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A Walk Down Memory Lane and Mrs. Macklewayne’s Caramel Corn

3 Nov

I can remember the first time I had caramel corn like it was yesterday.  I was little, couldn’t have been more than 5 yrs old, and our neighbor Mrs. Macklewayne made some caramel corn and gave me a big container of it.  Mrs. Macklewayne was an older lady who was married to my Daddy’s FFA teacher, Mr. Macklewayne, and they lived a street or two over from us.  I can’t remember alot about them but what I do remember is that my Daddy thought very highly of Mr. and they were very sweet to me.  The most striking memory though is that Mrs. used to ride an adult tricycle through the neighborhood.  That thing had to be as big as a Buick and I’m not sure if she was onto the whole health craze of the early 80’s or what but she sure did ride that alot.  It fascinated me for some reason.  I kept thinking “Did her Daddy never teach her to ride a bike without training wheels?”  I thought she looked equally ridiculous and rebellious, and I always liked to watch her ride around. 

I can even remember the container that the caramel corn came in; it was a big plastic rectangle with a big opening, big enough to get great big handfuls of the corn out.  I think my Mom still has that container at her house, and she keeps loose change in it.  I can probably even tell you exactly where it is in her house.  Memories are funny things, aren’t they?  I can remember all that in great detail but can’t remember where I put my keys.  Hmm. . .

The deliciousness that I experienced from this sweet gift inspried me to make some homemade caramel corn this past weekend.  It was a bit messy, somewhat tedious, but so worth it!  I have no idea if this is how Mrs. Macklewayne made hers or not, but it sure tasted like it!

Note:  In the interest of full disclosure, the author feels that it should be noted here that this was also the phase of my life where I was anti-teeth brushing and, per my Mom, I would lie about brushing my teeth and every dentist appointment would result in at least two cavities.  At some point nearly all of my baby bicuspid teeth had fillings, and then when I got a chance for a fresh start in the way of my big girl teeth, what did I do?  Well it’s more like what DIDN’T I do, which is brush them and wound up with all my adult bicuspid’s having fillings too.  And now as an adult I”m having to pay to have them re-done becasue they are so old and cracking.  Brush your teeth kids!  Don’t be like me and have to get those beautifully painful white fillings put in.  They may be pretty but boy are they sensitive for months!

Caramel Corn

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 quarts popped popcorn
 Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (95 degrees C). Place popcorn in a very large bowl.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in soda and vanilla. Pour in a thin stream over popcorn, stirring to coat.
  3. Place in two large shallow baking dishes and bake in preheated oven, stirring every 15 minutes, for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool completely before breaking into pieces.

Baker’s Note:  In Step 2 I would try to boil this for 2-3 minutes; the caramel seemed to have an ever so slight burned sugar taste.  In Step 3 I only baked my mixture for 45 minutes.  You could bake less if you want your corn to be more gooey.  And over all, I used 3 bags of microwave popped popcorn, and tried to find one with the least amount of butter on it, so go for the fat free, low cal stuff here.

Chaney Household Favorite Recipes

9 Aug

I get on a recipe kick sometimes and find something I really like and make it often.  I came up with the following recipe when a craving for chicken and black beans hit me, and I have played around with the recipe a bit and, I think, perfected it.  The great thing is, you can double this recipe and make a large dinner or have plenty for left overs.  The recipe below is about 3-4 servings for us, depending on how hungry we are.  Warning-this will fill you up fast!!

Easy Chicken Skillet Dinner

Chicken Breast (marinated if you have the time)

1 Can of Black Beans, Rinsed and Drained (I like to use Organic beans, because they have alot less sodium, usually about a quarter, than the conventional ones.)

2-3 Cloves Garlic, I prefer to roast it first but raw will work too

Onion, chopped

Bell Peppers, chopped

1 Packet Taco Seasoning

Chicken Broth or Stock

Shredded Cheese

Preface:  If you planned ahead, marinated chicken is so much better in this recipe!  I like to use something simple like olive oil, spices, and some lemon or orange juice for a twist.  Marinate chicken for at least 1 hour, up to over night.  Weber has some great spice mixtures that we use alot, like Kickin’ Chicken, and Garlic and Herb; you really can’t go wrong with these flavor combos!

Slice peppers and onions, and place in a skillet with a bit of butter or olive oil.  Let those start to carmelize and get a bit tender, and then remove from the skillet and set aside.  You want to get the flavor from these, but not over cook them, so you will add these back in once the chicken is cooked.  Slice uncooked chicken into thin strips, then into small pieces. Place in large skillet, season, and cook through. (We have a homemade blackened seasoning that I use on nearly all meat, but I always season with freshly ground sea salt and black pepper, and a bit of Season All.) As chicken is cooking, use a utensil to chop or shred the chicken even further. (I have a great wooden utensil that has a thin end to it, that is perfect for this.) Once the chicken is cooked through, add the beans, garlic, peppers, onions, taco seasonings, and 1 Cup (or so) of Chicken broth or stock. If you don’t have that, water wil do well also. Stir all to mix the seasoning well, and let simmer until fully incorporated.  I garnish with cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, just whatever is handy!

Teri’s Mexican Chicken Tortilla Soup

25 May

Have I mentioned that I work with some phenomenal women who also happen to be wonderful cooks?  Teri is another work friend and she gave me this recipe for her Mexican Chicken Tortilla Soup.  One cold afternoon she graciously brought leftovers to share and after one bowl of this I asked for the recipe, knowing I had to make this!  This recipe is easy, quick, frugal, healthy, and yields enough to feed a crowd.  Or just me for a week, and yes I ate it for a whole week and was sad when I saw the bottom of the last bowl!

Mexican Chicken Tortilla Soup

 Ingredients:

3 1/2   cups chicken broth
2  whole small chicken breasts (about 1-1/2 pounds total)**
1/2  cup chopped onion
1/2  teaspoon ground cumin
1  clove garlic, minced
1  tablespoon cooking oil
1  14-1/2-ounce can tomatoes, cut up***
1  8-ounce can tomato sauce
1  4-ounce can whole green chili peppers, rinsed, seeded, and cut into thin bite-size strips
1/4  cup snipped fresh cilantro or parsley
1  tablespoon snipped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1 can of black beans, drained                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 can of corn, or a package of frozen corn                                                                                                                                                                                                              Tositos Corn Chips
1  cup shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese (4 ounces)                                                                                                                                                                            Sour Cream (optional)

Directions:
1. Place broth in large saucepan or Dutch oven; add chicken. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, about 15 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink. Remove chicken from broth. Let stand until cool enough to handle.
2. Skin, bone, and finely shred chicken; set aside. Discard skin and bones. Strain broth through large sieve or colander lined with two layers of 100-percent-cotton cheesecloth. Skim fat from broth; set broth aside.
3. In same saucepan cook onion, cumin, and garlic in 1 tablespoon hot oil until onion is tender but not brown. Stir in strained broth, undrained tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili peppers, cilantro, and oregano. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Stir in chicken; heat through.
4. Divide tortilla chips among 4 bowls. Ladle soup over tortilla chips. Sprinkle each serving with cheese. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

 Notes:

** You can use leftover chicken versus cooking chicken breasts.  The chicken can be grilled, baked, however you feel the most comfortable preparing chicken.  You can also buy a rotisserie chicken and then use that for the soup.  Another option is to buy a whole chicken and put it in the crock pot, add some seasonings, and let it cook for a few hours.  Once cooked through, use the breast meat for this recipe, as well as the stock.  Then refrigerate or use the rest of the chicken.

*** I will use Rotel tomatoes with chili peppers if I am out of the chopped tomatoes and then omit the can of green chili peppers.