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!





What’s In Store in 2016?

20 01 2016

Howdy friends! Why yes, I do still exist…I just haven’t felt a ton of motivation to sit in front of the computer and write, when I spend all day sitting in front of a glowing screen. But, thanks to a long weekend and some down time, I figured I’d give you a peek into what’s in store for my 2016!

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  1. I’m a SOAS brand ambassador for the third year in a row! I’m so excited to represent this brand for yet another season. I have gushed over and over again about how much I love the gear from SOAS, so you can expect more of that 🙂 This year’s team kit is going to be pretty sweet too!12341468_1064108116960646_8217018892436058395_n
  2. I’m going to follow a training plan! Yes, really. Historically, I haven’t been one to follow a plan, but I recently purchased a plan from TriMarni. I’ve been following her blog for the past few years and I really respect her as an athlete/coach. I love her training/coaching philosophy, so I figured I’d see what happens when I actually have structured, focused training. I’ve also added on the option to be part of the “Performance Plan Team” so I get access to a private Facebook page where I can interact with the other TriMarni athletes (and Marni and Karel!). I also will get weekly check-in emails with loads of information to help me train and fuel smart this season. I’ve already received my plan and a number of other handouts- I can’t wait to get started!

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Now, in terms of race schedule…I only realized the other day that I went a bit trigger happy in terms of signing up for races. I guess I’m making up for 2015? Here’s what I’ve got on tap:

February:

6th: Best Damn Race half marathon. I’ve wanted to do this race for the past few years not just because I know the race creator/owner, but because I’ve heard such amazing things about it. They really do pull out all the stops to make it the best damn race, so I’m looking forward to experiencing it. I’m hoping I’ll get to ring that PR bell at the end, but I’ve only really been running consistently since early December, after taking several weeks off after Challenge Florida. It’s not an ideal amount of time to train, but we’ll see. I’ve only run this distance (in a standalone running race) 3 times (Nashville, DC, Gasparilla) and my PR technically is from a run I did while training for IM (1:49.40). I’m going to keep working hard for the next three weeks, and see what I can do!

22-23rd: Gasparilla. I haven’t actually registered for this race just yet. I was considering doing the half, especially if I don’t PR at BDR, but the more I think about it, the more I think I’ll likely stick to a shorter distance for funsies. No need to beat up my body early in the season- I’ve got big plans for triathlon this season!

March:

17-20th: TriMarni Camp, Clermont, FL: This will be my first ever triathlon camp, and I am pretty darn excited to spend 4 days doing a bunch of swimming, biking, running, eating, and recovering!

20th: Great Clermont Triathlon, International Distance. We’re topping off the training camp with an International distance tri.

April:

24th: St. Anthony’s Triathlon, Olympic Distance: I’ve spectated this race, volunteered at this race, done it as a relay, but never done the whole thing myself until this year. It’s such an institution around here, I feel like I had to do it at least once!

May:

Possible: 7th Hurricane Man OWS: Open water swimming is my favorite (said like Buddy the Elf) so I am seriously considering this one.

Possible: 22nd: Rev3 Knoxville: I’m not registered for this race, but I do think I’d like to do two halves this season. This race would be great because a lot of my TriMarni teammates are also doing it, and I really want to support Rev3. It’s also drivable (sorta).

28th: Crystal River Sprint #1: I really enjoy this race series, and this year I decided to register for all three of the races in the series! They were having a killer deal in the fall so I decided to go for it. It may not have been the best idea because of all the other races that I’m doing, but I think I’ll go into these as fun, training races.

June:

11th: Crystal River Sprint #2: See above.

Possibly: 19th Milkman Triathlon: If I don’t do the Rev3 race, this one is a possibility. It’s in Madison, WI, and it just so happens to be the weekend between two work trips up there. My SOAS teammate Kathy is also doing it, and it may just be the thing to convince me that I should sign up for IMWI 2017…

July & August: Time to put my head down and get to work! There is a possibility of another TriMarni camp in July!

September:

3rd: Crystal River Sprint #3

18th: Ironman 70.3 Atlantic City: This is my A race of the season. I cannot wait to get home and race!

Phew, that’s a lot of triathlon in 2016!

Some time in between all of this fun triathlon stuff, Bill and I are going to get ourselves out on another fantastic hike and/or on another fantastic vacation! I need to go diving again! We don’t have anything on the books yet, but we do have ideas:)

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Oh, I’ll definitely be helping Bill with the RV conversion. <— Follow along that adventure on the Facebook page.

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So, what do you have in store for 2016?





FonDONE Take 2!

13 04 2015

At the end of March, I was lucky enough to get an invitation back to The Melting Pot for another round of FonDONE! The kind folks at Front Burner Brands saw my first post about FonDONE and reached out to see if I could come back for a media event they were having. More cheese and chocolate? Yes, Please!

Bill and I headed over to St. Pete to the only Melting Pot that is serving FonDONE right now. I had no idea that this particular restaurant was so special- they often will pilot new concepts here and oh, and it’s also supposedly haunted:-) We didn’t see any ghosts while we were there, but we did get to meet up with some other bloggers/media who I had only ever interacted with via social media. I shared a table with Carlos Eats, his friend from the USF Foodies club, and Crystal from Thrifty and Frugal Living. There were two other tables of bloggers/writers, but unfortunately I was too busy eating to really get to talk to anyone else. We had one more special guest at our table: Mike Lester, THE president of the Melting Pot. NBD.IMG_8803

(not the most flattering picture, I apologize)

He was really cool; very passionate about what they’re doing at the Melting Pot, and clearly a leader who is respected by his staff. It was easy to see that the Melting Pot really fosters a sense of inclusion and “we’re family” among the staff, and he’s a key player in bringing those values to life.

We also got to meet the head chef, who has a very impressive resume, but of course the one thing he always gets asked about is that time he was the personal chef for Ludacris!

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I hadn’t really thought of it before, but Melting Pot restaurants who wish to bring FonDONE to their restaurant need to undergo a kitchen makeover. There’s no need for a cook top or oven right now (since you do it at your table)- but with FonDONE you need a chef and a kitchen in which he can work! That’s quite the investment, but I’m pretty sure it will pay off for sites that choose to add it to the menu!

For our event, they were highlighting a few speciality cocktails, so of course I had to try one (or two). I started with the Love Martini: malibu, peach schnapps, cranberry juice, and fresh strawberries. It was a little sweet, but if you like Malibu, you’ll LOVE this martini. IMG_8788

I sipped my martini while we got started on our appetizers. We began with the Wisconsin Trio and the Classic Alpine. I had never actually had the Classic Alpine before, which is a Gruyere, Raclette, and Fontina blend with some wine wine, garlic and nutmeg, but I definitely found my new favorite! The nutmeg just brings it all together (who knew? I guess the Swiss!) and it is dynamite on apples, carrots, bread, or some of their premium rosemary fries (new!!). Oh- and did you know that they have a charcuterie plate with accoutrements? Put together a dipper with salami, cornichon, sweet pepper, and bread- you won’t regret it!

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After we got our fill of cheese, it was FonDONE time! The FonDONE menu offers small plates from a variety of categories: Beef & Pork, Poultry, Seafood, Pasta, and Vegetarian. We were offered 5 of the different dishes- and man, were we spoiled! We got to try:

The Filet Mignon, served on a small pile of wasabi mashed potatoes

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Lemon pepper chicken (served with a side of tri-color quinoa salad),

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Jumbo grilled shrimp (on a corn salad),

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Lobster tail (YES!!)

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and (my favorite) the Wild Mushroom Sacchetti in a marsala sauce.

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Now THAT’s a MEAL!

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As if that wasn’t enough, we obviously needed to have some side dishes: quattro macaroni and cheese (how can you go wrong with mac n cheese??) and the fresh asparagus risotto.

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Of course, the FonDONE is served with the trio of dipping sauces: Goat Cheese fondue, Marsala, and savory Cabernet. Yup, the Goat cheese was still my favorite!

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As I was filling myself to the gills with delicious food, it was time for another beverage. I had planned to wait until dessert to get my drink, but I just couldn’t wait. Enter: the Yin & Yang Martini:

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Godiva white chocolate Liquer and Stoli vanilla vodka blended with ice cream then topped with chocolate shavings. Oh, and served in a beautiful yin yang shape! This is probably the prettiest drink I’ve ever been served, and though I didn’t want to destroy the beautiful artwork, I just couldn’t wait to dive in.

O.M.G. Absolutely delicious. Dessert in a martini glass. It reminded me of the black and white milkshakes my mom used to make when I was younger (no, hers were not spiked). I would absolutely come back for that drink again. And again. And again.

When I didn’t think I could eat (or drink) anymore, I had to find a little more room for dessert! It was chocolate fondue time! We got two of the Melting Pot’s most popular chocolates: the Flaming Turtle (chocolate, caramel, and candied pecans, a la flambe, obviously!) and the Creme Brûlée (white chocolate and caramelized sugar).

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If you know me, I’m a dark chocolate fan. The darker, the better. I’m honestly not really a white chocolate person, and would probably never have ordered the Creme Brûlée fondue, but man, was it amazing! It definitely won a place in my heart (not overtaking dark chocolate, but a close second). I kept coming back to it, dipping all of the different dessert dippers (including one of the premium dippers: the raspberry cheesecake).

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Yes, please!

And if the evening wasn’t special enough already, the servers brought out plates that had been decorated with our blog names!
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How awesome is that??

I was absolutely overwhelmed by the hospitality and kindness of the folks at the Melting Pot. They’re really excited about this concept- and it shows. They’re also SUPER open to feedback- they just want customers to have the BEST dining experience possible. I definitely think they’re doing something right, and I really hope that FonDONE takes off. It’s a great idea, and I can’t wait to go back for more! Thank you Front Burner Brands for the invite!


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(FULL DISCLOSURE: My meal was comped, but all opinions are my own!)