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RECIPE: Salted Caramel Pretzel Brownies

Salted Caramel Pretzel Brownies

Dutched Cocoa Powder

Top: Sweet and salty, chocolate and caramel: How can you resist? A recipe and photo from The Baker Chick. Bottom: Dutch process, or Dutched cocoa, is processed with alkali to neutralize cocoa’s natural acidity. It is milder in flavor and lighter in color than non-Dutched cocoa powder. Photo courtesy King Arthur Flour.

 

Thanks to The Baker Chick for helping us celebrate National Chocolate Caramel Day, March 19th. We made her wickedly good Salted Caramel Pretzel Brownies.

 
RECIPE: SALTED CARAMEL PRETZEL BROWNIES

 
Ingredients For 24 Brownies

For The Pretzel Crust

  • 4 cups small pretzels, crushed into small pieces
  • 6 tablespoons of butter, melted
  •  
    For The Brownies

  • 1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs plus 2 large yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups sugar
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  •  
    For The Toppings

  • 1 cup salted caramel sauce (purchased or homemade)
  • Flaky sea salt for sprinkling
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Fit a 9×13 pan with foil or parchment paper. Overlap two sheets, including two tabs that hang over the sides, so you can easily lift the brownies out of the pan.

    2. ADD the crushed pretzels to the bottom of the pan and drizzle with the melted butter. Set aside while you make the brownie batter.

     
    3. WHISK together the cocoa powder and boiling water in a large bowl, whisking quickly until just combined. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted. Add the oil, melted butter, eggs, yolks and vanilla, whisking after each addition. Add the sugar, mix until well-combined. Sprinkle the flour and salt over the batter and then fold in, mixing until smooth and well incorporated while not over-mixing.

    4. POUR the caramel sauce over the batter in lines going vertically, then horizontally. Use the tip of a knife or skewer to swirl the batter back and forth.

    5. BAKE for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Let brownies cool completely before cutting into squares.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Ginger Ale

    March 13th is National Ginger Ale Day, time to enjoy a refreshing glass of ginger ale.

    You can buy a commercial brand, of course; but for something special, you can purchase ginger syrup and add it to club soda. If you like a hot and spice sizzle, pick up some ginger beer syrup.

    The syrups can also be used to flavor barbecue sauce, cocktails, desserts, dips, dressings, glazes, iced tea and other foods and beverages.

    Or, make your own ginger ale from scratch, using fresh ginger root simmered in water. The flavor is so much more vibrant: It sizzles.

    And, since St. Patrick’s Day is this week, you can color it green!

    We adapted this recipe from Epicurious. A squeeze of lime juice, not an ingredient in conventional ginger ale, adds terrific flavor complexity.

    The recipe makes about 1-1/2 cups syrup, enough for 4 to 6 drinks. Prep time is 10 minutes, total time including chilling is 3 hours.
     
    RECIPE: HOMEMADE GINGER ALE

    Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups (7 ounces) chopped peeled ginger
  • 2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 quart club soda or selter (the difference), chilled
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the syrup: Over a low simmer, cook the ginger and water in a small saucepan, partially covered, for 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the ginger steep, fully covered, for 20 minutes.

    2. STRAIN the mixture into a bowl, pressing on the ginger to extract all liquid; then discard the ginger. Return the liquid to the saucepan, add the sugar and salt, and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved.

    3. CHILL the syrup in a covered jar until cold. To make ginger ale, mix 1/4 cup of ginger syrup with 3/4 cup club soda and 1-1/2 teaspoons lime juice. Taste and adjust the proportions as desired. Use up the syrup within one week.
     
    THE HISTORY OF GINGER ALE

    First came ginger beer, which originated in England in the 1800s. It was brewed like beer from ginger, sugar, water, lemon juice and ginger beer plant, a cluster of microorganisms like kombucha. It had an alcohol content of 11%. Today’s supermarket beers average 4%-6% and craft beers average 5.9%, although some styles are brewed with ABVs in excess of 11%).

    The first non-alcoholic ginger ale was created in Ireland in 1851. But modern-style ginger ale was born in 1907 when a Canadian, John McLaughlin, invented what eventually became Canada Dry Ginger Ale.

       

    Homemade Ginger Ale

    Ginger Syrup

    Fresh Ginger Root

    Top: Homemade ginger ale (photo courtesy Malibu Rum). Center: Ginger syrup. Mixit with club soda to make ginger ale (photo The Ginger People). Bottom: Use fresh ginger root to make ginger syrup from scratch (photo Jan Schone | SXC).

     
    It was available in two versions: dry ginger ale, the style of modern ginger ale—pale color, mellow ginger flavor—and golden ginger ale, with a much deeper ginger flavor and golden color.

    Canada Dry ginger ale was introduced in 1907; the “dry” style prevails today. It gained favor around the time of Prohibition (1920-1933).

    Today, the golden style—deeper color and flavor—survives as non-alcoholic ginger beer. While modern ginger beers do have a touch of alcohol from the fermentation, they are categorized as non-alcoholic drinks in the U.S. because their alcohol content is less than 0.5% (this meets FDA requirements for a non-alcoholic beverage).

     

    Old Ginger Ale Bottle

    Launched in 1907, Canada Dry is the “father” of modern ginger ale. This bottle is from the 1940s. See more old soda bottles at Printmag.com.

     

    Ginger ale was the most popular soft drink in the U.S. until the 1930s, when it was surpassed by Coca-Cola (first was bottled for distribution in 1899).
     
    Modern Ginger Ale Vs. Modern Ginger Beer

    The main differences between today’s ginger ale and ginger beer are the sweetness and spiciness.

    Ginger beer is less sweet than ginger ale, and has a sizzling ginger kick. The spicier ginger beer provides a bite to cocktails and food pairings (any spicy or highly-seasoned foods, as well as foods with sweet glazes and sauces like barbecue or glazed ham). The lighter ginger ale provides more sweetness and effervescence as a soft drink or cocktail mixer.

    Production processes differ. Ginger beer is brewed (naturally fermented), a reason for the higher price. Ginger ale is a soft drink made from flavored carbonated water.

    Historically, both were fermented. Today only ginger beer is fermented, a reason for the higher price.

  • The natural fermentation of ginger beer yields less carbonation.
  • Ginger beer can have a beer-like head when poured into a glass.
  •  
    Now, the exception: Some artisan soft drink makers, including Reed’s Original Ginger Brew in the U.S. and Fentinman’s in England, ferment their soft drinks for more flavor and complexity.

    Will this become a trend? Stay tuned?

     

      

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    RECIPE: Korean Spaghetti & Meatballs

    Korean Meatballs

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/rice noodles indochine kitchen 230r

    Peacock Rice Spaghetti

    Top: Spicy Korean meatballs from Noodles & Company. Center: Cooked rice noodles from Indochine Kitchen. Bottom: Peacock Brand rice noodles, one of our favorites.

     

    March 9th is National Meatball Day. Suggestion: Try something different, instead of the very familiar Italian-American pork blend meatballs with tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese.

    How about a Korean interpretation of Meatballs & Spaghetti? The meatballs are flavored with spicy gochujang sauce (pronounced Go-CHOO-jang); the spaghetti is made from gluten-free rice noodles.

    The meatball and sauce recipes are from Executive Chef Nick Graff of Noodles & Company. THE NIBBLE put them together rice noodles to create the Meatballs & Spaghetti. The substitutions are:

  • Korean BBQ sauce instead of tomato sauce
  • Rice noodles instead of wheat noodles
  • Shredded basil or chopped cilantro instead of grated cheese
  •  
    Don’t want spicy Korean meatballs? Try this Italian-influenced veal meatball recipe.
     
    RECIPE: KOREAN MEATBALLS & SPAGHETTI

    Ingredients For 32 One-Ounce Meatballs

  • Korean BBQ sauce (recipe below)
  • Meatballs (recipe below, or use your favorite recipe)
  • Rice noodles (spaghetti or vermicelli—Peacock Brand rice noodles are available at Amazon, Walmart, Wegmans and retailers nationwide)
  • Garnish: black and white sesame seeds, fresh basil chiffonade or cilantro
  •  
    Ingredients For The Meatballs

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  •  
    Ingredients For The Korean BBQ Sauce

  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled & minced
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon gochujang sauce/paste (or more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the meatballs: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Mix the ground chicken and beef with the eggs, salt and white pepper. Portion and roll into 1 ounce-size balls (the size of golf balls) and place on an oiled sheet pan. Bake for about 20 minutes.

    2. MAKE the BBQ sauce. Place the ginger, garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, gochujang paste and red chili flakes in a pan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile…

    3. WHISK the cornstarch and water together in a small bowl and add to boiling sauce. Stir until thickened. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the heated meatballs and toss to coat completely with the sauce.

    4. COOK the rice noodles according to package directions, while the BBQ sauce is coming to a boil.

    5 COMBINE the spaghetti, meatballs and sauce, garnish and serve.

     
      

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    FOOD “HOLIDAY”: Caffeine Awareness Month

    Coffee Cup & Beans

    Cold Brew

    Top: People with no conflicting conditions can enjoy coffee 4 cups of brewed coffee daily. Want more? Switch to decaf (photo La Panineria). Bottom: Cold brew coffee, growing in popularity, has the most caffeine by a long shot (photo Seaworth Coffee).

     

    March is Caffeine Awareness Month. The National Consumers League (NCL) shared these facts on the world’s most consumed pick-me-up:

  • Caffeine has been consumed by humans for thousands of years. Tea was first consumed in China as early as 3000 B.C.E., and coffee consumption in Ethiopia appears to have commenced in the 9th century C.E.
  • Caffeine is found naturally in more than 60 plants. It is also produced synthetically and added to products including soft drinks and energy drinks. The actual source of caffeine—natural or synthetic—does not matter to performance or health.
  • Six beverages contain natural caffeine. Can you name them? The answers are below.
  • We are a nation of caffeine consumers. Some 85% of Americans drink at least one caffeinated beverage per day.
  • The caffeine intake of American adults ranges from 110 mg/day (for women ages 19-30) up to 260 mg/day (for men ages 51-70). National caffeine intake has remained steady over the past decade. It is much higher in the world’s top caffeine-consuming nations: Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands.
  • Most caffeine intake in the U.S. comes from coffee, tea and soda. Caffeine is sometimes found in surprising places like orange soda, lemonade and enhanced water beverages. Read the labels!
  • Moderate coffee consumption—up to 400 mg/day of caffeine—can be part of a healthy eating pattern, according to the recently released 2015-2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines. This amount has also been found to be safe by Health Canada and the European Food Safety Authority.
  • Here’s what 400 mg of caffeine comprises:
  • – 16.6 servings of green tea (24 mg caffeine/8 fl. oz.)
    – 11.5 servings of a cola soft drink (average 35 mg caffeine/12 fl. oz.)
    – 8.5 servings of black tea (47 mg caffeine/8 fl. oz.)
    – 5 servings of Red Bull energy drink (80 mg caffeine/8.4 fl. oz.)
    – 4.2 servings of regular brewed coffee (95 mg caffeine/8 fl. oz.)
    – 2.2 servings of coffee house coffee (180 mg caffeine/8 fl. oz.)
    – 2 servings of 5-Hour Energy (200 mg caffeine/2 fl. oz.)
    – 1 serving of 10-Hour Energy shot (422 mg caffeine/2 fl. oz.)

     

  • Amounts of caffeine in cold-brew coffee can be astonishing: as much as 2,160 mg of caffeine in a 32 fl. oz. bottle, or 540mg per eight-ounce cup. It equates to about 23 cups of home brewed coffee, 62 cans of cola or 45 cups of black tea.
  • Scientific consensus is that everyone is different when it comes to the effects of caffeine. Children and teens should generally consume less caffeine due to their lower body weights.
  • Moderate caffeine consumption in healthy adults is not associated with an increased risk of major chronic diseases (e.g., cancer, heart disease) or premature death, according to the Dietary Guidelines.
  • The Dietary Guidelines are silent on most population groups, but advises that pregnant women, those who may become pregnant, and those who are breastfeeding should consult their health care providers for advice concerning caffeine consumption.
  • Dogs, cats, and birds cannot metabolize caffeine, so don’t feed them chocolate or anything else with caffeine.
  •  

    LABELS DON’T TELL ALL

    The FDA currently requires food labels to disclose added caffeine as an ingredient, but the label is not required to provide the amount of added caffeine or to list natural caffeine.

    As a result, very few products voluntarily list the total amount of caffeine they contain; although some companies, like Red Bull and Monster, and some soft drinks, provide this information voluntarily.

    The NCL is an advocate for transparency. To be able to moderate their intake, says the organization, consumers need to know how much caffeine is in the foods and beverages they consume.

    The NCL believes that all products containing caffeine should declare the amount of caffeine per serving-and per container-on the label—and we agree.
     
    And The Answers Are…

     

    Hot Chocolate With Marshmallows

    Not so innocent: Cacao beans, and the cocoa powder made from them, contains caffeine. Photo courtesy La Panineria.

     
    The six foods/beverages that contain natural caffeine are: cacao/cocoa, coffee, guarana, the kola nut, tea (black, green or white Camellia sinensis but not herbal tea, which has no caffeine) and yerba maté.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Plan Something Special For St. Patrick’s Day (45+ Recipes!)

    It’s March first, and that means one thing in our home: Do we want to have a St. Patrick’s Day party?

    If so, should it be dinner for eight of classic Irish dishes or very modern ones (corned beef and cabbage egg rolls and tacos, Guinnesss Stout floats); an after-work cocktail hour with green cocktails; an Irish beer or Irish whiskey tasting with Irish cheeses; or Irish-themed desserts for our sweet-toothed friends, served with coffee, Irish tea and Irish Coffee?

    Note that “Irish-themed” comprises any authentic Irish food, or anything colored green, from Appletinis and Broccoli Salad to Chocolate Mint ice cream, to a anything containing Irish spirits: Guinness and other Irish beers, Irish cream liqueur and Irish whiskey.

    While we mull it over, we sorted through these recipes. As you peruse them, think of what you might like to do.

    IRISH-THEMED BREAKFAST

  • Avocado & Sour Cream On Toast
  • Corned Beef Hash (With Poached Eggs)
  • Irish Breakfast Tea
  • Irish Soda Bread
  • Irish Soda Muffins
  •  
    IRISH-THEMED COCKTAILS

  • Absinthe, The “Green Beast”
  • Appletini
  • Champagne & Oysters
  • Emerald Isle With Pressed Green Juice
  • Irish Coffee Shots
  • Peppermint Paddy Martini
  • Pot O’ Goldtini
  • The Shamrocker (Bright Green)
  • The White Irishman (A White Russian Variation)
  •  
    IRISH-THEMED LUNCH & DINNER RECIPES

  • Avocado Potato Salad
  • Broccoli Salad
  • Corned Beef & Cabbage Egg Rolls
  • Corned Beef & Cabbage Potato Salad
  • Green Deviled Eggs
  • Green Lasagna Or Any Pasta With Pesto
  • Guinness Fish & Chips
  • Guinness-Marinated Corned Beef & Cabbage
  • Lamb Kabobs With Guinness Marinade
  • Leafy Greens
  • Potato-Rosemary Rolls
  • Slow Cooker Beef Stew
  • Warm Spinach Mascarpone Dip
  •  
    IRISH-THEMED DESSERTS

  • Green Cheese With Green Fruits (Granny Smith Apples, Grapes, Green Pears, Kiwi)
  • Grasshopper Pie
  • Green Macarons
  • Green Mint Cheesecake Bars
  • Green Ombre Layer Cake
  • Green Velvet Cupcakes
  • Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes
  • Guinness Chocolate Mousse
  • Irish Cheese Plate
  • Irish Cream Liqueur Cheesecake
  • Irish Cream Swirl Brownies
  • Upside-Down Irish Whiskey Cake
  • Shamrock Cupcakes With Green Jelly Beans
  •  
    IRISH-THEMED SNACKS

  • Apple Leprechaun For Kids
  • Cheddar & Bacon Guacamole
  • Green Marshmallows
  • Green Mint Milkshake
  • Leprechaun Gingerbread Men
  • Matcha Shortbread Cookies
  • Microwave Kale Chips
  • Shamrock Cookies
  •  

    Green Deviled Eggs

    Irish Soda Bread

    Irish Cheddar

    Guinness Float

    Corned Beef & Cabbage

    Green Ombre Cake

    See captions and photo credits at the left, below.

    _______________________________
    PHOTO CAPTIONS
  • Top: Green Deviled Eggs from the California Avocado Commission.
  • Second: Irish Soda Bread Recipe from The Baker Chick.
  • Third: Irish Cheddar from Murray’s Cheese.
  • Fourth: Guinness Float from R Lounge | Times Square.
  • Fifth: Guinness-Marinated Corned Beef & Cabbage from Justin O’Connor | Guinness Storehouse | Dublin.
  • Bottom: Green Ombre Layer Cake from McCormick.
  •   

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    RECIPE: Surf & Turf Bloody Mary

    We found this Fully Loaded Bloody Mary at The Wayfarer, in the heart of New York City.

    Because it features both bacon and shrimp garnishes, and because February 29th is National Surf & Turf Day (January 1st is National Bloody Mary Day), we’ve renamed it the Surf & Turf Bloody Mary. There are so many nibbles in the drink that it could also be called the Appetizer Mary.

    To add even more taste consider flavored vodka: bacon, cucumber, lemon or lime. We also use chipotle hot sauce instead of the standard heat.

    If you prefer other clear spirits to vodka, make a Bloody Caesar with gin or a Bloody Maria with tequila.

    And, you can vary the surf and turf: Instead of the bacon strip and “appetizer” cocktail pick, substitute a cocktail pick of steak cubes. Any other meat or poultry from the “turf” also works.

    We have quite a few additional options below.

    THE SURF & TURF BLOODY MARY

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2/3 cup Bloody Mary mix (our own recipe is below)
  • 2-3 ounces vodka
  • Celery stalk, green onion (scallion) or fennel stalk
  • Dill pickle or cucumber spear, halved
  • Cooked shrimp
  • Crisp bacon strip
  • Cocktail pick: olive, cocktail onion, cheese cube, etc.
  •  
    THE NIBBLE’s Bloody Mary Mix Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup top-quality tomato juice (our favorite is Knudsen’s)
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • 6 shakes hot sauce (or chipotle hot sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Juice of 1/2 large lime or medium lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/8 teaspoon celery salt*
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • Optional: fresh dill
  •  
    Ingredients For Cocktail Pick

    Go to the nearest olive bar for the olives and cocktail onions. It may also have gherkins and peppadews.

  • Cheddar cube (we use Beecher’s Flagship (aged Cheddar)
  • Cocktail onion
  • Mini gherkin
  • Olive
  • Pepppadew
  • ____________________
    *If you only have celery seed, you can make your own celery salt with the recipe that follows.
     
    RECIPE: CELERY SALT

    You can buy celery salt, but homemade, without the caking agents, is so much better. We use celery seed far more often than celery salt, so it’s also fresher than a pre-ground, pre-bottled version. And it’s so easy.

     

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/fully garnished thewayfererNYC 230

    Surf & Turf

    Crab Legs Surf & Turf

    Shrimp Surf & Turf

    Top: The Surf & Turf Bloody Mary at The Wayfarer | NYC. Second: The classic lobster tail and fillet mignon from Mackenzie Ltd. Third and Fourth: Switching the lobster for crab legs or shrimp at Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

     
    Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons ground celery seed (or grind whole celery seed)
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt or kosher salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SIFT the celery seed and salt together, into a bowl. Add the combined seasoning to a food processor or spice grinder. You can use a coffee grinder, but first grind white rice in it to eliminate the coffee particles.

    2. STORE the remainder in an airtight container.
     
    MORE INTERPRETATIONS OF SURF & TURF

  • Surf & Turf History Plus Combinations Beyond Steak and Lobster
  • For Breakfast Or Lunch: Surf & Turf Eggs Benedict Recipe
  • The New Surf & Turf, Including Surf & Turf Sushi Roll, Lobster Roll or Clam Roll With Bacon, and 15 More
  • Beef Carpaccio or Steak Tartare Surf & Turf Recipe
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Fritos Chili Pie For National Chili Day & The Oscars

    Frito Chili Pie Recipe

    Chili In Mason Jar

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/frito pie realmomkitchen 230

    Top: Frito Chili Pie from Frito-Lay. Center: Country Living Magazine suggests making individual servings in Mason jars. Bottom: RealMomKitchen.com made the prettiest version.

     

    Back in 2012, Fritos set the Guinness World Record for the largest-ever Frito Chili Pie: 1,300 pounds of Fritos, chili and cheese.

    For February 28th, National Chili Day, consider recreating the recipe, scaled down to human size.

    Prep time is 5 minutes. It’s comfort food you can make during the commercial breaks during tonight’s Oscars.

    If you want to make your own chili, great; but you’ll be spending more than 5 minutes.

    A bonus for corn chip lovers: There’s also a National Tortilla Chip Day on February 24th (that’s two celebrations in one week!).

    RECIPE: FRITO CHILI PIE

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 large bag Fritos Corn Chips (substitute tortilla chips—the difference)
  • 1 can chili with beef (15 ounces, with or without beans)
  • 1 bag (8 ounces) shredded Cheddar or other cheese
  • Garnishes: chopped scallions or red onion, chopped tomatoes, fresh cilantro, shredded lettuce, sliced jalapeños and/or sour cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F.

    2. SPREAD the corn chips evenly over the bottom of an oven-safe serving dish or pie plate (preferably glass). Heat the chili and pour it evenly over corn chips.

    3. SPRINKLE the cheese over the top and pop the pie into the oven to melt the cheese. Remove from the oven, add the garnishes and serve immediately with a serving spoon. Give soup spoons to the participants as well as forks.
     
    Want a vegetarian or vegan recipe? Use all-bean chili, or try this recipe, which substitutes tofu for the beef.

     
    FRITO CHILI PIE HISTORY

    The Fritos brand was born in 1932 when Elmer Doolin of San Antonio, Texas purchased a corn chips recipe from a local producer. He made the first Fritos brand chips in his mother’s kitchen.

    The popularity of the corn chips snack was catapulted in 1961, when Doolin joined forces with H.W. Lay & Company to create Frito-Lay.

    To help sell more product, Doolin’s mother, Daisy Dean Doolin, created recipes using Fritos as a recipe ingredient. She created the now-famous Fritos Chili Pie.

     
    FRITOS PIE VARIATIONS

    Fritos Chili Pie is so popular that it has its own website, FritosPieRemix.com.

    If it looks like you’ve landed on You Tube, that’s because you have: The site is a collection of videos demonstrating different recipes with, among other ingredients, ahi tuna, black beans, cole slaw, cranberries, cream cheese, curry, eggs, elbow macaroni, grits, horseradish, peanut butter, pineapple, potato chips, pork and beans, pumpkin, ramen noodles, spinach and tofu… and applesauce, caramel, chocolate and ice cream!
     
      

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    RECIPE: Strawberry Thyme Ice Cubes

    Strawberry Ice Cubes

    Strawberries In Colander

    Top: Strawberry ice cube, a recipe from
    Shari’s Berries. Bottom: Beautiful berries
    from the California Strawberry Commission.

     

    It’s National Strawberry Day. You can have a classic bowl of strawberries and cream, or eat your berries plain. And we have lots of strawberry recipes below, from cocktails and salads to (of course) desserts.

    To start the celebration, here’s a fun and tasty recipe from Shari’s Berries: Strawberry Thyme Ice Cubes.

    Use them in cocktails, iced tea, punch bowls, sparkling water, water pitchers or soft drinks like Ginger Ale, 7-Up and Fresca.

    RECIPE: STRAWBERRY THYME ICE CUBES

    Ingredients

  • Large silicon ice cube tray*
  • 18† medium-sized fresh strawberries
  • 6 sprigs of fresh thyme (substitute basil chiffonade)
  • Mortar and pestle
  • Water
  • _____________________
    *The larger the cubes, the more slowly they melt.

    †The number will vary based on the size of strawberries available, and how many ice cubes you’d like to make.
     
    Preparation

    1. MUDDLE the strawberries with a mortar and pestle. Distribute evenly so each section of the ice cube tray is filled 2/3 with muddled berries. Each cube requires 2-3 berries.

    2. FILL the ice cube sections the rest of the way with water, and top with a sprig of fresh thyme. Freeze 4-5 hours.
     

    MORE STRAWBERRY RECIPES

    Beverages & Cocktails

  • Strawberry Basil Gimlet
  • Strawberry Egg Cream
  • Strawberry Margarita
  • Strawberry Mojito
  •  
    Breakfast

  • Strawberry Banana Pancake Stack
  • Strawberry Yogurt Parfait
  •  
    Desserts

  • Angel Food Cake With Strawberry Glaze
  • Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries
  • Easy Strawberry Sorbet
  • Strawberry Cheesecake Topping
  • Strawberry Cream Pie
  • Strawberry Ice Cream Cake
  • Strawberry Shortcake With Yellow Cake
  • Strawberry Shortcake With Biscuits
  • Strawberry Parfait
  • Strawberry Sundae
  •  

    First Courses & Mains

  • Chilled Strawberry Soup
  • Green Salad With Strawberries
  • Strawberries marinated in Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
  • Strawberry-Orange Pasta Salad
  • Strawberry gastrique (sauce) sweet-and-sour sauce
  •  
    Snacks

  • Crunchy Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Strawberry & Brownie Skewers
  • Strawberry Cheesecake Frozen Pops
  • Strawberry Margarita Ice Pops
  • Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Sandwiches
  •  
    STRAWBERRY TRIVIA

  • Strawberries are native to the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere.
  • Strawberries are the only fruit with seeds on the outside.
  • The strawberry is not a true berry, but what is known as an aggregate accessory fruit: The fleshy part is derived not from the plant’s ovaries but from the receptacle that holds the ovaries. Each “seed” (achene) on the outside of the fruit is actually one of the ovaries of the flower, with a seed inside it.
  • Strawberries do not reproduce with their seeds, but via long shoots of new growth.
  • The most widely held view of the origin of the name is that the berries are “strewn” about on the plants. The name “strewn berry” evolved into “strawberry.”
  • The strawberry belongs to the botanical genus Fragraria, which is in the rose family, along with apples and plums. The name of the scientific classification was derived from the Old Latin word for fragrant. The garden strawberry is Fragaria × ananassa.
  • The garden strawberry was first bred in Brittany, France, in the 1750s as a cross of Fragaria virginiana from eastern North America and Fragaria chiloensis, which was brought from Chile in 1714.
  • Strawberries are the first fruit to ripen in the spring.
  •  

    Strawberry Mojito

    Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwiches

    Top: Strawberry Mojito (photo Hard Rock Cafe). Bottom: Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwiches (photo Pillsbury).

     
    How will you enjoy strawberries today?

      

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    HOLIDAY RECIPE: Frozen Cherry Margarita

    February 22nd is National Margarita Day. It’s also the day George Washington was born (in 1732).

    Decades ago, it was established that George Washington never cut down his father’s beloved cherry tree.*

    But the tradition of cherry pie on his birthday existed for many years before scholars uncovered the reality. So this year’s contribution to our cherry recipe collection is a Cherry Margarita.

    While a cocktail made with puréed fresh cherries would be divine, we’re a few months away from cherry season. So let’s default to the next-best thing: frozen tart cherries.

    RECIPE: FROZEN CHERRY MARGARITA

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 1/2 cup frozen pitted tart cherries
  • 1-1/2 ounces blanco tequila
  • 2 ounces cherry juice*
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1 ounce Cointreau or other orange liqueur
  • 2 cups ice
  • Optional: coarse salt for rim
  • Optional garnish: 1 stemmed maraschino cherry†, lime wheel, or both
  •  
    _________________________________
    *Our favorite is Knudsen’s, but any brand will do.

    †The absolute best maraschino cherries are the all-natural ones from Tillen Farms. They’re great for gifting, too.

     
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE alt rim.

    2. COMBINE the tequila, cherry juice, lime juice and liqueur in a blender; then add the ice (the order is important so the ice doesn’t jam the blades).

    3. PURÉE until the drink is thick. If it’s too thick, add more ice to achieve the desired consistency.

    4. POUR into a glass, garnish and serve.

       

    Frozen Cherry Margarita

    Cherry-Margarita-createdbydiane-230s

    Top: A frozen Cherry Margarita from IngredientsInc.net. Bottom: A conventional-style Cherry Margarita from Made By Diane, who uses fresh cherries in season. Here’s the recipe for her Fresh Cherry Margarita.

     

    MORE

  • Margarita History
  • Different Types Of Orange Liqueurs
  •  
    __________________________
    *The legend of George Washington and the cherry tree was an invention of book agent Mason Locke Weems, in his 1800 biography, The Life of Washington (click to buy a copy). The cherry tree has been associated with Washington ever since. Washington’s Birthday was declared a federal holiday by Congress in 1880,* the first federal holiday to honor an American citizen.

    Initially the holiday was for government offices in the District of Columbia. It was expanded to include all federal offices in 1885. State government offices, including schools, followed suit, followed by banks and other businesses (in private businesses, the day off is not mandatory). The holiday was celebrated on Washington’s actual birthday, February 22, until 1971, when it was shifted to the third Monday in February and combined with the Lincoln’s Birthday celebration to allow federal employees a three-day weekend.

     

    Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

    Although it’s only a garnish, the cherry can
    turn a Manhattan cocktail into a
    Washington’s Birthday toast.

     

    NOT A TEQUILA PERSON? BELLY UP TO SOME BOURBON.

    Even though it’s America’s favorite cocktail, not everyone likes a tequila or the sweetness level of a Margarita.

    Instead, consider Basil Hayden’s Bourbon Presidential Manhattan, a twist on the classic Manhattan with a cherry for Washington’s birthday.

    Seeking something else? George Washington was a big fan of eggnog. He also brewed his own beer, including pumpkin ale.
     
    RECIPE: PRESIDENTIAL MANHATTAN

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1-1/2 parts Basil Hayden’s bourbon
  • 1/2 part sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 part dry vermouth
  • 1/2 part maple syrup
  • 2 dashes bitters
  • Garnish: maraschino cherry
  •  
    Preparation

    1. STIR together the bourbon, vermouth, maple syrup and bitters over ice in a rocks glass.

    2. GARNISH with a cherry and serve.
     
    MORE FUN RECIPES

  • Blue Cheese Salad With Dried Cherries
  • Cherry Home Fries
  • Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Cherry-Topped Brownies
  •   

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    RECIPE: Inside-Out Homemade Peppermint Patties

    Inside Out Peppermint Patties

    Conventional Homemade Peppermint Patties

    Gourmet Chocolate Bars

    Top: Hannah Kaminsky’s Inside-Out Peppermint Patties. Middle: Conventional Peppermint Patties recipe from SafeEggs.com. Bottom: Chop up some good chocolate bars for the mint centers (these are from DeBrand.com).

     

    It’s National Chocolate Mint Day. You can make a cool chocolate peppermint pie, warm chocolate mint lava cakes, have some mint chocolate ice cream or chocolate peppermint patties.

    How about your own, homemade peppermint patties—with a reverse approach: creamy chocolate on the inside, white mint coating on the outside?

    Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog who created this recipe, gives us the reason:

    “The only thing that could be improved [in a peppermint patty] is the ratio of chocolate to peppermint, which is why I decided to flip the classic patty inside-out.”

    RECIPE: INSIDE-OUT PEPPERMINT PATTIES

    Ingredients For 30-34 Patties
     
    For The Chocolate Centers

  • 6 ounces 70% cacao chocolate*, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  •  
    For The Mint Coating

  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) 100% cocoa butter
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon peppermint oil
  •  
    ____________________________
    *As always, the better the chocolate, the better the result. Look for two quality 3.5-ounce chocolate bars (Green & Blacks, Lindt, etc.) or consider buying a pound of the chocolate disks (wafers) that confectioners use.
     
    Preparation

    1. FORM the centers: Place the chopped chocolate and corn syrup in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for about 60 seconds. Stir vigorously; continue to heat at intervals of 30 seconds, stirring well each time, until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a Silpat mat or piece of parchment paper, and refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.

    2. ROLL out the chilled chocolate mixture to about 1/4-inch thick and use 1-inch round cookie cutters to punch out the candy pieces. Should the chocolate become too soft or difficult to work with, just toss it back in the fridge for another 15-30 minutes. Once all of the center are cut, place them in the freezer for at least 30 minutes before getting making the coating.

    3. PREPARE the coating: Place the cocoa butter in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 1-3 minutes until it completely liquefies. Whisk in the sugar and peppermint oil, stirring vigorously to completely dissolve.

    4. REMOVE the semi-frozen patties from the freezer and dip each into the mint coating, one at a time. Place them back on the Silpat, allowing the coating to set. This top coat is thinner than the standard pure chocolate shell, so you may wish to double-dip once the first layer has solidified.

     
    5. SHARE the result with loved ones and raise a cup of tea (or whatever goes with peppermint patties) to National Chocolate Mint Day.
     
    FREEZE THE PATTIES IN SUMMER

    February 11th is National Peppermint Patty Day, February 19th is National Chocolate Mint Day. How can you celebrate in the summer?

    “Especially in the heat of summer,” says Hannah Kaminsky, “peppermint patties are one of my favorite treats. Best stashed in the freezer for full cooling effect, I love the way the chocolate shell shatters upon impact, releasing its soft, creamy center with minty-fresh flavor.
     
    IS IT PATTY OR PATTIE?

    Whether it’s candy, meat or veggies, to be perfectly correct, the spelling is patty. Patties is the plural form, so many folks assumed the singular to be pattie.

    The word first appeared in English around 1700-1710, derived from the French pâté (paste in English), a mix of finely-ground ingredients. Pasta is the Italian word for paste; and in modern French cuisine, pâté refers to a meat loaf as well as the more finely ground goose or duck liver pâté.

    Perhaps America’s most famous patty is the [incorrectly spelled] York Peppermint Pattie. According to a company history in Wikipedia, the York Peppermint Pattie was first produced by Henry C. Kessler, owner of the York Cone Company, in 1940. The company was named for its location: York, Pennsylvania. Today the company is owned by Hershey and the production is in Monterrey, Mexico.
     
      

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