Pumpkin Muffins

In which my children consume mass quantities of muffins.

If you accidentally used a big can of pumpkin while making the pumpkin pies I posted about on Tuesday, you probably have a some leftover pumpkin sitting in a plastic container in your fridge and are trying to figure out what you want to do with it.  Let me help you.  Pumpkin muffins.  DSCN3409.JPGI have made many, many versions of pumpkin muffins over the years.  They are one of my kids’ all time favorite treats.  We cheat and substitute the raisins with chocolate chips.  My kids tend to not prefer raisins.  And there are only so many times a week that I can put them into something before someone starts to complain.  (Wait until we get into the sour cream raisin pie and the raisin sauce and raisin dumplings.) They never have the same reaction to chocolate chips for some strange reason.

 

I caught the little monkey girl at the counter multiple times with a butter knife in her hand popping the muffins out of the pan.  There is something so enticing about the fun color, the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg, and the meltiness of the chocolate chips.  When the boys were little, they ate nearly an entire dozen for breakfast one morning.DSCN3410.JPGYou get what I’m saying, right?  There are lots of reasons to make pumpkin muffins other than leftover pumpkin.  You know, like you like good food, you are hungry, a good song comes on the radio and you want to dance in the kitchen, but feel like you should be productive at the same time, or you want to reward your husband for investigating the gross dead animal smell in the basement (and want to cover up the smell).  DSCN3414Whatever the reason…or for none at all.  Make a batch of pumpkin muffins with chocolate chips.  Leave the raisins for other things.  Pumpkin Muffins

 

 

Caramel Corn

In which I am “pop”arazzi.

Sometimes I make recipes and they sit in my backlog languishing there.  Sometimes it’s because the photos aren’t great.  Sometimes it’s because the recipe wasn’t that great.  Sometimes it’s because it’s so similar to something else that I feel like we all might need a little space.  Sometimes I’m just not inspired, or feel like I should remake it.  Then there are other times where I make a recipe and immediately want to share it because it was so amazing…or in this case because I downloaded the pictures from my camera and realized that my photos are WAY better than the recipe.DSCN3186.JPGThe table runner was one of my Grandma’s.  It seems seasonally appropriate and it makes me smile.DSCN3191.JPGWe air-popped rainbow colored popcorn for the popcorn.DSCN3188.JPGThe teacup is an amazing piece of Wedgwood that I found at Goodwill with 2 saucers for less than $3.  They matched another saucer I found at a different thrift shop for 60 cents.

The caramel color of this is so light because it uses white sugar and light corn syrup.  Despite getting up to temperature, nothing caramelized enough to get to that point of golden we normally see in caramel corn. This recipe was fine.  It was what it was, but seriously, check out those photos.

Caramel Corn

Caramel Corn

1/2 cup corn syrup
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp butter
1 tsp soda

Boil the first 5 ingredients together until 290 degrees.  Add baking soda and mix well.  Pour over popped corn and stir until well coated.

Halloween Treats: Popcorn Balls

“John, do we have any pumpkin left in the freezer?” I called from my secure place on the couch.  Unless it had somehow turned into something that resembled apples, he was pretty sure we didn’t.  “Maybe downstairs?” he suggested.  I decided that was WAY too much effort.  Instead, I just scrolled through all of the recipes searching for a perfect Halloween treat.  We were about to have a group of tweens and early teens descend upon our house for pumpkin carving and bonfire, so I figured it was the perfect time to test out one of 4 popcorn ball recipes.

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My friend’s mom made the pumpkin in the background. It’s handmade paper.

Does anyone even still eat popcorn balls?  I remember getting the ones as a kid, they were rock hard, but at the same time were sort of like Styrofoam.  Maybe making my own would be better.
img_2865Now for the scary stuff before we get into this too far.  Sugar syrup is HOT and STICKY.  This means, if you are not careful, not only could you burn yourself, but it’s hard to remove the heat from your skin quickly.  If you don’t remove the old maids (unpopped kernels) from the popcorn, you may run into some pain.  If you have dental work, the syrup will harden and stick in your dental work.img_2867

The mechanics of this are simple. Pop the corn and have it in a large bowl. Boil the syrup ingredients together until they reach the hard ball stage, 260 degrees. Pour the syrup over the popped corn and mix thoroughly.  Before the syrup becomes hard, but after it’s cool enough to handle, grab handfuls of the popcorn and pack it like you would a snowball.  If you have never packed a snowball, then maybe like a really large meatball.  If you haven’t done that either, then I’ll explain.  First you need to stand on one foot.  Now take that other foot and slowly place it behind your head.  As you are spinning in a circle, put enough popcorn in one hand to fill it.  Then take your other hand and place it on top of the hand with the popcorn in it, covering the popcorn.  Now, as you say the magic words, “Pop, pop, until you stop, stop.  I’ve got to hop, hop” pat your hands together.  Magically a ball will form.  (and if you do this, please post a video in the comments)

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This photo was really just to show off the needle felted acorns I made.
Popcorn Balls (4)

Popcorn Balls

1 cup Karo Syrup (Corn syrup)
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1 t. vinegar

Boil together until the temperature reaches 260 degrees (hard ball stage).  Add 2 TB butter, Stir until butter has melted, Pour over about 4 quarts of popcorn (about 2 batches in our air popper).  Mix until coated and form into balls.