Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Where I've Been (Recipe: Toffee & Peanut Popcorn)

My husband walked in the other day wondering what I was doing.  "Eh, posting on the blog,"  I said.  He followed with, "Wow!  You haven't done that in months."  Well, not exactly months but I sure have been posting less, significantly less as of late.

April was a beautiful month and it seemed like I spent the month outside.  May has flown by and I really don't have an excuse for my two measly end of the month posts.  I have noticed, though, that my blog preferences have changed.  I do visit the old haunts, but not that often anymore.  I have fallen in love with some lifestyle, design, and crafty blogs but mostly I've grown uninterested.  *GASP*  I can't believe I just admitted that!
So since I haven't been around, here is what I've been up to...

Eating:  Toffee Peanut Popcorn...I am HOOKED
Drinking:  Lots of water...more than I usually do
Reading:  Wicked...and I am struggling!
WatchingMad Men & Person Of Interest...POI may be my new favorite
ListeningKeane, Strangeland
Guilty PleasureOne Direction, though I'm forced to listen to it usually-I quite enjoy the boy band.
Needing:  Organize, Clean, throw a garage sale.

Toffee Peanut Popcorn was one of the features on the "pop bar" at my sister's shower.  I had made it weeks before to take to the girls working inventory at work.  As my boss put it, "Who made this crack, you?"  Yes, indeed I did.  And I promise you, its not uninteresting.

Toffee Peanut Popcorn
yield:  8 cups

1/2 cup popcorn kernels, freshly popped
1 cup lightly salted peanuts

1 1/4 cups golden brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.  Generously butter a heavy large baking or roasting pan.  Mix warm popcorn and 1/2 cup peanuts in prepared pan and set aside.  Reserve remaining peanuts.
  2. Combine brown sugar, butter and corn syrup in heavy medium saucepan.  Whisk over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves and butter melts.  Attach clip-on candy thermometer to side of pan.  Increase heat to high and boil without stirring until thermometer registers 255 degrees F, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush, about 4 minutes.  Remove from heat.  
  3. Stir in extracts, salt, and baking soda (mixture will bubble).  Add remaining peanuts.
  4. Gradually pour syrup over popcorn mixture, gently stirring to coat popcorn and nuts evenly.
  5. Bake until caramel feels dry, stirring frequently, about 1 hour & 20 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Using metal spatula, scrape mixture from bottom of pan to loosen.  Cool completely in pan.  (Can be prepared 1 week ahead  Store in airtight container at room temperature)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ready To Pop Baby Shower

This past weekend I helped host a baby shower for my younger sister.  The theme was "Ready to Pop!", which was such an adorable idea.  My sister's high school/college friend, Candice, made all the invitations, the banner, food labels, diaper cake (anything crafty-can't you tell).  I oversaw the menu and made the food.
Ironically, Candice and I had the same idea for the theme, living hundreds of miles apart and without even having begun preparations.  I had been making toffee peanut popcorn one Sunday afternoon and within a moment I thought of a "pop" themed baby shower.  Then I checked my facebook and she had messaged me the idea "Ready to Pop" (thanks Pinterest).  I was so excited that we were on the same page and had started to work out a menu in my head.

So what was on our "Pop" theme menu???
Pop Bar
  • Candy Jars-glass canisters filled with Ring Pops, Blow Pops & Pop Rocks
  • Popcorn Bar-Homemade Toffee Peanut Popcorn & Cherry Vanilla Popcorn (store bought)
  • Red Velvet Cake Pops
  • Soda Pop (I have a love for Jones Soda that no one can break)
Guest of Honor
Food Bar
  • Chicken Salad in Phyllo Cups
  • Pasta Salad
  • Cheese Ball with assorted crackers
  • Fruit Platter with Almond Dip
  • Vegetable Platter with Ranch Dip
I loved the idea of the Pop Bar.  We provided gift bags so guests could fill them full with candy, cake balls and popcorn as they left.  I will be posting some recipes in the following posts, so keep an eye out!

The Game
There always is some type of shower game to be held.  I'm not a fan of shower games, but I thought of one that wouldn't involve me or any other guest and be quite entertaining.  My mom, sister and I came up with a dozen questions regarding family birth dates, weight, times, etc.  Then we asked my sister the questions and for each wrong answer she had to stuff her mouth with bubble gum.  By the end of the game friends were laughing not only at her answers but also because she had 10 pieces of Hubba Bubba in her mouth!

A few questions we asked her:
What is the name of the hospital where you were born?
What was your birth weight?
Your nephew and a cousin share the same birthday, who are they?
An uncle has the same birthday as Popoo (our grandpa), who is that uncle?

Of course you won't have the same circumstances as above, but you can always tailor the questions to your family!