oil between batches. Serve with syrup. Makes about 12

Maple Syrup Apples

  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 large Golden Delicious apples (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples and 1 tablespoon maple syrup; sauté until apples are tender, about 5 minutes. Mix in remaining 1/2 cup maple syrup and cinnamon.

These would be good the day after Thanksgiving, too.  And for Halloween morning.  Or any time in the Fall. Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today. It’s always fun to see you here!

11 Nov 2010 Pumpkin-Maple-Pecan Sundaes

I saw a Maple-Pecan-Bacon Sundae in last month’s issue of Bon Appetite.  I’d heard about bacon brownies and bacon cookies and bacon cupcakes and I was ready to be on the cutting edge with Bacon Sundaes.  With a friend coming over for lunch,  I was ready for some taste testing. We were prepared for a drop-dead wonderful taste sensation.  I warmed the sauce, poured it over two flavors of ice cream (vanilla and coffee), and set the sundaes down. We tasted. I looked at her.  She looked at me.  We tasted again.  We shook our heads.  We tried it one more time. “Nooooooooo”, I said.  “Nooooooooo”, she said.

It just didn’t work. Bacon does not belong on ice cream.  Nope.  Not ever. The bacon was like a cold gummy bear, all texture, little flavor.  What salt kick did come, came after the chewing was over, and by that time the sauce and the ice cream had been swallowed.  The dessert just didn’t work.  But it had potential. We liked the sauce. We liked it over the coffee ice cream best, but still it wasn’t quite right.

I tinkered a bit more, and this is what I came up with… the warm Maple-Pecan Sauce (minus the bacon), drizzled over homemade Pumpkin ice-cream, and topped with a bit of bourbon whipped cream. Now here’s a nice dessert alternative for Thanksgiving, or an nice ending to any fall meal!

Just a note:  Pumpkin ice cream has a bit of a grainy texture (ALL pumpkin ice cream has this issue, unless it has been made with pumpkin flavoring rather than pumpkin puree), but with the sauce and the whipped cream, it’s not so noticeable and the pumpkin flavor goes fabulously well with the maple, the pecans, and the bourbon.  Mmmmmmmm 🙂  I taste tested pumpkin ice creams, too.  This one’s the best.

Maple Pumpkin Pecan Sundaes

with Bourbon Whipped Cream

Pumpkin Ice Cream

2 cups whipping cream (35%)
1 cup whole milk
½ cup sugar
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla
1 cup pumpkin puree

  1. Gently heat the cream, milk, sugar, spices and salt over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and bubbles form around the edge of the pan.
  2. Stir warm cream into the pumpkin along with the vanilla.
  3. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator until cold.
  4. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.

I found this recipe at Christie’s Corner.

Maple-Pecan Sauce

¾ cup Grade B Maple Syrup
2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped crystallized ginger (I used Australian crystallized ginger, it’s very soft)
½ cup pecan halves

  1. Combine maple syrup and cinnamon in medium saucepan. Bring to boil over medium high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer until sauce is thickened and reduced to ½ – 2/3 cup, about 5 minutes.
  2. Remove sauce from heat.  Discard cinnamon sticks.  Stir in lemon juice, chopped ginger and pecan halves.  Can be made 2 hours ahead.  Let sit at room temperature and then reheat slightly to serve.
  3. Spoon warm sauce over scoops of pumpkin ice cream. Serve immediately with a bit of Bourbon Whipped Cream, if desired.

I found the inspiration for these sundaes at Epicurious. The original recipe had diced maple glazed bacon in the sauce but just. say. “NO”!

Bourbon Whipped Cream

1 cup whipping cream
1-2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon

  1. Whip with electric mixer until creamy.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today. Happy Fall!

31 Oct 2010 Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate and Mochas

One of my daughters doesn’t drink coffee.  How she managed to grow up in this house and not drink coffee is a mystery.  She’s not into tea either.  It’s shocking!  She’s left out when the rest of us sit around enjoying the serenity and civility of  good cup of coffee (or tea, when the English relatives stay with us).  As a good Mama, I am trying out some hot chocolate recipes so she can join us for a cuppa.  Last year I found a winner in Chai Hot Chocolate.  This year, and just in time for Halloween and Thanksgiving, I have found another winner, Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate, which I found posted at Good Life Eats.

Note:  I upped the cocoa powder a bit, reduced the white chocolate a bit and upped the milk a bit because I found it unbearably sweet at first.

When I tasted this concoction, it was just crying out (yes, crying out) for coffee.  So I gave it some. YES!  Beautiful!  Perfect!!!  So, not only do I have a delicious Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate for my daughter, but the rest of us can enjoy Pumpkin Spice White Mochas!  (To make a mocha, combine equal parts of the base mixture and a very strongly brewed coffee–see recipe below).  YUM!

I love it when things work out like this!  Everyone in the family gets just what they like, with almost no extra work. Aaahhh, I can’t wait until they all get home and we canhave a cuppa together!  Having a cup of coffee, or a cup of tea, together is an honored ritual the world over, and for good reason.  Take the time!

Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate

6 cups milk (I used 2%)
1 bag (11 ounces) white chocolate chips (Ghiradelli or Guittard, NOT Nestle)
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1  teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pure pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon cardamom
1/8 teaspoon allspice

In a heavy saucepan, combine 2 cups of milk, white chocolate, and cocoa powder. Cook over medium heat, whisking periodically, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is well combined. Whisk in the pumpkin puree, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, allspice, and ginger. Add the remaining milk, 1 cup at a time, until the desired consistency is reached. Makes six servings.  Top with whipped cream, if desired.

Pumpkin Spice White Mocha

Brew some very strong coffee, 1 cup ground coffee to 4 cups water.  For each serving combine equal parts of the strong coffee and the Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate from the recipe above.

Isn’t this a perfect recipe for a family to enjoy together this time of year? Thanks SO much for stopping by my kitchen today!

29 Oct 2010 Rum-Pum Pumpkin Bundt Cake

It’s Fall!  The goal is to eat a pumpkin rich food every day, right?  Today, Rum-Pum Pumpkin Cake!  I’ve been making this cake since I cut the recipe out of a newspaper in the nineteen-eighties.  The cake is moist, pumpkin rich, studded with 2 cups of dried fruit and nuts, with a splash o’ rum, a hearty heap o’ cinnamon and topped with an orange-cinnamon glaze.  What’s not to like?

Bundt cakes serve a lot of people, so invite the neighbors over for coffee and cake.  It’s a fun thing to do, and there’s no stress if you do it on-the-spur-of-the-moment.  While the cake is baking, send this email,  “Hi Neighbors, I’ve baked a cake, and we can’t eat it all ourselves.  Soooo, we’d like to invite you to drop by our house for coffee and a slice of pumpkin cake between 3 and 4 PM this afternoon.  Stay for 10 minutes, or stay for 30…just come on by! Come as you are, of course. We’ll see you soon.”  See how easy that is?  Now, no one would blame you if you wanted to close the blinds, encircle the cake, and eat it all yourself…the choice is yours!

Rum-Pum Pumpkin Cake

1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
1 ½ cup vegetable oil OR 3/4 cup applesauce plus 3/4 cup  veg. oil
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tablespoons dark rum (The rum flavor is not very pronounced.  If you want a stronger rum flavor, use rum extract for part of the rum)
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cinnamon (yes, 2 tablespoons–it works, and is not overpowering)
2 teaspoons grated orange peel (optional)
2 cups dried fruit (Last time I used 1 cup dark raisins, 1/2 cup cherries, and 1/2 cup apricots. Use any dried fruit that appeals to you, or that you have on hand.  I think golden raisins and snipped apricots are especially good. Dried cranberries are also good)
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (I substitute 1 cup diced chopped and peeled Granny Smith apple)

Preheat oven to 350º.  Spray a 10-inch bundt pan with a baking spray or butter and flour.

Mix pumpkin, oil, applesauce and sugar together with an electric mixer.

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Stir in rum.

In another bowl whisk together flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and optional grated orange peel.

In a third bowl combine the dried fruit, and the nuts or chopped apple.  Sprinkle 1 tablespoonful of the flour mixture over the dried fruit mixture and stir to combine.  Set aside.

Add remaining flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and beat well.

Stir flour dusted dried fruit and nuts/chopped apple into pumpkin-flour mixture.

Pour batter into prepared bundt pan and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for approx. 1 hour.  (Original recipe said 1 hour and 25 minutes, but I have never had to cook the cake for that long.

Remove cake from oven when done, cool for 3 – 5 minutes, then turn out to a baking rack to cool completely.

When cool, drizzle with cinnamon-orange glaze.

Cinnamon-Orange Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon orange extract OR grated rind of one orange
2 tablespoons dark rum

Beat all ingredients together until smooth.  Drizzle over cooled cake.

Now invite some friends over (or close the blinds).  Enjoy your impromptu party to welcome Fall! Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.