National Eggnog Day

National Eggnog Day

The origins of eggnog and the components (ingredients) of the concoction are still debated. Some say it was invented during the medieval times.  The “nog” part of the beverages name is said to have stemmed from the word noggin, a term that meant a small, wooden mug used to serve alcohol. It was also referred to as a Egg Flip, which was the practice of rapidly flipping the mixture between two pitchers to mix it.

In England eggnog was considered the trademark drink of the upper class. James Humes an author and historian writes that the average Londoner rarely saw a glass of milk.

It is also said that eggnog descended from a hot British drink called posset, which consisted of eggs, milk, with the addition of an ale (beer) or wine.

With the addition of alcohol, the eggnog was aged for several weeks, maybe even months. Yes raw eggs were used, but remember, booze or alcohol can both be a preservative and sterilizer. Very few bacteria, including salmonella, are not able to survive in the presence of alcohol, as has been proven in lab experiments at Rockefeller University.

Whatever the origins may be, a great beverage was invented 100’s of years ago, which has became a traditional beverage throughout Canada and the United States this time of year, that is starting in November and being available in the market through the first of January.

Let’s get to “Egg Flipping.” But before we can do that, let’s make some eggnog, and here is what you will need.

6 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 to 1 1/2 cup bourbon or rum, optional
Nutmeg and cinnamon stick, to serve

Separate the eggs, putting the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another. Cover the egg whites and refrigerate until needed.

Combine the yolks and the sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

Next, add the milk, cream, and liquor (if using) with the egg mixture and mix until combined.

Cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. The more liquor you add, the longer it will keep. If you are making non-alcoholic eggnog, store it in a sealed glass container. The beverage should be consumed within a day.

Before serving a glass of eggnog, whisk the reserved egg whites in a mixer on high speed until the whites form stiff peaks, then fold the beaten egg whites into the prepared eggnog and gently stir the whites into the base (this step is optional. You do not have to add the egg whites).

Adding the whipped egg whites will give the eggnog an extra-creamy texture.

Eggnog with nutmeg and a cinnamon stick Serve in individual glasses topped with nutmeg, and a cinnamon stick.

You can also enjoy eggnog with coconut milk, by exchanging out the dairy milk.

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National Maple Syrup Day

National Maple Syrup Day - Baked French Toast and Cream Cheese Casserole

Today December 17 is the perfect day to have pancakes or french toast topped off with some delicious, real maple syrup to celebrate National Maple Syrup Day.

Maple syrup is from the xylem sap of red maple or black maple trees.

Two French Toast recipes topped with Real Maple Syrup

In the spring, the maple trees are tapped by boring holes into the trunks of the trees, and the sap is collected in buckets.

After the sap is collected, it is processed by heating to evaporate much of the water, leaving only the concentrated syrup.

European settlers to the north american continent learned the process from the indigenous people, or native Americans. Up until the 1930’s the United States led the world in the production of maple syrup, but now Canada is collecting sap to produce maple syrupthe world’s largest maple syrup producer, were as Vermont is the largest producer of maple syrup in the United States.

If you didn’t know, a production farm turning sap into maple syrup is known as a sugar-bush, sugar-wood or sugar-shack.

Wow too much talk about maple syrup is making our mouths water, so let’s get to our featured recipe, which is a twist on french toast, French Toast Cream Cheese Casserole, and here is what you will need.

French Toast Cream Cheese Casserole

8 eggs

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups whole milk

2/3 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

National Maple Syrup Day - Baked French Toast and Cream Cheese Casserole1 stick or 1/2 cup salted butter, melted

1 loaf of real sourdough bread, cubed into bite-size pieces (optional to use a loaf of French bread)

8 ounces cream cheese, cubed into 1/2 inch pieces

1 tablespoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large mixing bowl, cream eggs and sugar, then add whole milk, cream, maple syrup, and vanilla. Mix together until well combined.

Next add the melted butter to the egg mixture and mix together thoroughly.

Butter a 9×13-inch glass baking dish. Sprinkle butter with coconut sugar or brown sugar for some added sweetness (optional). Next, spread half of the bread over the bottom of the dish then sprinkle half of the cream cheese chunks over the top. Add the rest of the bread then sprinkle with the remaining cream cheese.

Pour the egg mixture evenly over the top of the pan making sure to get the entire bread wet.

Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cinnamon. You can use a mesh strainer to spread the cinnamon more evenly.

Cover the dish with foil.

Bake for 35 minutes then remove the foil from the pan and bake for another 10 minutes.

Let cool for a few minutes then serve with real maple syrup.

Check out our other French Toast recipes with real maple syrup…

French Toast Fruit Roll Ups

Breaded Coconut French Toast

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National Gluten Free Baking Week

National Gluten Free Baking Week According to National Day Calendar, December 13th thru the 19th, it’s “Gluten Free (GF) Baking Week.

Gluten is a complex protein found in wheat, rye and barley and for some people that spells trouble.

Why Gluten Free Baking?

Gluten Free Blueberry Lemon Bread

Gluten Free Blueberry Lemon Bread – Click Image For Recipe

GF baking is one that excludes any type of flour that has gluten, which is a particular protein composite found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale.

Without becoming too technical or medical, wheat, rye and barley wreaks havoc on some, if not many individuals their digestive tract.

Gluten free baking doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite traditional desserts. It just means modifying your desserts by using gluten free flour choices.

Gluten Free Flour Options For Baking

Creative minds have discovered ways to bake with GF flours, and such flours can be found at your local market. Let’s examine in short what some of your choices are.

Bean Flours

Including garbanzo bean flour and romano bean flour, these flours are typically high in protein and have a distinct flavor. They are better suited for heartier recipes, such as breads.

Brown Rice Flour

This is a supplementary flour, and works great when blended with teff, buckwheat or sorghum flours. It is great for baking those sweet desserts.

Millet Flour

This is a light in color and a drier flour than most other gluten free flours. It is best when mixed with heartier flours, like Teff, Hemp, or almond flours.

Gluten Free Carrot Cake with a Cream Cheese Frosting

Gluten Free Carrot Cake with a Cream Cheese Frosting – Click Image For Recipe

 

Buckwheat Flour

Yes, it has wheat in the title, but this flour is related not to wheat but to the rhubarb plant. It has a distinct taste, which makes it best when combined with other, more bland flours.

This flour alternative for use in muffins, cakes and pancakes. In order to work well with the dough, adding a starch would help, like arrowroot, tapioca, or a nongmo cornstarch.

Sorghum Flour 

Made from sorghum, which is a relative of sugarcane. It’s tender and adds a mild sweetness, but is rarely used alone.

Coconut Flour

This flour lends a pleasant flavor to baked goods. Since coconut flour absorbs moisture more than other flours, it is suggested for recipes that have at least as much liquid as flour required in a recipe. Because this can be a tricky art, it’s suggested that as a beginner, you use recipes specifically designed for coconut flour.

Almond Flour

This is a great choice for baking. Using almond flour to a dessert recipe will add moistness, binding, a light almond flavor, and a good amount of density to cupcakes, muffins, brownies, cookies, breads, and cake recipes.

Keep in mind that any nut flour cannot be substituted in equal quantities for flour, because nut flours are more dense and very high in protein. They can be used to replace a portion of other GF flours, such as Oat Flour, being used in the recipe.

Buying Commercial Gluten Free Flour Choices

Gluten Free Zucchini Cranberry Bread

Gluten Free Zucchini Cranberry Bread – Click Image For Recipe

Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour

Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free is a fine blend using as its base garbanzo beans, potato starch, and tapioca, to name a few of the ingredients. See Bob speaking here about his flour choices, along with nutritional information, reviews, and GF recipes.

King Arthur Gluten Free Multi-Purpose Flour

King Arthur Flour is a blend of white rice and whole grain brown rice flours, along with tapioca and potato starch. What’s great about this product is that ‘it’s multi-purpose’ and can therefore be used for both baking and cooking, cup-for-cup, the same as any gluten flour product.

Tips For Beginners Of Gluten-Free Baking

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cheesecake

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cheesecake – Click Image For Recipe

Experiment, experiment and experiment. There is a learning curve when you first start with Gluten free baking, but once you get some practice and experience you will become an expert about what works and what dosen’t.

Stay with it and don’t get discouraged. There will be failed recipes because you have to learn which flour combinations work best, but it just takes practice and testing. It’s best to get guidance from recipe books or online guides when first trying your hand at gluten free baking.

Begin with simple baking recipes and learn the basics.

Try some of our gluten free dessert recipes by clicking on the images above that are accompanying this article, or by clicking the links below.

Gluten Free Tropical Carrot Cake

Gluten-Free Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes

Gluten Free Carrot Cake Pancakes with Orange Maple Mascarpone Sauce

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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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