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International Hot and Spicy Food Day

OR-3-10-1710January 16 is International Hot and Spicy Food Day! Today is a red-hot day on the holiday calendar. It celebrates all foods that make your tongue burn, make your eyes water, and maybe even cause little beads of sweat to form on your forehead. Whether you’re a fan of super spicy salsa, confoundingly hot curry,  or jambalaya jam-packed with fiery flavor, today is best served with a side of heat.

Archaeologists have proven that humans have been using hot spices in recipes for over 6,000 years. Christopher Columbus discovered chili peppers in 1493 after he “discovered” America. The chemical in chili peppers that makes them hot is called capsaicin. The capsaicin oil is measured and diluted to determine the amount of “heat” in peppers and give it a place on the Scoville scale. Currently, the pepper which is highest on the Scoville scale, and thus the hottest, is called the Carolina Reaper, which is 300 times hotter than the average jalapeño pepper. People who have a palette capable of handling this kind of heat on a regular basis are known as “pyro-gourmaniacs.”

PrintHot spices are used the world over to give food that flavorful kick. Not only are spicy foods tasty, but they can also be beneficial to your health due to their medicinal and antimicrobial properties. Chiles, onions, garlic, oregeno, and allspice are known to kill bacteria and make food safer to consume.

Even if you’re not the type of person who likes to put your taste buds into a state of shock, you can still enjoy today by adding a touch of heat to whatever you’re eating. If the heat may become too much for you to handle, make sure to keep a glass of milk or some yogurt handy. While drinking tons of water is usually people’s immediate reaction to foods that are too spicy, doing this will only cause the spicy oils to be dispersed around your mouth because the oil in chili peppers will not mix with the water like milk will.

Whether you’re ready to go all-out on spicy foods today or just enjoy a small amount of spiciness on the side, make sure to add some heat to your meals today!

Sources: Punchbowl, Foodimentary, Days of the Year

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Hot Toddy Day

hot toddyJanuary 11 is Hot Toddy Day! Not familiar with hot toddies? They’re a hot alcoholic beverage typically containing honey, lemon, hot water, and whatever spirit you’d like! The most commonly used are whiskey, brandy, and dark rum.

The hot toddy is thought to have originated in Scotland sometime in the 18th century. It makes perfect sense that this warm delicious drink was invented in a country who experiences cold and damp weather throughout most of the year. Historians speculate that the recipe came about to mask the taste of Scotch whiskey to make it easier to drink. Women in the 18th century apparently weren’t very fond of the smokey, peat flavor of Scotch. The word “toddy” is thought to have come from “Todd’s Well” or Todian Spring, Edinburgh’s main water source.

Not only are hot toddies great for warming you up on a cold winter day, but they have become a popular remedy for cold and flu symptoms as well.

We’ve put together a list of hot toddy recipes for you to make in celebration of today!

Sources: Punchbowl, Grocery Headquarters

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National Spaghetti Day

esq-spaghetti-sauce-0412-lgJanuary 4 is National Spaghetti Day! Spaghetti is a long, thin, cylindrical form of pasta, usually topped with tomato sauce, Parmesan cheese, and often with vegetables or meat added to it.

Though the origin of spaghetti is debatable, the first recorded incidence of boiled noodles being prepared was in the Jerusalem Talmud, suggesting that Arabs created the food in the 5th century. Spaghetti noodles in the form we know them today have been traced back to Sicily in the 12th century when Sicilians first created the long string-like pasta. The word spaghetti comes from the Italian word spaghetto and it literally translates to “little strings.” Pasta popularity spread throughout the rest of Italy in 19th century when pasta factories began to open up across the country, allowing for mass production. Spaghetti was first served in the United States in the late 19th century, appearing on menus as Spaghetti Italienne, a dish likely served with a mild tomato sauce and simple spices and vegetables like clove, bay leaves, and garlic. Soon after its introduction to the United States, canned versions of the dish were produced along with spaghetti kits, making it easy to prepare and readily available to everyone. This simplification of this already simple meal has made it a staple dish in American diets.

"Touched by His Noodly Appendage," a parody of Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam, is an iconic image of the Flying Spaghetti Monster by Arne Niklas Jansson.

“Touched by His Noodly Appendage,” a parody of Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam, is an iconic image of the Flying Spaghetti Monster by Arne Niklas Jansson.

Spaghetti has become such a significant meal, that many pop culture references have been made about the pasta dish. Famous Italian actress Sophia Loren was once quoted attributing her success to the dish saying, “Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti.” In March 2010, the Guinness World Record for world’s largest serving of spaghetti was made at Buca Di Beppo’s Garden Grove in California when they filled a swimming pool with 13,780 pounds of spaghetti. Spaghetti was also a part of one of the biggest April Fool’s pranks ever pulled when the BBC convinced many of their viewers that spaghetti noodles grew on trees. Also, lest we forget about the Flying Spaghetti Monster? This guy’s got an entire religious movement centered around him.

Looking for the perfect recipe to celebrate today with? We’ve got you covered:

Sources: Wikipedia, Punchbowl, Seamless

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Cream Puff Day

cream puffJanuary 2 is Cream Puff Day! Cream puffs are small puffy pastry desserts filled with cream. Though the origin of cream puffs are not specifically known, they are thought to have originated in France in the 1500s, and were first found on American menus in the 1800s.

The dough used to make cream puffs is called pâte à choux, and it is made differently than other dough. Instead of being made in a mixer, pâte à choux is made by adding flour to boiled water and butter. It is then cooked at a high temperature until you get hollow balls of dough. Another popular dessert made using pâte à choux is beignets. Unlike beignets however, cream puffs are baked rather than fried. After the puffed balls of dough are taken out of the oven, they are cut in half to let steam that has collected inside out. If the puffs are not cut, they will deflate when cooling. The filling is then sandwiched between the two puffed halves. Cream puffs are often filled with whipped cream, pastry cream, and sometimes even ice cream! Some enjoy their cream puffs with nothing on top, while others prefer to top them with powdered sugar, chocolate, caramel, or whatever delightful sweet topping comes to mind.

Though it is up for debate, it is thought that cream puffs got their start in France in the 1540s when the pastry chef of Catherine de Medici first created the puffed treats for Medici’s husband, Henry II of France. The dessert first appeared on American menus in 1851.

We’ve gathered up some tasty cream puffs recipes for you to try out today in celebration of this delicious dessert’s day:

Happy Cream Puff Day!

Sources: Punchbowl, CNN’s Eatocracy, Examiner.com, National Day Calendar

 

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Pepper Pot Day

It’s Pepper Pot Day, a celebration of a thick, spicy soup called pepper pot!

According to legend, pepper pot was first concocted during the Revolutionary War – December 29, 1777, to be exact. It was a cold, harsh winter for the Continental Army in Valley Forge. Food was scarce – farmers in the area sold their food to the British Army for pounds over the Continental Army’s weak currency. Thus, the troops created a soup that included all they could find.

And apparently all they could find were scraps of tripe (aka animal stomach), beef stock,  peppercorn and a few vegetables, as these are the main ingredients of pepper pot.

Though pepper pot may not sound like much to celebrate, the soup got the soldiers through the harsh winter, earning it the title “the soup that won the war.”

Celebrate Pepper Pot Day by making yourself a pot of pepper pot soup (recipe), but don’t eat it yet. Fill your bowl and head out into the cold outdoors to get the full effect of the soup’s warming powers.

By the way, we’ll totally understand if you substitute the tripe with chicken or beef. And if not, we’ll understand that, too.

 

Sources: holidayinsights.com, punchbowl.com, wikipedia.org
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National Eggnog Day

EggnogNot only is today Christmas Eve but it’s also National Eggnog Day! Makes sense, since making a batch or two of eggnog is a common Christmas Eve tradition.

Eggnog is a popular holiday drink in the U.S. and Canada and is made with milk and/or cream, sugar, raw eggs (beaten), spices (particularly nutmeg) and (optionally) liquor, such as brandy or rum. It’s also very tasty…and very high in fat and sugar. Seriously. You might want to pass it up this year if you’re cutting back the calories. However, you can still enjoy eggnog without the high amount of fat and cholesterol by making or purchasing  eggnog with skimmed, low fat, soy or rice milk.

Celebrate National Eggnog Day by making eggnog for your family! (But we won’t be disappointed if you go with commercial eggnog.)

Eggnog drink recipes:

Eggnog

Eggnog Drinks from Allrecipes.com

Alcoholic/Non-alcoholic/Easy/Healthier Eggnog Recipes

If you want to go all out on National Eggnog Day, whip up one of these eggnog-based desserts:

Golden Eggnog Cupcakes

Easy Holiday Eggnog Muffins

Cranberry Eggnog Muffins

Eggnog Drink and Dessert Recipes

 

Note: Commercial eggnog does not contain raw eggs. However, when making homemade eggnog (which includes raw eggs), use pasteurized eggs. Some recipes may also instruct you on how to cook the eggs for additional safety.

 

Sources: holidayinsights.com, punchbowl.com, wikipedia.org
Photo Source: Konstantin Ryabitsev, CC-BY-SA-2.O, via Wikimedia Commons
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National Sangria Day

sangria-3December 20 is National Sangria Day! Sangria is a fruity wine punch which typically consists of red wine, seasonal fruit, spirits, and simple syrup.

This beverage is usually enjoyed in the summertime in the United States, so why are we celebrating its intoxicating effects in the winter? To answer this question, we can turn to the origin of this widely popular concoction. “Sangria” is derived from the Spanish word “sangre” meaning blood, likely due to the beverage’s usual crimson color. In Spain and most other Spanish-speaking countries, where the beverage as we know it today first gained popularity, sangria is enjoyed year-round. The drink was first introduced to America in 1964 during the World’s Fair in New York.

The key to making a delicious sangria punch lies in the fruit. It’s important to use fruits that are in season, and to let the fruit marinate for several hours so your sangria will have an optimal flavor. The most commonly used spirit in sangria is brandy, but any of your favorite liquors may be substituted, depending on the flavor and how alcoholic you would like your sangria to be. Some sangria lovers opt for adding in soda water for carbonation. Sangria blanca is sangria made using white wine and complementing fruits rather than the standard red wine.

Since sangria involves many different ingredients and is often made in large batches meant for sharing, it’s a great drink to make for holiday parties or get-togethers with family and friends. Check out the following recipes we’ve found, and whip up a batch to enjoy with your loved ones!

Red Sangria

  • 1 cup brandy
  • 1 orange (ends cut off), thinly sliced
  • 1 red apple, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 bottles well-chilled dry red wine, such as Rioja or red Zinfandel
  • 1 cup club soda
  • 3/4 cup fresh orange juice

In a large pitcher, stir together brandy, orange and apple slices. Let stand 15 minutes. Add wine, club soda, and orange juice. Serve over ice.

Christmas Sangria

  • 2 bottles Zinfandel
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • 2 limes, sliced
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 8 oz. Orange juice
  • 8 oz. Cranberry juice
  • 12 oz simple syrup
  • 1/2 bottle Cava
  • Cranberries (optional)

Muddle fruit, then combine all ingredients except Cava. Mix in the Cava at the end and serve in a wine glass over ice, garnished with cranberries.

White Sangria

  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 shots Calvados or other apple liquor
  • 1 lime, sliced
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 2 ripe peaches, cut into wedges
  • 3 ripe green apples seeded and cut into wedges
  • 1 bottle white Rioja Spanish wine or other dry white wine
  • 1 pint raspberries
  • Sparkling soda water, for topping off glasses of sangria at table

Combine sugar, Calvados, lime, lemon, peaches and apples in a large pitcher. Cover with 1 bottle of Rioja wine and chill sangria several hours. To serve, spoon fruits into glasses or goblets, adding a few fresh raspberries in each glass, pour wine over top of the fruit. Top glasses of sangria off with a splash of soda water and serve.

Sources: National Sangria Day, Examiner.com

 

 

 

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Bake Cookies Day

cookieDecember 18 is Bake Cookies Day!

In the midst of the holiday season, today is the perfect day to escape from your holiday stress and that winter weather, and spend your day in a warm kitchen baking sweet treats!

Though the origin of this day remains unknown, the origin of the cookie dates back to Persia in 7th century AD after the use of sugar became more prevalent. The cookie quickly spread through Europe and then to America because of the popularity of global travel, and the treat’s easy traveling capabilities.

Spend the day baking cookies and trying new recipes. Better yet, host a cookie exchange with your friends. A cookie exchange is a great way to find new recipes (and indulge in even more new delicious sweets).

Looking for new cookie recipes? Browse through the recipes below!

Or, be healthy and make over your cookies!

Sources: holidayinsights.com, Wikipedia, Examiner.com

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National Bouillabaisse Day

Flickr - cyclonebill - Bouillabaisse med rouilleHappy National Bouillabaisse Day!

Celebrating Bouillabaisse Day, Part I: Learn about bouillabaisse

1. Bouillabaisse = fish stew/seafood soup/fish soup.

2.  Bouillabaisse contains various types of cooked fish and shellfish (at least five kinds) and vegetables, such as leeks, onions, tomatoes, celery and potatoes. It’s flavored with a variety of herbs and spices, such as garlic, orange peel, basil, bay leaf, fennel and saffron.

3. Bouillabaisse originated in Marseilles, France around 600 B.C. but was referred to as “kakavia,” which is Greek because the people living in Marseilles at the time were Phoceans (aka Ancient Greek people), not French people. The Phoceans founded Marseilles in 600 B.C.

4. Bouillabaisse is rarely made for less than 10 people. More people = more fish = yummier bouillabaisse.

Celebrating National Bouillabaisse Day, Part II: Now that you know a little more about bouillabaisse, make enough bouillabaisse for at least 10 people…

Summer Tomato Bouillabaisse with Basil Rouille (by Bon Appetit)
Bouillabaisse (by Food & Wine)
Bouillabaisse (by Simply Recipes)

Celebrating National Bouillabaisse Day, Part III: Find 10 people to eat it…

 

Sources: holidayinsights.com, punchbowl.com, wikipedia.org
Photo Source: cyclonebill, CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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National Pastry Day

bakingDecember 9 is National Pastry Day! Pastries are delicious fluffy baked products usually made with the following ingredients: flour, sugar, milk, butter, shortening, baking powder, and eggs. Pastries include anything making use of flaky pastry bread from pies to cream puffs to more savory dishes like quiche. Pastries are different from regular bread due to their higher fat content which allows them to have a more crumbly and flaky texture.

Pastries can be traced all the way back to ancient Mediterranean times with the making of thin-doughed filo and multi-layer baklava. Several centuries ago, Crusaders brought the practice of pastry making back to Northern Europe. European Renaissance chefs in Italy and France created the magnificent choux pastries and puff pastries we still indulge in today, and the 17th and 18th saw the creation of eclairs, brioche, and other perfect pastry treats. French chef Antonin Carême is credited with turning pastry making into an art form.

You can celebrate pastry day by visiting your favorite local bakery, or trying out one of these delectable pastry recipes!

Happy Pastry Day!

Sources: Wikipedia, World’s Special Days

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