Misc

December Foodie Holidays

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Just slowly working away at what's left of the holiday pumpkin

Happy December everybody!  Been out of commission for a while due to an increasingly packed schedule.  But it’s the first of the month and it’s time to learn about our disavowed national holidays from Mr. Squirrel (or is it Mrs?  maybe Ms.?).  It really is the holiday season, but there are other days that deserve recognition, like World AIDS Day which is on the 1st.  Of course, there are the biggies that (mostly) everyone knows (and these are in chronological order according to my Just Chocolate Labs calendar) — Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Eve.  But here are some of the other national holidays that we should incorporate into our regular rotation.

1  Pie Day

2  Fritters Day

4  Cookie Day

Sacher Torte Day

Gazpacho Day

7  Cotton Candy Day

8  Brownie Day

Pastry Day

10  Lager Day!!!

11  Noodle Ring Day

12  Ambrosia Day

13  Cocoa Day

14  Bouillabaisse Day

15  Lemon Cupcake Day

16  Chocolate Covered Anything Day

18  Roast Suckling Pig Day

21  French Fried Shrimp Day

23  Pfeffernuesse Day

24  Egg Nog Day

25  Pumpkin Pie Day

26  Candy Cane Day

27  Fruitcake Day

30  Bicarbonate of Soda Day

There are lots of links for folks to check out this month.  Personally, my favorite is “Chocolate Covered Anything Day”, but how can you not love a holiday all about Baking Soda?

November Foodie Holidays

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A chill is in the air and those lovely leaves are turning, so that means that autumn is in full swing.  Daisy, of course, fell in love with autumn at an early age, as you can see.  Even at the ripe old age of 2 (as you can see in the second picture), she still loves playing in the leaves.  But this all means that it’s November and holiday season is fast upon us.  Now everyone thinks of the traditional holidays like Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving (in the United States, that is), but there are others that we don’t take time to celebrate.  For example, November is:  National Fun with Fondue Month, National Pepper Month, National Georgia Pecan Month, National Peanut Butter Lover’s Month, and National Raisin Bread Month.  Here are some more of those unloved holidays:

1 – 7  National Fig Week

Deviled Egg Day

4  Candy Day

Nachos Day

7  Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day

8 – 13  National Split Pea Soup Week

10  Vanilla Cupcake Day

12  Pizza with the Works Except Anchovies Day

13  Indian Pudding Day

14  Guacamole Day

15  Spicy Hermit Cookie Day

20  Peanut Butter Fudge Day

23  Cashew Day

24  THANKSGIVING DAY

25  Parfait Day

26  Cake Day

27  Bavarian Cream Pie Day

28  French Toast Day

29  Chocolates Day

30  Mousse Day

Versatile Blogger Award

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I admit that I had been putting off writing about this award for a couple of weeks, mainly because I was trying to figure out how to best fulfill the requirements of what this award entails.  Plus I really have not been feeling well, not that that’s a good excuse.  Now I’m not sure I can list “award-winning chef and author” on my resume, but anything helps in this current job market.  And I send a sincere thanks to Blue Jellybeans for passing the award on to me.

The rules of the award are as follows:  1)  list seven things about yourself; and 2)  pass the award on to 15 others.  So let’s begin.  Seven things about myself. . .

  1. I am a stickler for correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling.  I’m sure that is difficult to see given all the weird vernacular and idioms that I use constantly, ya reckon?
  2. I am a firm believer in “retail therapy”.  Sometimes you really can buy yourself a little happy. . . sometimes
  3. Along those lines, I am a sucker for anything that is a “gift with purchase”.  You mean that all I have to do is spend $50 to get your $2 tote bag?  I am on it!
  4. I am willing to try anything once.  Except maybe seal eye balls and lutefisk (really?  fish soaked in poison?)
  5. When I am sick, one of the things I tend to do is clean.  Like a get-down-on-your-hands-and-knees-and-scrub-with-a-toothbrush kind of clean.  Of course, if I am too sick, I usually just lie down on various surfaces in the house and just moan.  Maybe that’s how I figure out what needs a good cleaning!
  6. I have a background in music.
  7. There are certain movies that I will watch without fail if I find that they are on TV.  These include:  Notting Hill, 50 First Dates, While You Were Sleeping, any of the “good” Star Treks, and any of the Lord of the Rings movies.
  8. I am a Gator, Seminole, and a Spartan (in that order, although I did go to Florida State first), and I’m begrudgingly considering becoming a Wolverine (ugh!).  But really, I love any obscure college team (Go Fighting Okra!)

I guess I did an extra one there.  Lo que sea.  And now to pass the award on!  These are some of the blogs that I read on a regular basis (and these are in alphabetical order), but I know of several that have been nominated already.  If I know that they’ve been nominated, I decided to try to pass this on to someone new.  Some of these folks I’ve been following for some time now.  Some I just started following, and then I realized, I read a lot of their stuff anyway, so why not subscribe?  Here are my 15+1 nominees:

  1. Aubergine & Butterbean
  2. Cakealogue
  3. Clever Muffin
  4. Cooking is Life!
  5. Frugal Feeding
  6. Passioneats
  7. Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide
  8. Savory Simple
  9. Sensible Lessons
  10. Simply Breakfast
  11. Syrup and Biscuits
  12. Tart to Heart
  13. The Answer is Always Pork
  14. The Hungry Artist
  15. The Little Loaf
  16. The Wholesome RD

Happy Blogging everyone!

I’m in shape. . . “round” is a shape, right?

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I think the "October" plate adds a nice touch of class.

I am sick.  And when I am sick, several things can happen.  These may include:  1)  my social filter switching to “off”; 2)  impulse control going out the window; and 3)  delirium.  So I’m thinking all three played some role in my thinking that posting this would be a good idea.

Anyhoo, I have found my new favorite recipe.  It’s so simple and easy to do.  Now I don’t recommend this for everyone, but if you’re feeling like I do right now, this might be just the thing for you.  Here’s what you need:

1.  Place handful of Cheez-its in mouth.

2.  Add rum.

3.  Enjoy!  Repeat as necessary.

Notes — This is just like that old staple of wine and cheese — except that there’s no wine and no cheese. . . I wouldn’t recommend a spiced rum for this.  I don’t think the flavor profiles would work well with the Cheez-its.  And it would be best if the rum had some age to it, but don’t go wasting some 30-year-old stuff on this recipe. . . Pretzels might work in a pinch, but I like the more diverse tastes you get from the Cheez-its

Farmers market, or Farmer’s market, or maybe Farmers’ market?

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I still am not clear on the proper phrase to use.  Sometimes I find myself overly focused on the correct grammatical term.  They all work on some level which is kinda strange.  Weird thing to become obsessed about, I know.  But I digress. . . This is just a quick post focusing on the Ann Arbor’s Farmers Market (check them out on Facebook, too!)  These were from a couple of weeks ago.  To be more specific, this was our trip to the weekend market the morning before my family got into town for Labor Day weekend.  This was so early that some of the vendors didn’t even set up for the day.  Early trips are nice because you get to beat the crowds, but on the other hand not all the booths are there.  And it can get crowded, especially on home game days when visiting Wolverine fans and alumni come into town.  Anyhoo, hope y’all enjoy this quick introduction to the market.  If y’all are ever in town, make sure to try and stop by.

Squash!
I was so tempted to pick up some of those purple beans.
Luv the squash blossoms. I will post a recipe for some stuffed blossoms soon
Who doesn't luv fresh flowers? I guess if you're allergic you wouldn't. . .
it. . . early. . . Dan. . . need. . . coffee. . .
Isn't nice how everything is so neat and organized?
The baguettes from Cafe Japon are amazing! The best ones in town, in my opinion
I really like the work of this artist. And everything is very reasonably priced.
Those small potatoes up front were the size of raspberries. I see a salad of those, some peas, and some pearl onions, with some mint maybe?
Since Halloween is this month, I thought I'd put in a picture of some Ghost Peppers. Scary!

October Foodie Holidays

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Happy October everybody!  Daisy’s here with our monthly feature on upcoming National Holidays.  Maybe Cooper will eventually make an appearance on Daisy’s monthly post, too!  Anyhoo, there’s lots of stuff going on in October (like the National Pumpkin Festival on the first Saturday of the month).  Here is just some of the stuff that’s happening this month:

Daisy doesn't mind wearing her Halloween outfit if she gets to play with her stick that's on the table

National Apple Month, National Applejack Month, National Caramel Month, National Cookbook Month, National Cookie Month (you can get a free cookie from Mrs. Field’s), National Dessert Month, National Pasta Month, National Pickled Peppers Month, National Pizza Month, National Popcorn Poppin’ Month, National Pork Month, National Pretzel Month, National Seafood Month

4 Taco Day

5 Apple Betty Day

6 Noodle Day

9 Dessert Day

10 Angel Food Cake Day

11 Sausage Pizza Day

15 Mushroom Day

17 Pasta Day

18 Chocolate Cupcake Day

20 Brandied Fruit Day

22 Nut Day

24 Boston Cream Pie Day

24 Bologna Day

26 Mincemeat Day

28 Chocolate Day

29 Oatmeal Day

30 Candy Corn Day

31 Halloween!

September Foodie Holidays

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It’s the first of the month and Daisy’s here with your monthly holiday announcements!  Here she is enjoying her stick on one of the last few days of summer in the backyard.  September is another busy month for our “national” holidays.  Of course there’s Labor Day, and Back-To-School things going on, which also means college football starts up again (finally!!!).  There’s also the Mexican Day of Independence (16th), and Rosh Hashanah (28th @ sundown) and Talk-Like-A-Pirate Day (19th).  Plus, Daisy turns 2 on the 29th!

Daisy loves her stick!

This month we have:  National Chicken Month, National Honey Month, National Mushroom Month, National Papaya Month, National Potato Month, and National Rice Month.  As for specific days, we have:

National Welsh Rarebit Day

4  National Macadamia Nut Day

National Cheese Pizza Day

7  National Beer Lover’s Day

8  National Date-Nut Bread Day

11  National Hot Cross Bun Day

12  National Chocolate Milkshake Day

13  National Peanut Day

14  National Cream-Filled Donut Day

15  National Creme de Menthe Day

16  National Cinnamon-Raisin Bread Day

17  National Apple Dumpling Day

19  International Talk Like a Pirate Day

19  National Butterscotch Pudding Day

20  National Punch Day

21  National Pecan Cookie Day

22 National White Chocolate Day

26  National Pancake Day (maybe)

28  National Strawberry Cream Pie Day

30  National Mulled Cider Day

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2011 also marks the 10 year anniversary of 9/11.  I know that this is not a holiday, but I feel that you can’t talk about a calendar of events without mentioning this day.  I thought it was important to address and provide just a couple of informational links for folks.  National Geographic has done some good specials about that day from different perspectives, including a special interview with President Bush about his personal experiences as the terrorist attacks unfolded.  Also Yahoo! News has posted some different profiles and personal stories on how 9/11 has changed our lives as a nation.  You should also visit the national memorial site to see how the memorial and museum are taking shape.  It is my hope that on this day,  we can put aside what separates us and remember what brings us together.

Take care everyone.

Peanut Butter Pie for Mikey

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This recipe has been making the rounds on the food blogs so I thought I’d give it a try.  For those who don’t know the story, a fellow food blogger (In Jennie’s Kitchen) experienced a recent tragedy with the unexpected death of her husband Mikey.  The two of them have two young girls, ages 8 and 3.  This recipe was one of his favorites and she had been meaning to make it for him, but sadly she never got the chance.

In his honor, I made this.  But I didn’t make it just for him, but for the folks that I love too.  So the next chance that you get, tell those special people in your life that you love them.  As Jennie writes in her blog, “. . . hug them like there’s no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on.

_____________________________________________________________________

Creamy Peanut Butter Pie

Serves 10 to 12

8 ounces chocolate cookies
4 tablespoons butter, melted
4 ounces finely chopped chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup creamy-style peanut butter
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 – 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Add the cookies to the bowl of a food processor and pulse into fine crumbs.  Combine melted butter and cookie crumbs in a small bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well.  Press mixture into the bottom and 1-inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave.  Pour over bottom of cookie crust and spread to the edges using an off-set spatula.  Sprinkle chopped peanuts over the melted chocolate. Place pan in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and beat using a stand mixer or hand mixer until stiff peaks form.  Transfer to a small bowl and store in refrigerator until ready to use.  Place the cream cheese and peanut butter in a deep bowl.  Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioner’s sugar.  Add the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Increase speed to medium and beat until all the ingredients are combined and filling is smooth.

Stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the filling mixture (helps lighten the batter, making it easier to fold in the remaining whipped cream).  Fold in the remaining whipped cream.  Pour the filling into the prepared springform pan.  Drizzle the melted chocolate on top, if using, and refrigerate for three hours or overnight before serving.

Notes — I did follow an adaptation of this recipe that makes a 10″ pie.  I got that recipe from the blog The Shiksa in the Kitchen.

Happy Mustard Day!

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Just a quick post today about this great national holiday.  A couple of quick things to point out:  1) I don’t make my own mustard.  2) I don’t really have a recipe that uses mustard (although my dry rub recipe does have some dry mustard).  3) I love mustard, as you can tell from the mustards that I have in my refrigerator, not counting the Blue Cheese Mustard from Stonewall Kitchen that was just polished off the other day.  I totally recommend that mustard by the way.  But I digress. . . we all probably have some kind of mustard in our kitchen.  It’s a part of our everyday lives!!!. . . for the most part. . . maybe.

But back to the holiday. . . if you are somewhere near Madison, WI, you should pop on over to the National Mustard Museum in Middleton and celebrate at the festival.  Mustard from everywhere will be there — from Kaua’i, HI to Beaverton, OR to Clearwater, FL.  Unfortunately I can’t make it but I did have to order my very own 20th Annual National Mustard Day (NMD) T-shirt!  It sounds like a fun time and it looks to be a very well attended event.  So go celebrate everything mustard and eat a couple of free hotdogs.  Looks like they have some mustard custard to top everything off!

Does anyone have a recipe out there using mustard?

As a side note — today is also National Root Beer Float Day!  I am working on a cake to celebrate!

August Foodie Holidays

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Daisy says, “Happy August everyone!”  If you thought that August is a slow month for national holidays, you’d be wrong.  Not only is it National Catfish month, but this country celebrates a whole bunch of things ranging from raspberries to mustard to toasted marshmallows (I just found out that it is also National Peach Month, too).  So grab a root beer float and a bag of trail mix cuz it’s August!  Here is what we have to look forward this month:

National Raspberry Cream Pie Day

National Ice Cream Sandwich Day

3  National Ice Cream Soda Day (or June 20th)

4  National Chocolate Chip Day (or May 15th)

5  International Beer Day (just found this out!)

6  National Mustard Day (check out the Mustard Museum!)

National Root Beer Float Day

7  National Raspberries ‘n Cream Day

8  National Frozen Custard Day

National Rice Pudding Day

10  National S’mores Day

11  National Raspberry Bombe Day

14  National Creamsicle Day

15  National Lemon Meringue Pie Day

17  National Vanilla Custard Day

18  National Ice Cream Pie Day

19  National Soft Ice Cream Day

20  National Chocolate Pecan Pie Day

21  National Spumoni Day

22  National Pecan Torte Day

23  National Spongecake Day

24  National Peach Pie Day

25  National Banana Split Day

26  National Cherry Popsicle Day

27  National Pots de Creme Day

28  National Cherry Turnovers Day

30  National Toasted Marshmallow Day

31  National Trail Mix Day