National Irish Coffee Day kicks off January 25th each year with a mug of strong coffee, Irish whiskey, sugar, and topped with a layer of cream.
On a cold, wet day in 1942 weary travelers to the small Shannon Airport in southwest Ireland found their way to a restaurant and chef Joe Sheridan. To warm his guests, he served them hot coffee, spiked with whiskey and topped with whipped cream. The passengers asked if the beverage was Brazilian coffee. Sheridan responded that it was Irish coffee.
A travel writer, Stanton Delaplane, brought Irish coffee to the United States after having it at Shannon Airport.
Delaplane brought the idea to the Buena Vista Cafe on November 10, 1952. After much trial and error, sampling, and a trip back to Ireland for a taste of the original, Delaplane, along with Buena Vista owners Jack Koeppler and George Freeberg, were able to replicate the delicious coffee and the method for floating the cream on top of the coffee.
Starting with a warm glass, fill 2/3rds full of freshly brewed coffee. Stir in a heaping teaspoon of sugar. Add 1 ounce of Irish whiskey.
Adding the cream, so it floats is the tricky part. According to the Buena Vista account, and at the suggestion of San Francisco’s mayor, a dairyman, cream that is 48 hours old, is best. However, others recommend whipping cream (not whipped cream) that has been lightly whipped or foamed.
When the coffee has stopped swirling from stirring in the sugar, pour the foamy cream over the back of a spoon.
HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalIrishCoffeeDay
Warm up with an Irish coffee. Use #NationalIrishCoffeeDay to post on social media.
On January 22nd if you need a break from the Impeachment Trial, Library Shelfie Day, offers a unique opportunity for book lovers.
Some collectors of books tend to arrange their collections so their spines can be admired pleasantly. Others have a system of organization that results in an alternative art form. However our books are organized on the shelf, they are meant to be photographed and shared on social media.
Library Shelfies offer book stores, libraries, schools, and individuals an opportunity to express their reading preferences through a single photograph. Whether they frame their favorite authors, titles, genres or cover art, readers share a bit of their library in creative ways. With or without dust jackets, signed and unsigned, dogeared and in mint condition, bibliophiles love books of all kinds.
HOW TO OBSERVE #LibraryShelfieDay
Whether you have a small library with a few select favorites or are a true bibliophile, arrange your collection on a shelf and take a picture. Some suggestions include:
- Arrange by color
- Order books by height, thickness, width
- Arrange book titles so they send a message
- Stack books artistically
- Place books in the order in which they were read
- Rely on the good ol’ alphabetical order by author
- Display a biography only shelfie
Once you’ve taken your library shelfie, visit a local library and check out theirs. You might find they’ve developed clever ways to entice you to new books and old ones, too. Don’t forget to use #LibraryShelfieDay to share on social media.
LIBRARY SHELFIE DAY HISTORY
The New York Public Library founded Library Shelfie Day as a way to observe various national holidays by displaying shelfies representing books from each day.
You can combine this with Blonde Brownie Day also recognized today. A good cup of coffee or tea, a blonde brownie, and a great book. Curl up in your favorite spot. There is no better way to enjoy a cold winters day. (It’s 30° in Florida. Trust me this is cold for us.)
Each year on January 6th, National Cuddle Up Day encourages us to snuggle up with someone for the health benefits and more!
January is typically some of the coldest days of the year, so what better way to stay warm and reap the health benefits of cuddling on National Cuddle Up Day? Whether it’s a three dog night (a night so cold it takes three dogs to cuddle up with to stay warm) or only slightly chilly, there are multiple benefits to cuddling with human or canine or other pet.
Cuddling releases oxytocin. This hormone alone has tremendous health benefits. Besides giving us warm and fuzzy feelings, oxytocin reduces pain. So when the cold has made those muscles and joints ache, cuddling can help reduce those aches and pains.
Oxytocin also helps reduce heart disease, lowers blood pressure, stress, and anxiety. If it weren’t free, insurance carriers would probably cover cuddling since it’s such a huge health benefit!
Communication is more than just e-mails, texts, or conversation. Physical touch can communicate trust, commitment, safety, and reassurance. This goes for human to human contact as well as human to pet contact. Cuddling expresses all these things, which are vital to a healthy relationship.
Cuddling also boosts sexual desire. Dopamine is released, stimulating the brain to seek pleasure. But dopamine also can improve memory and focus as well.
Don’t have someone to cuddle up with? Make an appointment for a massage. Studies show massage provides similar benefits.
HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalCuddleUpDay
Cuddle up with someone you love. Invite your pet up on the sofa for a snuggle session. Schedule a massage. Use #NationalCuddleUpDay
On January 3rd, National Fruitcake Toss Day challenges us to chuck the fruitcake as far as you can. (Occasionally, this fun holiday is listed as occurring on the first Saturday in December.)
Many people receive fruitcakes as gifts sometime during the holiday season. Some people eat this holiday bread while others may re-gift them. There are those who sneakily throw them away and others who will do so openly.
But on the third day of January, another type of fruitcake, ahem, person comes out of the woodwork. These are the characters who have hoarded them, stored them and hid them so they can celebrate with a competition of sorts.
HOW TO OBSERVE #FruitcakeTossDay
Host a fruitcake tossing competition. Invite family to join you outside with their respective fruitcakes (the ones made with flour, fruit and nuts) and take turns chucking them as far as they can. Make hot cocoa and prizes. Share your celebration using #FruitcakeTossDay to post on social media.
NATIONAL FRUITCAKE TOSS DAY HISTORY
The first Great Fruitcake Toss was held in Manitou Springs, Colorado on January 3, 1996. Each year the entrants compete to see who can hurl or toss their fruitcakes the farthest.
As today is also Make Up Your Mind Day, I have some fun and delicious ways to ring in the New Year! I took the initiative and made up this awesome menu to enjoy in style.
Pensacola, Florida drops a Pelican every year. So while I am no longer able to join the downtown crowds for the festivities ill settle for watching The Pelican Drop and fireworks at home. So our menu tonight will hopefully reflect the health, happiness, love, and prosperity, we are hopeful for in 2020.
Individual Beef Wellingtons made with tender ribeyes, Blue Chese, carmalized onions and Spinich. All wrapped in a delicate flaky puff pastry shell.
Winter Salad made with Bosc Pears, dried Cranberries, Pistachios, and fresh Parmesan. With mandarin oranges and a light yogurt dressing.
Followed by bubbly and my take on a Loaded Brownie. Chocolate chunks and chips mixed not the super fudgy brownies. Topped with Chocolate frosting, diced pecans, Reese’s chips, Salted Carmel Drizzle, and a touch of rich Hershey’s chocolate sauce.
While these do take a bit of work, you will be rewarded with each bite of these delicious Wellingtons. I usually do these as a labor of love on special occasions like New Year’s Eve or an Anniversary. They also work well for a special dinner for 2. Just add candlelight, and a salad. A great pairing is my Winter Arugula Pear Salad. It makes for a really good dinning experience. Add a decadent desert and anyone dinning will be very impressed. See Loaded Brownie recipe.
- 3 packages frozen puff pastry, Pepperidge Farm brand
- Flour for rolling
- 2 eggs Whisked with 2 Tbsp water
- 1 – 8oz pkg Baby Bellas chopped
- 6 Tbs. olive oil; more for cooking
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp. thyme
- 1/2 tsp. Rosemary
- Salt and Black pepper to taste
- 4 Tbs. unsalted butter
- 3 medium onions thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup red wine
- Salt and Black pepper
Spinach and Blue Cheese
- 2 – 10oz pkg fresh spinach blanched
- Pinch Black pepper (optional)
- 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
- Crumbled Blue cheese about 6 oz
For the Steaks
- 4 – 7oz Ribeye or Eye of Round steaks
- Salt and Black pepper
- About 4 Tbsp butter, more as needed
- Roll out and cut the pastry—Roll out each pastry sheets to about 3/16-inch thick, with a sharp knife, cut out a 9-inch round. From the scraps, cut out leaves or other shapes to use as decoration. Layer the pastry rounds (and the decorations) between pieces of waxed paper or parchment, lay on baking sheet and store in freezer until ready to assemble.
- Cook the mushrooms—In a bowl, toss the chopped Baby Bellas with olive oil, garlic, thyme, and rosemary; cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours overnight is better. Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, add a thin film of oil, and sear mushrooms until they’ve softened and browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer them to paper towels. When cool, set aside till ready to use.
- Caramelize the onions— Melt butter, add the onions, cooking over medium heat, slowly, stirring occasionally, until well browned, and soft, about 20 minutes. Add the wine and cook until the pan is dry. Set aside to cool. Put the cooled onions in a bowl; cover and refrigerate.
- Prepare the spinach and cheese
- Wash spinach well and remove any stems. Prepare an ice-water bath. Put half of the spinach in a large sauté pan with a touch of water, and 1 Tbs. of the butter. Cook over medium-high heat, until justbwilted and immediately put it in the water bath to shock the color and stop the cooking. Scoop it from the ice water and put it in a colander to drain. Squeeze the spinach, in a clean kitchen towel, as much as you can and set it aside on paper towels to continue draining. Repeat with the remaining spinach. Cover with plastic and refrigerate. Stir in blue cheese, salt and Black pepper.
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble.
- Sear Steaks—Season each portion of meat with salt and pepper. Rub the seasoning into the meat to keep it in place. Add butter and dash of olive oil to a heavy sauté pan. Sear the steaks over high heat for 2 minutes on each side until brown and crisp on the outside. Be sure your pan is very hot for searing the meat. Do not overcook it, or crowd the pan. It will cause the meat to steam instead of sear. (Check the sides to be sure the filets are still red in the middle.) Work in batches if needed. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 24 hours.
Searing the steaks makes for a nice crust but a still-red center—once wrapped in pastry and baked, they’ll cook to medium rare.
Some Assembly Required
- Arrange your mushrooms, onions, spinach, and steaks within easy reach. Divide mushrooms, onions into four portions. Spinach into 8 portions.
- Make sure the caramelized onions are well drained (they tend to collect liquid as they sit).
- Cover a large rimmed baking sheet (that fits in your freezer) with kitchen parchment or silicon baking mat.
- Have a ruler, a small sharp knife, a pastry brush, and the egg wash on hand. Lightly flour one area to lay pastry, (the cooler the area the better).
- Pull a pastry round from the freezer and lay on the floured surface. Working quickly lightly score a 4×3-inch rectangle in the center of the round; don’t cut through the pastry. Extend the lines of the rectangle and cut out the corners of the round created by the line extensions, leaving a cross of pastry with a 4×3-inch center.
Cut a cross shape out of the pastry round. Save the scraps to cut out decorations.
- Spread Spinach in thin layer on the rectangle of pastry. Follow with a layer of onions, the steak, a layer of mushrooms and second layer of spinach. Spread each layer as evenly as possible. Brush a light coating of the egg wash on each of the four panels of dough.
- Check to be sure that the pastry is now pliable enough to fold without breaking (wait a minute or two if necessary). Fold up the longer sides first and then the end Fold each side panel onto the top, stretching the dough a bit if necessary to make the ends meet, or slightly overlapping if necessary. Follow suit with the top and bottom panels. Seal the panels together by pressing in the top panel where it meets the bottom panel and by pinching each of the four sides together where the panels meet. It’s important that pastry iswell sealed so the juices don’t leak out.
- Hold upright in your hands, securing all the seals and smoothing any rough spots to make the package into a neat, rounded block. Set it seam side down and gently press the top and sides to make them as even all the way around as possible. Brush the top and all sides with egg wash. If desired puut decorations on top and brush with egg wash. Set the Wellingtons on the lined baking sheet. Set in freezer to set and chill the pastry. Repeat with the 5 remaining Wellingtons, adding each to the pan in the freezer as you go. Allow 1 hour in freezer.
Cook the Wellingtons:
- Heat the oven to 400°F. Make another egg wash. Remove the Wellingtons from the freezer (do not thaw) and brush them with a fresh coat of egg wash. Cook for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F and cook another 35 to 40 minutes. Set them aside to rest for no longer than 10 minutes. Serve immediately.
These sauted sprouts will disappear from the table. Adults and children alike will offer no complaints once they taste these.
2 lbs brussel sprouts cut in half
6 chopped slices of bacon
2 oz grated Parmesan Cheese
2 tsp maple syrupFrying Pan with Lid, Deep Saute Pan 11 Inch Stone-Derived Nonstick Coating, Stainless Steel Handle Cooking Pan, Induction Compatible, Oven Safe, Dishwasher Safe, Granite/Gift Box Included
- In medium skillet render chopped bacon until lightly crisp.
- Remove grease from pan reserving 2 Tbsps.
- Use 2 Tbsp bacon fat to saute halved sprouts. About 8 minutes.
- Add bacon back into pan with sprouts.
- Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.
- Cover pan and reduce to low heat.
- Cook covered about 5 more minutes as cheese melts and Brussels become tender.
- Stir in 2 tsp maple syrup
- Season with a pinch of salt and black pepper.
- Serve warm.
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