Satisfy That Snack Attack

IN THE KITCHEN

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With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it is sometimes hard to find the time to stop and get something to eat.

Snacks can fill in from time to time.

Some favorites for a tree trimming party are Caramel Corn, Popcorn Balls, Nacho Popcorn and Taco Snack Mix.

Party Candy Caramel Corn

16 cups popped popcorn

5 cups miniature pretzels

2 cups firmly packed brown sugar

1 cup Land O Lakes Margarine

1/2 cup dark corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup salted peanuts

2 cups your favorite movie candy (candy-coated milk chocolate pieces, candy corn, chocolate-covered raisins, miniature chocolate mints -- for authentic movie house taste, use theater candies in this fun caramel corn)

Heat oven to 200 degrees. In large roasting pan combine popcorn and pretzels; set aside.

In 2-quart saucepan combine brown sugar, margarine, corn syrup and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a full boil (12 to 14 minutes). Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until candy thermometer reaches 238 degrees or small amount of mixture dropped into ice water forms a soft ball (4 to 6 minutes).

Remove from heat; stir in baking soda. Pour over popcorn and pretzels; sprinkle peanuts over caramel mixture. Stir until all popcorn is coated.

Bake for 20 minutes; stir. Continue baking for 25 minutes. Remove from oven; stir in candy. Immediately place caramel corn on waxed paper; cool completely. Break into pieces. Store in tightly covered container.

Makes 6 quarts.

Recipe provided courtesy of Land O Lakes, Inc.

Microwave Caramel Corn

4 quarts hot air popped popcorn

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 stick of butter or margarine

1/4 cup white corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Combine everything except soda and popped corn in a 1-1/2 to 2 quart microwavable bowl. Put in microwave on HIGH and bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes. Remove from microwave and stir in soda. Put the popped corn in a large brown grocery bag and pour the syrup over the popped corn. Close bag and SHAKE vigorously. Cook in bag on HIGH power for 1-1/2 minutes. Remove and SHAKE and cook another 1-1/2 minutes. Cook another 1-1/2 minutes if needed, depending on individual microwave power. Pour onto a cookie sheet to cool. When cool, break apart and store in any airtight bag or container. A used bread wrapper works, if it is air tight.

WARNING: Never leave a brown bag in the microwave unattended. Some of them may have small metal particles, and can catch fire if left in the microwave too long.

Quick and Easy Popcorn Balls

1/4 cup corn oil

1/2 cup popcorn

1/2 cup dark corn syrup

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat corn oil in a 4-quart kettle over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Add popcorn. Cover, leaving cover just slightly ajar. Shake frequently over medium heat until popping stops. Meanwhile, mix together corn syrup, sugar and salt. Add to popped corn in kettle, stirring and tossing constantly over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, or until sugar is dissolved and popcorn is evenly coated with mixture. Remove from heat. Gently form into balls, using buttered hands.

Makes about 1 dozen popcorn balls.

Nacho Popcorn Snack

10 cups freshly popped popcorn

1 teaspoon ground paprika

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 cup melted butter

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

salt, to taste

Put hot popcorn into a large serving bowl. Sprinkle the paprika, chile powder and cumin over the popcorn; toss to mix. Pour the melted butter over the top, then sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Toss again to blend. Serve right away.

Makes 10 cups.

Taco Snack Mix

4 cups assorted square wheat, rice or corn cereals

4 cups small pretzel sticks

4 cups tortilla chips

1 envelope taco seasoning mix

1/4 cup melted butter

Combine all ingredients except margarine in a large bowl, tossing to coat well with seasoning. Drizzle with melted butter and toss to coat well. Store in an airtight container.

Makes about 12 cups.

Courtesy of Southern U.S. Cuisine at about.com

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