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These recipes give popcorn some pop

February 9, 2010

Popcorn is one of those snacks that is so commonplace that it has become an afterthought. Many people think of it as a quick, microwaved treat or an almost mandatory part of taking in a movie at the theater.



But there is a lot more to popcorn than just salty, buttery crunch. The Popcorn Board offers a variety of ways to integrate popcorn into more complex snacks and dandy desserts and as an ingredient or add-on to main dishes.



According to the board, air-popped popcorn has only 31 calories per cup; oil-popped popcorn has 55 calories per cup. Also, popcorn contains fiber, and is naturally low in fat and calories. All of that adds up to popcorn being a pretty healthy snack option.



According to the Ramsey Popcorn Co. of Ramsey, Ind., “You should always store your popcorn in an airtight container — glass or plastic — to avoid losing moisture. Avoid the refrigerator. Most refrigerators contain little moisture and can dry out the kernels. Store it in a cool, dry place such as a kitchen cabinet.”



We offer here a sampling of ways to use popcorn, but you’ll find plenty more ideas at The Popcorn Board’s Web site, popcorn.org.



Cheesy Popcorn Bread



4 cups popped popcorn



1 cup yellow corn meal



2 tablespoons sugar



2 teaspoons baking powder



1/2 teaspoon salt



1 egg



1 cup 2 percent milk



1/4 cup vegetable oil



1 cup shredded jack or pepper jack cheese



1 (4 ounce) can mild, diced green chilies, drained, optional



Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray; set aside. Process the popcorn in a blender or food processor until finely ground.



Pour ground popcorn into a large bowl and stir in corn meal, sugar, baking powder and salt until blended.



Beat egg, milk and vegetable oil together in a small bowl and stir into popcorn mixture just until blended.



Scatter cheese and chilies, if desired, over batter and stir just until evenly distributed. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned at edges and tester comes out clean.



Cut into squares to serve.



Ballpark Popcorn Crunch



1/2 cup butter



1/2 cup brown sugar



3 quarts unsalted popped popcorn



1 cup chopped walnuts



Cream together butter and brown sugar till light and fluffy.



In a separate bowl, toss popcorn and walnuts.



Add creamed mixture to popcorn and nuts. Combine until coated.



Spread on a large baking sheet in a single layer.



Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until crisp.



Apricot Cherry Popcorn Squares



10 cups air-popped popcorn



3/4 cup dried cherries



3/4 cup sugar



1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water



1/2 cup sugar-free apricot preserves



1/4 cup light corn syrup



1/2 teaspoon lemon juice



Combine popcorn and cherries in large bowl.



Combine sugar, water, preserves, corn syrup, and lemon juice in a small saucepan; bring to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves.



Cook until mixture forms thick, “ropy” threads that drip from the spoon.



Pour slowly over popped popcorn and mix thoroughly.



Spray 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.



Press mixture into baking dish and cool completely before serving.