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Slice of Life

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Popcorn varies Christmas sweets

There are times when only the best of the best cookies or treats will do because there is a special guest to be served. At no other time is this tradition of cookies more important than on Christmas Eve when kids of all ages await the magic that is Santa’s visit.

For some families it’s all about the giant chocolate chip; others take the more radical piled high snickerdoodle approach. Still other, less conventional oatmeal raisin fans feel that they have the inside track. I’ve even heard of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a side order of pretzels for the reindeer being set up just under the tree.

No matter what menu you and your loved ones prepare for the “big guy,” it’s always nice to have a few “extra” treats to share with the family and friends that are bound to come over. These treats have that special ingredient of popcorn.

Popped Cashew Brittle

6 cups popped butter or regular flavored popcorn

1 cup M&M’s

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar

1 stick unsalted butter (yes you can use salted but unsalted tastes better in this recipe)

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup salted cashews

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Spread the popped corn evenly on a 15-by-10-inch cookie sheet with sides. Add the M&M’s and mix to combine. Set aside. In a sauce pan combine the sugar, butter, corn syrup and vanilla. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly (use a wooden spoon). Add the cashews. Mix to combine and cook for about 2 more minutes, stirring constantly. Do not let the mixture burn. Remove the caramel mixture from the heat and stir in the baking soda; mix to combine. As soon as the baking soda is totally mixed in, pour the caramel mixture over the popped corn and M&M’s and mix gently until coated. Be careful – this stuff is hot and if you get it on your hands, it will burn! Let the mixture cool for 30 minutes or so until it’s hardened. Break it into pieces and serve.

Cookies and Cream Popcorn

8 to 10 cups popped corn

16 chocolate sandwich cookies, chopped up pretty fine but not crushed (I use Oreos)

9 ounces white chocolate

1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles

In a large bowl combine the popped corn with the chopped cookies and set it aside. In a microwave bowl melt the white chocolate until smooth. Pour it over the popcorn and cookies and toss gently. Spread the mixture on a cookie sheet and sprinkle the top with the sprinkles. Mix gently so the sprinkles get everywhere. Let cool for at least an hour while the white chocolate sets up. Serves 10 to 12.

Popcorn Cookies

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups popped popcorn, slightly crushed

1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two cookie sheets and set aside (you can use parchment paper instead if you prefer). In a bowl combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Mix and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla and mix to combine. Stir in the flour mixture just until mixed. By hand, fold in the popcorn, chocolate chips and pecans. Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls (about 2 inches apart) onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool on cookie sheet for about 2 minutes then transfer the cookies to cooling racks and cool to room temperature. Makes 2 to 2 1/2 dozen depending on the size of the cookie. Store in an air tight container.

– Modified from Slice of Life is a food column that offers recipes, cooking advice and information on new food products. It appears Sundays. If you have a question about cooking or a food item, contact Eileen Goltz at or write The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802.