Caramel Corn

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Recipe courtesy of Joe Pastry.com

For baseball fans, a perfectly manicured infield, the crisp crack of a bat, and the aroma of roasted peanuts make a trip to the ballpark seem magical.  If you have ever been to a major league baseball game, you will understand it when I say that the sights, sounds, and smells are a treat for the senses.

Although some things are exclusive to the ballpark, you can replicate the feel of being at the game during this upcoming World Series by serving some of your favorite ballpark foods. Of course there has to be hot dogs or brats, and maybe some peanuts, but no baseball game experience is complete without Cracker Jacks. You know what I’m talking about…during the seventh inning stretch when everyone sings Take me out to the ball game…those Cracker Jacks.

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This Caramel Corn tastes just like that old familiar favorite.  Check out Joe’s website, he does a much better job of explaining things than I do, plus he has lots of other great recipes.  Add some raw veggies to munch on during the game and you’ll have all your bases covered…sorry, I couldn’t help myself.  If you are feeling frisky, you can even bake some baseball cookies.  I used this recipe and frosted them with Poured Cookie Icing.  Enjoy!

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Ingredients

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1cup salted peanuts
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Directions

1. Toss a few kernels in a 3-4 quart saucepan with the 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil and put the pan over medium-high heat.  After you have a couple of pops, it is time to add the other kernels.

2. Add the rest of the corn.  Cover the pan and leave it slightly open, allowing the steam to escape. Shake it back and forth over the burner to help the un-popped kernels to settle to the bottom where it’s hotter.

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3. Spray a large heat-proof bowl or large cake pan with non-stick spray and add the peanuts and popcorn.  Stir, and place the bowl or pan in the oven at around 175°F.

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4. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of a 2-3 quart saucepan, or use an instant read thermometer.  Combine all the ingredients except for the baking soda and salt in the saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and swirl until the butter melts.  Allow it to sit and boil until it reaches 300°F., about 20 minutes.

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5. Combine your soda and salt in a bowl and stir to combine; set aside.

6. Lay out a piece of parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.

7. When the caramel hits 300°F., remove from the heat and stir in the salt and baking soda mixture.

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According to Joe-“It will start growing. This is the part where you’ll wonder if you haven’t made a big, big mistake because this stuff looks downright weird. However there’s method to the baking soda madness, since it’s creating an ultra-light caramel that will lay on extremely thin. It will keep growing and probably fill up the pan. Stir it down to contain the reaction”.

8. Remove the popcorn from the oven and pour the hot caramel over top. Toss the caramel corn mixture with two wooden spoons.  Be careful, it is extremely hot.

9. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the mixture out of the bowl and place it on the prepared greased parchment paper, separating the mixture into small pieces.  Allow to cool, then store in plastic zip-type bags.

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*Soak your caramel pot and pan or bowl in water for at least 20 minutes before you even attempt to clean them.

Countdown to Football Season

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Back, Back, Back, Back Ribs by Chris Berman and Texas Caviar by Gale Sayers

Adapted from The NFL Family Cookbook, published by SMITHMARK Publishers, New York, NY

Well it is finally here, that time of year that all of us sports fans live for, football season.  College football kicks off next week, and the NFL kicks off the week after that.  Whether you are tailgating, watching a game with friends, or screaming at the tv with 100 other patrons in a sports bar, one thing is for sure…there will be food.

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If you are planning a football party, know this; there must be food before the game, snacks for during the game, something special brought out at half time, and a little dessert to nibble on throughout the day.  I always try to make as much food ahead of time as possible and have Mark operate the grill so that I’m free to watch all the pre-game stuff, and visit with the guests.

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Two of the following recipes come from The NFL Family Cookbook.  The first recipe is Back, Back, Back, Back Ribs from Chris Berman, the humorous ESPN sportscaster who is so well-known for giving the players funny nicknames in his broadcasts.  The second recipe is Texas Caviar from the legendary NFL Hall of Fame Running Back, Gale Sayers.

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Ribs and Brats, along with the Pasta Salad are great for eating before the game.  Texas Caviar with tortilla chips can be munched on all during the game, along with a veggie tray that includes your favorite dip.  Make some Chili in a crock pot and have all the fixin’s (shredded cheese, chopped onion, crackers, macaroni, etc.) ready before the game starts, then at halftime you can serve a great Chili Bar with very little effort.  Peanut Butter Cookies and Buckeyes are yummy at any time and will be gone before you know it, so make extras.  Here’s hoping your team has a great season…and Go Bucs!  Enjoy!

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Football Party Menu

  • Ribs
  • Brats
  • Pasta Salad
  • Halftime Chili Bar
  • Texas Caviar
  • Veggie Tray
  • Peanut Butter Cookies
  • Buckeyes

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Baby Back Ribs Ingredients

6 pounds baby back pork ribs (each rack is about 3 pounds)

32 oz. ketchup

1/3 onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup brown sugar

3 Tablespoons lemon juice

3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 Tablespoon Liquid Smoke

1 Tablespoon Louisiana pepper sauce

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Directions

1. Set up your gas grill for indirect cooking with the setting on low.  Cook the racks of ribs for about 2 1/2 hours.

2. After 1 1/2 hours prepare the BBQ sauce. Bring the sauce to a low boil and then simmer for about 1 hour.

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3.  Brush the BBQ sauce on the ribs and cook over a medium, direct heat for about 5 minutes. Flip the ribs, brush on some more BBQ sauce, and cook on the other side over the direct heat for about 5 minutes or until the ribs are browned to your liking.  Keep basting the ribs with sauce and move them to the back of the grill ( indirect) if necessary to allow the sauce to cook in to the ribs.

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Texas Caviar Ingredients

2-14 oz. cans black-eyed peas, drained

1 -15 oz. can white hominy, drained

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

4 green onions, chopped

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1/2 large green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped (I used the tame jalapenos)

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped or snipped (cilantro would work well in this recipe, too)

1 8 oz. bottle Italian dressing

 

Directions

1. In a large bowl, combine the black-eyed peas and hominy.

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2. Add the tomatoes, green onions, and garlic.  Mix well.

3. Add the green pepper and jalapeno peppers, onion and parsley (or cilantro).  Toss well.

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4. Pour the salad dressing over the vegetables and toss gently to coat well.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

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5. Drain, and serve with tortilla chips.

Buckeyes

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Recipe courtesy of Victory Postcards and Souvenirs

A brand new football season is right around the corner.  In honor of our beloved Ohio State, the reigning National Champions, I present to you another kind of Buckeye…this one is made of chocolate and peanut butter.  Buckeyes are the traditional candy of our state and you can’t host an Ohio State party without them (nor would you want to).  They are perfect for tailgating and so addicting that you can never eat just one.  Peanut butter and chocolate…what’s not to love?

These go together pretty quickly and you only need 4 ingredients.  This recipe makes a ton of Buckeyes, which is good if you have a house full of taste testers, but dangerous if you are by yourself.  You want the peanut butter mixture to be quite stiff, so a stand mixer works the best for this recipe.  As you can see from my photo, I did not allow enough chocolate to drip off of the peanut butter balls before I placed them on the waxed paper.  This caused the chocolate to puddle underneath as it hardened.  My taste testers did not seem to mind this, however they don’t look as pretty with a big honkin’ chocolate pedestal attached to the bottom of them.  Be a little more patient than I was and yours will come out just right, Go Bucs! Enjoy!

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Ingredients

3 cups creamy peanut butter

1 1/2 sticks softened butter

2 pounds powdered sugar

16 oz. chocolate, melted

 

Directions

1. Mix together the peanut butter, butter and powdered sugar.  Form into small balls.

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2. Using a toothpick, dip peanut butter balls into chocolate until almost covered, leaving a little of the peanut butter mixture exposed on top.  Allow excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl.  Place dipped balls on waxed paper.  Refrigerate.

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Bailey’s Irish Cream Truffles

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Recipe courtesy of Cosmopolitan magazine, published by Hearst Communications Inc.

Back when I had my first apartment (circa 1978), Cosmopolitan magazine was known as the modern girl’s guide to love and sex.  These truffles, meant for sharing with your lover, are easy to make and taste scrumptious, just don’t go crazy with the orange rind, or it will over power the flavor of the truffles.  Enjoy!

 

 Ingredients

1 pound plus 2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (I used half semi-sweet and half bitterweet chocolate)

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream

1 teaspoon freshly grated orange rind

1/4 cup cocoa, sifted

 

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Directions

1.Chop chocolate into small pieces and place in a medium-sized bowl; set aside.

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2. In a saucepan, heat cream and Bailey’s Irish Cream to a boil.  Pour boiling cream over chocolate and stir to combine and melt the chocolate.  Blend in the orange rind.

 

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3. Chill until mixture sets, about 1 hour.  Roll into small balls and dust with the cocoa.

 

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4. This mixture makes a lot of truffles, more than you will need for a dinner party.  Treat your co-workers, your kid’s teachers, your friends, etc.  Otherwise you will end up eating them all.  After the chocolate and creams are blended smooth (before it is refrigerated), you have ganache.  The glossy confection looks very elegant poured over a layered cake.