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4 ways to cook asparagus

No other vegetable symbolizes the start of spring more than long, slender asparagus. The succulent spears begin to appear in home gardens sometime in early April — with the promise of strawberries and longer days of sunshine right on their heels. While asparagus (part of the lily family) is available in grocery stores year-round these days, the best flavor and texture comes from just-harvested local stems. The earliest shoots are called “sprue,” and they’re usually very tender. Asparagus can be enjoyed tossed in a pasta salad, included in a casserole, or suspended in a quiche, but it’s also delicious perfect when cooked and eaten all on its own. If you’ve created a habit of cooking asparagus stalks the same way every time, perhaps it’s time to try this vegetable another way. We get asparagus for as little as two months of the year, so act fast! Try this roasted asparagus…

10 Surprising facts about Jelly Beans

Unless you’re an uber-fan, you probably don’t think about jelly beans a whole lot until Easter rolls around — then the little candies take center stage. But what do you really know about these sweet pops of flavor? Here are some juicy details. 1. It can take 7 to 14 days to make A jelly bean. Making jelly beans is no easy task. It requires many steps from liquifying sugar and flavors to pouring into tiny bean-shaped molds and letting dry overnight. The candies then undergo a process called “panning.” They’re transferred to a rotating drum where flavors and colors are added as they spin. Sugar is then added to create the bean’s hard exterior shell. Finally, a hot syrupy wax is applied to give them their shine. After all of that, the beans still need to go through packing and shipping. 2. the battle for favorite flavor. For two…

Easy Tie-dye Easter Eggs

When Easter rolls around, everyone wants to get in on the fun of dying eggs. It’s a much-anticipated spring holiday tradition for many kids and families. Some treat it lightly, purchasing the dye kit at the grocery store, happy to apply some soft colors to those crisp, white eggshells. Others, like myself, take the tradition way too seriously. When I dye eggs, I want COLOR! … and I want my eggs to be cooler than everyone else’s eggs. I get competitive when it comes to art projects. I know, weird. But every year I try new fun ways of dying eggs. This year tie-dye is making a comeback, so I thought, “why not eggs, too!” Tie-dye eggs are as easy as wrapping eggs in textured paper towels and dotting them with food coloring, then spritzing them with water. Giving each egg a light squeeze ensures that the paper towel transfers…

14 Fun facts about Peeps

Forget groundhog shadows or tulips. The first real sign of spring are bright yellow Peeps stocking the shelves at your local grocery store. Marshmallow Peeps are everyone’s favorite non-chocolate Easter candy — they even outsell jelly beans! Americans will eat 1.5 billion Marshmallow Peeps and Bunnies this spring, but what do you really know about these sugar crystal coated, brightly-colored bird-shaped mallows? Discover 14 fun facts about Peeps: 1. Making Peeps used to be a really long process. It used to take 27 hours to make a Peep. The first Peeps were squeezed one at a time from a pastry tube before receiving hand painted eyes. Today, with an automated manufacturing process, a Peep takes just six minutes to make. 2. About 5.5 million Peeps are born every single day. Machines crank out 3,500 Peeps per minute — that’s nearly 2 billion Peeps per year! 3. Peeps were originally produced by…

Cracking through 8 myths about eggs

They’re cheap, nutritious, and an essential part in the diets of billions around the world. Still, there are a lot of myths surrounding the everyday egg. Get ready for a bit of shell shock. I’m about to scramble everything you think you know about eggs. Myth: Brown chickens lay brown eggs. Truth: The color of a chicken does determine what color eggs it lays, but it’s not the feathers that give it away — it’s the earlobes. (Yes, Earlobes!) Chickens with red earlobes lay brown eggs, while white eggs usually come from chickens with white earlobes. There are always exceptions, but if you’re wondering what color a hen’s eggs will be, this general rule is a good place to start. Myth: All eggs need to be refrigerated at all times. Truth: Whether or not you need to refrigerate your eggs depends on where you live. If you live in the United…

How to pick the best pineapple every time

By this point in the winter we’re dreaming of snacking on sweet, succulent pineapple while lounging in a swaying beachside hammock. Although they’re available all year long, the tangy, tropical fruit is at its peak ripeness from March to July, making this month a perfect time to start enjoying the bold taste of this delicious fruit once again. The vibrant flavor of pineapples works great in all kinds of sweet or savory appetizers, entrées, and desserts. And of course, no summer dream is complete without a cool, refreshing piña colada or mai tai. But knowing how to pick the right one can be the difference between a perfectly balanced sweet and tangy fruit, and a too tart, bitter mess. With this in mind, here are three things to look for when picking pineapples from the store. Curious why pineapple leaves your mouth sore?  The Base The bottom of the pineapple…

Colcannon is the traditional Irish dish you must try

Lots of foods have become synonymous with Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day — Soda Bread, Shepherd’s Pie, and corned beef, to name a few. But have you ever heard of colcannon? It might be lesser-known on a global scale, but to the Irish, it’s a true taste of home. Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish made with mashed potatoes, cabbage (or kale) and leeks, yet somehow, most parade-going, Irish heritage-loving Americans have never heard of it. It’s tasty (picture rich potatoes and lightly crunchy cabbage cradling a pool of melty butter) and easy to make, so it’s surprising it never caught on here on our side of the pond. The name colcannon is said to have originated from the Gaelic phrase “cal ceannann,” meaning white-headed cabbage — the vegetable most commonly mixed into the potatoes. During the 17th and 18th centuries, potatoes, cabbage, and leeks were considered to be food for the…

Save money and buy produce in season in March

March marks the beginning of the end of winter (yay!). It might not feel very warm when you walk outside your door, but spring is coming. March is also an interesting month for produce as many winter fruits and veggies fall out of favor and we see the start of sweet fruits we associate with summer (hello, pineapple!). Come April, you’ll be planting your own seedlings and start to see more local variety, but for now, you’ll have to purchase ripe produce from the southernmost states. Get more bang for your buck by buying fruits and vegetables that are in season. They cost less because they are more plentiful — and they’re tastier, too! A big win, win. Here are 10 fruits and veggies ready for your plate right now: Artichokes Artichoke season runs from March through June (and then again in the fall), and most artichokes in the United States…

What is corned beef and why do we eat it on St. Patrick’s Day?

Dig your “Kiss me I’m Irish” T-shirt from the drawer, get ready to guzzle pints of green beer, and crank up your Crock Pot for corned beef and cabbage because St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner. Wait… what’s that you say? None of these things are actually Irish? You would be correct. They’re about as Irish as a McDonald’s Shamrock Shake. The now iconic T-shirts are for sale only in touristy gift shops. The Irish would never pollute good beer with green dye, and while they do eat corned beef and cabbage sometimes, they’re probably not sitting down and eating it on March 17. So how did this meal become synonymous with St. Patrick’s Day — especially in the United States? The Irish have a long history with cattle that shaped their views of eating beef in general. From early on, cows were not slaughtered for their meat…

5 Irish Foods You’re Basically Required to Eat on St. Patrick’s Day

If you’re decking yourself out in green from head-to-toe and heading out to a local pub this St. Patrick’s Day, you might as well enjoy the foods most associated with Ireland. Also see, the recipe to  make the original Irish Coffee. Sheperd’s pie Shepherd’s Pie was born of frugal housewives looking for ways to repurpose leftovers their husbands would otherwise turn up their noses at. Recipes vary widely, but they share a basic structure — mashed potatoes at the bottom and top and minced meat in the middle. A Cottage Pie is a similar creation that contains beef, but a true Shepherd’s Pie will use lamb or mutton. Irish Soda Bread Irish Soda Bread has all the earmarks of being the product of a poor country. It’s made with the most basic ingredients: flour, baking soda, soured milk, and salt. Before baking, a cross is cut into the top to…