treat

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/

Chocolate Chip-Cinnamon Muffins

It’s a well publicized fact (on my personal blog) that I am a breakfast person. I am also a coffee person, a baked good person, a chocolate person… I really enjoy a freshly baked muffin in the morning with my cup of joe. This hits the mark on a number of levels. And it’s so easy to whip up- to appease the craving. Please note: it’s very satisfying eating this warm, while the chocolate is still soft… The cinnamon adding just another little hint of depth. (It’s really like eating a cupcake. But don’t tell anyone.) So sit back and relax. You have my permission to take in the moment.

As organic as possible:

1/2 cup Butter, melted

3/4 cup Milk

2 Eggs, beaten

1 Tbsp Vanilla

2 cups Flour

3/4 cup Sugar

1 Tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp Salt

1/4 tsp Cinnamon

11.5 oz Milk Chocolate Chips

 

Preheat the oven to 350°. Using non-stick spray or butter, grease a 12 cup muffin pan. (Or line with pretty papers)

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Remove about 3 tablespoons of the dry mixture and in a small bowl toss with the chocolate chips. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk the butter, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Slowly add the dry flour mixture and stir until combined. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin pan, filling to the brim. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly before indulgence.

Pour yourself a cup of coffee (or tea, or milk… or whatever you like to drink) and serve. Enjoy!

 

Double Chocolate-Almond Biscotti

I can eat biscotti all day without guilt. Maybe because its called biscotti (Italian for a twice baked cookie), it doesn’t register. I think I’ve tried it all. There hasn’t been one variation I didn’t like. Besides, that second round in the oven probably got rid of anything bad for me, right?

As organic as possible:

1/2 cup Butter, softened

3/4 cup Sugar (rounded)

1 tsp Almond extract

1/4 cup Cocoa powder

2 tsp Baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

2 Eggs

1 3/4 cup Flour

1/2 cup Milk Chocolate chips or pieces

1 cup Semi-sweet Chocolate chips or pieces

1 cup Sliced, slivered, or chopped almonds

Preheat oven to 375º. Lightly grease a cookie sheet, set aside. In a stand-up electric mixer or in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer or with your mighty hand, beat butter, sugar and almond extract. Add cocoa powder, baking powder and salt, mix. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add eggs, one at a time. Add flour, a third at a time, until combined. Remove bowl from mixer. Add milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate and almond pieces, gently fold until incorporated.

Separate dough into to halves. Taking one half of the dough portion into your hands, shape into a log about 9″ long. Place onto the baking sheet lengthwise and gently press down to lightly flatten. Repeat with the other half. Place into the oven and bake 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 325º. Place cookie loaf onto a cutting board and cut diagonally with a serrated knife. Place cut side down and bake for 8-9 minutes. Turn the cookies over and bake for an additional 8-9 minutes, until crisp. Let cool. Serve with coffee or hot cocoa for dipping or all alone.

Lemon Bread

I appreciate the sour note of a lemon, especially in something sweet. This bread is great in the morning for breakfast, it works as a dessert, and can be served on the side of a salad. But my favorite way to eat this treat is in the afternoon with a cup of coffee (or tea for my English friends). It’s the perfect little bright pick-me-up.

Makes 1 Loaf

As organic as possible:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1 1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 Tbsp lemon zest

1 1/2 cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup milk

Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Topping:

1 Tbsp lemon zest

2 pinches sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease (or spray) a loaf pan and set aside. Beat the butter with an electric mixer (or your strong arms and a utensil) until creamy. Add the half the sugar and beat into the butter, then add the other half of the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla, and zest, mix until blended. In a separate bowl whisk the flour, baking powder and salt. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the milk into the butter mixture. Pour the mixture into the loaf pan and bake 50-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool slightly while you prepare the glaze. Place the powdered sugar and lemon juice into a bowl and stir until it makes a thick, sticky, yummy liquid. Remove the loaf from the pan and place it on the serve ware of your choice. Spoon the glaze onto the loaf, allowing it to flow down the sides like lava out of a volcano (just the flow part, not the fire or sputtering).

Before the glaze dries sprinkle the zest and pinches of sugar evenly across the top. Serve at will.

Best S’more Out

We’ve been really busy lately with graduation parties, bridal showers, and weddings. And my family just got back from a very nice and much needed vacation touring the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I was also with “the Chef” this week so I’ve got some great new recipes that I’ll be posting soon. One of my favorite things that I made this week is a classic campfire treat. I still don’t know what to call it, maybe a S’mix? I started with inspiration from another blogger who use a Reese’s peanut butter cup. And it was good. But I got experimenting with other candy… And this was by far the very favorite. It’s pretty simple.
1 Full sheet graham cracker, broken in two halves

1 Marshmallow

2 Mini Twix
Place two mini Twix on top of half of your graham cracker. Toast your marshmallow till brown and gooey. (Or slightly charred depending in your preference.) Place your marshmallow on top of the Twix bars and cap it off with the other half of the graham cracker. Indulge!
Sidenote: I know they make organic graham crackers and organic marshmallows, but I have yet to find a replacement for Twix my apologies.