Friday, October 24, 2014

Homemade Cracker Jack® Caramel Corn

Before I talk about this addictive Caramel Corn (which is easier to make than I thought it would be), I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all of you who have prayed for me, and wished me well in my surgery #5 on my knee. The great news is that this one was successful. My brilliant surgeon was able to remove enough scar tissue so that my knee is actually bending! I almost cried, the first time I could actually sit in chair, with both feet on the floor, to eat my hospital lunch.  I'm on medical leave for a few weeks, so that I can be a model patient, by doing my physical therapy several times a day. I can finally appreciate the benefit of having a total knee replacement, and there are no regrets. Amen.

As a kid, I loved Cracker Jack®.  I would load up my hand with a heaping mound of candy coated popcorn, peanuts and a prize... (remember that jingle?) Oh, and back then, the prizes could be as fun as a real plastic whistle.  Nowadays, the prizes are less choke hazards made of paper, and just not the same.  Still, I admit that I've been known to toss in a bag of Cracker Jack® into my grocery cart, during a weak moment, that I see them clipped onto a grocery store shelf.

Craig and I enjoy sharing a big bowl of popcorn, while we watch a movie at home-- Kettle Corn being our favorite.  For years, I've toyed with making caramel corn but I never got around to it. 

Recently, I decided to buy a Whirley Pop Stovetop Popcorn Popper.  The first time I used this, I was smitten.  The popcorn tastes like real theater popcorn!  Tastewise, I prefer using coconut oil, vs. vegetable oil.  But either one is fine. Not only was it easy to use, it was fun and a lot easier than shaking a pot back and forth. In 3 minutes, we enjoyed a big bowl of popcorn. All I have to do is wipe the pot with a paper towel (no soap and water) and I wash the lid with the popcorn stirrer with soap and water. Easy peasy!

I looked at a lot of recipes on the internet, for Homemade Cracker Jack®.  The common theme was, the ratio of molasses vs. corn syrup.  Using the Whirley Pop, 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels made just over 15 cups of popcorn in three minutes!  Craig was on the sidelines, happily eating the extra popcorn that was exceeded 15 cups.

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

I have seen dozens of recipes for Loaded Baked Potato Soup, so I know that my recipe isn't an entirely "original". However, this recipe is my own take on this hearty and creamy soup-- and it really does taste like a baked potato. Just ask my husband. 

Most of October has brought our traditional Indian Summer hot weather.  One day, we were blessed with brief rain showers (which we are in dire need of), and it seemed like just the right time to make soup.  I plugged in my pressure cooker, to steam diced Russet potatoes in 5 minutes, while preparing the soup base of butter, flour, milk, and chicken broth.  If you don't own a pressure cooker, you can cook the diced potatoes on the stove in about 15-20 minutes.

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