Throw the Best Party on the Block

MISSION, KS--(Marketwired - May 23, 2013) - (Family Features) Nothing brings people together quite like a neighborhood picnic or family celebration. So, gather up neighbors, friends and family for a celebration of great food and fun.

Keep the food simple. Ask everyone to bring a favorite side dish so you only need to grill up the hamburgers and hot dogs. Of course, you'll also want to whip up a few special treats. What could be better than a popcorn bar? Popcorn is both good and good for you. It's a whole grain food that is not only low in calories but also makes a great addition to many recipes. Because, sometimes, a sweet indulgence is just what you need.

Set out large bowls of popcorn along with shakers of garlic salt, cumin, lemon pepper, dry taco seasoning mix and Parmesan cheese for extra flavor. Add dried fruit, nuts, pretzel sticks, grated cheese and chocolate chips for a make-your-own trail mix option. Complete the popcorn bar with a few sweet surprises like delicious desserts made with freshly popped corn.

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Double Chocolate Popcorn Balls 
Yield: 18 balls 
      1/2 cup sugar
      1/2 cup corn syrup
      1/4 cup butter or margarine
      2 tablespoons cocoa powder
      8 cups freshly popped popcorn
      1 cup milk chocolate candies

Combine sugar, corn syrup, butter and cocoa in medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Add popcorn, stirring until evenly coated. Remove from heat. Stir in milk chocolate candies. Cool slightly. Shape into 2-inch balls.

Coconut Monkey Mix
Yield: 7 cups
  1 cup flaked coconut (unsweetened or sweetened)
  6 cups popped popcorn
  1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted
  1 teaspoon sugar
  1/8 teaspoon salt
    Dash of nutmeg
  1 cup dried banana chips

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spread coconut in a 9 x 13-inch baking pan, breaking up any clumps as needed. Bake 10 minutes or until edges of coconut begin to brown.

Spread popcorn over coconut and sprinkle with melted butter; toss. Sprinkle popcorn mixture with sugar, salt and nutmeg; toss. Bake 5 minutes longer and toss with banana chips. Serve immediately or cool and store in an airtight container.

Grab and Go Pizza Popcorn
Yield: 6 quarts
  6 quarts popped popcorn
    Olive oil cooking spray
  1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  2 teaspoons garlic salt
  2 teaspoons paprika
  1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

Place popcorn in a large, sealable plastic container (or in a 2.5-gallon plastic sealable bag). Spray popcorn lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle cheese, garlic salt, paprika and Italian seasoning over popcorn and shake to distribute evenly. To serve, scoop popcorn into reusable plastic cups.

Perfect Picnic Popcorn Squares
Yield: 12 squares
  1 cup light corn syrup
  1/2 cup sugar
  1/2 cup brown sugar
  1 cup reduced fat peanut butter
  8 cups air-popped popcorn
  3/4 cup raisins
    Cooking spray

Combine corn syrup, sugar, brown sugar and peanut butter in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly; boil 2 to 3 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat. Combine popcorn and raisins in large bowl; pour hot mixture over popcorn and toss carefully with wooden spoons to mix until well-coated.

Spray 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray; press popcorn mixture into pan and cool completely. Cut into squares and serve.

Sweet and Spicy Popcorn Seasoning Mix  
Yield: about 4 tablespoons seasoning mix  
  2 tablespoons sugar
  2 teaspoons salt
  1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  1 teaspoon cumin
  1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  4 quarts popped popcorn
    Cooking spray (helps seasoning adhere to popcorn)

Stir spices together in a small bowl. Place popcorn in a serving bowl and spray lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle about 2 teaspoons (or to taste) of the mix over popcorn and toss to distribute evenly. Store leftover seasoning mix in an airtight container for future use.

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Contact Information:

Michael French

Double Chocolate Popcorn Balls