Author Archives: jen

About jen

twenty something grad student living and loving in Chicago

Brown Butter Salted Caramel Sauce

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I thought that maybe this was going to be overkill. Brown butter. Salt. Caramel.Thankfully I was wrong.

I love salted caramel, and the brown butter adds just the right level of nuttiness to give it more depth without tasting burnt. A lot of the caramel recipes I’ve tried have suggested cooking the sugar to a point that tasted too burnt to me. I usually chalk that up to my unrefined taste.But not cooking the sugar enough just makes the caramel taste like buttery sugar, well actually there’s not anything wrong with that, but it’s not exactly caramel. So this combo hit the spot.

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The recipe is mostly based on this one at smittenkitchen.com, a very trust place in my opinion. The major variation of course, is browning the butter before adding it to the cooked sugar and using unsalted butter and adding the salt in at the end.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup plus two tablespoons heavy cream, at room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp of sea salt, or to taste

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If you haven’t browned butter before, here’s a good source. I would suggest cooling the butter before going on. I stuck mine in the freeze for about a half hour and mixed it up periodically.

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{this is after it’s cooled a bit, it’ll get more and more opaque}

Very carefully cook the sugar, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve burned the sugar and had to start over.

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Whisk in the brown butter, mine melted almost immediately since it wasn’t completely solid.

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You should be able to see the brown butter flecks.

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Add in the cream, the sauce might be runnier than what you’re hoping for, but it will firm up as it cools. I didn’t get shots of the cream add in, because you have to keep stirring continuously. Add the salt as this begins to cool, I found that this way the salt doesn’t dissolve completely leaving nice little hints of salt instead a completely blended taste.Image

This would be pretty awesome in a cute little jar for the holidays! I have eaten this with apples, put it frosting and eaten it with a spoon. As soon as the weather makes a decision about what it would like to do, this will also be awesome in hot chocolate. Or on pound cake. Or, again, on a spoon.

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Surprise

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In the past 4 months we have:

  • graduated from grad school
  • quit jobs
  • packed up our stuff
  • moved to another state
  • fixed up a little house
  • started new jobs

oh yeah and we made a baby

We’re pretty excited, although it looks like an alien right now. I’m fairly confident that it will look like a regular baby upon delivery. (fingers crossed)

I’m sure the baby craft bug will be biting soon, but I’ll be documenting that, along with all things baby, over here. Come visit!

shark and bird

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Yesterday was possibly our last Chicago IKEA trip before we move. And as usual I am way more excited about my $3.99 purchase than the furniture or other organizational items.

I present: shark and bird shark and bird wine bottle covers…

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GAH! So cute!

Spicy strawberry jam (no funny business)

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Well when you have 12 lbs of strawberries it becomes very clear that eating them all fresh probably isn’t a possibility. I put out a bowl for my small group and took some over to a barbecue with friends, but I still had a whole other box. I felt compelled to make something before they all went bad and then I remembered a jam or a jelly or a preserve (I can’t explain the difference without googling it) that my dad had raved about that had strawberries and hot peppers.

Apparently this sweet and spicy combo is no secret, but I was looking for a recipe that wouldn’t require me to buy pectin. A little mixing and matching later, I was surprised by the perfect pairing of jalapenos, serranos and strawberries.

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{start with fresh strawberries}

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{fresh lemon juice, serrano/jalapeno mix, fresh strawberries}

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{simmer}

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{simmer}

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{simmer}

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{peppers+stir}

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{puree}

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{can can can}

Recipe:

based on this recipe

{Start with}

  • 2 lbs. Strawberries
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 2 small serrano peppers

I decided not to stick to serrano peppers like the recipe calls for. I had seen a few recipes with jalapenos so I decided to mix the two and it definitely works. I’m also thinking about trying this with lime instead of lemon juice next time. I basically followed the directions in the original recipe, but I decided that the fruit to jelly ratio might be better if I pureed about 1 cup of the mixture after all the ingredients were combined. I tossed it into the magic bullet and then reincorporated it back into the pot. This step is totally optional. I did also add some cornstarch with the hopes of a more jelled jam, but I didn’t think that it made much of a difference.

ALSO. I’ve been waiting for an excuse to use this fantastic site that lets you create jam labels for free. I printed off a few and adhered them to the jars with milk. (Yes milk! Google it.) With a better printer and paper these could definitely be what takes homemade gifts to the next level (and there’s a beerlabelizer too!)

Strawburries

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Have you seen this? Do you remember this?

Hilarious. And the whole time I was strawberry picking yesterday I was saying “Strawburry” in my head and remembering how funny this video was.

That’s right, I went strawberry picking yesterday. And what’s better than a strawberry patch on a clear and sunny day? And outlet mall within 5 minutes. And Culver’s. And of course a best friend.

{loved the signage}

{strawberry lane}

{berry beautiful}

Roma

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{Sigh} We just returned from a whirlwind vacation/class to Rome. It involved a lot of 3 things:

1. Walking

2. Pizza

3. Gelato

I think by most standards that’s pretty close to perfect. Although the walking probably didn’t make a dent on the pizza/gelato intake. There was one pizza called “Super Lasagna Pizza” and I swear this wasn’t at some tourist trap. That and pistachio gelato are definitely on the summer “to make list.” Do you have a summer to-do list? You should!

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Guard dog

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My current schedule doesn’t find me at home very often, so this weekend I realized that Posie has been keeping an eye on me.

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Watching from afar.

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Close-up surveillance.

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Sneaky-peeking. Literally she was just standing in the crack of the door staring at me.

ETA: soon

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I’ve had this on my “to-(try to)-craft” list for quite a while.

I made a sample just to see how this is going to work.

{testing testing}

I’m feeling optimistic. Tutorial coming soon.

PS Thanks for ignoring my horribly-lighted pictures :)

dream boat

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For the last 3 years we have braved the traffic and large quantities of people to go to the Chicago Auto Show. The resident car buff, Garbear (my dad), joined us yet again. The question as we drive home is always, “which was your favorite?” This year I had a much more sophisticated scoring system with three winners.

The winner of the “never-in-my-lifetime-but-it-sure-is-fabulous” category is the Cadillac Ciel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next category, the “love-it-but-it’s-impractical” category goes to the Nissan Murano convertible

{it's kind of boat like too}

And finally, the “I’m-actually-considering-this-for-my-next-car” category goes to the Kia Soul for the 3rd year in a row. I think the hamsters are adorable and I just think I look cute it in (+safety, + gas mileage)