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Holiday Potluck

All around the world people are getting together to get in the spirit of the holidays. Here at Calendars.com  we celebrated our annual holiday potluck and it was a delectable success! Check out what we cooked up and which special visitor decided to make a surprise appearance!

So much holiday cheer, we’re stuffed!

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The holidays are all about meatballs!

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‘Tis the season to be feasting! Can you blame us with these delicious rice casserole, picadillo and potato dishes!

Rice Casserole

Picadillo

Potatoes

Make some room for desserts! We’ve got brownies and cupcakes!

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Santa’s Coming! I know him! I know him!

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Getting Ready for the Holidays

By Amy Knapp

Do ahead what can be done ahead! A lot of staging and assembly can be done well ahead of the official decorating.

Amy KnappAfter Halloween:

Try to take one or two projects per week to prepare. Start early with lists: gift to purchase, house projects, decorating, baking, and entertaining.

Keep the holiday list separate by merging them with your master weekly to do list.
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15 Years! 15 Minutes of Fun! Week 4

This October marks the 15th anniversary of Calendars.com. 15 years. Wow.

We’ve decided to celebrate in a big way this month, 15 years after all is nothing to shrug your shoulders at. So, in addition to being thankful for 15 amazing years, we’ll find, and share, ways to have fun every single day.
Pablo Picasso's Birthday
October 25 – Pablo Picasso’s Birthday

In honor of the great artist today create Picasso faces using this tutorial. These are so fun!
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National Junk Food Day

Potato-ChipsJuly 21 is National Junk Food Day!

For those of you who stick to a healthy diet and stay away from food with little to no nutritional value (like foods high in salt, fat, sugar and empty calories) on a daily basis, National Junk Food Day is your chance to give in to the temptation of some of your guilty pleasures. Whether you have a tamed sweet tooth for chocolate candy bars or have to constantly curb your craving for salty french fries, take advantage of National Junk Food Day by eating one (or two…) of your favorite junk foods.

We all need a cheat day every now and then, no matter how clean your diet. Just don’t get too attached to your junk food guilty pleasures…The healthy diet resumes tomorrow!

 

Sources: holidayinsights.com, punchbowl.com
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Lemon Chiffon Cake Day

Slice-of-Lemon-Chiffon-Cake-2-e1363107867246March 29 is Lemon Chiffon Cake Day! This tasty dessert has a lighter-than-air texture not found in most cakes with the addition of zesty lemon flavor – yum!

Chiffon cake was the invention of a former insurance salesman named Harry Baker, who turned to catering and concocted the cake recipe in 1927. He began selling his chiffon-like creations to the Brown Derby restaurant in Los Angeles, and pretty soon all of Hollywood was swooning over his cakes and their fluffy texture. Baker kept the recipe a secret for 20 years before finally selling it to General Mills, who own the Betty Crocker brand. General Mills then published the recipe for the newly named “Chiffon Cake” in Better Homes & Gardens in 1948, marketing it as “the first new cake in 100 years.”

The cake skyrocketed in popularity and it’s secret to fluffiness was finally revealed – Baker had used vegetable oil instead of butter to get the light airy texture everyone loved. Using vegetable oil, combined with eggs, sugar, flour, and baking powder, chiffon cake takes on a structure which is a combination of batter and foam cakes. It is left with a moist texture that stays at it’s best when refrigerated, meaning you can amp up the flavor with the addition of fresh fruit, ice cream, or pastry cream.

Because of their lack of butter, chiffon cakes are inherently lower in saturated fat than regular batter cakes. The lack of butter also contributes to chiffon cakes being less rich in flavor, so compensations are usually made by the addition of icings and other toppings and fillings.

If you would like to celebrate today, here are a few recipes we found for some deliciously tart and fluffy lemon chiffon cakes:

Sources: CNN’s Eatocracy, Punchbowl, Foodimentary

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Chocolate Covered Raisin Day

loose_raisins_600_2March 24 is Chocolate Covered Raisin Day! Chocolate covered raisins combine sundried grape morsels with milk, dark, or white chocolate to make a seemingly healthy and sweet snack treat.

The discovery of raisins is believed by culinary historians to have come about when people noticed grapes drying out while they were on the vine. They soon became the second most popular food sweetener after honey. Exactly when these sundried sweet fruits were combined with chocolate is unknown, but a popular German folk tale referencing a ”wenig Schokolade Ball,” or little chocolate ball is thought to be the first reference to the treat.

In 1927, the Blumenthal Chocolate Company created Raisinets, which were the earliest and most popular brands of chocolate-covered raisins. The brand was acquired by Nestle in 1984, and became a popular movie theater snack and the number one bestselling candy in United States history.

Raisins are an excellent source fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, and certain B vitamins. By adding a layer of dark chocolate to the outside of the raisin, you can add to the sweet treats health benefits because dark chocolate contains antioxidants and important minerals. Since there is also a fair amount of sugar in these treats though, be careful with how many consume! Unless you want a mouth full of cavities as well…

Don’t worry about those pesky side effects today though. Indulge and celebrate today by eating a handful (or two) of delicious chocolate covered raisins!

Sources: Punchbowl, National Day Calendar, Wikipedia

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Bock Beer Day

shiner bockMarch 20 is Bock Beer Day! A bock is a type of strong lager that originated in Germany. There now are many different types of bocks of different strengths in existence including maibocks or heller bocks, doppelbocks, and eisbocks.

Though we couldn’t find out why Bock Beer Day is celebrated on this day, we did find out that bock beers were first brewed by Germans in the town of Einbeck in the 14th century. Upon its first brews, bocks were dark, malty, and lightly hopped. It wasn’t until the 17th century when brewers in Munich adopted this style and changed the bock to be brewed in a lager style. There are a few varying stories as to why the name “bock” was adopted for the beer. Some say because the people of Munich had heavy Bavarian accents, they pronounced the town Einbeck like “ein Bock,” which literally translates to “a billy goat.” Soon it was shortened to just “bock.” As a visual pun, most bock manufacturers put pictures of goats on the labels. Others say that the beer was only brewed during the sign of the Capricorn goat and thus goats were always associated with the beer. The beer became a symbol of the end of winter and the beginning of better times. Doppelbocks were first created to sustain German monks during Lent’s 46 days of fasting, and it soon became known as “liquid bread.” The hearty beer had enough carbohydrates and calories to keep the monks alive, and drunk!

beer calendarBock beers have become popular around the world. Bock beers are stronger than other modern-day lagers, and are known for their dark amber brown hue. Bocks are bottom fermenting lagers, and their strong brew is usually smoothed out by being lagered (kept in cold storage) for a few extra months. They are usually lightly hopped so as not to mask the malty flavor. Several different subcategories of bocks also exist today. The first of these are known as maibocks or heller bocks and are paler and more hopped than normal bocks. Doppelbocks, like those similar to what monks used to drink, are stronger and maltier. The last kind is known as an eisbock, and it is made by partially freezing the beer and then removing the frozen water, making the beer stronger.

Wherever you are in the world, you can celebrate today by tossing back a cold bock beer! Click here to find all the different variations of bocks found in the world.

Sources: Wikipedia, Beer Advocate, Bayou City Sipping

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Oatmeal Cookie Day

oatmeal cookiesMarch 18 is Oatmeal Cookie Day! Exactly what they sound like – oatmeal cookies are cookies made of ground oats, usually with the addition of nuts, raisins, or chocolate chips.

The origin of this day is unknown, but oatmeal cookies have existed as a tasty sweet snack since the 1800s. Oats themselves were first cultivated in 7,000 BC in ancient China, making them one of the earliest cereals known to man. The predecessor to oatmeal cookies – oatcakes – were carried and consumed by soldiers in the Middle Ages when they needed something to boost their energy before battle. Over the years, the recipe for oatcakes was tweaked and updated and made into the sweeter oatmeal cookies we know today.

Oatmeal cookies are considered healthier than most other cookies because oats are exchanged for most of the flour used in normal cookies, and only one egg is typically needed to bind ingredients together. The addition of other ingredients depends on your specific taste. Sometime honey or molasses is used in place of sugar to sweeten the treats. Other popular additions include nuts, raisins, and chocolate chips. Though oatcakes do differ from the modern-day oatmeal cookie, many of the same spices are still used. These cookies are also known for being a great source of iron and fiber.

To celebrate today, try some of these delicious oatmeal cookie recipes we’ve dug up:

Sources: Punchbowl, CNN’s Eatocracy, Foodimentary

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National Coconut Torte Day

coconut torteMarch 13 is National Coconut Torte Day! A torte is a luscious multi-layered cake dessert filled with heavy creams or fruits. You can deduce then that a coconut torte is a multi-layered creamy treat topped with coconut goodness. Yum!

What makes a torte different from a regular cake, you say? Tortes differ from cakes in that they are usually made with very little or no flour. Instead, breadcrumbs or ground nuts take the place of flour as the base and sugar, eggs, and other flavorings are added as well. In between the spongey layers of the torte, you will usually find buttercream, whipped cream, mousse, jam, icing, or fruit. The torte is then typically cooled, glazed and garnished. Because today is National Coconut Torte Day, be sure to top your torte with coconut, and maybe add some to the layers in between for good measure.

To celebrate, try one of these coconut torte recipes below, and add a scoop of ice cream on the side if the torte itself is not enough indulgence for you!

Sources: CNN’s Eatocracy, Examiner.com, Wikipedia

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National Cereal Day

cerealMarch 7 is National Cereal Day! Cereal is a breakfast food that comes in all flavors, shapes, and sizes and is usually served with milk.

The word cereal was derived from Cerealia. This was an ancient Roman celebration that celebrated the goddess of grain, Ceres. In the late 1800s, Americans’ diets were mostly high-protein meat-based ones. The unhealthy effects of this were noticeable – laziness, fatigue, and gastrointestinal problems abounded. Cereal was created as a healthy breakfast alternative.

If you’re skeptical of the health benefits of cereal and why our ancestors chose this alternative, you should know that when cereal was first created it was not the sugar-filled food it has since become. Older versions of cereal were dense and bran-packed. They often had to be soaked overnight so that digestion would not be difficult. The fiber rich food was much healthier than meaty meals that were the norm then.

Dr. James Caleb Jackson created these bran nuggets for visitors to his sanitarium, which we liken these days to a health resort. At his sanitarium, he provided healthy food options and treatments for those looking to improve upon themselves. John Kellogg, who was a surgeon and fellow health food nut, took Jackson’s idea and began to experiment. John Kellogg and his brother, Keith Kellogg, began to test out new foods made from boiled wheat. As a sheer accident, the two left out some of their creations overnight. When they returned the next morning, they found the batch had gone stale. Rather than throwing the batch out, they decided to experiment more. They rolled out the batch and noticed that each wheat berry turned into its very own flake. Taking the idea and using corn instead, they created one of the most well-known cereals of all time – Corn Flakes!

Over the years, others began to experiment with cereal making and brands like Grape Nuts, Post Toasties, and Cheerios were created. In 1939, the addition of sugar began to change cereal’s previous status as a health food. The first sweetened cereal to hit the shelves was Ranger Joe Popped Wheat Honnie. Statistics say that 49% of Americans today have cereal for breakfast.

You can celebrate today by chowing down on your favorite cereal. Healthy or not – make sure to have a bowl!

Sources: Punchbowl, National Cereal Day, Al.com

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