Cooking Light and Caramel Popcorn

Sorry for the long hiatus, but with the holidays, traveling, book events, and a nasty inner ear infection, I’ve been completely distracted!

On a happier note, while doing a book signing at Anderson’s Book Shop in Naperville, my mom found me in this month’s issue of Cooking Light Magazine!

This insert is after page 145 in the December 2010 issue

If you recall, I asked you all to vote for my recipe online when it was a finalist in the 2010 Cooking Light Ultimate Reader Recipe Contest, and boy did you guys deliver!  I won the online vote “by a landslide” and won the contest, and I have all of you to thank for that – so thanks again everybody!!!

We did the photo shoot way back in September and seeing the spread brought back happy memories of the experience.

Photo: Karen Cattan

The Cooking Light marketing staff couldn’t have been more warm and friendly.  I was quite nervous, but they made me feel so comfortable, as if it was normal to be in the spotlight in a studio kitchen with lights and cameras on me – Ok well, as comfortable as was possible in that situation!

This was surreal and felt like I was on a cooking show.

I also got to meet Chef Billy Strynkowski, Executive Chef of Cooking Light, who is completely down to earth and chummy.  My husband who joined us later thought he was “the equipment guy” as he wasn’t in his chef whites.  Ha ha.

Karen Cattan, the photographer and her lighting assistant, Lynn Sawville, did a fantastic job on the pictures.  They made the food look really beautiful, and were able to get shots of me with my eyes open (a rare occurrence when I’m being photographed!)

Photo: Karen Cattan

I made my entire dish during the shoot, while we all chatted and snacked on munchies and had a good time.

Photo: Karen Cattan

The photo shoot was capped off by a fantastic dinner at Marea with the Cooking Light staff and publisher, and the next evening, by a wonderful Supper Club event where Chef Billy demonstrated various cooking techniques while making the dishes we were eating.  I think I gained a couple of pounds those two days eating all the amazing food that was offered!

Then, that weekend, my husband and son and I got treated to a “Weekend Getaway” in Manhattan, a real indulgence— we would never ever stay in a hotel in the city, as we live right across the river.

We stayed two nights at the Hudson Hotel designed by Phillippe Starck.  Jamie loved it: “This is the coolest hotel ever!!”

Check out their bar, which looks like the set from 2001: A Space Odyssey at the very end of the movie.

We completely indulged and ate all our meals out.  Highlights were:

The waffles at Petit Abeille.

A ginormous caramel shake from Shake  Shack.

And an amazing Japanese dinner at Menchenko Tei where we had the pleasure of being seated next to Richard Thomas and his family.  No, I did not say “Good Night, John Boy!” when we left!!

I used to watch The Waltons every week!

It was a perfect New York City experience.  Thank you, Cooking Light for everything.  I’ll always have such wonderful memories of that week in September!!

To end, I leave you with my most recent favorite Cooking Light recipe.  Oh my gosh, this stuff is addictive.  It is awesome (as my son would say).  You must try it for the holidays.  I plan on making a lot to send to family and friends this year.  Enjoy!

Caramel Popcorn

Non-stick spray

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

½  cup light-colored corn syrup

5 1/4 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon molasses

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

12 cups unsalted, unbuttered popped popcorn

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Spray a large rimmed baking sheet with non stick spray.
  3. Combine sugar, corn syrup, butter and molasses in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Cook 5 minutes, stirring once.
  4. Remove from heat.  Stir in baking soda, salt, and vanilla.
  5. Put popcorn in a large bowl.  Pour syrup over popcorn, stirring to coat.
  6. Spread mixture in one layer on prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven.   Stir to break up large clumps.  Cool for 15 minutes.  Stir again to break up clumps and serve or store in an airtight container for one week.

Yield:  18  2/3 cup servings

Calories 126; Fat 3.6 g;  Iron 0.4mg; Cholesterol 9 mg; calcium 15 mg; carbohydrate 23.9 g; sodium 151 mg; protein 0.7g; fiber 0.8g

From Cooking Light, December 2002

Original Recipe is here.


Filed under Appetizers

22 responses to “Cooking Light and Caramel Popcorn

  1. Your Cooking Light pictures look great! Congrats!
    Popcorn is one my favourite snacks, but I’ve never made caramel popcorn before. Your recipe looks really tasty!

  2. Congrats on winning the contest! Great photos :).
    Jealous that you sat next to Richard Thomas. We just visited “Walton’s Mountain” recently in Schuyler, VA, where Earl Hamner grew up.

  3. Hi Melissa,
    You look great and the portobellos look yummy.

    How is Jamie? I suppose that he started school in the fall. Sam is starting next year and I get teary-eyed just thinking about it.

    Wish you all a wonderful Holiday season.


    • Thanks! How are you all doing? Just saw Dina and Ethan the other day.
      Yes, Jamie is in first grade now… How is Sam? Miss you guys in the neighborhood — everyone (from those days) has moved away! So sad…

      Hope you have a wonderful holiday as well!

  4. What a great experience, but I’m sorry you got stuck with an ear infection. I hope it wasn’t too painful. Also, I’ve tried the caramel corn recipe and it is excellent.

  5. How exciting! Thanks for sharing your experience with us.
    By the way, I ordered a copy of your book for my girls for Christmas! I can’t wait until it comes in. Hope you and your family have a great Holiday season!

  6. yummy…. all around! You’ve inspired me to bake again this year… and so enjoyed it this weekend. will have homemade cookies to take to clients when in NYC on 15th 🙂 THANKS for that….
    will try the popcorn..maybe NEXT year. 🙂 congrats again too…

  7. magicofspice

    Oh my goodness, congratulations…That is so fantastic, and I love all of these photos. Sounds like you made a great weekend out of it 🙂
    The caramel popcorn does look addicting…

  8. Great photos! And recipe – you deserved to win!

  9. Congratulations!! That is exciting. A great picture of you too. Pop corn looks yummy!

  10. Huge congrats on your on winning the contest! It’s a wonderful recipe, and I’m sure it must taste amazing!! I love eggplant and portobello mushrooms…and with some cheese on top…Yummmmmm!!! 🙂

  11. Melissa, Congrats once again on winning the contest and your feature in the magazine. You look fabulous! 🙂 I wish I read your post on caramel corn before I went out and bought ingredients for homemade hot cocoa to give out. The cocoa is not great and Swiss Miss tastes better but since I bought everything, including the jars, everyone will get cocoa. 😦 But I have to think of something else to gift along w/ the cocoa b/c it’s so lack luster. 😦 Next year – – – I’m gifting your caramel corn. 🙂 It looks SO good! I hope you and your family are having a great holiday season too.

  12. Congrats on winning! What an adventure 🙂 The caramel corn sounds so yummy. Thanks for posting the recipes and pictures of your journey.

  13. Thanks, everybody!

    Judy, the cocoa sounds like a wonderful gift! I bet you made the package so pretty too!

  14. Anu Nagaraja

    Congratulations on the win! I’ve always wanted to make caramel popcorn – thanks for the recipe 🙂 love your illustrations a lot!!

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