National Cocoa Day With A Chocolate Tiramisu

National Cocoa DayA hot cup of cocoa is the same as a hot cup of chocolate. Today December 13th according to National Day Calendar, it is National  Cocoa Day. What a great month to have such a day, as the day are getting colder, and a cup of hot cocoa seems the hot beverage to recognize. Even more so, that it is a wintry windy and rainy morning outside at the moment.

National Day Calendar notes that in their research on this day, they were unable to find the creator of National Cocoa Day.

But hey, what a great excuse to make a Chocolate Tiramisu, while enjoying a cup of hot chocolate or hot cocoa. If you enjoy the traditional tiramisu prepared with espresso, you’ll excite your taste buds with a chocolate tiramisu!

Here is what you will need to prepare your own Chocolate Tiramisu, while enjoying a nice cup of hot chocolate.

Chocolate Tiramisu

1¾ cup heavy cream, divided

1  cup coconut sugar or granulated sugar

16 ounces mascarpone cheese

¼ tsp. Himalayan salt

2 tsp. vanilla extract

6 oz semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped

24-30 lady fingers

2 cups prepared hot chocolate, strong, cooled to room temperature

With an electric mixer, beat whipping cream with sugar on medium speed until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes.

Mix in salt, vanilla, and mascarpone cheese until combined.

Using a pastry bag, pipe a small amount of the cream mixture into the bottoms of 6 – 10 to 12 ounce dessert glasses.

Break lady fingers into pieces first, so they fit, then dip in hot chocolate and place in a single layer over cream mixture. Pipe in some more cream mixture, repeating layers, ending with the cream mixture.

Top with a dusting of unsweetened cocoa powder, and top with shaved dark chocolate or real chocolate sprinkles.

Enjoy at room temperature or chilled.

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National Candy Corn Day

National Candy Corn DayEvery Halloween, bags of triangle-shaped, yellow, orange and white candies fill trick-or-treat bags all over the country. If you guessed “Candy Corn” as the candy, you are right.

Every October 30th is “Candy Corn Day.” The candy is basically made of sugar, corn syrup, confectioners wax, artificial coloring and binders.

Candy corn has been around for more than 100 years. George Renninger of the Wunderlee Candy Company invented the candy around 1880, and was originally popular among farmers.

Jelly Belly candy corn

 Jelly Belly – Candy Makers

The Goelitz Candy Company started making candy corn in 1900 and still makes it today, although the name has changed to the Jelly Belly Candy Company.

Most candy company’s will say candy corn is only five calories a piece and zero fat.

When people see a food being described as zero fat, it has to be good for you. But the fact is, that is NOT TRUE.

Corn syrup has been linked to weight gain.  A recent study (June 2015) at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois found that, matched calorie for calorie with the simple sugar glucose, fructose (Corn syrup is a fructose sugar derived from corn) causes significant weight gain, physical inactivity, and body fat deposition (Science Daily).

Another study in 2011 at the Oregon Health & Science University used functional MRI images to gauge responses to fructose and sucrose alike on the brain. They used nine human volunteers, all who were of normal weight. They found in the part of the brain that controls responses to food, that there was a reaction to glucose that was opposite that of the reaction to fructose. The scientists stated that these results support previous research on animals and link fructose to obesity (Natural News).

But enough of the “Bearer of Bad News.” If you eat a healthy diet every day, a little candy corn will not hurt you to enjoy it this day, National Candy Corn Day.

Here are a few ways to enjoy the candy.

Candy Corn MartiniFor those of you who may through an Adult Halloween Party, here is a  Candy Corn Martini by Whiskey Blue in West Los Angeles.

They say candy corn is a Halloween staple, and while enjoying munching on everyone’s favorite Halloween treat try sipping on this martini.  Find the martini recipe by Linking Here.

If you go elaborate at giving out goodies to children who arrive to your door the early evening of Halloween, then here are some great cupcake ideas using candy corn.

Candy Corn Cupcakes

               Image Credit: The Sugar Turntable

 

 

Candy Corn Cupcakes – These celebratory cupcakes by The Sugar Turntable are easy to make.

Find the step-by-step instructions by Linking Here.

Candy Corn Cupcake

          Image Credit: Your HomeBased Mom

 

 

Your HomeBased Mom has a delectable recipe as well for candy corn cupcakes.

She says, Candy Corn Cupcakes are sure to be the hit of any Halloween Party you have been invited to attend. Get the recipe by Linking Here.

 

 

 

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National Pumpkin Pie Day

National Pumpkin Pie DayPumpkin pie has been enjoyed in the North American as far back as 1621. As there were no ovens at the time, pumpkin pie then, had no crust. According to historians the first settlers to the New England (USA) area made pumpkin pie by filling a hollowed out pumpkin shell with milk, honey and spices, and then baking it in hot ashes.

By the early 18th century pumpkin pie had earned a place at the dinner table, as Thanksgiving became an important New England regional holiday.

Today the pie is baked with a crust and is a traditional sweet dessert, and is enjoyed more than not during the fall and early winter, especially for Thanksgiving and Christmas in the United States and Canada.

Pumpkin Pie Basics

Baking a pumpkin pie before 1929 required a person to roast and strain the meat of the gourde or squash. Things changed though in 1929 as Libby’s meat-canning company of Chicago introduced canned pumpkin that replaced the need for roasting and straining one’s own squash.

The pie can be described as a pumpkin-based custard, baked in a single pie shell, and almost never has a top crust, like an apple pie does. A traditional pumpkin pie today is generally flavored with spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Some bakers may go a step further and add cardamom and vanilla.

It is thought that the earliest recipes for pumpkin pie may have come from France. In Francois Pierre La Varenne‘s cookbook of 1653, “The French Cook” his recipe, “Tourte of Pompion” is written, “Boil it with good milk, pass it through a straining pan very thick, and mix it with sugar, butter, a little salt and if you will, a few stamped almonds, letting all be very thin. Put it in your sheet of paste, and bake it. After it is baked, sprinkle it with sugar and serve.”

Enjoying Pumpkin For Dessert

There are many ways to enjoy pumpkin. Since 1929 it was made a lot easier to enjoy it any time of the year. Here are a few recipes that consist of a pumpkin basis.

Double Layer No Bake Pumpkin PieDouble Layer No Bake Pumpkin Pie

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon half & half
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 1/2 cups of whipped heavy cream, or cool whip
1 – 9 inch prepared graham cracker crust (store bought or prepare a homemade crust)
1 cup cold half & half
2 – 3.5 ounce packages instant vanilla pudding mix
1 – 15 ounce can solid pack pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

In a large bowl, whisk together cream cheese, 1 tablespoon of half and half, and sugar until smooth. Gently fold in the whipped cream, and it is best to avoid over mixing. Spread mixture into the bottom of a prepared graham cracker crust.

Refrigerate while preparing the next layer:

In a large bowl whisk pudding mix and 1 cup of half and half until thickened, fold in pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

Gently spread over cream cheese layer. Place in refrigerate for up to 4 hours, or until set.

If you wish, drizzle lightly with caramel sauce and add a dollop of fresh whipped cream, and toffee bits before serving.

Then there is…

Pumpkin-Pie ParfaitsPumpkin-Pie Parfaits

Recipe Courtesy of Pint Sized Treasures

 

For the pumpkin layer:

4 oz cream cheese, softened

2 cups pumpkin puree

1 cup heavy cream

¼ cup brown sugar, packed

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cookie layer:

4 honey graham cracker sheets

4 Tbsp butter, melted

2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 Tbsp brown sugar

Homemade Whipped Cream

2 cups whipping cream

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

In large mixing bowl, place all pumpkin layer ingredients and mix until smooth and creamy, approximately four minutes. Place in freezer for a quick chill while you prepare your other ingredients.

Stir all cookie layer ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

In large mixing bowl, mix whipping cream on medium high until soft peaks form. Add sugar and vanilla extract and beat an additional minute.

Layer parfait glasses very gently following this pattern: cookie mixture, whipped cream, pumpkin layer, whipped cream, pumpkin layer and top with whipped cream. Sprinkle remaining cookie layer on top. Repeat for each parfait.

Gluten Free Pumpkin CheesecakeYou can also enjoy Gluten Free Pumpkin Cheesecake or Layered Pumpkin and Cranberry Parfaits, and Pumpkin Muffins with Pecan Streusel Topping.

Today, October 12th is National Pumpkin Pie Day, enjoy a slice or two, or any dessert with pumpkin in it. We plan to enjoy a Spiced Pumpkin Latte.

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National Fudge Day

National Fudge Day

If you do not have a reason to celebrate something today, why not celebrate National Fudge Day! Yes June 16th is the day chosen to celebrate fudge.

Fudge is a splendid confection made with sugar, milk, butter, and your favorite flavoring. Some popular varieties include mixing chocolate with peanut butter, maple, caramel, peppermint, and marshmallow.

Scottish Tablet

Whisky Flavored Scottish Tablet – photo credit: Sweets for Treats

Were you aware that fudge used to be chocolate-less? The modern-day fudge we enjoy evolved from a candy called Scottish Tablet, which originated in the late 17th century.

While the recipes are some what similar, Scottish Tablet has a much harder texture and lacks the most important ingredient, chocolate!

Candy ThermometerPreparing  fudge may seem easy enough, but it does require a candy thermometer, as fudge is very easy to overcook or under cook.

There are some fudge recipes that have been developed for the home cook.

The recipes may include corn syrup, which prevents the process of crystallization, sweet condensed milk, marshmallow cream or other ingredients that guarantee the perfect fudge texture.

Though they do not guarantee the same taste as original fudge!

To get that original fudge flavor, you will need to use a traditional recipe with a candy thermometer or buy your favorite fudge at your local See’s Candy store or favorite equivalent and enjoy National Fudge Day.

Our featured recipe is Easy Chocolate Fudge and here is what you will need.

12 ounces semi-dark chocolate

2 cups coconut sugar

1 cup whole milk

4 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans

To make things even simpler, replace milk and coconut sugar with a 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk.

Prepare a 8 inch x 8 inch square baking pan lined with foil. Set aside.

Melt chocolate  in a glass bowl over hot boiling water. Once melted, remove hot water from pan and pour melted chocolate into pan and place back over heated element.

Add coconut sugar, and milk. Stir into chocolate, bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to a simmer. Do not stir again.

If you are using a candy thermometer, place it  into the pan and cook until temperature reaches 238 degrees.

If you are not using a thermometer, then cook fudge until a drop it in cold water forms a soft ball. Feel the ball with your fingers to make sure it is the right consistency. It should flatten when pressed between your fingers.

Remove from heat. Add nuts, butter and vanilla extract. Beat with a wooden spoon until the fudge loses its sheen. Do not under beat.

If using the sweetened condensed milk, just add to chocolate after it has melted, and stir in. Remove from heat and stir in nuts and vanilla. When using the sweetened condensed milk, there is no need for a candy thermometer.

Pour into prepared pan and let cool. Then place pan in the refrigerator for about 2 hours or until firm. Lift foil and all from pan, and cut into about 50 squares. Save fudge wrapped in plastic wrap. 

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National Tortellini Day

National Tortellini Day

collage-of-places-in-modena-italyTortellini is a pasta that has made centuries of tradition for all the families that live in an Italian province called Modena.

The pasta is made on special occasions, using recipes handed down from one generation to another.

It is said the origins of tortellini dates back to the early 1600’s.

There is doubt and speculation as to who the person or persons are that invented the pasta.

Italian food is romantic

Today, February 13th is National Tortellini Day in the United States, according to The Nibble.

Italian food represents romance, and can bring out the romantic affection in anyone.

How is Tortellini Made

Here is a short video to demonstrate how tortellini is made. The video will present the preparation of Tortellini Bolognesi.

 

Nutritional Benefits of Tortellini 

Regular cheese tortellini, though it is pasta made from flour does have some nutritional benefits, like 72 mg of potassium, 20 mg of magnesium, also some small amounts of vitamin-A, iron and vitamin B-12 per 3/4 of a cup serving.

Recent studies have shown that a deficiency in vitamin B-12 can be associated with feelings of fatigue and low energy, including depression, irritability, anxiety, and dementia. So let’s eat some Tortellini.

Here’s three recipes from our kitchen to celebrate National Tortellini Day:

Mushroom Tortellini with Asparagus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mushroom Tortellini with Asparagus

Plated close up of Tortellini and Summer Sausage with Tomato Basil Vinagrette

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tortellini and Summer Sausage with Tomato Basil Vinaigrette

Sausage and Tortellini Soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sausage and Tortellini Soup

 

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Buttermilk Pecan Pie for National Pie Day

Pecan Pie

Pecan pie is an American dessert that is native to the southern states  (USA). The history of the pecan pie is not very clear, though pecan pie took off in popularity in the early 20th century. The pie has its place as a dessert at most American dinner tables.

Pecan pie has a sweet, nutty flavor and a custard texture that no other pie can claim. Pecan pie is one of the most frequently eaten pies in the country, next to Apple pie.

The pecan tree is indigenous to North America and grows throughout much of the southern United States. With such wide spread growth of the pecan trees , the early French settlers in the then known Louisiana territory had invented the pecan pie.

Today the southern states harvest over 250 million pounds of pecans each year, with Texas and Georgia pecan groves claiming the majority of that amount.

Pecan trees drop the nuts or shed the pecans from September to December, and ripen on the ground. The pecans are then harvested from the base of the trees, and are either shelled and sold as packaged nuts to make pecan pies or sold shelled for later use.

We bought some pecans, in the bulk section of the Whole Foods Market, to make our favorite Buttermilk Pecan Pie in honor of National Pie Day January. 23, 2015.

If you would like to prepare one, then here is what you will need:

Buttermilk Pecan Pie

½ cup butter, melted

1 cup chopped pecans

2 tbsp. lemon juice

2 cups sugar

1 tsp. Vanilla extract

5 large eggs

1 cup buttermilk

2 tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 unbaked pastry shell (9 or 10 inches)

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix butter and sugar in a medium bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in flour, lemon juice and vanilla. Stir in buttermilk and pecans. Pour into the pie shell. Bake 55 minutes or until set.

Let cool. Plate and serve. Store leftovers in refrigerated.

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If Buttermilk Pecan Pie is not a favorite of yours, then try these pies for National Pie Day: Apple Cranberry Crumb Pie or Berries and Vanilla Pudding Pie.

 

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National Popcorn Day 2015

National Popcorn Day 2015The Washington Post say, “The powers that pop have decreed that Monday is National Popcorn Day. Though the origins of the “holiday” are unclear…”

Popcorn also called by popping corn, is a type of corn that expands from the kernel and puffs up or pops when heated. The kernel can pop because it has a hard moisture-sealed hull and a dense starchy interior. As it is heated, pressure builds up within the kernel, and a small explosion is the result. Some varieties of corn are now cultivated specifically as popping corns, and we say Ya!! The more popcorn, the more we can eat on this day National Popcorn Day.

During the Great Depression, popcorn was really cheap at about 5 cents a bag. While other businesses failed during the Depression, the popcorn business thrived and became a source of income for many struggling farmers. During World War II, candy production went down because of sugar rations, and Americans compensated by eating three times as much popcorn as they had before.

national-popcorn-day-2015-popcorn-served-at-the-movies-since-1912Popcorn is a popular snack food at sporting events and in cinemas, where it has been served since 1912 (USA).

Depending on how popcorn is prepared or cooked, it can be considered a health food. Make sure though, if possible to use non GMO popcorn. You can find some non GMO popcorn here on-line at Tropical Traditions.

Bob’s Red Mill (a national famous organic food brand) also offers packaged organic non GMO popcorn.

Our favorite popcorn is Caramel Popcorn. We found this recipe that goes a bit further and adds apples. We found this recipe at Cookies and Cups .

Caramel Apple Popcorn

Makes about 14 cups caramel corn

Caramel Apple Popcorn

Photo Credit: Cookies and Cups

1 cup unpopped corn kernels

2 (2.5 oz) bags of apple chips

1 cup light brown sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

½ cup butter

1 tsp salt

1 (14 oz ) can of sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 250°

In an air popper, pop your kernels into a large bowl. Pick out any unpopped kernels.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt. Heat until melted and begins to boil. Once boiling, pour in your can of sweetened condensed milk and stir continuously for 5 minutes, to prevent burning.

Remove from heat and pour directly over popcorn and apples, stirring until coated evenly.

Place in preheated oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to cook evenly.

Remove from oven, break into pieces and allow to cool.

Notes from Cookies and Cups:

Store in an airtight container for about a week.

You don’t have to bake this caramel corn if you prefer it softer and chewier. But if you don’t bake it, it will remain fairly sticky.

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National Strawberry Ice Cream Day 2015

National Strawberry Ice Cream Day 2015

Today, January 15, 2015 is National Strawberry Ice Cream Day (USA).

Ice cream is a frozen food usually made from dairy products, such as milk and cream and often combined with fruits or other ingredients and flavors.

Ancient civilizations have served ice for cold foods for thousands of years. Around 200 B.C the Chinese served a frozen mixture of milk and rice. During Nero’s time of ruling over the Roman Emperor (37–68 AD) he had ice brought from the mountains and had it mixed it with fruit.

Introduction of Ice Cream to Europe

In Europe the first recipe for flavored ices appears in France around 1674, and made its appearance to England in the 18th century. In 1718 in England’s capital, London, was published a book titled “Mrs. Mary Eales’s Receipts” which contained an ice cream recipe.

Ice Cream…A New Find in the New World

In the “New World” (USA) ice cream sodas was first introduced in 1874 and by the late 19th century the ice cream sundae came to be. During the American Prohibition (US outlawed the making and serving of any alcohol) the ice cream parlor to some extent replaced the outlawed bars and saloons.

In 1851, in the city Boston, the first commercial factory was built for the production of ice cream.

Eating Ice Cream To Your Hearts Delight

Americans are the number one consumers of ice cream, an average person living in the USA eats 48 pints of ice cream a year. In 2011 the total amount of ice cream consumed in the United States was 1.58 billion gallons.

To make one gallon of ice cream, it requires 192 ounces of milk. Dairy cows produce about 1024 ounces of milk in a day (about 128 8 oz. glasses of milk). That means, if we have calculated appropriately, one dairy cow makes approximately 5.5 gallons of ice cream every day.

Being Thankful for Ice Cream

Let’s give thanks to the cow for ice cream. Really without them, we would not have ice cream, nor would January 15th each year in the United States, be National Strawberry Ice cream Day.

For those of you who are adventurous and would like to make homemade ice cream, here is a recipe we found on food.com by Elizabeth Knicely.

The recipe calls for fresh strawberries. But if you are unable to find fresh ones at your local market, frozen will work as will.

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

3 cups fresh ripe strawberries, stemmed and sliced

4 tablespoons lemon juice

1 1⁄2 cups sugar

1 1⁄2 cups whole milk

2 3⁄4 cups heavy cream

1 1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine strawberries, lemon juice, and 1/2 cup of sugar in a bowl and stir. Allow to sit for up to 2 hours.

Strain berries and reserve the juices.

Puree half the berries.

In a medium bowl mix milk and remaining sugar until sugar is dissolved. Stir in heavy cream, leftover juice from the berry mixture, vanilla, and mashed strawberries.

Turn on Ice Cream Machine and pour mixture into the frozen freezer bowl for about 20 minutes.

Add the rest of the strawberries and mix for another 5 minutes.

A NOTE FROM Elizabeth Knicely…

The ice cream will be very soft and creamy. We transferred ours to a container and stuck it in the freezer for about an hour to thicken it up a little the way we like it.

I am looking forward to trying out some other new ice cream recipes now that I see just how easy it is to do! In fact, I have a container of blueberries in the kitchen that I think would be great in ice cream too!

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National Coffee Day

National Coffee Day National Coffee Day this year (2014) is September 29th.  This day of recognition is to give inspiration to celebration and enjoyment of the popular beverage and to promote fair trade coffee and to increase awareness for the betterment of coffee growers.

National Coffee day is observed annually on September 29th as well as in other countries worldwide. Many businesses will offer free or discounted cups of coffee, even sharing some coupons and special deals as part of the national coffee day celebrations.

The “Japan Coffee Association” were the ones that promoted International Coffee Day, and celebrated the day for the first time in Japan in 1983. The term “International Coffee Day” was first used by the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (New Orleans) during a press conference held on October 3, 2009 aiming at ‘International Coffee Day’ and to declare the first New Orleans Coffee Festival.

On September 29, 2014 the museum has a new home, and you can read about it here on their web-site: Cut the Ribbon at SoFAB’s New Home! , they even have a clock counting down. How fitting that the 29th is ribbon cutting day, the day they coined the term “International Coffee Day.”

According to Wikipedia Switzerland celebrates National Coffee Day on September 28th, and September the 29th the following nations celebrate National Coffee Day…

  1. Australia
  2. Canada
  3. England
  4. Ethiopia
  5. Hungary
  6. Malaysia
  7. New Zealand
  8. Norway
  9. Sweden
  10. United States

Japan will celebrate National Coffee day October 1st.

We wanted to share some desserts you can prepare to have with that cup of coffee on National Coffee Day. The first one is:

Chocolate Mexican Coffee CakeChocolate Mexican Coffee Cake 

Coffee: Has been proven to reduce risk for diabetes and Parkinson’s. It also stimulates enzymes that protect against colon cancer. It is Chlorogenic acid and it is one of the main caffeic acids found in coffee that has antioxidant properties….Read More and Get the Recipe Here

Next we have:

Tips for Making Great Iced CoffeeMaking Great Iced Coffee

Some people object to acidity in their cold coffee. Cold brewing greatly reduces the acid content of coffee, it will lower the acidity one full pH point verse hot brewed coffee…Read More Here and Get the Recipe.

Here are some great ideas about coffee we have shared in previous articles, like Coffee-Grinding Tips and Facts or Coffee: Facts, Myths, and Trivia.

We are all in different places and can’t come together to share a cup of coffee, so I send this to you all for the morning of September 29 (2014)…

National Coffee Day

Image Credit: imagesbuddy.com

If you do get yourself a cup of coffee at your local coffee house on National Coffee Day, don’t forget to recycle your cup.recycle your paper cup on National Coffee Day

 

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