Gourmet Caramel Apple Ideas

If you bought or were gifted a bag or two of gourmet caramels, you can use some to make delicious apple treats any time of the year. Although caramel apples are traditionally associated with fall, you can enjoy them for any special occasion regardless of the season.

Handmade, gourmet caramel apples make tasty desserts for holidays and other events, such as kids’ birthday parties, as well as thoughtful party favors and gifts for any friend or family member with a sweet tooth. You can also place the homemade apples in gift bags, Easter baskets or take them along on romantic picnics in the park. 

To prepare the high-quality caramels for dipping, simply unwrap them and place them in a microwave-safe bowl with a bit of water. Microwave them for about one minute before stirring, and then keep microwaving and stirring them in 30-second intervals until they’re completely smooth.

Then, insert wooden dowels into firm apples and dip them into the melted caramel. Place them onto a wax paper-lined cookie sheet, and then into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow the caramel to set.  The apples are then ready to decorate.

Here are some ways to customize your gourmet caramel-dipped apples:

1. Colorful Sprinkles 

If you’re hosting a kid’s birthday celebration, caramel apples covered in rainbow-colored candy sprinkles are sure to be crowd pleasers. Simply sprinkle them over the dipped apple before you chill it, while the caramel is still warm. 

Either make them before the party, or let the kids make their own as a hands-on activity. You can also colorful sprinkles to reflect other special occasions, such as red and pink for Valentine’s Day or orange, black and purple for Halloween.

2. Chocolate Drizzle 

Another way of adding an extra layer of sweetness to your caramel apples is with either dark, milk or white chocolate, or a combination of all three. Melt chocolate chips in a microwave or in a double boiler, and then drizzle it over the set caramel using a small spoon. 

While the chocolate is still warm, you can sprinkle on chopped nuts, shredded coconut, cookie crumbles or candy pieces to further customize the caramel apples.

3. S’mores Toppings

One creative way of making caramel apples summer-worthy is by enhancing them with classic s’mores ingredients. To make this campfire-ready treat, sprinkle the caramel-covered apples with crushed graham crackers and chocolate chips. Finish by pressing miniature marshmallows onto the caramel, evenly covering the entire apple. 

Visit a site like http://www.abdallahcandies.com to find caramels to use.

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Three Things You Can Do At Home With Dry Ice

Most people think of dry ice as something to use when shipping perishable items from one location to another to keep them fresh. While it’s true that dry ice is an excellent preservation tool when shipping meat, fish, and other food items that must be kept cold, it has many other uses that most people don’t know about. Following are three exciting and fun ways that you can use dry ice in your home.

Make Root Beer

Take homemade root beer floats a step further by crafting the root beer in your own kitchen rather than using the canned or bottled variety. Making it at home just prior to serving provides a fresh, authentic taste whether you add vanilla ice cream to make a float or decide to enjoy it plain. Specialty restaurants often benefit from crafting in-house small batches of root beer as well. To make homemade root beer, simply mix one gallon of water, one pound of sugar, one ounce of root beer extract and add one pound of dry ice. Cover the mixture for about 45 minutes to allow it time to carbonate, and voila — freshly made root beer.

Freeze Fresh Berries Quickly

To quickly and easily freeze summer berries, simply rinse the berries and pat them dry and place them in a bowl with pieces of dry ice. Once the berries have completely frozen, place them in zip-top freezer bags and put them in the freezer. They’ll last for about a year this way without turning to mush or showing signs of freezer burn, and you’ll have plenty of berries on hand no matter what time of year. This works best for small berries such as blueberries, cranberries, and huckleberries.

Store Certain Food Staples for Long Periods of Time

Whether you’re stocking up in bulk in preparations for possible natural disasters or off-grid living or simply enjoy having a well-stocked pantry, you can use dry ice to keep certain staples fresh. After removing any and all signs of frost from the surface of the dry ice, put 1/4 pound in the bottom of a clean, dry 5-gallon storage container, cover with dry goods, place the lid on but don’t seal it, and let it sit for six hours. The emergency ice will remove oxygen from the container and replace it with carbon dioxide. Insects, bacteria, and fungal pathogens cannot form and grow in environments without oxygen. After the six hours are up,  seal the container with an airtight lid. This strategy works well with dried food items such as legumes, seeds, and flour. 

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When NOT To Buy Your Restaurant’s Food Supplies In Bulk

Obviously, it makes a lot of sense to purchase your restaurant’s food supplies in bulk. You probably don’t want to place multiple orders or risk running out of something important in the middle of a busy night, and you probably also know that you can score lower prices if you buy in larger quantities. Although it does make sense to purchase a lot of your ingredients in larger amounts, however, this is not always the case. These are a few situations in which you are better off not buying your food supplies in bulk.

Your Restaurant is New

If you are getting ready to open the doors of your new restaurant, you are probably budding with excitement. You probably want to make sure that you are ready for anything, and you might be ready to order as many food products as possible so that you can keep up with the demands that you are hoping that you will enjoy. However, the truth is that you don’t really know what is going to be a big hit yet. It might turn out that your signature dish will be a flop, while some of the more simple dishes on your menu will be a big hit. You’ll obviously want to buy enough of everything so that you don’t run out during your big opening weekend, but be careful about buying in bulk until you learn a little more about what your new customer base will be like, and what will sell and what won’t. Waiting to stock up can allow you to make tweaks to your menu and to get a better feel for what you will actually need and use before the expiration date.

You’re Purchasing Seasonal Products

It can certainly be exciting to offer pumpkin pie cheesecake during the fall or a tasty tomato-based dish during the summer. If you are only going to be serving these seasonal foods for a short while, however, you may want to be careful about the amount that you purchase at once. You don’t want to find yourself struggling to use up 100 cans of pumpkin puree after the novelty has worn off and you’re looking to remove the item from your menu.

You’re Buying Fresh Produce

As you already know, fresh produce can lose its freshness quite quickly. If you buy too many heads of lettuce or tomatoes, you’re running the risk of serving not-so-fresh veggies to your customers, which is never a good idea. It’s smart to look for a local supplier for these products so that you can purchase them quickly and often; then, you won’t have to worry about running out or serving anything less than the best.

As a whole, it’s generally smart to buy things in bulk if you are a restaurant owner. However, these are a few things that you might want to buy in smaller quantities for the good of your establishment. Contact a supplier, such as Louis Wohl & Sons Inc, for more information.   

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Order Up!: Four Office Coffee Services That Get You The Caffeine You Need

When you are the boss, you can just send an intern out to get coffee for everyone from an expensive coffee bar. However, you are not the boss just yet, so you have to get your morning caffeine fix another way. You could just grab a cup of joe en route to work, but there are better (and sometimes cheaper) ways. If all you have at work is an old school percolator, you can lobby your boss for one of the four following office coffee services.

Coffee Vending Machines

Although it does not taste like coffee house coffee, it also does not come with the hefty price tag. Coffee vending machines have several options for hot drinks, including cappuccino and hot chocolate. For a few dimes to just over a dollar (the amount is set by the vending company), you can get your morning coffee black, with sugar and/or cream, and even slightly fancier coffees like the cappuccino or mocha options.

Commercial Versions of Your Single-Serve Machines

Suggest to your boss that maybe it is time to trade in that 1970s percolator for the modern single-serve coffee machines. The commercial versions hold even more water in their reservoirs, providing coffee drinkers with numerous cups of flavored coffee and global coffee varieties. The best part is, if you do not like any of the cups or pods that your boss supplies, you can always bring your own from home and store a box in your desk.

Coffee Catered

Just as you can get a sandwich shop to cater lunch, you can get a coffee service, such as Five Star Water, to cater coffee. Your boss can choose to have the catered coffee every day or just on one day of the week. Usually Mondays (to encourage employees to show up to work!) or Fridays (to mark the end of another long and productive work week) are the preferred single days for catered coffee, although any day on which there is a required meeting or training works too.

Coffee Ordered Online and Delivered

There are some donut and coffee houses that now allow customers to order online in advance of the start of the workday. The orders are checked and filled by the nearest store the next morning and then delivered hot and fresh to the workplace when your doors open for business. It is less expensive than catered coffee, and nobody has to power up or fill a coffee machine to get hot coffee for the whole office/business.

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Catering An Event? 4 Simple Ways To Remove Excess Grease

If you’re providing food for an event at a local banquet hall (such as Halls of St. George), you don’t want the guests to see grease floating on the food. Don’t panic. You don’t have to deal with the grease. Here are four quick and easy ways to get rid of the grease.   

Leaf Lettuce Grease-Catcher

Those large pieces of leaf lettuce are perfect for sopping capturing the grease that’s pooled at the top of the pot. Simply wash a piece of leaf lettuce and place it directly on top of your food. Once the leaf is filled with grease, throw it away and place a new leaf in the pot. Repeat the process until all the excess grease has been removed.

Ice Cube Grease-Grabber

You probably reach for ice cubes when your food is too hot. However, you should also reach for those cubes when your food is too greasy. Drop a few ice cubes directly into your pot of greasy food.

The liquid grease will collect on the ice and turn in to solid globs of fat. Use a slotted spoon to remove the ice before it gets a chance to melt. Continue using ice cubes until the fat has been removed from your food.

Egg White Grease-Attractor

If you’ve never thought about using them, you might want to think again. One egg white left floating on the top of your food can remove the excess fat and make your dish more healthful. All you need to do is break an egg and place the egg white in your pan.

Leave the egg alone until it’s fully cooked. Once the egg white has solidified, scoop it out of the pan using a slotted spoon. Add another egg white when you see grease building up again.

White Bread Grease Sponge

You’ve probably noticed the grease build up on a pot of chili or stew. If you’re trying to provide healthy foods, you might be avoiding homemade chili because of all the grease. Now you don’t have to. As soon as you see the grease start to build up in the pot, throw in a piece of bread. The bread will absorb the grease without changing the taste of your chili.

You want to provide healthy foods for your guests, which includes limiting the amount of grease in your food. These simple tricks will help you remove the excess fat and grease from your favorite recipes. 

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Ordering Authentic Chinese: Which Dishes Are The Real Deal?

There are thousands of Chinese restaurants in this country, all with extensive menus and dozens of tasty items for the picking. Chinese food is often the food of choice when ordering in because the amount of vegetables involved makes you feel as though you are making a reasonably healthy choice. However, if you want authentic Chinese food and not Americanized Chinese or a mix of Asian specialties, how do you know what to order? The menus at most Chinese restaurants are so long it would be difficult for anyone who is not Chinese to know which dishes come from which countries. Here are some examples of truly Chinese meals and dishes.

Hot Pot

Hot pot dishes are quickly becoming popular here in the U.S., but they have been a Chinese staple for centuries. Similar to a crock pot meal, a hot pot meal involves several different soups, meats, hot rice and other meal components served separately in hot pots. It is common to serve the hot pots on a table that rotates, allowing everyone at the table to serve themselves and partake of the hot pot delights.

Xiaolongbao (Sha-ow-long-bow)

These soup dumplings originated in Shanghai, a major city in China. Typically they are made from unleavened flour for the dough and minced pork or a mixture of minced meats and a little spice for flavor. The xiaolongbao are then steamed and served on a steaming platter with a cover so that they stay moist and warm.

Chao Fan (Chow Fan)

Chao fan is authentic Chinese fried rice. It does not have the dark color of the fried rice you see in Chinese-American restaurants. It also does not have peas or carrots in it, which are an addition by American food companies. Instead, it has pieces of fried or scrambled egg and some chopped bok choy, or Chinese cabbage, since these were the only ingredients available to most Chinese peasants centuries ago.

Peking Duck

Although duck was often reserved for Chinese royalty, it might be consumed by peasants for special national holidays or when a peasant had scraped enough money together to buy a duck. Peking duck was a duck recipe created by a cook in the palace of the ruler in Peking, and has been a very popular dish ever since. If you do not mind the slightly greasy texture, Peking duck is quite delicious, and has often been compared to the French’s duck dish, confit de canard, because both dishes fry the duck until the skin is crisp.

If you’re looking to visit a Chinese restaurant, visit Lilac Blossom Restaurant.

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Tips For Choosing, Cutting, And Storing Avocados To Use For Your Mexican Recipes

Eating at a Mexican restaurant can be a fun experience for many reasons, especially if you love guacamole. Guacamole is a common side dish served with Mexican meals, and its primary ingredient is avocados. If you love avocados and have never experimented with them at home, here are some tips to help you understand how to choose them, cut them, and use them to serve with your favorite Mexican meals.

Choosing avocados

When you shop for avocados, you will probably notice that there will be some that are green and others that are very brown, or almost black. When picking avocados, you should realize that the green ones are not quite ready to eat. After they are picked, they begin to ripen and turn from green to black.

The best avocado to choose if you want to use it today is one that is dark black and slightly soft. It should not have bruises on it, and it shouldn’t be too squishy. If you purchase green ones, you can let them set on your kitchen counter for a few days to ripen.

If the avocados you select are perfectly ripe, you can store them in your refrigerator for a few days if you do not need to use them today. Placing them in your refrigerator will slow down the ripening process.

Cutting them

If you’ve never cut an avocado before and feel slightly intimated because of this, you should know that there really is no right or wrong way to cut one. The easiest way is to:

  1. Slice the avocado in half lengthwise.
  2. Remove the pit from the center.
  3. Use a knife to cut slices in the avocado while it still has the peel on it, and do this to both halves.
  4. Use a spoon to remove the slices from it.

This method will give you nice, sliced pieces of your avocado.

Keeping them green

The fruit of an avocado is green; however, once you open the fruit, the green will start to turn brown within a short amount of time. If you want to cut up your avocados ahead of time and prevent this from happening, there are ways to do this. You should understand that the primary reason avocados turn brown after cutting them open is from air, but placing the slices in an airtight container does not always stop them from turning brown.

A better way to keep them green is to place them in an airtight container with a chunk of fresh onion. This typically stops the oxidation process from occurring, which keeps the fruit greener longer.

You can use avocados in Mexican dishes you cook, or you can use them to make guacamole. If this sounds like too much work, enjoy guacamole at a local restaurant, like Lares Restaurant, instead.

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