National amaretto day

While you're frying up some eggs and bacon, we're cooking up something else: a way to celebrate today's food holiday.

Oh, almond joy - April 19 is National Amaretto Day!

If you've got almond-flavored liqueur on the brain, today was made for you. But don't let the name amaro, meaning "bitter" in Italian, scare you off - almonds keep this sip a sweet one.

Like other favorite liqueurs, amaretto has a legend, and a sentimental place in Saronno culture because of its Italian origin.

In 1525, one of Leonardo da Vinci's pupils, artist Bernardino Luini, was commissioned to paint frescoes in a Saronno church. Because of the church's dedication to the Virgin Mary, Luini needed a model to base her on, and he found his muse in a young innkeeper. The woman wanted to express her gratitude (and adoration) with a payment, but didn't have the money, so she steeped apricot kernels in brandy and gave him the concoction. Thus, amaretto's love story was born.

If you're cooking with amaretto, it's a great enhancer for desserts like tiramisu and even the whipped cream on your hot chocolate or coffee. Or, jazz up your favorite pastries by adding a shot or two to the batter. You can even go savory because amaretto is a great addition to almondine sauce and chicken dishes.

Of course, amaretto is just as good by itself or on the rocks. Besides adding it to your coffee, the liqueur is also a great base for French Connections, Toasted Almonds and Bocce Balls. So here's to you, amaretto enthusiasts, and cheers!