This is definitely a strange Christmas season. With COVID-19 sweeping through our island, we all find ourselves spending more time at home and hanging out with our immediate family members more than usual.

If you have young children in your house, like we do in ours, you're concerned that the fear gripping our community will rob our children of the joy associated with the Christmas season. I don't think this has to be true, though. There are many activities we can do at home to have fun.

For example, one of these activities can be watching classic Christmas movies together while indulging in some tasty treats. For us home cooks, this is our favorite time of year because this is when we can be both naughty and nice when preparing special Christmas treats! And what treat do we like best when watching our favorite movies? How about some caramel popcorn?!

Caramel popcorn is a perfect naughty and nice recipe for the family to enjoy. Sure, it's sugary and buttery, which is naughty, but it's also delicious, which is very nice!

Here is a recipe I found online a few years ago at allrecipes.com. It's now a family favorite.

So select that cherished Christmas movie, gather the family together to watch it, and then surprise them with this yummy treat. I guarantee it will put them in the Christmas spirit!

Week 9: Caramel Popcorn

Ingredients

3 bags of microwave popcorn or 5 quarts of cooked popcorn*

1 cup of butter

1/2 cup of corn syrup

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups of brown sugar 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional add-ins: 1 cup of Spanish peanuts or regular peanuts, and/or 1 cup of sliced almonds.

Steps

Prepare the popcorn as directed. (Be sure to remove all unpopped seeds). Place the popcorn – and other added nuts, if any – into a very large bowl.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Melt the butter on medium low heat in a medium-sized saucepan.

Stir in the brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Constantly stir until the mixture begins to boil, and then let the mixture boil for 4 minutes without stirring. (Be sure to time it!)

Remove from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla. Pour the mixture in a thin stream over the popcorn, stirring to coat.**

Place the popcorn in two large, shallow baking pans, patting the popcorn down with a big spoon or spatula. Place the pans on the middle oven rack and bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. (Again, use the timer!) Remove from the oven and let cool completely before breaking into pieces.

*Buy the cheapest plain popcorn. Since you are coating the popcorn with the caramel mixture, you don't need gourmet popcorn. Save some money!

**Another set of hands comes in handy here. One person can slowly pour the sauce over the popcorn while the other person takes two spoons and gently stirs the mixture together.

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