Blue Apron

During my blogging hiatus, I was introduced to a new service called, Blue Apron. It has literally changed my life.

mobile-hero-1-variant-23707b709b6875c674d1a0b9569556d1Let me flash back to my life pre-Blue Apron. I would call Matt on my way home from work and ask what he wanted for dinner.

Matt: Anything, I don’t care.
Me: What about tacos.
Matt: No, I don’t want that.
Me: Well, then suggest something.
Matt: I don’t care. You just pick.
Me: [annoyed silence]

The would end with me running to the grocery store, getting random stuff and cooking something which we wouldn’t eat till 9:30/10pm or getting mad enough that I just told Matt to order dinner at work and I would eat eggs, cereal or make a smoothie. Needless to say, it wasn’t a healthy way to live (on multiple levels).

Thankfully Matt introduced me to a new start up, Blue Apron.

Blue Apron is a meal delivery service. Once a week, I receive a shipment that contains three healthy and unique recipes and all of the ingredients to make each dish. They provide simple step by step instructions and most of the meals take less then 60 minutes to prepare (from start to finish). I love it because it solves for a few of our problems: (1) no longer do we have to fight about what we are going to eat/who is going to think of a meal, and (2) no more mid-week trips to the grocery store! I typically go one over the weekend to get staples: milk, cereal, yogurt, etc but don’t need to go during the week to pick up stuff for dinner.

Matt and I have LOVED it. There are some weeks where we are too busy to make all of the meals, so I just skip that week’s delivery. And while the price isn’t cheap (it is ~60 dollars per week), that is a lot less than we would spend on ordering out/eating out/etc. We’ve tried a lot of new things and my cooking skills have certainly improved.

So I’m excited to offer one free week of meals to a lucky blog reader. To enter the contest, just leave a comment below and you could be cooking up a storm at your home as well!

Going Pro in Wifery

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Yesterday my friend Noelle and I decided to meet up for a girls-only lunch date. I was super excited about it because, even though she only lives in CT, I hadn’t seen her for a while. Before meeting up, I tried to get a few errands done:

I did a couple of loads of laundry (a never-ending task in our house). I went to the grocery story. I made a few treats for an event I am doing at work tonight. And I put dinner in the crockpot.

Despite the fact that I had to push back our original meeting time by 40 minutes, I was feeling pretty good about myself when I showed up for lunch with Noelle. Naturally, I had to brag to her about my accomplishments, specifically about having dinner in the crockpot. To which Noelle quickly replied “yeah, I have mine in too. A pot roast.”

Umm, can someone please inform our husbands JUST how lucky they are? I mean, when it comes to being good wives, I think we’ve nailed it. Maybe we can go pro and get sponsored by Crockpot.

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I made a thai peanut chicken dish. It was really good. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

3 large chicken breasts
1 red or green bell pepper, diced (I used green)
1 sweet onion, diced
¾ c chunky peanut butter
1-2 T lime juice (one whole fresh lime, squeezed) – can use key lime juice as a substitute
1/2 cup chicken broth (you can use coconut milk if you want it to be creamier)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 T cumin (depending on your taste)
1-2 T crushed red pepper flakes (depending on your taste)

rice
chopped green onion
chopped lightly salted peanuts
chopped fresh cilantro

Layer into the crockpot the following:
chicken
onion
green pepper

In a small bowl add peanut butter, lime juice, chicken stock, soy sauce, cumin, and red pepper flakes. Whisk together until well combined. Taste and adjust your seasonings accordingly. Pour over the chicken and vegetables in the crockpot.

Place the lid on and cook on low setting for 3-4 hours. Make sure to stir your mixture at least once during the cooking process, to incorporate the flavors and distribute for even cooking. You should have a nice “gravy” that will work well served over rice.

Serve over rice with the green onions, peanuts and fresh cilantro as garnish.

How to Survive a Polar Vortex

Last week, for one of the first times ever, the entire nation suffered together. On Tuesday, the temperature was below freezing in ALL 50 states. So while we can’t all agree on issues like gay marriage, gun control or a women’s right to choose, for one day we all agreed – it was freezing.

The best way to survive a polar vortex is to stay inside, and when that isn’t possible, bundle up! Down coats, fleece mittens and wool hats become part of the every day uniform. And warm meals are a must for the evening. I used the cold weather as an opportunity to make a dish I’d been wanting to make but had been saving it for the right day, or rather, weather.

This fall one of my colleagues got married and at their wedding gave out containers of spice mix and the recipes for their favorite chili dish as favors. I was so psyched to receive this and couldn’t wait to make it — unfortunately I feel strongly that chili should only be consumed in cold weather and I was forced to wait for the right day. Thankfully the polar vortex gave me the perfect occasion.

Tyler, the husband, has a cooking blog that I’ve written about previously, Ty’s Kitchen. Here he posted his famous chili recipe that they gave out at the wedding.

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For the first time ever, I actually didn’t follow this recipe exactly. I just used regular ground beef and I omitted the carrots and celery. I also added in a can of kidney beans (drained and rinsed) and a small can of tomato paste (I might not have needed this).
I felt like a real chef, adapting the recipe to my liking. In the end it came out really well. It was the first time I’d added vegetables to my chili and I have to say, it was a great addition.

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Now, if only I could figure out all of the spices that were part of Ty’s Spice Mix…

 

 

 

Ringing in the New Year

In 2012 we welcome in the New Year on the beach in Costa Rica

In 2013 we welcomed in the New Year on a yacht in the British Virgin Islands

This year, we welcome 2014 in Jersey. IMG_1082-MOTION

I’d say life is moving in the right direction.

After a few years of pretty intense trips with our friends, we decided to tone it down a bit and stay local. Thankfully, a lot of our friends made the same choice. And our two favorite San Fran natives added the dirty Jerz on their east coast tour, so they were in town to celebrate with us as well.

Matt and I spent December 29th making our own decorations for the party. Needless to say, Matt was thrilled with this idea.

We made a few garlands and added some NYE-themed artwork to our faux “mantel” shelves.

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To make the circle garlands, Matt used a 1.5″ circle punch on gold, silver and black glitter paper. I then broke out my sewing machine to stitch the circles together in one long line. I chose not to put any spacing between each circle but if you want to make a longer garland, you can certainly do so.

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To make the tassel garlands, I followed these instructions (thanks Linen, Lace and Love).

It really doesn’t look like we did a lot, but somehow we were up until 1am making these things…

We ended up having 13 people over our apartment – a good number but one that proved a little challenging for food. It was a small enough group that we needed to provide more than just appetizers/snacks, but a big enough group that a full sit down meal would be a little challenging.

Dun dun da dah — Crock pot to the rescue!

After starting with a few different appetizers: Spinach and Cream Cheese Pastry Puffs, Buffalo Chicken Meatballs and a new Flatbread (this one Matt liked, as compared with this)

Our main menu consisted of the following:

Pulled Pork Sliders w/ creamy coleslaw
Baked Beans
Mac and Cheese Casserole
Cape Cod Potato Chips (regular and salt & vinegar)

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Matt went out the morning of the 31st to pick up a pork butt. He came back with a 6 lb piece of meat. It goes without saying, we will be eating pulled pork for a while. Thankfully they make GREAT leftovers (and Matt will actually eat them)

Starting the year off with leftovers!
Starting the year off with leftovers!

Thank you to all of our friends who helped us ring in 2014 in our new place and in style. We are so lucky to have you in our lives. Can’t wait to see what the new year brings for all of us!

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“Family” photo

One Trick Pony

Matt and I have been completely surprised by the number if visitors we’ve had since we made the move to Hoboken. We thought that we would get people out to our place 1, maybe 2 times per year. Not that it is far from NYC, but you know, people don’t like leaving the island… especially to come to the dirty Jerz. But thankfully, we have awesome friends who either (1) like us a lot, or (2) are curious to see just how much space you can afford in NJ as compared to NYC.

As a result of these visitors, my skills have been put to the test. Armed with my Martha Stewart manual and an amazing kitchen, I’ve been happily playing hostess with the mostest. I found a recipe on pinterest that looked good and decided to make it for our friends Lindsay and Mike when they came over for dinner one night. It was easy and seemed to be a crowd pleaser so I decided to add it to the menu for Thanksgiving. And it went over well again that day.

When we were at home over Christmas, my mother sent Abby, Matt and me to the store to get some things for dinner. I picked up the supplies to make this now, go-to appetizer. And just as it had the first two times, it went over well. That is, until Matt chimed in.

Apparently he didn’t like it.

No, not just this time, but all three times I made it.

Not sure why it took him so long to say something… but my go-to appetizer is now benched. Looks like this pony is going to forced to learn some new tricks.

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Even though Matt doesn’t like it, I’m still a fan – give it a try and let me know what you think!

Spinach Artichoke Flatbread (from Pip and Ebby)

To begin, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

The orginal recipe called for frozen pizza dough, but I just used a flatbread I bought at the store

One at a time, place a pizza dough round onto a pizza stone (I used a cookie tray since I don’t have a pizza stone). Top each round with:

1 tablespoon olive oil, spread out to 1/2 inch of edge of dough

3-4 tablespoons Sabra Spinach and Artichoke Hummus, spread out to 1/2 inch of edge of dough

1/2 cup fresh spinach, chopped

1/4 of a small red onion, sliced

1/2 of a 14-ounce can of quartered artichokes, drained and patted dry with paper towels

1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese

Bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, or until edges are golden brown

Slice and enjoy!

Bursting with Flavor

Tonight’s dinner is a good one for anyone who wants to use up some leftovers and/or for anyone who goes a little overboard at the farmers market on tomatoes.

Thanks to Carrian over at Oh, Sweet Basil, I was able to make this yummy, and relatively healthy, meal for dinner.

Easy Garden Skillet

Ingredients

6 turkey meatballs, cooked and chopped
1 small to medium zucchini, chopped
3/4 cup sugar sweet or sunshine tomatoes
3/4 cup grape or cherry tomatoes
1 heirloom tomato, chopped
1/3 cup marinara sauce
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese
olive oil and salt and pepper
*basil, chopped, optional

Directions

  1. drizzle a little olive oil in a skillet and heat to medium heat. add the zucchini and sprinkle with salt and pepper. saute for one minute and add the meatballs, tomatoes and sauce. cook until the tomatoes are big and bursting, zucchini is tender and everything is hot. sprinkle with cheese and add the lid to help melt the cheese, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. serve with fresh basil and more salt and pepper if needed.

The dish was great – I probably added a bit too much sauce. Just stick to the recipe. You won’t regret it.

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Oh, and can someone please let my husband know how lucky he is? Thanks.