Tag Archives: caramel

Foodie Penpal from Colorado

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This month’s Foodie Penpal box came from Kelly from Colorado. She told me this was her first month with Foodie Penpals and asked me for some tips as well as my preferences.

She more than exceeded my expectations!

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Kelly is a cupcake blogger over at High Altitude Cupcakes. {Love that name!} As I drooled over the photos of her creations, I knew there was no way she could send me a cupcake without it flattening in transit. Or, if she had perfected cupcake shipment, she would more likely have to send only cupcakes, which could be a beautiful thing. But it also could be bad thing if all cupcakes were consumed {by me} in one sitting! But as I suspected, cupcake shipment still proves difficult. In fact, when I wanted to send last month’s Foodie Penpal some banana chocolate chip muffins, I opted to send her the dry ingredients along with the recipe instead.

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Her beautiful, hand-written card was fitting and adorable!

photo 3In this note, Kelly went into detail on each item she sent and why.  She carefully selected some items from her beloved home state as well as some of her own favorites.

photo 5Clockwise from the Cupcake note:

Doxy’s Smoky Chipotle Starter – Aurora, CO | This is the only item I have not yet tried. It’s a packet of natural herbs and spices that can be used to make salad dressing and dip or to season fajitas or pasta. It will not go to waste!

JJ Sweets Cocomels – Boulder, CO | Oh, Cocomels! Thank you for making another appearance in my life! I was first introduced to these when a sample arrived in my monthly Love with Food box. I once again adored these cream caramels made with coconut milk.

Justin’s Organic Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups – Boulder, CO | I’m familiar with Justin’s Nut Butters, but I wasn’t aware that the company also made peanut butter cups! And with dark chocolate? There was no way that this could go wrong. And it didn’t. Each cup made it into a day starring as my daily piece of chocolate. Mmm.

Chuao Chocolatier Chocolate Covered Potato Chip Bar | I adore this chocolatier! Kelly just discovered it and with my love of chocolate, knew that she had to share.

Homemade Peach Jam | This is the best jam I’ve ever had! I am dead serious about this one. It’s made from Colorado’s famous Palisade Peaches. What I adore most about this jam is that the beautiful peach flavor shines through. It is not overly sugared. In fact, I told my husband that it kind of tasted like mashed fresh, ripe peaches. Beautiful and refreshing.

Clark’s Wildflower Honey – Fort Lupton, CO | This honey is produced from wildflower and bees out of Fort Lupton. I had recently run out of honey and always like to replace it with a new one from a local producer often found at the Farmer’s Market. Getting some from a Foodie Penpal is even better! I love the Wildflower variety of honey, too.

Homemade Fig & Olive Tapenade | Kelly sent this to cater to my love of Mediterranean inspired food. She said that she also shares that love. Of course, I’ve had  tapenade before, but I’ve never had it made with figs, which are something else I really love, but rarely ever get to enjoy here in Minnesota. And let me tell you, this tapenade is divine! It’s so versatile, too.

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Kelly suggested that I spread the tapenade with goat cheese on sliced French bread.

Perfect suggestion. This was an excellent way to enjoy it. I truly believe that if you are not a fan of olives, combining it with the figs mellows those distinct olive flavors out a bit with just that hint of sweetness. It also went perfectly with the honey ale above, which you’ll hear more about at a later date.

But then I got some ideas and enjoyed this beautiful Fig & Olive Tapenade in other ways!

with sliced tomato!

I added sliced tomato!

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Drizzled with the wildflower honey!

I drizzled it with the wildflower honey!

Why didn’t I think of this sooner?!

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I put it in a salad!

I made a simple salad for a work lunch one day which included fresh farmer’s market greens, tomato, goat cheese and the Fig & Olive Tapenade. At work, I drizzled a little lemon grapeseed oil over the top to dress it and topped it off with a few sliced almonds for some added crunch. Highly satisfying. It reminded me of sitting in the sun at a café in Provence. {I smile as I sigh here…}

Thank you, Kelly, so much for this beautiful box of lovely treats.

I can tell that you put a lot of thought and heart into it.

Everything has won me over!

I shipped a box of Foodie Penpal goodies this month to Maggie in Georgia, who is a big lover of Cheez-its. Let’s just say that she set me up to send her some of the cheddar variety of our local Pop’d Kerns. 😉

If you’d like to participate in Foodie Penpals, here’s the best part:

You don’t need to have a blog to participate!

Here’s how it works:

1. Sign up by the 4th of the month that you want to participate.

2. On the 5th of the month, you are assigned a Foodie Penpal.

3. You communicate with your penpal about any food allergies or preferences, as well as where to ship the package.

4. By the 15th of the month, send $15 worth of food to your penpal that may include homemade goodies, local treats or just some of your favorite discoveries that you want to share! The box must also contain something handwritten.

5. You’ll receive a package from another Foodie Penpal, who was assigned to you.

6. If you are like me, you squeal with delight when your package arrives.

7. You enjoy said goodies, which you may have never known about otherwise.

8. If you are a blogger, you post about the package you received on the last day of the month – Reveal Day! {If you are not a blogger, you do not need to do anything, but thank your Penpal, of course! However, if your Penpal does blog, you can choose to write a guest post, if you so wish.}

What is your favorite food from your neck of the woods?

Cheers~
Carrie

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“Weird, Wild & Wonderful Foods”

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Subscription Box Saturday – Love with Food Edition

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Subscription Box: Love with Food

Premise:Sample the best gourmet food products delivered to your door!”

Cost: $10/month + $2 shipping. (Special deals if you purchase more than one month at a time)

Extra Benefits: Review products, share recipes and refer friends for points toward free products.

What’s Special: For each box shipped and each order placed, a meal is donated to a hungry child.

To Join: Click here.

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This month’s theme was Weird, Wild & Wonderful Foods with Andrew Zimmern. As a Minnesota resident, I know that I should be a Zimmern fan, but I’m not. I’ve read some of his articles in Mpls St. Paul Magazine and I’m often offended. It’s his condescending tone to the average diner. {However, now that I think of it, maybe I sound the same way with my views as a beer snob.} In addition, my husband often asks how someone who eats bugs can be looked up to and considered an expert on food. I guess that just means he is open-minded, so maybe I should be a little more open-minded about Zimmern himself, too.

The contents:

April Love With Food Box - Weird, Wild & Wonderful with Andrew Zimmern

April Love With Food Box – Weird, Wild & Wonderful with Andrew Zimmern

Fennel Pollen from Pollen Ranch – This is the only item that I have not yet sampled. I’m curious what this spice will taste like when incorporated into a dish. I can imagine it has an anise aroma or flavor. Attached to the packet is a recipe for a fennel polled-rubbed pork tenderloin. However, LWF is currently encouraging people to create their own recipes and upload pictures!

The Good Bean Smoky Chili & Lime Chickpea Snacks – I was really excited to try these because I love chickpeas. But surprisingly, they didn’t have much flavor. I only at half the bag.

Creamy Buffalo Ranch Dip from Bufflo Dip – The jar reads to check out their website online for ingredients and nutrition facts. It took me a while to find it. Please note the spelling: It’s Buff Lo Dip. I think that’s pretty easy to miss. In addition, their website is pretty basic, so they must be a start-up company. It was suggested to dip crackers or veggies in this dip, but I decided to mix it with a can of chicken to make my own Buff Lo Chicken Dip. It tasted fine, but I think I’ll stick to the concoction I discovered on Jen, a priorfatgirl’s site. It’s easy enough to make without having an open jar of something to worry about finishing.

Somersaults Salty Pepper Nuggets – What are these? Well, take a look!

I adored the flavor of these! But I also love it when fresh baked bakery or restaurant bread has a bunch of different unique seeds and grains in it. I would eat these as a snack anytime!

Mini Pops Air Popped Sorghum Grain – Itty  Bitty Butter – These were like mini pieces of popcorn only made with the sorghum grain instead! Again, they’d be good if there was more flavor, though. This was supposed to be butter-flavored, but all I tasted was salt.

Oloves Lemony Lover Olives – These didn’t taste any more different than regular olives to me. Were they supposed to be lemon-flavored? The packaging was very convenient to bring some olives to work with me, though! It gave me the idea that I really should pack olives in my lunch more. I should just use them more in general!

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Oloves Lemony Lover Olives – Ingredients & Nutrition Facts

However, there was another product hiding in the back of the box that was not pictured above:

cocmels

JJ’s Sweets Cocomels – Original & Sea Salt flavors

I absolutely love caramels, but these made with coconut milk made them even better! …love, Love, LOVE! They are vegan, dairy free and gluten free; thus, they are great for folks following those sorts of diets. I would totally recommend these to anyone, especially as a unique gift. I can’t imagine anyone NOT loving these!

These were all new foods to me, so they were great to try. In my opinion, the most weird, wild or unique food in the box was the fennel pollen. If I come up with a good recipe, I’ll be sure to post!

What food do you eat that may be totally weird, wild or unfamiliar to others?

Cheers~
Carrie

SBS: Love with Food – Happy Holidays 2012

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It’s Subscription Box Saturday… And I don’t even know how to write this next post without mentioning my heartache for the victims and their families of the school shooting in Connecticut on Friday. It’s difficult to post something light-hearted after hearing that news. And I’m not sure what to say that hasn’t already been said. There is no way to make sense of such a tragedy and my heart goes out to all of the families and the community during this difficult time.

Right now, it seems a little silly to write a post on a box of food I receive every month. But I’m going to do it anyway. I mean, Love with Food does donate a meal to a hungry child every month for each box that they ship out. And that is something to feel good about right now.

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Here’s my attempt at a concise post with a break down of this month’s “Happy Holiday” contents:

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Nunes Farms Honey Cinnamon Almonds – These nuts taste great! Still, I’d eat them if they were in front of me or given to me, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy them.

Madcasse Mini Chocolates – Chocolate in miniature form – how could one go wrong?! Actually, I already bring a Dove dark chocolate with me to work everyday for my 35-calorie chocolate fix.

Nikki’s Gingerbread Boy Cookies – I forgot how much I love gingerbread cookies. And these are the best! Full-flavored with a light layer of frosting. Rob ate the head. I ate the body. {Okay, so I gave him a foot, too.}

Taffy Town Holiday Salt Water Taffy – Cute with fun holiday flavors.

Hills Brothers Mocha Mint Cappuccino – Waiting to make one cold winter morning or when I need a chocolate fix!

Kara Chocolates Candy Cane Mint Chocolate Truffles – Another bite-sized piece of chocolate, with a hint of that candy cane minty flavor.

479 Degrees Sea Salt Caramel Popcorn –  The sample I received was just 100 calories – perfect for a snack. However, I promised to share this with Rob. We love caramel, so of course we enjoyed it. Most notably, I couldn’t believe how fresh it tasted for packaged caramel corn!

Belgian Milk Chocolate Dipped Nutter Butter by Big Chocolate Dipper – Um… Why didn’t they come up with this sooner? The only way to make this better? Dark chocolate, please!

This is just one example of a gift you can get that hard-to-buy-for-person who has everything. A Love with Food subscription box is only $12 per month {including shipping} and a meal is donated to a hungry child for each box shipped out. Fit for foodies!

What is your favorite holiday treat and why?

Cheers~
Carrie

112 Eatery – Minneapolis

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It’s been a few years since we’ve been to the 112.

All I remember is that I ordered the Nori Encrusted Sirloin with Ponzu and my husband ordered the Bacon, Egg & Harrisa Sandwich. And while we were both pleased, we weren’t blown away like some say that they are when dining here.

I do, however, remember Rob craning his neck to follow a burger that was being delivered to a table across the restaurant. While staring in that direction, he vowed that we would be back.

For his birthday dinner this year, he chose 112 Eatery with every intention of finally trying the 112 Cheese Burger.

We made early reservations as we had planned our night out around the Ike Reilly Thanksgiving Eve 10th Anniversary Celebration. Our friend Jen joined us. {If you haven’t heard of the Ike Reilly Assassination, be sure to check them out!}

I ordered a glass of French bubbly: Bouvet-Ladubay Brut; Jen went with a Sammy Smith’s Oatmeal Stout; while Rob was seduced by the fact that they had San Pellegrino beverages on the menu. He went with the Pompelmo flavor {grapefruit}. His favorite flavor is Blood Orange, but we haven’t seen that since Chicago.

While we waited for our beverages and perused the menu, some pre-dinner snacks were brought to our table:

Greek olives and wasabi almonds

This reminded me very much of France because at parties, you often see nuts and olives served with an apéritifs.

Rob already knew that he wanted a burger, but I was a little perplexed on what to get. I asked for recommendations and favorites. The menu was even a little too “foodie” for me, but sometimes we can be turned off by an entrée just because of the name. The 112 menu doesn’t give much for descriptions, but I will tell you that our server did an excellent job once I asked! It helped me make my decision.

I decided to start with and share this:

(partly eaten) fresh ricotta w/ white truffle honey – $8

Oh dear, was this sinfully delicious. The bread was toasted. The ricotta was whipped and creamy and the sweetness of the honey with the hint of earthiness of the truffle flavor balanced beautifully.

I chose another appetizer as my entrée:

sea scallops w/ oyster mushrooms – $16

I probably would not have ordered these with that description alone. However, the way our server described them sold me. And by now, you know how much I love scallops. These were decadent, perfectly seared, and if you like mushrooms, these will make you swoon. There’s a lot of umami going on here! However, as I kept eating, it eventually became too much, almost too salty. Maybe just one scallop would have been perfect. Now I know why it’s an appetizer, perhaps meant to share.

For the table, we ordered some sides:

(half eaten) pan-fried gnocchi w/ parmesan reggiano – $10

The sides here are meant to be shared and while we did order two sides, we couldn’t finish either of them among the three of us! This gnocchi was just the way I like it. I think gnocchi is always the best the next day, when you sear it so that it has a nice crust. These had just that along with those yummy shavings of parmesan reggiano. Perfect.

Of course, to go with the burger, we had to get a side of fries:

french fries – $7

Again, a huge portion! Luckily, the fries were the kind Rob likes – the perfect ratio of potato to fried surface {read: skinny fries}. And while they were no Pops fries, they did the trick. However, the ketchup and almost-too-tangy mayo-like dipping sauces didn’t thrill us.

Both Rob and Jen ordered burgers:

112 cheese burger – $10

So there is no real description on the menu about this burger, but Rob has been hearing about it for years! The meat sits on an English muffin and is topped with brie cheese. Rob said that the brie overpowered the entire burger. He was a little thrown off, too, because he looked at the menu online prior to dining out and there was a picture of the 112 burger. By the looks of it, the 112 burger had cheddar, or at least some sort of orange cheese!

It’s not that he doesn’t like brie cheese. In fact, one of his top 10 burgers in the Twin Cities is a truffle burger with brie that also sits on an English Muffin. But he didn’t come for that burger. And this one didn’t compare. The meat was high quality though, and he ate most of it. But I was sad that his birthday dinner choice was a bit of a let down.

But something made up for everything:

izzy’s ice cream, salted caramel flavor – $4

We first discovered Izzy’s Ice Cream at Scusi in St. Paul. We fell in love. So much that, one of the items I put in Rob’s birthday box was a “coupon” for a trip to Izzy’s.  I had no idea that we’d be having some of Izzy’s ice cream the night before he opened his gifts!

Both Jen and Rob ordered the salted caramel ice cream, so I elected to get something different:

caramel cake w/ dulce de leche whipped cream

This cake was quite yummy and caramel-y, but when I had a bite of the oh-so-decadent salted caramel ice cream, I was entirely jealous. Both Rob and Jen tasted my cake and were happy with their choice. Jen said that if we had just ordered the caramel cake to split, we would have enjoyed it just fine. However, after trying the salted caramel ice cream, it just didn’t compare! And there was so much going on with caramel-y sweetness in the cake and on the side, that I couldn’t tell if the whipped cream was of a dulce de leche flavor or not.

With our tummies full, we asked for the check and were also brought this:

spicy caramel corn

We were too full to take more than a taste. For flavors, I got cayenne and cardamom. Jen said she didn’t understand who would like a combination like this! While I didn’t mind it, I just couldn’t eat anymore at this point. But I love the thought of a complimentary post-dinner treat!

What’s a flavor combination that you’ve been surprised by?

Cheers~
Carrie