Sunday, January 12, 2014

Pop Corn Balls

Looking for something fun, cheap and colorful to serve at a party? I was, and I found this in my lovely box of McCall’s Great American Recipe Card Collection from 1973. So long as you don’t mind getting your hands DIRTY, you’ll have fun with these Popcorn Balls!

My daughter and I made them for a holiday party – they’re called Christmas Popcorn Balls – but we felt the subdued colors shown on the recipe card were WAY TOO SUBTLE! So we went heavy on the Jell-O (Jell-O used to provide sweetness and color to pop corn? Oh YEAH!!!) and added a lot (quite a lot actually) of food coloring. Usually I avoid the stuff, but come on – for the holidays? Go crazy. We did!

These balls are fun to make and they have that sweet-salty thing going on that just works, thanks to the aforementioned Jell-O as well as chopped peanuts. I think perhaps I preferred the other flavored popcorns I have made just because there was less mess and goo all over your hands (see recipe for Pink Party Pop Corn here) but they are fun and tasty, and we will make them again. Just plan on spending more time than you thought humanly possible trying to roll the damn stuff into balls, while at the same time scraping it off your hands… this without just giving up and eating handfuls. Actually, I discovered that if the stuff is mostly cooled off it is much easier to form into balls, and then you also don’t burn your flesh with boiling Jell-O.  Um yeah… popcorn balls. 

Ingredients - yes, Jell-O!!!

 Hot Jell-O with food coloring - how can you go wrong???

Here we are at the Christmas party with the Pop Corn Balls! Happy Holidays :)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Lentil Soup

Soup! Winter weather just requires it, and the best thing is, you can make a big pot and have it all week. This recipe from Sunset Books 1977 version of "Favorite Recipes for Soups & Stews" is inexpensive and so easy, there is really no excuse, so grab a bag of lentils and get cooking:

There is hardly anything I need to say because this recipe is just SO easy. One thing is, you will be rewarded right away with delightful smells as the onion and bacon cook. You certainly don’t need to use bacon - you can leave it out if you don’t eat meat. In which case, I’d use a little Worcestershire sauce to make up for the flavor. You could also use pieces of cooked chicken or turkey in this soup, or sausages sliced into bite size bits. A final thing to note is that this makes a big pot, so if you won’t be able to eat it all, plan to freeze serving sizes in plastic zip bags which can be tossed right into your lunch bag to re-heat in the microwave at work. All you need is fresh bread and YUM. 

Lentil Soup

2 cups lentils
2 quarts water
2 slices uncooked bacon, cut in pieces
1 medium-sized onion, sliced
¼ cup chopped carrots
½ cup chopped celery
3 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, minced or mashed
2 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
½ tsp oregano
1 can (1 lb.) solid pack tomatoes
2 Tbsp wine vinegar

Wash the lentils and place them in a pan with the water, bacon, onion, carrots, celery, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper and oregano. Cover pan and simmer for 1 ½ hours. Add the tomatoes and break them up with a spoon; add the vinegar and simmer 30 minutes longer. Taste, and add more salt if needed. Makes about 10 servings.