Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Joys of Pinterest

I'm back! I'm back! We'll see how long this lasts.

I've been cooking like a boss, but haven't worked blogging back into my routine yet. Many of my recipes have been sourced from Pinterest, which is a wonderful and addictive photo-website aggregate that allows you to post any items you find online and sort them into categories. You follow friends, preferably ones whose style you appreciate, and see a mixed collection of their "pins" on your main page. I think the reason why recipes posted on Pinterest are so appealing is that many of my friends are attracted to simple, tasty, budget-friendly options like I am. Most of the recipes originate from home bloggers, as opposed to Food & Wine or other similar lofty publications. I'll briefly review several of the recipes I've tried through Pinterest below.

Homemade Coffee Creamer
I try to always keep half-and-half around for coffee. Milk just doesn't cut it, especially since I usually buy 1%. Recently, I noticed that Coffee-Mate has introduced a Natural Bliss liquid creamer, made with only milk, cream, and sugar. I liked the fact that it was real dairy and had the convenience of already having the sugar included and dissolved. It was, however, too sweet for me. By the time I had added enough cream to my liking, my coffee was cloying. Then Pinterest came to the rescue! A lovely woman who specializes in organic cooking posted a recipe for homemade coffee creamer on her blog. This is, essentially, the same idea Coffee-Mate had, but even better, because you can use raw sugar or honey and sweeten and/or flavor to taste. Brilliant. I adapted her recipes by making a small amount of simple syrup with organic sugar. I then added a cup of whole milk and a cup of heavy cream and heated until the mixture started steaming. I added a teaspoon of vanilla, allowed to cool, and now my efforts at besting Coffee-Mate is sitting attractively in my refrigerator, just waiting to be added to my Dark Sumatra.

Homemade Pop-Tarts
This recipe haunted me until I had a chance to try it. I would find myself daydreaming about making it. I've had a long-time love affair with one of processed food's worst offenders, the classic iced Strawberry Pop-Tart. The idea of making an improved version myself was tantalizing. This recipe takes some time and elbow grease, but I like that you need to freeze the tarts before baking; it keeps them fresh and you can prepare as needed. The tarts are delicious, but they are extremely rich. After eating two, it was almost like I could feel the butter in my stomach, if that makes any sense at all. It was like eating a giant Christmas cookie, which is essentially what it is--a shortbread dough stuffed with jam. So, while they are flaky and buttery and wonderful, I wanted the filling to be tarter and the pastry to be cakier, like a real Pop-Tart. I would consider making them again, but not as a Pop-Tart substitute, since they didn't quite fulfill that craving.

Teriyaki Meatball Bowls
I saved the best for last. This recipe is phenomenal: easy, attractive, and delicious. If you don't normally cook Asian cuisine, the recipe may be expensive at first, but you should really consider keeping rice vinegar and sesame oil around--there's no way to replicate those flavors with any other ingredients. And once you've cooked fresh Asian food yourself, you may wonder why you ever dialed that Chinese takeout number in the past. I used ground turkey for my meatballs for an even healthier option, and they were great. Other than that, I followed the recipe to the letter. The husband's response says it all: "Add it to the rotation!"

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