Here’s a little something to enjoy on Halloween and keep your hands out of the candy bowl. My mom frequently made this recipe when I was growing up with honey she bought from our neighbor. As a kid, I used to pick out the nuts, but now they’re my favorite part. Before I share the recipe with y’all, I want to warn you that things are about to get a little personal here on Dessert For Two. I’d like to take a minute to introduce y’all to the sweet lady at Black Book Kitchen Diaries. She has a serious passion for cooking delicious meals for her family. One look at her flawless photos will make you wish she was in your family too. The first recipe I tried on her site was chocolate granola bars, and they instantly went into my permanent recipe files. Chocolate for breakfast? Yes, please! So last week, when she tagged me to answer 8 questions about myself on my blog, I couldn’t use my shyness as an excuse. So here goes:
1. What is your favorite cookbook?
I can’t live without Cheryl and Bill Jamison’s Texas Home Cooking. I think I’ve made everything in the book twice. These folks are dead-on about Texan food, Texan tastes, and Texas history. Although, I must say that the Jamisons and I do not share the same aversion to Cheez Whiz, Velveeta and condensed cream of mushroom soup. Those are the flavors of my childhood and I’m damn proud of it.
2. What is on your wish list right now?
A yellow house with a white porch on 100 acres of flat, fertile soil. Oh, and a big ol’ tractor to go with it.
3. What was your favorite TV show?
Little House on the Prairie. (No joke). I read all of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books from the library when I was a kid, and for my 25th birthday, my parents bought me the whole set. I read them all again, and I enjoy them just as much today as I did then.
4. What is your idea of the perfect date?
Hmm…for me, the perfect date involves sweat pants, a 6-pack of beer and a good game of Scrabble on the couch. And he better let me win because I’m a sore loser.
5. What is your favorite salad dressing?
Ranch dressing, of course! Ranch dressing has been getting little buckaroos to eat their vegetables for a long time in the South. I was no exception as a kid.
6. If you were going to cook a romantic dinner, what would be on your menu?
Men like red meat and white food. I’d make a rib eye steak seared in a hot cast iron skillet and twice-baked potatoes on the side. I’d make something with chocolate for dessert. Men love chocolate just as much as women do, they just feel girly admitting it.
7. What is the one thing you will never eat?
Pumpkin. Tragic, I know. When I was in college, I was carving pumpkins for Halloween with my friends. I was in the ‘vegetarian/save the planet/raw natural food tastes best’ phase of my life, and I ate a piece of raw pumpkin. I spent about 20 minutes dry heaving in the bathroom while my drunk-ass friends laughed at me. Not cool. Any pumpkin recipe on my site is taste-tested by my cowboy, who is a pumpkin fiend. This guy could eat pumpkin pie year-round, and frequently does.
Incidentally, my biggest regret in life has been the ‘vegetarian/save the planet/raw natural food tastes best’ phase I went through while living in Waco. I lived in the heart of barbecue country for 4 years and refused to eat it. I never imagined that one day I’d live in California and I’d miss Taylor Cafe, Iron Works, Rudy’s and Salt Lick. When I go home to Texas, I eat barbecued brisket for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
8. If you were an ice cream, what flavor would you be?
Vanilla. I’m plain, straight-forward and honest. Maybe a little too honest sometimes.
If you read all of that, you’re a Saint. Here’s the recipe (finally):
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- ¼ cup popcorn kernels
- ¼ cup chopped pecans
- 2½ tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- 2 heaping tablespoons honey
- pinch of salt
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla
- In a heavy-bottomed 2-quart saucepan, add the vegetable oil and popcorn kernels. Swirl to coat all the kernels in the oil. Turn the heat on high and cover the saucepan with the lid. Once the kernels start popping (in 2-3 minutes), shake the pan once. Leave the pan on the heat until the popping slows and almost stops. Remove the pan from the heat and add the pecans on top.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter over very low heat. Add the brown sugar, honey and salt. Bring to a slow boil over low heat and let boil gently for about 3 minutes. Do not stir the pan with an implement, swirl the pan instead.
- When the caramel is a medium golden brown, remove the pan from the heat and add the vanilla carefully—it will spatter. Stir this mixture together very well.
- Pour the popcorn and pecans in a greased 9×13” baking dish. If you don’t grease this dish, you might have to throw away your pan, trust me on this. Pour the caramel over the top of the popcorn and stir gently to combine. Don’t worry about it sticking to the bottom of the pan just yet.
- Bake in a 250° oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Once the hour is up, let the popcorn cool to room temperature before eating so the caramel sets.