{Holiday Treats} Caramel Corn

     I really enjoy making people's bellies happy.

      If you're like me, then one of your favorite things about cooking is sharing your good eats with those you love. And what better time of year to share than during this season of giving.  This caramel corn would be a great addition to any holiday gift basket.  Just package it up with a pretty bow and you have yourself a simple and inexpensive gift.  It would also be an awesome treat to have around at your holiday party.

       Whatever you do, do not make this when you are home alone, unless you have the ability to walk away from things that keep tasting like just one more bite.  You'll hate yourself in the morning when you're running that extra 3 miles.  Besides, you'll want someone to share that guilt deliciousness with anyway.

Caramel Corn

3.5 ounces unpopped popcorn kernels, popped
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup corn syrup
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pre heat oven to 250 degrees.  Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.  Coat a very large mixing bowl with cooking spray and add plain popped corn.

In a medium sauce pan, melt butter, water, corn syrup, sugar and salt. Simmer over medium high heat, stirring frequently until mixture reaches 250 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Turn off heat and whisk in vanilla and baking soda (it will foam so be careful).  Immediately pour over popcorn.  Gently fold in caramel with a rubber spatula until popcorn is completely coated.  Transfer mixture to lined baking sheet.

Bake for one hour stirring every 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for 2o to 30 minutes.  Store in an air tight container for up to 5 days.

Makes about 10 cups.

adapted from Ezra Pound Cake



     Sorry for the lack of posting lately.  And this post isn't going to really be about food, but it's something I am ready to share.

      It has been almost two weeks since we made the 22 hour drive, straight through, to see my best friend one last time.  She passed away at 30 years old.  One day shy of a year from being diagnosed with metaplastic breast cancer, a very rare and aggressive form of cancer that spread throughout her body pretty quickly.  She fought with everything she had though.  The end kind of took everyone by surprise.  The doctors had warned that it could be in the next few months but it turned out to be the very next week.  

     So here we all are.  Missing her so, so, so much. My brother in law, nieces and nephew are facing their first holiday without her. No words are enough to express their sorrow.

      If you could do me one favor as your surrounded by those you love this Thanksgivng, don't miss any opportunity to tell those people just how much they mean to you.  You never know if you'll have the chance again.


Horseradish and Herb Crusted Pork Loin

     I don't know about you, but my sweet tooth could sure use a break after all of the Halloween candy.  The boys brought home way, way, way too much of it. I love our neighbors and their generosity but I think they must be in cahoots with the local dentists.  We even crossed paths with a resident walking around passing out candy.  Surely he was said dentist the neighbors were working for.

     So other than candy, my boys totally love pork.  They are definitely meat and potato kind of guys.  This poses a challenge for me though because pork can be a tricky thing to prepare.  Either it's too bland or becomes dried out.  Not this roast.  It was juicy and so full of flavor.  And as an added bonus it was a cinch to put together.  The only bad part- there were no leftovers.

Horseradish and Herb Crusted Pork Loin

1 (2 pound) pork loin, patted really dry
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons prepared horseradish, drained so that it is only solids
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside. Combine mustard and garlic in a small bowl then rub mixture over the entire pork loin and season with salt and pepper.  In another small bowl, combine the drained horseradish, panko,Parmesan, butter and thyme until well blended. Pack mixture firmly onto the loin. Drizzle top with olive oil.  Place onto the prepared baking sheet and roast until the internal temperature registers 145 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 40-45 minutes.

Adapted from Picture Perfect Meals