Ten Things I Love About Blue Apron

22 01 2016

Sometime last year, many of the “Healthy Living Bloggers” raved about their experience with Blue Apron. All their meals looked really yummy, so I decided to use the discount code one of them was sharing for a free meal.

If you’re not familiar, Blue Apron is a spin on a meal delivery service: Basically, when you sign up, you receive the ingredients and recipes for several meals (select either a plan for 2 or a plan for four). You can choose to go the vegetarian route or not, and you’re free to swap out one of the recipes for another that is offered that week. The other thing that’s great about the service is that it is super easy to skip a week if you don’t like the recipes, are going to be out of town, or want to rely on TJ’s for your meals that week.

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There are 10 things I love about Blue Apron:

  1. The recipes: I love, love, love, trying new recipes. I did some research before choosing to go with Blue Apron (instead of Hello Fresh or one of the other similar brands out there) and it’s really the recipes that won me over. The vegetarian recipes weren’t just different kinds of salad (which is what I noticed on some of the other services) and the recipes were all so unique. All of the recipes I perused looked and sounded delicious, and were a bit more “adventurous” than some of the other services. IMG_0753(rice noodles and coconut matcha broth)
  2. Because I love trying new and interesting recipes, I always end up buying a jar of X or a gallon of Y just because the recipe calls for it. But then I’m stuck with a jar of X or a gallon of Y until I make that recipe again, or the ingredient goes bad because I have nothing else to use it in! With Blue Apron, the ingredients are already measured out; I get just enough for whatever it is I’m making. The first recipe I made with Blue Apron in November required Verjus Rouge- I had to look it up to even know what it was! If I had spotted this recipe on my own, I would have had a bottle of it siting in my house still, because I wouldn’t have known what else to do with it. Blue Apron provided me with the exact amount I needed, and no more- perfect! IMG_0060
  3. I’m expanding my cooking repertoire with new flavors and techniques! I’ve made “mise en place” a priority when cooking on my own, because I’ve gotten into the habit thanks to Blue Apron. I’ve made béchamel multiple times since starting Blue Apron, tried queso oaxaca (love!), and finally made something with Meyer Lemon. IMG_0059
  4. They have direct relationships with farmers and provide the highest quality ingredients they can find. I was super pumped to see a card in one of my latest deliveries that had a picture of a farmer from Buena, NJ. That’s not too far from my parent’s place in Jersey, which I thought was pretty cool!
  5. The price: I get the vegetarian meal plan for two, which is three meals for $59.94/week. That works out to be $9.99/serving. Sure, I know that I could probably make meals for cheaper than that, but it saves me the trip to the store, the planning time, and all that extra stuff I would have thrown in my cart at the store because “OOH, that looks good!” For me, it’s totally worth it. Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 5.25.03 PM
  6. They’ve recently started a recycling program. This is great, because the biggest negative about the whole thing is that there’s a lot of packaging. I can pack up a few week’s worth of wrappers, containers, bags, etc., print out a shipping label, and send it back to them. Easy peasy!
  7. Portion size: I have been pleasantly surprised by the portion size for most of the meals. Most of the meals have been plenty for two and then some. Hooray leftovers! And, when I’m just making a meal for me, I have meals for several days!
  8. It’s a great excuse for me to go have dinner with a friend. I’ve taken over the recipe and ingredients to a friend’s house on several occasions, and we’ve had a great time chatting, making dinner, and enjoying a fabulous homemade dinner that is way cheaper than if we had decided to go out to eat!
  9. I guess I haven’t been explicit about this yet, but everything is delicious! My mouth is watering just thinking about the recipes I’ll get to make this weekend!
  10. Their mission: to make incredible home cooking accessible to everyone. Yes!

 

If you can’t tell, I’m a huge fan of Blue Apron. And no, I wasn’t paid to say that. I’ve paid for all of these myself (with the exception of the free meal I got when I signed up with a coupon code) and I’m writing this just because I want to share my experience with you.

If you want the convenience of having ingredients delivered directly to your door and the recipes for fabulous recipes-give it a try! I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

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Distracted By Pretzels

21 06 2011

When I (Steph) was younger, cleaning my room was something I hated dreaded. I have certainly grown up and do keep a (somewhat) tidy room, but I often have to be in the mood to clean. Sometimes, I even get in a super duper clean out the closet, rearrange my space, deep cleanin’ kinda mood. (Anyone else ever have those times?) Well, a few weekends ago, I was in that kinda mood, and I rearranged my bedroom.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a before and after pic, so I’m not going to post any pics, but I’ll tell you that I’m very happy with how its organized now, and I’ve found some organization solutions for some of my clutter. However, one of my remaining problems is this:

I have a huge stack of magazines that I’ve saved, because “Maybe there’s an article I might want to read again“, or “Maybe there’s a recipe I want to try.” Excuses, Excuses. Let’s face it, there’s probably nothing in these magazines that isn’t online.

So, over the weekend, while it was cloudy and grey, I decided to start going through the pile that remained by my bed. Now, I probably should have just thrown them all out recycled them, but JUST TO BE SURE I wasn’t missing out on anything, I felt the need to go through them. Oh, and while I’m at it, I should probably go through the selection of Rachel Ray and Food Network magazines that I have neatly stored in my living room too.

Yes, I have kept A LOT of magazines.

In my defense, I’ve kept a few of the magazines because I do actually refer back to them, like the issue of Everyday that has that meatloaf recipe I really like, or the issue with those Christmas cookies that were a hit last year.  🙂 But, do I REALLY need the ENTIRE magazine that contains those recipes? Probably not.

So, I started weeding my way through the magazines, tearing out an article here and a recipe there. I was trying to keep it to a minimum people, I promise! The goal was to get rid of the magazines! Being that most of my magazines are food related, I was starting to get hungry spotting some really tasty recipes, including one that um, may have distracted me from my cleaning frenzy.

Maybe it was the gloomy weather, but when I flipped through the October-fest issue of Everyday and spotted the recipe for Giant Bavarian Pretzels, I decided I needed to make them. Right now.

Giant Bavarian Pretzels

adapted from Everyday

Ingredients:

1.5 cups lukewarm water

2.25 teaspoons active dry yeast

4.5 cups flour (I used half all purpose and half whole wheat)

2 tablespoons brown sugar (Note: I was talking to my roommate while making these and accidentally put in a half cup of brown sugar…I scooped some out, and finished putting the remaining half cup of flour in…whoops)

2 teaspoons table salt

1 large egg, separate

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons baking soda

Coarse salt, for sprinkling

How to:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the water and yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes.

3. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar and table salt. Mix in the egg yolk, butter, and yeast mixture. The original recipe says to do this in a mixer fitted with a dough hook, and let it go on low speed for 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

I decided that I wanted to mix this by hand. Bad idea. Kneading dough is HARD!! Especially after you’ve done an arm workout at the gym that morning!

Eventually, I got it to the place I thought it should be, and moved on.

4. In a large, shallow baking dish, combine the baking soda with 2 cups warm water.

5. Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Using your hands, roll each into a rope about 42 inches long.

Note: I thought that this would be a cinch. I mean, I was a rockstar at rolling play-dough into spaghetti-like ropes. Maybe I hadn’t kneaded the dough enough in step 3, or maybe I’m just a poor roller, but I was unable to roll a 42 inch rope. I was able to get it to about 6 inches, and a picture of it is not appropriate for the blog. So, I changed technique, and let gravity help me. I held the dough vertically, and squished it into some semblance of a rope; however, 42 inches was impossible for me.

6. Dip the rope into the baking soda mixture for 30 seconds.

7. Twist your pretzel (or whatever shape you are making) and then place it on your prepared baking sheet.

8. Whisk a tablespoon of water into the egg white, and brush it on the pretzels. Sprinkle salt on top.

9. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.

One more note- After my unsuccessful try at creating a long enough rope to twist a pretzel, I made a few smaller ones, and some circles that looked like bagels. I also experimented with putting some raisins in the dough, and topping with cinnamon sugar. Both adventures were successful, but I didn’t snap any photos.

Though I may not have finished cleaning/organizing my room, I did have a tasty treat to fill my tummy. I guess I’ll get back to that pile when another cleaning mood hits-but then I’ll probably get distracted and make something delicious in the kitchen…

Question of the day: What do you do with your old magazines?





February Eating Club!!!

1 03 2011

Hi Friends! Chloe here…

Before I get into my oh so delectable recap of February Eating Club: SEXY, I wanted to give you a quick peek into my training this past week. I will be posting “Weekly Training  Stats” once a week to give you an idea of what my training has looked like over the past week. I am also going to share with you a single goal that I have for the following week’s training…could be related to swimming, biking, running, eating, resting, etc. And to REALLY make things crazy…I will  throw in a random fun stat/fact about my past week. So…

Chloe’s Weekly Training Stats (2/21-2/28)

  • Swam: 9200 meters
  • Biked: 2.25 hrs~ 50 miles (1/2 on my own, 1/2 in spin classes)
  • Ran: 26 miles
  • Rested: 48 hours (from post practice Thurs am-Sat am)
  • Next Week’s Goal: Forget about triathlon training…I AM GOING SKIING OUT WEST WITH MY FAM! Talk about a quad workout!
  • Favorite thing I ate this past week (besides everything at EC): A big bowl of Kettle Corn Popcorn with Chocolate Chips!

And without further adooooo….

FEBRUARY EATING CLUB (EC): SEXY!!!

The theme of this month’s EC was sexy…Valentine’s Day seems like forever ago, but when we were brainstorming we all had hearts, pink, love, sweethearts, romance etc. etc. on the brain. Interpretation of Sexy was limitless….and this is what girls came up with!!!

Creamy Orecchiette Pasta with Spicy Sausage

 

Juicy Cantaloupe  Wrapped in Prosciutto

 

Savory Beef and Veggie Kebobs

 

Sexy Strawberry Salad

 

Slow Cooked Pomegranate-Marinated Lamb with Spices and Couscous

 

Sweetly Sauteed Shrimp and Veggies

And for Dessert…

Sweet and Savory Pumpkin Pie with an Almond Oatmeal Crust

(was served with a homemade cinnamon clove whipped cream, but somehow didn’t snap a shot. sad face.)

 

Delectable Dipped Chocolate Noodles (no interpretation bashing…they were devoured)

(aka: chow mein noodles dipped in chocolate and butterscotch sauce)

 

As sharing recipes for each and every one of these dishes would make for the longest blog post ever, we have decided to just pick one per eating club to share! If you would like the recipe for any of the others, just ask!

 

Slow Cooked Pomegranate-Marinated Lamb with Spices and Couscous (adapted from BonAppetite)

(4 servings)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup pomegranate molasses (a mix of equal parts molasses and pomegranate juice was substituted)
  • 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 pounds lamb shoulder blade chops (I bought 2 packs of 2 chops, then cut each in half)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 10-ounce box plain couscous
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup pomegranate seeds (I couldn’t find a pomegranate anywhere! So, these were omitted, but would definitely use them next time!)
  • 3 tablespoons torn basil leaves

How you make it:

  • Brown the lamb in a pan over medium high heat, just two minutes on each side.You aren’t trying to cook the meat here, just seal in some flavor! You can season the lamb with salt and pepper first if you’d like.
  • Add lamb to the crock pot.
  • Whisk pomegranate molasses (or substitute), coarsely chopped garlic, olive oil, ground ginger, cinnamon, 1 3/4 teaspoons cumin, paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in large bowl. Pour over the lamb in the crock pot.
  • Cook in the crock pot for 7 hours on low.
  • Just prior to serving, bring water and chicken broth to boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. (Check your couscous box; these were the proportions my box called for. You could do all broth or all water; the broth adds more flavor though). Add couscous and remaining 1/4 teaspoon cumin.Remove saucepan from heat and let stand covered 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with fork, then stir in butter until melted.
  • Divide couscous among plates and top with lamb, pomegranate seeds, and basil leaves, spooning remaining sauce over lamb.
As Steph mentioned yesterday, the we all watched the Oscars after dinner. One of the girls came up with a GENIUS Red Carpet Bingo game. We broke into two teams and intently watched the Oscars in hopes of seeing some of the categories on the bingo card (which ranged from “Obvious Botox/Plastic Surgery” to “Actor/Actress claims that they ‘have not prepared a speech’.” We were on the floor laughing.
As usual…EC was a blast! Between the amount of delicious food that we ate and the amount of time spent laughing, I don’t think I was the only one who left with a stomach ache.  I am already looking forward to March Eating Club. The theme….drum roll please….”It’s a Wrap!/Stuffed.”  aka any food that is wrapped, stuffed, filled, etc. Get Excited!
SIDE NOTE- If anyone is interested in having Steph design/bake a personalized cake, please email her at 321delish@gmail.com! As you could see yesterday…she is pretty amazing!