Now playing: the Bangles, “Manic Monday”

I’m not a vegetarian, but I don’t eat meat every single day. I was raised in an occasionally veggie-household (religious reasons), so I’ve long ago made my peace with all kinds of interesting veggie meat substitutes (try Big Franks, for example: still my favorite addictive canned meatless hot dogs). I’ve also reserved red meat mostly for those days when I’m really craving it – sometimes nothing beats a great steak or a good juicy burger. Otherwise, I mostly use turkey when I want a lean protein (turkey tacos, lasagna, and burgers all work well, and there are some decent types of turkey bacon if you’re willing to hunt; turkey sausage, for my money, tastes nearly exactly the same as the pork version). Having said all that, sometimes I come up with a meal that is just vegetarian for no reason at all. In other words, I don’t do it on purpose, but it still satisfies my tastebuds and all my nutritional needs, without any meat at all. Such was the case on a recent “unintentionally meatless Monday” when I decided to see what I could do with a twist on a classic: the baked potato. Why, exactly, isn’t baked sweet potato a popular meal? I sought to find out. Read the rest of this entry »

Now playing: The Mamas & the Papas, “California Dreamin'” (On such a winter’s day!)

A few months ago, I kept driving past this persimmon tree in my neighborhood that was “lousy with fruit.” Though I was tempted to swing by and snatch a few, I eventually took my inspiration to the grocery store and paid for some of my own instead. At this point, I feel it important to note that I can’t remember having tasted a persimmon before, though I know my mom used to bake something with them when I was a kid. Anyway, I’m always on the lookout for something new and interesting, and I was willing to give it a shot. Armed with a few freshly diced persimmons, I searched for a recipe and came across Millie Mirepoix’s Persimmon Cinnamon Syrup, to which I added spices of my own (mainly clove and ginger, as I’m a big fan of their flavors.

persimmon syrup in the making

persimmon syrup in the making

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Now playing: Phillip Phillips, The World from the Side of the Moon

Last weekend, my brother called my mom to ask her if she had an extra ebelskiver pan, and the next thing we knew, we were convening late Sunday morning for an impromptu family brunch. It started when we were kids: one of the ladies Mom roomed with after our parents divorced introduced us to ebelskivers, which are a traditional Danish recipe that ends up like a tiny spherical pancake. Often, they’re filled with something delicious. In our house, it was always chocolate chips. The last few times I’ve made them, I’ve experimented with all kinds of other things: coconut, pineapple, blueberries (a favorite now), etc.

The sky's the limit for creativity in ebelskiver fillings!

The sky’s the limit for creativity in ebelskiver fillings!

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Or, as I wanted to call it…the 3rd annual valentine’s-day-is-silly bake-off!

Now playing: Pitch Perfect‘s Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

A few years ago, I had a few girlfriends over for Valentine’s Day. I’ve always thought that this is the stupidest “holiday” in the year, boyfriend or no, and I don’t really buy into all the commercialization of it, but I also have nothing against a reason to get together with my boyfriend (or in this case, single girlfriends) and share a great meal or something. (I just don’t need Hallmark to tell me to do so, or dictate stupid stuffed animals, candy hearts, or any flower that doesn’t happen to be my favorite and/or for a good reason. But, that’s another blog post…)

Anyway, this particular year I’d just started getting into cooking, and I’ve been into cocktail creations for a long time, so the plan was to have the girls over for a movie or two and drinks. I baked some red velvet mini cupcakes and put out all kinds of stuff for us to use to decorate (frosting, edible glitter, red hots, etc), and voila! A new tradition was born. Read the rest of this entry »