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Salted Caramel Popcorn Balls

23 Oct

Hello
Do you say kaa-rahh-mell or kar-muhl ? Either way, this sugary dessert item has recently regained popularity in combination with salt. I love sweet and salty, in fact I often crave it. I find it calms 2 beasts in one shot, it achieves true satisfaction. Yummm…

Righto. My sister loves popcorn quite a bit. She especially loves adding flavours to it; white cheddar, sour cream, chocolate and so on. A couple of years ago, I received a photo from her via whatsapp. It was a plastic crate not unlike those cupcakes and muffins are sold in, but this one housed popcorn balls. They were massive, covered in drizzled chocolate both dark and white and topped with the tiniest chocolate wafers (think super mini candy melts). They looked delicious. And they were expensive. I mean like unreasonably so.  Needless to say she never bought them. Since then I kept telling myself I should have a go at making popcorn balls. And that day finally came.

Like so many things I make , I initially wing it. I don’t look up recipes BEFORE I attempt something,  that’s not hardcore. So this is my way of making popcorn balls and I am well aware that there may be far more effective ways but this one was fairly simple and very affordable so keep on reading.

In this recipe I use marshmallow as the binding ingredient similarly to making a rice crispy treat and I also make my own caramel to top them with.

WHAT YOU NEED

1) Popcorn  (plain, air popped)- 4 cups (popped)

2) Marshmallows- 1 cup

3) Granulated sugar-1 cip

4) Heavy cream/evaporated milk- 1/3 cup

5) Salt (preferably large crystals)

6) Spices- I used cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin spice ( why not)

6.5) Patience
WHAT TO DO 

1) Pop popcorn and set aside.

Air popped popcorn 




2) Dissolve sugar in approximately 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil in a saucepan then add milk/cream and allow to boil for a few more mintes. – It won’t be as dark or as thick when you first make it. It needs time to cool.
Note : My caramel measurements were fairly arbitrary as I was experimenting,  however you may vary your measurements depending on how thick or how runny you want your caramel. You can also just melt down caramel candy 🙂

Evaporated milk and granulated sugar 


Bring sugar to a boil



Completed caramel




3) Melt Marshmallows in microwave in 15 second intervals until soft and goopy. 

Marshmallows,  salt and spices 

4) Combine marshmallow, popcorn and spices together.

Mixture of ingredients 




5) Let the mixture sit for approximately 30 minutes. (Trust me it saves you a few grey hairs) The marshmallow begins to set up a but and the mixture is way easier to handle cimparted with when it’s very warm and the marshmallow is stringy and sticks to everything. 

6) Mold into balls the size you desire and let firm up for a few hours (at least 2) in the fridge.

Popcorn balls
7) Once firm, take caramel mixture and Drizzle over the balls. Sprinkle with a small amount of salt. Let firm up overnight.

 

Finished product 




These were moorish. This recipe made eight balls approximately 3 inches diameter. Popcorn is extremely inexpensive and the remainder of ingredients are likely found in your cupboard making this an affordable treat for a movie night or other get together. The caramel combined with salt creates a complex flavour that foodies will love but is so tasty that everyone else will adore.

I hope you try these out and habe an awesome day!

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HALLOWEEN PARTY ACTIVITIES FOR ADULTS

3 Oct

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So it’s another October and Halloween is in the air! If you have even 1/64 of the love I do for Halloween you have been planning for months: decorations, costumes, parties etc. My sister and I traditionally have a Halloween party where we invite friends over, decorate our family home from top to bottom usually with a theme and make spooky inspired foods. Over the years the party has basically been a movie party where a selection of scare worthy flicks are played. On various occasions we have (pumpkin) spiced things up …. with in an activity or two to make things different.

The interwebs are choc full of Halloween party ideas from the décor to the food to the activities. The problem is when it comes to activities most of what you see is for kids. That’s fine, Halloween is a fun time for kids to dress up and have a blast but what about adults who want to dress up and have a blast?

I am going to share some ideas for activities for an adult Halloween party, and hopefully this will inspire someone. Enjoy!

So first things first, you have picked your theme, décor and menu. We won’t be dealing with that in this post.

MOVIES
This is a total “no brainer”. You pile up on some couches, grab some popcorn and let the movies roll. I have compiled a list of what I consider some great Halloween movie night choices (in no particular order).
1) Little Shop of Horrors
2) Insidious 1 and 2 (NOT 3!)
3) The Craft
4) The Conjuring– Anything even loosely based on a true story ups the scare factor
5) Poltergeist– Classic
6) The Exorcist– Another classic
7) Nightmare on Elm Street– The original or any from the franchise
8) Rosemary’s Baby
9) Sleepy Hollow
10) The Amityville Horror– Or any Amityville movies for that matter.

Alternately, you could binge watch a series. Some of my recommendations (again in no particular order) are :
1) American Horror Story (Seasons 1-4)
2) Penny Dreadful (Seasons 1 and 2)
3) True Blood ( Seasons 1-7)
4) Ghost Hunters – the original
5) Haunted Collector

CHALLENGES
If you have ever heard of this cute little website called YouTube then you may have come across the wide array of challenges that have taken over. The Kylie Jenner lip challenge, The Smoothie Challenge, The Lays chips Challenge, Pringles Challenge, Bean Boozled Challenge, French fries, burger, oreos , chubby bunny, ice cream and so on and so forth.

If you take a few minutes you can find dozens of videos on every challenge each one as entertaining as the last. I think any of the challenges involving food would be great group fun but I have selected my two favourites.

Oreo Challenge
It is now fairly common knowledge that Oreos, everyone’s favourite cream filled cookies come in more than just the traditional black with white cream. Literally any delicious sweet flavour you can imagine they have made. There is Birthday Cake, Mint, Berry, Pumpkin, Caramel apple, Red Velvet and many more.
So without any further ado ….

What You Need

1)Multiple flavours of oreos. I recommend 5-10. Less and it isn’t much of a game. More and it can get a bit long. One person (The Game Master) knows all the flavours and is responsible for distributing the cookies each round.

Some of the many flavours of Oreo cookies available:

Birthday cake oreoPumpkin Spice OreoMint OreosLemon oreosCandy Corn OreosCOOKIE DOUGH OREOSCaramel Apple OreoPeanut Butter Oreo

For a more exhaustive and comprehensive list check out this great blog post : http://blog.food.com/happenings/2015/03/06/22-odd-oreo-flavors-you-didnt-know-existed/ by ‘Happenings’

2)Players – 2 persons and up. You can technically have as many players as you have cookies.

3)Blindfolds- All players need to be blindfolded so as not to see the cookies before tasting.

What To Do

1)Each player dons a blindfold while the game master distributes one cookie per player all of the same flavour.

2)Each player tastes his/her cookie and makes a mental note. On the count of 3 everyone shouts their guesses.
After the guess, players remove blindfolds and flavour is revealed. Correct guess earns 1 point. Incorrect guess earns zero points.

After all rounds the person with the highest score is deemed winner.

Everyone wins in the end because they can eat all the left over cookies!

Tidbits
I’ve seen people award half points for close guesses e.g if Apple caramel cookie is guessed as just apple player gets 0.5 points.

Elimination- I never saw this because I’ve only seen it played with 2 players at a time but with each round, anyone with an incorrect guess can be eliminated until there are just 2 players and then they play for the win.

Prizes- This is generally reserved for children’s party games but why not? The prize can be anything from a package of oreos to a bottle of wine.

Bean Boozled Challenge
This is another hugely popular one. This kit sold by Jelly Belly consists of multiple jelly beans that are essentially colour similes. For example an orange jelly bean can be either peach or vomit flavoured, a yellow and white speckled one can be either popcorn or mouldy cheese. The odd disgusting flavours (I believe) are based on Bertie Botts Every flavour Beans written about in Harry Potter and made by Jelly Belly as well.

You can’t tell the difference until you taste it and by then it’s far too late.

What You Need
1) Bean Boozled Challenge Kit- The box with the spinner and 20 beans: 10 nice and 10 nasty go for around $6 US on Amazon or Jelly Belly’s website but you can buy an extra box/bag of just the beans for about $2.50 US.

bean-boozled-boardgame

Bean Boozled Kit- Photo available at: http://www.fivebelow.com/party.html

2) Players- At least 2 but you can have as many players as there are each colour bean

What To Do
1) Spin the bean boozled wheel and it points a particular colour bean ( flavour options given).

2)Each player takes one jelly bean in that colour and eats it. You have to eat the entire bean regardless of the flavour.
-I’ve seen the points awarded differently: One way is the person who gets the nice flavours gets a point while the one with the “boozled” flavour gets zero. I’ve also seen players awarded 2 points if you are able to eat an entire ‘nasty’ flavour.

3) The winner is the player with the most points.

Tidbits
I saw YouTuber Shaneece Bernard up the ante on this game where you had to take a shot each time you couldn’t or chose not to eat the ‘nasty’ flavour. Truly Bean BOOZEled.

FORTUNE TELLING/ TAROT/RUNES READING

Had enough of the challenges? How about having your fortune read?

So I don’t know any real fortune tellers but I know a few people who can read tarot cards.( As a disclaimer to anyone offended by this sort of thing, tarot cards aren’t actually meant to tell the future or have any evil connotations. That said, if you aren’t comfortable with it, don’t do it.) If you can afford it and want to ,you can hire someone to come and read everyone’s tarot. Or you can do it yourself.

Tarot cards are easily found online along with the book for interpretation and if you purchase a set you can keep it for every party or gathering you have.

tarot-cards-300x226Tarot Cards. Image available at: http://spmcommunications.com/gazing-into-the-future/

An alternative or in addition is reading Runes . Similar concept to Tarot cards.

1341389954RunesReadingIntroduction

Picture of Runes stones. Available at: http://www.futuresobright.com/tags/runes-reading

KARAOKE AND DANCE OFF
These are easy, fun and free. Gone are the days when you had to buy a Karaoke machine to be able to do this. Just connect your television with your device and play the song you want using a lyric video. Have someone(s) judge for the best singer/ all-round performer.

For the dance off it’s pretty much the same thing. People assemble into small groups, select a song and make up a short choreography. The best group wins.

Tidbits
To increase the fun factor I suggest having a theme. For example all the karaoke songs have to be by the same artist or all have to be in a foreign language. For the dance group contest perhaps all the songs have to be from a particular decade e.g the 1980s.

All of these activities are in my opinion fun and chill and inexpensive. Movies can be watched via Netflix or your Android box, you only need an internet connection to get access to VEVO for karaoke and dance competitions and the bean boozled kits and oreos are reasonably priced.

I hope my suggestions inspire you for your Halloween or any time of year party. Have an awesome day!

Halloween on the Cheap

30 Oct

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Happy Halloween!
I love Halloween. I also love Christmas, my birthday and Easter. I like Valentine’s day and I have no feelings towards Thanksgiving. I also appreciate,respect and acknowledge Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali and Eid even though I don’t personally celebrate them.

Now to the meat of the matter: Halloween!
Despite living away from home on and off for the past 4 years I have managed to be at home every year for the past 6 Halloweens. There I have a collection of Halloween props and decorations both handmade and store bought.

Here (where I am now) I have nothing. Zero, zilch! To add insult to injury Halloween season found me at a time when I had no money. NONE! So it isn’t like I could order a bunch of new stuff online or go on a shopping spree.

What is a poor party girl to do?

Well I soon discovered that my new hometown didn’t have much to offer in the way of Halloween shopping, in fact it doesn’t have much to offer in the way of shopping in any way…

Despite that I soon discovered a discount store had some Halloween stuff in stock. The basic stuff: witch hats and brooms, cat ears and tail kits, rubber creepy crawlies you get the drift.

Even though I prefer more inspired merchandise I could work with this. I have loads of “basic” Halloween decorations at home.

I could do a whole witchy theme I thought :
I’d hang two brooms over the doorway, put a plastic cauldron on my dining table and have a ton of rubber worms and mice spilling out of it. Of course I’d buy a bunch of pumkins and arrange them on my counter then put witch hats on a couple of them…..yes I can see it now….
EXCEPT I didn’t have enough money for all that stuff.

Okay so forget the theme idea I would keep it simple: A Happy Halloween banner on the wall, fake cobwebs in each corner a plastic Jack-o-lantern bucket filled to the brim with candy. I could strategically place the rubber rats and centipedes on the floor wait wait….didn’t have enough for that either.  And the store didn’t have any fake cobwebs anyway.

So I went in with a budget of under $10 (that was my theme).For that I got the following:
1) Spiderweb bowl
2) Pack of rubber spiders
3) Pack of small bats
4) Witch’s hat
TOTAL $9(things are kind of expensive around here)

This wasn’t a whole lot to work with but it was enough. My apartment is small anyway.
I placed the bowl on my table and arranged the spiders in and around it.

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Made some look like they were crawling away.

I put the witch’s hat on my breakfast bar and placed a spider and bat on it. I also added a purple candle I had from before saying as my colour scheme is purple.

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The bats were a problem. I wanted to hang them or maybe stick them onto the wall for a flying effect.but my lease prohibits sticking stuff up and also I had neither string nor tape nor funds with which to buy them. So I grudgingly propped them onto the shelf just above the breakfast bar. Made it into a Halloween corner as such.

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I’m a hardcore Halloween-ist so I knew I had to do something even if it isn’t what I would have wanted. I’m already away from home and friends and family so I needed some semblance of normalcy. And you know what I like it. It’s simple. I can look over when I’m on my laptop or in the kitchen making lunch and see it and that’s cool.

This is the overall look

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My little Halloween corner.

Well that’s that. I’ll be at work on Halloween night but I hope everyone has a great Halloween.
Stay tuned for my Halloween Scary Story post.
Have an awesome day!

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