Holiday Gift Ideas: Flavored Popcorn

I’m repeating the holiday gift series this week. We’ll start with flavored popcorn:

One of my favorite things is the mixed can of flavored popcorn.   Unfortunately they can vary in quality and price.  And if you’re paying a premium, well let’s face it, it all hype, because popcorn is cheap, as are most of the ingredients that go in flavored popcorn.  So  I thought I’d pull a few recipes together this week so you could make your own variety tin of flavored popcorn.  I actually have a tower of gift boxes that I’m thinking of filling with different flavors.  You can use decorative plastic and ribbon, or holiday tins, or zip-lock bags placed in pretty gift bags.

For the first recipes, I thought something cheesy.

White Cheddar Cheese Popcorn

  • 8 cups popped corn
  • 4 tbsp melted butter
  • 1/2 cup white cheddar cheese powder
  • 1/4 tsp dried mustard
  • dash of cayenne
  • salt to taste

It might be easiest to do this in two batches.  In a large bag, toss popcorn thoroughly with butter to coat completely.  Mix together cheese and spices, toss with popcorn in the bag until everything is well coated.   Spread out on to baking sheet for 30 to 60 minutes before packaging (this keeps it from becoming soggy).

Chili-Cheese Popcorn

  • 8 cups popped corn
  • 4 tbsp melted butter
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • dash of garlic
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan (I’d use the Kraft style for ease)
  • salt to taste (the Parmesan may make it salty enough)

Again, you may want to make this in batches.  Mix together butter and spices and toss with popcorn in a large bag.  Add cheese and toss again until well coated.  Spread out on to baking sheet for 30 to 60 minutes before packaging.

Additional flavor ideas:

White cheddar cheese powder and taco seasoning.   Parmesan and dry packaged  buttermilk ranch dressing seasoning.

 

Originally posted Dec 2011

Taco Soup: Slow Cooker and Stove Top Methods

Yesterday 3 inches of snow brought the Front Range to its knees.  Very unusual, we’re deep snow people, but I guess it was because it was so warm before and the temps dropped dramatically, it created a skating rink just as morning rush hour began.  I wouldn’t know because when my alarm went off and the traffic guy on the radio described the doom and gloom on the roads, I decided to work from home. After I slept another hour.

This morning at work we were talking about how much we love soups and taco salad, so Taco Soup didn’t seem that far of a leap. I usually like to do my own seasoning, but let’s consider this a quick and foolproof soup, using some tried and true ingredients: taco seasoning and Ro*tel style tomatoes. I won’t tell. If you’d like to make your own taco seasoning, JeffreyW had a recipe here. You can cook this in a slow-cooker or on the stovetop, the directions for both are below.

Taco Soup

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 (1 1/4-ounce) package taco seasoning mix
  • 4 cups of water or tomato juice
  • 15 1/2-ounce can pinto beans
  • 15 1/2-ounce can red kidney beans
  • 8 oz frozen corn
  • 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans Ro*tel-style tomatoes (use your heat preference)
  • 6 oz diced green chilies
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp pickled jalapenos, chopped
  • Corn chips, for serving
  • Sour cream, for garnish
  • Grated cheddar cheese, for garnish
  • Pickled jalapenos, for garnish
  • Cilantro for garnish
  • Black olives for garnish

(all garnishes are optional, of course)

Brown the ground beef and onions in a skillet; drain the excess fat, then add 1/2 taco seasoning and 1/2 cup water, stirring well. Transfer mixture to a slow cooker. Stir in the liquid, beans, corn, tomatoes, green chiles, jalapenos, remaining taco seasoning, and cook in a slow cooker on low for 6 to 8 hours (alternately you can simmer over low heat for about 1 hour in a pot on the stove). To serve, place a few chips in each bowl and ladle soup over them. Top with garnishes.