Holidays are long over

I am the woooooooorst.

I baked 5 different types of cookies for Christmas this year, just finished the last of them last week and I got exactly zero pictures of them.

My dad lives in the Mid-West, so my big gift to him every year is a healthy shipment of cookies for the holidays. This year was the most I’ve ever made, and it took me nearly three days to complete all the cookies.

Everyone else in my family gets in on the cookies, including boo thang’s parents in Florida. I even made a few wheat-free cookies since finding out this year my brother is allergic to wheat! He shouldn’t be excluded from Christmas baked goods, and I found some of Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose flour on sales (50% off!) I decided to make TWO different baked goods without wheat!

Here are the 5 cookies I made this year – with reviews, substitutions and successes/failures.

Hershey’s Kisses Peanut Butter Blossoms

 

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Photo from SavorySweetLife

 

These are classics and made per special request by my step-dad. However, I made the first batch and threw it away. I was so disappointed. The dough was so dry and crumbly it would barely stay together when I was adding the kisses. I think the peanut butter I was using was low in oil or something, because I cannot figure out what went wrong! I ended up using this recipe for regular ol’ peanut butter cookies and adding a Hershey’s kiss at the end. All ended well, they were a hit! And no one knew of my failed batch (except boo thang).

Peppermint Brownie Blossoms

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Photo & recipe from Small Town Woman

In a twist on the classic peanut butter blossoms, I found a recipe for a colorful, minty version! With more chocolate! These cookies were amaaaaazing! They were so…soft and creamy? I didn’t know a cookie could be creamy until biting into these babies. There is peppermint in the dough as well as using the peppermint kisses as well.

I also wheat-free’d these! I didn’t have an xantham gum on hand (suggestion per the flour packaging) but they turned out just fine. They weren’t as smooth on the outside, but apparently still tasted great, according to my brother. Win!

Better Crocker Candy Cane Cookies

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Mine didn’t look like this. Photo & recipe from The Kitchen Magpie.

I’m never making these again. My baking skills, as well as my patience, is not extreme enough to ever make these cookies again. The dough falls apart SOOO easily, they take FOREVER to roll out, then as I was forming them, the candy cane shape kept breaking. I ended up doing candy cane sticks, no crook at the end, because I could not get them to stop breaking and looking like absolutely shit.

Tasty, though.

Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies

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So pretty! Photo & recipe from Clean & Scentsible.

These were my absolute favorite. My advice: read the comments! I found it much easier to roll the dough into a big long log and cut with some dental floss. It kept my cookies perfectly circular. I like that these weren’t too sweet and I was able to use different color sugar flakes on the edges to make them festive and colorful. These were my favorite discovery this year and I will absolutely make them in the future. I don’t know if everyone else has my same love of red velvet… but I don’t really care. They’re tasty, a gift and I enjoy eating them. I’m assuming everyone else will enjoy eating them, too.

Funfetti Shortbread Bites

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So adorable! Photo & recipe from Cooking Classy.

Obviously, these aren’t cookies, but I still made them as a holiday baked goodie gift. These were also SUPER SIMPLE to make wheat free. I did have a slight problem with them burning on the bottom but still not quite being cooked. They tasted fine, but weren’t as pretty as Cooking Classy’s adorable little bites. I’m not sure if I should have cooked them higher or lower in my oven, because regardless of my pan color (dark or light) they still burned. I also had a slight problem with spreading, but not too bad. I *might* make these again, they were still very cute.

I will probably make the red velvet ones for myself throughout the year because I LOVE them – they would probably be really fun to make for 4th of July as well! Just add blue sprinkles around the outside and *boom* Independence day ready. I still have some other things to work through but hopefully I can find some more delightfully adorable and delicious recipes for next year!

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Recipe: Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup with Poblano Peppers

This autumn is looking GREAT in the Pacific Northwest. Why? Because it’s supposed to be cooler and wetter than normal, and I am a HUGE fan of that. The rain doesn’t get me down, it just make me snuggly. I snuggle with boo thang, snuggle with the cats and snuggle up to some tasty soup!

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My poblano peppers were starting to get a little scary, so my solution was some chicken tortilla soup. The chicken in my freezer has poor texture when thawed, a nice sign that it’s filled with water, so I paid way more for it than I should have. Thanks, water weight chicken. Shredded chicken hides that pesky little problem. Also, while making this, I thought the package had two chicken breasts in it. Nope, it was one MONSTER chicken breast. Basically I bought this chicken while I was frantically speed shopping before a camping trip, it didn’t get used so it ended up in the freezer. I’ll never buy this brand of chicken again!

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So many pretty colors!

For the most part, this is a nice, straight-forward recipe, but it does take a little time, even thought it’s a slow-cooker “set it and forget it” recipe. You can always buy tortilla chips, but I like seasoning mine, which add another half hour or so to the prep time.

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As it happened, my brother ended up coming over for lunch after I made it so I had a guinea pig other than boo thang to test my food on. He gave it two thumbs up, but he’s a college student and it was free, so ya know, take that review with a grain of salt!

RECIPE: Serves 4 – 6 

4 – 5 small poblano chili peppers

2 chicken breasts, whole

1 bell pepper, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 can petit diced tomatoes, with juice

1 can sweet corn, drained

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

6 cups of vegetable -or- chicken broth

2 T chili powder

Salt & pepper

For Tortilla Ribbons

4 – 5 corn torillas, cut into 1/4 in thick ribbons

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp cayenne pepper

salt & pepper

  1. Blister the poblanos. Cut poblanos in half and remove seeds. Place peppers on a baking sheet, insides down and coat with olive oil. Broil on high until the skin is blistering and browning. Keep a close eye on it!
  2. Once the peppers have blistered, let cool. Remove waxy skins and cut into squares/cubes
  3. Add chicken, poblanos, bell pepper, tomatoes (including tomato juice from the can), corn, black beans, onion, garlic chili powder and salt and pepper to crock pot. Cover with broth, about 6 cups. Cook on high for about 4 hours.
  4. While the soup cooks, make your tortilla ribbons. Preheat oven to 425. Toss olive oil, seasonings and tortillas together. Spread on a baking sheet so it is mostly just one layer, with a little overlapping of tortillas as possible. Bake for 5 minutes, flip the tortillas over with a spatula, and cook for about another 5 minutes, until crisp but not burned. Keep a close eye on the tortillas after you flip them.
  5. After the soup has cooked for a 4 hours, remove and shred. You can use forks if you’d like, but a pro tip is dropping it into your KitchenAid with the mixing (not whisk) attachment, it’ll shred the chicken in about a minute. No fuss! Return shredded chicken to crock pot and cook an additional 15-30 minutes.
  6. I had a whole mess of garnishes. Sour cream, limes, avocado, sliced jalapeños, and obviously the tortilla ribbons. Add what you’d like and enjoy!

 

Recipe: Sunbasket’s Green Curry Shrimp with Pan Seared Bok Choy

I apologize in advanced, I don’t really have any pictures of this recipe, but I thought it was important to share my experience here.

Why?

Well, you’ve seen my Blue Apron posts, right? Sunbasket is their competitor who, in addition to just super tasty foods with exactly the right amount of ingredients, also ships paleo/gluten-free recipes. They ship everything in compostable paper (a main gripe of mine with BA), the ingredients are organic and, unfortunately, they are also a more expensive service. I thought it was only fair to test out the competition.

Also, this recipe calls for 3 of the things from my Full Circle bag this week! I also happened to have EVERYTHING on hand for this recipe. Green curry? Check. Shrimp? Check (holla out to frozen shrimp!). Coconut milk? Check. Also crimini mushrooms, baby bok choy and a shallot from my  Full Circle basket this week.

The only thing I’d change about this recipe is the baby bok choy. Now I LOVE baby bok choy. My favorite baby bok choy is from Ding Tai Fung. I have *almost* figured out how to make it exactly the same at home, but it’s not quite there yet. When I figure it out, I’ll post the recipe. In the recipe I did here, I didn’t cook the bok choy long enough, so the ends were a little rough and boo thang was NOT HAPPY about it. He isn’t as fond of the baby bok choy as I am.

Remember when I made the Crispy Catfish from Blue Apron? The un-credited star of that dish was the lime zest rice. So while this recipe didn’t call for rice, I did make a side of the lime zest rice as well, just put the rice on after you put your first round of bok choy in the pan. Make rice as you would usually, but add the zest of half a lime when it’s finished. KAPOW! You have some tasty-ass rice to go with your curry.

Since I did modify this recipe a bit, we ended up with three servings, which was fine with boo thang, he took it for lunch the next day.

Check out the original recipe.

RECIPE – Serves 3 (unintentionally)

6 heads of baby bok choy, cut in half lengthwise

1-1/2 cups frozen tiny shrimp, thawed

1 shallot, thinly sliced

1 medum/large zucchini, cubed

6-8 crimini mushrooms, cut into quarters

3/4 cup jasmine rice

2 T green curry

1 can full fat coconut milk

1 lime, with half of the peel zested

1/3 cup cashews

Sesame oil

Salt & pepper

  1. Mix cashews, some salt and oil well in a baking dish. Broil on hi for 3 – 5 minutes, or until cashews are a medium brown. Let cook and roughly chop.
  2. In a non-stick pan, heat sesame oil to medium-hi. Add bok choy, cut side down, to the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes, until slightly browned. Cook in batches of about 3-4 halves. Put aside in a warm place.
  3. While the bok choy is cooking, start your rice. We did 3/4 cup water, 3/4 cup rice, but I’d recommend actually only doing 1/2 cup rice, 1/2 cup water.
  4. Once all the bok choy is done, using the same pan, heat some more sesame oil. Add shallot and cook until sot. Add the green curry paste, cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add your mushrooms and zucchini and cook until almost soft.
  5. Add your coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Let it simmer about 5 minutes, until vegetables are fully soft. Add shrimp last, since it is already cooked, it just needs to warm up. If it is cooked too long, they’ll shrink and be a funky texture. Don’t do that.
  6. By now your rice should be done (about 15 minutes), so add the zest of half a lime and fluff with a fork. Divide between two dishes for serving.
  7. Before plating, squeeze the juice of the whole lime into the curry and stir. Promptly serve over the rice, then add your still warm baby bok choy to the mix. Top it all off with the roasted cashews.
  8. Garnish! This dish wasn’t too spicy, so we added some garlic chili sauce, it was a great addition. You could also add cilantro, basil or some extra lime. Enjoy!

Full Circle: November 4

I opened up my door this morning to go grab my bag and WHAT someone brought it straight to my door! It’s the little things that make your day, right?

The only thing really grabbing my attention in this bag is the red cabbage. Now, I’m pretty lukewarm on red cabbage. First off, it should be called purple cabbage, look at that thing! Second, it’s a pretty strong flavored cabbage so I find it a little harder to work with. Third, I don’t want to eat coleslaw when it is this cold outside! I’m gonna have go dig into my German roots for some recipes for this one.

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What’s in the bag?

Left to right: Red (purple) cabbage, crimini mushroom, kiwis, cucumber, garnet yams, radishes and leaf lettuce (?). Not pictured: Jonagold Apples, because for some reason I put those away before taking a picture.

The “leaf lettuce”was already a bit wilty when I pulled it out of the bag. Sad lettuce. So that will have to be used this weekend. I’m thinking about pulling out my fancy grilled cheese sandwich cook book… To be continued!

Recipe: Autumn Veggie Bowl with Delicata Squash and Kale

Ho. Lee. Butts.

This is a delicious fall meal. I used mostly my Full Circle ingredients from this week to make this super tasty lunch bowl. I had one fairly small delicata squash, a bunch of kale and an inspiration from a recipe I found on Yummly.

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All the foods, ready to assemble!

While this isn’t 100% my own, I altered the recipe and made it myself (while cleaning my kitchen, it was a tricky situation for a minute!).

This also uses my absolutely favorite way to make kale. My old roommate would make kale this way – I didn’t know it could be this good! It opened my eyes to using kale more often as a simple side dish. Lemony garlicky perfection.

The delicata squash caramelizes on one side, it ends up being a fairly sweet dish and so, so good. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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Delicata squash, yummmmm

RECIPE – Serves 2

1 small delicata squash, cut into 1/2 in rounds

4 leaves of curly kale, roughly chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 cup basmati rice

1 T tumeric

1 tsp ginger

1 tsp Paprika

1/2 lemon

Olive oil

Salt & pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. On a medium baking sheet, combine some oil, delicata squash rounds, making sure they’re completely coated. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika. Cook (do not turn!) for 35-40 minutes.
  3. While the squash is making magic happen, in a medium (or small) pot, heat up a smidge (less than a tablespoon) of oil. Add 1/2 of the garlic, cooking until it is just brown. Add the basmati rice, heat through, about 1 minute. Add a cup of water and the tumeric. Stir for a hot second and cover. When the water start to boil, turn down the heat so it simmers (keeping covered) until rice is cooked through, about 20 minutes.
  4. With about 7-10 minutes, start making your kale. In a non-stick pan, add about a tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add kale and cook till fragrant. Add kale and salt and pepper. I keep this at medium instead of medium-high heat so my kale doesn’t burn. When the kale is nice and wilty, squeeze 1/2 lemon over, stir quickly and remove from heat.
  5. Your squash, rice and kale should all finish about the same time. Split everything between two dishes and enjoy nice and warm!

Full Circle: October 28th

Mmmmmm, squaaaaaash.

Sorry for the super late post! Halloween weekend got the best of me. I went out as Cat Nap Woman on Friday then ended up with a stomach bug Saturday – Monday, so this is a wee bit behind.

I got  little extra extra in my bag this week though! I accidentally got some sweet potatoes. They were not listed on my sheet, but I was still happy to see ’em – I had a little squee of glee!

Unfortunately it was *actually*sunny out today, so my photo is a little washed out, I’m sorry!

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What’s in the bag?

Left to right: Curly kale, delicata squah, purple potatoes, persimmons, carrots, Honeycrisp apples, bonus sweet potatoes and spinach.

I love squash, but I’ll probably have to eat it all myself. My boo thang doesn’t really like squash and he’s eaten it… a lot more than he’d like this fall. Looks like I’ll have to use that for some lunch.

Purple potatoes! I love my potatoes with a bunch of color! If I had kids, I probably make them purple potatoes all the time. They’re like regular potatoes but fun colored!

The persimmons are still a bit firm, so they’ll have to ripen up a touch before I can use them. Boo thang has eaten persimmonsn(from his grandma’s garden… can’t beat that) but I still am just a bit perplexed with the orange tomato lookin’ thing.

My last thought: Honeycrisp and Pink Lady apples are my favorite, so I’ll definitely just eat these babies plain, right down to the core, like a true Washingtonian.

Keep your eyes out for how I use these bad boys!

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!

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!