Blog Posts by Lauren Torrisi

  • 90 Million Chocolate Bunnies and Other Fun Easter Facts

    (Image credit: William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)                                                         

    Chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, Peeps and Cadbury eggs will surely fill children's Easter baskets this weekend.

    Easter is a candy retailer's dream.  More than 120 million pounds of candy are purchased for the holiday every year.  Whatever candy you decide to indulge in this weekend, we've collected some of our favorite Easter candy facts that are sure to have you sugar shocked.

    16 Billion…that's the number of jelly beans that are made for Easter each year

    70 percent…of Easter candy purchased is chocolate

    8,968…pounds: the weight of Guinness World Records' largest egg ever made

    5 million…marshmallow chicks and bunnies are made daily in preparation for the holiday

    Red…jelly beans are the favorite color kids pick

    90 Million…chocolate bunnies are made for Easter each year

    76 percent…of Americans say people should eat the ears first on a chocolate bunny

    2nd…biggest candy holiday, after Halloween

    2.1

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  • How to Make the Perfect Hard-Boiled Egg

      (Image credit: Getty Images)                                                                                                  

    At first glance, hard-boiled eggs seem easy to make - just throw them in water and boil.  While that sounds good in theory, chances are you won't get that perfectly cooked egg and easy-to-peel shell.  We've nailed down the steps you need to take to have egg-cellent hard boiled eggs in no time.

    1.  Use older eggs.  Yup, you heard that right.  In Harold McGee's book,"On Food and Cooking," he says that the shells peel easily after several days of refrigeration due to the pH level of the albumen.  If all you have are fresh eggs, McGee suggests adding 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to the cooking water.

    2.  Start with cold water.  Place eggs in a single layer at the bottom of a pan.  Starting with cold water keeps the eggs from cracking; make sure that the water is about 1 inch above the eggs.   Add a pinch of salt to the water to help make them easier to peel.

    3. 

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  • It's National Caramel Day

    Credit: Paige Green/Crown Publishing GroupWho knew a little burnt sugar could be so popular?  Add the word "caramel" to any menu item and it's an instant best seller.  A versatile component of a dessert plate, caramel can elevate any candy, ice cream, tart or cake to heavenly status.

    Salted, dark or spice-infused are some of the delicious ways caramel can get dressed up, although there's absolutely nothing wrong with having it plain.

    If you're in San Francisco, Bi-Rite Creamery is the place to celebrate this national holiday. In their new cookbook, " Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones," owners Kris Hoogerhyde and Anne Walker are such big fans of caramel, they joked that they "should have just named the shop 'Caramel.'"

    If you can't make an emergency trip to San Francisco, a few of the most drool-worthy recipes from the book include caramelize banana ice cream, salted caramel ice cream and brown sugar ice cream with a ginger caramel swirl.

    Recipe:  Try their Brown Sugar Ice Cream with A Ginger-Caramel Swirl

    Before you run

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  • 5 Worst Food Storage Mistakes

     (Image credit: Getty Images)                                                                                                   

    We're all guilty of committing a food storage crime or two.  Have you eaten those leftovers that even though old  still smelled OK?  Have you made soup and let it cool on the counter for a couple of hours?

    In the April issue of Real Simple, editors consulted with U.S. Department of Agriculture, food scientists, food manufacturers and other experts  to establish an all-encompassing guide to food storage.  We spoke with the magazine's senior food editor Lygeia Grace to get her top tips on how to keep food tasting fresh and avoid letting it go to waste.

    To see the full comprehensive list from Real Simple, click here.

    Here's  the five worst food storage mistakes:

    1.  If it doesn't smell bad, it won't kill me. 

    "Leftovers should last four  days tops," says Grace.  While people might think it's OK to eat food past that time, "it's not safe,"  says Grace. If the dish

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  • Vanilla Shortage: Rocky Road For Ice Cream Prices

    (Image credit: Paul Taggart/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

    We already imagined an Easter without chocolate bunnies…but could you survive a summer without vanilla ice cream?

    If you can't, be prepared to pay more:  the cost of a scoop of vanilla ice cream could go up 10 percent this summer amid a shortage of vanilla pods, Mintec analysts say.

    A poor harvest in vanilla-producing countries, Mexico and India, has caused more users to buy beans from Madagascar.  Production of the beans fell 90 percent in Mexico and Indonesia last year.  The monopoly in Madagascar has resulted in an increase of wholesale prices from $25 per kilogram to $35 to $40 in two months.

    The Telegraph reported that about 40 percent of the world's supply was shipped out of Madagascar due to an increase in orders.

    "The stocks in the world are being run down and we are getting to a point now where we are likely to see the price suddenly shoot upwards," Mintec business development director Nick Peksa said.

    The labor intensive process of vanilla harvesting

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  • Jelly Bean Taste Test Winner Crowned

    Lauren Torrisi/ABC

    With Easter around the corner and hundreds of bags of candy to choose from, it can be stressful picking out the best bag of jelly beans in the bunch.

    We've done the difficult work for you. We tested 15 brands of candy.

    Each type of jelly bean was placed in a numbered bowl, so there was no hint of its brand name.  We tasted, took notes, discussed and compared to make sure we found the best bean, as well as winners in the texture and sour categories.  Little did we know that people are as passionate about their jelly beans as they are their favorite sports teams.  (Don't mess with Starburst fans!)Lauren Torrisi/ABC















    Here's a list of the winners of the best jelly beans worth having this Easter.

    The Winner:

    Life Savers Assorted Jelly Beans

    Though it was close, Life Savers assorted beans were crowned the winner.  Favoring the sweeter side, taste testers agreed the texture and flavors were just right: the outside had a slight crunch while the inside was soft and chewy.  Bright, traditional

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  • Burger King Launches New Look, Menu

    (Credit: Burger King)

    After a little soul searching, and the loss of its No. 2 spot in the fast-food pecking order to Wendy's, Burger King has gotten a makeover.

    The company conducted an extensive self-evaluation, held consumer tests and worked in a test kitchen to develop new recipes.

    "We spent the last year analyzing every aspect of our business to better understand what our guests expect from the Burger King dining experience," said Burger King North America president Steve Wiborg in a statement. "We found that consumers wanted a broader range of menu options to complement our signature fire-grilled burgers."

    The result was a menu comprised of more healthful options like salads, fruit smoothies and wraps.  The new Garden Fresh salads offer  choices of BLT, Apple and Cranberry or Caesar Salad.  Diners can add the Tendercrisp or Tendergrill chicken to their salad.

    Chicken snack wraps under 400 calories have also hit the menu with honey mustard crispy chicken or ranch crispy chicken

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  • It's National Peanut Butter & Jelly Day

     (Image credit: The Malibu Inn)                                                                                                 

    Although you might prefer the classic peanut butter and jelly packed in a brown paper bag, we've found some updated versions of the sandwich in honor of National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day.

    Chefs around the country use comfort foods, like PB&J, as inspiration for new menu items.  Be brave and try one of the items below in honor of this national holiday:

    1.  The Malibu Inn's Deep Fried PB&J:  Make this amazing sandwich at home by dipping your sandwich in pancake batter and deep-frying it.  Dust with powdered sugar for a finishing touch.

    2.  Dirty Bird's PB&J Wings:  These unusual fried wings are tossed in peanut sauce and then drizzle in strawberry sauce.

    3.  Grant Grill's Peanut Butter Mousse Dessert:  Chef Chris Kurth has created a refined peanut butter dessert for grown-ups.  Strawberry basil ice cream gives a subtle nod to the strawberry jam of our youth.

    4. 

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  • Refrigerator Magnet Offers One-Tap Pizza Delivery

                                                                                                             (Image credit: Red Tomato)

    If you thought delivery couldn't be more convenient than picking up your phone or using an app, think again:  a pizza restaurant in Dubai is offering refrigerator magnets that enable one-touch pizza delivery.

    The Red Tomato in Dubai has released a VIP refrigerator magnet that works with the Bluetooth on your cell phone to place an order at the restaurant.  Register online with your name, phone number and address, then customize the type of pizza you want delivered when you touch the button.  If you're afraid the button might get pressed accidentally, you can select the option to receive confirmation on your phone.

     

    If you're in Dubai and want a magnet, an automated response from the company says you'll have to wait: "Due to the overwhelming response we've received, we regret to inform you that our first collection of magnets have already found homes across Dubai.  We value

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  • Bugging Out: Chocolate Allergy Linked to Roaches

      Bugging Out: Chocolate Allergy Linked to Roaches 

    (Getty Images)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Allergy sufferers who react to chocolate might be shocked to learn their allergy could be linked to something other than the cocoa bean: an allergy to cockroaches.

    An average of 8 insect parts are found in a chocolate bar and deemed safe, according to the FDA's guidelines.

    "Most foods have natural contaminants in them, but there are levels which the FDA deems safe," said allergist Dr. Morton M. Teich.  "Anything more than 60 insect pieces per 100 grams of chocolate is rejected by the FDA. "

    Trace amounts of insect parts that are ground into the food and can affect people with allergies and asthma.  Some side effects include migraines, cramps, itching or hives.

    Chocolate isn't the only food

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