Thursday, December 15, 2011

Have a Poppin' Good Christmas

My kids like to give all their teachers a little something for Christmas.  As in the art teacher, music, PE, librarian, computer lab and so on.  I like to come up with something simple, but fun.  Last year we did hot chocolate in a cup with a candy cane.  We put a note on it that said: We hope you have a warm and cozy Christmas filled with family and friends.  Merry Christmas!  This year my daughter wanted to do the same thing, but I wanted to do something different.  My oldest sister said last year they got microwave popcorn, put it in the $1 popcorn buckets at Target and put a note around the popcorn that read: Have a Poppin' Good Christmas.  I loved the idea, but I like to make things difficult on myself.  I have decided to use this same idea, but make 3 different kinds of popcorn to put in cellophane bags.  We will make Peppermint Popcorn, Carmel Corn and Cinnamon Popcorn.  Below are the recipes and printable gift tags.

Peppermint Popcorn
16 oz almond bark
6 candy canes, crushed very fine
4 quarts popped popcorn (about a 1/2 cup popcorn kernels)

Pop popcorn.  In a large bowl melt almond bark in the microwave; stir often.  When the almond bark is completely melted, stir in the candy canes.  Place popped popcorn in a  large bowl and pour almond bark/candy cane mixture over top.  Gently stir to coat popcorn.  Pour out onto parchment paper and allow popcorn to dry/harden.  (This tasted really good on pretzels too!) 

I found this recipe here, but changed it a little.

Caramel Corn
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick margarine
1/4 cup white corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
5-9 cups popped popcorn

In a 2 quart dish, mix the brown sugar, margarine, corn syrup and salt.  Put it in the microwave and cook on high for 2 minutes or until mixture comes to a boil, stirring often.  Remove from microwave and stir in the soda.  Put popped popcorn in a large glass bowl and pour caramel mixture over top and stir.  Cook on high for 1 1/2 minutes and then stir.  Cook another 1 1/2 minutes and then pour into a pan to cool.

Cinnamon Popcorn
10 cups popped popcorn
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (optional)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3 Tbsp Cayenne Pepper Sauce (I found this in the BBQ sauce aisle at Walmart)
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp cinnamon
6 Tbsp unsalted butter or I Can't Believe It's Not Butter

Combine sugars, corn syrup, cayenne pepper sauce and honey.  Bring to a full boil over medium high heat; stirring until sugars are dissolved.  Boil 6-8 minutes or until soft crack stage (290 degrees F on candy thermometer).  Do not stir, remove from heat.  Gradually add butter and cinnamon to sugar mixture; stirring mixture until well blended and pour over popcorn and pecans.  Stir popcorn.  If it sets too quickly, put mixture in oven to soften.  Spread popcorn on cookie sheets to dry.  Break up popcorn after it has set awhile.  (You may want to start with less cayenne pepper sauce and kind of taste the mixture to see how hot you want it.)

Like I said, I plan to put these in cellophane bags, attach them together and put the follow tag on them:

You can download these tags here for you to use.

These would make great gifts for your neighbors too.  If you don't have enough time to make the popcorn, you can always do what my sister did or buy a popcorn tin and add the tag.

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