Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

March 31, 2014

Lee Ward: April Fools’ food tricks; PB&J treats; homemade caramel corn: 4/1/14


The Independent

ASHLAND — Ever notice how we always find a way to work food into our celebrations?

April Fools' Day is no exception. The website  wikihow.com/Make-April-Fool’s-Food suggests these tricks:

‰If your family likes O-shaped cereal, thread them all onto a piece of string and put them back in the box.

‰Make a fake “fried egg.” Arrange a spoonful of natural yogurt in an oval on a plate. Pop an apricot half in the middle. Serve it to your family with real bacon.

‰Put an empty eggshell upside down in an eggcup and surprise someone with a boiled egg that’s got nothing inside.

‰Scoop a small hole in an apple with the end of a spoon and insert a sweet gummy worm.

‰Serve a scoop of mashed potato or vegetable shortening in an ice cream cone — tell your guests it’s vanilla-flavored ice cream.

‰Scrape the butter icing from the middle of a sandwich-style cookie and replace it with toothpaste. If toothpaste doesn’t sound like a good idea to you, use ketchup or mustard instead.

‰Slice a banana before it’s peeled. With a pin or needle and a bit of patience on your part, someone who sets out sleepily to eat a perfectly innocent breakfast can wonder how their fruit got sliced before they ever even unwrapped it.

‰Make kitty litter cake. Perhaps a better choice for Halloween, this real cake with a few melted Tootsie rolls evokes a strong image of an overdue kitty litter box. The best part of the joke might be eating some of this cake in front of disbelieving onlookers.

‰If your salt shakers have a screw top, unscrew it and place a small piece of a paper napkin over the opening. Then replace the lid. They can shake all they want, but nothing will come out, and the reason will be invisible, hidden under the lid.

‰Also with the salt or pepper shaker, unscrew the top and leave it just loose enough it will dump salt or pepper all over the next time someone turns it over.

‰Make a naked egg. Simply by soaking it in vinegar, you can remove the shell from an egg, even an uncooked one, leaving the rest of the egg intact. Imagine the surprise when someone reaches into the egg carton and extract a real raw egg that is squishy and elastic.

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Some of these ideas seem a little too mean to me. Besides, when it comes to food, I don’t like to joke around or waste any.

There are some days upcoming that have a relationship with food. For instance, Wednesday is National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day, a great day to make these cookies from about.com.

PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY COOKIES

23⁄4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated white sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

11⁄2 cups smooth peanut butter

1⁄2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature

1⁄2 cup honey

2 tablespoons milk

1⁄2 cup (about) fruit jelly, jam or preserves

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with silpat baking liners or parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt until evenly mixed. Add peanut butter and butter. Using a mixer, blend on medium speed until crumbly, about 3 minutes. Add honey and milk. Mix until thoroughly combined. Mixture will be very thick.

Roll dough into balls about 1-inch in diameter. Using your thumb or finger, press an indentation into the center of each ball, and place 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Fill each cookie with jelly, jam or preserves. (A recycled plastic honey-bear squirt bottle works well for this purpose.)

Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until edges are lightly browned. Let baked cookies cool 10 minutes, then remove to racks to cool completely. Store peanut butter and jelly cookies in an airtight container.

Yield: about 4 dozen cookies

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If you prefer your cookies two at at time, this recipe from Betty Crocker will suit you.

PB&J SANDWICH

 COOKIES

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® peanut butter cookie mix

Vegetable oil and egg called for on cookie mix pouch

1⁄3 cup Betty Crocker® Rich & Creamy vanilla frosting (from 1-lb. container)

2 tablespoons peanut butter

1⁄3 cup favorite jelly, jam or preserves

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Make cookies as directed on pouch, using oil and egg. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

In small bowl, stir frosting and peanut butter until smooth.

For each sandwich cookie, spread generous teaspoon frosting mixture on bottom of 1 cookie; spread scant teaspoon jelly over peanut butter mixture. Top with another cookie, bottom side down.

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Caramel popcorn corn is an American favorite and Monday is officially the day we celebrate it.

This is recipe is from gimmesomeoven.com.

HOMEMADE CARAMEL CORN

1⁄2 cup (1 stick) salted butter

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1⁄4 cup light or dark corn syrup

11⁄2 teaspoons salt

1⁄4 teaspoons baking soda

1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla extract

12 cups popped popcorn (about 1 cup kernels before popped), preferably warm from being freshly popped.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan with aluminum foil, and grease with cooking spray.

Melt butter in a large stockpot pot over medium-high heat. Add brown sugar and corn syrup; stir to combine. Bring to a rolling boil, then reduce the heat to low and let simmer undisturbed for 5 minutes. Stir, then continue to cook for an additional 4 to 6 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until the mixture is a deep golden color. Turn off the heat and slowly whisk in salt, baking soda and vanilla, being very careful as the mixture will bubble. Stir in the popcorn and toss until it is evenly coated with the caramel, being sure to scrape the caramel off the bottom of the pot.

Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet or pan in an even layer. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring to toss every five minutes, until the caramel corn has turned a deep amber color. Remove the caramel corn from the oven and transfer to a surface covered with parchment or wax paper to cool. Once it reaches room temperature, use your hands or a spoon to break up the caramel corn, then store in an airtight container for up to a week.

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While I don’t claim to be an expert cook, I do like to cook and love to eat. Readers are encouraged to send questions about food and cooking; I’ll try to find the answers. Also, if you’re

looking for a specific recipe, send your request, or if you can offer a recipe to someone looking for something specific, please send email to lward@dailyindependent.com.