Caramel Corn and Other Treats

Sue with grandmothers
Grandma Luthy on the Left, Grandma Romrell on the Right – and hey, hats were all the rage for weddings!

When I was a little girl I loved to go to both of my grandmas’  houses, for very different reasons. At Grandma Luthy’s houses there were almost always cousins there to play with. We spent hours playing on the hill, in the barn, walking the train tracks, having water fights, swimming in the canal, and playing hide-n-seek and other night games in the yard. Once inside, Grandma always had good food. It was usually something simple, but filling.  Her rolls were my favorite, or maybe her huckleberry pie, or maybe it was her chocolate sour cream cake, or maybe her applesauce cookies. (Apparently I remember the desserts best!)  But we loved to be there.

In contrast, when we went to Grandma Romrell’s house, it was in town (albeit a very small town) and we would walk several blocks to the post office to get Grandma’s mail, to the city park to swing, or a few blocks further to go to the  “Merc” and pick up a spool of thread or buttons.  (The Merc, short for General Mercantile  was kind of a general store throwback which was owned by her father when she was a girl.) I loved going to the Merc, it held a myriad of all kinds of things from threads of spool, to ten-nails, to penny candy,  to ropes, to pot roasts and pork chops behind the glass of a display case.  We also played games when we went to Grandma Romrell’s house. Flinch,  Concentration, and of course playing checkers with my grandfather. I was so thrilled when I finally beat him in a game of checkers. It was a hard won victory.

And at their house, there was always a carton of vanilla ice cream.  And Grandma usually had a treat ready, or we would make one together.  I have fond memories of choosing the flavor to make suckers, or pulling taffy (and burning my fingertips), and of watching the peaks form when Grandma made divinity, or helping to make popcorn balls with caramel corn.  So when I found this recipe for caramel corn, I had to share it! (Until I have time to post all of the recipes I’ve collected from both of my grandmothers.  That may be my summer project this year.)  Until then, pop some corn, add the caramel, and settle back with a movie.

caramel corn

Easy Caramel Corn 

3 qts. popped corn

1 c. firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 c. Karo corn syrup

1/2 c. butter

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

In a saucepan, combine butter, salt, Karo syrup, brown sugar. Stir constantly until it starts to boil. Let it boil without stirring for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in baking soda. Pour over popped corn and enjoy.

(Original recipe found here.)

 

 

Biscuits and Gravy Casserole

biscuits_and_gravy_casserole_2
My family loves biscuits and gravy, and one of the things I have done is to teach all of my children to make homemade gravy from scratch. (It tastes soooo much better than the kind you make from a package.)  I ran across this and was intrigued with the method of adding the flour to the browned meat to create the roux. Who’da thunk?  So for a new take on biscuits and gravy, try this recipe.*  And just so you know, in my family, it’s a moral imperative that the gravy is made with SAUSAGE. Just ask my kids.  And maybe one of these days I will take time to write out the steps to making gravy from scratch.  Potatoes just aren’t the same without gravy.

 

Biscuits and Gravy Casserole
PREP TIME
15 mins
COOK TIME
20 mins
TOTAL TIME
35 mins
Serves: Approx 8 servings
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 can large, flaky biscuits (such as Grands)
  • ½ pound ground breakfast sausage
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 and ½ cups milk
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F).
  2. Prepare a small casserole dish (approximately 7×10) with cooking spray. Set aside.
  3. Open biscuits, and cut biscuits into quarters.
  4. Layer half of the quarters in prepared pan.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare gravy.
  7. In a heavy skillet, brown the ground breakfast sausage over medium high heat until fully cooked.
  8. Sprinkle the cooked sausage with 3 Tablespoons of flour.
  9. Use a wooden spoon to stir flour into sausage until completely absorbed.
  10. Lower heat to medium, and cook flour/sausage mixture for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  11. Add milk, and stir to combine.
  12. Add salt and black pepper.
  13. Stir frequently until mixture comes to a slight boil.
  14. Taste, and adjust seasonings as desired. (I usually add more black pepper)
  15. If the gravy is too thick, add a bit more milk. You want the gravy to be thickened but not too thick, not “globby,” it should still be slightly runny.
  16. Pour gravy over the cooked biscuits.
  17. Layer the remaining uncooked, quartered biscuits over the gravy.
  18. Place casserole dish on a baking sheet, and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. If they start to over-brown, you can cover with foil for the last 10 minutes or so.
  19. Serve immediately.
  20. Enjoy!

 

*Original Blog where I found this  recipe. Thanks for posting it.

Shepherd Pie a Family Favorite

Shepherd Pie (1)
My mom and my grand daughter at a family camping trip.

Growing up in southeastern Idaho meant that we ate potatoes, times a lot. Sometimes we had them twice a day, perhaps fried potatoes for breakfast and baked potatoes for dinner.  Or for lunch in a potato salad and mashed potatoes and gravy at dinnertime.  Or scalloped potatoes with ham for Sunday dinner.  Always potatoes.  I do have to admit, that by the time I grew up and got married, I was heartily sick of potatoes.  In fact, for the first couple of years I was married, I rarely made potatoes of any sort. We at rice-based dishes instead.  But, as time passed, I re-discovered the goodness of the potato, particularly that they are an inexpensive nutritious way to feed a growing family. No wonder we ate lots of potatoes growing up.  My kids grew up eating potatoes, just not quite every day, and now, my grandchildren have the opportunity to eat potatoes too.  What a great legacy for an Idaho girl. One of these times I will tell you all about working the potato harvest; for now though, I will the way my mom taught me to make Shepherd Pie.

Ingredients:

Mashed Potatoes:  5-8 potatoes, butter, milk

Ground Beef 1 – 1 1/3 lbs.

Green Beans  fresh (cook them first if using fresh) or 1 – 2 cans of cut green beans, drained

Tomato Sauce/Tomato Soup/Tomato Paste  – 1 can (add water to tomato paste)

Cheddar Cheese 1/2 – 1 lb. grated

Salt & Pepper – to taste.

To prepare the mashed potatoes. Peel five or six medium sized potatoes. While you are peeling, bring a large pot of salted water (a couple of teaspoons of salt) to a boil.  After the potatoes are peeled Quarter them and put them in the salted water.  Bring to a full roiling boil. Reduce heat to a brisk simmer. (Put a wooden spoon across the pot to keep it from boiling over.)  Cook about twenty minutes until potatoes are tender.  Use a potato masher or hand mixer to beat potatoes until smooth. Add 1/2 – 1 cube butter, and 1/4 – 1/4 cup of milk to make potatoes creamy.

While potatoes are boiling brown ground beef. Remove excess grease.  Add tomato sauce and green beans to meat mixture, salt and pepper to taste.  Mix and set aside.

Put beef/bean mixture in the bottom of a casserole dish, spoon hot mashed potatoes over as the second layer. Add grated cheese over the top. Bake in a 350% oven about twenty minutes until heated through and cheese is melted.

 

Sweet Toasted Pecans & Texas Pecan Squares

cone

One of my favorite memories with Kelly was going to outdoor festivals and wandering around looking at everything the vendors offer.  Our meanderings often meant stopping at the nut vendor and getting a paper cone filled with almonds or pecans to share. I loved the sweet, nutty crunch, and even more, I love that I was creating memories with Kelly.  I was delighted when I ran across these pecan recipes recently.

 

Sweet Toasted Pecans*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mix:

2  cups of shelled pecans (whole or halves)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup evaporated milk

Spray oil on cooking sheet and spread the nut mixture into pan.

Cook for about 20 minutes. Halfway through cooking process stir the nuts.

Enjoy! 

 

 

TEXAS PECAN PIE SQUARES*  

 

Crust

1-1/4 cup flour

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup margarine

Combine sugar and flour in medium bowl. Cut in margarine until mixture resembles coarse meal. Press mixture into greased 9×13 Pyrex dish (or pan) Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

 

Filling

2 eggs, beaten

2/3 cup sugar

3/4 cup white corn syrup

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons margarine (melted)

1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1-1/2 cup pecans, chopped
Combine eggs, sugar, syrup, flour, salt, margarine and vanilla; beat well.Fold in pecans and  chocolate chips. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until firm. Let cool. Cut into squares.

*Recipe adapted from the one found on the Sunnyvale Pecan Orchard website.