Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Candy Caramel Corn


Candy corn and peanuts are one of my favorite fall snacking combinations.     I'm not sure why I limit it to fall.  Candy corn is, in fact, sold in stores year round.   It's just tucked in small bags in the candy aisle rather than having front of the store product placement.    

Growing up, I didn't care for caramel corn.   Just regular popcorn with real butter, please.   Commercial caramel corn still doesn't do it for me, but if it's homemade or from a small local popcorn place....that's a different story.

Last year at this time, the movers had already come to my house in Colorado and packed up all my stuff.   I was in the midst of goodbye parties and the install of new carpet.   Guess which was more fun?   

Practicing our shakas
As I've mentioned before, since there isn't really a change of seasons, it's hard to switch gears into fall mode.  To get in the Halloween spirit, I went to the Haunted Haiku Hike on Sunday.   I've never been on a haunted hike before....though  I have been to something  creatively called Terror in the Corn. 

My list of traditional fall type activities so far this year:  
1) shopping for a Halloween costume             
2) a haunted hike  
3) making this  popcorn

What You Need

10 cups of popped popcorn
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup butter
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup salted peanuts, divided 
1 cup candy corn....be honest, you can use as much as you want

What You Do

Line two 9x13 baking pans with foil coated with cooking spray.   Preheat oven to 200.
Divide the popped popcorn between the two pans as well as the peanuts.  

In a medium saucepan combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, cream of tartar and salt.   Heat on medium until boiling, stirring consistently.    Allow caramel to boil for 5 minutes.   Remove from heat, and add the baking soda.    Whisk until fluffy.     Pour half of the caramel over each pan of popcorn and use a spatula to toss and coat so that most kernels have a little caramel on them.  

Bake for one hour, stirring every 20 minutes.      When done baking, turn out onto waxed paper and sprinkle the candy corn.   It won't readily stick to the popcorn, so you  may want to push it a little bit. Let the popcorn cool and break into smaller pieces if necessary.       Store in an airtight container.

Other Popcorn You Might Like to Snack On

Thin Mint Popcorn
Macadamia Nut Caramel Corn (with no corn syrup)
Peanut Butter Snicker Corn

What's your favorite fall snack combination?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Hint of Spice Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Last weekend I was inspired to make two different kinds of cookies (here's the other one).   Cookies cannot stay at home, so these went straight away to work to be shared with all and sundry.    Please note the plate in this picture....that's the only fall color I'll be seeing this year other than on Facebook.   It's also the only fall decoration that I have at all.   So it's possible you'll be seeing it again.    
It's hard to believe it's mid-October already.    Halloween is a big thing in Lahaina, one of the biggest parties in the world, or so I'm told.   My family is coming for Thanksgiving this year and then then Surfing Santa will be back up on display in Ka'anapali and a new year will be on the way!  
I love oatmeal cookies, but not oatmeal raisin.   I've always swapped the raisins for chocolate chips, and these cookies are no exception.    A little cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice gives you a hint of fall flavors.  
Sit back with a cup  of coffee and a cookie.  Enjoy October before it slips away.
What You Need
2 sticks butter or margarine, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 pkg (3.4 oz) vanilla pudding mix
2 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup dark chocolate chips

What You Do

Preheat oven to 350° and line your cookie sheet with a silicone baking mat.

In a large bowl combine butter/margarine with both granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat on medium speed for several minutes until well mixed.   Add eggs one at a time.   Then add the vanilla and the maple syrup.

In a separate bowl, combine all your dry ingredients:  flour, pudding mix, soda, salt, and spices.   Slowly add to the wet mixture and beat to combine.  Add the chocolate chips and walnuts and either beat at slow speed or stir in with a spoon.

I used a small cookie scoop and made about 3 dozen cookies.    Bake 11-12 minutes if you like soft oatmeal cookies.   Allow cookies to cool a few minutes before removing them to a wire rack.

Recipe slightly adapted from Beyond Frosting 

Meanwhile in Maui...
actually Oahu....

Last week I flew to Oahu for a conference.    Oahu is smaller than Maui with a significantly bigger population.   I read an article this year that referred to the traffic in Honolulu as soul-sucking.  Oahu actually has three interstate highways, H1, H2 and H3. I was only there for a little over 24 hours, so didn't have time to explore Waikiki very much other than note that there are lots of people and an ABC store every 20 feet.   When I checked into the hotel, they had a farmer's market in the lobby that was awesome.   

Market time!
Mango stuffed malasada
Waikiki beach sunset
Any recommendations the next time I'm back on Oahu with more time?  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sweet and Salty Compost Cookies

The good news is that Hurricane Ana has veered away and is not making landfall in Hawaii.   However, the effects of her journey through the ocean have brought us a gray and rainy day. Perfect for hanging out guilt free inside and being kind of  very lazy.    The kind of lazy where you drink your souvenir Door County Coffee and eat a slice of pie.   Legitimate breakfast, right?  

Since moving to Hawaii, I'm more likely to go out for shave ice than ice cream.   However....my favorite ice cream spot on Front Street, Ono Gelato, has a deck on the back overlooking the ocean.   And they sell these delicious cookies called Compost Cookies.  I don't know what all is in them, but it does include potato chips.   This recipe that had some sweet and salty going on already and potato chips were a logical addition.   

Last weekend I made two different kinds of cookies and took them to straight into work on Monday.   Between our employee concierge table and a mandatory manager training, they were gone in no time....with rave reviews.  

What You Need

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1  egg
1/2  teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 - cup stick pretzels, broken into smaller pieces
1/2 cup Ruffles, or other ridged potato chips, broken into smaller pieces1/2 - cup Kraft caramel bits (surprised to find these - specific baking ingredients are hit or miss here in our stores)
1/4 - cup butterscotch chips
1/4 - cup chocolate chips

What You Do
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.    Line your cookie sheet with a silicone baking mat.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar.   Then add the vanilla and the egg.  

In a small bowl combine the salt, baking soda and flour.  Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture. Mix until combined.

Add the pretzel pieces, chips,  caramel bits and chips into the dough and mix together using a spatula.  Use a small cookie scoop (or a big one - your call based on how many cookies you'd like) to put them on your cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 11-12 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Remove from baking sheet and cool completely on a wire rack.   I used a small cookie scoop and got about 27 cookies.      

Recipe slightly adapted from Mommy's Kitchen

Meanwhile in Maui...

There isn't really a feeling of fall here - in fact September and October can be the hottest months of the year as the tradewinds tend to die down.    Last weekend I went Upcountry and hiked the Waihou Spring trail near Makawao.   That's where I found fall.   It was 20 degrees cooler than it was in Lahaina.   The smell of the pine trees and needles.  The sound of  rushing water.   I felt like I could have been hiking in Colorado or Wisconsin.   Amazing.  

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Thai Style Pork Salad

We are a month or so into a weight loss competition at work.   When the contest started, I committed to attending a 5:30am workout class every workday.   I'm not giving up  sweets altogether for three months, but I'm working on making better choices, bringing my own snacks, cutting down on hazelnut lattes, and eating more vegetables.  

By preparing in advance and making dinners that have flavors that I really enjoy, I come home from work with a plan instead of relentless snacking.    As for the contest?   It goes until the Monday after Thanksgiving.   I've lost a pound a week since we started, so if that trend continues, I'll be feeling good when December hits!

What You Need

3/4 cup light coconut milk
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
1 pound pork tenderloin, sliced into bite size pieces
1  tablespoon olive oil
1 cup green beans
*Maui problems - there were no fresh beans when I went to the store, so I had to go with frozen
coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots) for salad base
peanuts, lime and cilantro for garnish
curry powder to taste

What You Do

Combine coconut milk, cilantro, soy sauce, and lime juice in a large bowl.   Add pork and stir to coat.

In a large skilled heat olive oil over medium heat.   Add pork mixture and cook 3-4 minutes.  Add the green beans and cook for another 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Beans should be crisp and pork should be only slightly pink (and if you're not a pink pork person, cook a little longer).

Serve on a bed of 1 cup coleslaw mix.   Garnish with a lime, peanuts, cilantro, and if you want a little kick, a sprinkle of curry powder.

Adapted from the September 2014 issue of Better Homes & Gardens

Meanwhile in Maui...

The sun is setting earlier and earlier,  I caught this on my way home from work on Friday.  
Followed by a glass of wine.   Of course.  

Colorado Cache Chicken Salad


I am a chicken salad skeptic.

Also ham, egg, tuna or any other compound salad that has unknown ingredients mixed in.   I don't know if it was a bad childhood experience with onion or relish or {GASP} both.   If you said chicken salad, I said, "I'll pass."

This recipe is one that changed my mind about chicken salad.  
I think it's because of the curry powder.

A friend was visiting Maui with her family this summer and while I was hanging out with them at their condo she said, "We're having chicken salad for lunch.   Have you every tried the Colorado Cache chicken salad?"

Of course, I have not tried it.   {pause}   But I'm glad I did.

What You Need

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cooked and cubed (I grilled mine)
1/2 cup grapes, sliced in half, 20 whole grapes
1 rib of celery, sliced in half and then coarsely chopped, about a 1/2 cup
1/2 cup pecans

3/4 cup light mayo
2 tablespoons vinegar (I used white)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon curry powder (love Penzeys hot curry)

What You Do

In a large bowl combine cubed chicken, grapes, celery and pecans.      In a small bowl, combine the dressing ingredients.    Pour dressing over chicken mixture and toss to coat.

If you can wait until the next day, or even a few hours for the salad to chill, the flavors sink in even more.   If not, it's still delicious!     Serve on lettuce, in a tortilla or pita, or just eat with a fork.

Adapted from My Mobile Recipes

Meanwhile in Maui...

Yesterday I went to the Maui Fair.   It was really hot, so we spent a lot of time in the shade of the dining tent, surrounded by all the local food vendors.     Every booth is manned by a local organization as a fundraiser.     11 months ago, I wouldn't have known what most of the food was (dry mein,  chow fun, li hing mui pineapple, what?).  

I enjoyed frosty POG,  lumpia, and island ice (pina colada, mango, and li hing mui pineapple).   Not pictured was the teriyaki burger that I devoured on contact.

Growing up, a highlight of the summer was going to the Rock County 4H Fair.   My favorites there? Cheese curds and eclairs. 

What's your favorite fair food?
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