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!

Coconut Curry Chicken Soup

Last night I made the most amazing soup. I know, everyone who blogs about their food says that, but this time, I really mean it.

I found the recipe on Pinterest – my source for everything from recipes, to DIY projects, to even workouts. The original poster was Bev from BevCooks. I had never been to her blog before – which is what is so great about Pinterest. You are constantly finding new and exciting bloggers. In her post she goes on and on about how easy and delicious this soup is. Almost to the point where I was like “Already already Bev – the soup can’t be that amazing!”

But I was wrong. It is that incredible.

02-pinterest-daily.com-Coconut-Curry-Chicken-Soup-500x744(image via BevCooks)

Coconut Curry Chicken Soup:

Makes 4 large servings 

*3 Tbs. red Thai curry paste (or more or less depending on your heat preference)
* 2 (14 oz) cans coconut milk
* 1 cup chicken stock
* 1 tsp fish sauce
* 1 red bell pepper, sliced into 2-inch strips
* 1 cup snow peas
* 1 cup frozen peas
* 2 bundles vermicelli noodles
* 2 cups cooked shredded chicken
* 1/2 cup sliced scallions
* 1 sliced chile, for garnish (optional)
* juice of one lime
* coarse salt

My Notes-

fish sauce: I couldn’t find fish sauce, and to be honest, it sounds gross so I left it out
vermicelli noodles: I used pad thai noddles because that is all I could find
shredded chicken: I used pre-cooked Perdue short cuts because when you are cooking dinner at 9pm after working for 10 hours and working out, that is allowed. I did my best to shred the pieces with two forks.
scallions: I didn’t have these
chile: I opted out. I had a jar of chilis in my fridge, but when I opened it, all that remained was the juice
Bring a large pot to a medium-high heat. Add the curry paste with 1/4 cup coconut milk; whisk until smooth.

  1. Add the rest of the coconut milk, chicken stock and fish sauce. Stir until combined.
  2. Add the red bell pepper, snow peas, peas, vermicelli noodles and chicken. Toss in a good pinch of salt.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer on medium for about 8 minutes, until the noodles have softened.
  4. Add half the lime juice, stir and taste. Need more salt? Add it.
  5. Serve soup garnished with scallions and chile pepper and remaining lime wedge.

I promise you – the soup is good and it is easy.

Thanks Bev for this wonderful recipe.

Blog Crush – Ty’s Kitchen

Yesterday at work, when I was heating up my lunch (I had the delicious soup I blogged about 2 days ago) my co-worker and I took place in a classic work time ritual: chatting around the water cooler.

I was talking about the soup I was heating up and saying that it was so good that I had blogged about. This lead to a conversation about blogging and she told me that her adorable boyfriend, Tyler, also has a blog. As a passionate blogger, I love to read other people’s blogs so I asked her to send it to me. Boy am I glad I did. Not only is Tyler a great writer and phenomenal chef (did someone say husband material), but he is also a talented food photographer – something that I am constantly struggling with for my blog posts. His pictures are so incredible; you could definitely turn his blog into a cook book (any book publishers out there?!)

Please hop over to Ty’s Kitchen and check out what he’s been cooking up! I am particularly excited to try out the turkey burger recipe!

Cookie Swap

Tonight, Matt and I are going to the annual Taste Bud’s holiday party. I missed this glorious event last year and got to hear all about it from all my other “Taste Budders.” Right then, I knew this was not an event I wanted to miss again. So when I got my paperless post invite, I reserved the date on my calendar and started to get excited.

The party is a cookie swap, where everyone makes their favorite holiday treat and brings enough to distribute to the group. So you come to the party with a tray of your favorite cookies and leave with a tray containing an assortment of Taste Bud’s finest! With Taste Buds being a company that runs cooking classes and parties for kids, I knew the stakes were going to be high. I had to come up with a delicious, yet festive, cookie.

I decided to go with Gingerbread Snowflakes. These have been my “go to” cookie for the past 2 years. They are beautiful, as well as delicious, something of a rarity in holiday cookies. So after baking the cookies Tuesday night, I spent last night piping royal icing onto dozens of Gingerbread snowflakes. It was a lot of work, but my sous-chef did a great job helping out!

I will certainly capture the moments of the Taste Bud’s celebration. It is sure to be a great evening filled with some of my favorite people and delicious food!

For the  Gingerbread Snowflake recipe, please click here.

A Gift for Your Budding Chefs

Taste Buds (formerly known as Cupcake Kids) has just launched their first cooking product. If you have a small child (or even someone who is child at heart) this is a great holiday present.

The kit contains Taste Bud’s favorite cookie recipe and is easy to personalize by adding “cookie bling” (i.e. chocolate chips, sprinkles, marshmallows or more). They are easy to make and will definitely create fun memories in the kitchen, not to mention tasty treats!

While you are on the website, check out their winter class list. The gingerbread classes are a favorite among budding chefs and teachers.

Date Night

After Matt and I got engaged, my mother shared with me a photocopied section from a 1954 home economics text book.

HOW TO BE A GOOD WIFE
Home Economics High School Text Book, 1954

Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal, on time. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal are part of the warm welcome needed.

Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so that you’ll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your makeup, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people. Be a little gay and a little more interesting. His boring day may need a lift.

Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the home just before your husband arrives, gather up schoolbooks, toys, paper, etc. Then run a dust cloth over the tables. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift, too.

Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash the children’s hands and faces (if they are small), comb their hair, and if necessary change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part.

Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer, dishwasher, or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet. Be happy to see him. Greet him with a warm smile and be glad he is home.

Some don’ts: Don’t greet him with problems or complaints. Don’t complain if he is late for dinner. Count this as minor compared with what he might have gone through that day. Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or suggest he lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soft, soothing and pleasant voice. Allow him to relax and unwind.

Listen to him. You may have a dozen things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first.

Make the evening his. Never complain if he does not take you out to dinner or to other places of entertainment. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure, his need to be home and relax.

The Goal: Try to make your home a place of peace and order where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.

I decided that, although I have over a year before I get married, I should work my way down the list starting with the first one: dinner. While my baking skills pretty strong, I am the first to admit that my cooking skills are lacking. I have tried to improve them by making an effort to cook a few home-cooked meals each week and I have even taken a few cooking classes at the Institute for Culinary Education.

While I enjoy playing the role of Betty Draper, it is the year 2010, and Matt is not going to find himself playing the role of Don Draper. Before we got engaged, I made a comment one day (after being frustrated by Matt’s lack of culinary skills) that he needed to learn how to cook five different meals before I would agree to marry him, While this was more of a joke, Matt took on this challenge fully. The next few months, Matt would surprise me with dinners every so often. His five meals consisted of: fajita pizza, shepherd’s pie, chicken parm, chicken alfredo and enchiladas. He certainly proved himself to be a good cook.

While his cooking skills have slowly fallen off pace since he sealed the deal with the ring, he still makes “Egg McMatt’s” nearly every weekend for breakfast and can make a mean cup of coffee in our K-cup Keurig machine. For Christmas Matt bought me a gift certificate to take a couples cooking class at ICE. So on Friday, we finally went to a class where we could both work to improve our cooking abilities.

The class that we took was called “Couples Like it Hot!” and had a menu geared around spicy dishes. Matt and I had a great time and learned a lot. I’ve included some pictures and recipes below!

Cheese Twists:
1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 sheet puff pastry

Preheat over to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Dust a work surface with flour.

1. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the cheese on the right half of the dough. Sprinkle half the cayenne on top and fold the left side of the dough over the filling. Press the edges together. Roll the dough out lightly to a thickness of about 1/4 inch.
2. Sprinkle half the dough with another 1/2 cup of cheese and the remaining half of the cayenne, fold in half again, and press the edges together.
3. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on the dough and roll the dough into a rectangle about 1/4 inch think.
4. Cut the dough into long half-inch wide strips. Twist each strip a few times, then lay them out about 1/2 inch apart on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
5. Bake until golden, about 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then remove from paper and serve.
Spicy Mac ‘n Cheese:
1 pound Barilla elbow macaroni
1 1/3 cups whole milk, divided
1 cup mascarpone
3 cups extra-sharp shredded cheddar cheese
3 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
1 1/3 cups Jalapeno Puree (recipe follows)
1. Cook pasta al dente and drain.
2. Return the empty pasta pot to a low burner and add half of the milk, all of the mascarpone and the hot pasta to the pot, mix well.
3. Add half of each cheese (3/4 cups each) and mix well. Add the remaining milk and cheese and mix well.
4. Stir in the Jalapeno Puree and heat through. Serve immediately or transfer to a serving dish and keep warm.
Jalapeno Puree:
6 to 8 large jalapeno peppers, depending on heat
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Puree together in a mini-processor.