Out Of Africa: Wine Tasting

Image (view from Delaire Graff – aka – heaven)

I recently returned from a trip to Botswana. As in Africa. I was so inspired by the menus, the decor, the wine, the people, and the animals that I came back with loads of blog topics to share with you, our faithful foodie readers.

This is not one of those blogs.

I started on several blogs that were read-worthy – full of wonderful ideas and beautiful photos and lots of pithy humor and more.  But I am finding myself wallowing in despair because I miss Africa in a way that I can’t describe. So I won’t try.

As you well know, I turn to food or drink when times get tough. And we are out of jelly beans so I am focusing on drink. Wine, to be exact.

After our many days and nights on safari, we landed in Cape Town and embarked on a fantastic winelands tour, stopping off at Rustenberg Winery for a tasting before heading to Delaire Graff for lunch. I imagine the view from heaven is the same as the view from the deck of Delaire Graff, which is good to know because based on some of my past behavior, who knows where I’ll end up in the end. And at least I got to spend a buzzy afternoon in the promised land.

But – back to wine. We were introduced to the Riedel tasting glass at Rustenberg and were immediately smitten. This little glass has an empty stem, allowing for the perfect pour when tasting a wine. We were mesmerized; you can roll the glass around on the table without spilling a drop! SUCH a fun party trick and a great gift idea.

DSCN1302

(Kathleen, Rebecca, and Andy at Rustenberg – look closely and you can see the tipped glass!)

The glass was designed to emphasize the aromas and evaluate different wines in a small period of time. Apparently some people don’t open the wine and start gulping it down right away. These are the same people who don’t have four children and can do the New York Times crossword in pen. These are the same people who don’t know the sheer pleasure of pouring a mid-priced chardonney into a thermos prior to attending yet another showing of Frozen. 

I searched the web for a video of Riedel’s tasting glass, but I had very little luck because Riedel’s videos were a bit stuffy. So – thank you James The Wine Guy, for being sort of human.  And may I suggest something light and crisp for your thermos?Image (Delaire Graff’s delicious wine – I’m in the background gulping sipping in a ladylike fashion)

EggCellent Idea – The Golden Egg (for real!)

egg

So we are assuming that you are being inundated with recipes for Easter Brunch, but this idea for a “golden” hard boiled egg had to be shared. Eggs, dyed in springy pastels or not, are a great source of protein. My little people don’t like the yolk (aka – the pit) so by performing this magic trick, I am able to get them to eat the whole egg which makes everyone happy. I like to be happy. Click here for a short video and enjoy!

 

(submitted by Stephanie Blackford)

Food Addiction – The Real Thing?

Image

 

I joke about food addiction all the time, but it is a real thing. I didn’t realize how real until I read the latest issue of Experience Life Magazine, a publication put out by Lifetime Fitness, the gym where I donate $162 each month.

Anyway.

Dr. Mark Hyman’s article, “Beating Food Addiction” simplifies what can be a mystifying problem for many people. Food addiction must affect many, considering 70 percent of Americans are overweight. Why else do so many of us “eat foods that we know aren’t good for us, that aggravate chronic symptoms, and that make us feel sick, bloated, and guilty?”

The answer is tricky, but we are biologically programmed to eat sugar- and fat-laden foods and store the extra calories (as fat) to carry us through the times when food is scarce. But the food we are storing on the inside is never used, because we live in the 21st century and not in a cave. I do know some people that should live in a cave, but that’s not what this is about.

According to Dr. Hyman, it’s biology that’s getting the best of us. “What saved us as hunter-gatherers is killing us now,” he writes. Well-said, and pretty sad.

So how do you know if you have a food addiction and not just an unhealthy love of potato chips? You can take a look at Dr. Kelly Brownell’s nine points below – the more intensely or more frequently you experience these feelings and behaviors, the more addicted you are. (FYI: I am in some major trouble here.)

  1. You consume certain foods even if you are not hungry because of cravings.
  2. You worry about cutting down on certain foods.
  3. You feel sluggish or fatigued from overeating.
  4. You have health or social problems (affecting school or work) because of food
issues and yet keep eating the way you do despite negative consequences.
  5. You have spent time dealing with negative feelings from overeating certain foods instead of spending time in important activities with family, friends, work, or recreation.
  6. You have had withdrawal symptoms such as agitation and anxiety when you cut down on certain foods (not including caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea, and energy drinks).
  7. Your behavior with respect to food and eating causes you significant distress.
  8. Issues related to food and eating decrease your ability to function effectively in your daily routine, at your job or school, and in social or family activities.
  9. You need more and more of the foods you crave to either experience any pleasure and/or reduce negative emotions.

So now what? Dr. Hyman recommends a comprehensive detox, not just eliminating a few trigger foods. A 10-day, cold turkey detox that eschews gluten, dairy, alcohol, caffeine, and sugar and celebrates lean protein, nuts, fruits, vegetables and water.

This is nothing new. We all know this and we don’t all do this and why? Because we’ve been drinking the Kool-Aid – literally – for years. We have been ingesting a drug in the form of something as innocent-looking as a vitamin water. It’s not our fault necessarily, but it is our problem.

Dr. Hyman’s book and supporting articles offer a bit of hope by simplifying the reason behind food issues, eliminating the guilt associated with them, and offering steps towards success.

Heidi Wachter tried Dr. Hyman’s detox and shared her daily insights. Reading about her experience was inspiring, until the part when she mentioned she’s been trying to “put on weight.” So then I hated her. But just for a second.

I originally wrote this post with a plan to post one of Dr. Hyman’s recipes, but if you are serious about attempting his plan, one little recipe is not going to help. So check out some of the resources he offers and fill us in on your success.

Epicurean has and always will offer a variety of foods and we never label things as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for our guests since we are all different cavemen and cavewomen. But – writing this blog reminded me of the importance of enjoying good food in any situation, while also being true to yourself and your needs. That’s why we encourage our guests to speak up when they need or want something different on their plate or at their table. And we won’t send you back to your cave just for asking.

Larry DiPasquale Inducted Into Visit Denver’s Hall of Fame

DSC_9143(photo by Wonderworks)

The great thing about working for Epicurean, besides the obvious (risotto and crème brûlée) is that I get to write and post these blogs about basically anything. The rest of the team is busy with other things (risotto and crème brûlée) and I have free reign. I am drunk with power.

So – while the one and only Larry DiPasquale would never, ever advertise the fact that he was recently inducted into Visit Denver’s Hall of Fame, I can. And I would. And I am.

Last Thursday evening, Visit Denver welcomed several stellar individuals, along with Larry DiPasquale, into the Hall of Fame. Honorees included Grace B. Gillette, Dick Monfort, and Joe and Jeff Shoemaker.

Visit Denver also recognized the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts | Denver Center Attractions| Denver Center Theatre Company, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, the Denver Mountain Parks, Jennifer Jasinski and the Solheim Cup as Tourism Stars.

It was quite a night – and not just because our fearless leader was recognized. With over 500 people in the room, a beautiful dinner (by a fabulous caterer) complete with gorgeous centerpieces in Denver’s premier ‘room with a view,’ we were all reminded that Denver is a hub of arts and culture. We are a community dedicated to – well – our community.

Denver continues to draw thousands of leisure travelers and conventioneers annually. People like Jennifer Jasinski want to build restaurants here. People like Jeff Shoemaker want to keep our river clean. People like Larry DiPasquale want to feed the hungry and homeless, foster great talent, and encourage the next generation of entrepreneurs to carry the torch to go bigger and do better.

We also like to have a little bit of fun. So after making Impact Productions (Visit Denver’s production company) PROMISE to put our favorite picture of Larry With The Mustache in the video, we simply had to sneak in some fake ‘staches just for laughs. He was a good sport – as was his wife Jill, daughter Christina, and Christina’s date, Taylor. Is it just me – or would this photo make a great holiday card?

 

(submitted by Stephanie Blackford)

 

You Can’t Hurry Love (Or Cheesecake)

 

cheesecake hearts

It is almost Valentine’s Day. I know, I know – you have yet to implement your New Year’s Resolutions and here we are zeroing in on mid-February. Well, no need to do today what you can put off until tomorrow – so skip the gym just one more time and, instead, bake someone special (this can and should include you) this amazing cheesecake. If you didn’t believe in true love, you will now.

This cheesecake recipe is courtesy of my Aunt Joy. My cheesecake never taste like hers, even though I call her every single time when I am making it. Still, even my amateur efforts pay off big.

Be forewarned, this cheesecake needs time to bake and set, but surprisingly little time to eat. Odd.

I’ve made it twice and both times it was during the early weeks of having a newborn at home, which was a blessing in disguise because I was already wearing a lot of sweat pants and I had a baby that would wake up in the middle of the night demanding to be fed. Again. So I would bake it in the evening and let it sit in the oven until that dreaded 2AM feeding. It’s called multi-tasking, for all you men out there.

Make this and top it with anything you like – melted chocolate, fresh berries, a picture of yourself wearing your best sweatpants. I suggested to my Aunt Joy that we top the cheesecake with another whole entire cheesecake! She just sighed, but I think it was because she didn’t think of it herself. Some of us are just more creative than others, you know?

Cheesecake 

Prep time: 25 minutes | Bake time: approximately 2 hours | Total time: 4 hours

Crust Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1.5 sticks butter

Crust Directions:

  • In a medium bowl, combine flour and sugar
  • Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly
  • Add 2 slightly beaten egg yolks
  • Add vanilla
  • Mix lightly with a fork just until pastry holds together and leaves sides of bowl
  • Chill

Cheese Mixture Ingredients:

  • Five (5) 8oz packages of cream cheese
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 Tbl vanilla
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 pint sour cream

Directions: 

  • Pat 1/3 chilled cookie crust evenly over the bottom of 10″ spring form pan
  • Bake in a 400 degree preheated oven for 8 minutes or until lightly browned
  • Pat remaining dough evenly onto sides of pan
  • Chill
  • Beat cream cheese, sugar, flour and vanilla in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth and fluffy
  • Beat in eggs and yolks one at a time
  • Stir in sour cream
  • Pour into spring pan with baked bottom crust and unbaked shell
  • Bake at 450 degrees for 12 minutes
  • Lower oven to 250 degrees and bake for 1.5 hours
  • Turn off oven and let cake remain in the oven for 1 hour
  • Remove from oven and and cool
  • Take out of pan before refrigerating
  • Love the one you’re with – and if you are alone, more cheesecake for you!

Now It’s Turmeric? How Much Trend Can We Take?

turmeric

I recently read Linda Yellin’s piece “When Did Kale Get A Publicist?” in More Magazine and laughed out loud. Well, first I sort of whimpered because More Magazine just started appearing in my mailbox and I couldn’t figure out why until someone told me, not so gently, that it was because I hit the age of 40. They should just call it Forty – just like they call it Seventeen. It’s mean to tease old people.

After overcoming my surprise and stretching my arms reaallllyyy far in front of my face in order to actually read the article, I wanted to be Yellin’s friend, or at least shop and dine with her. She, too, had a childhood that included weekly meatloaf and a mother who didn’t once ask what I’d like for dinner. I had that mother. I am that mother now. Call me vintage, but with four children, you don’t get a vote on dinner. You just get a designated seat and a plate of food and sometimes a dessert. You’re welcome.

As Yellin points out, trendy foods don’t slowly make their way into our lives, they take over:

“These hot items from the food world don’t just show up on the grocery shelf; they explode into our lives. Suddenly, it’s kale in your face 24/7. Good-bye, olive oil. Hello, coconut oil. Me? I’m still mourning orange roughy. There was a time you couldn’t open a menu without an orange roughy special. But somewhere along the way, wild salmon kicked its ass.” Well said, Yellin, well said.

I recently read in WSJ Magazine that turmeric is today’s hot and trendy spice. “Tumeric is the new kale,” said Sunitha Ramaiah. Oh. Tumeric you say? Alrighty.

Coincidentally, Ramaiah recently launched Manjoor Estates juices to “enlighten Western palates about the curative benefits and complex flavors of spices from her family farm.” This explains why she is not touting the benefits of pineapple I guess.  I always feel a little bit enlightened after my third glass of sangria, but apparently turmeric will enlighten me even more. Wonder which one I’ll like more?

All digs aside, turmeric is actually extremely beneficial. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, the spice may delay liver damage (from the sangria?), reduce carcinogenic compounds formed in meats that are fried, broiled or barbequed, can inhibit the growth of skin cancer and slow the spread of breast cancer to the lungs, and stave off Alzheimer’s disease.

I heard Halle Berry makes a paste of turmeric and water and exfoliates her face every few days. And Halle Barry is, well, Halle Berry need I say more?

Still, keeping tabs on all of the benefits of all the foods and all the spices and all plants in the world is impossible, so why try? Eating good, healthy, minimally processed food and getting some sort of exercise on a regular basis is really the simplest recipe for success. In the meantime, here’s another simple recipe that includes that trendy new spice turmeric (that’s been around for centuries). Cheers to turmeric! And if all else fails, may I suggest some sangria?

Golden Elixer (courtesy of Whole Living Magazine)

Prep time: 1 minutes | Cook time: 1 minute | Serves: 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • Cayenne
  • Honey

Directions:

  1. In a mug, stir together water, lemon juice, turmeric, ginger, cayenne and honey (to taste) until combined.
  2. Drink.

Warning: You Might Crack Up … But It’s Worth It.

toffee

 

Allow me to apologize for giving you this recipe. I am sorry. There – I’ve said it. When you find yourself pretending to make this for others and end up eating the entire pan by yourself, followed by a sugar-high-fueled trip to the grocery at 10PM to re-buy the ingredients to make yet another batch, you can remind yourself that I sort of warned you. And I apologized.

And when you wake up in the morning and your fingers are swollen like sausages and the scale screams in horror because you inhaled the aforementioned concoction of salt and sugar, please remember that I made this pitiful attempt at cautioning you.

So.

This make-believe toffee is a favorite of anyone who has ever had the good fortune of tasting it. I make it every year during the holidays. I would make it more often, but I like to fit into my clothes the other 11 months. Call me crazy.

Salty and Sweet Toffee

Prep time: 15 minutes | Bake time: 5 minutes 

Ingredients:

  • 1.5      sleeves of saltine crackers
  • 1      stick (4 oz) butter
  • 1      cup packed brown sugar
  • 2      cups chocolate chips (white chocolate chips are my choice, but any flavor works)

Preparation:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Arrange the crackers in a single layer on the baking sheet so that there are no empty spaces in between them, salty side up.
  • Crush any remaining crackers into small crumbs and set aside.
  • Place the butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Stir while the butter melts, and bring the mixture to a rolling boil.
  • Once boiling, carefully pour the sugar-butter mixture over the crackers on the baking sheet in an even layer, trying to cover most of the crackers. If you miss some spots, don’t worry as the toffee will spread in the oven.
  • Bake the toffee crackers at 350 degrees for five minutes, until the toffee is bubbling all over.
  • Carefully remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool for five minutes.
  • Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the hot toffee, and allow them to sit for one minute to soften and melt.
  • Once softened, use a knife to spread the melted chocolate over the entire surface of the toffee in an even layer.
  • While the chocolate is still sticky, sprinkle the top with the reserved crushed crackers or candy cane pieces or sprinkles or nuts or all four – I mean – why not, right?
  • Refrigerate the pan to set the toffee and chocolate for about an hour.
  • Once set, break into small uneven pieces by hand, and enjoy!
  • Store uneaten saltine toffee in an airtight container for up to a week (there will never be leftovers, but…).

Next Week Might Be The Best Week EVER.

 

chocolate maple bars

So next week may be the best week ever.  I’m not sure why Christmas gets all the attention, because December 16th marks National Chocolate Covered Anything Day and December 17th is National Maple Syrup Day. I haven’t been this excited about a Monday in – well – ever.

In light of this overindulgent, under-recognized week, I am happy to provide a recipe that combines both chocolate and maple syrup. You’re welcome.

Chocolate Maple Bars

Prep time: 15 minutes | Bake time: 25 minutes | Makes approximately 36 bars

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup butter
  • ¾ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • ½ cup flaked coconut

Icing ingredients:

  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ½ cup baking cocoa
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
Directions:
  • In a large bowl, cream the butter, syrup and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs, milk and vanilla.
  • In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture and mix well.
  • Remove half of the batter to another bowl.
  • Add melted to chocolate to one bowl of batter and mix well.
  • Pour chocolate mixture into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan.
  • Add coconut to remaining batter.
  • Spread coconut batter carefully over chocolate batter.
  • Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  • Cool completely on a wire rack.

Icing:

  • In a small bowl, beat butter until smooth.
  • Gradually add the powdered sugar and cocoa.
  • Gradually add syrup, beating until smooth.
  • Fold in marshmallows.
  • Frost bars.
  • Eat as many as you can before someone catches you.

You’re HOW Old?

foul food

I hate to admit when my mother is right. Then again, don’t we all hate to admit when our mothers are right? The thing is, my mother is rarely wrong, except for that time she sent me to school with the flu. And then I fainted. Outside the science lab. And the nuns had to carry me to the office while all the other 7th graders watched. I remind her of this on a regular basis just to make sure she doesn’t get all high and mighty on me. But in terms of other things, she is usually right. Mistakes I have made, like throwing a brunch at my house the day after my wedding, wearing blue eyeliner, and watching the movie Poltergeist when I was eleven, could have been avoided had I listened to my mother.

Still, she’s not perfect. My sister and I spent the better part of our late teens inspecting the food in my mother’s refrigerator. Returning from college was, for us, a death-defying act of sheer bravery and courage. Yogurt that had been in the fridge since fall break was still tucked snugly next to questionable eggs and some sort of casserole that was, in her words, “delicious.” My grandfather once took a bite of pie and said, “Kath, I think this crust is rancid, but the filling is really good!” I dug out the box of Pillsbury and it was stamped ‘Use by the Nixon Administration.’ Her response? “See, that’s why I like to make my own crusts.” Okay then.

I will not even discuss the black bananas and I have worked extensively with a therapist to deal with the Lean Cuisine Chicken Chow Mein that was in the freezer for NINE years. The only reason it was finally discarded was because our house actually burned to the ground and my mother was forced to get a new refrigerator. She considered keeping the Lean Cuisine. I am not kidding.

You see, my mother didn’t believe in expiration dates. I mean – at all. “That lasagna is fine; you girls are being ridiculous,” was common. And I know, in my heart of hearts, that someday my mother will be old and gray and after not hearing from her for a few days, I will be forced to call a neighbor to check on her. They will find her on the kitchen floor with a carton of old cottage cheese in her hand. Sad. But not surprising.

So imagine my dismay when I heard that the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Natural Resources Defense Council, in a study aptly named “The Dating Game,” claimed that ‘sell by’ or ‘use by’ dates don’t really mean anything! Apparently consumers take the dates seriously and, seeing an expired date and fearing that the food is unsafe, they throw it out, wasting perfectly good food and money. According to the stats, a family of four wastes up to $450 per year on food discarded purely based on the expiration date. How does that add up overall? Well, it means 40% of our food supply, approximately $160 billion dollars worth of perfectly good food, is being tossed out every year. Considering the appalling fact that many people in the world are actually starving, $160 billion is more than a little unappetizing.

A recent 9News investigative report on this topic unearthed expired food in each and every grocery store across the Denver metro area. Apparently a lack of manpower is resulting in many products being
pushed to the back of the shelves instead of putting fresher items towards the back and pulling more current items towards the front. I knew I was safe; my childhood experiences created my personal monster and while others are checking for fat content and high fructose corn syrup, I am looking at the date stamp on each item I purchase. But after reading about the Harvard study and learning from 9News that there is an area grocery store that purposely stocks out of date foods, I began to wonder if I was being smart or simply scared? Maybe I, too, was wasting decent food for fear of getting sick?

Turns out, I am both scared and smart. I learned that bacteria typically get involved when the food is processed and packaged, not when it is forgotten in your fridge. Food safety expert Ted Labuza, who teaches food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota, in an interview with Yahoo Shine, suggests using your eyes and, more importantly, nose when determining the safety of your food. He believes the key to ensuring a longer shelf life is controlling the storage temperature and preventing exposure to moisture and oxygen.

Here are Lubuza’s tips for keeping food fresher, longer:

Meat. Labuza keeps his refrigerator at between 32 and 34 degrees, lower than the generally recommended 40 degrees. This gives meat a 50 percent longer shelf life, he says. Labuza points out that stores don’t scientifically determine the use-by date of fresh meat, but instead follow what their competitors are doing.

Milk. Pasteurized milk also lasts 50 percent longer when stored at a lower temperature.

Canned goods. The label generally gives a shelf life of about three years. If you keep cans in a cool place (not above the stove) they will last about seven years. Always discard dented cans. Jarred and bottled goods will also last longer than their best date if kept in a cool place.

Frozen food. “I never look at the dates, I just eat it,” says Labuza. Freezing kills all of the microbes that cause spoilage, although food will develop ice crystals (freezer burn) if there is an air space inside the packaging.

Dry goods such as crackers and corn chips. If they have a stale texture, crisp them up in a toaster oven. If they smell “barnyard-y” or rancid, the oils have spoiled and it’s best to discard.

Eggs. Place in a bowl of water. If an egg floats, it is bad, but if it sinks, it’s still edible (and unstinky), even if that expiration date passed by weeks ago.

Pasta. Keep pasta in clear packaging in a dark, cool place which will increase shelf life and also retain nutrients, including riboflavin, that are light sensitive.

Bread. Keeping bread and other wheat-flour based foods in the freezer dramatically extends shelf life.

Packaged greens. If your lettuce is wilted but not visibly decayed (aka slimy), you can revive it by soaking in ice water for about 10 minutes.

Prepared foods and processed meats. These can pick up pathogens while being produced. Prepared foods such as a deli sandwich or processed meats can harbor listeria that grows even when stored in the refrigerator. Use such foods quickly and never serve processed meats such as hot dogs or sausages (including those labeled pre-cooked) raw, especially to small children, the elderly, anyone who has a compromised immune system, or, most importantly, me. The good news: Cooking will kill surface bacteria.

Still, I’ll pass. No matter what my mother says.

Hungry to Make a Difference? Here’s How.

pbj cupcakes

 

‘Tis the season of leftover Halloween candy and apple pies and egg nog and champagne at midnight – or at brunch – or both if you are so inclined. Or lucky. Blogs and magazine articles and morning shows are already talking about how to avoid the holiday weight gain and the post-party hangover.

But a recent article in The Denver Post, tucked inside the “Season to Share” insert, stopped me in my tracks. There I was, happily sipping my hot coffee after a busy morning that started with me getting four children dressed and fed and off to school; and ended  with me cleaning up dishes from their breakfast of steel cut oatmeal with plump raisins and organic bananas, and topped with cinnamon, nutmeg and milk delivered weekly from Robinson Dairy. Whew – life is HARD. Then I read the Post article:  “For pupils, breakfast is served – thanks to Hunger Free Colorado.” Oh.

Sometimes I need it spelled out, literally, in black and white. Just an hour earlier, two out of my four were whining about not wanting raisins in their oatmeal and now I was reading the unappetizing and staggering statistics – 83 percent of the students at Rose Hill Elementary in Commerce City qualify for a free breakfast. Ouch. Kids at Rose Hill were eating Ultimate Breakfast Rounds (aka “UBRs”), packed with fiber and protein to get little bellies full so growing brains could learn. Hmmm – makes you think, doesn’t it?

Hunger Free Colorado, in operation since 2009, served almost 134,000 daily breakfasts during the last school year.  That sounds like a lot because it is a lot – but I imagine there are many more children out there going without, coming from families that are not able to make even the most humble of ends meet.

At Epicurean, we have always been diligent about supporting the community in the fight against hunger. After all, Larry DiPasquale started the company because of his passion for feeding people. Our experience with dozens of organizations across the state have made an impact on the Epicurean staff; and clients such as Live Well Colorado, an organization that is fighting the battle against childhood obesity which, research shows, often stems from a lack of resources (think – money) to obtain fresh, healthy foods has stayed with us all. We have an ongoing partnership with We Don’t Waste, an innovative establishment that collects unused food from venues, caterers, restaurants, and other food purveyors and distributes it to Denver’s underserved populations.  And our 20-plus-year relationship with Volunteers of America has and always will be close to our hearts – we even donate a portion of our Epicurean Street Cuisine Food Truck proceeds to the organization.

Based on the Post article, Hunger Free Colorado believes that more than 815,000 Coloradoans are at risk for hunger. Our state is has one of the fastest-growing rates of childhood poverty in the nation – though we are 31st in the lineup for school breakfast participation. Clearly, there is a lot of work to be done and a lot of mouths to feed. So whether you are an individual and want to reach out to Hunger Free Colorado or a restaurant able to support We Don’t Waste or just one person able to make a lunch for a young neighbor, we applaud you and ask that you share your story with us on Facebook.  In the meantime, here is our take on a breakfast treat to serve to your own family, thanks to Yvette Garfield of Handstand Kids. Enjoy – while counting your blessings.

 Peanut Butter & Jelly Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 20  minutes | Serves: approximately 20 cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened at room temperature
  • 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 jar of strawberry jam

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Place the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl and whisk to combine, set aside.
  • Place the softened butter and sugar in another large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on a low speed until smooth.
  • Add peanut butter to the bowl with the butter and sugar and mix on low speed until combined.
  • Add one egg and mix to combine. Repeat with remaining 2 eggs, mixing after each to combine before adding the next.
  • In another large bowl, whisk together the sour cream, vanilla extract, oil and buttermilk, set aside.
  • Add half of the dry flour mixture to the bowl with the butter. Mix on low speed until combined.
  • Add the sour cream mixture to the bowl and mix until combined.
  • Using rubber spatula, scrape down sides to make sure there are no lumps.
  • Add remaining flour mixture and mix until smooth.
  • Use a spoon to scoop the mixture into 20 lined cupcake pans or baking cups.
  • Bake cupcakes for approximately 20 minutes until golden brown, and let cool at room temperature.
  • Once cooled, use the melon baller to gently scoop out a small piece from the center of each cupcake.
  • Fill the holes with the strawberry jam.
  • Cover tops of cupcakes with Peanut Butter

 

*Alternative: For those with nut allergies, try this recipe with sunflower seed butter.