Saturday, October 29, 2011

Caramel Corn

Caramel Corn 2

Russell and I are not big into halloween since we typically do not have any reason to partake in the festivities. Until last year we lived in an apartment and did not have any trick-or-treaters. Last year we lived in a town house and we were very excited at the prospect of having trick-or-treaters but only had one--I’m sure we were her favorite house of the night because we gave her our entire bag of candy. This year is different, it’s Jake’s first halloween and I am excited! We got him a dinosaur costume and Russell has been referring to him as “Jakeasaurus Rex.”

Caramel Corn 4

Caramel corn is definitely a treat I associate with halloween. It is highly addictive, and after making it last year I promised myself I would not make it again this year. This Fall I couldn’t help myself and had to make a batch. I did, however, cut the original recipe in half so Russell and I could indulge in one of our favorite treats without eating too much. We typically buy microwave popcorn with the least amount of salt and butter, so I used a bag of that variety. It worked perfect and was the crunchy & sweet treat I have always loved--much better when homemade!


Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 quarts popped popcorn or 1 bag microwaved popcorn

Directions:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Place popped popcorn in a large roasting pan and place in the oven to keep warm while preparing the caramel coating.

In a medium sized saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Stir in sugar, corn syrup, and salt while continuously stirring, bring to a boil. Once boiling, stop stirring and allow to boil undisturbed for 4 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and baking soda. Remove popped popcorn from the oven and pour the caramel coating over the popcorn. Stir to coat.

Line a large rimmed baking pan (such as a cookie sheet) with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick spray. Spread the coated popcorn onto the baking pan in single layer. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before breaking the popcorn into pieces.

Store in an air tight container.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup with Bacon

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup and Bacon 5

During the week things are pretty hectic. Russell tends to work late and something always seems to come up. Once Saturday finally arrives, Russell and I tend to take it easy. Most fall Saturday mornings consist of us getting up with the little one and lounging around until college football begins. These lazy Saturdays combined with cooler weather make me crave warm and comforting soup.

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup with Bacon 1

There are few things better than watching Alabama football while eating this chicken and wild rice soup with bacon! Out of all of the soups I have made so far this is one of my favorites. I had to stop myself from eating multiple bowls so we would have enough left over to enjoy it again on Sunday. Tender chicken, flavorful carrots, rice, and bacon in a creamy base makes this soup perfect!


Ingredients:
  • 3 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped, grease reserved
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery (I omitted)
  • 2/3 cup wild rice, uncooked, rinsed and drained
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
Directions:

Using the reserved grease from the bacon, saute the onions, celery, and carrots in a large stock pot until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add in the wild rice, chicken stock, chicken, and bacon and simmer for 25-30 minutes.

In a small bowl mix together butter, parsley, salt, pepper, and flour, stir in cream.

Slowly whisk cream mixture into the simmering soup. Allow to simmer on low for 10-15 minutes longer until thickened.

Source: The Beckville Church Cookbook via The Nest 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Red Beans and Rice

Red Beans and Rice 3

When Russell and I first got married we did not always eat the best. A lot of what we ate was pre-packaged and very processed. We still eat some of those items today, but what I have found is moderation is key. As I become more conscious of what we eat I have been trying to get back to the basics. Items that we previously ate from a box I am trying to make them from scratch. Red beans and rice is one of those items. I have always previously made red beans and rice from a box. While this was convenient, I am certain that "made from scratch" red beans and rice are much better not only health wise, in taste as well!

Red Beans and Rice 1

I have been searching for a red beans and rice recipe for a while now. I finally came across one last week that I knew would be a winner. Russell loves red beans and rice so as he took his first bite I anxiously waited for his reaction. He shook his head a few times in approval and finally stated it was wonderful--I was so relieved. Up until now Russell has been in love with creamy cajun pasta, he later proclaimed that red beans and rice was his new favorite meal. This dish is so simple to make, and for the most part is a one pot meal. The original recipe had the red beans and rice prepared separately with the red beans then served over the rice. I modified the recipe and cooked everything together. I think the flavors blend together well this way which yields a quite tasty final product.


Ingredients:
  • 1 pound of smoked sausage, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of your favorite creole seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1- 15 ounce can light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1- 15 ounce can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup uncooked white rice
  • 2 1/4 cups chicken broth
Directions:

In a large non-stick saute pan, brown sausage over medium heat. Once browned, transfer to a paper towel lined plate and set aside.

In the same large saute pan, add the onion and garlic, saute until tender. Stir in Italian seasonings, crushed red pepper, creole seasoning, and pepper, and cook for an additional 30 seconds.

Add beans, uncooked rice, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow to sit covered for five minutes. Fluff with fork and stir in browned sausage.