Sports Snacks

Two snack foods that have successfully stood up to the test for many football seasons are popcorn and peanuts. These all-American taste treats are perennial favorites, no matter what the sport season.

Although purists may prefer their popcorn just lightly salted and their peanuts plain, both foods actually are quite versatile. Today, popcorn is used in fudge bars, salads, and even ice cream sandwiches. Peanuts are no slouch in the snack department either. Peanut-lovers are putting their favorite food into everything from granola bars to peanut-and-dried fruit "trail mixes."

The next time sports fans "pop-in" to watch a game on your TV set, why not surprise them with some new popcorn-and-peanut dishes of your own? "Parmesan Popcorn and Peanuts" offers a spicy combination of popcorn and peanuts cooked in peanut oil and then baked with a sprinkling of garlic salt and Parmesan cheese. It's the perfect accompaniment for most any sports beverage.

Popcorn lovers with a sweet tooth will want to try the mouth-puckering cherry "Fruit-Flavored Popcorn." It's simple to prepare, and gives even veteran popcorn eaters a new popcorn-eating experience.

Traditionalists will reach for the combination "Caramel Popcorn and Peanuts" recipe. This is a classic favorite that re-earns its reputation each time a fresh bowl is served.

A key ingredient to the success of all three dishes is large, airy puffs of popcorn. The kind you get everytime with the Presto® PowerPop®microwave multi-popper or the Presto® PopLite® gourmet/regular hor air popper. They both pop extra-large puffs from either premium or regular popcorn, with hardly any unpopped kernels. The hot air model operates without oil, so extra calories aren't added to popcorn. The microwave model pops with or without oil. With either popper, popcorn popped without oil and served plain, contains only 25 calories a cup.

The peanuts used in the dishes have to be just right, too. The Virginia type peanuts in the recipes below are popular with the sports crowd because of their large size and superior peanut flavor.

Parmesan Popcorn and Peanuts

  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 pound roasted shelled Virginia type peanuts
  • 3 quarts popped popcorn
  • 3 tablespoons soft butter or margarine
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat peanut oil in a 15-1/2 x 10-1/2 x 1-inch baking pan in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes. Remove from oven; add peanuts and stir until coated with oil. Return to oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, add popped popcorn; sprinkle with garlic salt and Parmesan cheese; stir to coat popcorn and peanuts. Return to oven for 5 minutes.
Makes about 3 quarts.

Fruit-Flavored Popcorn

  • 3 quarts popped popcorn
  • 1 package fruit-flavored unsweetened
    soft drink mix (makes 1 quart)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water

Keep popped corn warm in a 250 degree oven. Combine sugar, soft drink mix, and water in a heavy saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and cook to soft-crack stage (270 degrees on candy thermometer). Remove popcorn from oven. Pour syrup in a steady stream over popped corn; toss to mix thoroughly. Return to oven for 10 minutes. Cool and store in an airtight container.
Makes about 3 quarts.

Caramel Popcorn and Peanuts

  • 5 quarts popped popcorn
  • 2 cups roasted shelled Virginia type peanuts
  • 1 cup butter or margarine (1/2-pound)
  • 2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Place popped corn and peanuts in a large shallow 18 x 12 x 2-inch baking pan; keep warm in a 250 degree oven. Meanwhile, combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a heavy 2-quart saucepan; cook and stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and cook to firm ball stage (248 degrees on candy thermometer). Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. Remove popped corn and peanuts from oven; immediately pour a steady stream of syrup over popped corn and peanuts. Mix well. Return to oven for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool and store in an airtight container.
Makes about 5 quarts.

Home-Cooked Peanuts

Now that raw peanuts are available in the produce sections of grocery stores, more and more people are roasting their own peanuts at home. Peanuts can be roasted in the oven, microwave oven, or in an electric deep fryer. The finished product can be seasoned with salt, Parmesan cheese, chili powder, or whatever suits your taste buds. Follow these simple directions for roasting:

How to Roast Peanuts

Conventional Oven Roasting ("Parching")

Place raw peanuts, in-shell or shelled, one layer deep in a shallow baking pan. Roast in a 350 degree oven; 15 to 20 minutes for shelled and 20 to 25 minutes for in-shell peanuts. Remove from heat immediately, as peanuts continue to cook as they cool.

Microwave Oven Roasting

  • 2 cups raw shelled peanuts

Place peanuts in a 10 x 6-inch glass or similar microwave container. Dot with butter or margarine. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir peanuts. Microwave 2 minutes at a time followed by stirring until peanuts have been microwaved 10 minutes for light roast; 12 minutes for medium roast. Remove from microwave. (Caution: Peanuts continue to cook as they cool. Cooking time may vary with brand of microwave oven.)

Oil Roasting (French Frying)

  • 2 cups raw shelled red skin or blanched peanuts
  • Peanut oil (Amount specified by manufacturer of your deep fryer)

Heat oil in electric deep fryer. Add peanuts and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Drain on paper. Peanuts continue to cook as they cool.