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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Gourmet News

FOOD FUN: Ice Pop Cake

According to Country Crock, more Americans have their birthdays in September, and September 16th has the most birthdays.

Whether or not you’re celebrating today, here’s a new take on ice cream cake from Country Crock: Add ice pops—sherbet or ice cream pops—around the perimeter of the cake.

Called Rockin’ Rainbow Cake, the recipe begins with your favorite frosted layer cake. Bake it or buy it.

  • After you frost the cake, garnish the top with multicolored sprinkles.
  • Just before serving, press ice pops vertically around outside of cake. Cut so that each wedge has an ice pop.

  • We suggest that you unwrap all the ice pops first and place them on a wax paper-covered cookie sheet in the freezer until you’re ready to serve the cake.
  • Then, press them into the sides, bring the cake to the table and slice and serve real fast.
    Here’s the complete recipe.


    Birthday Cake With Ice Pops

    A different approach to “ice cream cake.” Photo courtesy Country Crock.




    TIP: Create A Guacamole Party Bar

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/guacamole sabrinamodelle calavocomm 230

    Guacamole with crispy bacon and shredded
    cheddar. Here’s the recipe. Photo and recipe
    courtesy Sabrina Modelle | The Tomato Tart
    via California Avocado Commission.


    National Guacamole Day is September 16th, and we wondered: If there are salad bars and frozen yogurt bars, cereal bars, baked potato bars and chili bars*, why not a guacamole bar? Who doesn’t love the opportunity to customize their foods?

    Individual bowls and an array of ingredients enable each person to start with a base of smashed avocado, and pile on the fixings. They can then be mixed in or eaten as is—a mountain of flavors and textures.

    Whether for a general party or drinks, we like to include a crunchy salad base, to make a more substantial dish. We prefer shredded cabbage, a.k.a. coleslaw mix. You end up with “guacamole coleslaw” at the bottom of the dish.

    To encourage creativity, mix some non-traditional items (bacon? mint? pineapple?) with traditional ones.

  • Avocado: mashed, smashed or diced†
  • Cheese: crumbled cotija, goat cheese, queso blanco, queso fresco or queso oaxaca; shredded cheddar or jack
  • Diced veggies: bell pepper, carrot, cucumber, green and/or red onion, jicama, radish, tomatillo, tomato/sundried tomato
  • Seasonings: cayenne, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and/or minced garlic, hot sauce, lemon and/or lime wedges, paprika, salt/seasoned salt, Worcestershire sauce
  • Heat: chile flakes, minced chipotle and jalapeño‡
  • Herbs: chives, cilantro, mint, parsley
  • Salad base: arugula, chicory, escarole, iceberg, radicchio, romaine, shredded cabbage, watercress
  • Toppings: bacon, corn, crushed pineapple, diced mango, olives, salsa, sour cream or plain yogurt, toasted nuts

  • Chips and dippers: celery sticks, crostini (toasted or grilled baguette slices), endive leaves, pita chips, tortilla chips, flatbread
  • Drinks: beer, white wine (Sauvignon Blanc or other crisp, medium-body white wine), white sangria
    Set the dishes on a table or buffet in this order: bowls, salad, avocado, veggies, heat, seasonings and toppings; include serving utensils with each option.

    At the end of the table, place the forks and spoons for blending and napkins, and dinner plates for the individual bowls and chips. Place large bowls of chips or other dippers on the tables.
    *More food bar ideas: Breakfast & Brunch Bar, Lunch & Dinner Bar and Dessert Bar.

    †Hass avocados are preferred. While other varieties are larger, the Hass variety is creamier, a desired characteristic for guacamole.

    ‡To accommodate those who just like a little heat, have two bowls of jalapeño: one minced and served as is, one with the heat-carrying seeds removed before mincing.



    Mesoamericans cultivated the avocado, a fruit which had grown in what we now call Central America for millions of years. The conquering Aztecs‡‡ called it ahuacatl; the “tl” is pronounced “tay” in Nahuatl, the Aztec language. Guacamole was compounded in a molcajete, a mortar and pestle carved from volcanic stone.

    When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in 1519 under Hernán Cortés, they heard ah-hwah-cah-tay as “aguacate,” the spelling and pronounciation they adopted.

    The name guacamole comes from Mexican Spanish via the Nahuatl “ahuacamOlli,” a compound of ahuacatl [avocado] + mOlli [sauce]. The chocolate-based mole sauce comes from that same word, mOlli.

    Ahuacatl means “testicle.” Aztecs saw the avocado as resembling testicles and ate them as a sex stimulant. According to Linda Stradley on the website, for centuries after Europeans came into contact with the avocado, it carried its reputation for inducing sexual prowess. It wasn’t purchased or consumed by anyone concerned with his or her reputation.


    Guacamole On Spoon

    Custom-blending guacamole is not only fun; you get exactly what you want. Photo courtesy McCormick.

    American avocado growers had to sponsor a public relations campaign to dispel the myth before avocados could become popular. After then, their dark green, pebbly flesh also earned avocados the name, “alligator pear.”
    ‡‡The Aztecs, who probably originated as a nomadic tribe in northern Mexico, arrived in Mesoamerica around the beginning of the 13th century.


  • Avocados been cultivated for over 10,000 years.
  • Avocados have more potassium that a banana, plus many other health benefits (here are the 12 health benefits of avocado).
  • Leaving the pit in to keep it from browning doesn’t really work.
  • The largest-ever serving of guacamole weighed 2,669.5 kg (5,885.24 lbs), created by the Municipality of Tancítaro Michoacan in Tancítaro, Mexico, on April 4th 2013. But how many tortilla chips were needed?
  • During festivities for the last Super Bowl, 104.2 million pounds of avocados were consumed nationally, mostly as guacamole.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Save The Lobster Heads & Tails

    We love this idea from Chef Ric Tramonto and John Folse of Restaurant R’evolution in New Orleans.

    Rather than toss the lobster heads and tails*, they plated them. It’s beautiful, and the most fun we’ve seen since Chef David Burke’s Angry Lobster On A Bed Of Nails.

    This photo shows Restaurant R’evolution’s Lobster With Sheep’s Milk Gnocchi. We made Lobster Newburg, one of our favorite special-occasion dishes (in a cream sauce with sherry, brandy and a touch of nutmeg—here’s the Lobster Newburg recipe).

    But there’s much more to place between the heads and tails. Just a few ideas:

  • Fettuccine Alfredo or other pasta with lobster
  • Lobster & Chorizo Paella
  • Lobster Cobb Salad
  • Lobster & Coconut Milk (such as Lobster Curry and Lobster Roatan)
  • Lobster Mac & Cheese
  • Lobster Pot Pie
  • Lobster Ravioli
  • Lobster Risotto
  • Lobster Salad
  • Lobster Stew
  • Lobster Thermidor

    Now that’s a presentation! Photo courtesy Restaurant R’evolution | New Orleans.


    You can even put the head and tail on a lobster roll, or have them adorn a bowl of lobster chowder or lobster dip.

    Just set the head and tail flat on the plate. And keep recycling: At the end of the meal, you can wash the heads and tails and stick them in the freezer. How else can you use them?

    *After the meat has been removed for the recipe, of course.


    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/trio lobsterfrommaineFB 230r

    Can’t wait to dig in? We’re ready to eat both! Photo courtesy†



    Between June and November, lobsters in the cold, clean waters of Maine shed their old shells and grow new shells. The result is known as Maine New Shell Lobster, also called soft shell lobster. It’s the sweetest, most tender lobster meat.

    The superior taste and texture is a result of the pure Gulf of Maine seawater that fills the newly formed shell. It naturally “marinates” the meat, creating a more intense lobster flavor and added moisture.

    A thinner shell also means that you can crack and eat the lobster by hand—no nutcracker necessary.

    New Shells are prized by locals as a seasonal delicacy. But they are the best-kept secret in seafood. Even professional chefs don’t know about them, and both hard shell lobsters and New Shells are available in Maine throughout summer and fall.

    Now that you’re in the know, now that you have to ask for your New Shells by name.


    Like all Maine Lobsters, New Shells are caught the old-fashioned way: by hand, without modern technology, one trap at a time. Because the soft shells are fragile, New Shells don’t travel as well as their hard shell counterparts.

    But thanks to advances in packaging and handling techniques, Maine New Shell Lobster, once only available in Maine, can also be shipped to you. Check Bayley’s Lobster Pound.

    We recently attended an event to taste the New Shells, and met several chefs and lobstermen. We asked if they find a difference between Maine lobsters and the Canadian lobsters caught farther north in the Atlantic.

    Their consensus is that, since the waters off of Maine are fed by the Labrador current which also flows past New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, the lobsters are very similar.

    They opined that local differences such as diet, water temperature and water quality—which easily cause differences in oysters—are not significant.

    So buy American, but if someone offers you a Canadian lobster, eat it!

    †We disclose that these are Maine lobsters, but not New Shell lobsters. The available photos of New Shells were too plain.



    FOOD FUN: Rainbow Pizza Recipe

    We’re dazzled by this Rainbow Pizza. Why didn’t we think of it?

    But thankfrully, Ali at Gimme Some Oven did. Her recipe is made with vegetables that represent the colors of the rainbow:

  • Broccoli florets
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Green, orange and yellow bell peppers
  • Purple potatoes
  • Red onions
    It’s a reason to have a pizza party, pronto.

    Head to for the recipe and many more photos.

    You can use a pizza or flatbread base, or as Ali did in this photo, Stonefire naan.

    Call us when it’s ready to come out of the oven. We’ll be there!


    Rainbow Pizza

    Rainbow pizza. Photo courtesy Gimme Some Oven.




    TRENDS: Breakfast For Dinner

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/peanut butter jam pancakes krusteaz 230

    This idea, from Krusteaz, adds peanut butter
    and jelly for a riff on the PB&J sandwich.
    Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy Krusteaz.


    Can it be true that 9 out of 10 Americans enjoy Breakfast Night?

    After a long day of tasting foods for THE NIBBLE, we often welcome a simple dinner of cereal, eggs or French toast. But we are not alone; we’re part of the 90 percent!

    Krusteaz, maker of premium pancake, waffle and other baking mixes, has just released the results of its annual breakfast survey, a national poll conducted by an independent research firm*. Breakfast for Dinner continues to be a popular trend in the U.S.

  • More than half of the survey participants enjoy Breakfast Night dinners once a month or more, with nearly 25% eating Breakfast For Dinner once a week.
  • Those with children at home are somewhat more likely to eat breakfast for dinner (94% vs. 88% without kids in the house). For 30% of families, Breakfast Night is a weekly affair that’s either “very enjoyable” or their “absolute favorite.”
    In a shift from 2014, more kids are helping out in the kitchen. Thirty-nine percent of responders said that Breakfast Night preparation is a “joint effort,” compared to just 17% of last year’s survey participants.

    What makes Breakfast Night so popular?

  • Thirty-eight percent of survey participants noted that having all the ingredients on hand is the main appeal.
  • Thirty-five percent cite the “love” of breakfast food (the comfort food factor?).
  • Thirty-one percent like that it is easier and faster than preparing a traditional dinner.
    Families with children at home are more likely to use Breakfast Night as family night, when Dad’s in charge, and for celebratory occasions such as birthdays, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

    Krusteaz has selected Wednesday dinner to be Breakfast Night. Need recipes? Head to

    *The Breakfast for Dinner survey was conducted by ORC International on behalf of Krusteaz. Findings are based on an online survey of 2,033 U.S. adults ages 18 and older in August 2015.

    The history of meal times could fill a large book. The number of meals consumed per day differs greatly from culture to culture, by era and by socioeconomic status.

    In Europe alone, the name of the meal and time of day vary widely. Depending on the era, dinner could be in the morning or late afternoon. In the millennia before electricity, people lived differently than we do, typically retiring at nightfall. In the winter, that meant the last meal of the day was what we might call a late lunch.

    Thanks to for most of this information:

  • In ancient Greece meal times were variable, but a midday meal was usually called ariston lunch… and an evening meal deipnon, dinner. The latter was typically the biggest meal of the day, and for some of the poor, the only meal.
  • In medieval times, the very poor ate when they could (as was true since the beginning of mankind), but the slightly better-off peasants ate three times a day: breakfast at a very early hour, dinner at about 9 a.m. and supper before it got dark, which could be as early as 3 p.m. in the winter.

  • In Christian countries, the times and number of meals were originally derived from the hours of devotions of the Church. Monks ate their main meal after the celebration of nones, which was nine hours after daybreak—some time between midday and 3 p.m. The evening meal was after vespers, around sunset. For lay people, to break one’s fast after devotions was the general procedure.
  • Through the Renaissance, the larger meal was the prandium, or dinner, at ten or eleven in the morning. Supper, coena in Latin, was served around six in the evening. Most authors agreed that two meals a day were sufficient, although the English vehemently defended their custom of taking breakfast.
  • Breakfast was not a popular meal elsewhere. Writings suggest that it was only eaten by children and laborers. But by the 15th century it was commonly consumed by everyone. However, a 1478 household ordinance of Edward IV specified that only residents down to the rank of squires should be given breakfast, except by special order (sounds like budgeting).
  • At some point, there were four meals a day: breakfast, dinner, nuntions or nuncheons (eaten by workmen around noon) and late supper.
  • With the advent of oil lamps, the evening meal was served later in the day. In southern Europe, where the evening meal was the largest of the day, breakfast did not become important—merely coffee and perhaps a piece of bread or a pastry.

    English Breakfast

    This is just part of an English breakfast,
    which can also include porridge, fruit,
    baked beans and other favorites. The practice of eating a large breakfast emerged in the 19th century. Photo © Indigolotos | 123rf.

  • In England and northern Europe, by the 18th century breakfast was the norm, eaten around 9 or 10 a.m. In the 19th century breakfast emerged as a full and sumptuous meal with bacon, eggs and even steaks for those who could afford them. Afternoon tea, as a snack between lunch and dinner, was created in 1840 by Anna, Seventh Duchess of Bedford (here’s the history of afternoon tea).
  • Thus, the three-meals-a-day practice is a relatively recent phenomenon—and of course only relates to those who could afford three meals a day.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Wiener Schnitzel

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    Wiener Schnitzel, Austria’s national dish.
    Photo © Cokemomo | 123rf.


    Wiener Schnitzel (pronouced VEE-ner not WEE-ner) is the national dish of Austria and a standard of Continental cuisine. In The Sound Of Music, Maria sang that Schnitzel with noodles was “one of my favorite things.” The name means Viennese [-style] scallops, referring to the scallops of veal (der Schnitz means a slice or a cut).

    Wiener Schnitzel is a thin, breaded, fried veal cutlet fried served with a slice of lemon, traditionally served with a simple green salad or cucumbers plus German potato salad or boiled parsley potatoes. Lingonberry jam can be served as a condiment (you can buy it at better food stores, Ikea or online).

    In Austria the term is protected by law; “Wiener Schnitzel” assures you of a veal cutlet. Since veal is pricey, a less expensive Austrian alternative uses pork (Wiener Schnitzel vom Schwein). It can also be made with beef, chicken, mutton, pork, turkey, boar and reindeer—any meat that can be cut into thin slices. Just call it Chicken Schnitzel instead of Wiener Schnitzel.

    While Wiener Schnitzel itself is out of fashion in the U.S., its spirit lives on in the American dish, Chicken-Fried Steak, a similar recipe made with beef. It was created in the Texas Hill Country by German immigrants, who found themselves with plenty of available beef. There’s more about Chicken-Fried Steak below.

    And a recipe for authentic Wiener Schnitzel is also below. But first:


    According to legend, Field Marshal Joseph Radetzky von Radetz, an Austrian general, brought the recipe from Italy to Vienna in 1857. But this story was invented, like George Washington and the cherry tree. Here’s what we know from the historical record:

  • A recipe for thinly sliced meat, breaded and fried, appears in the only remaining ancient Roman cookbook, published in the 4th or 5th century by “Apicus*.”
  • In the Middle Ages, breaded, fried veal was a very popular dish in both Northern Italy and what is now Austria.
  • Cotoletta Milanese, a bone-in veal chop that is breaded and fried, dates to a banquet held by the Hapsburg rulers of what is now Italy in 1134.
  • Before Wiener Schnitzel there was another popular Viennese dish, Backhendl: thin chicken breast slices, breaded and deep fried. It was first mentioned in a cookbook from 1719. [Source]
  • The term “Wiener Schnitzel”” dates to at least 1862. [Source]
    Far from being a German dish, Germans across Austria’s northern border frequently refer to Austrians as Schnitzelfressers (Schnitzel munchers).

    A Southern specialty, Chicken-Fried Steak is the American version of Wiener Schnitzel; but instead of a tenderized veal cutlet, a tenderized cut of beef (a cube steak) is coated with seasoned flour and pan fried. It gets its name from its resemblance to fried chicken.

    In a redundant twist, a dish called Chicken-Fried Chicken pounds, breads, and pan fries a chicken cutlet. This preparation is distinctively different from regular fried chicken, which breads bone-in chicken parts and deep-fries them.
    *The book is thought to have been compiled in the late 4th or early 5th century C.E. and given the title De Re Coquinaria (“On the Subject of Cooking”). The name Apicius had long been associated with an excessively refined love of food, exemplified by Marcus Gavius Apicius, a Roman gourmet who lived sometime in the 1st century C.E. The author of the book is one Caelius Apicius; however, no person by this name otherwise exists in the historical record. The book was no doubt compiled by a person or persons who wished to remain anonymous. [Source]



    While home cooks tend to pan fry Wiener Schnitzel, professional chefs will deep-fry it, as in the recipe below. However, feel free to pan fry.

    This recipe is from Kurt Gutenbrunner, Austrian-born chef and owner of Wallsé in New York City, where he creates fine Austrian cuisine that reflects contemporary tastes and classic traditions. He is the author of . New York City chef and author of Neue Cuisine: The Elegant Tastes of Vienna.

    We’ve added our own touch to Chef Gutenbrunner’s recipe: our Nana’s preferred garnishes of capers, sardines and sliced gherkins. Think of it as “surf and turf” Wiener Schnitzel.

    Our favorite sides are cucumber salad and boiled parsley potatoes; but like Maria, we could go for some buttered egg noodles with parsley and cracked pepper.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more for seasoning
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 cups fine plain dried breadcrumbs

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/veal scallops cutlet freshdirect 230

    Veal cutlets, or scallops, are typically cut from the leg. Photo courtesy Fresh Direct.

  • 1/2 pound veal scallops (leg) or eye round, cut across the grain into 4 equal pieces
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges
  • Curly parsley or lettuce
  • Optional garnishes: capers, sardines, sliced gherkins


    1. LINE a large baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels.

    2. WHISK the flour and 1 teaspoon salt in a wide shallow bowl. Lightly whisk the eggs and cream in another wide shallow bowl until the yolks and whites are just streaky. Mix breadcrumbs and 2 teaspoons salt in a third wide shallow bowl.

    3. POUND the veal slices between sheets of plastic wrap to 1/8”–1/16” thickness, being careful not to tear. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

    4. PROP a deep-fry thermometer in a large deep, skillet. Pour in the oil so that the bulb is submerged. Heat oil over medium heat to 350°. Add butter to skillet and adjust heat to maintain 350°F.

    5. DREDGE 2 veal slices in the flour mixture and shake off the excess. Dip in the egg mixture, turn to coat and shake off excess. Dredge in the breadcrumbs, pressing to adhere. Shake off the excess and transfer the veal to the skillet. Using a large spoon, carefully baste the top of the veal with the hot oil.

    6. COOK until the breading puffs and starts to brown, about 1 minute. Turn and cook until browned, about 1 minute longer. Transfer to a paper towel-lined sheet. Repeat with the remaining veal slices.

    7. ASSEMBLE: Place the veal on individual plates. Garnish with lemon wedges and parsley or lettuce.



    FOOD FUN: Blueberry Yogurt Toast

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    Toast as modern art. Photo courtesy Martin’s Famous Pastry Shop.


    For Back To School or Back To Work, here’s a fun approach to morning toast from Martin’s Famous Pastry Shop, bakers of potato rolls and potato bread.

    Pick Your Bread

  • Crusty peasant bread
  • Potato bread
  • Raisin bread
  • Semolini bread
  • Whole grain bread (especially with seeds!)
    Pick Your Spread*

  • Greek yogurt with fruit
  • Labneh (yogurt cheese*)
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Seasoned Greek yogurt or tzatziki
  • Non-yogurt substitute: cream cheese, goat cheese
  • For The Topping

  • Fresh blueberries
  • Dried blueberries or other dried fruit (cherries, cranberries)

    *Labneh is a thick, creamy, tangy fresh cheese, often called “yogurt cheese” in the U.S. It’s a mainstay for breakfast and snacking in the Middle East, and is available in supermarkets here.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Gourmet Ants On A Log

    September 8th is National Ants On A Log Day. Most kids growing up in the 1950s or later ate them as a healthy snack: celery stalks stuffed with peanut butter (the log) topped with raisins (the ants).

    Our mom took a creative approach, alternating the ants with purple raisins (the boy ants) and golden raisins (sultanas, the girl ants).

    This kiddie favorite can easily be made more sophisticated for grown-ups, as well as more fun for kids.

    Play with these substitutions. There combinations are [almost] endless. For sophistication, we like fennel or celery with goat cheese, dried cherries or cranberries and pistachio nuts (call them the visiting friends of the ants); as well as tzatziki with sliced black olive ants. For comfort food, it’s chocolate peanut butter with dried cherries and pecans.

    And don’t forget flavored peanut butter*!

    To customize your Ants On A Log, cut celery in 3-inch long pieces and fill with your spread of your choice and topping of choice. Suggested substitutions:


    Ants On A Log With Guacamole

    Ladybugs On A Stick: Photo courtesy California Avocado Commission. Here’s the recipe.

  • For peanut butter: flavored peanut butter* or other nut or seed butters, including almond butter, cashew butter or sunflower butter
  • Beyond nut butter: cottage cheese (plain or seasoned), cream cheese (plain or flavored), goat cheese, Greek yogurt (plain, seasoned or tzatziki), hummus (plain or flavored)
  • For the raisins: blueberries, chocolate-covered raisins, dried cherries or cranberries, freeze-dried vegetables, nuts, sliced black olives, sultanas
  • For the celery: bok choy, carrots (sliced with a flat top), Chinese celery, fennel

    Hats off to Food Network for these variations:

  • Ants On A Ranch: cream and ranch dressing with peas (we used crunchy freeze-dried peas or corn)
  • Beans On A Stalk: guacamole with black beans
  • Berries On A Branch: cookie butter and blueberries
  • Fish In A Stream: hummus with Goldfish
  • Ladybugs On A Log: strawberry cream cheese with dried cranberries
  • Pigs In A Pen: pimento cheese and bacon
    *Check out for Cinnamon Raisin Swirl, Dark Chocolate Dreams, Mighty Maple, Pumpkin Spice, The Bee’s Knees, The Heat Is On, White Chocolate Wonderful.



    And the award for creativity goes to…The Food Network, for these variations. From top to bottom: Ants On A Log, Berries On A Branch, Ladybugs On A Log, Beans On A Stalk, Fish In A Stream, Pigs In A Pen. Photo courtesy Food Network.



    Celery and raisins have been eaten—not necessarily together—since ancient times. Celery, raisin and nut salads arrived on our shores with German immigrants in the 19th century.

    George Washington Carver invented a form of peanut butter in the 19th century and made a soup of peanut butter and celery. But the smooth, spreadable peanut butter we know today was invented in 1890 by a St. Louis physician.

    He sought a high-protein food substitute for people with poor teeth who couldn’t chew meat. Others soon discovered how tasty peanut butter was, and, like many products, it was sold in bulk from barrels at grocery stores.

    Peanut butter was first distributed commercially by Krema Nut Company, the oldest peanut butter company still in operation today (and the PB is superb!). Here’s more on the history of peanut butter.

    Now for the celery: The American practice of stuffing celery began in the early 20th century, with anchovy paste, Roquefort, cream cheese and soon, pimento cheese, port wine cheddar and other cheese spreads. The filling was topped with spices, including curry and paprika.


    According to old cookbooks, stuffed celery was served as an appetizer or hors d’oeuvre at the beginning of a meal. People of all ages enjoyed it at dinner parties, family get-togethers and holiday meals. Stuffed celery was also served as to children as snacks.

    These appetizers and hors d’oeuvre remained popular through the 1960s. There are some old recipes that include nuts and raisins, although none quite describe the “ants on a log” we know today. Peanut butter fillings for celery surface in the early 1960s. [Source]

    We actually don’t know who invented Ants On A Log. Magazine and newspaper articles from the 1980s attribute it to the Girl Scouts, but they don’t give specific references. The recipe appears in Girl Scout cookbooks dating to 1946; however, the recipe is simply called Celery Sticks.

    We may never know who named it, but “Ants on A Log” was first used in the 1950s. Whoever you are: Thanks for putting a fun name on peanut butter-stuffed celery sticks.



    RECIPE: Baked Acorn Squash With Wild Rice

    September 7th is National Acorn Squash Day. If today’s weather is to warm for roasting, plan to make it on the next cool day.

    You can serve stuffed acorn squash as a first course, or as a main along with a protein and a green vegetable or salad.

    This recipe is from USA Pears, which has many recipes on its website.


    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 3 acorn squash
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Freshly ground nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
  • ¾ cup wild rice
  • 1½ cups canned low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, plus extra to taste
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 large rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/pear stuffed acorn squash USAPears 230

    Baked acorn squash is stuffed with wild rice, nuts, fruits and herbs. Photo courtesy USA Pears.

  • 2 firm Anjou or Bosc pears, peeled, halved lengthwise, cored, and cut into ½-inch dice (substitute
    Granny Smith apples)
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries


    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Toast the nuts to bring out their full flavor. Place the nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350°F oven until lightly browned, about 5 to 8 minutes. When the nuts come out, the squash goes in.

    2. CUT each squash in half crosswise. Scoop out and discard the seeds and strings. If necessary, trim the top and bottom so that the squash will be level, and place on a rimmed baking sheet, cut side up.

    3. SPRINKLE each half with a little salt, pepper and nutmeg, to taste. Dot each half wit butter, using 3 tablespoons. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake the squash just until moist and tender, about 45 minutes.


    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/acorn duo beauty goodeggs 230

    The first acorn squash of the season. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.


    4. COMBINE the rice, broth, salt and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender, about 40 minutes. When the rice is done most of the water should be evaporated.

    5. HEAT the olive oil in a 10-inch sauté pan over medium heat. Swirl to coat the pan and sauté the onion, garlic, celery and carrot until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add the pears and sauté 2 minutes longer. Cover the pan, adjust the heat to medium-low and cook the vegetables until crisp-tender, 3 minutes longer. Add the sage, thyme and parsley and sauté 1 more minute. Remove from the heat.

    6. COMBINE the cooked rice, sautéed vegetables, pears, walnuts, and dried cranberries in a large bowl. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired. Mound the rice mixture into the squash halves, dividing it evenly. Cut the remaining tablespoon of butter into small pieces. Dot each stuffed squash with butter. Cover with foil. Bake until heated through, about 20 minutes.


    Acorn squash (Cucurbita pepo var. turbinata) is a member of the Cucurbitaceae botanical family, which also includes cucumber, gourds, other winter squash (including pumpkin), summer squash (including zucchini and yellow squash) and watermelon.

    Known for its acorn shape, hard green skin (often with a splotch of orange) and deep, longitudinal ridges. Inside is sweet, yellow-orange flesh. While the most common variety is dark green in color, newer varieties have been developed, including the yellow- and white-skinned varieties.

    Acorn squashes typically weigh one to two pounds and are between four and seven inches long. Before modern refrigeration, acorn squash was a hardy variety to store throughout the winter. It kept for several months in a cool dry location, such as a cold cellar or a root cellar.

    Acorn squash are indigenous to Central America, and were cultivated by pre-Columbian natives (Mayas, Aztecs and their predecessors) as long as 8,000 years ago. Initially, only the seeds were eaten since the flesh was considered too hard. The flesh layer at the time was much thinner than modern-bred varieties, so not worth the trouble. Today, it is flesh that is prized and the seeds that are typically thrown away!

    Squash traveled north and across what is now the U.S., where it was cultivated and highly prized. The seeds were dried for eating during lean times, or as portable food for travelers.

    The Pilgrims encountered it upon their arrival in Massachusetts. The locals called the fruit askutasquash, which gave way to the English word “squash.”

    Squash became a staple of colonial gardens. Both Washington and Jefferson, among many others, grew squash on their plantations and farms. Today, while other Colonial garden items have come and gone (horehound, lovage, orach and peppergrass, purslane, sea kale and others), squash remains on the popular vegetable list.




    RECIPE: Eton Mess, A School Tradition

    In recognition of back-to-school recipes, we offer the Eton Mess.

    Eton Mess is a traditional English dessert consisting of strawberries, pieces of meringue and whipped cream. It is traditionally served at Eton College’s annual cricket game against rival Harrow School (both are among the most prestigious secondary schools in the U.K.), and on any other day that one wants to eat it.

    The recipe has been known by this name since the 19th century. Variations include bananas instead of strawberries and a scoop of ice cream, which actually preceded the addition of the meringues.

    Why is it called a “mess?” According to Merriam-Webster, the word may refer to the appearance of the dish or may be used in the older sense of a prepared dish of soft food.

    The recipe version below was sent to us by Safest Choice pasteurized eggs—the eggs to use when the recipe requires eggs that aren’t cooked, like Caesar salad, eggnog, mousse and steak tartare. (You can also pasteurize eggs at home.)



    A mess indeed, but a delicious mess! Photo courtesy

    The recipe was developed by Chris of, who added his own touch: a garnish of a chocolate-covered strawberry in addition to the diced strawberries in the Mess. Active time is 20 minutes, total time is 1 hour. You can save time buy buying the meringues, if you can get your hands on good quality ones. Since they will be smashed, you can substitute Pavlovas (individual meringue dessert cups).


    Ingredients For 4 Servings

    For The Chocolate Chip Meringues

  • 4 egg whites, ideally pasteurized
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped dark chocolate or mini chocolate chips
    For The Chocolate Covered strawberries

  • 2 cup fresh strawberries, diced
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped dark chocolate
  • Garnish: 8 chocolate covered strawberries (instructions below)

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/crushed meringues eton mess sharedappetitecom 230

    Crushed meringues give the dish texture. Photo courtesy


    For The Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 275°F. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites until frothy and soft peaks form. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat, adding the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until all the sugar has been incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. The meringue is done when the peaks are stiff, hold their shape, and no grit is felt from the sugar. Gently fold in the chopped chocolate.

    2. LINE two baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats. Drop the meringues by the spoonful (about 2 tablespoons each) onto the baking sheets. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the meringue easily peels away from the parchment paper. Cool completely on a wire rack. Meringues can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container for several days.


    3. MAKE the chocolate-covered strawberries. Melt the chocolate in a microwave; dip the whole strawberries and set on wax paper or parchment to dry.

    4. COMBINE the diced strawberries, sugar and vanilla extract in a small mixing bowl. Let sit for approximately 15-30 minutes to macerate.

    5. MAKE the whipped cream. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract. To avoid splashing, start on a lower speed and increase the speed as the whipped cream begins to take shape. Beat to the desired stiffness. If you won’t be using it right away, cover and place in the refrigerator. It will keep for several hours, and might need a quick whip with a whisk to regain its shape.

    6. BREAK 8-12 meringues by hand: A good variety of big and small pieces creates good texture in the dessert.

    7. LAYER approximately 1/2 cup whipped cream in 8 dessert bowls. Top with a few spoonfuls of macerated strawberries, and a generous sprinkling of dark chocolate and crushed meringues. Top with a chocolate covered strawberry and serve.



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