Archive for the ‘caramels’ Category

Pop! Goes my heart…

June 27, 2012

I very much enjoy WSJ’s Weekend Edition.  I got a kick out of this small article focusing solely on caramel popcorn. So pleased to see that Garrett’s caramel popcorn topped the list.  I love popcorn. And, obviously, I adore caramel.  So, yeah–caramel corn, to me, is a complete no brainer.  Yum.  I’ve even been known to make up my own batch every now and then to enjoy all by my lonesome!

No, I’m not going to be offering caramel popcorn anytime soon. (Although, I’m not completely discounting the idea either!) What I will be offering is something I wrote about last week–caramel sauce.  I’ve been in the kitchen and I’ve re-perfected my recipe.  Perfectly combination of sweet and salty. My caramel sauce is outstanding if I do say so myself.  I think what I love most about it is the simplicity of the ingredients: sugar, cream, butter, vanilla and salt.  That’s it.

Here’s a sneak peak.  It will be on Etsy soon.  Promise!

'da Sauce

Laced

June 20, 2012

My thought for the day: Caramel makes everything better.

Allow me to explain.  I have a serious sweet tooth and therefore constantly crave sweet items. This morning I went to the Bongo Room in Andersonville. (Which, by the way, loved the size of the restaurant! It seems massive compared to the one in Wicker Park) BR has always been, and continues to be, one of my favorite breakfast places. I love breakfast and I feel like BR is especially known for tempting pancakes drizzled with crazy sweet concoctions.  

This a.m. I indulged in the white chocolate pretzel pancakes. And yeah, caramel was included in there. The caramel put the already awesome pancakes over the top, fantastic combination of sweet and salty, the caramel sauce complimented the pretzels  and the chocolate and still made the topping pancake-y (who needs maple syrup when there’s caramel involved?)

Another one of my favorite summer treats? I’m addicted to Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food. Love the dark chocolate fish pieces. Love the marshmallow fluff. But it’s the swirl of caramel that brings all the flavors together.

Like I said, caramel makes everything better.  So, with that statement, I need to get my caramel sauce onto Etsy so you can try it! My caramel sauce ROCKS! It can be added to ice cream, enjoyed with sliced apples.  I even made caramel budino’s once and the caramel sauce MADE the dessert. I developed my caramel sauce last summer and used to sell it exclusively to a local cafe. I haven’t made it for a while but my recent love affair with lacing already yummy-tasting dessert treats with a swirl of caramel calls for great sauce, and my caramel sauce is second to none.  I’ll tweet and FB once it’s up on the site.  

So good! You’re going to love it!

About a year ago…

June 13, 2012

Below is my blog post from 6/22/11. From time to time, I enjoy going backward to find out where I was at a year or so ago.  Ironically enough, we had Pequod’s for dinner last night too, so this post seemed especially timely.

I have a couple more favorite pizza places to add to my list:

Apart Pizza

 Spacca Napoli

I had forgotten that I was working on creating new labels last year at this time. I love the way the labels turned out! Feels like I’ve been using them for years…

Last year’s blog:

Have I posted about pizza yet? I know I’ve done Steak Houses. I’ve done a blog on my favorite places for dessert. But pizza? Not sure. I do know that I’ve mentioned Lou Malnati’s once or twice and yes, for me, that is the pizza that I am most nostalgic about. I think sending a Lou’s frozen pizza is a great gift and truly representative of great Chicago deep-dish pizza (I love the slab of sausage that sits on top of the butter crisp crust). I grew up on those slices, many happy family meals involved going to a Lou’s restaurant. Good memories.

Another incredible pizza: Pequod’s. Also deep dish. The detail that makes this particular ‘za incredible is the carmelized crust. I’m not sure how they do it, but the pizza pans at this joint create a delicious, perfectly chewy/crunchy crust that is just to die for. We ate Pequod’s tonight and the crust always amazes me. So damn good!

My entrant for non-Chicago style pizza is Piece in Bucktown. It’s actually New Haven Connecticut style; thin crust and you can get it red, plain or white. The restaurant is also a small micro-brewery with great beer. Sometimes thick, deep dish pizza is just too heavy on a hot summer day. Piece is a great way to enjoy pizza on a sultry evening.

There are quite a few other pizza places I could write about, but I think for now I’ll just limit my suggestions to those three. In caramel news: still working on the labels—they’re looking good and I’m getting excited about rolling out the new flavors. Give me a few more weeks, I can’t wait to write about and show you the newest additions.

Till next week!

Weddings & Parties & Showers, oh my!

May 30, 2012

The candy business is a very seasonal business. This is one of the lessons I learned very quickly during my first foray into the candy biz. I worked for a Hershey Chocolate and it was explained to me like this: Halloween is (obviously) the biggest candy holiday, followed by Easter, Valentine’s day and Christmas. Of course, there are other candy “holidays” as well, Back-to-School, Harvest, and Summer Camping. (Yep, think of all the displays for S’mores. You’ve probably already seen a few in some of the big box grocery retail stores.)

So, I shouldn’t have been surprised to realize that City Caramels also are sensitive to the ever changing seasons. It’s slightly different than the schedule laid out above. Holiday time is a big season for caramels. Another huge season? Now. Weddings and showers and summer parties galore.

An aspect that I’m really proud of about City Caramels is that they are truly representative of Sweet Home Chicago. I love that people can give (and get) a little piece of caramel that exudes Chicagoness. I’m always so honored to be asked to provide caramels for wedding favors or as part of a welcome bag. Please contact me at citycaramels@gmail.com if you have an upcoming event and are considering using City Caramels. My weekends are filling up quickly, but I do have a few left and would love to put together a bunch of favors for your guests.

Tis the caramel season!

They’re back…

May 23, 2012

So many things to love about late spring/early summer.  One of my favorites: the return of farmer’s markets. I went to the Green City Farmer’s Market today. The purple asparagus stalks were a sight to behold. Gorgeous.  I love that the fruits and vegetables that you can pick up at farmer’s market are oftentimes so different looking (and tasting) than what you normally pick up at the grocery store. I’m including a link with a list of all the ‘official” city of Chicago farmer’s markets listed by day of the week.

Of course, there are way more market’s than just the ones in the provided list.  For example, in my hood, the city hosts the market on Tuesday a.m.  Whereas my neighborhood’s chamber of commerce hosts the one on Thursday evenings. I’d really like a comprehensive list that gives me ALL the farmer’s markets in the city, but I’ve yet to find one. I’ll be on the lookout and if I find something I’ll be sure to post.

In the meantime, I’ve gotta grab another slice of bread from the delicious boule I snagged this morning.

Later!

Green Acres…

May 9, 2012

Have you ever read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle?  If you haven’t, let me sum it up: the author and her family decide to live on a farm for a year and be localvores.  Growing all their own vegetables, raising livestock and only purchasing/eating items that were made within a 120 mile radius (I think, don’t quote me on that stat) of their home.  It’s a fantastic book for a number of reasons. One, B.K. is an amazing writer, I’m a big fan of her fiction.  Two, even if you’ve never, ever had any desire to farm, this book is going to make you curious about the farming lifestyle.

Everyone knows there’s a world of difference between a tomato purchased at the grocery store versus a tomato grown in your own backyard. Now, imagine those amplified tastes being applied to everything else you put into your mouth.

Sadly, many of us will never have the experience of living and maintaining a farm.  But, not so sadly, we can still enjoy the fruits of local farmers labor.  Go to a farmer’s market. Yes, you’re going to pay a little more. And yes, the taste experience will be worth it.

I was so happy to learn that a local restaurant who is committed to the farm to table philosophy has started a Tuesday evening farmer’s market. The Center Square Journal reported that the Brown Trout will open it’s doors on Tuesday evenings and serve as a venue to various small farmers with unique items.  Here’s a brief excerpt I lifted off of Brown Trout’s website:

Browntrout will be having a farmers Market every Tuesday Night From 5pm-8pm May 1st till August –September. This is to try to help grow our community of small farmers, chefs, and community. It will be called Ground Up Farmers Market…It is part of Ground up group created by Chicago chefs and Marty and Kris of Spence farms. We will have small farmers, Childrens cooking classes, and tales of sustainability. Please come help us start a solution.

I’m planning on checking out this market on Tuesday evening. Hope to see you there!

Something New

May 2, 2012

Spring Vegetable and Goat Cheese Dip

I spend a lot of time on this site writing about caramels, stuff going on in Chicago (or rather, things I like to eat in Chicago!). Tonight,however, I thought I’d mix it up just a bit and leave you with a recipe.  

 We’ve had a ton of asparagus as of late and I always have lots of cream left over from caramel making.  One Friday night a few weeks ago I made this recipe from Bon Appetit.  I modified the ingredients & directions just a bit, but certainly wanted to give credit to my source of inspiration.  

So delicious! Reminds me of the classic artichoke dip you can get pretty much anywhere.  Completely different experience when made at home with fresh ingredients like asparagus and herbs.  Loved this!

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of asparagus cut into 3/4-inch pieces 
  • 1 scallion diced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups cream
  • 1 cup grated cheese (whatever you have on hand!)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 14-ounce can chopped artichoke hearts in water, drained
  • 1/4 cup frozen peas
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (I had rosemary and parsley on hand)
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 4 ounces crumbled fresh goat cheese, divided

How to prepare:

  • Preheat oven to 450°. Cook asparagus in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Drain; let cool. 
  • Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add diced scallion and cook until  translucent. Whisk in flour; pour in cream. Bring to a low simmer, whisking constantly. Cook, whisking occasionally, until thickened; remove from heat.  Add cheese; whisk until cheese is melted and mixture is smooth. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Fold in asparagus (reserve tips), artichoke hearts, peas, herbs,  lemon zest and 2 oz. crumbled fresh goat cheese. 
  • Transfer mixture to a 4–5-cup baking dish; arrange asparagus tips on top and dot with another 2 oz. goat cheese. Bake until golden brown and bubbling, 15–20 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Marzipan

April 18, 2012

Image

I’ve had cake on the brain since Easter. A very particular type of cake. the marzipan torte from Lutz Bakery on Montrose.  Love!  Marzipan is one of my all time favorite things–not sure if I should describe it as a candy, I guess it’s more of a confection,  ground almonds and sugar. 

Another really cool thing about marzipan?  It’s so cool how it can be molded into different shapes like fruit or animals.  Hence the picture above. Search online, you’ll see marzipan shaped babies that are so life-like looking it’s creepy!

But, back to the cake, what I especially love about Lutz (besides all the nostalgic memories of visiting this restaurant when I was a kid) is that you can buy cake, including my favorite, by the slice!    

So, my love for marzipan is revealed…

Little Blue Bird

April 12, 2012

Blue Bird

Hello there!

It’s been a week since National Caramel Day and the Cubs home opener. My social media giveaway experiment unfortunately did not overwhelm me with thousands of new followers as I had hoped it would. However, with that being said, I did gain some new Facebook fans as well as some new twitter followers. So, I’m happy–because I guess it’s better in the long run to have a targeted audience as opposed to a very general audience, right?

Anyway, this past week my social media forays have brought new things–like the update to the Facebook timeline,  It’s not so bad.  I’ve also been back on Pinterest. Very cool concept, I just don’t want to get sucked in…But I did get sucked into Houzz just a little bit.  I love perusing design websites and this one is a lot like Pinterest, but focused solely on the home. Love!

My next endeavor is to begin Networking.  That’s kind of a dreaded word for me, don’t get me wrong, I love to meet and connect with new people.  It’s just somehow as soon as what would have been a natural and organic interaction is labeled as ‘networking’…well, it does seem to cast a gray cloud over the interaction, don’t you think?  Anyway–there are so many incredible bloggers out there. I’ve enjoyed plenty of things that I’ve read online and never one actually checked in with the author.  I think it’s about time I start doing that…After all, I can’t expect people to check in with me if I’m not doing it in the first place.

Talk to you next week!

 

Caramel Eve

April 4, 2012

Twas the night before the give away…

Short blog this evening because tomorrow is National Caramel Day AND the Cub’s home opener.  To celebrate–City Caramels will be giving away one 1/2 lb. bag to a very lucky Facebook fan and one 1/2 lb. bag to a Twitter follower.

Could be you! Check back tomorrow to find out who the winners are.

Thanks!