Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sweet Treats

Our family's favorite treat for a winter's evening is homemade popcorn and hot cocoa. I'll be honest, it's easier to convince myself to bundle everyone up in their snowsuits to play outside if there is the promise of warming up with hot cocoa after we come back in. It is also traditional holiday tree trimming fare.

Got Dairy Free Cocoa?

Church Mouse's Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix

Here's a recipe for a yummy and thrifty hot cocoa mix. You can make this in bulk to use with your family or to give away as a gift in a quart size mason jar with a ribbon on it.
  • 8 c. powdered dry milk
  • scant 3/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
Add 1/3 c. mix to 1 c. hot water and enjoy!

If you don't want to bother with making up a mix ahead of time, the easiest and best homemade cocoa is just 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon of sugar in a mug. Add about 1 c. hot milk or for a dairy free version, hot soy/rice/coconut milk. (I prefer the coconut. I would advise using less sugar with the pre-sweetened milks.) Add a dash of cinnamon if it suits your fancy. Easy to remember, easy to make!
(Thanks to my friend, Stacey, for the suggestion!)

Now for the POPCORN!

Have you been making your popcorn in the microwave all these years? There is a better way!!! It is substantially cheaper to buy your popcorn in bulk and pop it on the stove. You really don't need to buy a fancy popcorn popper. We have tried several and while they do work well, they are usually very annoying to clean and they burn out after a few years of heavy use. We now use our big stock pot, the very same one that we use to make soup, iced tea, and any number of things. I'm happy to get rid of a bulky kitchen gadget in favor of using something as multipurpose as a good stock pot. Plus, the stockpot washes out so easily! Reducing dirty dishes is always a win in my book!

Popping Corn on the Stove, Step By Step:

1. Put a couple of tablespoons of oil in your pot and add two popcorn kernels. Use enough oil to cover the entire bottom of the pot. (We usually make a big batch in our stock pot, but you can make a small batch using a smaller saucepan just as well.) Turn your burner to medium-high heat.

Popcorn 1

2. When one of the popcorn kernels pops, add enough popcorn to cover the bottom of your pot, plus just a little bit more. Cover with a lid.

Popcorn 2

3. Shake the pot to evenly coat the kernels - just slide it back and forth on the stove a bit.

Popcorn 3

4. When the kernels start popping, continue shaking the pot to mix the kernels and to keep the popped pieces from burning. Vent out some of the steam by slightly lifting the lid if needed.

Popcorn 4

5. When the popping stops, pour the popped corn into a large bowl. Put the pot back on the stove and add your butter to the pot to melt it. Drizzle the melted butter on top of your popped corn and add seasonings to taste.

Popcorn 5

You can adjust this to your tastes, but these ratios are a good rule of thumb:
1 Tbs. oil + 1/3 c. popcorn kernels + 1 Tbs. butter

You can use any kind of oil, but our favorite is Nutiva coconut oil. Amazon runs amazing deals from time to time, and it is our top choice for healthy cooking oils.

Our favorite seasonings:
I definitely recommend popcorn salt. It is ground super fine so it sticks to the kernels.

** Note - I am not a Penzey's affiliate and I do not receive any compensation for my recommendation. I just love their spices so much that I wish everyone could enjoy them as we do.

What is your favorite popcorn flavor?

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  1. I love popcorn, and I love hot chocolate, but I never thought of mixing the two! It's funny -- I rarely make popcorn (which we do on the stove, as well) in the evening. Instead, it is uusally a spur-of-the-moment afternoon snack. Hot chocolate is often a bedtime treat. Maybe that's why I never thought of them together -- wrong times of day.

  2. The cinnamon/sugar popcorn with hot chocolate is a stroke of genius in my opinion! It's our new tree-decorating tradition. I also like hot apple cider with my popcorn. Add a few chunks of cheese and maybe some sliced fresh apples, and you've got Sunday night supper!


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