Caramel Corn

I made this for our church Christmas party and it earned a few rave reviews. The recipe is altered slightly from this one over at allrecipes.com. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • cooking spray
  • two bags popped popcorn
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup butter OR margarine
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Spray large shallow roasting pan with cooking spray. Add popcorn and place in preheated 250 degrees F oven while preparing caramel.
  2. Mix brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt in a heavy 2-quart saucepan. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil over medium heat.
  3. Boil 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat. Stir in baking soda and vanilla; mix well.
  4. Pour syrup over warm popcorn, stirring to coat evenly.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and spread on foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
  6. Cool; break apart. Store in tightly covered container.
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Quick Kale Sauté

I’m finally feeling functional after being quite sick the past few days, and I discovered a trick for feeding your family crazy healthy food: go to the store when you are feeling just enough better to be hungry. I stopped into Trader Joe’s this morning, and there was not enough green in the whole store for me. I could have gobbled down every last bite of produce in the place on the spot. I restrained myself from doing that, and came home and whipped myself up a heaping bowl of this delicious goodness. The inspiration is all from Joie, and this dish of green wonder can be modified a hundred ways, but this is how I made it today and it hit the spot. Also, it took less than 3 minutes, for real. (It would take more if you don’t buy prewashed kale.)

Ingredients:

  • Coconut oil (or other cooking oil) — a couple of teaspoons maybe, you know, a dollop
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced or minced, as you prefer
  • 1 handful of raisins
  • 2 big handfuls of kale (I bought the prewashed and cut kind at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 handful pecans (toasted would be lovely; I couldn’t be bothered)

Directions:

  1. Add the coconut oil and garlic to a skillet over medium heat.
  2. When the coconut oil is melted and before the garlic browns, add the raisins and kale. Cook until the kale is bright green and just starting to wilt.
  3. Add the pecans and toss everything around for 30 or 45 more seconds.

 

Pretzel Bites

For some reason, I keep making these on evenings when I have a babysitter coming. This is not particularly smart of me because they are fairly time- and labor-intensive, and getting them done has stressed me out. On the other hand, they are really kid-friendly and tasty. And I actually do like making these; I just need to pick a different kind of night to do it. Also, the leftovers make for a great cold lunch.

I know that sounds like a mixed review, and, yes, 13 steps is kind of ridiculous. But they really are good, so good in fact that I am adding the recipe to Needs More Butter to keep it handy. :)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 cup warm milk (110–115 degrees F)
  • 2 1/2 cups flour (plus extra to make dough the right consistency)
  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) instant dry yeast
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped ham or pepperoni slices
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • melted butter
  • coarse kosher salt

 

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and milk. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast, and warm milk mixture.
  3. Stir until a soft dough forms. Add more flour as needed (up to 1/2 cup). Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead a few times, forming a smooth ball.
  4. Brush the inside of a large clean bowl with olive oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Alow it to rise in a warm, draft-free area for about 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size and bubbles appear on the surface.
  5. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide it into 4 equal pieces. Lightly dust a rolling pin with flour and roll each piece of dough into roughly a 12×4-inch rectangle.
  6. With the long sides facing you, place the ham or pepperoni and mozzarella cheese onto the bottom third of each piece of dough.
  7. Roll the dough as tightly as you can, starting with the long edge holding the fillings.
  8. Cut each roll into 4 equal pieces.
  9. Transfer the pieces to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Let them rest, uncovered, at room temperature for 30 minutes.

    Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

  10. Bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add 4 teaspoons of baking soda to the boiling water and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.

    Boil the pretzels in batches, cooking for about 20 seconds each and turning once.

    They should look slightly puffed when they are done. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them back to the baking sheet.

  11. Cut the pretzels into 3 equal pieces — or thereabouts — going for bite-sized here
  12. Bake in the preheated oven until they are puffed and golden, about 15 minutes.
  13. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with kosher salt

Honey Nutters

I am on the hunt for new ideas for lunchboxes. These are super easy to make (the kids help crunch up the graham crackers), and they come together in under ten minutes total. The only drawback is they might get eaten before they make it to the lunchbox.

Ingredients:

  • 1 sleeve graham crackers
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter (or any kind of nut butter or seed butter, I would think)
  • 1/2 cup honey or pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup powdered milk (the original recipe called for organic whole milk powder, but we use the lowfat powdered milk, Best Choice brand, and we haven’t died yet)
  • coconut for rolling them in (if you like that kind of thing)

Directions:

  1. Roll the graham crackers into crumbs (or use a food processor).
  2. Melt the honey or syrup and peanut butter  in a sauce pan on the stove until warm and runny.
  3. Add graham crackers, peanut butter mixture, and powdered milk to a bowl and stir together. Roll (gently press and squeeze) mixture into balls (smaller than golf balls), then roll in coconut if you’re using it.

I keep ours in the fridge, but they would be ok on the counter, covered, for a few days too, if they last that long.

 

 

Dough Boys

Camping16

Seriously, stop what you are doing, go camping, and make these right now. Crazy good. I never knew.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can refrigerator biscuits (we used buttermilk biscuits)
  • butter
  • cinnamon and sugar mixture (maybe 1/2 cup sugar to 1 tablespoon cinnamon?)

Directions:

  1. Melt butter (we used a tin pie plate on the grill) and put the cinnamon and sugar in a separate container (we used another pie plate).
  2. Knead the biscuit dough so that it’s a little bit stretchy, and stretch it out into a rectangle.
  3. Wrap one biscuit at a time around the end of a stick (about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick works well) and roast over a fire (like you would a marshmallow).
  4. After it has browned all over, let the dough cool a bit until it is easier to slide off the stick.
  5. Roll the dough first in the butter, then in the cinnamon and sugar mixture.
  6. Be amazed at how delicious dough boys are.

Granola

IMG_1584

This is a versatile recipe that can be easily added to (or subtracted from), depending on what you have on hand. I love what the coconut oil adds to the flavor, but I’ve wondered how it  would work to sub in apple sauce or pumpkin puree. The kids love to help make this — they stir up the dry ingredients while I mix up the wet ingredients on the stove. 

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups uncooked rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened (optional)
  • 1/2 cup flour (I usually use almond flour, but you could use any kind of flour)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (or more) cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ginger (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl combine oats, coconut (if using), flour, spices, and salt. Mix well.
  3. In a small saucepan, heat the coconut oil, maple syrup or honey, and vanilla until warm. Pour this mixture over the oats mixture and stir well.
  4. Spread granola in a thin layer on ungreased cookie sheet (I often use 2 cookie sheets).
  5. Bake for 40 minutes, stirring after 20.
  6. Let cool, and store in an airtight container.

Chocolate Pudding

I have added a new category Worth Making from Scratch. Of course, others may have different opinions of what is “worth it” in terms of convenience and cost vs. time/energy, but generally speaking I am finding more and more things that taste better, are more healthful, are simple enough to prepare, and are often cheaper when made from scratch. 

Jason wanted some pudding cups for lunch. It has always kind of bothered me that you can find those in the non-refrigerated  aisle — what do they do to the milk that’s supposedly in there? This pudding, adapted a bit from More with Less, one of my very favorite cookbooks, is cheap, delicious, and, for me, a perfect example of something worth the (minimal) effort.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup (or less) honey or sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 cups milk  (0r almond, soy, or coconut milk)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon butter or ghee (do not use if using coconut milk)

Directions:

  1. Combine honey, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and milk in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat until thickened, stirring (almost) constantly.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and butter until combined.
  3. Serve warm or cold.