Monday, December 22, 2008

Snack Break...

Well, I do have several creations to post, but I'm taking a little break to share some great tasty ways to gain 50 lbs. this holiday season :) These recipes are absolute favorites wherever I've taken them -- when they make it out of the house, that is!

I have to give credit to a good friend J. Jarvis for the Caramel Corn recipe. The marshmallow recipe comes from my Grandmother -- and I remember making these occasionally with my mother, usually at Easter time. The Spudnut recipe I *think* came from my other Grandmother. She was not a recipe sharer, so she's probably rolling in her grave right now, but it's just too good to keep to oneself!

Caramel Corn:
popped popcorn*
1 cube margarine (I usually use only 6 Tbsp. That makes it less oily and slightly healthier, LOL)
1 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp soda
1 tsp. vanilla

Put margarine, sugar, corn syrup, and salt, in a medium sized microwave safe bowl. Microwave about 3 minutes, or until it has boiled about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.
Stir in soda and vanilla.
Put popped corn in a large microwave safe bowl, or into a large paper grocery bag (make sure you don't have any receipts left over in there ;)) Fold over the top of the bag.
Pour the caramel over the popcorn and stir well.
Microwave on regular power for 1 1/2 minutes. Stir well.
Microwave an additional 1 1/2 minutes. Stir again.
Let cool so you don't burn your tongue! **

*Pour over a batch of plain popped corn. I use 1/2 c. kernels, popped on the stove. Air popped works well too. I even know some people like "light butter" microwave popcorn.

**For a festive or special twist I spread the finished caramel corn on a couple of cookie sheets (it's easier to clean up if you put waxed or parchment paper on the sheets before spreading out the caramel corn). Then put a few handfuls of you favorite strength of chocolate chips (I like Special Dark) in a freezer zip-top bag. Microwave, squishing the bag every 15 seconds, until they are melted. Then clip one small corner off the bag and squeeze out over the popcorn. If you have some available, then use white chips or white almond bark and do the same thing.

Homemade Marshmallows:
1 envelope unflavored gelatin (knox brand is by the Jell-o at the grocery store)
1/4 c. cold water
1 c. sugar
1/3 c. hot water
1 egg white

Soften gelatin in cold water and set aside.
Combine sugar and hot water. Cook to 240 F. (soft ball)
While sugar syrup cools slightly, beat egg whites till stiff.
Slowly add syrup to beaten egg whites beating all the time.
Add softened gelatin and continue beating till marshmallow starts to hold its shape.
Pour into molds* and let set.
Dip in chocolate**
Eat as is -- or float one on top of your hot chocolate!

*Fill two 9x13 pans about halfway with flour or cornstarch.
Using some shape (an egg in the shell, a christmas tree ornament... any simple shape that will leave an impression in the powder) make impressions in the flour or cornstarch. This makes your molds. I used a star shaped ornament off the Christmas tree (washed and dried, of course)
And easy and tidier way to fill the molds is to spoon the marshmallow into a large freezer zip-top bag. Cut the corner off so you have about a 1/2" or so opening. Squeeze the marshmallow into the molds.

**Marshmallow shapes will be easier to dip if they have set in a cool place up to 2 days. They may be dipped in regular dipping chocolate, or in melted chocolate chips thinned with paraffin wax to a dipping consistency.

1/4 c. shortening
1 1/3 tsp. yeast
1 lg. egg
1/2 tsp. mace (or you can use lemon extract)
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. prepared mashed potatoes (this is what gives the incredible texture)
1 c. lukewarm milk
3/4 tsp. salt
3 c. flour

Mix into soft dough. Let rise, punch down, the let rise again (double in size each time). Roll out to about 1/2" thick. Cut with a donut cutter -- or a ring from a quart jar, or whatever you have on hand. Either cut out a donut hole in the center or just make a slit with a knife and stretch slightly to leave a hole in the center.
Rise until fluffy and light.
Drop into hot oil, raised side down. Dip in glaze while still warm.

1 lb. powdered sugar (2 1/2 - 3 c.)
1 Tbsp. butter
little vanilla if desired
enough water to make a thin paste

- The dough can be prepared in a bread maker. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.

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