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Years before this New York Times article, those of us in Erie, PA and the small armpit section of the Great Lakes knew pepperoni balls as an after school snack, a treat at Evan’s Skateland and the primary fundraiser for sports and school.  Back in the mid 90s, my friend Kate Scheider and I sold pepperoni balls to support trips through our Millcreek public schools and to make money for our Lake Erie Soccer Club teams.  Pepperoni balls helped us buy new Adidas shorts and take lots of trips to the Pittsburgh Science Museum.

The dough bandit, Churro.

Fast forward 15 years and Kate and I are still friends; she living in Boulder, Colorado and a vegan, I, myself, a vegetarian and living in Denver, Colorado.  In light of all the hoopla our beloved Erie has received as of late, Kate and I had a real hankering to make these classic artery clogging pillows sent from God.  Besides sponge candy, Tom Ridge and Pat Monahan, it’s one of the things that Erieites can say is truly ours.  Since we no longer eat four-legged friends, we made a few adjustments and the results were just as good (if not better) !  We originally planned on making two trays, but during the day Kate’s adorable 40lb dog Churro ate 15 rolls of raw dough and subsequently threw them up in Kate’s bedroom.  Poor Churro : (

Vegetarian Pepperoni Balls :

1 Bag of Rhodes White Dinner Rolls

1 (or 2) packs of Vegetarian Pepperoni (Smart Deli makes a really good one)

Pepperjack Cheese cut into small chunks (definitely not necessary, but adds a nice spiciness)

Directions:

Such Unassuming Goodness Inside

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set out as many rolls and you’d like to defrost and cover with Saran wrap. (Kate did this at lunch time , so it takes several hours).

Hold dough in your hand and using your thumb, push several pieces of pepperoni (3-4 pieces or 2 pieces of pepperoni and one cheese chunk) into dough and pull the dough around to seal back in.  Continue to do this and then let dough rise for at least another hour.

These suckers cook fast so be on alert!!

There are several variations for cooking: You may put them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes, BUT to make them in the classic style, cook in 3″ of hot vegetable oil until golden brown.  Only cook 3 or so at a time as their bellies puff up so much it takes a little maneuvering to turn them.  They only take about 30 seconds each, so you must be fast.  (And YES they will be cooked through, we tested them).

Served with a Rolling Rock and a delicious farm share salad. We do live in Colorado, after all.

Serve with a classic PA beer like Railbender or Rolling Rock.  I searched Boulder high and low to try to find Yuengling, but alas, they don’t distribute out West.  Boo you, Pottsville.

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Even Miz Britney Spears enjoys a prepster bake-a-thon!

During the warmer months, I am highly guilty of buying way too many fruits and vegetables in an attempt to create a Shelter Island, Martha Stewart-esque vision of country living where pancakes never come from Bisquick, you have a beach view and even your pajamas are Laura Ashley.  This is multiplied x1000 when I am wearing JCrew and it’s a Saturday afternoon at the Farmer’s Market.

I recently ( like, today) found myself at the tail end of one of these delusions of grandeur and in possession of 3 extra apples and a bunch of carrots, so in an effort to keep the dream alive and not throw this deliciousness in the trash I decided to create an Apple Carrot Muffin recipe.

The added bonus is that these are not only completely tasty, but also Vegan friendly if you choose to use a milk alternative….your choice suckas.  I recommend to just make them, enjoy them and then tell me how awesome I am.  OH, and PS- take the extra 2 minutes and put the Maple Glaze on top….sewwwwww worth it!

– Skelladay

Apple Carrot Muffins with Maple Glaze

Makes 8 to 12 muffins

Ingredients

Muffins

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup rolled oats (such as Quaker)

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I use Mexican Cinnamon from this place for the added warmth, but any will do!)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup grated carrots

1/2 cup peeled, cored, rough chopped apples

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/4 cup milk (I use almond milk, but regular, soy or rice also works)

1/4 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

Maple Glaze

1/3 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons maple syrup

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 12-cup standard muffin tin or use muffin papers.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a separate bowl, combine carrots, apples, applesauce,  milk, oil and vanilla.

Add half the carrot mixture to the flour mixture, stir until blended then add the rest of the carrot mixture.

Spoon batter into muffin cups (tip- use an ice cream scoop!) and bake about 20 minutes or until a toothpick in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

To Make Maple Glaze

In a small bowl whisk together powdered sugar and maple syrup, whisking briskly to consistency.  Dip a spoon into glaze and drizzle over muffins once cooled- about 15 to 20 minutes.

Enjoy! : )

Dad Knows Best?

It hasn’t been since the Sigfried (or was it Roy?) debacle that any of us have seen a tiger attack so potent.  But what else do you expect from a company that calls Michael Jordan a pal?

Enter the 33 second black and white air strike from Nike during this momentous Masters comeback.

I have to say, I like the commercial.  Before you get all huffy, let me re-phrase.  I like the AESTHETICS of the commercial.  The brief, black and white montage of Tiger frittering and fidgeting with his eyes in a habitual line dance between remorseful and determined is reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s 500 plus screen tests in which he mounted celebrity friends in front of his tripod and asked them to stare blankly into the camera for four minutes.  To watch them in a collection is a really impressive and simplistic beauty.

Nike was rounding third with this commercial until Earl decided to scold Tiger.

The freak of nature phenomenon who just wants to get back to playing golf and never miss one of his children’s birthdays again is rehashing in a way that, while marketing genius, is not putting his goddess of a Scandinavian supermodel first.  Which by the way, should be done very, very privately at this point.  Preferably on his large boat at sea.

On Nike’s part it’s as effective and as awesome as the Manchester United and Ajax soccer commercials they ran a few years ago.  Most of Nike’s ploy has always been a ‘Just Do It, Just Run, Just Play’ mantra.  Through Air Max Shoes and Gortex half zip shirts Nike has made us believe that there’s a warrior in all of us who just needs to get out there and run, jump or swing despite our problems/weight/stress/age, etc.  With his big return at the Masters, I assumed Nike would put out a commercial, but more along the lines of a few still shots of Tiger doing what he does best with no regards to the 14+ skanks and all of the Mystic Tan hush money they now possess.

But I seemed to forget that with an inconceivable marketing budget comes the giant balls to put it out there. Yeah, they went there…and they went there with Earl Woods nonetheless. From the grave, from heaven, from wherever.  Whew, that’s a lot to do in 30 seconds.

As nauseating and annoying as it is, the blogosphere is out of control dissecting this lil gem of a commercial.

Funny how we wish he would now just shut up and crush the ball again circa 2009 when he was still on PR house arrest. No more press conferences, and please, no more Earl.

Skelladay

The truth hurts.

That phrase, that ugly goddamn phrase….well, it’s spot on.  The past few months for me have been a little about freelancing, some about hugging my nephew and a LOT about self discovery.  In fact, if I could somehow become friends with Jared Leto I’d make him star in a series of (semi) successful Youtube videos called “My So Called Life 2, Sara and Jordan Catalano Make It Work.”

During all of this employment downtime and cerebral, um, ‘up time’ (?) I made the weirdly easy decision to go back to Graduate School to get my Masters and hopefully PhD because ambition is such a wonderfully intoxicating upper when you haven’t yet engaged yourself in the physical labors of writing 100 page papers and crying at 5am because you’re sick of Toni Morrison and you just want to read your People Magazine.

Some people could claim that Grad School is just a prolonged escape from having to enter (or in my case, re-enter) the real world, and yes; for some this may be true.  It’s kinda like the undergrad who goes to school for seven years, only this time you are fooling people a little more because horn-rimmed glasses are involved and there are COMMITTEES  to which you defend really, really long thesis papers. That sounds pretty serious, pretty good, right?

But for me, it’s a nagging, insatiable feeling that nothing will be right, nothing will be correct until I am writing.  Learning about it, teaching it, talking ad nauseum about it, cursing it, hating it and then loving it all over again.  In my opinion, it’s the correct and just reason for seeking higher education.  And according to this blog post, there’s a great chance I will make no money doing it.

And you know what? He’s right.

Seth Godin is my go to guy when I need inspiration and/or information about blogging, social media and above all, following the path you desire.  It’s a short blog post, only a few small paragraphs, but the reiteration of the obvious in such a squat, powerful little block is a hit in the face. It’s kinda the equivalent of being grabbed squarely on the shoulders and shaken.

Let me tell you, it’s a hell of a thing to all of a sudden remember that you want to be at the mercy of a career that is not as lucrative as others and it’s another kick in the balls when you know that this is where you need to be, student loans and all.

If a drunk relative tells you that you’ll never make any money doing what you love you smile, mumble ‘fuck you’ and then head over to the cash bar.  But if Seth Godin tells you that for every one successful book there are 10,000 flops, you make silent amends and try to envision that with the right lighting a studio apartment isn’t so bad and that ramen noodles can be transformed into Thai delights with the right kind of sauce.

This is not pessimistic; in fact, I think that the way we all make peace with our facial features that we needed to “grow into” is the same way that we (hopefully) make peace with our course of happiness and what that entails, even if it means having to live at home for a year or maybe go to a few less concerts for a summer.

So play writers, operatic singers, music theory majors, yoga instructors and guitar playing broody guys, keep doing what you’re doing.  Seth Godin doesn’t ever want you to stop ; he (and I) just want you to do it for the right reasons….even if you never make it on any type of “best of” list.

Skelladay

It is to be said that I am a social media addict, ostensibly so.  I have also (briefly) relocated from the sunny rays of Colorado back to the wet, damp, snow-laden  winter wonderland snowgasm hell from which my closest loved ones and relatives reside.  This ungodly amount of precipitation has afforded me much more time indoors to run on the treadmill, watch Californication on my Macbook and yes, spend a lot of time on Facebook.

After the (somewhat) successful secret bra color status trend that hit Facebook a few months ago, it’s become apparent that the newest and greatest foray into active Facebooking is now community participation.  (BTW, the bra color update was only funny for a minute based upon the sheer pandemonium it caused men for those terrifying 20 minutes that they were unsure of).  Whether it be spiteful, hateful, humorous or inspiring, it seems that social media in all of its widget glory is still a touch alienating and community Facebook goals are the water cooler talk for 2010.  I am ok with this because it diverts people from Farmville and Mafia Wars which are soooooooooo 2009.

Some of the newest trends include the aforementioned bra color, the Doppelganger  “week” which actually seemed to drag out like a bad high school reunion and my NEW FAVORITE ONE : “can we make [inanimate object A] more popular than [pop culture ‘icon’ B].”   The basic premise is to find out how many fans a particular ‘celebrity’ has and try to “outfan” this person(s) with an everyday object, based on its  everlasting qualities such as taste, color or general awesomeness.  Some examples include “Can we make this pickle more popular than Nickelback” or “Please make these curly fries more popular than Lady Gaga.”  It’d be an impressive commentary on celebrity gluttony if the same people who joined these groups weren’t the same people who spend all day on US Magazine message boards, myself included.

In light of this new sense of community, I’d like to recommend some collaborative Facebook activities that I’ve thought a lot about just at this moment. right. now.

Who I’d like to punch: Why put up a picture of who you “look like” when you can let the world know who you’d like to smash in the face.  I think this is a nice one because while your balding, mid-20s friend probably does not look that much like his “doppelgänger” Taylor Lautner, it’s much more realistic to assume that one day you may get to punch him in the face for repeatedly saying that he looks like Taylor Lautner.  In fact, placing his picture up as yours for an ENTIRE WEEK on Facebook (which is equal to 5 light years) sends a clear message that, “Hey buddy, if you don’t stop saying that you look like the guy from Twilight, you will get a knuckle sandwich, sooner than later.”  It’s succinct, and let’s face it, hilarious.  I recommend choosing a picture that makes other people want to punch this person as well, such as when he has a popped collar, is throwing up a gang sign or is shirtless in an inappropriate place.  Girls, this is equal to when another chick is : making a duck face, wearing a tiara or throwing up the standard sorority peace sign.

Addendum: Other suggestions include “the girlfriend/boyfriend of a friend I’d like to sleep with,”  “the person I know with the worst hygiene,” and “a person I would probably turn in to the cops.”

The age when I first…  : This one is not for the faint of heart, but based upon the question allows you to gauge how much of a A)Slut  B) Prude C) Nerd D)Moron you are compared to the rest of your Facebook Universe.  Some examples could be : The age when I first…”realized I loved drinking,”  “was arrested,” “wanted to hang myself at an office going away party” and, “bought my own weed” etc.  The reason I like this one is because there’s so much crossover in Facebook no one really knows what anyone is talking about.  You may put the status update of “13,” signifying the first time you felt grown up but your mom may assume that means “the first time I lost my virginity” which was another little status trend happening simultaneously.  Awkward hilarity ensues.

At will statuses: This is good for anyone who clearly has nothing better going on (myself at the moment) and justifies letting the entire world know that “Arrested Development is the best show EVER” or that “Milano cookies are still good even though I am 26.”  (I agree with those both of those statements, btw).  The idea is simple:  pick two equally awkward choices such as “For my next status update would you rather have me write my worst opposite sex story or would you like me to post my worst grade school picture,”  allow one day of voting, and then once the people have spoken, honor their choice.  If anything, it’s way more interesting to read a litany of bad naked stories than 45 updates about how the last season of Lost is going to rock so and so’s face off.  Plus, you get to see how big of jerkoffs your friends really are.

If we want to look at this with any type of perspective, I guess we could say that 1) Facebook really beat the hell out of Myspace and 2) The power of social media is dense and can just as likely be used to garner hope and inspiration for worthwhile causes in forthcoming months and years.

I, however, prefer to look at it from the standpoint that thanks to active participation, your parents and (gasp! grandparents) are getting first-rate Facebook army training and becoming social media soldiers that will soon know how to look at every picture, status update and inappropriate message you receive.  My advice?  If you can’t beat ’em, drink up and join em.

Hi Mom and Dad : )

Skelladay

Well, day one vegetarian is almost under wraps and as I was going to round it out with some pasta and marinara when  my lonely sweet potato caught the corner of my eye.  This wonder yam was purchased in SEPTEMBER at my local farmer’s market,  and despite me constantly forgetting it, has remained intact and beautiful.  I decided in honor of my sweet potato’s magical powers I would make up my own recipe with it!  I did it for one so just use some mental math to multiply!

Paired with a 90 Shilling and iTunes!

Cayenne and Orange Honey Balsamic Sweet Potato Wedges

1-1/2 lb Sweet Potatoes

2-3 tbsp Orange Honey (or regular honey)

About 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar

Two tbsp Butter

Salt and Pepper

Cayenne Pepper

  • Clean sweet potato and cut into 1/2″ chunks, removing bad spots.
  • In a large skillet melt 1 tbsp butter, coating bottom.
  • Place sweet potato in skillet and cook 4-5 minutes, constantly stirring until outside begins to lightly brown.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium bowl melt other TBSP of butter for about 45 seconds.  Add balsamic vinegar and honey and whisk.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Once sweet potato chunks are browned, transfer to bowl and coat with mixture.
  • Return to skillet and cook 3-5 more minutes until outside begins to char. Place in bowl. (Tip: if you continue to cook sauce on low and stir, it makes a great glaze to top potatoes with).
  • Sprinkle with cayenne pepper.

I ate them as a side, but they’d also be good in a whole wheat wrap with some greens and a soft cheese maybe?  Kinda like the Juan Wrap at Watercourse Foods!

Enjoy!

Skelladay

Me. Not an Accurate Depiction.

So  this is the time of year that people get super reflective and decide all of the “changes” they’re going to make in the next year which they typically drop by January (or March is they’re REALLY resilient).  I, like the others, have been doing that exact same thing as well and while i have the superficial and the silly,  the one that I have decided to take very seriously is….drumroll please…I am going Veggie.

Yeh, I’m Irish and East Coast…what am I thinking?  In fact, I’m fairly certain if my nana had a computer or the internet or a computer with the internet she’d faint.   But hear me out.  Over the past 6 months I have been removing more and more meat from my diet, starting with red and heading down the line until I am now at this point where I am ready to go all vegetable (and many-a interesting grain).  This is not a result of being in Colorado and spending too much time in Boulder or a flash in the pan idea like a nose ring or Vegas marriage.  Rather, it’s something I’m ready to do and it’s going to be a wild ride.

I’ll write the occasional blog post about it and report on the progress over the upcoming months.  It’ll never be preachy or laden with “I feel amazing!” quotes.  Instead, it’ll be amusing (at my expense) narratives of what it’s like to watch someone else eat a delicious looking cheeseburger or how stupid I feel trying to figure out how the fuck to use tempeh and make it resemble meat.  I’m like your Veggie test dummy.  Plus the nice thing is that beer is vegetarian so what’s better than writing a healthy and ethical blog post drunk?  As Alec Baldwin says, “It’s a weird good feeling…like going to the gym drunk!”

And now you, my faithful readers, have been invited into either the best decisions I’ve made or the worst 4 months of my life.  Cheers.

Skelladay