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!

"Family" photo
“Family” photo

A Marriage Lesson

Last night I decided to make my husband a delicious and nutritious meal (well, nutritious compared to the crap we could have been eating). It consisted of veggie burgers, rice and sliced tomatoes. While you might not be that impressed, I was very impressed with myself because I didn’t have much at home to work with. I was 100% thinking I was going to have to run to the grocery store before I set out on a scavenger hunt of our kitchen.

Well, while I was cooking the rice, I was also:

  1. Doing laundry
  2. Emptying the dishwasher
  3. Putting clean sheets on the guest room bed
  4. Texting with my sister
  5. Watching the Real Housewives of Orange County

So I got distracted and burned the rice a little bit. But it was ok because I made enough that I could just soup the non-burned rice off the top.

I started to clean up and put the salvageable rice in a tupperware and scrapped the burned bits off the bottom of the pot. I left them in the pot for the time being, as I was planning to put them in the garbage later on. Unfortunately, Matt wasn’t aware of my plan and when he want to get some more rice, all that was left were the burned bits. Thankfully I caught this, just before his fork went into this mouth.

Me: “Wait… that rice is burned. Let me get you the good rice.”

Matt looked at the rice on his plate. Looked at me. Shrugged and ate it anyway.

That’s true love.

Or… is it just laziness?

A Healthy-ish Dinner for Two

It is no secret that Matt and I aren’t very smart when it comes to eating healthy. Matt is constantly asking me questions like  “what is healthier? a bacon cheeseburger or a burrito?”

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Umm, neither. They are both like 10,000 calories. And I assume that anything containing vegetables is healthy even if it is cover in cheese or creamy salad dressing.

Last night, I finally started to recover from this and decided to make home-cooked meal for my hubby. I researched recipes on Pinterest before work, found one that I liked, pinned it, and wrote down the things I needed to pick up at the store.

Unfortunately, when I got home I soon learned that out internet and cell data wasn’t working so I couldn’t access Pinterest or my recipe. Luckily, Abby came to the rescue by texting me the recipe and step by step instructions. When one form of technology fails, thankfully there is always another!

The meal was pretty yummy and made for great leftovers today for lunch. In my mind, this was a healthy dinner but I am sure some of my more health-conscious blog readers will have a different opinion.

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Zucchini, Black Bean and Rice Skillet: (I made some slight modifications)

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (I thought about using coconut oil but I am still not sure that is actually healthier. Feel free to weigh in if you have an opinion.)
1-1/2 cups quartered lengthwise, sliced zucchini
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
1 can (15 oz) whole black beans, drained, rinsed – I used Wholefoods brand, spicy version
1 can (14.5 oz)of fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
3/4 cup water
1 cup instant white rice, uncooked (I tried to substitute with quinoa, but didn’t realized until I got home that what I bought was actually couscous)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar and monterrey jack cheese blend

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini and bell pepper; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans, undrained tomatoes and water. Increase heat and bring to a boil.
  2. Add rice*; stir well. Cover; remove from heat and let stand 7 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Sprinkle with cheese. Enjoy!

*I accidentally cooked my couscous ahead of time. I added it in and just let it simmer for 2-3 minutes to evaporate some of the juice from the tomatoes.

OMG – We’re Adults!

"Heeeeey. Today is my Birthday"
“Heeeeey. Today is my Birthday!”

Today is Matt’s 30th Birthday! Not only is this exciting because it means we get to have cake and celebrate but it also means that Matt can stop reminding me at every change he gets that I am 30 and he is 29. Honestly, the 3 months between our Birthdays are the worst. To be honest, I don’t mind that I am a little older than Matt but I don’t need to be reminded of it all the time.

We kicked off the celebration a little early last night with a dinner party at our friends apartment. We have known Lucy and Smeets since our early days in Boston and have continued to remind friends over the years. They are lovely people with whom we’ve taken a few ski trips , gone to many dinners and shared more than a few glasses of wine! A couple week’s ago we celebrated Lucy’s birthday together with a dinner at Peels, one of my favorite NYC restaurants. That night we ordered some oysters for the table and got to talking about how Matt and I have recently gotten into oysters. It just so happens that Lucy’s uncle owns an oyster farm in Cape Code, Sweet Neck Farms, and knows a thing or two about the slippery delicacies. I mentioned that I really wanted to learn how to shuck them so Matt and I could enjoy them at home (and not have to pay the ridiculous price of $3 per oyster at a restaurant!) So I was pleasantly surprised when Lucy called me on Tuesday night to tell me that her uncle had shipped her some fresh oysters and invited Matt and I over for a shucking lesson and dinner party.

Now, this may shock you – but this was the FIRST real dinner party that Matt and I have ever been to. I know – weird. I think it is because NYC apartments are so small, that very few people have dinner tables so we always go out to dinner. It is sort of funny because the only person I can think of who has an actual table in their apartment, which chairs and adult things like that, is Kinsella – and his version of cooking is opening a can of soup (which IS pretty impressive). We’ve had many a football watching party at his place, but those normally involve Bleeker Street pizza and eating off our laps (please don’t mistake my tone for judging – Matt and I sit on the floor and eat off a coffee table at home).

It was nice to play house for a little with Smeets and Lucy and feel like real adults. Thanks for keeping us classy guys!

 

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Here is Smeets in the Kitchen - hoping that rubs off on Matt!
Here is Smeets in the kitchen – hoping that rubs off on Matt!

 

I’m Cheating on My KitchenAid Mixer

My favorite kitchen appliance is my KitchenAid mixer. I coveted one for years. And then, after Matt and I moved in together and after I secured a new (and desperately needed) job, a KitchenAid mixer appeared in the mail. My mother, who never owned a one herself, bought me the cobalt blue mixer.

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From the minute I turned it on, I was in love. Making cookies became easier, beating frosting didn’t require holding a mixer for 15 minutes and after my mother-in-law bought me the ice cream attachment, the love affair escalated. I’ve purchased many off friends’ wedding registries and got one for my mom last Christmas. Honestly, I don’t know how she lived without for 60(ish) years. Nothing could tear me away from my KitchenAid.

That is… until my Crock-Pot came along.

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When Matt and I got engaged, registering fro Kitchen appliances, gadgets, pots, pans and dishes was a highlight. With my limited kitchen space in NYC, I hesitated to put a crock pot on the list. Thankfully my mom convinced me, saying even if I could use it now, I would want it in the future. So I registered for one.

My soon-to-be sister-in-law bought Matt and I our crock pot for our shower. I was super excited to receive this gift, but I knew there was no way I could store it at our apartment. So, sadly, like many of our other shower and wedding gifts, I packed it into my bedroom closet at my parents house. And then, I forgot about it.

Not because I didn’t appreciate the gift, but because I didn’t have room for it. However, every time I return to NH, I open that closet and feel an incredible sense of frustration that I have these wonderful, nice things that I simply don’t have room for. And pinterest made it worse.

When I joined pinterest, I immediately started using the site for recipes. And much to my chagrin, a huge number of the recipes I would come across were for crock pots and slow cookers. And I didn’t have one (in my possession). Eventually, it was just too much. After Thanksgiving, I hauled the large box back to NYC and spent a few hours strategically moving things around. Finally I found a spot for the crock pot!

A few days later, I pulled it out and fired it up. The first recipe I made was one recommend by Matt’s mom: white chicken chili (recipe below). I put the ingredients in  before work and by the time I came home, our apartment was filled  was delicious aromas and the cooking was done! It was amazing, delicious and the clean up was just one pot. After dinner, I hopped on my computer and started looking up more crock pot recipes. I was hooked.

It wasn’t long before the crock pot took the place of my KitchenAid. Baking cookies and making ice cream was replaced with chilis, pulled pork and soup. Matt didn’t complain by my co-workers started to question what was going on.

While I can’t say with conviction which is my favorite – I can definitely say that in our 800 sq. ft. apartment, I’m happy to designate at least 10 sq feet to my ever-growing collection of kitchen appliances!

Crock Pot Cream Cheese Chicken Chili

2-3 boneless chicken breast halves (can be still frozen)

2 cans Rotel tomatoes

2 cans corn kernels, do not drain

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1 pkg. Ranch dressing mix(dry)

1 ½  T cumin

1 ½  t chili powder

1 8-oz pkg. cream cheese

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Put the chicken in the crock pot.

Top with the tomatoes, corn, drained and rinsed beans,ranch dressing, cumin, and chili powder; stir to combine.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours, stir and add cream cheese.  Cook on high 1 more hour.

Shred the chicken into large pieces, stir to combine all.

This is How Much I Like You

 

Last night Matt and I went out to dinner with our awesome friends, Lucy and Smeets (don’t worry, that is his last name – his parents aren’t that mean to name him Smeets). We always love hanging out with these two and last night we had a lovely time.

In the middle of dinner, I turned to Lucy and Smeets and said, “You know what, I really like you guys. You know this because I am here with you even though I am missing The Sing Off.” Matt turned and looked at me, completely appalled that I would say something so rude to our friends. However, in my mind, this was a huge compliment. Believe me, I wouldn’t miss that show for just anyone!

So cheers to good friends who are worth setting the DVR and watching your favorite shows later. Clearly tonight, I am going to be glued to my tv catching up with my favorite a capella groups!

Bachelor Party vs. Parental Visit

This weekend Matt atttended a bachelor party out in Las Vegas, so my parents came to NYC to we could have our own equally crazy weekend. It was the first time that they had visited New York since my sister left last fall, so the pressure was on a provide a fun-filled weekend. I spent a lot of time researching things to do, restaurants to dine at and cleaning my apartment for their arrival. I also cranked up the A/C to try and counter the 100+ degree temperatures outside. Here is the itinerary that I came up with:

FRIDAY
My parents arrived in the afternoon, their called filled with wedding presents that had been mailed to their house. We unloaded the car and brought eveything upstairs. I was in the middle of watching the Tour De France when they arrived, so we finished the stage and unpacked some of the things that they brought with them. We then jumped in a cab and headed downtown for dinner. I had originally planned to go to Fette Sau, a BBQ joint in Brooklyn that Matt raves about. However, with the hot temperatures, no one really felt like eating BBQ. So instead, I made a gametime decision and took a chance on the line at The Spotted Pig. We arrived just as they started to seat people for dinner and we were seated within 5 minutes. SCORE! After enjoying a delicious dinner consisting of bacon wrapped dates, the most amazing burger and shoestring fries we headed back up to the theater district for the show, Jersey Boys. This show was incredible. I can not recommend it enough. After the show we walked the 10 blocks home in the heat, stopping for ice cream at Holey Cream. We all ended the day tired and very full.

SATURDAY
We woke up, enjoyed some delicious coffee from our Keurig and looked at the hundreds of wedding pictures that our photographers took. It was really nice to relive the wedding and see a lot of things that I didn’t really get a chance to look at that day. Now I just have to figure out what I am going to do with all of these pictures! Then watched the time trial stage of the Tour de France before heading out to one of my favortite breakfast spots, Nook. We started off with the baguette covered with nutella, bananas and strawberries. I enjoyed an egg scramble, while my mom had the french toast and my dad had a slice of quiche. YUM! After breakfast, we took the subway out to Queens to visit the Museum of Moving Image where the exhibit, Jim Henson’s Fantastic World had just arrived last weekend. As a child who grew up watching Sesame Street until the age of 14 (ok, really 28), this was a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

After the museum, we jumped back on the subway and headed to Eataly, a cross between a farmers market and a restaurant. I had never been to Eataly and was dying to adventure in. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint!

I couldn’t believe how large the space was and how many delicious foods there were. We decided to buy food, as opposed to eat at the various restaurant/counters, and cook ourselves at home. We bought a baguette, a few cheese and meats for appetizers, tomatoes, mozerella and basil for a capreses salad and some pasta and sauce for our main dish. Everything was so fresh and so amazing. It certainly inspired me to make the time to cook – recently, I have spent too much time with the microwave and frozen Lean Cuisines! We spent the rest of the evening just relaxing, chatting and eating.

SUNDAY
Whenever I have guests visit, Sunday always feels like a wash. Their pending departure seems to get in the way of any fun plans, even if they aren’t leaving until the afternoon. We woke up and went to Sarahbeth’s, another breakfast favorite. We then walked around the park and went to Crate & Barrel to do a couple errands. Once we got ome, my dad packed up their bags while my mom assembled my new spice rack for me. After they left I rode my bike for a while on my trainer (i.e. something  that turns your road bike into a stationary bike) and made some cookies. It was a fantastic weekend!

Thank you Mom and Dad for making the trip down. And after hearing about Matt’s weekend in Vegas, I feel satisfied that ours was more fun. I mean, casinos and pool parties don’t hold a candle to Jim Henson and the Muppets!