Butternut Squash, Carrot, Apple Soup

I think I’m only going to make soup until Mary Ellen gets un-kidnapped. It’ll be like a hunger strike, but I’ll still get to eat soup, which sounds nice. I thought about starting a fundraiser for her ransom money, but I was too hungry from my hunger strike idea, so this will have to do.

I cleared out the rest of my garden this week and found  several butternut squash as well as a few carrots I had missed earlier in the season. I started shooting photos while making this soup, but my camera died, and I couldn’t find the charger. You’re all in luck, though, because in addition to going to school to be Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, I have also completed extensive coursework in courtroom illustration. So, I was able to quickly and accurately draw the important steps of this recipe. I imagine you won’t even notice the difference between my exceptional photography and illustrations.

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I had to cut off a section because a squirrel took a bite of this squash. Fucking squirrels.

This soup was loosely inspired by this recipe

Soup in bowl

Ingredients

Butternut squash

Two carrots

One apple

Small shallot or leek

Garlic (about one clove or some garlic powder)

Fresh thyme (about 2 tsp)

Fresh sage (about 2 tsp)

About 3-4 cups vegetable broth

Olive oil

Coconut milk

Salt and pepper to taste

soup in pot
In practice, you’ll want to chop the carrots and apple prior to placing them in the pot, I just left them whole for the sake of the composition

Instructions:

Cut butternut squash in half and scoop out seeds. Brush with olive oil and then lightly salt and pepper it. Roast face down on a baking sheet at 400° until soft (about 45 minutes)

Once done, let cool for a few minutes until you can handle it. Scoop out all of the squash into a bowl.

Cut apple and carrots into bite sized pieces

In a large pot, saute garlic and leeks (or shallot) until soft and fragrent. Add carrot, apple, cooked squash, thyme, sage, and vegetable broth. Simmer until apples and carrots are soft )about 15 minutes or so. Add coconut milk. Blend with an immersion blender.

Garnish with salt and pepper, per illustration

 

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Dig in!

Serafina

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Minestrone

Oh, hey guys! Sorry, was that a microaggression? I want to clarify that I wasn’t assuming anyone’s gender there. I honestly couldn’t care less how many penises or butt holes you have.

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I felt guilty sorting out the green tomatoes, but don’t worry, I held each of them to my face and let them know that I’d eat them once they changed the essence of their being

Anyway, I don’t know if y’all noticed, but it is fall (oh, I just now got why southerners say y’all, it’s to avoid the microaggression!) I’m so, so sorry this blog doesn’t have any pumpkin recipes yet. It’s not going to change today. What will change is the number of soup recipes we have to offer you. Thanks to my productive garden this year, and the fact that there isn’t an Olive garden within 25 miles of me, I decided to make my own minestrone.

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I’m pretty sure that my distance to the nearest Olive Garden qualifies my area as a food desert

I adapted this recipe from many, many minestrone recipes. I also only used what I had on hand since I really didn’t feel like going to a grocery store. I also think this is one of the few places that whole wheat noodles would work really well.

Ingredients

Olive Oil

Onion powder (or about ½ an onion if you don’t hate onions)

Garlic powder (or a few cloves of garlic)

1 zucchini, chopped into bite sized pieces

Several cups of fresh tomatoes, diced (or a can of diced tomatoes)

About 6 cups of vegetable broth

A handful of fresh basil or 1-2 tsp dried

1-2 tsp dried herbs de provence spice blend

1 tsp oregano

1 can of chickpeas

About 8 oz pasta

Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional veggies that often go in minestrone, but that I did not have on hand: carrots, spinach, potatoes)

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The large pile of mint did not go into the minestrone. That went into a julep because I was in a Southern mood after learning to say y’all

Instructions

Heat oil in a large pan, and sauté garlic powder and onion powder briefly until fragrant. Add carrots, zucchini, tomatoes, chickpeas, and other dried spices. Cook for a few minutes. Then add broth and bring to a simmer. Add pasta and continue to simmer. A few minutes before the pasta is done, add in your fresh basil and other greens if using.

Serve with obscene amounts of parmesan.

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This was a far more attractive amount of parmesan, than I actually used.

Serafina

Healthy snacking

When life gets stressful, it’s important to manage your health and nutrition. I recently started working from home more often. Not actually working from home, per se, but I’m home more often so I can focus on my rigorous studies, training to be the next Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman.  When you don’t have coworkers around you and small, measurable workplace goals, it’s harder to keep yourself motivated and on task.

I’ve found that a well-timed, healthful snack is extremely important in my home productivity. It’s essential to ensure your snacks have whole grains and protein, which is why I swapped out half of the flour for whole wheat and kept the eggs in this recipe for cookie dough.

I like to have my first snack of the morning with coffee, after I’ve watched a few episodes of Dr. Quinn, taking detailed notes.

Healthy morning
You can see that there is a box of deck screws behind the eggs. That’s because I have other hobbies that I may or may not choose to share with you. How about you get off my back about it?

By mid-afternoon, I find that my energy levels are subsiding, so I make sure to have some healthful green tea (full of antioxidants and just a little jolt of caffeine), along with some sensible whole grains and protein

healthy afternoon snack
I just couldn’t resist the photogenic nibble while my tea was brewing!

Now, by the time evening rolls around, I start to really drag. I’m going to be honest, every now and then I get an intense sugar craving, but sugar is so bad for you! So, I usually drink some sparkling water with a nice snack, chock full of fiber, protein, and healthy fats!

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I make my own sparking water with reusable CO2 containers, it’s much healthier for the environment and me!

Happy, healthy snacking, everyone!

Serafina

Self-care in the Caribbean 

Sorry my post is late, but I am currently in the Caribbean and did not calculate the time change correctly. Plus, I don’t even know what day it is. Ever. 

When I looked into the mirror last week, I was incredibly disappointed in the way I looked. Ugly is too kind a word. I can’t believe Annie hasn’t filed for divorce yet, though he’s been suspiciously googling lawyers lately. 

I’m sorry you are about to see some disturbing photos.

I decided to take a trip to the Caribbean for some self care / #treatyoself time. 

I couldn’t even manage a smile in this picture. My hair lost its sheen, and my skin was terribly broken out that I couldn’t even hide it with makeup.

I left for the red eye immediately.  I didn’t even buy a plane ticket or make plans beforehand, or actually even tell Annie. He will find out if he reads this post because I also forgot my phone and underwear so I bought both at the airport. 

The beach was amazing. It wasn’t a nude beach but I still was naked the entire time.

It wasn’t just the change of scenery that was rejuvenating. My body also needed a cleansing so I make sure to only consume high grade alcohols and I sweat out the toxins when I drunkedly ran the beach trying to find my tour guide. It was spiritual. 

As for my skin? I felt that wearing a charcoal mask for the majority of the time was effective. 

There are toxins in your eyeballs and teeth too, so don’t skimp on the mask in those areas.

All in all, the trip has been a success. I’ll be heading home in about three months I think. 

Maybe it’s just because I brushed my hair but I look amazing now.

Next time I’ll share a healthy recipe to heal your toxic shit body too. 

Me and my tour guide, Nathan.

That guy isn’t Spock, 
Mary Ellen 

How to be Better at Everything than Martha Fucking Stewart

(Growing, Cutting, and Arranging Flowers for Everyday Enjoyment)

When I was born, my parents considered naming my Martha Stewart, but they we worried about the effect that my success would have on the original Martha Stewart. They eventually chose to stick with our family name, Berafina, and go with my biblical first name (we are devout theoretical Quakers).

It took many years for me to finally accept my natural superiority at the domestic arts. My staunch Vegan-Texas-Stripper brand of feminism often clashed with my natural proclivities, but I learned to integrate the two after a deeply spiritual experience in a vegan leather bondage shop.

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The potted flowers here are impatiens, which I originally planted after misreading the name.

I moved into my current homestead several years ago. My initial experiments with raised beds were met with limited success, mostly due combination of chickens and no fencing. This year we tilled a garden patch and built a fence to keep the chickens out. I focused mostly on vegetables, but I made sure to include a few flowers to brighten up the immaculately designed garden patch.

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You can see how I expertly planted a 3 ft tall marigold bush in between my step stones. It’s advisable to only garden if you are very good at balancing on one foot while not crushing any squash vines.

Almost any long-stemmed flower lends itself well to cutting. Some of the varieties in my garden include daffodils, irises, lavender, black-eyed Susan, Gerber daisies, zinnias, dahlias, sunflowers, and marigolds.

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Marigolds actually smell pretty bad, so I can’t totally recommend them for decorative use unless you have a really bad sense of smell.

You can see here that I have the flowers cut long enough for their container. I also recommend arranging them in an aesthetically appealing manner.

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You don’t have to have an “ugly side” of your flower arrangement. Unless you cut some zinnias before you actually looked at the dahlias and said “fuck it, good enough”

 

Every rose has its thorn

Serafina

I Don’t Know How to Make BibimBap 

But I tried anyway. 

And I’ll do it again! 

I think this dish is trendy around where I used to live, because it was advertised everywhere. I never looked into it until quite recently, when I decided my lazy stir frys were boring and stupid and I just couldn’t handle any more soy sauce rice at that moment. You can tell by how eloquently I speak about food that I’m incredibly cultured, and have tasted the finer things in life. 

I was also inspired by the egg rice battle that I temporarily had with Serafina on the blog, and technically this counts because it has rice and eggs. 

[Warning: I’m talking out of my ass]  Traditionally, this dish can be made to order in a hot stone bowl, which helps cook the raw egg, possibly the raw meat, and it crisps up the rice. I don’t have these materials or skills, so this is the lazy white girl version. If you listen to kpop or watch kdramas while making it, it enhances the flavors and spices and helps compensate around 30% for the fact you’re not a Korean grandmother. 

BibimBap (adapted clunkily from My Korean Kitchen)



Ingredients:

  • Vegetables (I used a combination of fresh and frozen, including a julienned carrot)
  • 4oz ground beef 
  • Meat sauce (from the My Korean Kitchen blog) 
  • Gochujang sauce (from the other blog, seriously, you need to get the recipe there I’m lazy) 
  • Rice (I used brown rice) 
  • A fried egg per person
  • Sesame seeds
  • Seaweed
  • Sesame oil
  • Vinegar (I used rice vinegar) 
  • Rice bran oil
  • Sugar, both brown and regular 
  • Minced garlic (I just used some from a jar) 

Directions: 



I couldn’t find toasted sesame seeds so I toasted some myself, like a homesteader.



Make up the meat sauce and marinate the beef with it while you work. This took my three hours because I got distracted and had to change poopy diapers and do other things equally exciting. Also make up the BibimBap sauce. 

In case you needed to see what gochujang is, because I didn’t know, and my choices are limited in my town.
Legit the first time I’ve used this since I bought it a few years ago.

Prep the vegetables, whatever that might entail. I didn’t do much. I sautéed some frozen stir fry with oil and salt, and julienned a carrot. I did not cook the carrot because I wanted a fresh crunch to the dish. I also sliced up the seaweed. 

Here are vegetables.
The product I used is a Korean product according to the package, making it authentic as hell.

Cook the beef, assemble the bowls with the rice and lay out the vegetables in a pretty way. Top with a fried egg and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds, and drizzle with the sauce. I did not use raw meat or egg because I’m a coward and I would probably kill myself with food poisoning. 

I do not have bowls appropriate for this dish. I made a huge mess.

 

Maybe it’s because I’m a badass, but I didn’t think the sauce was that spicy, and loved it so much. It was only enough for two people in my opinion. Same with the beef. And I used a ton of vegetables. This is why I’m fat. 

I hope this inspires you to try and create your own BibimBap masterpiece. 

Always read the comment section,
Mary Ellen 

Southern Style Tomato Sandwiches and How to Make Simple Dishes Fancy

I didn’t want to do another Saturday post, but here we are nonetheless. It’s no excuse, but I’ve been busy working on my heavy metal jazz infusion album, which drops this coming week. So, now that that’s out of the way, I should have a much less hectic schedule. 

When I was growing up, my dad used to make us tomato sandwiches for lunch on the weekends. I loved them. I assumed he made them because we were so poor and couldn’t afford ingredients and also that he was lazy. But it turns out, that it was actually a southern thing I was unaware of until recently. 
The recipe is easy: bread, tomato, mayo. That’s it. I’m sure you can figure out how those come together, but I’ll write down the recipe just in case. 

And I’m going to make it fancy and pretentious. 

There are a few simple rules to make any dish fancy. First, add butter. It doesn’t matter what it is, just add a lot of butter to the dish. Second, buy oddly shaped, expensive baked goods with a French name. And finally, make sure you add in at least seven extra steps to your dish to make it more complicated. It doesn’t matter if they’re unnecessary. Just do it. 

Tl;dr – get all ingredients at Whole Foods and speak in a French accent while you cook. 

The traditional recipe calls for Wonder Bread, whatever tomatoes are on sale, and generic fake mayo. We can only go up from here, people. 

Mary Ellen’s Tomato Sandwiches to Make You Feel Sorry for Her Childood:

Bonus: use vegan mayo to give it the extra “in your face” pretentiousness we all crave.

Ingredients:

  • Mayo
  • Heirloom tomatoes
  • Fancy bread
  • Lettuce*****
  • Salt
  • Butter

Directions:

Cut the fancy bread with a chef’s knife because you don’t have a bread knife.



Melt butter in an iron skillet. No, none of this is negotiable. Go out and buy all these things. What? You want to just toast the bread in a toaster? Wtf is wrong with you? You toast the bread in the skillet!

You will become french toast later, my prettys.

Slice some tomato. Apply mayo to bread. Yes, I know, butter AND mayo? Isn’t that too much? Yes, but so what. Lightly salt the tomato with pink Himalayan salt. Lay down some lettuce. Put in mouth. 

This is what a sandwich looks like. Serve with whimsically cubed watermelon.

Make sure to buy my album. I will sign all digital copies, but only if you promise not to sell them on eBay. 

Music is lyfe,

Mary Ellen 

*****Editor’s note: don’t use whatever bullshit lettuce Mary Ellen used. It’s iceberg or bust if you want the satisfying crunch. 

Garden Green Curry

Man, oh, man, I’ve been having a lot of GI issues lately (I wish I could just insert a poo emoji here, but I don’t know how to do that on my computer… I’m only technically a millennial). Anyway, I’ve had a number of conversations with my significant other about how if I die from this illness, he will need to make sure my headstone reads “Here lies Serafina Bearafina, who died out of her butt”

I’m obviously hoping that doesn’t happen, but you have to have a plan in place.

Anyway, prior to my…problems, I was spending a shitload of time gardening. A few weeks ago, I made this lovely dish (I only mention that it was a few weeks ago so no one thinks that this curry will make you die out of your butthole)

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If you’re wondering, no, the broccoli isn’t supposed to look like that, it was basically broccolini, just grown from regular broccoli seeds because I planted it too late.

This curry was born out of the most wonderful of circumstances. My boyfriend, who refuses to eat curry after an incident with his freshman year cafeteria, was away for the weekend. My garden produced about 10 zucchinis and some other unidentified stuff. And (most importantly), I discovered a jar of green curry paste that was about to expire. I know you all wish you can be as inspired in the kitchen as I am, but I’m hoping by sharing these little genuine moments, you can learn how to make edible food.

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Here’s another tip to help you on your food journey: if you think the cauliflower your grew looks weird, taste it before you drop it in the pan.

Ingredients

Brown rice, cooked

1-2 tsp coconut oil

Garlic powder

Ginger powder

Green curry paste

Splash of water

Several cups of garden vegetables (or grocery store vegetables if you don’t understand how to water your garden)

1 can coconut milk

1-2 tsp coconut aminos

1 tsp lime juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Cilantro to garnish

 

Instructions

Cook your rice if you didn’t already (it doesn’t taste very good raw)

Heat coconut oil with ginger and garlic powder for a few moments, then add green curry and a splash of water. Add veggies and saute for a few minutes. Add coconut milk and cook until veggies are soft (maybe 15 minutes?) Once cooked, add lime juice, salt, pepper, and coconut aminos.

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Try not to text your boyfriend a picture of all of the things he hates, unless you want to make sure he doesn’t actually come home.

*poo emoji*

Serafina

Guide to a Happy Marriage (actually I’m just going to make sex jokes) 

Yesterday, Annie and I celebrated our five year anniversary, so sorry the post is a day late. I was too busy having celebratory sex all day. Just kidding. I’m married and have a one year old, so we were both sick with the plague again, after less than two weeks of health. 

We just watched kpop videos until the late hour of 9pm, then went to bed. This is basically the secret spice to our life.
No one has ever asked us about the secret to our happy marriage, which kind of makes me a little resentful. How can I be smug as hell about it when no one asks? How can I bring it up in daily conversation, unprovoked? 

A lot of Mormon mom blogs out there have very nice lists to a happy marriage. Usually the lists consist of having sex whenever your husband wants, and praying to Jesus. I can’t really argue with those list items, I suppose, because they really do go hand in hand. But what about the rest of us, who really just phone it in on a daily basis with, basically everything, until the point where our lives become a shit show? 

Just like how I’m writing this post on the fly, with no forethought, because all my other planned posts will take too much effort and right now I’d really like to take a nap, that’s how I approach marriage. Sure, sometimes I plan things out. I waxed my legs recently. Sometimes I plan dinner in advance. But usually, my marriage is like an improve show, and the audience is throwing up the weirdest shit ever and we just have to say yes to it all in order to not get booed off the stage. There is no Emcee monitoring it, so it gets chaotic. 

I’m so fucking deep. You guys are writing this all down, right? 

We’re always a mess. *giggle*
Serafina was at my wedding, and I’ll never forget what she said to me, because they’re the words of a true friend: 

“I can just keep driving and you don’t have to do this.” 

I’m getting teary just thinking about that moment, when I almost ran away. Maybe it was the love I felt for Annie, or the confusion I felt for the “Call Me Maybe” song Serafina was blasting on the radio, or maybe it was my cousin forcing us to go to the venue, but I’m glad I got slightly buzzed and went through with it all the same. Because now, instead of running away from my problems, I can thrust them upon someone else to carry (and we still run away). 

I hope this helps other couples with whatever they might be going through. If it doesn’t, bondage does wonders for any marriage, as well as your soul. 

50 shades of sass,

Mary Ellen 

More Egg Rice 

I’m sorry that I’ve been MIA for a long while. I was sick, died, ressurected, and then I’ve been busy coming up with the perfect playlist for working out. I love making playlists for everything because they are the modern form of mix tapes, which I used to actually make for people all the time, because I was adorable/a creepy nerd. Have a crush? Let them know with a heartfelt compilation of emotional Hanson songs. I continued this tradition even with the advent of CDs, and even went so far as to make a “I’m sorry we broke up, I want to be friends, but I also still want to have sex with you/I will stalk you every day until you love me” mix. When CDs died, I ran to iTunes, and now I’m resting comfortably with Spotify. 
Since I’ve been so busy making playlists, I hardly have time to cook, clean, or have foresight in general. Actually, I don’t think I even made dinner for my husband last night. I think I had a bowl of cereal, I wonder what he had? 

I eat sweet potatoes sometimes as meals. This was painstakingly made by wrapping in foil and throwing it into the oven, where I forgot about it because I didn’t set a timer. Luckily, it turned out well for me.

I go back and forth on the egg thing. I love eggs most of the time, but then I need like, several months of a break. I make a lot of egg scrambles with whatever ingredients I have on hand. This recipe, however, was inspired by a dish at a local ramen spot near my house. A true gem of a place. We went with friends, and it took a couple of hours to get all our food, which was fine since they brought out my sake and I didn’t care about the rest. After like 90 minutes of still missing half our order, I walked up to one of the dudes walking around, and politely informed him that we were still missing our dishes, and like, wondered if they were going to get them for us. He didn’t speak English, and ran away. He was scared of me the rest of the night. 
Anyway, one of our friends and Annie both ordered vegetable fried rice, and they brought out rice with egg in it, and no vegetables. I was jealous. 
This recipe is not fried rice. I’m too lazy for that.  
Egg Scramble with Rice (adapted from a local ramen joint with communication issues)

Ingredients: 

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup frozen vegetables of your choice 
  • Cheese (optional) 
  • 1/2 TBSP butter or oil
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice of your choice
  • Soy sauce 

Directions:

Heat butter or oil in a pan at medium heat and add vegetables. Cook until heated through and add cheese (if you want) until it melts. 

Today I used peppers and corn that was genetically modified to taste like carrots. It counts as an extra vegetable.

Scramble the eggs in a bowl and pour into pan. 

Serafina would just eat it at this stage because she doesn’t even have time to cook her eggs.

Prepare a bowl of rice and drizzle soy sauce in it and mix it in. Top it with the scramble and eat it while silently wishing you were eating cookies for lunch instead. 

Not cookies, but I guess it works.

That’s all for this week. If you would like your own personalized mixtape from Mary Ellen, send an inquiry through the Contact Page and a representative will be with you within 1-12 days. 
Scrambles are just free spirited omelettes. 
Mary Ellen