Who doesn’t like a fun treat when visiting someplace like a zoo?! I do but I don’t want to pay the high prices! A few years ago, it dawned on me that I could make our own fun treat, so we didn’t feel like we were missing out, but at a fraction of the price. We take it in with us, when the rules allow, or save it for the ride home (the kids’ get in the car so much more quickly when I remind them of what awaits them!). Their two favorites are caramel corn and large sugar cookies (I make them extra large because that is something I don’t usually do).
So as I started preparing for an upcoming road trip with the kiddos, I was thinking about what kind of treat I could pack. Rather than buying fast-food along the way, we will pack lunches. Sugar cookies rolled in lemon or orange sugar came to mind immediately. We are headed to Florida and a bright citrus cookie sounded perfect.
But first…my meal plan.
Sunday–Pulled pork (leftover pan from Christmas, in the freezer), baked potatoes, green beans
Monday–Smoked whole chicken (already made & in the freezer), roasted peppers & onions, biscuits (also from the freezer) & fruit
Tuesday–Chipotle-marinated chicken (that I’ve already planned TWICE but haven’t yet made), shredded sweet-potato hashbrowns (for my boys), smashed potatoes (for the rest of us), baked hushpuppies & fruit
Wednesday–Pasta with red sauce + meatballs, salad, garlic bread
Thursday–Ham steaks, cooked apples, corn, salad
Back to the story….
And then I remembered I’m a serial muncher on road trips. Truly. Like, portion out my lunch into several containers so I can eat a bit at a time kind of muncher. And I divide candy up into ridiculously tiny portions, just so it takes me longer.
Thinking about making tiny cookies to spread it out seemed like it would be way more work than payoff! So I reconsidered.
And, thus, caramel corn will be made this week. This recipe makes a lot. If you don’t want so much temptation hanging around your house, I have successfully halved this recipe. I have added peanuts, almonds & pecans. I tell myself the added protein makes this better since it will help to slow the insulin rise. Or something like that. Anything to justify a larger portion!
7 quarts plain popped popcorn (3-4 bags of microwave popcorn, if you’re using that)
2 cups peanuts or other nuts, optional
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup -1 cup butter (the original recipe calls for 1 cup, I use 1/2 – 3/4 cup)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Divide the popcorn into two greased baking pans. If you want to add nuts, add them now.
2. Preheat the oven to 250. Over medium heat, add brown sugar, butter, salt & corn syrup to pan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and boil for five minutes.
3. After removing the pan from the heat, add baking soda & vanilla. The mixture will foam, so be sure you are using a pan with a couple extra inches above the mixture! (I cut it close the first time I made this!)
4. Pour over popcorn and stir to coat. Bake 45-60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
5. Cool on waxed paper, breaking up any chunks as it cools.
Linking up at Menu Plan Monday–be sure to check it out for other great meal ideas!