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How sweet it is

By Staff | Mar 9, 2012

Ellie Johnson shared samples of her honey peanut butter bars during the 2011 Iowa State Fair.



Farm News staff writer

DES MOINES – From recipes for cakes to marinades for steaks, Ellie Johnson is helping fuel the buzz about honey, a versatile, all-natural, one-ingredient wonder that lends a distinctive flavor to sweet and savory food.

“I love baking with honey, and I like the color that it gives to food,” said Ellie Johnson, 19, of Des Moines, who served as the 2011 Iowa Honey Queen and is the vice president of the Central Iowa Beekeepers Association.

Not only is this honey upside down cake easy to make, but the pineapples and cherries add a lot of visual appeal.

Bees and honey have been a lifelong interest for Johnson, a sophomore at Iowa State University, who plans to earn her veterinary medicine degree.

Johnson’s grandfather, J. Gordon Powell, was an Iowa beekeeper for more than 50 years, and her family continues to raise bees.

During her reign as the 2011 Iowa Honey Queen, Johnson served up plenty of food for thought during her presentations at schools, fairs, master gardener meetings and other events across the state.

She said that there are more than 200 varieties of honey, and each type has a distinctive flavor and color, depending on the floral source.

Johnson said a mild-flavored honey like clover honey works well with delicate flavors, while stronger-flavored honey enhances recipes where a distinct honey flavor is desired.

Ellie Johnson recalls her grandmother Bev often making these delicious honey peanut butter bars.

Johnson encourages home cooks to experiment with the possibilities.

“Look for different flavors of honey at farmers markets and when you travel,” she said.

For more honey recipes and information about bees, visit the National Honey Board at www.honey.com or the Iowa Honey Producers Association at www.abuzzaboutbees.com.

Honey peanut butter bars

Johnson said she recalls her Grandma Bev making these delicious bars often.

3 cups miniature marshmallows

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup honey

4 cups Cheerios cereal

Microwave marshmallows and butter together on high for one minute. Add vanilla, peanut butter and honey to the mixture, and microwave on high for one more minute.

Mix in Cheerios. Spread mixture (patting lightly) in a greased 9-by-13-inch pan. Cut into bars after mixture cools.

Honey upside down cake

A 12-ounce jar of honey equals one cup, notes Ellie Johnson.

For “upside down” layer

1/4 cup butter

4 to 5 pineapple rings

Maraschino cherries

For cake

1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup honey

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ginger

Honey-butter sauce

1/2 cup butter, melted

Put honey and butter in a heavy, medium skillet or pan on the stovetop. Turn on the heat, and let ingredients slowly melt.

Place pineapple rings in the bottom of a greased 9-by-9-inch pan. Place a maraschino cherry in the center of each pineapple ring.

Pour melted honey-butter mixture over the pineapple rings.

In a separate bowl, combine butter and honey; add egg and beat until smooth.

Sift all the dry ingredients together. Add milk alternately with sifted dry ingredients to the honey-butter-egg mixture.

Pour cake batter over pineapple rings. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.

Turn upside down cake onto a large platter carefully. The cake may be served hot or cold with honey butter sauce. Makes about 9 servings.

Kaleidoscope honey pops

2 1/4 cups water

3/4 cup honey

3 cups assorted fruit, cut into small pieces

12 3-ounce paper cups or popsicle molds

12 popsicle sticks

Whisk water and honey together in a pitcher until well blended.

Place 1/4 cup fruit in each mold. Divide honey mixture between cups.

Freeze about 1 hour, or until partially frozen. Insert popsicle sticks. Freeze until firm and ready to serve.

Honey lemonade

This is the Iowa State Fair recipe, Johnson said.

1 30-ounce can Sunkist frozen lemon juice (or equivalent amount of juice from lemons)

25 ounces honey

Combine lemonade and honey. Add enough water to make 2 gallons. Mix together thoroughly.

Honey steak marinade

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/4 cup chopped onion

Combine all ingredients. Score steak and rub mixture over steak. Marinate for 8 hours.

Grill steak as desired. This makes enough rub for one steak.

Honey cheese bread

1 cup milk

1/4 cup honey

1 tablespoon seasoned salt

2 packages active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 1/2 cups to 5 cups flour, sifted

In a small saucepan, heat milk just until bubbles form around the edge of pan.

Remove from heat. Add honey and seasoned salt, stirring until dissolved. Cool to lukewarm.

Sprinkle yeast over warm water in large bowl, stirring until dissolved.

Stir in milk mixture, cheese, dry mustard, cayenne pepper and two cups of flour.

Beat with wooden spoon until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Gradually add remaining flour; mix in the last of it by hand until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured board. Grease your fingers and knead dough until it’s smooth, about 10 minutes.

Place dough in a lightly greased, large bowl; turn dough once to bring the greased side up. Cover with a towel. Let dough rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, until the dough doubles in size, about 2 hours.

Punch down dough, turn onto lightly floured board, and shape dough into a loaf.

Place dough in a greased 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan. Cover loaf with towel, let rise until double, about 1 hour.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Cover loaf with aluminum foil for the last 10 to 15 minutes of baking.

Turn loaf out of pan and cool on rack.

Honey nut squash

2 acorn squash

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons chopped walnuts

2 tablespoons raisins

2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

Cut acorn squash in half and scoop out seeds. Place cut side down on a baking rack.

Bake at 400 degrees until soft, about 30 to 45 minutes. Combine honey, butter, brown sugar, nuts and raisins.

Spoon into the squash and bake another 5 to 10 minutes until lightly glazed.

You can contact Darcy Dougherty Maulsby yettergirl@yahoo.com.

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