The Pioneer Woman

The Pioneer Woman’s Popcorn Balls

I love it when a plan comes together. Or is it when a plan fails miserably? I can’t remember. This is a plan almost three years in the making. The year that The Pioneer Woman released her A Year of Holidays Cookbook, I knew I was going to make these popcorn balls. I don’t celebrate Halloween, but I do celebrate a lot of life with food. And I don’t eat candy corn. In fact, I only knew one person who did. She ate a whole bag in one sitting and made herself sick, and probably hasn’t eaten them again. But as soon as I saw the picture of these yellowed marshmallowy popcorn balls with those striped triangled candies, I knew this was meant to be. Here’s the unfortunate thing- if you don’t buy your candy corn before Halloween, you will not find it in stores until the next year. I know this to be true, two years in a row. So when I saw an “Autumn Mix” bag of Brach’s candy while waiting in the checkout lane of a local grocery store, I knew I would have no problem removing those little sugar pumpkins so I could get one full cup of candy corns. This was the year.

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1/4 cup Peanut oil
6 Tbsp Popcorn kernels
1/2 cup Sugar
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) Butter
6 oz. mini Marshmallows (about 2/3 package)
Orange food coloring (optional)
1 cup Candy Corn
1/2 cup shelled unsalted Peanuts
Cooking spray

I poured the oil in a large sauce pan (with a tight fitting lid) over a medium-high heat. I added the popcorn and shook the pan gently to make sure the kernels were coated with oil.

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When I heard the oil start to sizzle (before any corn started popping) I added the sugar to the pan. Without instruction, I stirred the sugar and the kernels because it felt like the right thing to do. Then I shook the pan to even out the kernels on the bottom. I shook the pan again, just like I was told when I saw the first couple kernels. But I noticed that my sugar had started to caramelize and The Pioneer Woman’s picture didn’t look like that… So, I started to question my urge to stir that sugar. Or maybe mine started to brown because I used organic cane sugar? Perhaps my medium-high heat is higher than hers? We may never know.

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I placed the lid on my pan, holding it in place while I gently shook the pan as the corn was popping. When I noticed the popping slowing down, I removed it from the heat. I took off the lid to unveil the sweet surprise.

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Then I poured it onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet to let the popcorn cool. I did my best to sort out unpopped kernels (and said a prayer that my kids wouldn’t break a tooth if I missed one, because this is a sticky mixture and I didn’t feel confident in my separating skills). Also, I threw away the darkest colored (aka burnt) pieces of popped corn, because even though I like burned popcorn, as I have mentioned before, my family does not.

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While the popcorn was cooling, I melted butter in a separate pot over a low heat. I noticed that The Pioneer Woman used an enamel lined cast iron pot, so I did too. (Because when I grow up I’m going to be just like her.) I added the marshmallows, stirring them while they melted. On the side, I started to sort out those candy corns and separate them from the candy pumpkins. I got this.

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The marshmallows were starting to lose their shape, so everything was going according to plan. Another suggestion from The Pioneer Woman was the option of orange food coloring. My pantry’s current all natural food coloring in store was yellow, but I added a few drops anyway to mask all of the white. My marshmallows weren’t melting completely very quickly… So I left them on the heat for a minute while I went to the pantry to look for the peanuts, because that’s how I roll. (My mise en place could use a little help.) And as soon as I turned my back, my son dumped the measuring cup full of candy corn into the marshmallow mix. NOOOO!

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Well, I tried to recover as best as I could and added the popcorn right away too. But those candy corns started to melt. Argh! So much for needing food coloring… we were going for a traditional pinky orange right? I tried to quickly yet gently mix it all up. (It was a pot of chaos.) I removed the it all from the heat, added the nuts and tried to sort through the bag for a few more candy corns- so you actually see a couple.

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I sprayed my hands with the spray as directed and started forming those marshmallow balls of gooey madness. And please note that the marshmallow is HOT. Oh, I felt it.

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But, all’s well that ends well, right?

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Because we still had fun eating them… Show that marshmallow popcorn ball who’s boss!

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The Pioneer Woman’s Popcorn Balls

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup Peanut oil
  • 6 Tbsp Popcorn kernels
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) Butter
  • 6 oz. mini marshmallows (about 2/3 package)
  • Orange food coloring (optional)
  • 1 cup Candy Corn
  • 1/2 cup shelled unsalted Peanuts
  • Cooking spray

Instructions

  1. Add oil to a medium (large) sauce pan that has a tight fitting lid over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the popcorn and shake the pan gently, coating all of the kernels with oil.
  3. When the oil starts to sizzle, add the sugar.
  4. Shake the pan again, and when the first kernels start to pop, cover with the lid. Hold the lid in place, while you gently shake the pot with your other hand.
  5. When the popping slows down, and almost all kernels have popped, pour the popcorn onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
  6. Separate and remove the un-popped kernels with a spoon or spatula.
  7. Let the popcorn cool.
  8. While the popcorn is cooling, melt the butter in another pot over low heat.
  9. Add the marshmallows, stirring as they melt.
  10. When the marshmallows are almost melted, add 2 or 3 drops of orange food coloring. (Optional)
  11. Stir.
  12. Remove the pot from the heat and add the popcorn. Stir immediately to coat as quickly as possible.
  13. Add the candy corn and peanuts.
  14. Gently stir until candy and nuts are worked in.
  15. Spray your hands lightly with cooking spray and form balls 2-3 inches in diameter.
  16. Set them aside and let them cool completely.
  17. Serve at room temperature.
http://sadiesnest.com/the-pioneer-womans-popcorn-balls/

Loving Lately 🍕

Loving Lately: Pizza (and all of it’s flavorful convenience)

Pizza has to be one of the greatest creations ever made. It’s inexpensive, can easily feed a lot of people, and is generally a crowd pleaser- because it is scrumptious! It’s bread, it’s cheese and it’s whatever else you want baked to perfection. I mean seriously. I think if my husband had to pick one thing to eat for the rest of his life, it would be pizza. And I sincerely believe that he feels pizza from a different place every night of the week is an entirely different daily meal. Oh, and in many places you can have it delivered hot and cheesy right to your front door! In less than 30 minutes! Let’s not forget that little golden nugget. 😉

Pizza is a great way to express your culinary creativity. Colors, flavors, textures… let ’em fly! Take this Nectarine Pizza with Basil, Blue Cheese and Reduced Balsamic from Alexandra’s Kitchen for example. Yeah, that’s right.

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Or maybe a White Pizza with Garlic Sauce and Garden Herbs from How Sweet Eats… How much pizza is acceptable to eat at one sitting? Also by Jessica from How Sweet Eats are these mouth-watering 30-Minute Portobello Pizzas featured by The Pioneer Woman. I’m not going to lie, mushroom for crust just seems like a really good idea. I wonder how soy cheese would work for my vegan friends out there?

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Apparently, the thing is basil. Everything will look beautiful as long as you have fresh basil. But I imagine Chicken Florentine Flatbread by Rachel Schultz tastes pretty good too. Little bursts of roasted cherry tomatoes… Yummmm!

And because this is the way I think, wouldn’t this be pretty for Christmas?

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How about the fall? Are you ready to see everything that embodies autumn wrapped in a pizza package? Drum roll please…. Caramelized Butternut, Crispy Kale + Fontina Pizza with Pomegranate Salsa by Half Baked Harvest. Bravo! …Of course you could always go with the Cranberry Sauce, Bacon, and Gorgonzola Pastry Puff Pizza from Baker by Nature. Decisions, decisions.

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Whether it’s buffalo chicken, taco, Hawaiian, regular pepperoni or pizza in a cone (that’s a real thing, thank you Pillsbury), “Za” is awesome. (That’s a real word too, thank you Scrabble).

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The Pioneer Woman’s Sherried Tomato Soup

Sometimes you just can’t improve upon perfection. I keep wanting to change this… but I can’t, because I love it, just like this, every time. It’s creamy and rich, warm and soothing. I want to eat it on cold days, windy days, sad days, happy days, light days, each day… It’s brilliant for having company, because it makes the kind of statement that I want to send; “Thank you for coming. Here, have something lovely. Please come again.” It feels slightly elevated because of the sherry, all grown up- you know. But it captures the essence of childhood comfort food. It’s completely foolproof.

As organic as possible: (My spin)

1 medium white or yellow Onion, diced

6 Tbsp (3/4 stick) Butter

2 – 14.5 oz cans diced Tomatoes

1 – 46 oz bottle or can Tomato juice

3 to 6 Tbsp Sugar (She and I like 6)

1 or 2 Tbsp Chicken base or 3 Chicken bouillon cubes (I’ve used Beef in a pinch, and it was good too)

Freshly ground Black pepper

1 cup Sherry (optional) (but encouraged)

1 1/2 cups heavy Cream

1/4 cup flat-leaf Parsley*, chopped

1/4 chopped Basil*, chiffonade (or chopped)

 

Melt the butter in a large pot or dutch oven. Throw in the onion and cook until translucent.  Now dump in the diced tomatoes and stir to combine. Add the tomato juice. Next, add the sugar (it combats the acidity). Then add the chicken base and plenty of black pepper. Stir. Heat almost to a boil, then turn off the heat.

This part is completely ad-libbed; but, if I am making this ahead I like to make it to this point and keep it on low. Or if eating right away… continue.

Now it’s time for the sherry (and this I do play with depending on my crowd). Pour in the cream, stir. Add the herbs, more black pepper, give it a whirl and serve.

*Side note: I make this even without having fresh herbs at times, and it’s delicious.

Your guests are going to love you- you are going to love you.

The Pioneer Woman’s Sherried Tomato Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 medium white or yellow Onion, diced
  • 6 Tbsp (3/4 stick) Butter
  • 2 - 14.5 oz cans diced Tomatoes
  • 1 - 46 oz bottle or can Tomato juice
  • 3 to 6 Tbsp Sugar (She and I like 6)
  • 1 or 2 Tbsp Chicken base or 3 Chicken bouillon cubes (I've used Beef in a pinch, and it was good too)
  • Freshly ground Black pepper
  • 1 cup Sherry (optional) (but encouraged)
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy Cream
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf Parsley*, chopped
  • 1/4 chopped Basil*, chiffonade (or chopped)

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a large pot or dutch oven. Throw in the onion and cook until translucent.
  2. Now dump in the diced tomatoes and stir to combine.
  3. Add the tomato juice. Next, add the sugar (it combats the acidity).
  4. Then add the chicken base and plenty of black pepper.
  5. Stir. Heat almost to a boil, then turn off the heat.
  6. Now it's time for the sherry (and this I do play with depending on my crowd).
  7. Pour in the cream, stir. Add the herbs, more black pepper, give it a whirl and serve.
http://sadiesnest.com/the-pioneer-womans-sherried-tomato-soup/

 

Loving Lately ❤️

Loving Lately: Cookbooks

Reading cookbooks is my favorite leisurely pass-time. I love that people share their recipes, old and new. It’s like this universal connection. People all through time and around the world can relate to feeding their family and the satisfaction it brings when they really enjoy it. I’m a long time fan of The Pioneer Woman, before she had a show on Food Network. I just appreciate her no frills approach to good food. She cooks family style with ingredients that seem to fit my family’s palate. Her new book, Dinnertime continues her trademark step-by-step photographs, homestyle meals and endearing family stories; just what I want out of one of her cookbooks. I also am enjoying her tips on meal planning, stocking the pantry and ideas for prepping ahead. And I can’t wait to make her Orange Chicken Cashew Chicken French Dip Sandwiches…

 

Return to Sunday Dinner is not a newly released cookbook, but it is relatively new to me. I found it really inspiring. Russell Cronkhite was a long time chef for various White House Administrations. I love his simple elevation of American classics. From the north, south, east and west, he highlights traditional dishes across the U.S. and credits the countries of origin and inspiration from which they came. While the recipes are valuable and interesting, what I loved even more was his admiration of a Sunday family gathering. It’s a celebration of gratitude for working a hard week and cherishing loved ones. I am honestly moved to get my wedding china dishes out of the hutch and set the table, at least once a week, because what am I waiting for? It’s not something pretentious or highfaluting, it’s about using your best (whatever that is), giving thanks and making memories. I love that! (And I think I know my next giveaway!)

Loving Lately ❤️ Giveaway!

I have been wanting to do a giveaway for a while. Actually before I ever had a blog I was planning the type of things I’d like to giveaway. Now that I have been doing this for a for a little span, I think its time. I just can’t wait any more!! Thankfully my favorite non-familial home cook has put out a really adorable kitchen ware line! Yay! I think it’s befitting that my first giveaway is a piece from her new line, don’t you? I recently visited my local Walmart to check out the new items and basically wanted to take home one of everything. The practical side of me made, um, me limit myself to a few. I have to say my favorite is this beautiful pitcher!

Loving Lately #1: Pioneer Woman Dishes

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Here it is again in case you wanted to see it!

I really thought I was going to the store to pick out some of the those cute Pioneer Woman polk-a-dot glass bowls and cups, and maybe one day I will. But when I saw everything in person, I fell in love with the really sweet floral patterns.

To commemorate my 5 month achievement, thank my loyal followers and celebrate these cute dishes; my first giveaway is The Pioneer Woman Pitcher! I am limiting the giveaway to residents of the U.S. and Canada. (To all of my international friends out there, stay tuned for more giveaway opportunities in the future!) The Rules are simple: For entry, answer the posted question in the comment section of this post; Any new “like” or “follow” or “share” of this post via WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest gets an entry.

For entry leave a comment below answering this question: What is your favorite kitchen apparatus?

(Only 1 comment per person please!)

Thank you for your participation and all of your support!

(Every ‘entry’ is assigned a numerical value. Entries will be allowed until 11:59 pm Saturday, October 10, 2015. Numbers will be randomly selected and the winner will be posted on Monday, October 12, 2015. Winner must provide an address in the U.S. or Canada to be eligible.)

This contest has ended.

Loving Lately ❤️

Easy apps could easily make a weekly appearance on Loving Lately. For someone who likes to entertain as much as I do, quick and simple appetizers are greatly appreciated. I always want to make my guests feel welcome, and obviously I love to feed anyone who comes through the door. I wish I was one of those people who always had a big pot of something cooking on the stove, but I’m not (yet). I can however offer you a good cup of coffee, and a tasty bite… usually containing cheese. (Have I mentioned my love of cheese?)

Loving Lately #1: Goat Cheese and Dill (pictured above)

This recipe is from The Pioneer Woman, and honestly I don’t think it could get any easier. If you can chop some dill and unwrap some cheese you’re set. I like to pair mine with toasted pita chips (more like crackers). It just seems Mediterranean doesn’t it? But I also like to give my guests some options. I already knew I like goat cheese, but I’m not usually a huge fan of dill. Until now! Something about it just works. You should give it a try.

Loving Lately #2: Cast Iron

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I could actually make a whole blog post out of this alone. I can’t say enough about it. I love how it connects me to the past. I love the crust it gives my cornbread. I love the way it makes pineapple upside cake. I love that I can fry up sausage and get it crispy or how I can bake the same pan in the oven and make a giant cookie. I don’t think I would feel like a home cook without a cast iron fry pan. And camping certainly wouldn’t be nearly as fun. (By the way making biscuits over a campfire in a cast iron dutch oven is sheer joy! …for someone who enjoys those things.) If you don’t have any cast iron I urge you to try it. Lodge is a company in Tennessee, USA, They make great reputable products! Click here for more information.