Easy Weeknight Lunch and Dinner: Chicken Edition 

So, I wrote an amazing post about Mardi Gras and I was going to bake a king cake and everything was going to be unicorns flying and purple sprinkles everywhere.

But then, the baby decided he hated sleeping, and possibly me.


I still wanted a cake so I bought one at Whole Foods. It includes beads, so, have fun, kids!

I only got around 12 hours of sleep total last week. I wish I was exaggerating, but I’m not. This isn’t even satire right here. Just me, Mary Ellen, or whatever the hell my name is because I can’t brain things anymore, just pleading with you to understand as I work through this trying time. Thankfully coffee is a thing that exists, and I love it, because otherwise I don’t know how I would have survived. Even the dogs are strung out, and I’m hearing whispers in the shadows that they might be planning to overthrow the baby. It’s a tense time in the house right now, so I unfortunately don’t have time to track down a plastic baby, or bake a beautiful yeast-based cake. My time is dedicated to streamlining as much as I can, and bribing the dogs.

A few things did happen that were important last week. First, I hired a maid to do light cleaning once a week. Serafina has a maid, so I was jealous and got one too. My house is clean. I’ve finally made it to the point in my life where I can hire help. Oh, the American dream. Secondly, I discovered curbside grocery service. I ordered all my groceries online through my store of choice, selected a pickup date and time, and then picked it up. Normally, grocery shopping takes forever with a baby, but this took 15 mins. I know now heaven exists, and its online shopping.

This week, we’re doing salads for lunches. Ew, salads! That’s what I would normally exclaim. But as you get older, and the years of drinking, and binging on powdered donuts and fried cheese start to take its toll on your body. Also, having a baby makes your body weird. My skin is truly terrible. I think a demon is possessing me and drying me out from the inside. I smell weird most of the time too. I’m extra lumpy in weird places, and what in the actual fuck is up with my facial hair? Am I turning into Hagrid? Also, nursing is giving me monster-like hunger and thirst. I really do feel like I’m turning into something you might see on Supernatural.


First you eat everything in site, then you start turning on the humans. This is a picture of me from last night. They based the metamorphosis monster on me. True story. Don’t do the math.

This also means that when I eat too much crap, I can feel myself dying, and my body screaming out to me, “please, just one leaf of lettuce, please!” I tried telling my body to shut the hell up, take the donut and stop complaining, but then it gave me sad, puppy dog eyes, and really bad heartburn.


See? Almost looks like I’m a capable adult. Almost.

So for dinner, we’re picking up a rotisserie chicken from Whole Foods (you don’t have to be a pretentious asshole like I am, you can get a chicken at most grocery stores, or make your own if you’re one of those homesteaders) and then cooking some vegetables to go along with it. It’s easy, because I have appointments in the afternoon, and we can still eat at a decent time, since the prospect of cooking scares the shit out of Annie.


It looks good now, but it gets ugly soon.

After dinner, I’ll go to town on the chicken, ripping it apart (Serafina, avert your eyes and your pet chickens’ eyes) and use the leftover meat for a chickpea salad recipe/other stuff. It’s hard to believe I used to be a vegetarian. Don’t worry, I cried while eating the chicken, and while re-purposing it.


Yeah, sorry. Forgot to take the artsy pic while it was on the chopping block. RIP, chicken.

When that’s done, the carcass gets bagged to go into a pot to make stock later this week, along with some other bones from a different dinner recipe. Yay for not being wasteful and being budget friendly, right?


Chicken and chickpea chopped salad (adapted from Ambitious Kitchen)


Two hearts romaine lettuce, chopped and washed

1 can chickpeas/garbanzos, drained and rinsed

About 1 cup leftover chicken, chopped

1 cup grape tomatoes

1 cup corn (I used canned, drained and rinsed)

1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese

BBQ dressing, to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste

*Note: I didn’t use avocado from the original recipe because I made them ahead for lunches, and I didn’t use cilantro because I don’t like cilantro. I prefer arugula.


Combine all ingredients, except the dressing, in a large bowl and toss. I separated into 4 Tupperware containers for lunches, but you can also serve immediately. Add dressing before serving. I imagine this salad would go great with Greek yogurt and hot sauce instead of BBQ dressing, as well as avocado.

Serve with: Sauvignon blanc or Chardonnay.

Milli Vanilli,

Mary Ellen

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

Vegetarianism is rough. Not only do we have to deal with incessant ethical concerns such as inadvertently eating tardigrades (thanks a lot for that, Mary Ellen), but we also have to deal with food that is sometimes… substandard. Don’t get me wrong, there are some fantastic veggie dishes out there, but more often than not, vegetarian food can be rather lackluster.

Here’s an example: I was recently privy to an extremely important work conversation, the topic of which was lunch. My coworkers were discussing an amazing potato soup from the market across the street from our office. Someone offered to get me some, and I hesitated. It was potato soup, but I just knew something was amiss. They were raving about this soup, and that just doesn’t tend to happen when people talk about vegetarian food. I asked my gallant coworker who was venturing out into soup-land to check out the ingredient list for me. There was bacon in it. Motherfucking bacon.

Even though mushrooms are better than bacon, it’s hard to empirically prove it.

Anyway, the whole sad lunch left me longing for the best soup I have ever had in my life. It was Hungarian Mushroom Soup from a wonderful restaurant in Portland. The restaurant was called Old Wives Tale, and when google told me that they closed (in 2014), I almost cried. Not that I have been there in like a decade, but sometimes it hurts to know you can’t go back. (I feel like there’s a song I should reference here, but I can’t think of what it is)

So I started on a quest to figure out if it was possible to recreate their soup and I learned that it was loosely based on the Moosewood recipe (page 14 of the original cookbook, if anyone else is like me and buys really old used vegetarian cookbooks).

I never really appreciated paprika until I made this soup. Sorry, paprika. I won’t let you down again.

It calls for 1 cup of whole milk. Given my lactose impairment, I opted to use coconut milk, which worked well. If I’m being 100% honest, I recommend that people with working digestive systems use whole milk. But if your relationship like dairy is similar to mine, you’ll be too busy crying with joy to notice the slight coconut taste (try not to get too many tears in your soup, you don’t want to water it down).

Omitting milk doesn’t mean you want to skimp on the butter. Globs of butter and paprika floating on top of your soup is the best thing in the world. Thanks for looking past my messy stove top.

In my recipe research, I also noticed that most people who post this recipe mention that it is not “low fat.” I’m not sure what tipped them off about that (the half stick of butter, perhaps). Anyway, if you care more about being skinny than you do about eating food that tastes amazing, move along, there’s nothing to see here. If you’re like me and either eat food in “moderation” or just buy bigger pants when you need to, this is the best soup you’ll ever have. I licked the bowl. Then I licked the ladle. Then I refilled my bowl with little bit more soup because that doesn’t count as another bowl. I considered bathing in it. Probably will next time.

Recipe adapted from Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen

Makes 3-4 good sized bowls of soup

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: About 30-45 minutes



¾ lb mushrooms, sliced into bite size pieces

½ to 1 leek, chopped thinly with dark green parts removed

4 tablespoons butter, divided

3 tablespoons flour

1 cup milk (I used coconut milk)

1 teaspoon dill

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon tamari (I used coconut aminos)

½ to 1 teaspoon salt

2 cups veggie broth (I used my Potato Peel Broth with fantastic results)

Juice of ½ a lemon

Ground pepper to taste

½ cup sour cream (I omitted this, and did not miss it)

Fresh parsley (you’ll use this to garnish, but actually do it, it brings the flavor to amazeballs level)



Sauté the leeks in 2 tablespoons of butter for a few minutes. Then add salt, mushrooms, paprika, dill, coconut aminos, and about ½ cup of broth. Bring to a low simmer. Cover and continue simmering for about 15 minutes.

Melt the other 2 tablespoons of butter in a large pot (I made it work with my 2.5 quart pot). Whisk in flour, then add milk. Cook for a few minutes to thicken, stirring often.

Add the mushroom mixture and the rest of the broth to large pot, stir, cover, and simmer for another 10 minutes or so. Add the lemon juice, ground pepper, and more salt to taste. If you’re using sour cream, add it in here. Serve immediately, and garnish with fresh parsley. If it’s not too hot, just dunk your face in the soup. If it hasn’t cooled much, you may want to use a spoon.

The shadow at the bottom is just me getting ready to dunk my head in. No regrets.


Serafina Berafina

Easy Buttered Noodles

Last night,  after a long day of running errands and doing the usual house cleaning, my husband, Anderson Anderson Hooper, and I cozied up in front of the fire with a bottle of wine. It was a perfect moment in peaceful quiet, and we just gazed at each other lustfully. He gently grabbed my hand and scooted a little closer to me. He smiled at me, as if he knew my thoughts. I released a nervous sigh.

“How many water bears do you think we unknowingly eat every day? And does that go against veganism?” I asked and twirled my wine glass pensively.

“Uh, yeah I don’t know,” Annie replied (I call him Annie).

“Do you think that they survive our digestive system? I mean, they can survive the vacuum of space. How many water bears, on average, are in human poop? Do they study this? Do we know any biologist that we can call and ask?” I quickly grab my phone and start googling, while Annie switches his focused cuddling on a nearby dog.
I still don’t know the answers to my questions, but I’ve decided to start a charity to save the water bears. They terrify me, with their scary jagged vacuum mouths and dark stares with no eyes. But I just feel bad that I eat them all the time, even if they ARE delicious.


Say hello to the species that will see us all off to extinction. Look at him. He’s like, “fucking cockroaches have nothing on me.”


This is a recipe for buttered noodles (heavily seasoned with water bears, but you can just add grilled or roasted chicken instead). I am basically on a cooking vacation this month, because I’m burned out on life, so this recipe is excellent for fellow lazy assholes like me. Seriously though, this is as easy as Top Ramen, so all you college kids can make this for your dates you’re trying to sleep with. Actually, this recipe doesn’t work great for that because you WILL get butter all over your face and both of you will be greasy as hell. I will actually be making real things soon, not just skirting by on my good looks and charm. I can’t let Serafina have all the glory.


I need to look into getting new plates and hipster cutlery.

Buttered Noodles


Package of noodles (1 lb)

1 stick of butter

½ cup of shredded parmesan cheese

Pepper to taste

Sliced grilled or roasted chicken (optional)


I love having asparagus with pasta. It’s like that great one night stand that you slightly regret the second you pee.


Cook the pasta according to package directions al dente. Drain the pasta, and then return to the pot. Add butter and cheese. If you want meat, add it now (make sure it’s already cooked). Stir, and season to taste. Eat the pound of noodles yourself and order a pizza for the other person. I usually serve this dish with green beans, but I’ve honestly only done it once, so it’s not like I’ve set up a precedent or anything.


My pet dingo, Nicole Kidman. Waiting for a noodle to drop.


Crowded House,

Mary Ellen xoxoxo

Garbage Soup (AKA Potato Peel Broth)

A work friend recently lent me her mother’s tattered copy of the Vegetarian Epicure. If you think this is the start to a really boring post, you’re right. It’s about making vegetable broth. If you already have a can or carton of veggie broth, maybe a spare bouillon cube, I’ll save you some time. It’s all basically salted water, and the salt is what makes it delicious. Anyway, maybe you’re like me and your bouillon expired (I didn’t even know that was possible), so this is the only option you have left.

So my work friend brought me the book in a canvas bag because it’s in about five different pieces. The first page has a note about the font they decided to use. Why don’t more books start by talking about font? It’s like no one wants to give you a window into their internal serif versus sans-serif debate. People need to stop debating politics and start talking about what really matters, fonts. Did you know Mary Ellen didn’t even talk to me about what fonts she wanted to use for this blog? I guess I was wrong about our friendship.

Maybe they should have spent more time on the binding and less time arguing about fonts.

Back to the book… I was told that the soup section was fucking amazing, so that was where I started. The first recipe is for a broth, which is the base of most of their soups. It’s called “Garbage Soup.” Be still, my heart. Ok, if I’m being honest, the other name is Potato Peel Soup. I wasn’t sure about it at first (mostly because you have to do things like save your potato peels to use later and that’s just a recipe for filling my fridge with mold faster than usual). But, I decided to give it a try and started saving potato peels in a bag in the freezer (luckily I’m a filthy hippy who also composts and shit, so my boyfriend wasn’t too concerned when he found it).

Frozen potato peels dumped into a pot, food photography at its finest.

When I finally acquired six potatoes worth of peels, I reread the recipe and realized I was supposed to cut the peels thicker than I did. Whatever.

Potato Broth almost done.JPG
This actually smelled so good that my non-vegetarian boyfriend wanted to try some of the broth. He was disappointed when he realized it tasted just like broth.

Adapted from The Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 1 ½ hours

Makes about 6 cups of broth


Peels from 6-7 potatoes, cut about ¼ inch thick (I just used normal peelings from my peeler, ignoring the ¼ inch recommendation)

1-2 leeks (tough green parts removed)

2 carrots

1 celery stalk

1 sprig of parsley (or use dry)

6 cups water

1 clove garlic (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste


Chop celery and carrots into manageable chunks (I went with about 3 inch pieces)

Combine all ingredients into a 3 quart or larger pot

Simmer for about 1 ½ hours, adding water as needed as it cooks off

Strain out the veggies with a sieve, you should have about 5-6 cups of broth at the end.

Grey/brown broth, so appetizing. Have I converted everyone to vegetarianism yet?

Half of this broth went immediately into some AMAZING mushroom soup, which I promise I’ll tell you about soon. The other half is still in my freezer. Don’t worry, I added bouillon to my grocery list.