Rum Caramel Corn

WIN_20160528_161718While I look forward to summertime and love my garden, I’ll confess to enjoying a bit of air conditioning and an indoor breeze under a ceiling fan after playing in the dirt under the hot sun. I’ll also confess to feeling hungry after working in the garden, and unfortunately there’s nothing to harvest from the garden just yet!

Today I sated my post-gardening sweet tooth with this easy recipe for Rum Caramel Corn. I used a banged up old pot to cook the caramel. Boiling caramel may (or may not) cause a harmless, slight discoloration inside of a pan. To clean the pan in which you boiled the caramel, here’s an easy tip: fill the pan about 2 inches deep with water, and bring the water to a boil on the stove. When the water is boiling, add about 2 tablespoons of baking soda to the pan. Immediately cover the pan and remove from heat. After about 15 minutes, when the water is still warm but comfortable to touch, scrub the inside of the pan. Voila! The caramel residue will wash away.

WIN_20160528_155729Ingredients (Makes 15 cups)

15 cups air popped popcorn

1/2 cup real butter

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

2 tablespoons light molasses

1 teaspoon rum flavoring

WIN_20160528_160950Directions

Step 1) Combine butter, brown sugar, light corn syrup, and molasses in an old saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.

Step 2) Allow caramel mixture to boil gently for 7 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in rum flavoring.

WIN_20160528_161707Step 3) Spread popcorn on baking sheets lined with waxed paper. Carefully drizzle the caramel mixture over the popcorn. Use a metal spatula to gently lift the coated popcorn. This spreads the caramel onto more of the popcorn, and also helps to prevent sticking.

Enjoy when cool!

 

Cherry Bell Cookies

WIN_20151117_163720

Cherry Bell Cookies

Don’t forget to enter the 12 Days of Cookies FREE GIVEAWAY DRAWING!

Cherry Bell Cookies have the delightful flavor of old fashioned spritz cookies, without the hand-aching challenge of using an old fashioned cookie press. These “two bite” cookies are a bit larger than spritz cookies as well, and have a more pleasing consistency. I think you’ll enjoy them, and think they make a great kick-off recipe for our 12 Days of Cookies!

Ingredients (Makes approximately 40 cookies)

2/3 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 egg

1/2 small box (3 tablespoons) cherry-flavored gelatin

1 3/4 cups flour

Directions

Step 1) Cream together butter, sugar, and egg. Stir in remaining ingredients except for gelatin.

Step 2) Remove two tablespoons of dough and place in a small covered container in the refrigerator. This uncolored dough will be used to make the little spheres inside of each bell, as shown above.

Step 3) Mix gelatin into remaining dough. For even, red color, don’t be afraid to use your hands to mix! Place dough in a covered container and refrigerate for at least two hours (or overnight).

Step 4) On a floured counter top, roll red dough 1/4 inch thick. Cut dough into 2 1/2 inch circles.

WIN_20151117_160007Step 5) Fold the dough as shown, above, to make a bell shape. Place a tiny sphere of uncolored dough on each bell, where the folds meet.

Step 6) Transfer cookies to greased cookie sheets, leaving 1 inch of space between cookies.

Step 7) Bake cookies in a preheated 375 degree oven until cookies are set and bottoms are beginning to turn golden brown.

Step 8) Transfer cookies to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before storing. These cookies freeze well!

 

Top Ten Affordable Kitchen Gadgets (Great Gift Ideas!)

kitchen gadgets

Here you have it – the Crowded Earth Kitchen “Top Ten” list of affordable kitchen gadgets we simply love. There are no status symbols on this list… if you’re looking for a TV show food processor that costs more than many people pay for rent, you’ll need to look some place else.  We’re pretty frugal and low tech around here. Check out the “old standbys” that we use often and highly recommend!

1) CANNING SUPPLIES.  Cooks who learn to preserve food through simple, hot water bath canning save more money than cooks who don’t. Investing in a few basic canning supplies will pay off quickly!

Granite Ware 0718-1 Enamel-on-Steel Canning Kit, 9-Piece

2) A STOCKPOT.  You can get away with saucepans and little one-quart pots when you’re living on ramen noodles and macaroni and cheese, but when you get serious about cooking, you need a stockpot.  Yes, you do.

Excelsteel 16 Quart Stainless Steel Stockpot With Encapsulated Base

3) AN IMMERSION BLENDER. I resisted this for a while, and tried ladling soup back and forth from a stockpot to a standing blender. The first time I burned myself, I stopped being (quite so) cheap and bought an immersion blender.

Conair Cuisinart Smart Stick CSB-75BC 200 Watt 2 Speed Hand Blender (Brushed Chrome)

4) A BUNDT PAN. I don’t have a huge assortment of baking pans, but I do love my Bundt pan. I use it for everything from delicious, light sponge cakes to decadent pecan rolls. The shape looks fancy – anything baked in a Bundt pan makes a great buffet centerpiece!

Cuisinart AMB-95FCP Chef’s Classic Nonstick Bakeware 9-1/2-Inch Fluted Cake Pan

5) A FRENCH PRESS COFFEE MAKER. Best… coffee… ever! Just add coffee grounds and boiling water – this couldn’t be any easier. It works with tea leaves, as well.

SterlingPro French Coffee Press –8 Cup/4 Mug (1 liter, 34 oz), Chrome

6) INDIVIDUAL RAMEKIN DISHES. These are great for serving appetizers and desserts.

Norpro 6 Piece Porcelain Ramekin Set

7) OIL FREE, MICROWAVE POTATO CHIP MAKER. I wouldn’t have believed it if my mother didn’t buy one first to try it out, but this little gadget is amazing! You can make awesome snack chips out of potatoes and other vegetables (sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, you name it) without any added fat. How cool is that?!

Joie Healthy Microwave Potato Chip Maker / Slicer / Cooker (Colors May Very)

8) Silicon Mat for Macarons. After several trips to France, I have developed a borderline obsession with macarons. These silicon mats are perfect for beginners, and are less than $5! Recipes coming soon…

1 X Silicone Macaron macaroon Baking Sheet Mat Muffin DIY Chocolate Cookie Mould Mode – 48 Capacity

9) Ninja Master Prep. This blender is absolutely fabulous, and completely affordable! For approximately $30, this blender will do everything from quickly pureeing soups to effortlessly crushing ice. How cool is that?

Ninja Master Prep (QB900B)

10) 17-Piece Tools and Gadgets Set. Look, Everybody needs these things in their kitchen, especially if they’re just starting out. Whether you need to stir, whisk, ladle, peel, measure, scrape, open, or grate, this set does it all.

KitchenAid Classic 17-piece Tools and Gadget Set (Black)

There you have it… a short list of Crowded Earth Kitchen favorites! What’s your favorite gadget in your kitchen? Feel free to comment below!

Kitchen Gadgets

kitchen gadgets

I’ve added a new page to Crowded Earth Kitchen called “Kitchen Gadget Links“, where I’ll share just a few of my favorite kitchen gadgets with you.  Here’s a sneak peek.  I’m pretty frugal and very low tech in my kitchen… you won’t find anything crazy-expensive or complicated here, just “old standbys” that I use often and highly recommend!

1) CANNING SUPPLIES.  Cooks who learn to preserve food through simple, hot water bath canning save more money than cooks who don’t. Investing in a few basic canning supplies will pay off quickly!

Norpro 6 Piece Canning Set

Granite Ware 0707-1 Steel/Porcelain Water-Bath Canner with Rack, 21.5-Quart, Black

2) A STOCKPOT.  You can get away with saucepans and little one-quart pots when you’re living on ramen noodles and macaroni and cheese, but when you get serious about cooking, you need a stockpot.  Yes, you do.

Excelsteel 16 Quart Stainless Steel Stockpot With Encapsulated Base

3) AN IMMERSION BLENDER. I resisted this for a while, and tried ladling soup back and forth from a stockpot to a standing blender. The first time I burned myself, I stopped being (quite so) cheap and bought an immersion blender.

Cuisinart CSB-75BC Smart Stick 2-Speed Immersion Hand Blender, Brushed Chrome

4) A BUNDT PAN. I don’t have a huge assortment of baking pans, but I do love my Bundt pan. I use it for everything from delicious, light sponge cakes to decadent pecan rolls. The shape looks fancy – anything baked in a Bundt pan makes a great buffet centerpiece!

Nordic Ware Pro Cast Original Bundt Pan, 12 Cup

5) A FRENCH PRESS COFFEE MAKER. Best… coffee… ever! Just add coffee grounds and boiling water – this couldn’t be any easier. It works with tea leaves, as well.

French Press – High Premium Coffee Tea & Espresso Maker with 34-Ounce Heat Resistant Glass, Steel Plunger + FREE Bonuses

6) INDIVIDUAL RAMEKIN DISHES. These are great for serving appetizers and desserts.

Norpro 6 Piece Porcelain Ramekin Set

There you have it… a short list of Crowded Earth Kitchen favorites! What’s your favorite gadget in your kitchen? Feel free to comment below!