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Cooking for Your Doomed Relationship

They have cookbooks for everything these days. Chicken, pasta, everything!

Still, while there are certainly a lot of cookbooks, they don't exactly have cookbooks for everything. They may have cookbooks for Thanksgiving, cookbooks for entertaining large groups and cookbooks for intimate evenings, but not every culinary occasion is represented. Some demographics are completely overshadowed by the demanding "Just a Regular Cookbook, Please" market. And just because some of these demographics aren't as loud as the majority of the cookbook-buying community doesn't mean that their needs should be ignored, right?

This is why I'm proud to present my new cookbook:

This book offers no advice on how to fix your doomed relationship, but that doesn't mean you should go hungry while you navigate those cold and unforgiving waters! Please enjoy this brief sample.

Personal Space Nachos

Nachos are a delicious and easy-to-make recipe of Mexican origins. There's a lot of room to get creative and add your own personal flair, and they're just perfect for telling that special someone that she's suffocating you with her gradual and emotionless wearing down of the identity you spent so many years thoughtfully cultivating.


1.) The first thing you're going to want to do is deal with the meat, even if you're not necessarily ready for it. Begin browning it on your stove in a standard frying pan with a little bit of water. Once all of the pink is gone from the meat, drain it and return it to heat.

2.) Add all of the spices and slowly add in the Velveeta cheese, so it melts and mixes in with the meat.

3.) Add in the black beans, onion, mushrooms and chipotle peppers. Stir, but also look at your mixture for a while as it cooks. Really look at it.

4.) Kind of overwhelming, right? There's just a lot in front of you right now, a heaping mixture of spices and vegetables, all with their own traits and idiosyncrasies, and it's up to you to know how to properly handle them. Around this time you should start to realize that maybe you're in a bit over your head, but there's no turning back now!

5.) Once everything mixes together, put the high maintenance cheese and meat mixture aside for now, but don't forget about it. You're not getting away from it anytime soon.

Preparing the Chips

6.) Spread a nice, comfortable layer of refried beans on a baking sheet and then place your tortilla chips on top.

7.) Imagine the chips as your life before you decided to move in with your significant other. The chips represent everything that made up your "essence" as a single, independent and ambitious 20-something. The chips are sharp and crisp, they could go anywhere and do anything. Should you dip them in salsa? Crush them up and put them into a spicy soup? Use a layer of them to top off a nice chili? How about eating them all by themselves with no outside accouterments, enjoying their natural, unique flavor and style? You can do it, because the potential within these chips is limitless.


The power of the sun, in the palm of your hands.

8.) While the chips are clearly defined and immediately recognizable, they're also incredibly delicate. It's not hard to imagine that, with a little bit of focused and unrelenting force, those chips of your identity can be completely crushed until nothing identifiable about the original chips -- their majestic peaks, their admirable versatility, their edge -- remains intact. All it takes is some careless, selfish, bitch-faced handling and those once sumptuous chips will be reduced to mere crumbs, utterly indistinguishable from the cracker crumbs, cookie crumbs, even specks of pure garbage with which they will forever mingle in hard-to-clean kitchen crevices and beneath the refrigerator.

9.) What you want to do -- or, rather, what societal pressures are going to force you into believing you want to do -- is invite the meat-and-cheese mix from earlier to "move in" with the chips in the in-retrospect-too-small baking sheet. Start small by just pouring a thin layer of the mixture on top of the chips. Throw some more chips on top of that cheese, because it's nice to at least temporarily think the chips still have some control over the sheet. This will pass, you realize, when you have to layer even more cheese and meat on top of the second layer of chips. Note that the top layer of cheese is now dripping down, invading every available nook and cranny that the chips were foolish enough to think would remain free and open forever. You can throw an additional layer of chips atop this cheese if you want, but just know that more meat and cheese will find its way on top of that layer, so you might just be better off saving yourself the trouble. If you're not sure what to do, just keep pouring more and more cheese mix on top of everything. Really ... really smother those chips.


If they were a person with goals, those chips would be saying, "I can't breathe" right now.

10.) When you've added all of the meat and cheese dip so that the chips no longer resemble their once proud and seemingly indefatigable selves, toss some black olives, chopped jalapenos and diced tomatoes on top of the cheese. I didn't include this in the above ingredients list. They're meant to serve as little, unexpected, potentially unpleasant "surprises," and even if you didn't sign up for all this excess condiment baggage, it's part of the whole package, so you just have to live with it now.

11.) Set the oven to "Just impossible to live with" and it will shock you how soon your perfectly-fine-on-their-own chips will be transformed into a completely different though not necessarily better dish for everyone to enjoy!

Roasted Potato and I Hate Your Mother Soup

Making homemade soup from scratch is no easy feat. It requires a lot of time and attention. You're cooking multiple ingredients at once, and if you over- or undercook any one of these ingredients, you risk ruining the whole meal. It's a delicate process. The man who can effortlessly maintain a complex, multi-step meal like Roasted Potato Soup is a skilled craftsman indeed.

Not that any of this matters, because there is just no way of pleasing that goddamn shrew of a woman.





1.) Massage the potatoes in oil and salt, and casually observe that their thin-skinnedness serves as a nice foil to the thick skin of armor you'll need to wear in order to deflect the barrage of insults your girlfriend's beast of a mother will no doubt hurl at you throughout the evening.

2.) Spread potatoes on a baking sheet and bake uncovered for about a half an hour, or until tender. When they're ready, transfer the potatoes to a pot.

3.) Right around this time, the disapproving control freak that inexplicably birthed your otherwise normal girlfriend is most likely criticizing your apartment, career choice or general inadequacies as a provider. Take this opportunity to aggressively massage the bread dough. You won't need this for the recipe; it's just healthy to have something other than your eventual mother-in-law's neck with which to occupy your hands.


"At least I'm trying, goddammit."

4.) When you've gotten the need to strangle out of your system, discard the dough and mix the cooked potatoes in a pot with the bay leaf, fresh thyme and five cups boiling water. Cover tightly and set aside for one hour. To pass the time, perhaps point out the fact that you used fresh thyme from the farmers market instead of the crummy, store-bought ground thyme, and then find yourself disheartened but in no way surprised when your girlfriend's perpetually emasculating bitch of a mother reminds you that, if you have time to go all the way to the farmers market, you should have time to find a better job and get a decent haircut.

5.) Remove bay leaf.

6.) Using a hand blender or working in batches in a blender, puree soup until smooth. Return pureed soup to the pot on low heat and let it simmer.

7.) Meanwhile, cook bacon in skillet over medium-low heat until crisp but not hard. Use all of the willpower that you have and resist the temptation to throw scalding bacon grease in the face of your lady's mother when she feels the need to again point out that Keith, your girlfriend's ex-boyfriend, was just made partner at his law firm. When she stresses that he's the youngest partner in the firm's history, bite your tongue to stop yourself from screaming.


"I could make it look like an accident."

8.) Pour hot soup into bowls and gently place a dollop of sour cream on top. Sprinkle bacon bits, cheese and the firm reminder that Keith cheated on Cathy and only made partner in the first place due to his selfish attitude, flexible morals and all around shitheadedness on top of the soup.

9.) Serve wine in a goddamn sippy cup, because I don't even care anymore, Cathy, I'm not even trying because- No, no, she doesn't like me and- No, why should I bother, fuck this, I don't need to put up with this shit.

"This Clearly Isn't Working" Flank Steak Pinwheels

I won't sugarcoat this, Flank Steak Pinwheels are difficult. They're difficult to keep together, they can be tough to deal with, and you should only really attempt it if you're absolutely positive you're ready and emotionally mature enough to handle something so complex and fragile.


1.) Take a flank steak and pound it with a meat mallet until it's about 1/4" thick. Hold onto this moment. This is the early stage of your meal preparation, it's the first step, where cooking is as simple as "bashing a thing with a mallet." Nothing complicated, just mindless fun. It's exciting, right? Cherish this step.


We were so young then.

2.) Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper. Technically you could've done this before you tenderized the meat, but this is fine, too.

3.) Believe me, it seriously doesn't matter, I'm over it, that's just one way of tenderizing, some people do it that way, you don't have to, we don't need to get into a thing about it.

4.) Spread one side of the meat with a garlic/herb cheese spread.

5.) Place sun-dried tomatoes- Oh, right, you were supposed to soak the sun-dried tomatoes in warm water while you were preparing the meat. You were too distracted with the whole salt and pepper thing so you neglected the meat. I guess you can put it on anyway, but it won't be as tender, the tomatoes will be all rough and hard to chew. But fine, spread the tomatoes on top of the cheese.

6.) It's just they'll probably be rough and hard to chew now, that's all.

7.) Wash the spinach and layer it on top of the tough, beef-jerky-esque sun-dried tomatoes.


"Maybe I like them tough, alright? And can I just fucking cook it my way?"

8.) Roll up your flank steak with all of the accoutrement longways.

9.) No, longways. Longways, you're doing it the wrong way. Yes, both sides are long, but this way is longways. I don't know why they call it "longways," but they do, everyone knows it, it's common sense.

10.) No, I don't think you're stupid. Yes, it's not common sense if you didn't know it, it's obviously not that common, you're right. You're always right.

11.) Once the steak is rolled up tight, put eight skewers through it, evenly spaced.

12.) You're not-

13.) You're-

14.) You're not quite rolling it just right. The cheese is spilling out the sides. Just look. Look at what you're doing, you're losing all the cheese ... No, obviously not "all" the cheese but certainly a lot of it. You know what I mean.


Rope? Sure, why not try staples next?

15.) You can try to push some of the cheese back in, but it won't be elegant. I can see that you're scooping some of it up with your hand, but that way you're just trying to force it back in between the seams and I'm not sure you're not causing more harm than good. It's just because when you force it in to one side like that it's going to spill out the other side. I'm not the chef, no, but I can clearly see cheese spilling out the sides. Don't yell at me, I'm just pointing out ... I'm just pointing out an objective observation, the fucking cheese is spilling out.

16.) I'm sorry. Let's just try to keep this together, because if we can just get it all wrapped up and on the stove I know it'll be great, let's just get it to the stove, God, please, let's get it to the stove. Uh, I guess you could try pulling out the skewers and loading the cheese in again that way, but it's not that much cheese, and be careful when you pull out the skewers everything else doesn't spill out. Careful ...

17.) Caaareful.

18.)Caaaa- oh godammit. Just like what I said was going to happen. Just like what I said. If you would've forgotten about the cheese, it would've been fine but you can never let anything go, can you?Can you?! I don't even know why we're making this anymore.

19.) ...

20.) Look, sometimes the best thing you can do for your meal is be a big enough man to say, "This just isn't working." Some people are designed for cooking Flank Steak Pinwheels, and some people aren't, and there's no shame in that. You had a great time trying to cook this meal. Hey. An amazing time. You made some great memories: spreading the cheese, cleaning the spinach, rolling the meat. You learned a lot about how to properly prepare sun-dried tomatoes. You can carry those lessons with you and apply them to future meals. You've really grown as a chef and no one can take that away from you. Sometimes you just have to admit when you're out of your depth.

21.) There will be other meals.

"Letting You Go Was the Biggest Mistake of My Life" French Fries Dipped in a Frosty

You've hit rock bottom, and you're only slightly shocked to find that rock bottom looks exactly like a Wendy's off the 405.

The ingredients are like your sense of self-worth for this recipe, in that you have neither.


1.) Go to the employee working the counter, whose fresh face and clueless smile makes you want to weep, because you can no longer remember what it was like before life beat all hope out of you. And look at her, she doesn't even know that this is the happiest she'll ever be. She doesn't even know. She's too oblivious to see that the world was once beautiful.

2.) Try really hard not to weep.

3.) Stop weeping.

4.) Order a medium Frosty and some french fries. If the cashier asks you any questions, absolutely lose your shit.

5.) Dip the french fries in the frosty and eat them. If the cold of the frosty hurts your teeth, good, you deserve it.





Daniel O'Brien is a relationship counselor/caterer. He wants you to have a great day.

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