Live Well Utah e-Newsletter | October 2013

Popcorn: A Perfect Treat for Fall

Popcorn is one of the oldest American foods and was introduced to the colonists at the first Thanksgiving feast at Plymouth, Massachusetts.  Quadequina, the brother of Wampanoag chief Massasoit, brought a bag of popped popcorn as a gift. The colonists took popcorn and added sugar and milk and created the first breakfast cereal. Popcorn is universally popular.(Popcorn Institute) 

Americans consume 16 billion quarts of popped popcorn annually or 51 quarts per man, woman and child. It is one of the most wholesome and economical foods available, and 70 percent is consumed in the home, with only 30 percent consumed in theaters, stadiums or schools. (popcorn board) 

Popcorn provides solid food value, is wholesome, delicious and low in calories. There are five different types of corn but only popcorn pops!  The thing that makes popcorn pop is water. Each popcorn kernel contains water, starch and a hard outer shell.  As the kernel is heated, the water expands, creating steam and pressure. It then explodes and creates the popped kernels.  Popcorn needs to have 13.5 – 14 percent of water to reach its maximum popability. It is best to store popcorn in an airtight container. 

Old maids are the un-popped kernels. They are too dry to pop, and generally settle on the bottom of the bowl.   You can rejuvenate old popcorn by filling a quart jar and adding one tablespoon of water. Cover with an airtight lid, shake well often and let rest until all the water is absorbed.

Popping tips: Use fresh or hydrated popcorn. Don’t add salt until after it is popped, as it toughens the kernel. Don’t use butter to pop kernels.  Use safe popping procedures.  Popcorn can be popped on a stove top, hot air popper, microwave or over a fire. Microwave popcorn is designed specifically for the microwave. Never pop popcorn in a regular paper bag as it could cause a fire.

There are lots of ways to season and flavor popcorn. For a spicy taste, add parmesan cheese, pesto or cajun seasoning.  Those looking for a sweet flavor can melt chocolate or caramel over it. Those who are health conscious may want to add dried fruit and nuts for a fun trail mix. Explore and create your own popcorn blend!

2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
10 tbs. milk
1 tsp. flavored extract
16 cups popped popcorn

Mix powdered sugar, granulated sugar and milk. Boil for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and add flavor and color. Stir well.

½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
? cup evaporated milk
1 tbs. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
16 cups popped popcorn

Caramelize ½ cup sugar in heavy sauce pan.  When sugar is melted and a light caramel color, add ½ cup water and cook until caramelized sugar dissolves. Then add 2 cups sugar and ? cup evaporated milk, cook to 236?? F., or to medium ball stage. Add butter and vanilla, cool for 5 minutes. Pour over popcorn, stir until coated.

4 tbs. butter, melted
1 ½ quarts popped popcorn        
4 cups pretzel rings
1 (4oz.) can shoestring potatoes
1 tbs. dry onion soup mix

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Combine popcorn, pretzel rings and shoestring potatoes in a 13X9" baking dish. Add onion soup mix to butter and stir.  Drizzle over popcorn mixture, stirring to coat evenly. Heat in oven for 10 minutes, stirring once.

8 cups popped corn
1 package (6oz.) semi sweet chocolate morsels
2/3 cup light corn syrup

Place popped corn in large buttered bowl. Melt chocolate in heavy 2 quart saucepan over low heat.  Stir in corn syrup. Pour mixture over popped corn and toss until well coated. Spread on buttered baking sheet. Separate into pieces with fork.

Recipes compiled by Becky Low


The Importance of Family Traditions

(GaeLynn Peterson, USU Extension Faculty, Wayne County)
As the days become shorter and we feel a brisk coolness in the air, we know the fall season is approaching.  This has always been an exciting, anticipatory time of the year.  We are able to see the fruits of our labors of the summer as gardens explode with produce and our pantry shelves are lined with the results of our food storage expertise.  We also feel the excitement of the upcoming holidays and our thoughts are often drawn to family traditions that are an important part of our lives. Family traditions are activities that families do together on a regular basis – this can be daily, monthly, yearly or event specific.  Denise Witmer, contributor to “ Parenting Teens” suggests five reasons why it is important that we observe family traditions:
  1. Family traditions create good feelings and special moments to remember.
  2. Family traditions give every member of the family a stronger sense of belonging.
  3. Family traditions help your teen with his / her identity.
  4. Family traditions help parents impart the family’s values to their children.
  5. Family traditions offer a sense of security.
In addition to these reasons, anticipation is almost as much fun as the activity itself! Linda & Richard Eyre of suggest that everyone needs an identity larger than them.  We all need to feel like we belong to or are part of something. Sometimes if children don’t get this sense of belonging in families; they may look for it in other areas such as gangs or other places. As Halloween is quickly approaching, I would like to share one of our family traditions that my children and now my grandchildren and I have enjoyed for many years.  Each October, about one week before Halloween, the grandchildren come to my house to bake and decorate Halloween cookies. In addition to the cookies, I always have “Dinner in a Pumpkin” ready for everyone to enjoy while the children are busy with the cookie making and decorating.  I have scary music playing and old costumes available to add to the excitement and fun. Whether you are a new family just starting to establish your own family traditions or you are well established in traditions that are dear to you, continuing to enjoy these activities will create bonds and memories that will last a lifetime.

These are the traditional recipes I have used for years!
2 c. sugar                                2/3 c. margarine
3 eggs                                        ½ tsp. vanilla
1 c. milk                                   5 ½ c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder      1 tsp. baking soda            1 ½ tsp. salt

Cream sugar, margarine, add eggs and milk, combine and add dry ingredients. Mix well, and  refrigerate at least 1 hour. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Do not overbake!
2 lbs. ground beef             1 onion chopped
2 tbs.  soy sauce                2 tbs. brown sugar
1 4oz can sliced mushrooms, drained
1 (10-3/4 ounce) can cream of chicken soup
1-1/2 cups cooked rice  1 (8 oz) can water chestnuts, drained and sliced

Cut the top off the pumpkin and thoroughly clean out the seeds and pulp (save seeds to make roasted pumpkin seeds!).  Paint a face on the front of the pumpkin with a permanent marker.
In a large skillet, brown the meat, add onions and sauté until golden.  Add soy sauce, brown sugar, mushrooms and soup.  Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add rice and water chestnuts.  Spoon the mixture into the cleaned pumpkin shell.  Place in baking pan and add a little water into the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 – 1 1/2 hours, until the pumpkin is tender.  You can scrape the pumpkin from the side to serve as a side dish.  DELICIOUS!  If you aren’t into the baked pumpkin idea, place the meat mixture into a cleaned out pumpkin to serve without baking it!
2 cups pumpkin seeds   1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
3 tbs. butter or margarine, melted          1 tsp. salt

Rinse seeds thoroughly.  In medium bowl, combine the sauce, butter and salt.  Add seeds and stir until coated. Spread on a baking sheet and bake 225 degrees for 1 to 2 hours until crisp.  Stir frequently to prevent scorching.
And our new favorite from

  • 42 NILLA Wafers, divided
  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1-3/4 cups cold milk
  • 1 pkg. (4-serving size) JELL-O vanilla flavor instant pudding
  • 2 cups thawed Cool Whip whipped topping, divided
  • 1/2 cup autumn spiced nuts
Arrange 32 of the wafers on bottom and up sides of 2-1/2-qt. serving bowl; set aside. Beat cream cheese and pumpkin in medium bowl with electric beater on medium speed until well blended. Add vanilla and spice; mix well.

Pour milk into large bowl. Add dry pudding mix. Beat with wire whisk 2 min. or until well blended. Let stand 5 min. Gently stir in 1-1/2 cups of the whipped topping. Add cream cheese mixture; stir until well blended.

Spoon half of the pudding mixture into prepared bowl; top with the remaining wafers. Cover with layers of the remaining pudding mixture and remaining 1/2 cup whipped topping. Sprinkle with the autumn spiced nuts. Store leftover dessert in refrigerator.