Saturday, April 30, 2011

Happy National Raisin Day

So, we were standing in the kitchen this afternoon, looking at the raisins and reminiscing about all of our favorite raisin memories (and recipes). Who can forget the California Raisins singing "I heard it through the grapevine?" Actually, this brought up a sour note to our evening as Mr. ink peered in the box and said, "Oh the poor raisins never made it into wine. They were shriveled on the vine." (Can you tell that Mr. ink sells wine?) We're thinking tomorrow morning we might have raisin bread french toast or oatmeal raisin cookies just to make sure none of them shriveled in vain.

Anyway, it's bedtime now and one of Baby ink's favorite songs is undoubtedly, "The Ants Go Marching."

The ants go marching one by one, huzzah, huzzah
The ants go marching one by one, huzzah, huzzah
The ants go marching one by one,
The little one stops to suck his thumb
And they all go marching down to the ground
To get out of the rain, BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

Our ants are marching one by one through the honey rain drops.
And just like that, thirty days of national food holidays comes to an end. I hope you've had as much fun as we have! We're currently picking out our favorite food holidays for the our new illegible ink print. Let us know your favorites as well and remember to eat, drink and be merry in May!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Happy National Shrimp Scampi Day

Tonight we learned all about "scampi." (And basically found out we didn't really know a lot about it at all!) The term "scampi" actually refers to specific type of lobster - nephrops norvegicus (commonly known as langoustines or Norway lobsters). If I had known this beforehand, we might have had a very different dinner!

We found several recipes online for scampi: a traditional Italian scampi is a langoustine that has been poached and served with a lemon wedge. In the U.K., scampi is typically the shelled tailmeat that has been battered and fried, and then served with tartar sauce and chips. In the U.S., shrimp scampi is usually made with a combination of white wine, garlic and lemon - sometimes battered with breadcrumbs and sometimes served over noodles. Mr. ink decided this evening to do just that - a combination of breadcrumbs, dry white wine, garlic and lemon served over a bed of egg noodles.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Happy National Blueberry Pie Day

Kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk go the blueberries into the pail of a little girl named Sal who just can't seem to pick as fast as she eats.*

The Robert McCloskey classic, Blueberries for Sal, is what I always think about when eating Grandma ink's blueberry pie. (To Fox's giggly delight, Grandma ink is from a long line of master pie makers.)

*According to Grandma and Grandpa ink, yours truly was very similar to little Sal except my vice was black raspberries.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Happy National Prime Rib Day

Mr. ink and I have decided there are seven wonders of the meat world, and clearly this prime rib I made is one of them. To create this perfection, I decided the meat should speak for itself. Simplicity with just salt and pepper; no fancy rubs or marinades needed. In a saute pan, unsalted butter bubbled around diced onions and crimini mushrooms. Then I added the beef juices and some extra stock to make a thin "gravy" that I continually spooned over the meat as it cooked slow and low. (And yes,  I sang Patience while I waited.)

Marble is new the hotness.
A little meat to add to your culinary education: "Prime rib" is actually the colloquial term for a standing rib roast. A standing rib roast is a cut of beef from the rib section (usually anywhere from two to seven ribs consist of the roast). A butcher can also slice a standing rib roast to give you rib eye steaks (which will save you quite a bit of money).

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Happy National Pretzel Day

Mmm... baked, salty dough with signature knot. Just add mustard!
In 2003, Governor Ed Rendell declared April 26th National Pretzel Day to acknowledge the importance of the pretzel in Pennsylvania's history and economy. The PA pretzel timeline started in 1861, when the Sturgis Pretzel House in Lititz became the first commercial pretzel bakery in the United States. Then the Reading Pretzel Machinery Company introduced the first automatic pretzel twisting machine in 1935. And in 1993, the Pretzel Museum opened in Philadelphia. I wonder what happened in PA Pretzel history today?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy National Zucchini Bread Day

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was an environmental education intern at The Holcomb Farm. This 367-acre property is the home of a thriving CSA and youth education program. One summer, I worked in the Education Learning Center on 11 different programs for children between grades K-6. The salmon hatchery program was always sold out but still my favorite by far was one week called "Garden Gourmet." (Now you see where the blog comes from!) Garden Gourmet campers learned about the 30 different varieties of produce grown on the farm - participating in the planting, caring for and harvesting of many of the crops and animals. We then brought what we harvested to the kitchen and worked on recipes together. One of those recipes was for zucchini bread and I'm happy to report the recipe still tastes just as delicious 14 years later!

Here is the recipe from my journal:

Zucchini (aka Sugar) Bread
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking sodea
1 tsp cinnamon
3 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
4 eggs
3/4 cup and 2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups mashed zucchini (cut and mix in a blender for best results)
1/2 cup walnuts and raisins (optional)

1. Mix all ingredients (except walnuts and raisins) until well blended.
2. Add walnuts and raisins and mix again.
3. Pour mixture in two 9x5" greased loaf pans.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes. Test with toothpick to make sure it is done.
Tip: Do not cut when hot. Better on second day!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy National Pigs in a Blanket Day

Hip Hip Hooray! It's National Pigs in a Blanket Day! While in the U.S., pigs in a blanket refers to little sausages wrapped in dough, I learned tonight that in the U.K., they wrap the sausages with bacon. Good thing we have extra little sausages as I see us celebrating this holiday again... and soon!
Pigs in a Blanket are always better with a martini with bleu cheese-stuffed olives.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy National Cherry Cheesecake Day

 Thank goodness I didn't have to wait until July 30th for National Cheesecake Day!
Did you know that cheesecake the earliest attested mention of a cheesecake is by the Greek physician Aegimus, who was writing a book on the art of making cheesecakes?

When thinking about the cheese in cheesecake, it was 1872 when William Lawrence from Chester, NY, along with other dairymen, came up with a way of making an "unripened cheese" that is heavier and creamier by accident (they were actually looking for a way to recreate Neufchatel.) Lawrence distributed the cheese in foil and "Philadelphia-style cream cheese" was born.  In 1912, James Craft pasteurized cream cheese - which is what we used this evening to make our unbaked cheesecake!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy National Jelly Bean Day

The next time you walk down the candy aisle, count the number of flavors in your jelly bean assortments. Most of them use eight different flavors and they are usually all fruit-flavored. (Of course, if you buy your jelly beans at Costco, you'll get 49 flavors of Jelly Belly.)
We might be sick tonight if we keep trying all 49 Jelly Belly flavors!
Daring enough (and have enough spare time) to try to make your own jelly beans? Check out this article! I love the instructions. You're supposed to be patient and go slow and then all of a sudden, you need to "work quickly!"

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Happy National Chocolate-Covered Cashew Truffle Day

A chocolate truffle is a type of chocolate confectionery, traditionally made with chocolate ganache and then coated with a cocoa powder. These chocolate truffles not only covered with cashews but inside there are chocolate chip cookies. Don't you wish you were here?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Happy National Lima Bean Respect Day

Today is the day to start showing respect for lima beans! (Yes, these beans were named for Lima, Peru, where they have been grown since 6000 B.C.) I mean, really, what have they ever done to you? According to Mr. ink, they've made him gag but I think he just hasn't tasted the right lima bean recipe yet. That's why tonight we decided to make a lima bean casserole with onions, mushrooms, sausage and cheese. Tell me again - what's not to like?
These extremely healthy vegetables are rich in fiber, potassium, iron, copper, and manganese. Low in fat, lima beans also contain protease inhibitors that stall the development of cancerous cells.  Not to mention, they are the perfect shade of green for springtime.

So, pick up your fork and give lima beans a chance!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Happy National Garlic Day

A special shout out to the town of Gilroy, CA - the self-proclaimed Garlic Capital of the World - located on Highway 101 (about 45 minutes south of San Jose). I'm sure all the residents are still out celebrating at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Perhaps someday the illegible ink family will get there and sample the famed garlic ice cream!

Here is the simple roasted garlic recipe Mr. ink worked on this evening:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Peel away the outer layers of the garlic bulb skin, leaving the skins of the individual cloves intact. Using a knife, cut off 1/4 to a 1/2 inch of the top of cloves, exposing the individual cloves of garlic.
  3. Place the garlic heads in a baking pan or on a cookie sheet. (Muffin pans were also recommended.) Drizzle a couple teaspoons of olive oil over each head, using your fingers to make sure the garlic head is well coated. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 30-35 minutes. You will know it is done when the cloves feel soft when pressed.
  4. Make sure to allow the garlic to cool enough so you can touch it without burning yourself. Use a small small knife cut the skin slightly around each clove. Use a fork to pull the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins.
  5. You can eat as is (which is what we did with a little Rosemary boule!) or mash with a fork and use for other recipes (like garlic mashed potatoes).
  6. Make sure you brush your teeth tonight!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Happy National Animal Crackers Day

Sing with me, "Animal Crackers in my soup. Monkeys and rabbits loop the loop."
Animal Cracker Ice Cream sandwiches are a roar-erriffic twist!
Everyone recognizes little Shirley Temple's voice singing, "Animal Crackers" - just like we also recognize Nabisco's "Barnum's Animal Crackers." But did you know that animal-shaped biscuit cookies were first produced in the United States by Stauffer’s Biscuit Company in 1871 in York, PA? (Prior to that, they were shipped from England.) Better yet, next time you are at Pub Trivia Night, remember it was in 1902 that circus-themed animal biscuit crackers officially became known as "Barnum's Animals."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Happy National Cheeseball Day

What exactly is a cheeseball? And better yet, how did this food come to have an entire day devoted to celebrating it?

Well, after much googling, a cheeseball is considered to be "a spherical mass of cheese or cream cheese, often including nuts or other additions and served as an hors d'oeuvre or finger food, usually with bread or crackers." This is not to be confused with a cheese puff or poof. Good grief.

Further research showed there is apparently no reason why April 17th is National Cheeseball Day. There aren't even any records from the dairy association proclaiming this date to be a holiday. But after a wonderful (but exhausting) day at Spring Bada Bing, I don't really care if this is a widely celebrated or even legitimate holiday. I've poured my glass of wine, opened the whole wheat crackers and am getting ready to enjoy my Port Wine & Nut cheeseball.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Happy National Eggs Benedict Day

I think it is fair to say Mr. ink and I are quite passionate about Eggs Benedict and all of it's magnificent variations (Eggs Blackstone, Eggs Florentine and Eggs Montreal). Once at brunch, after we had each ordered Eggs Benedict, the server sheepishly came back to tell us they were out of hollandaise sauce and we would need to choose something else off the menu. Dumbfounded, we paid for our coffee and went to the grocery store because as Mr. ink pointed out, "Hollandaise is basically just egg yolks, butter, lemon juice and a pinch of cayenne and salt. Every kitchen should always be stocked with those ingredients."

Order up! Two plates of Eggs Benedict (well, Eggs Blackstone) for us tonight. We just couldn't share.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Happy National Spiral Glazed Ham Day

Mr. ink and I agreed tonight that it was only appropriate to read Green Eggs and Ham while making our honey-glazed, spiral cut ham and cheese omelet. I mean, really. We're in a house. We have a mouse (although Wyatt should really get around to catching it). We would eat them in a box. And of course, we're eating them with a Fox.

I do so like honey-glazed spiral ham! Thank you! Thank you!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Happy National Pecan Day

It's April 14th and just like with my taxes, I'm cutting it close with my ode to National Pecan Day deadline.

In case you don't want the labor in the kitchen as much, I also have a a great pecan bar recipe for you to try!

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup margarine or softened butter
1/2 tsp salt
Pecan filling (ingredients below)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease jelly roll pan or clear baking dish (15 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 1 inch). Beat flour, sugar, margarine or butter and salt in a large bowl on low speed. Mixture will be dry and crumbly. Press firmly in pan or dish. Bake 20 minutes or until light golden brown.

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups corn syrup
3 tbsp margarine or melted butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
4 eggs, slightly beaten
2 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Mix all filling ingredients (except pecans) in a large bowl. Stir in pecans.

Prepare filling and pour over baked layer; evenly spread. Bake for 25 minutes or until filling is set. Cool completely. Serve with a smile!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Happy National Peach Cobbler Day

Okay, so we've decided it is a disservice to National Peach Cobbler Day to be in April... when millions of fresh, juicy peaches are not in season. But regardless, we are eating cobbler tonight!

Just out of the oven. Perfect "winter" pick-me-up with the addition of vanilla ice cream!
We tried Betty Crocker's peach cobbler recipe this evening but we've decided when we can get peaches at the Farmer's Market, we'll try Paula Dean's version. Who doesn't love butter and more butter?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Happy National Grilled Cheese Day

The illegible ink home is living the "cheese dream" tonight. Actually, "the cheese dream" is the description of an open-faced version of a grilled cheese sandwich (consisting of bread, butter and cheese) that became popular during the Great Depression because the ingredients were easily available.

Grilled Cheese & Company's BCT, Sweetest Thing and Blue Ox.
Mr. ink and I were looking through last April's Grilled Cheese blog and were having a hard time deciding which one was our favorite. Each day seemed to get better and better. But I guess if I had to eat just one more tonight, I might opt for the Pain Perdu Grilled Cheese or the Grilled Cheese n' Waffles. (They were dessert sandwiches, after all.) Then again, I could eat the Grilled Saltimbocca Cheese, Green Acre Grilled Cheese, Grilled Cheese Eggs Ellen... Well, you get the idea. Maybe Fox will want to do Thirty Days of Grilled Cheese in 2012 with me?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Happy National Cheese Fondue Day

It's all fun with cheese fondue tonight at the illegible ink home! We've got 2 kinds of bread for dipping (my favorite was the cubed rosemary boule), marinated chicken and steak, red and orange bell peppers and a little Basmati rice.

The word fondue is from the French verb fondre ('to melt'). Fondue is a Swiss and French dish of melted cheese served in a communal dish called a caquelon. Long dipping forks are used to skewer items into the white wine-infused cheese.

You can easily purchase cheese fondue packages in most grocery stores but if you want to make it yourself, here is a recipe I would suggest:

  • 14 oz grated Gruyere cheese
  • 9 oz grated Emmental cheese
  • 10 fl. oz white wine
  • 3-4 tbsp cornstarch
  • Half of a peeled garlic glove
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • .5 fl. oz schnapps (kirsch, 40% Vol.)
  • 33 fl. oz boiled water

  • Add boiled water to the fondue pan and let to continue to simmer. 
  • Add grated cheeses, garlic and 7 oz of wine to the fondue insert pot (usually glass). 
  • Dissolve the cornstarch in remaining 3 oz of wine, and then add mixture to cheese. 
  • Stir mixture and then add pepper and schnapps. 
  • Skewer, dip and enjoy!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Happy National Cinnamon Crescent Day

The Pillsbury Dough Boy must have been giggling all day today! It's his perfect Sunday Fun Day with brunches everywhere celebrating National Cinnamon Crescent Day. Our spin on this breakfast favorite were giant cinnamon buns. (By the way, you really haven't lived until you've eaten the monster of a cinnamon roll at the Blue Moon Cafe in Fells Point.)

While we opted to make our crescents into buns - we've got buns, hon - here is a simple crescent recipe for you to try at home:

1 package of Pillsbury Crescents
Brown Sugar
Pillsbury vanilla frosting
Roll the Pillsbury Crescents out on wax paper with a rolling pin.
Spread butter on Crescents and then generously sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon
Roll Crescent shape and put on baking sheet.
Bake as directed on package and then drizzle frosting on top.
Definitely enjoy while still warm!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Happy Chinese Almond Cookie Day

I must confess this is the one food holiday in April that I wasn't exactly looking forward to - which is ironic considering my love for all cookies. But I am allergic to almonds. In fact, when I did try one of these cookies this evening (not eating the almond sliver decoration), I started to feel my tongue immediately swell a little. Good thing my in-laws (a doctor and nurse) are in town so they can administer an epiPen if necessary!

For those of you who are not allergic to almonds, you might want to try this recipe for buttery, shortbread-like Chinese Almond Cookies:

1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp milk
1/2 cup blanched whole almonds

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until smooth. Add whole egg and almond extract and beat until well blended. Stir in flour and baking powder. Cover bowl and chill until dough is firm (about one hour).
Shape dough into 1 inch balls, flatten slightly and place 1 inch apart on a greased baking sheet.
In small bowl, beat egg yolk and milk. Brush cookies lightly with egg mixture. Press an almond into center of each cookie.
Bake cookies at 325° for 15 to 20 minutes (until lightly browned). Cool five minutes and transfer to rack to cool completely.

And for those of you like me, who need to "cheat" every once and a while, these Twin Dragon Almond Cookies from the grocery store were the perfect little extra sweetness to end dinner this evening.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Happy National Empanada Day

The word empanada comes from the verb empanar, meaning "to wrap or coat in bread." Empanadas are a stuffed bread or pastry that is made by folding the dough or bread around the stuffing. They are then baked or fried. As the illegible ink family found out tonight, the stuffings can consist of a variety of meats, vegetables and sometimes even fruits and nuts.

So, yesterday we were researching empanadas and were totally prepared to make our own this evening until we remembered hearing about Max's Empanadas in Little Italy. Max's was a 2010 Best of Baltimore winner for Best Casual Lunch so we knew it was well worth blowing our week's Food Holiday budget to try their empanadas. And based on the photo below, I think you would agree we chose wisely!

Max's Empanadas are traditional (and delicious) Argentine cuisine.
On tonight's menu, we enjoyed one of each of Max's signature empanadas: beef (ground beef, onions, olives, bell peppers, boiled egg and cheddar cheese), chicken (hand cut chicken, onions, olives, bell peppers, boiled egg and cheddar cheese), ham and cheese (cooked ham and cheddar cheese with green olives), spinach (spinach, artichoke, mushroom, bell peppers, cream cheese and mozzarella cheese), mixed vegetable (corn, green beans, peas, carrots, bell peppers, onions and mozzarella - and I thought I saw a lima bean or two as well?) and chorizo (sausage, sun dried tomato, walnut and mozzarella). Mr. ink also splurged and got a buffalo chicken empanada. Fair to say, for $19.50, even though we devoured their Tiramisu with Dulce de Leche afterwards, we were stuffed like an empanada!

Interesting empanada fact: typically, when several types of empanadas are served, a repulgue (or pattern), is added to the pastry fold. These patterns indicate the filling. I am sort of glad I didn't realize that until after we ate all six of these golden, baked gems. It meant each one was another surprise!

Three cheers for National Empanada Day and Max's Empanadas. We're thinking illegible ink will celebrate an Empanada Day every month!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Happy National Coffee Cake Day

I couldn't help but think today of one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes where Jerry tries to buy Newman's silence with an extra Drake's Coffee Cake.

While trying to find fun facts about coffee cake, I realized it is one of those foods that doesn't have to be what it sounds like. Coffee cakes could be a cake (typically sponge cake) that is made with coffee or coffee flavoring but they are more commonly known as cakes served with coffee for breakfast or with tea. Such cakes are also served with steusel and possibly a light sugar glaze. I chose the latter for this food holiday - loading on that crumbly steusel topping!

Ah, the sweet smell of coffee cake in the air. I think this picture says it all, don't you?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Happy National Caramel Popcorn Day

The Rueckheim brothers, Frederick and Louis, first mass-produced the favorite caramel coated popcorn and peanut treats to sell at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. Since then it has become a favorite item at baseball games thanks to the 1908 song, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

The illegible ink home is enjoying our Crack Jacks tonight while root, root root[ing] for the home team. It's still early in the game against Detroit, so hopefully the O's will make a come back for if they don't win, it's a shame.
My surprise inside was an "ant pencil topper." Did you know a typical pencil can write 45,000 words or draw a line 35 miles long? Wow!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Happy National Caramel Day

Making your own caramel is so much easier than I had anticipated. The basic ingredients you need are granulated sugar and butter (you can also use heavy whipping cream if making a sauce). Then you'll just need a sauce pan, wax paper and patience because (a) you don't want to burn the caramel sauce and (b) the ice cream really isn't going anywhere and you wouldn't want to overdo it, right?

Check out David Leibovitz's step-by-step photo instructions and make your own perfect caramel sauce! After all, tomorrow is National Caramel Popcorn Day and practice makes perfect.

Tonight, we added vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce and walnuts to our sculptural caramel pieces.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Happy National Cordon Bleu Day

Mr. ink deserves a "blue ribbon" for tonight's Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe! 

What is not to love? Chicken breasts wrapped with prosciutto, dredged in breadcrumbs and then fried. The final touch - melted cheese - glorious cheese. This is one recipe we are clearly going to add to our "save" file.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Happy National Chocolate Mousse Day

It's no secret that "mouse" is a French word translating to "lather" or "foam." And by word association, it brings to mind the 1984 Val Kilmer classic, Top Secret (too early to call it a classic?):

Du Quois/Harry Ditson: This is Chevalier, Montage, Detente, Avant Garde, and Deja Vu.
Deja Vu/Jim Carter: Haven't we met before?
Nick Rivers/Val Kilmer: I don't think so.
Du Quois/Harry Ditson: Over there, Croissant, Souffle, Escargot, and Chocolate Mousse*

Tonight's homemade chocolate mousse (on top of chocolate pudding) was topped with vanilla and caramel alcohol-infused cream. I can clearly go to bed happy now.

*A little movie trivia: Chocolate Mousse was played by Eddie Tagoe. He was also in Raiders of the Lost Ark and Pink Floyd The Wall.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Happy National Peanut Butter & Jelly Day

In 1880, a St. Louis physician, Dr. Ambrose W. Straub crushed peanutes into a paste for his geriatric patients with bad teeth. At the 1893 Chicago World's Fair it gained exposure and popularity. In 1903, Straub received a patent for a "mill grinding peanuts for butter." That same year, Bayle Food Products of St. Louis purchased the commercial rights to the physician's peanut spread and then went on to become peanut butter's first vendor.

To celebrate National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day, we enjoyed peanut butter milkshakes with a dollop of Mom's homemade raspberry jelly.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Happy National Sourdough Bread Day

April showers got you down? No need to be a sourpuss! It's National Sourdough Bread Day!

Sourdough French Toast with Strawberries, Honeydew and Sausage
A little bit of history for you to chew on while you enjoy your bread: While historians believe sourdough likely originated in ancient Egypt around 1500 BC, it became popular in Northern California during the California Gold Rush. The bread was so common that "sourdough" became an accepted nickname for gold prospectors and today, San Francisco still has the most famous sourdough bakeries steeped in tradition and starter. (Note: the San Francisco 49ers mascot is called Sourdough Sam.) 

PS - When doing research for my own tasty National Food Month Challenge, I found "taylor takes a taste" - a Charlotte, NC food photographer's blog. A kindred spirit, he's working on 52 weeks of National Food Fridays so if you're hungry or need photo inspiration, be sure to check him out!

Just a Fool for April's Food Holidays

I've been thinking a lot lately about last April's "Thirty Days of Grilled Cheese Challenge" - a fun way to enjoy grilled cheese and experiment with new recipes. And since Team Blais won and I can actually allow myself to be a Top Chef believer again, I'm thinking I need a Top Chef inspired challenge for April 2011. (This is also prompted by the fact that National Grilled Cheese Month basically changed the illegible ink household forever. While my cholesterol miraculously remained in tact, my weight did fluctuate and not in a Morgan Spurlock kind of way - it took my nine months to pack on these pounds.)

So this year, the new little man and I have agreed to mix things up and take on the following challenge:

  1. The National Food Holiday Challenge runs from April 1-April 30, 2011.
  2. For 30 consecutive days, illegible ink will honor each day's specific National Food Holiday with a blog post and photo of the food being celebrated. To be clear, the photo is of the actual food item illegible ink has eaten. (Posting of recipes are optional.)
  3. illegible ink must adhere to a strict $40/week or under budget and 80% of these foods must be created by illegible ink at home. (That means if an item is eaten at a restaurant, illegible ink must deduct that amount from the weekly budget. With tax and tip, spend wisely!)
  4. In Top Chef style, once a week an invited guest judge will throw some sort of additional challenge into the mix. For example, for National Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Day on April 20th, a guest judge might suggest that illegible ink make the cake with only one hand. (Please do not suggest I bake something while actually being upside down.)
  5. And I've saved the best part for last: in honor of my favorite April National Food Holidays, I will create a commemorative print available for sale on Etsy starting May 1st.
Let the games begin! Stay tuned for April's first National Food Holiday post.

Love this organic apron from Chef Republic on Etsy!  
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