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Monday, March 23, 2009

I'ts Time to Make the Donuts (for pocket change)

I pretty much have taken donuts out of my food repertoire, but must report on the recent article I read on the Internet last week. Looks like Dunkin' Donuts is getting back to basics.

From the AP (3/18/09)

It's time again to make doughnuts.

After focusing on waffle breakfast sandwiches and espresso-based coffee drinks, Dunkin' Donuts is coming full circle with a new advertising campaign to remind people it also sells doughnuts.

Francis Allen, brand marketing officer, said the company has not embarked on a major campaign for doughnuts since 1997.

"We've been doing so much innovation that it really is timed to refocus back on our core," Allen said.

Allen said the yearlong effort will include a $10 million promotional campaign featuring television, radio and Internet ads and a contest for customers to design their own doughnut.

The winning doughnut, to be sold in the chain's roughly 8,000 stores nationwide, will be unveiled June 5.

Customers can start designing new flavors on the company's Web site on Wednesday, when two other new doughnuts, including a Berries n' Kreme filled doughnut, will appear on menus.

Dunkin' Donuts, a subsidiary of Dunkin' Brands Inc., operates shops in 34 states and 30 countries outside the U.S.

Doughnut sales account for about 12 percent of Dunkin' Donuts revenue. Allen hopes the new push will boost that number, helped in part by the recession. The chain's fluffy treats cost about 89 cents - a few cents more in certain markets - and the company figures any price less than $1 will appeal to thrifty consumers.

"Faced with daily disappointments and struggles, the doughnut is one of those affordable treats that can make someone's day," Allen said.

To give consumers an extra incentive to stop by, the chain is also offering doughnuts for 49 cents with the purchase of a medium or larger hot coffee starting Wednesday, March 25th.

I most likely will not be swayed by the price slashing of the donuts. Don't get me wrong, I love food..but I's rather spend my calories in other departments. I still dig their coffee though.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring has Sprung!

The mercury may only be in the low 50's today, but we won't care. We will be zipping the jackets and heading out to our nearest Rita's for our annual free water ice.

For the past 16 years, Rita's has been giving away a free, regular size Italian Ice to each and every guest to mark the first day of spring! This is a sweet date for Italian Ice lovers, as each year, hundreds of thousands of our guests visit Rita's in search of the first taste of spring.
A Philadelphia-born springtime tradition, the 17th annual Rita's giveaway will be held on Friday, March 20, 2009 from noon to 10 p.m. at participating Rita's locations.

Rits's has added a few things to their menu this year, including a "slenderita" which is a non fat custard in addition to their already established sugar free water ice. The flavors of the sugar free are:
Cherry, Chocolate, Mango, Peach, Pineapple, Pink Lemonade, Root Beer, Tangerine. The pineapple is new this year, so I'm excited to try that one.

In addition, Rits's launches new flavors every year and this year the flavors are: a mystery flavor (March 20th), strawberry margaRITA (May 1), Blue Raspberry (June 5), Pineapple (July 3), Swedish Fish (July 31), Caramel Apple (September 4).


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Back on Track

It seems I have dropped the ball a bit. I have not posted here for over a week and apologies are in order. I haven't even been more busy than normal..but enough of my excuses.

We haven't been anywhere really new and exciting in the past week or so. Last week I was able to have a girls day lunch out with my friend at one of my favorite lunch spots, Miss Shirley's. This is one of my favorite places for breakfast as I have previously posted, but there also great lunch to be had here. I had their signature sandwich, The Alonso. It is smoked turkey, granny smith apples, brie cheese and mustard on ciabatta. Yum. My friend had a Po Boy..deep fired oysters and remoulade on a roll. Nothing wrong with that either. We started our lunch with some southern favorites, sweet potato fries and fried green tomatoes.

Then, this weekend with the sun shining and the mercury hitting around 70, I had some spring/summer fever going. I scratched the socks for the day, opened the windows and decided on steamed crabs for dinner. The Seafood Stop in Fallston has some of the best crabs in the local area. It's right around the corner from my house that makes it even better. My parents came down for the day and we made a fine mess with some old bay spiced steamed crabs. They were small, but heavy. We paid $65 for 3 dozen..and it was enough for the four of us.

Other than that, just some casual pick up food. We have been hitting Subway pretty hard they have their $5 footlong special and it is quick and healthy for those crazy nights.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Short Cuts are Sometimes Best

For this past Valentine’s Day, Brian and I decided to give each other handmade gifts from Etsy. Etsy is an amazing website that has handmade items..anything you can imagine. We decided on a $50 limit and got to work. For Brian, I selected a necktie and a toffee/caramel dipped apple. For me, Brian selected a piece of pottery and gourmet caramel popcorn.

More about the popcorn. The popcorn was cinnamon roll popcorn. It was insanely good. So good that I had to hide it so no one else in the house could have some. Brian tasted it as well and also admitted it was one of the best confections he ever had. As good as it was, it was a little expensive. A one pound bag cost $20 which included the shipping. As I ate it over the next 2 weeks, I was trying to identify the ingredients. Popcorn. Well that’s a no brainer. There was white chocolate and there was cinnamon. Looking more carefully, it looked liked caramel corn as well. I went back to Etsy and read the description of the product. Popcorn, white chocolate, brown sugar, cinnamon, butter. I came up with a plan. I would make caramel popcorn and mix it with melted white chocolate and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.

Since it was a snow day today, I had the whole afternoon in front of me. Well, and 2 kids..but they occupied themselves. I popped the corn in my hot air popper. Once I measured out 10 cups I started on the caramel. Butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla. This was a messy job. The caramel turned out ok, but sort of had a burnt quality to it. Maybe I let it cook a bit too long. Once I had that poured over the popcorn, I had to let it cool down before I could start the chocolate component. I searched the internet for chocolate covered popcorn and the 3 top ones I found had the chocolate, butter and marshmallows. I made the chocolate, tossed it all together and came up with my version.

I tasted. Brian tasted. It was good. He thought it was a little sweeter than the version he bought me and not as crispy. The whole process took about 3 hours with the prep and waiting for the layers to cool. Maybe 3 hours of my time is worth $20 after all. Next time I’ll take the shortcut and head over to Etsy.

Here is my recipe if you are interested:

First the Caramel Corn:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 cups popped popcorn

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (95 degrees C). Place popcorn in a very large bowl. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in soda and vanilla. Pour in a thin stream over popcorn, stirring to coat.
Place in two large shallow baking dishes and bake in preheated oven, stirring every 15 minutes, for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool completely before breaking into pieces.
Combine the following ingredients:
1 cup white chocolate pieces
18 large marshmallows
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 tablespoons water

Microwave the ingredients on HIGH in minute intervals, stirring several times, until chocolate and marshmallows are melted, and mixture is smooth. Place the caramel corn in a bowl; add the chocolate mixture and mix thoroughly until well coated. Spread out in a shallow pan to cool.