Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Entertaining: Spicy Caramel Popcorn Goody Bags

Until this year, I always depended on my parents or my in-laws to get us in the holiday spirit. They decorated, they hosted, they provided piles of presents. I never considered hosting or putting up a Christmas tree and my husband, who is Jewish, doesn't even remember when Hanukkah is. We depended on our families to keep us in line and tell us when and where to be and we happily showed up.

Then, two years ago, I was pregnant and suddenly wanted to host Christmas dinner. I had delusions of grandeur that I would give birth and then waltz into the kitchen to whip up a gourmet meal. Uh, baby girl was what people like to call colicky or what I like to call possessed by some demon. She cried 24/7 for the first six weeks of her life. After that she was a dream but she was 3 weeks old at Christmastime and, instead of hosting, the hubby and I put out a desperate m'aider call to my in-laws to please, please whisk us away to Connecticut!

Then, last year, my father died shortly before Thanksgiving. He was sick for a year and we were expecting it, but still, no one was in the holiday mood and the season passed with a faint-hearted attempt to show baby girl how to unwrap presents and ooh and aah at my mother's Christmas tree.

This year, however, I have officially embraced the holiday season. Thanksgiving, baby girl's birthday, the hubby's birthday, Hanukkah and Christmas are all within 30 days of each other so the holiday season is the most exciting time of year for us. This weekend, in an attempt to consolidate all holidays into one, we're throwing a holiday open house / birthday party for baby girl. That means, a dozen two year olds plus loads of adults crammed into our spacious-by-Manhattan-standards apartment. Yikes!!

Entertaining in December using locally grown in ingredients isn't easy and it isn't entirely possible, but I was able to pull a few local tricks out of my hat. On Friday, as I was walking through the Farmers' Market with baby girl I spotted some popcorn at one of the stands. Eureka! I thought and decided right then to make the Spicy Caramel Popcorn from Karen DeMasco's new cookbook, The Craft of Baking. It's super simple to prepare and is very tasty with a little kick of cayenne pepper adding a nice counterpoint to the caramel's sweetness. It makes a great gift packed in a little treat bag and tied with ribbon. I'm giving little goody bags away to all of our adults guests on Saturday. Try it out and let me know what you think!!

DeMasco's recipe was also recently published in the New York Times so click here!!


  1. This post is hilarious! I remember all my dreams about our Christmas together -- I had all the ambition, but none of the skill :)!

    I'm so sorry to hear about your dad. That must make the holiday bittersweet.

  2. What a funny ingredient, cayenne pepper! Who would have thought? These bags look so festive.I bet your little girl will remember the popcorn treats for months, even if they are destined for the adults!

  3. Sometimes the holidays just aren't meant to be. But when its right, its right, and this sounds like a good tradition to start for your family.

  4. Thank you so much!! Yes Vera, I think this year is meant to be the start of something wonderful that we will all enjoy and look forward to next year!!

    Hmm, that brings to mind a question. What are your holiday traditions?

  5. I'm glad you're enjoying the holidays this year. The popcorn looks divine. My husband would love it!

  6. This year you deserve to enjoy the holidays. Sounds like everyone else will enjoy being hosted by you. Love the popcorn bags!

  7. I've been looking for small gifts that I can make with my daughter. We're downsizing the holidays and trying to buy little to nothing this year. So this is a great idea. Thanks for posting it!

  8. Looks beautiful,sounds delicious! These sound like perfect gifts for teachers and friends.

  9. These would be so good for the Soccer parties:) perfect snack food:)

    btw, I'm hosting a Magic Bullet giveaway on my blog and it'd be great if you could participate!

    hope to see you around:)



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