Leftover BBQ Stirfry 

Wow. Just, wow. The response to my last post about how Serafina and I became friends was overwhelming. I’m touched. We got emails upon emails requesting pictures of the vajazzle job, and while I would love to send out 40,000 pictures of Serafina’s nether region, I can’t, because Disney owns the rights to all that. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, we are total sellouts. 

Remember how I hate grating fresh ginger? Enter the ginger paste. Laziness in a tube. Can you tell I shop at Trader Joe’s? It’s because they pay me millions to do so, and their stuff is cheap. Not that I need to be frugal because, you know, I’m a millionaire.

This week’s recipe came about through a combination of boredom and weird cravings of something sweet and salty.  Normally,  I make this as a combination of two different leftovers. Leftover pulled BBQ chicken (which, here’s the recipe: like 4 chicken breasts, a bottle of BBQ sauce, a crockpot, and 6-8 hours) and leftover stir fry. At the time, I decided I didn’t want stir fry for a second night in a row, so I plopped some BBQ chicken on top of it, and I ended up loving it. 

You might think that white stuff is butter and be excited, like my husband was, but it’s cauliflower. Sorry to disappoint.

However, I did not do this recipe with chicken today, because I didn’t have chicken. I used tempeh. 

It still kind of looks like chicken, so it might be traumatizing for Serafina’s chickens to see it.



BBQ Tempeh Stir Fry 

Ingredients:

  • Toasted sesame oil (or extra virgin olive oil) 
  • 1/2 TBSP Ginger paste
  • 3 TBSP soy sauce (or coconut aminos)  
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 2-3 cups frozen veggies (can be a mix or I recommend peas, corn, and edamame) 
  • ~4 cups cooked brown rice 
  • 1 TBSP rice vinegar 
  • 1 package tempeh (or pulled chicken, or, if you’re Serafina and have a soy aversion, use steamed or roasted cauliflower) 
  • ~1 cup BBQ sauce 



Directions:

Cut the tempeh into bit sized cubes and marinate with the BBQ for at least 15 mins or you can forget about it and do it overnight. Heat oil in a pan (or wok, preferably) to medium low heat and add the garlic. Don’t burn it or toast it. The garlic should not brown, or you’ll lose flavor. Add the ginger paste. 

Add the rice and soy sauce and increase heat to medium high. Add the veggies and cook until heated through. Finally, add the vinegar. 

While you’re doing all this, also have another pan heated to medium high and try and brown the tempeh, but not to the point the sauce is totally gone. Just make sure it’s heated through. I’ll feel slight guilt if everyone’s food is all cold. 
Dish yourself some stir fry and add the tempeh on top. It’s good, I promise. 

Drink lots of water because this dish is not only salty in taste, but in attitude as well.

Namaste and eat this,

Mary Ellen 

Time Management

Hello again, beloved readers. I’m here to talk to you today about a topic which is important to everyone: time management. You may not know this yet, but in addition to writing an inspiring and profound post for you every other week, I also work part time and sort of go to grad school. So, I’m highly qualified to talk to you about how you’re managing your time wrong.

Tonight, I have a paper due at midnight. Tomorrow, I have a practical exam during which I will either pass or fail my class. Most people would be tempted to study, or write their paper, but that would be a fatal mistake. You see, it’s not procrastination if I don’t start writing my paper. If I put off writing it and then start it at the last minute, I would be the poster child for procrastination. But I’m not going to do that, because I have a plan. I’m not going to tell you what my plan is, because that would be basically spoon feeding you time management skills, and I’m not here to do that. It’s like that parable of the one guy feeding the hungry stupid guy a fish. I can’t just give you a time management fish, I must catch you, the time management fish, and then devour you while looking into your dead little fish eyes.

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I took this picture while my man friend was trying to catch a fish awhile back. He didn’t catch anything because no one taught him about time management.

I’m sure you understand, just as I did when I learned that parable.

Anyway, after a long day of school, I like to come home and fix myself a proper dinner. Being short on time is no excuse to short your body the nutrients it deserves.

For this meal, I decided to provide myself with inspiration so I can focus on what matters in my life right now, which is planting a plum tree in my back yard this fall.

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Using jam with the word “fancy” in it increases the quality of your dining experience. It’s been empirically proven.

Crackers with Almond Butter and Jam

Ingredients:

Crackers

Almond butter

Jam

Instructions:

Place crackers attractively on a plate

Using a plastic spoon (or regular spoon if unlike me you have available clean silverware in your home) drop a dollop of almond butter on each cracker. Then drop a dollop of jam next to the almond butter, but still on the cracker (it’s important to ensure BOTH ingredients are on the cracker).

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See how attractively arranged the crackers are? It’s ok if yours don’t look as nice.

Place cracker in mouth and then eat.

If your mouth gets dry or the almond butter sticks to the roof of your mouth, you should try drinking a beverage. I went with beer, which worked well.

XOXOX

Serafina

Carrot Soup: Ode to Serafina

It was 1969 and a hot summer somewhere in west Texas. Serafina and I worked at a topless bar off the highway. I know what you’re thinking and no, they would not allow us to be one of the topless performers. We had to be fully dressed waitresses.

It was our dream to perform, but seeing as how we were the only employees forced to keep all our clothes on, it seemed like our dreams would never be realized.

Also, we hated each other. Serafina was always stealing my tables and tips and flirting with my customers. One particular night, as I was bringing table 4 our house special, Kicked up Kowboy Kale (I should also mention that our bar was the number one rated vegetarian topless bar for over five decades), she was sitting in my best customer’s, Seth’s, lap! And I was sweet on him!

Anyway, this kind of went on for the entirety of our employment there, which was only around four months. We didn’t become friends until our last night there. Oh, what a faithful night that was! The bar’s most famous dancer, Seitani, had a severe allergic reaction to some radish pasties, and was rushed to the hospital, right before she was to go on!

Serafina and I locked eyes, and rushed to the stage. There was no music, but we rhythmically (we each had a different rhythm) removed our clothes, trying to outdo one another. The audience booed, but we pushed on. The bouncer tried to catch us, but we darted out of his grip! Finally, in what could be considered the bravest, most spectacular move I’ve ever seen in my life (I still get emotional and teary thinking of it), Serafina ripped her pants off, revealing a rainbow vajazzle. It caught the light from the stage spotlight, and blinded everyone in the bar. The light was so miraculous that it acted as sort of a North Star to weary travelers, and before we knew it, her current lover walked in bearing gifts of cats (she accepted his romantic proposal DESPITE the cats).

We were fired immediately, but I was so in awe of Serafina, and realized she wasn’t just any part time, fully dressed, topless vegetarian bar waitress. She was my guru.

So now our readers know the short form history of how we met, here is a recipe that is dedicated from me to Serafina.

I made this soup at 8am wearing a baby, because I didn’t think I was quite enough of a crunchy granola mom.


Carrot Apple Ginger Soup (adapted from Oh She Glows who adapted it from Joy the Baker)

Ingredients:

1 TBSP olive oil

1 sweet onion

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 TBSP grated ginger*

1 apple

1.5 lbs carrots, fresh from the garden you should have

4 cups vegetable broth

Pinch of nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Ground pepper to taste

Directions:

Prep your vegetables and set them aside. If you hate chopping veggies as much as I do, rejoice! You don’t need to be perfect because you’re going to purée this shit in the end.

Except I’m perfect. See, I did this perfectly.
Just seeing this picture sends me into a rage. I fucking hate chopping and peeling vegetables.
 
Using a large pot, heat your oil over medium low heat, and add your onions. Cook until translucent. Add your garlic and ginger, and cook for a few minutes. Finally, add your apples and carrots and cook for a few minutes longer (I usually wait until I can kind of smell the apple cooking).

Add the vegetable broth, and your seasonings and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Use this time to clean up, and make sure your home is in tip top shape. Remember, cleanliness is next to godliness! Or, you can do what I did, brush your teeth and take pictures of your dogs.
 
When all your vegetables are tender, use an immersion blender and blend until smooth (or the texture you like), or, you can do what I did, and transfer it to a blender in batches, spilling carrot water all over the dogs along the way. Either works.
Serve with crackers, a baguette, or my favorite, warm quinoa (yeah I’m that asshole).
Remember to drink your calories,

Mary Ellen

*fuck grating fresh ginger. This was such a pain in the ass and now I have like a pound of ginger left because they only sell them in 20 lbs increments. Just get the jarred ginger.

 

How to Hem Jacket Sleeves

As an Aspiring Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman (that’s a real job you can get, right?), I sometimes have to do things like buy a lab coat for grad school. Obviously I’m not going to med school or anything, but I’m still going to call myself Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman when I graduate.

Before school started, I considered calling Mary Ellen’s husband and just asking if he had a spare lab coat laying around (since I think he might be a scientist or something), but then I remembered a few things about my future lab coat

  1. I had to get the fucker embroidered, which rules out borrowing anything
  2. Despite my beautiful feminine physique, I have super long monkey arms and sleeves are never, ever, long enough.

So, I was left with the sad option of trying on every lab coat in the school bookstore while trying to look really casual since it was orientation day and I didn’t want to be the kind of person who pays too much attention to lab coats. After about 14 coats, it became abundantly clear that our society is maliciously discriminating against tall people. I couldn’t spend much time planning a protest, though, because I still needed to buy a coat and get on with the day. I ended up getting a men’s coat with the intention of popping the arm seams and then re-hemming them, which is precisely what I did when the coat arrived. I then left it on a hanger with loose threads all over the place for many months until I remembered that I need to wear it soon.

Don’t worry, guys. I’m going to break this down into a simple, no-nonsense process. I’m pretty sure this would also work for people with T. rex arms wanting to shorten their sleeves (I’m looking at you, Mary Ellen).

Step one: pop the seam and then pin it with pins in the right place.

Sewing before jacket
This is actually really hard to do by yourself, but don’t worry, I believe in you.

Step two: Probably iron the sleeves so your hem line doesn’t look like shit.

Step three: Clear off your desk or table so you can get your sewing machine out.

Sewing desk
The 2017 card in the middle of the desk was from Mary Ellen. She either sends out New Years cards really late, or I never clean my desk.

Step four: Remember that there is a thing called “the bobbin” and that you will need the right colored thread on it. Hold back tears.

Sewing bobbin
Why was there yellow thread in this? When have I ever sewn anything yellow? Where did this sewing machine even come from? Maybe I stole it from someone with a sunny disposition and the theft of the sewing machine crushed their soul. We’ll likely never know.

Step five: Find your sewing machine manual because, without it, you will never remember how to “wind the bobbin” (which is surprisingly not a euphemism).

Sewing user manual
If you’ve ever tried to watch youtube tutorials of how to use your sewing machine, you know that you actually need to keep the manual because people are incapable of explaining the whole bobbin situation.

Step six: Actually get your shit together and carefully start sewing. Try to go slowly so the hem doesn’t look too wonky.

Sewing Action shot
Yes, there is still a nerf gun on the desk. You never know when you’re going to need to protect yourself.

Step seven: Look professional as fuck.

Sewing after jacket 2 edit
I put on my best sweat pants to complete the look.

Step eight: (you could probably omit this step) Remember that an older lady you used to work with once advised you to burn loose threads with a lighter so they don’t fray. Proceed to actually burn your newly hemmed coat. Decide to hang it up in the closet with its pretty new scorch mark and pour yourself a glass of wine whiskey.

Knowledge Brings Fear

-Serafina

Product Review: Dog Toy Edition

People say that when you have a child, all your priorities shift. 

“You won’t spend anything on yourself or your dogs ever again,” people said (and still say). 

Well, I recently spent $150 on dog toys and treats, so apparently I have different priorities. Tonya and Nancy (my dogs), deserve the best, even if I have a hairless baby now. 

This post won’t be as long as my normal, long-winded rambling posts, because I’m depressed for having to cut out dairy from my diet. I’m in mourning right now. Celebrate all you want, I’ll be back to my long-winded stories next time. I think a Mary Ellen and Serafina origin story will be in order. I guess I’ll also whip up some disgusting dairy free dish, seasoned with my tears. 

[*Note to my readers: all opinions in this post are 100% not my own. I was sponsored, and paid heavily for writing these reviews. If you click on a link, not only do I get $3000, but the dude from Incubus has to come to my house and perform, shirtless. I don’t even have dogs, the sponsors sent dog models to my house for this post. For a hefty price, I will have any opinion you want me to have. Actually, I’ll do it for $5. Send me $5.] 

Nancy loves puzzles. She’s a savant. Tonya is scared of puzzles.


Miracle Puzzle, Level 2

This one is also fun for us humans. You put treats in it and make it as easy or as hard as you want to. Nancy is too good at it now, so we are going to have to get a harder puzzle. We clean it in the dishwasher, although I don’t actually know if it’s dishwasher safe. Nancy now programs computers for a living.

Tonya is obsessed with food balls. She stole this from Nancy, who was supposed to be the model for this.

Omega Treat Ball 

This food ball releases food a little more slowly than most, and it’s harder to get it all out. That’s a good thing for Tonya because she’s a fatty who usually is done with food balls in 30 seconds. She actually works for it and rolls it around the house. It’s quiet too, so it doesn’t annoy the hell out of humans. 

Every day I’m snufflin’

Snuffle Mat
Now, for my personal favorite. I stumbled across this thing recently and I, and the dogs, are crazy for it. We mostly give it to Tonya because she won’t let Nancy have it, so we are going back to get another one for Nancy. We will actually give her dinner in it, because like I said, Tonya is a fatty and doesn’t chew her food. This slows her down and she becomes a relaxed, less bitchy asshole for the rest of the night. 
David Bowie,

Mary Ellen 

Chicken Birthday Cake

I have some very strong opinions about birthdays. I think that birthdays should be a guaranteed paid day off from work. I think that alcohol should be served at all birthday gatherings, especially any gatherings involving young children. And I think that everyone deserves a birthday cake.

I don’t do anything for the cats’ birthday because I don’t like the cats and also their not mine. I also don’t do much for the tortoise, but that’s because he only eats greens and I just can’t, in good conscious, make a salad into a cake. My chickens, however, turned one-year-old over the weekend, and you can bet your ass we celebrated the shit out of their birthday.

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You don’t make friends with salad

Actually, three of the four chickens turned a year old over a week ago, but we only celebrated on the youngest one’s birthday because she’s my favorite. My mom says I shouldn’t have a favorite chicken because she’s really supportive and talks to me about how I’m raising my chickens.

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This was the day we got the youngest chicken. I’m sure you can see why she’s my favorite. The red lighting stops the chicks from cannibalizing each other, which would not be adorable.

Chickens change your perspective on things. When they were about six months old, a friend came over to meet the chickens and I finally got to explain my theory that people should have chickens instead of children. I’ll break it down for you. So you get to raise them from like a day old, and they recognize you’re their mom. At first, they’re really cute and helpless and make adorable peeping noises. They also get poop stuck to their butts and you have to clean it off so they don’t die. I actually think that needing to check their butts every couple hours to make sure they didn’t have poop stuck on their butt fluff really helped us bond, but unlike human children who poop themselves for years, this phase lasts like a week for the chickens. (I seriously considered trying to get chicken-maternity leave at first because I worried about them so much, but my boss had just had a human kid so I figured at best I’d get told no and at worst I’d offend my boss by asking.) Chicks live inside the house with you needing a good deal of attention for about two months, and then they move outside. It’s fucking perfect. It’s the exact right amount of time to take care of a creature you love before kicking them out, because it’s your goddamn house and you need your space. I feel so sorry for people who have human kids because they don’t move outside until they’re like 18 years old.

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They were about two weeks away from moving outside in this picture. If you’re wondering if I was emotionally ready for them to be so far away, just look up “chicken dust” and you’ll have your answer.

I think two months is a far more reasonable amount of time to invest in parenting. And the best part is, once they’re four or five months old they give you fresh, delicious eggs all the time! I haven’t checked yet, but I’m fairly certain that human kids don’t lay eggs.

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Colorful backyard eggs are so much better than grocery store eggs.

Anyway, I love these chickens so damn much. I visit them outside multiple times a day to bring them treats, collect eggs, and tell them how much I love them. On their birthday, I knew I needed to make sure they got a much better treat than their usual greens and scratch grains, but obviously a chocolate cake would hurt their adorable tummies, so I had to get creative.

chicken-cake-girls-eating

 

Ingredients:

Serves 4 chickens

4-5 Frozen strawberries

Oatmeal (I made mine with currants, almonds and pecans)

½ a banana

Instructions:

Put the frozen strawberries in the bottom of a ramekin. Pour oatmeal over strawberries to cover (the ramekin should be about half full). Let set in the fridge for a few hours.

Before serving, loosen the oatmeal from the sides of the ramekin and then invert onto a plate (I generally use plastic plates when I’m serving chickens). Thinly slice the banana lengthwise and place around the oatmeal cake.

If using candles, be sure to blow them out before serving the chickens. Chickens aren’t very good at blowing on things.

Cut into four pieces and spread out across the plate to ensure each chicken will have access to the cake.

chicken-cake-sliced
The fifth strawberry was bonus for the fastest chicken. It went to the one on the left.

Then text a picture to your mom, if she’s not proud, she’ll at least pretend to be.

Love my chickens more than you

Serafina

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)

Ingredients:

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.

Directions:

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