By Denise Neil
The Wichita Eagle (TNS)
Popcorn, much like fall, is a crunchy treat.
And it’s even more of a treat when you pop it up with the flavors of the season - Halloween and football-friendly flavors like pumpkin spice, peanut butter and honey, white chocolate and candy corn, Buffalo Ranch, bacon Parmesan.
We scoured the internet for the most tempting popcorn recipes for fall and found several winners. These recipes are all easy to make - some take only a few minutes to mix up - and they’re perfect for Halloween parties, tailgates or even simple snacking.
Popcorn also is inexpensive, plus it’s high in fiber and low in calories if you pop it yourself. We started all of these recipes by popping the corn from kernels, something that’s easy to do. Just heat up a quarter cup of oil at the bottom of a big pot, then add enough kernels to cover the bottom. Move the pot around on the burner until the popping slows. All of the five recipes included here were made using just one 32-ounce bag of kernels, and we had about eight cups left over.
You also can use microwave popcorn or bagged popcorn, but the calories and cost both go up if you do.
BUFFALO RANCH POPCORN
Makes 12 cups
12cups popped popcorn
1teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
1/2teaspoon sea salt
2teaspoons hot sauce, like Frank’s RedHot
In a small bowl combine granulated garlic, dill, cumin and sea salt. Set aside. In another bowl, melt butter and add sauce. Mix until combined. Toss butter with popcorn in a large bowl. Then toss with seasoning.
PEANUT BUTTER POPCORN
Makes about 8 cups
1/4cup popcorn kernels
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter (should be free of added sugar)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Have a clean paper shopping bag or oversized mixing bowl ready.
Heat a 4-quart heavy pan over medium heat and film the bottom with vegetable oil. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the popcorn, shake to distribute, then put a lid on the pan, leaving a small crack for steam to escape. When the first kernel pops, put the lid on all the way. As the popcorn starts popping, shake vigorously to make sure the kernels are distributed evenly. When the popping slows to a few seconds between pops, take the pan off the heat.
Pour the popcorn into the paper bag or bowl to cool, and attempt to leave any unpopped kernels behind in the pan. (Coated with peanut butter caramel, the unpopped kernels are a serious tooth hazard). Lightly salt the popcorn to taste.
Mix the honey and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for about 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and add the peanut butter. Stir vigorously until all the peanut butter is melted, then mix in the vanilla.
Immediately pour the peanut butter caramel over the popcorn and stir with a long-handled wooden spoon until it’s all coated. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Note: This recipe will also cover one standard bag of microwave popcorn, so you can substitute that for the stovetop popcorn, if you wish. This keeps well overnight. If you want the gooey-ness of freshly made popcorn, though, warm a bowl of leftover popcorn in 15-second bursts in the microwave until slightly warm and soft.
BACON AND CHEESE POPCORN
Makes 16 cups popcorn
4 quarts popped popcorn
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1/4 teaspoon hickory liquid smoke seasoning
1/3 cup bacon bits or soy ’bacon’ bits
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1teaspoon seasoned salt or kosher salt
Place popcorn in a large serving bowl. Place butter in a small bowl and melt in microwave, about 20 seconds. Stir liquid smoke into butter. Pour butter mixture over popcorn and toss to distribute evenly. Sprinkle bacon bits, Parmesan cheese and salt over popcorn. Toss and serve immediately.
PUMPKIN CARAMEL POPCORN RECIPE
Makes 15 cups
15 cups plain popped popcorn
11/2 sticks butter, cubed
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup molasses
1 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a Silpat. Place the popcorn in a large bowl and set aside. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the butter, sugar, corn syrup, molasses, pumpkin pie spice and salt to a boil. Stir briefly to combine the ingredients and then allow them to boil for three minutes without stirring.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and immediately pour onto the popcorn. Stir until evenly coated. Spread the popcorn evenly on the prepared sheet pan and place in the oven. Allow to cook for one hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and break into pieces (or enjoy as clusters). Serve popcorn warm or at room temperature.
Frightfully Delightful Treats
Makes about 7 pieces (4 Ω x 3 Ω inches each)
2 Ω quarts popped popcorn
6tablespoons butter or margarine
3cups mini marshmallows
4 tablespoons lime gelatin powder
Red gum balls, candy corn, flat green candy strips (or fruit leather), green sugar sprinkles
Place popcorn in a large bowl; set aside.
Melt butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Stir marshmallows into butter until melted. Stir in gelatin powder until evenly colored. Pour over popcorn and stir until evenly coated. With buttered hands, shape popcorn into 7 oval shapes.
Flatten one oval shape slightly and squeeze one end to form a ‘skull’ shape. Place onto parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining shapes.
To decorate: Press two gumballs into each skull to form ‘eyes’. Press candy corn into skull to from ‘teeth’. Use scissors to trim candy strips and press into top for ‘hair’. Sprinkle with sugar sprinkles.
Allow ‘zombies’ to set for about 20 minutes before wrapping individually in plastic wrap (or serve immediately).
PEGGY’S HALLOWEEN DELIGHT POPCORN
Makes 16 cups
16 cups popped corn
12-16 ounces white chocolate chips, melted
3/4 cup candy corn
3/4 cup peanuts
11/2 cup pretzel sticks
11/2 cups Reese’s pieces
Make sure unpopped kernels are removed from popcorn. Place it in a large bowl. Melt white chocolate in a microwave-save bowl in the microwave. Pour chocolate over popcorn in bowl and stir to coat. Spread the mixture onto two large cookie sheets lines with wax paper. Distribute candy corn, pretzel sticks and Reese’s Pieces over the popcorn. Allow chocolate to set up and break mixture into pieces.