In high school I went through a brief but violent Food Network phase that introduced me to culinary terms like “ramekin” and “Kobe beef,” but left me with no real life cooking skills. I could lecture you on the merits of using clarified butter or on the importance of uniform knife cuts and mise en place. But hand me a skillet and all you’ll get is a high-pitched excuse. I’m no chef, but I’m no quitter either. In time, I managed to develop my own style of cooking that is both weird and satisfying — here are some of my most successful recipes.
(I tend to make these things around the clock, but having realized that most others do not share my eating habits, I label them as Midnight Snacks — food for the restless, red-eyed, and achingly drunk.)
Spaghetti and Mozzarella Stick Calzone: This is the perfect use for leftover spaghetti. Stuff a Pillsbury pizza crust with grocery store mozzarella sticks and spaghetti. Then use your fingers to seal the edges. You’ll want to defrost the mozz sticks if you’re using frozen ones so that everything will bake evenly.
Meta-Donut: (See Photo) This one came to me in a dream and was aptly named by my girl Lex. You will need a chocolate frosted donut, Cheerios, chocolate chips, and teensy tiny rainbow sprinkles. Dip the Cheerios in melted chocolate chips and then the sprinkles. Attach the Cheerio-donuts to the IRL donut using more of the melted chocolate chips. You will want to stare at the completed donut for at least an hour, but remember to eat it because meta-donuts really do taste good.
Scallion Pancakes: Every Chinese takeout menu features scallion pancakes, but no one ever orders scallion pancakes because they are called scallion pancakes. I had a scallion pancake for the first time last month, and it was like I unlocked the Secret of Umami. Scallion pancakes are greasy and salty and burnt and undercooked all at the same time. They’re perfect. That was not a recipe but a game changer nonetheless.
Hot Chocolate Affogato: Affogato is a classic Italian dessert that is made by pouring a shot of espresso over gelato. You may have seen affogato featured on the menu of the New Chocolate Bar but never ordered it since it costs $6.00 for one tablespoon. You can make a bastardized version of affogato at home by pouring some hot chocolate over a scoop of chocolate ice cream.
Mozz Stick Sub @ Late Night: Exactly what it sounds like. Ask for a sub roll filled with mozzarella sticks and marinara sauce. It’s like a pizza sandwich.
Freestyle Baking: Following recipes can be a real drag. Same with washing dishes. Fortunately, I’ve found that if you use mini muffin trays or Easy-Bake pans and eat your baked good while it’s still warm, exact measurements don’t matter. AND you’ll only have one bowl to wash. As long as you combine flour, sugar, butter, egg, vanilla, baking soda/powder, chocolate chips, and oil in a way that bears physical resemblance to cookie dough or cake batter, everything should be fine. Bake at 350 degrees or whatever.
Cake Waffles: I cannot take credit for this one (slave 2 the internet), but cake waffles are one of those secret food tricks that you will want to share with everyone you know. Prepare a box of cake mix (Funfetti is ideal) according to the instructions on the box. Then spoon the batter into a waffle iron like you’re making a normal waffle. Serve warm with ice cream.
Rice Krispies with Pop Rocks: Pop Rocks work well with most breakfast cereals, but Rice Krispies really take the cake because the combination will take over every single one of your senses. Pop Rocks also work well mixed with semi-frozen Cool Whip.
Peanut Butter Oatmeal: Prepare a bowl of oatmeal as you typically would, but replace half of the water with melted peanut butter. Mix in sugar and chocolate chips to taste. Peanut butter oatmeal is very filling, so you should always portion down – I prefer using straight up oats instead of the packets so I can adjust the serving size.