Take me out to the ball game…

I don’t talk about my brothers much on here. Not that I don’t have many an amusing story about them, I just don’t seem to tell them for some reason. Anyway, my one brother has 4 children ranging (I believe…bad with birthdays) from ages 8 to 19 (with my oldest nephew having a birthday this month). That is a lot of mouths to feed and it certainly isn’t cheap, especially the growing boys. Wow.

My brother was telling my dad how he had gone the other day to make a sandwich, but when he went to make it, the meat they just bought (quite a bit) was all gone, as was the bread. My brother figured the likely culprit was the oldest home from college and he asked him. What happened to the meat and bread? Well the meat went to his one sandwich and he took the loaf of bread as well as a jar of peanut butter to work just in case he got hungry, which apparently he did.

Feeding that many kiddos really means that going out to eat often is a bad financial choice. I remember growing up (we were a family of three kids) that going out was a super treat (think once a month…and maybe delivery pizza on Fridays); even McDonalds didn’t happen that often. It wasn’t that my parents didn’t enjoy going out, it was that feeding two teenage boys and a younger daughter wasn’t feasible when going out to eat all the time. My father still grumbles to this day at the time we went to breakfast and my brother ordered four $4 a glass orange juices. So the wise thing to do when feeding a gaggle of children is to cook at home the majority of the time.

If you are saying I’m not a good cook, you are in luck, most kids like pretty bland food (unless raised otherwise to try a variety of foods). So following some simple recipes you can feed the family and stretch the dollar. If you are saying you don’t like to cook, well then you better just man up and deal with it. Because like it or not, cooking at home when feeding the masses saves money.

You can do other things like bringing your own treats places that allow it (and some that don’t…big purses were made for sneaking in candy to the movies). Ballparks will often allow you to bring some outside food, not a large amount, so don’t think you can pull of the three course meal there, but you can bring a few snacks that can maybe offset the kiddos $5 soda and your $9 beer. Recently I made some ballpark snacks, adding a little something to your average caramel corn. Far more economically as this makes a decent size batch. Will definitely feed a family of 4-6 no problem for snacks.

Since I do know so many larger families, including family members of my own, I thought I might start featuring more family friendly ideas here on the blog. Hopefully you think that is a good idea as well.

Twix Caramel Corn

16 cups popped popcorn (I use the 94% fat free Kettle Corn…it has a nice salty sweet base)
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ½ cups brown sugar
½ cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup (if can’t find use corn syrup)
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. baking soda
16 caramels, unwrapped, and chopped into four pieces (or half a bag of caramel bits)
14 sticks (2 come in a package), chopped up into pieces, I did it so I got 5 pieces out of each stick

Preheat oven to 250F. Spray two baking sheets with nonstick baking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl (the largest heat safe bowl you have in the house) put popcorn in it. Set aside.

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the butter, sugars, golden syrup, lemon juice and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter and sugars melt together.

Increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil gently until the mixture reaches the hard crack stage (300F on a candy thermometer) 6-9 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla and the baking soda. They syrup with bubbles and foam with the baking soda is added, simply stir until it subsides.

Immediately pour the caramel over the popcorn mixture and stir with a large wooden spoon until a caramel glaze completely coast all the popped corn and nuts.

Divide the caramel corn between the prepared baking sheets and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and stir and flip (I use a heat proof spatula) the caramel corn. Bake for another 20 minutes. Do the same again. This time before putting in oven, sprinkle in caramel pieces and Twix pieces. Make sure that they are on the corn and not the pan. Place into oven for another 10 minutes.

Let caramel corn cool completely. Store in a tightly covered container for up to a week.

Adapted from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor

Comments

  1. I think I know what I’m bringing into the office on monday!

  2. This looks delicious. I will definately try it. I’m looking forward to family friendly recipes. I LOVE your blog. Thank you.

  3. PattiTaylor says:

    That looks amazing. I just bought my first tickets ever to a baseball game. I am trying to think of things to take to eat. I am sure my grand daughter would love this.

  4. Yummm! I bet my kiddo would love this!

  5. Ya kids pretty much suck all the money out of your wallet while batting their little eyelashes. This is a great idea to take to the lake/beach too very portable.

  6. That popcorn looks incredibly scrumptious!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  7. Elizabeth says:

    In your directions u mention combine the popcorn with the nuts…but there are no nuts mentioned in the ingredients.Is it a typo?
    BTW love your blog…i check everyday if there are any new posts!!

  8. This looks amazing! The idea of having kids and all of the expenses plus the idea of eating out scares me lol.

  9. Stephanie says:

    I have 3 kids too, 5, 7 and 9. I love your blog already but I think you’re terrific for adding family recipes as well. I have 2 good eaters and one picky eater who I swear is from another planet. I love her dearly though. Keep on doing what you’re doing!

  10. oh my, this sounds heavenly! And reminds me I need more popcorn in my life :)

  11. I don’t think it’s going to be hard to get kids to eat your recipes – the trouble might be limiting them.

    The directions mention nuts, is that supposed to be twix?

  12. I love they way your blog has been going lately. Anything I’ve ever made of yours has turned out fantastic!

  13. It’s only me in my house, but cooking at home is cheaper for me too. (Although I eat out way too often for convenience sake.)
    I like the idea of seeing family friendly recipes, since I hope to have a family one day :)

  14. I love popcorn in all it’s variations can’t wait to give this a try. And my family was the exact same way, we had a pizza night once a week, and other than that it was my parents cooking. It also meant that we always ate dinner together, which are memories that I cherish now. On a similar note, my grandmother hates sub par food, so when she goes on an airplane she prepares her own lunches for the flight. And then lunches for those she’s flying with :) . Old school :) .

  15. @Elizabeth- yep a typo- this is an adaption of my Turtle Caramel Corn that has nuts. :)

  16. Looking SO forward to the family-friendly recipes! I know a young couple who desperately needs economical ideas and it would be great to be able to link them up to whatever reasonable tasty dish you feature! (I won’t complain either!) Saving money isn’t just for large families…because that freezer (you know, the one that comes with the refrigerator!) is the perfect place to store half of whatever is made for NEXT week! Automatic time-saver! AWESOME IDEA, Peabody! Awesome!

  17. Gah, reading about your nephew makes me worry about when my son becomes a teenager. Yes, I have 12 more years to worry about it, but the thought has crossed my mind.

    Cooking at home is ALOT cheaper and depending on what you make healthier too! You’re right, even if you don’t like to cook just do it anyway. My mother hates to cook but she always had a hot meal on the table.

  18. I think more family friendly recipes are a great idea. :) I definitely need any inspiration I can get. I’m in a food rut.

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