Easy Caramel Corn

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I have incredibly fond memories of this caramel corn from my childhood. The recipe originated from my Aunt, but both my mother and grandmother frequently made it for long car rides and as a treat at our lake cabin during the summertime. With no candy thermometer required, it is incredibly simple and requires just a 5 minute timer. Prepare to become addicted.

Ingredients

1 cup unpopped popcorn

1 cup butter

2 cups golden brown sugar (or 1 cup light & 1 cup dark)

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat over to 250 degrees and start preparing your popcorn. An air popper works best, or something that does not require oil to pop the corn. Transfer popcorn to a large roasting pan, being careful to leave kernels behind. Set the roasting pan aside while you make the caramel.

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In a medium saucepan, combine butter, light corn syrup and brown sugar. Turn heat to medium and stir occasionally until the mixture starts to bubble. Reduce heat to medium-low and set your timer for 5 minutes, no stirring required during this time. Measure out your salt and baking soda into a small dish and set aside.

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I always find this next part to be magical. When the 5 minutes is up, remove the pan from heat and add in the salt and baking soda, stirring pretty quickly to evenly distribute. The hot mixture will begin to foam and double in size with the addition of the baking soda, as well as look much lighter in color. After 10 seconds or so of stirring, work fairly quickly to drizzle the caramel over the popcorn in your roasting pan. Gently fold and work the caramel in to evenly coat. Bake in oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes and stealing a bit at each interval as I do.

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Once out of the oven, you can either spread on parchment paper on the counter, or stir every few minutes in the pan while it is cooling to prevent extra large masses from forming.

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Dress up in some cellophane baggies and pretty ribbon or twine and placed at each place setting as a dinner party favor or party favor in general. Or plop into a bowl and onto your lap, either will be enjoyed.

I am planning to make this for a Super Bowl treat to sulk my sorrows that the Seahawks season is over. 😦

I hope you find an excuse to make this recipe this week or weekend!

Lastly, today marks my third trimester! (!!!) And I am pretty sold on Hypnobirthing after our first class last week, it leaves me feeling all empowered about the birthing process.

Playoff Plans Plus A Chocolate Bundt Review

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Over the past couple of years I have developed a genuine enjoyment out of Football Sundays. Here are a few reasons I look forward to them: Food, Friends and Fantasy Football…probably in that order 😂. Typically we rotate friends houses each week, gathering to watch The Hawks and indulge in laughter, good food and libations. With the announcement of a 10:05AM PST kickoff this Sunday for the playoffs, brunching plans were set in motion early in the week.

It is a special treat when a best friend enjoys food and thinks about food and scours for recipes as much as you do. I am looking at new recipes on the daily, hourly sometimes. This common bond with food, it leads us to lots of messages back and forth like these…
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Here are the brunch ideas I have been stalking over on Food52 this week…

Savory Bread Pudding with dreamy prosciutto, chevre and criminis

Crêpes with Lemon Curd & Blueberry Compote so that I can finally use the large griddle I received for Christmas…with this Lemon Cream tho

Just look at the photo of this Cinnamon Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze, nuff said

Scotch eggs do need to happen…one day 🤔

I am leaning toward the bread pudding and maybe the crêpes. Time will tell how ambitious I am feeling come Sunday morning.

Now, the Chocolate Bundt Cake so nice I made it twice this week. For real. The first time I made this was on Monday, when my husband jokingly requested a birthday cake out of nowhere after dinner. He did my dishes while I made the cake, fair trade. The next day, he took the leftovers to his office in the morning and said it disappeared in 45 mins.

Normally I hate baking cakes and don’t typically enjoy eating them, especially when they are chocolate. But this cake tho, so simple, you can mix it with just a whisk and it has quite a light and dense texture all at the same time. Maybe I made it last night too…

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Here is my review of Kelsey Banfield’s Chocolate Bundt Cake found on Food52

Ingredients

2 cups sugar

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup dutch process cocoa (good value here)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 cup sour milk (2 T lemon juice or vinegar in a measuring cup, fill with milk to 1 cup line)

1 cup brewed coffee or espresso

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare your bundt pan. Spray the inside with non-stick cooking spray liberally. You can also dust some cocoa powder on the inside after spraying and tap out the excess if you’d like extra security that it will release when flipped over.

Combine the sugar, flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a mixing bowl. Sift in the cocoa powder if it seems to have some lumps in it as mine always does. Give the dry ingredients a whisk together and set aside.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the sour milk, brewed coffee, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla until homogeneous.

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Dump your dry ingredients into the wet and begin to whisk away. Whisk heavily for about 2 minutes or so or until your forearm cannot take it anymore. Pour batter into your prepared bundt pan and bake for about 45 minutes. A toothpick or skewer inserted should come out fairly clean, but may have a few crumbs hanging on. I found that 45 mins was a pretty consistent cooking time. Allow to cool in the pan 10-15 minutes before turning over. My first one this week was perfect, like, I had never had a bundt pull away so perfectly before. The second one had a few imperfections, but nothing a dusting of powdered sugar can’t fix.

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The reason I made it twice? We gave it away too soon and didn’t have ice cream the first time 😉

Happiest of Fridays to you!

Sunday Morning Baking

IMG_2794A couple of weeks ago I came across these Pretzel Bagel Doughnuts made by Jeremy & Adrian, The Food Gays, whilst scouring Instagram. I immediately salivated and have been looking forward to getting in the kitchen and making these ever since laying first sight. That opportunity finally presented itself with a free Sunday morning this past week. It was a much needed time to calm myself and reconnect with my kitchen after an enjoyable busy Christmas.

I have made successful pretzel balls in the past, and one semi-successful attempt at bagels, but these combo-stuffed-delights are a new favorite among my husband and friends. Recipe is adapted from The Food Gays.

For the dough

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp sugar

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

2 tsp kosher salt

1 1/3 cup warm water

Olive oil, to coat dough

pinch of salt

1/2 white onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced or microplaned.

1 tbsp butter

Seeds of your choice – Poppy, Sesame, Fennel, flax, etc.

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Combine the flour, sugar, yeast and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Give the dry ingredients a little mix together.

Turn mixer on medium-low speed and slowly drizzle in the warm water and run the mixer for a good 6-8 minutes. You may need to scrape the sides of the bowl if the flour doesn’t seem to be incorporating fully after a couple minutes (I had to do this).

While the dough is self-kneading, finely dice up 1/2 of a white onion and sauté in a pan drizzled with a touch of olive oil on medium-low heat. When the onions look nice and translucent, add the garlic, butter and a pinch of salt. Sauté for another minute or so and then spread on a plate and place in the fridge or freezer to cool quickly.

Give your dough a look, it should be forming somewhat of a ball and slightly tacky and stretchy to the touch/pull.

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Add your cooled onions and garlic to the mixer and continue to blend on medium-low for another 4 minutes. Note: I found that I had to add another 1/4 cup of flour or so, perhaps the moisture from the onions wet the dough down a bit. Regardless, you want the dough to form a ball and pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl at the end of the 4 minutes. If your dough feels too sticky, incorporate one tablespoon of flour at a time until it seems smooth and pulls away cleanly from your fingers when pinched.

IMG_2781Grease a metal bowl with olive oil and transfer the dough to it, turning to coat. Cover with saran wrap to hold in the moisture and place in a warm place to rise for about an hour or until doubled in size. While the dough rises, work on the solution.

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The Solution

1 cup of baked baking soda* (bake while dough is rising)

3 cups water, preferably filtered

*While The Food Gays call for food grade lye to give your Pretzel Bagel Doughnuts that distinctively pretzely outside, I lacked the patience and courage to order and use lye (all I could think of was that hand kiss burning scene from Fight Club). But mostly I lacked the patience to order food grade lye, someday I will try the authentic pretzel way. Anyways, after a quick google research session, I came across an article by Cambria Bold on The Kitchn directing you to bake your baking soda for one hour on a foil or parchment lined baking sheet in a 300 degree oven, rendering it a much more alkaline substance and a good lye alternative. I did this while the dough was rising.

Prepare your solution by whisking your baking soda in a bowl with the water until combined. Prepare an additional bowl with just filtered water for rinsing the solution off after soaking. Set aside until ready to use.

Forming the Doughnuts

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Squeeze dough down to let out excess air and gas, if you have a kitchen scale, take weight of your dough and divide that weight by 12. Pull off equal sized pieces, checking the weight on your scale, form into a ball, place on a lightly greased parchment lined baking sheet and slightly flatten down with your hand (I ended up with 11, the 12th one went to my husband, the dough lover). Leave these to rest for another 10-15 minutes, proofing, before dipping in the solution.

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Using a slotted spoon, submerge a couple dough balls into the baking soda solution for 2 minutes. Remove and dunk in the plain water bowl to rinse. Place on a fresh parchment lined baking sheet and repeat with remainder of the proofed balls. Sprinkle with seeds of your liking, I used poppy and sesame, and let stand 5 minutes before baking.

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Bake for 18 minutes, until beautifully dark golden and smelling delectable.

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Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before filling.

The Filling

8 oz. brick cream cheese, room temperature

Salt

Pepper

Fresh Herbs of your choice, I used chives only

Combine the cream cheese, salt, pepper and herbs to your liking in a bowl. Use a hand mixer to combine and blend until the cream cheese is a bit light and whipped looking. Scoop into a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip.

Once the Pretzel Bagel Doughnuts have cooled, cut a small “X” into the top. Insert pastry bag tip and squeeze a generous amount of cream cheese into each one. Garnish with a sprinkling of chives.

Best eaten warm, but still quite good the next day reheated in the microwave for 20 seconds. Store leftovers, if any, in the fridge.

The next time I make these, I may use an egg wash before applying the seeds to help achieve a darker, glossier crust. Hope you can’t resist trying these too!

Does the new year have you trying anything new, in or out, of the kitchen?