Category Archives: So Sinfully Southern

10/24/13

Childhood Favorite Popcorn Balls

When my daddy was a little boy, there was a sweet elderly woman that lived on his street. Every Halloween, she would spend all day in her kitchen preparing sticky, chewy, and oh-so-craveable popcorn balls for all the neighboring children. Dad remembers those Halloweens fondly and said there was nothing as sweet as her popcorn balls.

5 years ago, right around this time of year, Dad was sharing that memory with me. And I couldn’t help but think how wonderful it was that she would make homemade candy and treats for the neighboring kids and I felt sort of ashamed for handing out Reeses and Kit Kats.

Well, right then and there we both jumped up, hopped on Lord Google, and searched for Popcorn Balls recipes and found one to our liking. We raided the pantry, started pulling out ingredients, and got to cooking!

And I regret to inform you that not a one of them made it into the hands of any neighboring children. We ate every single one of those bad boys and you will too!

These popcorn balls have become a fall tradition in our household. Mom or Dad would pack them up and bring them to football games, send a half dozen to me at my apartment, or we would simply eat them ourselves in place of a well-balanced meal. Just being honest with you. When these are still warm from the stovetop, there is nothing like them in the world! I have to consciously tell myself to put them away. It’s something I’m still working on.

So, this past weekend, we continued that tradition of popcorn ball making. Can’t wait for you to make them too and share them with your families! So fun!

Popcorn Balls Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 12 cups popped popcorn
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons butter, unsalted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Start with 12 cups of glorious, freshly popped popcorn.

Popcorn 2

This amount is produced from approximately 1/2 cup of corn kernels.

Personally, I love the flavor profile of stovetop popped popcorn. So light, fluffy, and at the same time dense and chewy. And I like white corn as opposed to yellow, but now I am just being picky.

Popcorn 1

We use an old-fashioned Whirley Pop pan for our popcorn, but you can use whatever works for you! {follow link here to Williams Sonoma for more info on the Whirely Pop if interested}

Popcorn 3

2. Pick over the popped popcorn ensuring there are no unpopped kernels or too-brown pieces in your popcorn. Once you have completed that, set the 12 cups aside and place into a large greased bowl.

3. Now it’s time to get down the syrup! Place sugar, corn syrup, and vinegar in a medium sauce pan over medium hight heat with a candy thermometer attached. Put that candy thermometer in from the very beginning to it can heat up with the sugar syrup. Otherwise, your bulb will break.

Syrup 1

Trust me, I speak from a place of experience on this subject.

Stir until the sugar dissolves and it no longer looks crystalized. It will be nice glossy and thick.

Syrup 2

Stop stirring and allow to continue to cook until thermometer reads 260 degrees or Hard Ball stage.

I love this part.

Bubble bubble toil and trouble…

Syrup bubbles 1

Fire burn and cauldron bubble.’

Syrup bubbles 2

As you see, the bubbles take on a slightly different hue the more it cooks. You want this pale blonde color, but not as dark as amber. Don’t want that sugar to burn on you!

Syrup bubbles 3

4. Perfect! We are at 260, so remove from heat and immediately stir in the 4 tablespoons of butter and vanilla that have been waiting in the wings.

Butter & vanilla

add butter

This will cause the mixture to bubble up voilently, so stand clear, and then stir until all is dissolved and you have a nice opaque, pourable, thick syrup.

and stir it inNow, back to that popcorn.

5. Pour thickened mixture evenly over the popcorn in the large, greased bowl.

I love watching it ribbon and cascade over the popped corn!

pouring 2

Then toss with a rubber spatula until all combined and all the corn is coated.

stirring 1

stirring 2

6. Now, it’s time to form the balls! We prefer a more medium sized popcorn ball, but you make whatever size you like. Little small ones would be adorable too!

balls 1

On any given recipe, we make anywhere from 14-18 balls. Sometime more and sometimes less. It is a very organic process.

balls 2

A sweet, sweet family tradition. Popcorn balls! Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

xoxo

Jamie

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09/17/13

Last of Summer Cook-outs + Southern Baked Beans

We are ringing in Fall here in Georgia,  so celebrate it with one last ‘farewell to summer’ cook-out.

I’m thinking the classics.

Hamburgers, hotdogs, coleslaw, baked beans, and copious amounts of crunchy, salty potato chips. It’s my prerogative.

And if it’s got to be baked beans, it’s got to be my Southern Baked Bean recipe.

Southern Baked Beans

  • 1 can Navy beans
  • 1 can Great Northern beans
  • 1 can Pinto beans
  • 1/2 medium Vidalia onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1-2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (I tend to err on the more side rather than the less… I love this stuff!)
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
  • 4 slices partially crisped bacon, coarsely chopped

Directions:

1. Rinse and drain your 3 cans of beans in your colander until all moisture drains.

Beans draining

I personally love mixing the beans. However, if you prefer one over the other, you can certainly use all Navy Beans, all Pintos, or all Great Northern. Your choice entirely.

2. While the beans are draining, saute your onion and garlic cloves in a teaspoon or so of oil over medium heat until tender and translucent. Be careful not to brown them.

Careful not to cook this on too high of heat. Garlic has a tendency to burn quickly. And there is nothing, nothing worse than burnt garlic.

sauteed onions

This process should take about 5 minutes total.

Add your beans. Toss them all in that garlicy, oniony goodness.

Beans and onions

I could probably eat it just like this. Let’s just be honest.

3. Time to make the delicious sauce. This is my favorite part! I love all these flavors that combine for a sweet and tangy sauce.

Ingredients

Add the ketchup, brown sugar, molasses, worcestershire, and mustard to the beans and onion mixture. Stir to thoroughly coat all the beans and pour into a greased baking dish.

baked beans

baked beans close up

Yep! I could eat it just like that! But, these are not your ordinary baked beans. Take these beans over the top with crumbled bacon spread out evenly over the top. That bacon will get crisp as the beans cook and become really sweet and caramelized and impart that unmistakable bacon flavor!

ready to bake

4. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes. Increase the temperature to 400 degrees for the final 5-10 minutes of cooking to get the top nice and sugary and the bacon good and crisp. (This is why you want to undercook the bacon earlier.)

ready to bake

Let the beans stand for a few minutes before digging in.

image_2

Absolutely delicious! Make these tomorrow. Today. To-now!

*recipe adapted from Southern Baked Beans recipe on www.addapinch.com.

 

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