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Party food is one of my great joys in life.  Call it what you will: hors d’oeuvres, finger food, cocktail nibbles, appetizers…whatever you call it, it’s tasty.

When I first decided I was going to try my hand at being good at cooking, making my own party food wasn’t really on my radar.  But H fancies himself a host extraordinaire,  and soon enough I found myself in situations that required me feeding guests.  It was then that it dawned on me: I didn’t need to tolerate the store-bought onion dip with a weird chemical aftertaste.  I could make my own hors d’oeuvres. And boy, did I ever.

Some people (sane people) might argue that making all your own appetizers is a huge waste of time.  Yes, maybe I was scrambling around my kitchen last night frantically putting things together 5 minutes before my book-club ladies arrived, but you know what?  I think it’s worth the extra effort.  I know I’m in the minority in thinking that way, but I don’t care.  You can taste the love, people. You can.

One party food in particular that I am obsessed with is dips.  Scratch that: my love for dipping things in other things goes way beyond the realm of party food.  In any situation, if there is something dip-able that I can consume, I am infinitely happy.  Hey, I never said I was a complicated girl.

I made 3 dips (well, one could be considered a “spread”) last night. They were all equally delicious, but I must say, the Onion Dip is legitimately like crack.  In a good way.

 

Tomatillo & Avocado Dip

You’ll Need:

3-4 medium-sized tomatillos (note: I got tomatillos in my CSA last week.  They are the tomato-y looking things (but green) that have a papery skin which you have to remove before cooking. Trust that I would NEVER have bought these things on my own.  But they are very delicious).

1/2 an onion

2 cloves of garlic

1 small jalapeno, seeds removed (or keep some seeds for extra heat)

1 avocado

1 lime

1 small handful of cilantro

To Do:

1. In a pan over medium heat, throw chopped up onion, garlic, jalapeno, and the whole tomatillos together with a drizzle of EVOO

2.  Saute for approximately 10 minutes, or until the tomatillos have softened (but not burst)

3. Put sautéed veggies into a food processor, pulse once or twice–you want to keep it pretty chunky

4. Add avocado, the juice of the lime, and the cilantro to the food processor, pulse a few more times until you achieve desired consistency (I like my dip with a little body to it).

5. Salt & Pepper to taste. Stick in fridge until your guests arrive.

Serve with tortilla chips.  Also super yummy as a sandwich spread.

Carmelized Onion Dip

You’ll Need:

2 large white onions

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Butter (approx. 3 tablespoons)

1 1/2 cups of Sour Cream

1/4 cup of mayonnaise (I eyeballed this and used 2 heaping big-spoonfulls)

2 tablespoons of cream cheese

1 pinch of Cayenne pepper

Salt & Pepper

To Do:

*Note–you can make this dip 2 ways, either in the slow-cooker, or on the stop top. The slow-cooker method is more hands-off, but if you don’t have one, the pan method works great too–just takes more hands-on time.

For the Slow-Cooker version:

1. Chop onions

2. Add onions, a hearty drizzle of EVOO, and butter to slow-cooker. Sprinkle with salt.

3. Cook on “low” setting for 8 hours (do it in the morning and it will be ready when you get home from work), or the “high” setting for 4 hours.

4. Onions will be done when they are deep brown. That’s called carmelization!

5. Drain excess liquid from onions.

6. In a bowl, combine onions, sour-cream, mayo, and cream cheese.  Stir well to combine.  *Note: you can adjust the ratio of sour cream, mayo, and cream-cheese to your liking.  I know some people are weird about mayo.

7. Add pinch of Cayenne, and salt & pepper to taste.

8. Store in fridge until guests arrive, serve with potato chips, try not to lick bowl.

For the Stove-top Version:

1. Chop onions

2. In a large pan, combine onions, butter, and EVOO.  Sprinkle with salt.

3. Saute until onions are a deep-brown, stirring constantly and adding a splash of water if the onions start to burn (this will take some time, at least 30 minutes if not more)

4. Combine onions, sour cream, mayo, and cream-cheese.

5. Add cayenne pepper, salt and pepper, to taste

6. Store in fridge until guests arrive, serve with chips, try not to lick bowl.

White Bean Spread with Lemon & Thyme

You’ll Need:

2 cans of white beans (often labeled “Cannellini beans” or “White Northern Beans”

1 bunch of fresh Thyme

1 large lemon

2 cloves of garlic, minced

To Do:

1. Drain liquid from beans and rinse with water

2. In a pot, saute garlic in EVOO until barely golden

3. Dump beans into the same pot, adding a little water

4. Cook beans over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes, until soft

5. Remove beans from pot into a bowl, draining some water if necessary.

6. Add Thyme (just how much is up to you.  I added approx. 2 tablespoons, tasting as I went)

7. Using a fork or a potato masher, mash up beans into a “spreadable” consistency.

8. Squeeze lemon into bean mixture, stir to combine.  Drizzle with EVOO (optional)

9. Leave at room temperature until guests arrive.  Serve with a sliced baguette.

*this is also awesome on sandwiches.

Prosciutto & Fontina Pinwheels

(*Not a dip. Still awesome.)

You’ll Need:

1/4 a pound of Prosciutto

Fontina Cheese

1 Package Puff Pastry

Pepper

Dijon Mustard

To Do:

1. Thaw out puff pastry.  There are usually 2 sheets per package.  When dough is pliable but still cold, lay out 1 sheet on parchment paper.

2. Spread a small amount of Dijon Mustard onto pastry, then sprinkle with Pepper (you don’t need salt here–the prosciutto is salty enough on its own)

3. Layer prosciutto slices over pastry

4. Grate fontina cheese, using enough to cover prosciutto evenly (exactly how much is up to you)

5. Roll up pasty (I rolled from the side, not the bottom), using a bit of warm water to seal the seam.

6. Store roll in fridge until you need it–it’s easier to slice the colder it is

7. Slice roll into “pinwheels,” lay out on parchment paper on a cookie sheet

8. Bake for approximately 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees, or until golden brown

9. Repeat with 2nd sheet of pastry, if needed. Each sheet makes approximately 10 -12 pinwheels.

Now who wants to come over for some snacks?

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Oh hey guys.  How’s it going?

I know it’s been six months since I went on “hiatus” (sorry for not warning you.  My bad. Things got a lil busy.), but guess what? Now that summer has rolled around and I have a little more free time, I think I can pick this business back up.

Also, and this has NOTHING to do with it, but my little sister C. stared a blog too–not only because she wants to emulate me in every way possible but also because she’s in Hawaii for her post-grad summer. Just hanging out on the beach. Meanwhile, I got a JOB after I graduated college…but that’s neither here nor there.  I’m ecstatic for her and not even the slightest bit smug that she can’t figure out the Hawaiian public transit system.  Look, I’m so un-bitter about this whole thing that I’ll even link to it: http://summerinhawaii.wordpress.com/

She’s a doll and she’s pretty witty so you should go visit.  Also, she gets really tan and I’m sure she’ll document that heavily as I sit wasting away in pale misery in my cube.

Now, you would think that as my blog was lying dormant (it was hibernating!  There you go, that’s my excuse) it would slip through the cracks of the vast internetz.  However.  That was not so.  You see, WordPress has a handy and very entertaining feature called “Top Searches” that shows you how people found Better Off Red. And to my utter surprise, not only did my busiest day come mid-hiatus, but people stumbled onto this site in the strangest of ways even sans-updates.

So, for my grand return to blogging, I give you the list of search phrases that led people to my humble corner of the web:

Search Views
hipster glasses 44
snowpocalypse 16
ironic mustache 9
dirty hipster 9
creep stache 5
better off red wordpress 5
hipster goatee 4
wordpress better off red 4
people with mustaches 3
george leier 3
snowpocalypse new york 2010 3
beard hipster glasses 3
new york snowpocalypse 3
moustache 3
betteroffred 3
you’re doing it wrong stache 3
+”synthesize ddt” 2
ironic mustaches 2
шнауцер 2
better off red blog 2
snowpocalypse.jpg 2
turbot dill 2
tom selleck mustache eyes 2
awesome moustaches 2
snowpocalypse gizmodo 2
hipster with glasses 2
cop with mustache 2
hipster fashion 2
the ironic mustache 2
scraggly beard “angry” 2
novel red led alarm clock sports cool cubby hole design 1
winter squash canelloni 1
noodles for breakfast 1
winter squash manicotti filling 1
turbot fillets en papillote 1
turbot en papillote 1
щенки морки 1
worldpress “better off red” 1
ragey glasses 1
betteroffred.com 1
jamie oliver stuffed cannelloni 1
maryewood 1
julia child’s cookbook 1
betteroffred.wordpress.com 1
fashion disaster exercise clothes 1
your doing it wrong 1
hipsters glasses men 1
the ironic stach 1
turbot en papillot 1
dead fish apocalypse 1
red mustaches that look good 1
snopacalyspe 1
snowacalypse sanitation workers strike 1
david tutera 1
ironic moustache 1
dirty hipster glasses 1
hipster facial hair glasses 1
ferris beuler’s day off 1
snowpocalypse new york 1
snowpocalypse nyc 2010 1
tom selleck black and white 1
ironic stache 1
no no no don’t lie 1
dill papillote sauce 1
better off red 1
hipster beard hat glasses 1
subway snowpocalypse 1
dirty hipster pics 1
hipster in glasses 1
unwonderful 1
ugly hipster 1
“must grow a mustache” 1
pedophilia your doing it wrong 1
“better off red” blog 1
porn stache selleck 1
cop stache 1
mens hipster eyeglasses 1
turbot wine sauce 1
evil genius moustache 1
ironic hipster glasses 1
http://www.betteroffred.fantake 1
tribecataco 1
duxbury croakies 1
turbot en papillote recipes 1
wonderful mustache 1
tom selleck porn stache 1
ultimate hipster glasses 1
alone again naturally flip side 1
hipsters mustaches 1
squash manicotti 1

 

Let me first say that it is so stupidly ironic that the phrase “mustache” and “hipster” bring the most people to my site.  Because, as you know, both things are the bane of my existence.  Funny how life turns out, isn’t it.

A few of my favorites off this list:

– “george leier”: either my dad’s BFF is googling himself a lot OR someone has a stalker!  Sorry George.

– “щенки морки”: I am dying to know A. what language that is and B. what it means.

– “no no no don’t lie”: Okay okay…I won’t.

– “scraggly beard “angry””: Which is how I described H throughout much of college.

– “tom selleck mustache eyes”: Only because the idea of “mustache eyes” kinda freaks me out

– and finally, “red mustaches that look good” : I can answer that one for you.  Those don’t exist.

 

 

 

 

 

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Remember when like last week I blogged about the snowpocalypse (I can’t tell you how hard that is to spell for me, by the way).  Well, I hate to dwell on one subject, but this week I feel compelled to blog about the REAL APOCALYPSE.  Because all signs point to the fact that it is actually happening.

It’s the birds, people.  This whole bird thing is freaking. Me. Out. Have you heard about this story?  8 million birds just fell out of the sky on New Years Eve in East Tumbleweed, the mid-west, DEAD as doornails. No one knows why.  All we know is that they died from “massive trauma” that made their insides explode.  Or something.  You can tell I’ve been paying close attention to the details of this story that is scaring me so terribly.  Obviously.

(Note: it was more like 4,000 birds, and in Idaho.  Whatever.)

But it doesn’t stop there.  Reports were soon coming in that a trillion (or, 30,00, same diff) fish abruptly died in a river nearby.  AND!  In the few days after the mysterious mass demise of those Idahoian (Idahese?) birds, reports surfaced that the same thing was happening in other states. Same birds. Other kinds of fish.  Just straight up dying.  For no apparent reason.

Cue Twilight Zone music here.

Now, in case you haven’t noticed yet, I am a teesny bit prone to panicking and having crazy anxiety in situations that might not warrant such intense feelings (i.e. bringing a dish to my office potluck. I cried in the grocery store.  True story).  BUT.  This is, I feel, a perfectly good time to start panicking.  I would be cool as a cucumber if it was just those birds in Idaho that randomly ate it.  However, the increasingly bizarre similar events that also happened push me into crazy freak out mode.

On the other hand, I kinda like when eerie things happen.  I get a little thrill along with my fear/anxiety/planning on where I am going to wait out the alien invasion.  Why?  I don’t know, I’m probably just a weirdo.  But I also think that the world as-is is pretty freaking boring, so anything like this, which spices it up and makes us question what exactly is really going on here, is kinda fun.  And terrifying!

I’m not saying I am a conspiracy theorist, or a loony “IT’S THE END!” kind of person.  I am generally an 85% practical, pragmatic gal (although H might put that percentage a bit lower).  But this is really, really, super weird.  It also doesn’t help that below every single news story about these events on the internet are hordes of psychotic commentators telling us to repent, for Jesus Christ is coming, the end is nigh.  That, and/or aliens.  Oh also, I learned from reading those comments that the government is trying to kill all of us.   Thank you for enlightening me, whack-job internet commentators!

My reading of these comments (and actually, even some of the articles from more questionable sources) goes something like this:

– First couple of sentences: Ha!  These people are CRAZY!  The world isn’t ending! Science has a perfectly logical explanation for this!

– Middle of the article/comment list: Hm.  That guy actually has a point.  Why just one species of bird? What did they hit?  Why is this happening everywhere? WHAT ABOUT THE FISH, HM?

End of article/comment list: Holy god in heaven.  Those birds ran into an invisible alien spaceship that was commissioned by our government to enslave us all, thereby giving all power to the Chinese.  There was, somehow, a super-secret ray gun involved. Also, the bible said this would happen!  If the word ends before I can throw myself a truly ridiculous wedding, I will be SO. PISSED.

This might actually be a genetic thing.  My parents, who are generally reasonable people, have recently let all us kids know that the world is in fact ending in 2012, and that we are all required to convene at our cabin the middle of the woods in upstate New York on D-Day (I think it’s in December) in order to remain breathing and non-radioactive (among other things).  I personally think my parents might be watching a few too many Nostradamus/Mayan Calender/Armageddon shows on the History Channel, but okay.  To each their own.

Because it seems like a very human response to envision your own (and all of mankind’s) demise.  Why do you think all those “end of the world” movies are so popular?  Why do you think people ate up TV shows like Flash Forward and V and Walking Dead?  The greatest fear of people is, of course, the unknown.  And what is more unknown than the future?  So by assigning terrible events that are obviously going to happen, maybe people make themselves feel better.

I remain on the fence.  I’m not yet stock-piling water and canned goods in my basement (I don’t even have a basement, actually), but I’m also not immune to all the doom-sayers and their crazy talk.  I have an overactive imagination and I’m prone to assuming the worst, but I also have to have some hope for the future, or else I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed in the morning.  It’s a fine line between being paranoid and being prepared. Let’s hope I can remain on the right side.

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Readers, I’m sorry I haven’t been as prompt at posting as I have been in the past. The thing is, everyone talks about how busy they are at the holidays, and for awhile I kinda went, pshhh, busy?! Not me. And then, magically, I’m an adult and I am, actually, busy as heck. So, apologies.

Much of my time has been taken up by traveling and planning on traveling and visiting everyone in the general vicinity whilst traveling, that kind of thing. Which is where today’s story begins. H’s family Christmas party in Massachusetts was last weekend, and we proved ourselves once again to be Mega Bus’s greatest customers by trekking up there.

As I was enjoying the food, festivities, and company at said party, something occurred to me. Something big. A milestone, if you will.

H and I, with really trying, have quite suddenly become “Wine People”

Let me rewind. This epiphany happened after a few important incidents. 1. I recently realized that I was a bit unusual in the wine-drinking department after my sister (who is no stranger to the fermented grape herself) thought I was insane for asking for a wine decanter as a housewarming gift. I like my wine decanted. Sue me! 2. H’s mom recruited us to go to the liquor store to buy wine because “we knew that kind of stuff” and 2. we were gifted not one, but TWO bottles of el vino. Granted, H’s mom is not a wine drinker, and bottles of wine are great gifts that I welcome with open arms. But nevertheless, there it was. Evidence that we are Wine People.

I would say I’m not sure how this happened, but I actually am pretty sure how it happened. It all started with an innocent trip to San Francisco last year. Never having been to the west coast, H and I decided that SF would be the best locale for an inaugural visit. And with vacation stretching before us, I suggested we spend one day on a wine tour in Napa Valley, a quick mini-bus jaunt from our hotel in the city.

We frolicked from vineyard to vineyard, tasting and swirling and sniffing. I discovered that H fancied himself as the owner of an (and I quote) “extremely refined palate” (and I concur that that might be the only refined thing about him. LOVINGLY.). After that day, it was official: wine was good. Two thumbs up. Actually, between the two of us, four thumbs.

Before that, my experience with wine was limited to a certain boxed variety favored by poor college students. That, and a week-long trip to Spain during my study-abroad semester where local red wine was the cheapest thing we could get drunk on. The theme of my early wine-drinking was apparent: wine was great! When there was nothing else cheaper.

But now that I am a ma-toor lady, things are different. The wine tour in Napa was the first of a few. I attempted to hone my palate (whose limit was “I taste…wine”) while H lorded his over everyone else (“I taste strawberries–no, raspberries. Deffinetly raspberries. Late summer harvest if I’m not mistaken”) and we found ourselves not just buying bottles when we felt like drinking them, but buying them to keep around, just in case.

Now I realize I tread a fine line, because Wine People can sometimes come off as, well, A-holes. Not all wine people, mind you, but you know the ones I’m talking about. The connoisseurs, the ones who wouldn’t touch a bottle of Yellowtail with a 7 foot pole. Exhibit A:

Warning: strong language. This man does not fool around with his wine.

So let me clarify, H and I are not Wine People of the pretentious, A-hole variety. I think because we just kind of fell into it rather than making a pointed effort of becoming Oenophiles. My motto, and I think H’s too is: if it tastes good, drink it. I mean, it’s not like we are subscribing to Wine Drinkers Monthly or spending an entire paycheck on a singular bottle or building our own temperature controlled wine-cellar under our apartment building. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We are Wine-o’s of the slightest, most amateur degree. But I guess that’s all you really need to be.

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Not so breaking news in the world of BOR: we are moving!

Yes, the time has come to break free of our 1st floor duplex and move on up.  I am exceedingly happy about this development for a few reasons.

1. Our new apartment is on the 5th (count it, 5th) floor.  That means that I will no longer stay up at night convincing myself that the noise I just heard was clearly someone breaking open our window to climb in and murder me.

2. In the same vein as #1, we will no longer have a 2nd floor to worry about.  The downstairs was great for guests (especially those of the extended variety…) but now that it’s empty it is simply another thing for me to lay awake and listen to.

3.  There is a dishwasher.   I weep with joy.

4.  The kitchen!  THE KITCHEN IN THIS PLACE.  It is. To die. For.   It’s all sleek and fancy and stainless steel appliance-filled.  It has a REAL sized fridge.  No more cubby-hole for me!  No more singular drawer! No more negative counter space!  If you think I’m impressive in the kitchen now, just you wait until I have enough space to really get going.

5. Due to the smaller size, we have to do some major purging.  I, for one, take great pleasure in throwing things in garbage bags and donating it all to charity.  H, no so much.  He’s a borderline hoarder.  I am steeling myself against the brawls that this move is going to create between us (“no, H, you don’t need your old golf bag/smelly cleats/sweater that does not fit/holey underpants”).  But really, he’ll have to see the light.  There simply isn’t enough room.

With that being said, I have spent the last 2 weeks all-out obsessing over how we are going to decorate our new home, what kind of new fancy things we can put in it, and how I can convince our landlords that painting the walls grey will up the re-sale value.  Yes, I am excited to get rid of all our old stuff and break free of the shackles of consumerism and materialism and all that jazz.  But more importantly, I am ready to do it all over again, from scratch, except in a way more sophisticated and interior-designy manner.

I never said I was sane.  Deal.

But what could you possibly be obsessing about, you crazy old bat? You might be asking yourselves.  Well, as an example:  yesterday afternoon I spent a solid 2 hours researching flat screen TV wall-mounts and shelves, but only the kind that hide away the cables from probing eyes.  Dangling, twisted wires annoy me.  Add that to the pet peeve list.

That probably isn’t even a good example, because a wall-mount for our yet-to-be-purchased flat screen is something we really do need.  It’s practical.  But my obsessing doesn’t stop at necessities, oh no.  No no no.

See, I go to other people’s apartments, and I am always flabbergasted at how freaking cute and well decorated everything is.  And instead of saying to myself okay brain, see that couch? You should get something like that. I’ll fixate on some tiny detail and that is all I’ll take away from my visit.  Self, do you see those incredibly ADORABLE giant upholstered letters sitting on her shelf?  THEY ARE HER INITIALS.  And OMGSPARKLYBOOKENDS!! MUST. COPY.

Clearly my decorating priorities are in the right place.  Clearly.

It also doesn’t help that every design website I visit (and that is a lot these days, trust me) has an insanely awesome thing that I must buy immediately.  Never mind that we aren’t moving until November and we need to get some basics (i.e a couch, a tv).  I want some whimsy, damn it.

Example A:

Completely Necessary

Just what the hell is that, you might inquire?  That, my friends, is a glass candle holder type thing that you tie to some twine/fishing-wire/what have you and hang from the ceiling.  I mean come on…what else could it be?

So I find these gems yesterday and immediately email H about it (because I am that kind of girlfriend) extolling how romantic and awesome looking a bunch of these would look hanging down from our soon-to-be-ceiling.  And how does my beloved respond?

“Uh, those look like major fire hazards.”

No imagination.  No vision.  How am I supposed to create a space with this galoot crushing my dreams of dangly glass candle-holders?!

You think I’m over-exaggerating, don’t you?  I can tell from here, you think I am.  Well non-believer, here are a couple more snazzy items  and images that I’ve bookmarked in my constant search for new apartment glory.  You call them crazy, I call them inspirational:

This is wallpaper. WALLPAPER.

This is a wall tile. I would like a whole wall of them.

I would sit down and never get back up.

It's impossible to be sad when you look at this guy.

Lantern!

LOVE LETTERS. On a CURTAIN. Sigh!

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Oh soup.  You are so easy to eat.  Open a can, dump in a bowl, microwave.  That’s it!  No wonder people like you.

That is, until, they read your ingredients list.  Which I bet a lot of you haven’t done.  Because you aren’t slowly (or not so slowly) turning into a crazy person who does things like study the ingredients in a can of soup.  Which I am.

Anyway, I was sick on Sunday, and the only thing that I could even contemplate eating was soup.  In the state I was in, making my own was not exactly an option.  So I grabbed a can and threw it on the stove and five minutes later I was staring at some good ole Progresso Penne with Chicken broth.  Or something.  I was delirious with illness, I don’t really remember

*Note: I would kindly appreciate it if the few of you who DO read this blog did NOT comment on the irony of me getting actually sick mere days after posting about my hypcondriacism (is that a word?).  kaythanks.

Even being sick, even with my taste buds basically dead, this soup was yucky to me.  The broth tasted weird, the penne was mushy, and it was so salty that I found myself with legit dry mouth after a measly 6 spoonfuls.  Who cares if I’m exsagerating…it was not good.  Let’s leave it at that.

So once i regained my health, I decided to make my own soup.  Because why not.  I had never done it, and  I had a bunch of tomatoes that were starting to go in the wrong direction, and figured, well, how hard can it be to smoosh those up and make one of my favorites: Tomato Soup?

Turns out, it’s not so hard.  OKAY FINE…it is harder than opening up a can and dumping the contents into a bowl and zapping it with weird radiation waves.  But seriously, this is great for a rainy Sunday (or Monday, in my case) when you’ve got an hour or two with nothing on the agenda.  Trust me.  Once you taste it you’ll realize what a hollow sham your life has been up until this moment: Soup. Epiphany.

*Another Note: the foundation for this recipe is Tyler Florence’s Roasted Tomato Soup, but I changed some things and added a bunch of stuff, so if you want the basic version, go visit Tyler here.

Roasted Tomato Soup (With Surprises!)

*Final note, I swear:  This is a 2 person serving.  Double/Triple/whatever accordingly.

You’ll Need:

3-4 tomatoes, diced with seeds removed

2 small red onions, quartered

3 cloves of garlic

1 beet, quartered

1 banana pepper, seeds removed

2 bay leaves

1 small handful of basil, ripped up

2-3 cups of chicken stock

Approx 1/2 a cup of Sour Cream (or half & half)

Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper

A Splash of Port or Red Wine (optional)

To Do:

  • preheat oven to 450 degrees
  • Toss tomatoes, onions, peppers, beet and garlic with olive oil, salt & pepper
  • Spread veggies on pan and roast until caramelized, 25-35 mins
  • Dump veggies into a sauce pan, adding bay leaves, ripped up basil, and enough stock to cover everything. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until liquid is reduced of a third-ish.
  • If using, add splash of Port or Red Wine, you Alcoholic you. Let it simmer a couple minutes more.
  • Pour contents (minus the bay leaves) of sauce pan into a food processor.
  • Blend until smooth, adding sour cream gradually (if you have one of those fancy immersion blenders, you can use that instead!)
  • Return soup to pot, thinning out if necessary with more chicken stock.
  • Douse with Parmesan Cheese and more Sour Cream.  You’re regaining your strength!  (at least that’s what I told myself)

There are so many layers of flavor in this seemingly simple soup, thanks to all my little add-ons (the pepper, the beet, the booze, etc). I didn’t take pictures of this BUT don’t be alarmed if your soup turns out to be a little pink.  It’s the beet.  And that beet is important because it makes this soup just the teeniest bit sweet, which in turn balances out the acid and the heat that the tomato and the pepper brings. I’ll say it again: layers, people.  Layers:

A quality that you sure aren’t finding in that stupid can.

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To no one’s surprise, I’m sure, I am a bit of a hypochondriac.  I think it goes hand-in-hand with my obsessive/anxious/psychotic thing I’ve got going on.  Because what is more fun and energy-consuming than convincing yourself that you’re dying of various diseases!

It doesn’t help that I have a delicate constitution to begin with.  You know those pale, frail looking Victorian ladies that look like they’d fall over if you sneezed near them?  That should’ve been me.  I was definitely born in the wrong era.  Give me a parasol and a tea set and I’m set for life.  Or at least I would’ve been, had the universe not played this cruel joke on me and placed me squarely in a post-millennial world.  Shoot.

If I was better at Photoshop I would've stuck my face on here

So because of my delicate-ness I often struggle with my health.  This is not new.  Every organized sport I ever attempted ended in me injured and most likely bleeding.  I missed almost all of 1st grade due to chronic tonsillitis and the subsequent tonsillectomy that was supposed to fix it.  Which is why I now can’t really tell time on an analog clock.  Or do math in general.  But that’s neither here nor there.

The point is that these days its way to dangerously easy for me to self-diagnosis every pain and weird feeling and suspicious looking freckle (skin cancer runs in the family OKAY).  And trust me, I am very observant.  There is a lot to diagnose.

Usually it goes something along these lines:

1. Feel something weird.  Sit quietly for a moment to ensure this is not a figment of my imagination.  Nope. That tender, kind of hurting spot on your tongue is real. PANIC!  WHAT COULD IT BE?

2. Poke/prod suspicious area until you’ve endured enough pain to decide that maybe sticking it with a sewing needle isn’t the best course of action.  Even if you did ‘sterilize’ it with a match first.

3. Whip out the computer.  Google the issue.  Because googling solves everything.  For example: “Weird white spot on tongue that hurts” (this was a real google search of mine).  UPON PAIN OF DEATH do NOT click on ‘images.’  You’ll have nightmares for weeks.  Seriously.

4. After an exhaustive Google search that turns up a bunch of quacks advising you to either SEEK A DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY or ‘just pull that sucker off yourself with a nail-clipper!’ (real advice on aforementioned tongue ouchie), turn to your dear, trusted friend, Web M.D

*A quick note about WebM.D.  I don’t know who invented it, but thank you.  Thank you for giving me one singular place that has literally every known medical malady just waiting for me to find it and convince myself I am dying.  Because Web M.D is legit.  It’s has a medical degree. Duh.

5. After an in-depth perusal of WebM.D  it is now clear that you have Oral Cancer of the tongual variety.  Find closest mirror and stare at spot on tongue for the next 45 minutes, wondering how long you have left to live, and who you should will your wardrobe too.

6. Ambush innocent bystander (boyfriend) and force him to examine you.  Tell him he’s stupid when he suggests maybe you are just dehydrated or tired.  These two reasons are his answer to literally every medical issue that you have.  Amateur.

7. Take some Excedrine Migraine.  Because that cures everything (okay, not really maybe, but that doesn’t stop me from taking it on an almost daily basis.  I get headaches!).

8. Call dear sweet Auntie K. who happens to be an RN.  Send a text-photo of your tongue to her to review.  Discuss how long it’s been there and what it feel like.

9. Stare at ouchie thing the mirror a little while longer.  Has it gotten bigger? I think it’s gotten bigger.

10. Swish with warm salt water.  Go to bed.  Wake up in the morning perfectly healthy.  Rejoice.  Until the next thing pops up, and the cycle continues…

Do you see what I’m dealing with here?  This isn’t even something I can control.  It just happens.  It doesn’t help that literally everything is out to kill you and give you cancer these days.  Your food, your water, the sun, everything. It’s terrifying.  TERRIFYING.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a suspect red dot on my knee that needs addressing.  Probably leprosy.

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