My Foray Into Food Storage

A regular gal learning about Food Storage, Home Cooking, Canning, Gardening, and more!


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Knock-off Recipe: Zebra Popcorn. So Yummy!

There’s a famous store in my local mall that sells “Zebra” popcorn, which, translated into English, is caramel coated popcorn with dark and white chocolate drizzled on top. It is quite delicious. 

Well, our church youth group is having an activity tonight, and one of the young women I work with suggested having zebra popcorn as a treat.  It’s a large group, so I decided to try my hand at making a knock off version.  All the recipes I found called for baking the caramel corn in the oven before drizzling it with chocolate. 

There’s only one problem with that. I don’t have an oven right now. It broke a week and a half ago, and I’m suffering without it. The repairman ordered the necessary part to repair it, but it’s not getting installed until tomorrow. And the activity is tonight!

Since I promised to make this yummy caramel corn for tonight, I had to find a substitute. I took my mom’s popcorn ball recipe and used that instead of a traditional caramel corn. It turned out really well!  It also came together really fast and didn’t heat up my kitchen. That’s a definite plus!

If you want a crisp, crunchy caramel corn, this recipe isn’t for you.  The resulting caramel corn from this recipe is softer and a tad chewy, but not overly or unpleasantly so.  

Want to know how I made it?  Watch and see. 

First, I made the popcorn by popping it on the stove in a big pot with a little oil. I didn’t take pictures. Sorry. You can use whatever kind of popcorn you’d like to use, but I think it is best if it is plain, unbuttered popcorn. 

Next, I made the “caramel” in another large pot (you can use a Dutch oven) by combining sugars butter, corn syrup (I made two recipes with light corn syrup and one with dark corn syrup), and salt (see actual recipe at the bottom of this post). When it was heated and combined, I added the popcorn and stirred it for a couple of minutes until the popcorn was coated with the caramel mixture. Next, I spread it on a parchment coated cookie sheet and let it cool. (This is the batch using dark corn syrup.)

  

Once it was cool, I broke it up into smaller pieces. It was pretty soft. 
Finally, I melted some dark and white melting chocolate in the microwave and drizzled it on the popcorn. 
   
 

And, voila!  That was is!  It took me less than an hour from start to finish to make three double sided batches of this corn. Now it’s bagged up and ready to serve tonight. I hope they like it as much as I do!
Before I close, here’s the promised recipe for the caramel corn. 

Popcorn Balls (or No Oven Needed Caramel Corn)
Recipe from my mom
1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup butter or margarine 

1/2 cup corn syrup (light or dark)

1/2 teaspoon salt

A few drops of food color (optional, I didn’t add any)

8-10 cups popped popcorn
Heat all ingredients except popcorn to simmering in a Dutch oven or a large heavy pot over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in popcorn taking care to remove any unopposed or partially popped kernels. Cook, stirring constantly until popcorn is well coated, about 3 minutes. Cool slightly. 
If making caramel corn, spread popcorn on a parchment covered cookie sheet and let cool.  Is making zebra corn, break into pieces once the corn is cool. Then drizzle with chocolate of your choice. I used dark and white melting chocolate. Store in a sealed container or bag. 
If making popcorn balls, while popcorn is still warm enough to shape, but is cool enough to handle without getting burned, dip hands in cool water and shape mixture into 8 popcorn balls about 2 1/2 inch in diameter. Place on waxed or parchment paper. Cool completely. Wrap individually or place in plastic bags and tie or seal. 
This is particularly fun for Halloween and a throwback to the days of homemade treats given out alongside store bought candy. 
Hope you enjoy this fun recipe!

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I’m Back!  Did you miss me?

It’s been a while. I think I’ve just had the craziest 6 months of my life beginning when my father passed away in April. Since then, life has been coming at me nonstop. Here are some highlights:

  • My son, Michael, finished up his Eagle Scout application, had his board of review and his eagle court of honor 
  • Michael graduated from high school
  • We had 4 birthdays and my 25th wedding anniversary. 
  • My husband and I volunteered as youth leaders on a church pioneer handcart trek reenactment. 
  • Michael submitted his paperwork to serve a mission for our church and received a call to Russia with 8 1/2 weeks to prepare before reporting to the MTC.

Last Saturday, I helped give a baby shower for a friend having her first child. I decided to make a rag quilt out of some cute flannel I’ve been collecting for the past 13 years or so. 
Here’s the final product:
  

Cute, huh?  
One thing I love about these quilts is that they’re super easy to make, and they’re very forgiving. If the seams don’t line up, that’s okay. You’ll never notice. 
To make it you need to be able to do a few simple things: cut fabric in relatively straight lines, sew a relatively straight line, and be able to make many small snips with your scissors. That’s it. 
Here are the basic instructions:

  • Start with 5-6 yards of your favorite flannel.
  • Cut 70 9-inch squares.

  

  • Sew two squares together, right sides out, forming an X. 

   
   

  • Lay out pattern. 

  

  • Sew squares together in rows with a 1/2-inch seam allowance with all the seams facing the same way. 

  

  • Sew rows together with a 1/2-inch seam allowance with all the seams facing the same way. 

  

  • Sew around the outside of the blanket with a 1/2-inch seam allowance. 
  • Snip all the fabric between the seam allowance and edge of the fabric. 

   
 

  • Wash in your washing machine and dry in the dryer. 
  • Trim any loose threads and enjoy!

   
   
Try it out and let me know how it turns out!


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New, Improved, Super Easy Homemade White Bread!

When do I ever leave well enough alone? If you ask my kids, they would tell you, “Never.” Sometimes messing with something truly destroys it, but, other times, it is so much better!

That’s the case with my homemade white bread. I started with a really great recipe from a friend and tweaked it to my family’s tastes. I posted that recipe with a step by step hereI tweaked it again and did a cost analysis for you (homemade versus store bought bread) and posted it here.

I kept tweaking the recipe and have received many compliments, including one from my sister who said it was the best bread she’s eaten. So, without further ado, here’s my updated white bread recipe.

 

 

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Easy, Peasy Bread by Laurie Nguyen (2 1-lb loaves)

Adapted from “Pound-It-Bread” by Joan Miller

 

1 ½ cup lukewarm water

2 T active dry yeast

½ cup granulated sugar

1 cup evaporated milk (can use regular milk, half-n-half, or cream)

1 T white vinegar

2 T (salted) butter, melted

2 t salt

1 ½ T dough enhancer

¼ cup vital wheat gluten (gluten flour)

5 ½ cups bread flour

 

Add sugar and yeast to water. Stir and let sit until yeast blooms (looks bubbly). Add vinegar to evaporated milk and let sit until yeast is ready. Stir water/yeast mixture again and pour into a mixing bowl along with evaporated milk/vinegar mixture. Add melted butter, and all dry ingredients.

 

Mix on low until a dough forms, then let your mixer “knead” the dough for a few minutes until it looks smooth. Dump onto a floured counter and divide dough into two equal pieces. Let dough rest/rise for 20+ minutes. After resting, pound each piece of dough for one minute (with a rolling pin), then form into a loaf and put in a greased loaf pan (8×4 to 9×5 size pan). Let rise until the dough is about 1 inch over the pan’s edge.

 

Place in a preheated 400 degree oven for 10 minutes. Cover with foil and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the bread is done. Remove from oven, then remove bread from pan and let it cook on a rack. You can cut it right away, but the slices will not be even, and your bread will get crushed. If you can wait until it’s completely cool, your slices will look a lot better and be more even.

 

 

 

In my family, the first loaf goes SUPER fast!  The second loaf lasts a little longer, but, often, by the time we finish it, it’s a bit stale and not so yummy anymore.  When I bought my larger loaf pans (my ode to my lovely new pans here), I decided to adapt my recipe to make one slightly larger loaf rather than two smaller loafs.  See the difference between the two pans?

 

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If you have large bread pans, you may want to use this version of the recipe.

 

Easy, Peasy Bread by Laurie Nguyen (1 larger loaf for a 10×5 pan)

Adapted from “Pound-It-Bread” by Joan Miller

 

1 cup lukewarm water

1 T active dry yeast

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2/3 cup evaporated milk (can use regular milk, half-n-half, or cream)

2 t white vinegar

1 1/3 T (salted) butter, melted

1 1/3 t salt

1 T dough enhancer

2 T plus 2 t vital wheat gluten (gluten flour)

3 cups bread flour plus a little more (usually less than ¼ cup)

 

 

Same instructions as recipe above, except that this makes one loaf. Don’t divide when you put it on the counter to rest.

 

 

 

So, what do you think?  Have you thought about making your own homemade, sandwich bread?  If so, please try my recipe and let me know what you think!

 

Or, if you have your own favorite recipe, I’d love it if you shared it with me and my readers!