Blue Apron Review: Crispy Catfish with Yellow Curry and Bird’s Eye Chile Sauce

Mmmmm I love curry, I was so looking forward to this dinner! I was tasked with the catfish dish this week because last time partner made a catfish Blue Apron meal he claimed it was “nerve-wracking,” so I took point on this fishy recipe.

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Sorry I did a shit job of putting things on the table, but can you spot the chili?

This recipe is pretty straight forward, it’s delightfully browned catfish with a thick curry served over lime rice with a spicy ponzu sauce.

First, the chili they gave us WAS SO TINY! Not including the stem, the chili wasn’t much longer than my fingernail – and I have pretty tiny hands. We like the heat in this house, so I really wish they gave us a bigger Bird’s Eye Chili.

I also had some mixed feelings about using powdered coconut milk. I should have just scrapped it and used the coconut milk I had on hand, but that’s not how most people experience this recipe. Also, I would have ended up with a 1/4 cup of powdered coconut milk and nothing to use it on. The end result: it made the curry SUUUUUUUPER thick and was incredibly difficult to get the powder to fully incorporate into the water. I did not achieve success there, I still had a few lumps after whisking it FOREVER. I kept going back to it, trying to get the chunks out with no success.

This recipe did make me realize I need to use rice flour to coat my pan fried foods more often – its light, doesn’t get lumpy as easily as regular flour and still gives a delightful crisp.

My biggest gripe with this was the curry! My curry was basically a gelatinous kale blob. I cooked it for less time than it called for, as well as used more liquid… I’m blaming that damn coconut milk powder #neveragain

A tasty surprise and best part was the side that didn’t make it into the title: lime rice. It isn’t lime juice rice, but lime zest rice, with a pinch of salt. It was SO GOOD and I think I’ll use this as as my main type of rice to serve with curries as most South Asian curries are served with lime and this rice just adds a bit of a citrus kick.

Side-note: I’ve never cooked catfish outside of a Blue Apron recipe. My mom and brother hate catfish because of the “distinct” flavor, but I haven’t had a recipe yet that makes me balk at finishing the fish. In this case, we served the ponzu sauce over the fish, and BOOM a little chili pepper, salt and the fishy, funky flavor is controlled!

As usual, the serving size was a bit larger than necessary, less rice would fix that. The amount of curry the recipe yielded was smaller than anticipated, so there was some extra rice that was left un-curried.

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Forgot to take a proper meal photo, but see what I mean…the curry is weird and chunky and there is too much rice!

Get the recipe and instructions here. All the Blue Apron recipes are on their site.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Have you made this recipe before? Let me know what issues you ran into while making it – or if you’ve solved any of mine!

This post was not endorsed by Blue Apron in any way, I’m just a big fan!

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Blue Apron Review: Spiced Pork Burgers with Pickled Beets & Cone Cabbage Slaw

This recipe was not made by me, but I did get to eat it! And ooooh man, this sucker is going into the recipe box, or at least half of it is. I’ve never had an overabundance of something be so frustrating #firstworldproblems

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My one job was to get beer on the table, since this is a burger after all. I had two big bottles of Lake Effect Brewing‘s Brett Framboise in the fridge, so I grabbed one of those for dinner. Tart, fruity, gorgeous and C’MON GUYS IT’S A FRAMBOISE THEY ARE ALWAYS GOOD! Boo-thang serves up dinner to go with beer and Friday night is off to a fruity start. After a couple of bites, I asked my partner “Is this goat cheese?” he goes, “Bleu cheese or goat cheese, I don’t remember.”

I was insulted he would just list off two VERY DIFFERENT CHEESES. It’s like he doesn’t care about my feelings! I love cheese too much for him to not care. So I made him go look it up, and upon review, it was definitely goat cheese.

Anyway, pork burgers always get me excited, I think they’re superior to beef burgers and I know that is a controversial opinion. Suck it. This pork burger was PHENOMENAL. I scarfed the burger down and wished out loud for another. I would have *actually* eaten two of these, and skipped the obnoxious coleslaw (I’ll get to the slaw in a minute.).

The Challah buns were tasty and toasted, but my top bun had a fat carrot imprint, but alas, this was food delivered to me using my space phone then magically shipped to my apartment by strangers, so I can handle a slightly squished bun. I loved, loved, loved the goat cheese dijon burger spread paired with the pickled beet… a truly mind blowing taste combo. My nips get hard just thinking about it, the flavor was that good. Not many foods have that effect on people. I’d highly recommend this burger if you love either a) beets b) goat cheese 3) want to have erotic thoughts about food.

Now, onto coleslaw… why the hell did we get AN ENTIRE HEAD OF CABBAGE FOR TWO SERVINGS.  When boo thang started cutting up the cabbage I told him “maybe just do half the cabbage…”

He fights me on it for a second and decided I was probably right. Later, he had to upgrade to a bigger bowl because (surprise!) it still made a metric FUCKTON of coleslaw. I can’t physically eat a half a cabbage because my jaw will seize up before I make it through the trough needed to hold that much coleslaw. After pulling out a reasonably large bowl at first, he later had to upgrade to our biggest plastic “we’re taking this camping” bowl, and we *definitely* had leftovers. Cutting the already-halved recipe in half still didn’t get it to fit on our plates. Then, lucky for me, I got some nice squishy coleslaw leftovers the next day. I love leftover coleslaw, when it gets to rest overnight in the vinegar and makes the cabbage all squishy… but I’m in the minority in liking squishy, not crispy, coleslaw.

Also, as far as coleslaws go, it was painfully basic and needed more vinegar, the whole 2 tablespoons the recipe called for was like throwing a pint glass of water at a house fire. It just wasn’t going make a difference.

At this point, everything is said and done and I’ve eaten my pile of slaw, was daydreaming of that burger and the day we’ll meet again. Oh! Blog. So I asked my partner what the hardest part of the recipe was, since he was the chef for this meal. In past experiences he had some trouble pan frying fish, figuring out when chicken is cooked through, etc, so I figured it would be something similar. His answer?

“The pork. I don’t like touching raw pork. It’s icky.”

So there you go. If you don’t like touching raw pork, RUN FOR THE HILLS! This recipe isn’t for you, according to my significant other. Otherwise, super simple.

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Look at this slaw. A pile almost as tall as the burger, over half a plate of just fuckin’ cabbage. Also see sad bun top.

Anyway, if you’ve had this recipe, let me know what you think! Also, if you had any semi-erotic thoughts about that burger… we can be friends. Our palates are on the same page.

Check out the full recipe and direction on the Blue Apron website. Stay tuned for more Blue Apron reviews!

Overall rating: 2.5/5 stars since it requires an obnoxious amount of recipe adjustment and apparently handling raw pork.

Burger alone rating: Infinity stars *swoon*

This post was not endorsed in any way by Blue Apron, I’m just a big fan!

Recipe: Fridge Trash Butternut Squash Soup

Today is a beautiful, cloudy, blustery day here in the Pacific Northwest. It isn’t too cold, but with the wind, the autumn leaves and grey skies, plus my 3 butternut squashes… it’s soup time!

I call this fridge trash because I got to use some ingredients that have worn out their welcome. And I have too many squashies. Butternut squashies, to be exact.

Now, normally I’d use coconut milk or coconut cream in this recipe, but FRIDGE TRASH ALERT! I had a recipe that called for whole milk about a week ago, and its now about 4 days from expiring. I was all, okay, now, don’t let this get too hot and let the milk curdle and the BOOM, I went to fold a load of laundry and then it went and got all super hot on me and curdled the milk… so this isn’t perfect. I’d PREFER coconut milk in the future.

My singular carrot was sad, and my celery was getting a little brown on the tips, so that why they made an appearance in this. I generally HATE celery, except in soup. Raw, it is my enemy, but I made stew the other week and apparently they only sell 2 packs of celery bunches… so a spare celery bunch was staring me in the face whenever I opened my produce drawer.

Also, I used a few Full Circle items in here including: rojas garlic, yellow onion and butternut squash.

I used a whole (very small) head of the rojas garlic – it’s a little spicier than your typical grocery store garlic and SO PRETTY! If you haven’t seen it before, it has a pretty lavender/smokey purple and brown exterior and GORGEOUS pure white cloves. It has a hard stem in the middle, and it is pretty stinky (yaaaaasss!). I’ve enjoyed using this particular variety of garlic, I have about half of a head left and I’ll be sad to see it go! At the very least, it will be a tasty farewell.

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As you read through the recipe, you might think “vinegar??” Let me tell you, vinegar is the shit. This will make the flavors pop but won’t make it vinegary, so don’t skip it. Too much vinegar, and it’ll get tangy which is OK in my book, but not everyone’s palate swings that way. I’d even go as far to serve it with a “float” of about a teaspoon of the vinegar (as well as with black pepper!).

This turned out super duper tasty, but just swap out coconut milk for the milk (1-to-1) if you’d prefer. Also, this recipe is INCREDIBLY easy to make vegan. Use vegetable stock, coconut milk (and I’d probably use coconut oil if I was using coconut milk). Voila – vegan friendly 🙂

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RECIPE

  • 1 medium/large butternut squash
  • 1/2 large yellow onion
  • 1/2 head celery
  • 1 – 2  large carrots
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic
  • 1 and 1/2 cups whole milk (or full fat coconut milk)
  • 4 cups of stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar, more for serving
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. In a large pot, heat about a tablespoon of your preferred cooking oil over medium heat. I used olive oil, but you could use coconut oil or butter. Do watchu want, this is fridge trash soup!
  2. Add onions. Cook for ~5 minutes, until they smell sweet and are translucent. Add garlic, let it cook for about 30 second, then add in the curry powder.
  3. Once the curry powder has had a minute to open up, add carrots and celery. Cook for another ~5 minutes, until the celery is bright green and starting to really soften up.
  4. Add butternut squash. I let it get a little warm first, about 3-4 minutes, then added the broth. In my case, it was 4 cups of water and a few tablespoons of Better than Bouillon, since FRIDGE TRASH! I only had a little left, and want to pick up a jar.
  5. Add milk, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper and bring to just boiling and let it simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the butternut squash is super squishy and past fork tender.
  6. Put half the soup into a blender, blend until smooth. Repeat with other half.
  7. Add the vinegar and stir.
  8. Serve with a “float” of white wine vinegar (about a teaspoon) and black pepper. Enjoy some bread, add croutons or whatever you have laying about.

Let me know what you think!

-Zsanelle

 

 

Blue Apron: Getting Started!

The first time I had a Blue Apron meal I was at my best friend’s house a couple days before her wedding. Her soon-to-be hubby was out at his bachelor party and we were cleaning their apartment and organizing things to be taken to the venue in a couple days.

Soon-to-be hubby texts her “Make sure to eat one of those Blue Apron meals, they’ll go bad!” We pick out one of the two meals left in their fridge – fancy ramen for dinner!

It fed 3 hungry girls who’ve spent the last 4 hours cleaning and drinking wine. Also, holy crap the directions are easy to follow!

Best friend tells me they do Blue Apron because fiancé is really bad in the kitchen, so this is how he pulls his weight – making 3 meals a week that are easy for inexperienced chefs.

They stick the three recipe cards to the fridge, plan out which days they’ll have Blue Apron meals and which days she’ll whip up dinner from scratch.

I decided my partner, who one time successfully made me DELICIOUS enchiladas that took 4 hours to make, could probably use some help. Usually if I go “Aaaaah, I don’t want to make dinner tonight…”

His universal suggestion is “How about ramen?”Not fancy ramen. The kind that comes in the square bag, with sodium off the charts, good for when you’re hungover type ramen.

So we get their referral code, and I have to bug my partner for WEEKS to actually sign up. I’m thinking he probably just doesn’t want to cook, but I remind him, it is only fair he helps out, and this way he doesn’t need to do any of the grocery shopping. He hates grocery shopping. He’s sold. Booya.

Now this is a great idea in theory. Where my best friend and her (now) hubby have found balance in him making those 3 meals a week and she usually covers the other 4 nights a week, our household… not so much.

It has ended up with me making 2 of the 3 meals each week, since I can actually get the recipes done in the amount of time they put on the recipe card and I don’t get flustered or upset when I come home have to immediately start cooking. Partner enjoys a good sit, a big glass of water, and reading the internet after he gets home (from being on cushy, company-provided transportation with wifi… for a half an hour. I get a little annoyed about this when I’m hungry.)

But back to how it works! They send you a big, heavy box on a pre-determined day – ours is Friday, some other folks in our building get them on Wednesday. It includes 3 recipe cards, a “learn more about this ingredient” card, two big ice packs and all the food you’ll need for the week.

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Info card on different types of chilis!

My favorite part is the “nick-knacks” bags – it includes all the pre-portioned seasonings, small produce, oils, vinegars, condiments, etc. You should ALWAYS refrigerate those little suckers, however, make sure to leave it out long enough for the ingredients to get close to room temp for cooking. There are a few reasons for this, including proper incorporation, but also I mentioned OILS being in there. You want those to be a little warmer otherwise they’re thick and weird, especially if you end up using the oil for a slaw or something where the oil isn’t heated. Do yourself a favor, take the nick-knacks out early!

Th point of Blue Apron, to them, is to make dinner faster ad more convenient. While I understand that is what we’re getting, the service isn’t perfect.

PROS

  • The recipe cards WITH PICTURES are great. It helps to show novice chefs how small “diced” means, for example. They’re also really easy to follow, just make sure to read them all the way through before you begin.
  • Pre-portioned foods – sometimes they give you a weird ingredient you’d never usually use, luckily you usually won’t have any spices/main ingredients leftovers. For example, they don’t give you a huge bunch of cilantro, they give you exactly what you need.
  • Tasty – we haven’t had something that wasn’t absolutely delicious yet. Seriously, they sent us something with Brussels sprouts… and I ATE IT!
  • High quality ingredients – I am always in awe of the ginger. It is so, so juicy. All other ingredients are super fresh, almost never bruised and are always in peak ripeness. I dare them to send me an avocado recipe.

 

CONS

  • My biggest gripe is WASTE! They put everything into individual labelled bags(a single carrot? really?!). I understand for more unique ingredients folks may not recognize, but a single carrot DOES NOT need its own labelled bag. The recipe card has PICTURES of all the food so even that shouldn’t be a problem. Everything except for very large produce is put in a bag with a label, and I really hope it’s all recyclable, but it would be better if it was all compostable packaging.
  • Strange recipe quirks – they’re REALLY into making you cut a scallion into the white portion and adding it to a frying pan, and adding the green bits to the final dish. You gave me one scallion. There isn’t enough flavor in jut the white part for this recipe. Unnecessary.
  • Only frying pan recipes – we haven’t had a single dish that goes in the over yet, save for toasting bread. I’d LOVE to see some baked chicken or something!
  • Large portions – I’m always a little *too* full, one recipe called for AN ENTIRE HEAD OF CABBAGE. Do you think I’m eating half of a cabbage for dinner as a side? How is that realistic? We used half of the cabbage, stored the other half, and still had leftover slaw.

Overall, it’s super tasty, super convenient (save for the time DHL lost our package… Blue Apron refunded us for that week). The recipes end up costing $10/person, so it is $60 week for Blue Apron. At first we thought that price was high. Usually when you end up cooking at home, it is ALMOST $5/person per meal, however that often ends up with a lot of food waste – wilted produce from that salad you never made, expired sauces that you only used once, etc. Also you don’t have to look for any recipes or go grocery shopping, so you are definitely paying for convenience.

And the excessive packaging. You’re paying for that.

This post was not endorsed by Blue Apron, I’m just a fan!

How Does Full Circle Work?

Hello, I am here to introduce you to Full Circle, the service I use to get my fruits and veggies delivered every Friday. Since I do Whole30 every once in a while, this makes it *that* much easier to make sure you always have fruits and veggies at home.

 

“So it’s a CSA box?”

Technically no, but what they’re doing is pretty great, super convenient and not dissimilar.

Since Full Circle sources their food from western states, it is a little bigger than “Community Sourced Agriculture.” Most CSA boxes you pick up at your local farmer’s market, from the actual farmer! Since I live a wild and unpredictable life (lies), and spend a lot of weekends out of town (not lies), subscribing to a CSA box can get tricky, since you usually pick up on Saturday or Sunday.

Full Circle delivers to my area once a week, which is on Friday. I wake up and head to the front of my apartment building to pick up a handy dandy insulated bag.

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Kitty likes Full Circle, too!

I get a notification on Wednesday what will be in my bag the following week (not the one I get in 2 days), where you get to swap out items you might dislike or already have in your pantry. The swappable items is a drop down menu that includes seasonal produce from Washington, Idaho, Oregon, California, and British Columbia. I haven’t seen any items from outside those area, but I’m sure some fish come from Alaska as well (more on this is a minute).

You can swap items in your bag until Monday, but I need to do it on Wednesday in order to remember to *actually* do it, so I swap items 10 days before I even get my bag. I always forget what’s coming, but that is part of the fun for me!

 

“What about other stuff besides vegetables?”

You can also add items to your bag from the Full Circle online grocery store full of local products, from artisan candies and bread to humanely raised meats. These aren’t included in your subscription price, but you could feasibly do all your grocery shopping through Full Circle. If you hate grocery shopping (like my SO), it might be worth trying, however, I LOVE grocery shopping, so I’ll pick up proteins + kitchen staples at the store still, but it makes my trips much faster.

When your bag is delivered, included is a nifty little sheet that tells you all the food in the bag with all the farm information included. Sometimes, you don’t get what you originally ordered. For instance, when you originally chekced, the bag said it included red potatoes, but they ran out of red potatoes.

Dang it, I love red potatoes.

So they’ll smack a little sticker on that sheet, letting you know they gave you yellow potatoes instead. In my experience, the swaps have never been difficult to use, and they try to stick to the same general product (a different type of apple, potato, kale, etc).

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Look ma, no swaps!

Also see that little “Exemptions” section? You can permanently select things to exempt from your bag. When I first started getting Full Circle, I didn’t have broccoli as an exempt item and I got it too frequently for someone who doesn’t really like broccoli, so I added it to the short list. I never want Brussels Sprouts. Ever. I still haven’t gotten them, thank goodness.

“What does it cost? Why does that not seem like a lot of food?”

They have three different sizes, I get the “Seed” size, or the smallest bag since I’m usually only feeding two people, and it’s $25/week. Sometimes, even that is hard to go through for us. From last week’s bag I still have beets and their now wilted greens sadly sitting in my fridge and I still don’t have a plan for them. Plus we get Blue Apron delivered weekly as well, which takes care of 3 meals a week. The other sizes are Sprout ($30, serves 2 people), Garden ($40, serves 3-4 people) and Harvest ($50, serves 5-6 people).

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I also do most of my meal planning/prep over the weekend (Sunday night), so it gets the food to me JUST in time.

Sometimes you’ll receive foods that you’ve never used before. Since it is currently mid-autumn, persimmons are included in my bag next week. I’ve never eaten a persimmon let alone cooked with one, so it’ll be adventure time in my kitchen! I actually nixed potatoes and swapped them for a second order of persimmons, since I didn’t want to get stuck with too few persimmons for a tasty tart recipe I found. However, if you don’t want to deal with an unfamiliar ingredient, you can always swap it out. This is a “choose your own adventure” service, which is super nice!

“Where do I sign up?”

Full Circle delivers to Alaska, California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Find out more info on becoming a member.

As I find them or people shout them out, I’ll make a list of similar programs here. If you can’t get Full Circle, it is always worth finding a CSA near you! Support your local farmers, I promise they’re super friendly and the produce is so much better than your typical grocery store.

I wrote this post without any endorsements from Full Circle, I’m just a big fan!

 

 

 

Full Circle Delivery 10.21.16

Full Circle Friday! I always forget what’s in the bag since I do my bag management a full 10 days out, so it’s always a nice surprise! Here’s what was delivered this week top to bottom:

Baby bok choy, poblano peppers, yellow potatoes, yellow onion, shallot, crimini mushrooms, pomegranate and arugula.

One of my favorite vegetables is baby bok choy! I’ll definitely be pairing that with the crimini mushrooms. The poblano peppers are smaller than I was anticipating, but I’ve never had those delivered, but there is definitely some Mexican food in my future (!!!).

I’ll post recipes and photos as I cook these suckers in the next week.

Also, keep your eyes out for my Full Circle Friday Guide on how this service works, how I use it and maybe some inspiration to find a CSA or something similar near you!