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Archive for March 22, 2016

EASTER: Peeps Cupcakes With Hidden Surprise

Who doesn’t love a surprise? Certainly, this Easter cupcake counts as one: In addition to an alluring Peeps chick on top, these cupcakes from Betty Crocker have a surprise in the middle—other Easter candies.

 
RECIPE: PEEPS CUPCAKES WITH HIDDEN SURPRISE

Ingredients For 24 Cupcakes

  • 1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist yellow cake mix (or your own yellow cupcake recipe)
  • Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box
  • 1 cup assorted mini candy-coated chocolate candies, jimmies or confetti candy sprinkles (we used pastel M&Ms)
  • 1 container Betty Crocker Rich & Creamy white frosting -or- make the easy (and much better-tasting) homemade buttercream*—recipe below
  • Green food color
  • Optional: green sparkling/decorating sugar
  • 24 Peeps marshmallow chicks (yellow or assorted colors)
  • Optional: Pastel cupcake wrappers
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT the oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pans). Place paper baking cup in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups.

    2. MAKE the cake batter as directed on box. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups (about two-thirds full). Bake as directed on box for cupcakes. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove from pans to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

    3. SCOOP out the center of each cupcake, about 1 inch deep, using melon baller. Fill each with 1 heaping teaspoonful candies.

    4. SPOON the frosting into a medium bowl; stir in enough food color until you have your desired green color. Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with colored sugar. Top with a Peeps chick. Store loosely covered.

       

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    peeps-Chick-Surprise-Cupcakes-2-230

    Peeps Easter cupcakes with a hidden surprise. Photos courtesy Betty Crocker.

     
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    *All you need to make buttercream is a stick of unsalted butter, a cup of confectioners’ sugar, 1/4 cup whole milk and the flavoring of your choice, such as 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. You can tint it any color you like. Here’s the recipe for chocolate buttercream and other flavors.

     

    Colored Peeps

    Easter Cake

    Top: The original Peeps were made in yellow and white. Today there’s a rainbow of colors (photo courtesy Pioneer Press). Bottom: This Peeps Easter Bunny Cake recipe is from FoodySchmoodyBlog.com.

     

    PEEPS HISTORY

    In 1920, confectioner Sam Born opened a small candy store in Brooklyn, New York, selling fresh confections made daily. In 1953, he introduced Peeps marshmallow chicks in yellow and white.

    It used to take 27 hours to make a single Peep: Each one was hand-squeezed from a pastry tube. Now it takes six minutes on a mechanized line. Sam Born’s son, Bob, mechanized production in 1954 with a special machine still used today. The business, the Just Born Company, is still family owned.

    An average 5.5 million Peeps are made every day. That’s 2 billion Peeps a year, enough to circle the Earth three times.

    Peeps bunnies were added in 1973. The chicks way outsell the bunnies: 4 of every 5 Peeps purchased are chicks. But chick or bunny, Peeps are the number-one selling non-chocolate Easter candy.

    Beyond Original Marshmallow Peeps, there are now flavored Peeps (Blueberry Delight, Candy Cane, Candy Corn Dipped Peeps, Cherry Cordial, Chocolate Mousse, Fruit Punch, Lime Delight, Mystery Flavor, Orange Delight, Raspberry Delight, Strawberry Creme, Sugar Plum, Vanilla), as well as Original in blue, green, lavender, orange and pink colors.

    There are chocolate-dipped Peeps, Peeps atop sugar cookies, Sugar-Free Peeps, Peeps Marshmallow Eggs, Peeps Lollipops, gift sets and wearables (headbands, slippers, socks, etc.), all sold at Peeps & Company retail stores and online.

    And there’s more: Peeps Snowmen, Peeps Jack o’Lanterns, Peeps Witch Chicks, Green Marshmallow Christmas Trees and Chocolate Mint Christmas Trees.

     
    You can see them all here.

    Google “Peeps recipes” and you’ll find Peeps fondue, Peeps sushi, Peeps pizza, Peepsicles, even Peeps pots de crème.

    Just Born also makes Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews, Hot Tamales, Mike & Ike and Teenee Beanee jelly beans.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: The Perfect Baked Potato

    We really miss our mother’s baked potatoes. Mom was a potato fan and made a simple preparation every night, rotating among baked, boiled with parsley butter, French fried and mashed (for Sunday brunch, hash browns; for special occasions, potato pancakes).

    Among this group, what we no longer come across—or make at home—is her baked potato with a super-crisp skin. We liked the outside as much as the inside. But in the interest of time, we’ve been baking our potatoes in the microwave. They’re O.K., but not memorable. In fact, they steam rather than bake, impacting the texture. This also happens when you wrap a potato in foil before baking.

    So yesterday we turned on the oven and made baked potatoes with Mom’s favorite toppings: butter and sour cream topped with fresh-ground black pepper and minced fresh chives.

     
    RECIPE: BAKED POTATO WITH A CRISP SKIN

    Ingredients

  • Russet potatoes (Idaho baking potatoes)
  • Olive oil or other vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Toppings (see below)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Rinse the potatoes under running water and pat dry. Pierce each potato 5 times with the tines of a fork.

    2. RUB the potatoes with oil, sprinkle with salt and a bit of pepper, and place on a baking sheet/in a baking pan;

    3. BAKE for 45 minutes and test for doneness: a cake tester should go in without resistance. If you want even crisper skin, raise the oven to 400°F for the last 15 minutes,

    4. REMOVE from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before cutting a vent across the top.

    5. SERVE with a variety of toppings.
     
    BAKED POTATO TOPPINGS

    One of our favorite party foods is a baked potato bar with lots of different toppings:

     

    Baked Potato & Toppings

    Baked Potato Toppings

    Top: Fresh from the oven and waiting to be topped. Bottom: Different baked potato toppings. Can you choose just one? Photos courtesy Idaho Potato Commission.

  • Butter, plain Greek yogurt, sour cream
  • Chili, guacamole
  • Diced broccoli florets, caramelized onions, corn kernels, sautéed mushrooms, sliced jalapeños, sliced olives, sliced scallions
  • Crumbled bacon, crumbled cheese (blue, feta, goat), grated Jack or Cheddar cheese
  • Herbs (basil, chives, cilantro, dill, parsley), hot pepper sauce, salsa, stewed tomatoes
  •  
    Or, try these recipes:

  • Bruschetta Baked Potato: 2 medium tomatoes diced, 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, 2 cloves (1 teaspoon) of minced garlic and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Toss together in a bowl and spoon on top of potatoes. Optional: Add chopped chicken to Bruschetta topping.
  • Classic Baked Potato: 1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese, 2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon fresh chives chopped. Mix all ingredients except 1 tablespoon of chives in a bowl and spoon on top of potatoes. Garnish with remaining chives.
  • Lemon Herb Yogurt Baked Potato: 1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, juice of 1/2 lemon, salt and pepper to taste. Mix together in a bowl and spoon on top of potatoes. Garnish with dill sprigs.
  • Mediterranean Baked Potato: 1 container (6 ounces) feta cheese, 1 can (2.25 ounces) sliced drained olives, 1 medium tomato diced (optional), salt and pepper to taste. Toss together in a bowl and spoon on top of potatoes.
  • Pico de Gallo Baked Potato: 1/2 cup pre-made pico de gallo or mix 1 medium tomato diced, 1 small onion finely chopped, 1 green onion chopped, 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, salt and pepper to taste. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and spoon on top of potatoes. Garnish with extra cilantro.
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    MORE BASKED POTATO IDEAS

  • Beets & Feta Cheese Baked Potatoes
  • Chicken Pot Pie Baked Potatoes
  • Leftovers-Stuffed Baked Potatoes
  • Zig Zag Baked Potatoes
  •  
    CHECK OUT THE HISTORY OF POTATOES & THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF POTATOES

      

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    NOTEWORTHY : World Water Day

    One of the 663 million people on earth without access to clean water. Photo courtesy Charity Water.

     

    Sufficient water supply and sanitation has been one of man’s primary challenges since the dawn of civilization. Lack of good sanitation systems polluted water supplies, engendering disease and epidemics.

    In the early 19th century, governments in developed countries began to implement ways to assure a safe water supply for drinking and, modern sanitation systems to contain disease. But a third of the world’s population still, in undeveloped countries, still lives under ancient, dangerous conditions.

    March 22nd is World Water Day, which acknowledges this water crisis.

    Even where there is sufficient river and lake water, it often carries harmful organisms that engender disease and death. (The same was true in Europe and elsewhere before the advent of monitored municipal water systems.)

    When you live in a country with excellent tap water and sanitation, it’s eye opening to realize that:

  • One in 10 people—663 million—lack access to safe water.
  • One in 3 people—2.4 billion—lack access to a latrine or other toilet.
  • A staggering 4500 children die daily from preventable, water-related illnesses. [Source]
  •  
    If you want to help, head to Action Against Hunger, which has clean water and sanitation initiatives in some of the most remote places of the world.

  • $400 helps install a rain water harvesting system
  • $250 helps provide a latrine
  • $100 helps build a well
  • $25 provides a ceramic water gilter
  •  
    Any contribution helps.
     
    Donate by midnight today and your gift will be matched dollar for dollar by Pur Water Filtration Systems. Thanks!

     
      

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