Tag Archives: popcorn

cracker jack title

Here it is, as promised!  I'm really excited to share this Friday Recipe with you for a few reasons:

  1. It's a Carey-original recipe.
  2. Actually, that first statement is only partly true.  It's really my mom's recipe, which is another reason why I'm thrilled to share it with you. I just added a tiny twist to make it mine.
  3. This is a super-simple recipe and if you  have young cooks in the kitchen this would be a perfect recipe to start them out on.  I learned this recipe when I was in Jr. High and my mom was my home economics teacher.  I wasn't allowed to call her "mom" in class.  That's a whole other weird story.
  4. The ingredient list is short and cheap.
  5. To put it plainly, it's good.  Really good.

cracker jack handwritten recipe

I have very few memories of my mother cooking with pre-packaged, processed foods.  She preferred to make things from scratch, and she could.  She was a brilliant cook.  Ironically, although she was very health conscious (very!), she was fine with sweet treats that were homemade in our kitchen and we made this recipe for Homemade Cracker Jack often.

It's easy enough to whip up on a weeknight after dinner and still maintain a feeling of health because the ingredients are very natural.  You can easily increase or decrease the size of your batch, making it a perfect party snack.

Are you ready?  Let's get started!  The full recipe will be at the end of this post, but I'll walk you through the finer points:

cracker jack pour

This recipe starts out simple enough... pop some popcorn.   You can use air popped corn, microwave popcorn (natural, not flavored) or you can do the stovetop method, which is my personal favorite.  You are going to need about 2 quarts of popcorn.  Don't know how much that is?  It is roughly 1/2 cup unpopped kernels but you can also use a 2 qt sauce pan to measure your corn after it is popped. This recipe is casual, easy-going, forgiving.  Don't get too hung up on getting exactly 2 quarts of popped corn, just estimate.  All will be well, I promise.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat combine the honey, butter and my addition, molasses.  The molasses is optional, my mom didn't use it.  But I think it adds one more delectable layer of flavor.

After those ingredients are melted and combined add the peanuts.  Some of you observant ones are looking at the above photo and thinking, "Those don't look like peanuts!"  You caught me!  It turns out, I was all out of peanuts so I grabbed some almond slivers.  This proves my point that this recipe is so easy, so forgiving.  You can swap the peanuts for your favorite nut or better yet, use a combination of nuts.  You could even leave the nuts out or use pumpkin seeds & sunflower seeds instead.

Pour the melted honey-butter mixture over the popcorn and then using your hands or two spoons lightly toss the popcorn so the syrup and nuts are evenly distributed.

cracker jack tray

Slide the gooey popcorn onto a shallow baking sheet.  I line mine with parchment so the cleanup is a snap. Spread the  popcorn across the pan in a single, even layer.  You observant ones have caught me again, "That doesn't look like a single layer!"  Do as I say, not as I do!    My pan was a little too small.  But you can get around that non-problem by either giving the popcorn a little stir halfway through OR bake it in 2 batches.

Into a preheated 350 degree oven it goes for 10-15 minutes.  Keep an eye on it!  It will be very sad if it burns because there is no salvaging burnt cracker jack.  It will turn golden brown as it bakes, pull it out before it starts turning dark brown.

This part is important: when you take it out of the oven you must let it cool!  You will be greatly tempted to start snacking on your cracker jack as soon as it comes out of the oven.  It will smell nutty and sweet, glistening from the butter and honey.  Resist!  You will blister your fingers and taste buds, I speak from experience.  Also, the popcorn might appear to be a little soggy when it first comes out of the oven.  Be patient dear friend, you will be rewarded.

cracker jack finished

After about 15 minutes of relaxing on the counter the popcorn will be nearly dry and cool enough to touch.  Slide your cracker jack into a big bowl, give it a little toss to break up any big clumps and enjoy!

It's crunchy and sweet.  It's salty and nutty.  It's addicting.  I really hope you will give this recipe a try and let me know what you think!

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Homemade Cracker Jack

by accordingtocarey.com

1/4 cup salted butter (1/2 stick)

1/4 cup honey

1 Tablespoon molasses (optional)

2 quarts popped corn, in a large bowl

3/4 cup peanuts (can substitute other nuts, seeds or leave out completely)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Melt the butter, honey and molasses in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Mix in the nuts.  Pour mixture evenly over the popcorn and toss lightly to coat the popcorn evenly with the butter mixture.  Spread the sticky popcorn onto a shallow baking sheet in a single layer.

Bake the popcorn for  10-15 minutes, giving it a stir halfway through.  Remove the popcorn from the oven when it has turned golden brown.  Let it cool on the counter or stove top for 15 minutes before transferring to a large bowl.  Gently toss to break up any clumps and enjoy!

1 Comment

Source: shutterbean.com via Jean on Pinterest

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Snacks!  I have a hard time resisting snacks.  I prefer snacks to actual meals.  Little bites of deliciousness...all...day...long.  Don't judge me, I work out.

If you have been following accordingtocarey.com for a long time (like, over a year) then you might remember this post about my popcorn method.  But Tracy from Shutterbean.com puts a new spin on flavored popcorn by melting coconut oil and blending that with all kinds of lovely spices before coating the popped kernels.  Brill.

Paprika, oregano, cumin, lime... all favorites of mine.  And with all that flavor I can almost justify leaving the butter off the popcorn.  Maybe.

You can read the whole recipe here at shutterbean.com.  And while I'm talking about it, have you listened to the Joy The Baker Podcast with, uh... Joy The Baker and Tracy from Shutterbean.com?  It's a "Seinfeld-esque" show, not really about anything in particular, just whatever is on their minds.   Listen to one and if you're intrigued, go to the very first and catch up. There are so many inside jokes that started back in the earlier podcasts but get funnier and funnier over time.

I have an exciting weekend planned of reorganizing my storage unit.  I know, how is one to endure so much happiness? I'll try but I hope you have something infinitely more fun planned, enjoy your weekend!!

3 Comments

Mmmmmm, popcorn!  It's salty, it's buttery (at least at our house it was), it's crunchy and it's cheap!  My Grandpa Dee looooved popcorn. 

Ok, Grandpa Dee looooved food, but he really was especially fond of popcorn.  It was a nearly nightly ritual for him to make a batch of popcorn and  put it in the special wooden popcorn bowl (which was really a large wooden salad bowl but come to think of it, I don't remember him eating many salads).  Then he would drizzle (or douse) the hot popcorn with melted butter and a generous sprinkling of salt.  He (and the rest of us) snacked on that bowl of popcorn all night.  And the next day.  That's right, the same bowl of popcorn with melted butter would sit out over night and people would graze off of it until there was nothing but the unpopped kernels at the bottom of the bowl, studded into the remains of the melted butter.  Until later that next night when a new batch was made.

Today, when most people want to snack on popcorn, they go to the pantry, throw a bag of pre-packaged popcorn in the microwave and 3-4 minutes later, voila!   But growing up on the farm, we did not own a microwave. My mother was fiercely opposed to them, for reasons I will not get into,  so we made our popcorn 1 of 2 ways:

1.  The air popper. We had various models over the years but they all basically work the same way- by heating the kernels in a chamber that spins them around, keeping them from burning.  Or...
2.  On the stove top in a big pot. You drizzle in some oil, scatter a handful of popcorn in the bottom and turn up the heat.  Put the lid on and shake the pot every minute or so to keep the kernals from burning.  Soon, you will hear the plink-plink-plink of kernels bursting in the pot.  I tell ya, it is music to my ears and it takes me all the way back to my grandparent's kitchen.  This was and is to this day, my preferred method of popping corn both for taste and fun-factor.

As a matter of fact, I don't even like microwave popcorn, it tastes like fake-food to me.  And it's no wonder, here are some of the ingredients found in an average bag of pre-packaged microwave butter popcorn:  partially hydrogenated soybean oil, artificial flavor, color added, propyl gallate....huh?!  I just want popcorn, oil/butter & salt!

But that doesn't mean you can't use your microwave to make tasty, healthy popcorn!  There IS a way, and it's super easy with no cleanup!  Are you ready????  Here it is:

Take 2 brown paper lunch bags, open them up, one inside the other.  This is to prevent oil leakage.  Add approximately 1/4 cup popcorn kernels to the bags along with 1-2 teaspoons olive oil (or vegetable oil) and 1 teaspoon salt.  Gently shake the bag to coat the kernels.  Fold the bag down twice to close and use tape to secure (some say it's ok to use a staple but it makes me nervous).  Microwave on high for approximately 3-4 minutes, keeping an ear out for when the popping slows.  When there are approximately 5 seconds in between pops, it's done!*


Now, if you want to get creative you can add all sorts of flavors and spice mixes to your bag for even more flavor.  A few I like:  herbs de Provence, chipotle powder, cinnamon & superfine sugar, italian seasoning, etc.  Just add a pinch of your spice mixture to the bag AFTER it has popped (I learned that lesson the hard way, burnt spices- blech!)) and shake to coat.

If you want to take the low fat route, you can omit the oil or just use a couple shots of cooking spray.  Enjoy!

*recipe adapted from http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/plain-brown-popper-recipe/index.html