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National Pound Cake Day

lemon-pound-cake-DSC_2814March 4 is National Pound Cake Day! Pound cake is a rich dessert made using a pound of sugar, a pound of flour, a pound of butter and a pound of eggs.

Pound cake was first introduced as a popular baked good in the 1700s, and its recipe spread quickly because it was so easy to remember and mimic. Typically, the recipe was meant to feed multiple families because of it’s large amount of ingredients. Due to the pound cake’s equal ratio of ingredients though, smaller versions of the cake can be made just as long as you stick to the 1:1:1:1 ratio. Even when using a smaller amount of each ingredient, these cakes are still referred to as pound cakes.

While we find nothing wrong with the original simplistic version of the pound cake, over the years, many have began to slightly alter the recipe by adding other flavors. A recipe dating back to 1851 used additives of lemon and orange juice to slightly change the texture and flavor of the cake. Other popular additions include vanilla or almond extract, chocolate, dried fruit, nuts. Some additions are dusted in flour to keep them from sinking to the bottom of the cake batter. Cake moistness can be altered by making substitutions like cooking oil or sour cream instead of butter.

The traditional pound cake is made in a bundt pan or loaf tin, but shapes have begun to vary based on cooking utensils. Some like their pound cakes plain, but if you’re craving some extra sweetness, you can top your cake with a sugar glaze, powdered sugar, icing, fruit, or anything else you desire!

We’ve found a couple of recipe variations on the traditional pound cake for you to try to celebrate today!

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

 

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National Tortilla Chip Day

tortilla-chips-and-tostadas_456X342February 24 is National Tortilla Chip Day! Tortilla chips are a popular snack item, typically made from cutting tortillas into a wedge shape and frying them. They are often a counterpart to salsa, queso, guacamole, and other delicious dips.

Though tortilla chips have long been a Mexican snack more well-known there as tostados, the snack was first mass produced and brought into the public eye in Los Angeles in the late 1940s. Rebecca Webb Carranza was the owner of El Zarape Tortilla Factory in the ’40s, and she first made the chips from tortillas that were misshaped and rejected from the automatic tortilla-making machines in her factory. She began cutting the misshapen pieces into triangles, frying them, and selling bags for a dime. The fried snack slowly began to catch on and by the 1970s, it became a major competitor for corn chips, which had previously been the most popular dipping chip.

Not only are tortilla chips often used for dipping, but they are also used to make more elaborate dishes like nachos. Nachos were first created by Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya in 1943. Today tortilla chips are a quintessential item in Tex-Mex and Mexican restaurants, and the United States remain their largest producer.

Check out this recipe to make your own tortilla chips at home. If you’d rather eat tortilla chips without an accompanying dip, you can spice them up by seasoning them with various herbs and spices.

Happy National Tortilla Chip Day!

Sources: Punchbowl, Food.com, Wikipedia

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International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day

February 23 is International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day! Although we humans cannot appreciate dog treats, we can spend today appreciating how happy our canine friends become after consuming a tasty biscuit!

Some form of dog treat has been around since Roman times. Back then, they were called “dog’s bread,” and were made from bran, moldy bread, and rotting leftovers. In the nineteenth century, the English began to add various vegetables, but the consistency was still  rock hard. After taking a trip to England in the mid-1800s, James Spratt saw stray dogs scavenging for food and created a cake-like bone that contained vegetables and meat. He claimed it gave dogs enough endurance that they no longer needed to eat other dog food.  He called them “Meat Fibrine Cakes.”

Spratt dominated the market on dog treats until 1907. F.H. Bennett created a bone-shaped treat that contained minerals, milk, and meat products. Calling his new product “Milk-Bone,” Bennett took over the market, and in 1931 his company was bought by Nabisco.

You can help your pups celebrate today by buying them some of their favorite treats, or by making some of your own. Check out the dog biscuit recipes we found below!

Sources: Holiday Insights, Examiner.com, Wikipedia

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Drink Wine Day

winelovers calendarFebruary 18 is Drink Wine Day! Whether you’re a fan of red, white, or sparkling wines, today is the day to pop the cork and enjoy.

Made from fermented grapes and other fruits, wine is an alcoholic beverage that has been made and consumed for thousands of years. The earliest appearance of wine was in about 6000 B.C. Legends and stories abound with ancient humans becoming intoxicated off of fermented grapes, so it wasn’t long before people began to toy with the fermentation process, eventually creating wine. The first wine was created in the Eurasian state of Georgia, and soon spread to the Balkans and Ancient Greece and Rome. It wasn’t long before the rest of Europe began to catch up, and wine was eventually brought to the New World. Grapes grown for wine now cover about 20 million acres across the world. The top two wine producers in the world are typically Italy and France.

vineyards calendarThe health benefits of wine have been promoted for years. When consumed in moderation, some experts have said that red wine can improve heart health, prevent the formation of kidney stones, and inhibit the development of certain cancers. It can also boost immunity and increase bone density. Too much alcohol consumption is dangerous for your health, but a glass of wine now and then never hurt anyone!

You can celebrate today any way you like just as long as you’ve got a glass of wine in your hand. We suggest going to a local wine bar for a tasting or sampling of several different wines. If you’ve got a lot of free time today, you could even travel to a nearby winery and become educated on how wine is made from start to finish. Another excellent way to celebrate is to stop at a grocery or liquor store, pick up a few bottles, and host your very own wine tasting party at home!

Happy Drink Wine Day!

Sources: World’s Special Days, Examiner.com, Punchbowl

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National Café au Lait Day

coffee calendarFebruary 17 is National Café au Lait Day! Café au lait is a French coffee drink, consisting of coffee with hot milk added. The name is literally translated from French as “coffee with milk.”

We’re not sure why this day was chosen to honor this delicious coffee beverage, but if you need a pick-me-up, then today is the perfect day to celebrate! In Europe, café au lait is usually prepared using an espresso machine, mixing espresso with steamed milk. To contrast, in the United States, café au lait is usually made using a dark roasted drip or French press prepared coffee with steamed milk added.

The beverage gained a significant amount of popularity in New Orleans, where the well-known cafe, Café du Monde, located in the French Quarter, serves a popular version which includes the addition of chicory to their coffee. The chicory has a slightly bitter flavor that offsets the taste of beignets, which are deep-fried pastries covered in powdered sugar. Though café au lait has become a favored coffee drink for many, there are some who think adding milk to your coffee detracts from the flavor of the coffee too much. French author Honoré de Balzac once called café au laits a “ludicrous” drink.

While we suggest going to your favorite coffee shop to get a café au lait today, you can also make this caffeinated drink at home. Here are a few recipes for you to try out:

Sources: Wikipedia, Food.com, Examiner.com

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National Cream Cheese Brownie Day

creamcheesebrowniesFebruary 10 is National Cream Cheese Brownie Day! Regular brownies are already a delicious chocolate baked confection loved by many, but the addition of the somewhat savory and tangy cream cheese takes the popular dessert to an even more delectable level.

Desserts going by the name “brownie” have been around since the 1800s, but brownies as we enjoy them today can be traced back to 1906. The cake-like treat made its debut in 1906 in The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book. This first recipe, however, was much less sweet than brownie recipes that exist today as it only called for two squares of baking chocolate. As our sweet tooth has evolved over the years, so has the brownie, going from just a simple semi-sweet chocolate cake to elaborate chocolate confections loaded with extras. Popular additions include nuts, caramel, peanut butter, peppermint, fruit, and that extra something that makes this day so special – cream cheese.

Cream cheese is a very soft and mild cheese that is often known for its more savory qualities, but it is often used in other desserts. It is most often used in cheesecake, but when added to brownies, it gives the dessert an extra tart taste and makes the texture slightly more squishy. In addition to giving regular brownies another complementary flavor, when swirled in with brownie mix, it makes the treats have an attractive “marble” pattern.

To celebrate this sweet holiday, try out some of these various cream cheese brownie recipes!

Sources: Bubblenews, Punchbowl, Examiner.com

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National Frozen Yogurt Day

February 6 is National Frozen Yogurt Day! Frozen yogurt, or “FroYo” as it is often shortened to, is a frozen dessert made out of yogurt and other dairy products. It has a lower amount of fat than its sister dessert, ice cream, because it is made with milk instead of cream. It is also known for being slightly more tart than ice cream and sometimes contains live and active bacteria cultures.

In the 1970s, frozen yogurt was first put on the American market, but consumers found the tart yogurt taste to be unfavorable. It wasn’t until 1981 when the first TCBY opened featuring a sweeter version of the dessert that frozen yogurt’s popularity began to incline. TCBY differed from previous frozen yogurt sellers because they dispensed their yogurt in soft serve form through machines rather than selling it pre-packaged.

By the mid-90s, several other frozen yogurt chains had opened and frozen yogurt had accrued over $300 million in sales. In the late 1990s, however, Americans’ favored diets turned to higher protein and higher fat foods, causing the frozen yogurt trend to fall off as ice cream regained its previous popularity.

As quickly as frozen yogurt went out of style in the ‘90s, it made a resurgence in the mid 2000s with the invention of live probiotic powder-based mixes. This mix made frozen yogurt available in countries outside the United States for the first time. The tart flavors that were unpopular in the ‘70s suddenly began attracting a new crowd of frozen dessert aficionados and new frozen yogurt chains began popping up all over the world.

To celebrate National Frozen Yogurt Day, stop by your favorite FroYo shop – you might even find that some stores have special discounts today on this tasty frozen treat!

Sources: WikipediaExaminer.comPunchbowl

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Ice Cream for Breakfast Day

OutsetToday is Ice Cream for Breakfast Day! This food holiday is always celebrated on the first Saturday in February, and it encourages everyone to indulge in their favorite ice cream for their first meal of the day!

This holiday came into existence in the ’60s on a dreary day in Rochester, New York. Florence Rappaport, a social worker and mother, created the holiday as a way to cheer up her kids during the boring time between New Year’s and Passover which seemed to move all too slowly and make life seem dull in up-state New York. As her children grew older and went off to college, they began to share and celebrate the holiday with their friends, and pretty soon the holiday gained loyal revelers who began partaking in it every year.

Some celebrate this holiday by enjoying a simple bowl of their favorite ice cream at home, while others (like Rappaport’s son, Joe) transform their homes into unofficial ice cream parlors, featuring ice cream buffets where friends gather to enjoy elaborate ice cream concoctions together. There are even some ice cream parlors and shops that have ice cream specials, and others have been known to donate all their profits from this special day to children’s charities.

However you decide to celebrate, make sure to toss aside those eggs and bacon and make room for your favorite icy cold ice cream treat!

Sources: itzackret.com, Democrat & Chronicle

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National Croissant Day

croissantsJanuary 30 is National Croissant Day! Croissants are flaky, buttery pastries, identified by their crescent shape.

Just as we are unsure why January 30 has been made this unofficial holiday, tales abound about the origin of the croissant itself as well. What is thought to be the precursor to the croissant, the Kipferl, dates back to 13th century Austria. The Kipferl is usually made plain in a variety of shapes or with the addition of nuts. The first of the tales about origin of the crescent-shaped treat goes back to the Battle of Tours in 732. A Frankish victory over Umayyad forces led to Islamic crescent-shaped treats being made in celebration. Another story states that when Turkish forces tried to invade Vienna in 1683 by tunneling underground, Viennese bakers who were working in a basement heard the Turks and alerted the army. In celebration of outwitting the Turks, the bakers shaped breads to look like crescent moons, which was the symbol of the Ottoman Empire.

How the pastry arrived in France and received the name croissant, meaning crescent in French, also has varied origins. Some think that Marie Antoinette, the formerly Austrian princess who married Louis XVI, introduced the pastry to France from her homeland of Austria 100 years after the Turks failed to invade Vienna. Others say that the croissant came into being in France in 1839 when August Zang, an Austrian artillery officer, opened a Viennese bakery (Boulangerie Viennoise) in Paris. His Viennese pastries became popular and the French began to imitate this baking style, using yeast-leavened dough. From this the French version of the Kipferl was created and named croissant for it’s crescent shape. It’s recognizable shape and name became known all over the world.

If you’re not already enjoying a delicious croissant with your breakfast, we’ve gathered up some recipes to help you celebrate!

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

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National Peanut Butter Day

peanutbutter2n-1-web January 24 is National Peanut Butter Day! The food spread made from roasted peanuts first rose up in popularity in the late 1800s. It is now considered a staple in 90% of American households, and the United States is the leading exporter of this savory and sweet spread.

Though it’s up for debate on who the original creator of peanut butter was, it started gaining popularity in the late 1800s. John Harvey Kellogg, who was a doctor and is also known for creating corn flakes cereal with his brother, patented the “Process of Preparing Nut Meal” in 1895. The holistic doctor fed peanut butter made from boiled peanuts to patients in his sanitarium. A St. Louis snack maker named George Boyle has also been credited with making peanut butter with roasted peanuts as early as 1894. George Washington Carver, who invented many other peanut-related products, is also sometimes credited with its invention. Spreadable peanut butter as we know it today was created in 1923 by the Heinz company after they homogenized peanuts.

Did you know that it takes about 550 peanuts to make a 12 ounce jar of peanut butter? Or how about that the average American consumes over six pounds of peanut butter products every year? Whether it’s paired with it’s jelly counterpart in a sandwich, baked into cookies, or slathered on a stick of celery – we love peanut butter! It’s a good thing too because peanut butter has many proven health benefits. Two teaspoons of peanut butter contain 12.3 grams of unsaturated fat, making it a heart healthy snack. Peanut butter is also high in potassium, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Because of peanut butter’s richness, it can keep you full longer than other snacks, which can help prevent unwanted weight gain. A serving of peanut butter also contains about 4.3 milligrams of niacin, a nutrient that helps keep you sharp and prevents cognitive decline leading to diseases such as Alzheimer’s in older age.

Celebrate National Peanut Butter Day by trying some of these recipes including the popular snack food:

Happy National Peanut Butter Day!

Sources: PunchbowlWikipedia, Babble

 

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