Cracker Jack caramel popcorn for Halloween and a Pumpkin cheeseball
By far my most requested recipe. The taste reminds me of the Cracker Jack popcorn I loved as a kid. (Remember the fun “toy” in the box?). The recipe uses mixed nuts (or try almonds or even macadamia nuts). If you’re making this for kids, use regular peanuts (salted or not). If kids have peanut allergies, leave nuts out. If you’re in a big hurry, buy the corn already popped. Add some dried cranberries or cherries after the popcorn is cool – adds color and nutrition.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
15-16 cups plain popped corn – this is about 2 bags of microwave popcorn
2-3 cups mixed nuts – I like salted
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups dark brown sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 generous cup dried cranberries or cherries – optional
To avoid sticking, use vegetable spray to coat both inside of large bowl, cookie sheets and spoons that you will use. Put popcorn and nuts in bowl. Set aside. Over medium heat, bring to a boil everything but the soda. Boil 5 minutes. Add baking soda and stir. Pour over popcorn mixture, stirring well to coat. Pour onto 2 or 3 greased cookie sheets. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes to distribute coating. Let cool for coating to harden. Add cranberries and then store at room temperature, covered.
Deb Goulding’s Bourbon bacon caramel popcorn
Check out my other blog Cooking with Rita at Cincinnati.com for this awesome recipe, along with Halloween Hash and instructions for keeping the Jack O Lantern perky.
Here’s a cheese ball that’s a bit different but still easy to make.
8 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4 oz cream cheese, softened
4 oz chive & onion cream cheese
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Cayenne pepper powder to taste
1 broccoli stalk
Combine everything but broccoli until blended. Shape into ball and chill until mixture is firm enough to shape into a pumpkin. Smooth entire outer surface with a knife. Make vertical grooves, using fingertips. Cut stalk to resemble stem and press into top of cheese ball. Serve with crackers.