Monthly Archives: March 2015

Blue Apron 19 – Chicken Rollatini alla Cacciatore w Radiatore Pasta

19 Blue Apron meals complete! 21 to go. Just about halfway through this project.

This service gives you the chance to experiment with meals outside of your comfort zone. They also send you dinners that are so, so deep in your comfort zone. For example, Chicken Cacciatore. Om nomity nom. There’s also a variety in method of cooking i.e. stovetop vs. oven bake vs. no-bake. So nothing ever stays dull or routine. I think this helps in my attempt to learn to cook!

crcada

This dinner was good. Reeeeeeaaaaallllly good. It came sizzling out of the oven with gooey mozzarella and pasta with fresh basil on the side. You’d assume not so good for you, but supposedly only 700 calories per serving. Delicious and filling for a chilly, early Spring evening.

All the Blue Apron recipe cards contain six* steps complete with photos of what you’re supposed to be doing along the way. This makes it easy for visual people like myself who often gloss over text, which, in cooking is not necessarily a good thing and has led to a few kitchen nightmares in the past. Step One is usually the “prep your veggies and put them all in little bowls” step. This is probably my favorite step. Everything is so tidy and organized, just waiting to be combined in awesomely tasty ways.

this appeals to the organization freak in me

this appeals to the organization freak in me

Step Five was quite, err, technical. There was potential for great calamity. I layered 1/4 of the drained spinach, stacked it onto the uncooked chicken breast, and then topped that with 1/8 the mozzarella. Ok, Blue Apron, I see where you’re going with those fractions and 4 chicken breasts.

the art of stacking cheese

the art of stacking cheese

Blue Apron’s photo makes it seem like you have to roll out the chicken breast flat to roll the ends over, like you’re making a raw chicken burrito or something. It didn’t even really need to be secured that much because when I flipped the chicken over in a baking dish, the cheese and spinach stayed pretty secure anyway. I poured the tomato sauce over the chicken in the baking dish and cooked for 15 minutes at 450.

...aaaaaand flipped. not bad!

…aaaaaand flipped. not bad!

topped with sauce and ready to go

topped with sauce and ready to go

The radiatore pasta cooked while the chicken was baking. I first boiled the pasta, removed it to drain, then added half the garlic to simmer in the pot for 1 minute, put the pasta back in and combined it with Parmesan and crushed basil. Super tasty. I think this has been the MOST child-friendly meal we’ve eaten so far. I’ve never seen them both clean their plates so quickly. This dinner also made a big ol’ 3-pancake mess. It seems like the trend that the messier and more involved the prep, the better the recipe. Hmm…

I’ll definitely be making this one again, perhaps without the mushrooms next time (you could take or leave those, depending on your feelings about mushrooms) but the chicken was moist and the sauce and pasta had a lot of flavor. A++++.

so much nom

so much nom

you should never take any review here seriously....because I buy my wine at gas stations

you should never take any review here seriously….because I buy my wine at gas stations


Blue Apron 18 – Panko-Crusted Mustard Salmon w Roasted Potatoes & Waldorf-Style Salad

Since I reviewed my husband’s cooking recently, I thought I’d give him an opportunity to dish it out right back at me (the puns, I can keep them coming all night!)

This Blue Apron recipe was our dinner last night, and what I’ll do is include my cooking notes and give him a chance to provide feedback on how he thought it went. HUFOOD CRITIQUE (husband-food): BRING IT ON!

Featuring a colorful medley of fingerling potatoes and a Waldorf Salad with Greek Yoghurt instead of Mayo, I thought this was a healthy, quick, tasty dinner for our family. But it isn’t about what I think tonight, now is it?

Potatoes: taste the rainbow

Potatoes: taste the rainbow

The potatoes took 20 minutes to roast. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of the cooking in our toaster oven instead of the big, regular oven. I find it goes slightly quicker when I use the toaster oven, but really, the difference is negligible. It gives me an excuse to put an underused appliance into action.

Panko always reminds me of Plinko. I'd love to be a contestant on Price is Right someday.

Panko always reminds me of Plinko. I’d love to be a contestant on Price is Right someday. #bucketlist

All the action cooking this dish took place in coating the salmon fillets in Dijon Mustard and then breading it with the Panko breadcrumbs. Since my husband is going to read this, I should probably confess that I dropped two of the fillets on the floor while breading them.  Give me a break, they were slippery. So, family of 4, you all had a 50/50 chance of eating a piece of Salmon that had floor germs! Mommy loves you!

pcmsss

I think I’m getting the hang of this…

I’m glad both Awesome Eater and Picky Eater will eat salmon. Growing up, I think I was over 18 before I tried it for the first time. How sad! I want to expose my kids to the flavors of the world; break them away from the heavy fast food diet of my own childhood.  This recipe was well-received by the kiddoes. Picky Eater even ate ALL her Waldorf Salad! Winning.

have you met my children? they're lovely

have you met my children? they’re lovely

Ok, now let’s see what someone over the age of 5 thought…

– – –

Salmon: I found the salmon to be excellent.  I had not thought to employ a panko-style breading to a darker cut of fish such as salmon.  I’ve had panko breaded white fish that was great, and I’ve had breaded/fried salmon that frankly disappointed.  I had written off breading salmon to a degree, but this version found a nice balance.  The application of breading in this recipe was minimal, and that prevented the flavors of the salmon from being masked by the bread and oil.  That makes a big difference.  I grew up on salmon, and it does not need breading to apologize for a lack of flavor.  Two greasy thumbs up for this one.
Potatoes: The potatoes were crispy on the outside, and well seasoned.  I’ve made potato recipes like this before.  This potato preparation method hits the trifecta of quick-easy-tasty.  I will call them scrummy, and I’m willing to sound pretentious doing it
Salad: This salad was an interpretation of a Waldorf salad, and I’ve always enjoyed Waldorf salads.  Take a genre of food known to be healthy, throw in apples and walnuts, and start heaping on the mayo.  This is a different take.  It replaces the mayonnaise with yogurt and adds arugula.  I understand what this recipe is trying to do.  I would give this salad a positive review because for what it is–a healthy take on a classic dish–I can recommend it.  That being said, if I was in the mood for Waldorf salad (which I was as soon as that name was used…Pavlov was a smart guy) I would not make this salad.  I think it’s a mistake to connect this with a Waldorf salad.  Other than the presence of apples (which tasted good with the yogurt) it was not reminiscent of Waldorf salads at all.  This recipe was something else that was simple, interesting, and that fans of cooking can tinker with.  Ultimately I ate two helpings, and yet my hankering for Waldorf has not been sated by this version.
On the whole, this dinner nailed 2 out of 3 dishes, and the 3rd one was still pretty good.  Happy feasting.

Blue Apron 17 – Lamb & Beef Tagine w Swiss Chard, Date Molasses & Whole Wheat Couscous

What’s it like to suspend or skip Blue Apron deliveries? Is it easy to take care of this on their website?

My mom and dad are coming to stay with us next week, so I need to hold off on the deliveries while they are here. While my mom would probably be excited and willing to try a recipe or two, this is not my dad’s style at all!  At. All. Blue Apron lets you know up front how easy it is if you need to skip a delivery or two, if you go out of town or whatnot. It’s a relatively simple process: log-in to your account, go to ‘delivery schedule’, find the dates you need to skip and there will be an option to click on “skip this delivery”. Unfortunately, I missed the 9 AM cut-off of the 7-day lead time Blue Apron needs to cancel delivery. Know what I do before 9 AM? Hate life. Crave coffee. Dry hair. So, we will be getting one of the two deliveries next week. My dad can be on his own with pizza or something. Although, heads up, if you log back in to the site again, they ask you, “are you SURE you want to skip delivery?????” I really wish I didn’t have to miss the Gnocci, darnit, but yes, I’m sure. Done. We will take a two meal break next week.

oh, gnocchi, I wish you could be mine, but it's not meant to be

oh, gnocchi, I wish you could be mine, but it’s not meant to be

Last night’s dinner: MORE TAGINE!!!!!!

lbtagine

It’s like they knew how much I loved the last one!

If we’re pitting tagine recipes against each other, the edge goes to to the Root Vegetable w Almond Couscous, mainly because the almond couscous was more interesting than the plain whole wheat. In all honesty, though, I think Moroccan food may be my new favorite kind of cuisine. Total number of Moroccan restaurants found in my small town? Ahahaha, not a chance.

slow pourin' molasses

slow pourin’ molasses

The same spice blend was used in this recipe, Ras el Hanout, as the previous one, however, the meat from this one cooked in a sweeter, less tomatoe-y sauce. I used 2.5 tbspns Date Molasses and 1/2 cup dried Currants which added some sweetness to the overall flavor.

I experienced an “oops” moment while cooking the couscous. It boiled over. I probably shouldn’t have cooked it at such a high temperature. Still okay, though!

in addition to laminate countertops, I also hate glass-top stoves. #rentalhomeproblems

in addition to laminate countertops, I also hate glass-top stoves. #rentalhomeproblems

So fortunately, with this recipe coming right on the heels of the previous one, I was able to test my theory of “mixing the yoghurt in with the dinner” to see if it would create a more kid-friendly meal. And, it worked! Awesome Eater liked hers, Picky Eater opted out of the yoghurt sauce entirely and stuck with the plain couscous and tagine. This combination of ingredients probably lent itself to making this more kid-friendly overall – they liked the sweet flavor and the ground lamb/beef. I’ll make this one again for them some night in the future, once I figure out where to buy the Ras El Hanout spice. I’m betting I can find a place to order it online.

DELICIOUS

DELICIOUS

…we bought a new washing machine! Random, I know, but I’m excited and have to let someone know. Finally, finally, no more trips to the Laundromat for us!  Still have to buy the dryer, but at least we’re coming into the sunny season where I can get away air-drying things for a while. It’s so quiet and efficient. Welcome to the modern era…washing machines!


Blue Apron 16 – Moroccan Root Vegetable Tagine w Almond Couscous & Lemon-Yogurt Sauce

So, if once is an anomaly, twice is a coincidence, and three times is a pattern, then am I beginning to sense a pattern coming on here? Coincidence, at least. Much like the Pork & Hominy Pozole recipe, I had NO idea what to expect going into this. There was a word I couldn’t pronounce in the title and the picture looked orange and kind of pretty, but overall I wasn’t sure how or what this was going to taste like. No expectations whatsoever. It wasn’t until the warm, spicy, nutty aroma from this dish emerged and filled the kitchen, I realized, “oh…shit…this is going to be amazing.”

moragcIn this 40 recipe experiment with Blue Apron we have going on, this one easily established a firm position in the top 5, up there with the Pozole from a couple weeks ago. I still haven’t figured out what exactly Tagine is, but like a ta-genie in a bottle, it made some dinner magic for us tonight. The basic makeup of the stew are 3 root vegetables: sweet potatoes, turnip, and parsnip. I cooked them in a tomato sauce base and seasoned it with Ra’s al Ghul Ras El Hanout – a North African spice blend.

hey, parsnip, might I suggest going out and getting a little sunshine? you're awfully pale for a carrot

hey, parsnip, might I suggest going out and getting a little sunshine? you’re looking awfully pale for a carrot

This recipe was simple in its essence and if I were to recreate it, the only challenge would be to find a source for the spice blend although I am totally game for a trip to Morocco. I wonder if something like this could be worked as a slow cooker recipe? I know Blue Apron sends recipes meant to be 1 hour or under, but some days it’s nice for us to use the crockpot. The couscous cooked up fast, and by fast I mean like 3 minutes. Couscous can be a tasty and filling standalone dish, another option for a healthy lunch. Overall, this dinner created a lot of dirty dishes, but I’ll dock a star for how little time was actually spent mixing and cooking over the stovetop. Once the veggies are plopped in, all you have to do is wait for the tagine to cook itself. 2/3 pan-keke cleanup job.

moraca

there is something oh-so-satisfying about squeezing preserved tomatoes with your bare hands

It would be remiss to forget to mention this was unliked by both children. Sad! I really was hoping they would enjoy this one as much as I did. I think what happened was an error in how I served it to them. I put a dollop of yoghurt sauce separate from the stew on their plate and that totally freaked them out. “Mix yoghurt INTO dinner?! That’s sacrilege!” I wonder if mixing it all together and serving in a soup bowl wouldn’t have wigged them out so much. They only ate the almond couscous.

tagine

BUT WAIT!!

There’s another way to deal with all the poor, delicious leftover root vegetables besides banishing them to a fate known as Tupperware purgatory.

Deep inside a suburban house, barred by the mesh wall trappings of a prison known to some as a “pack n’ play,” exists an untainted new hope; one so pure and innocent, he knows not to scoff at the humble spiced sweet potato, only meant to fill his belly with goodness. Our nearly six-month-old has been showing a great deal of interest in food lately, so I decided it was time to give him a first taste of solids. I pureed one of the sweet potatoes, mixed in some mommy-milk and fed him a couple spoonfuls to see what would happen. My son is going to be a person who will be hard to read emotionally. He gummed the puree for 30 seconds, contemplated what was going on but didn’t show he was upset or start crying or anything. I daresay he liked it and he tried about 2 and a half spoonfuls more. Way to go, buddy! Your first experience with solid foods was quite…well…gourmet.

this stuff you call food...I like it...

this stuff you call food…I like it…


A Wife’s Critical Review + Blue Apron 15 – Mushroom & Beef Stroganoff w Iceberg Lettuce & Radish Salad

My husband needs to become better versed in the art of food pornography, or I need to teach him how to use my camera properly. It was kind of him to write out his meatloaf recipe and helpful to read over the things we eat on non-BA nights. This gives me a sense of where we’re coming from – ketchup – with where I’d like to be. The turkey and meatloaf was alright, just uninspiring. He did admittedly botch the biscuits and I applaud him for his honesty on this public forum. He used a wheat flour instead of white to ‘healthy up’ the biscuits but I felt that defeated the point. If you’re going to bake buttermilk biscuits no amount of wheat flour will make them healthier. Make ’em rich, buttery, and delicious! I won’t get too critical on him here since he will probably never read this! There’s an interesting shift in the balance of power in our relationship happening with me taking over the primary cooking duties.

Anyway, here is my review for Saturday’s Blue Apron recipe: Mushroom & Beef Stroganoff with Iceberg Lettuce & Radish Salad

undressing you with dem eyes right there

In Russia, wig wears you.

Count Pavel Stroganoff:

I never got the chance to know you. You were a 19th century Russian Diplomat and I’m a 21st century American Housewife. You were pretty good looking, although that wig certainly doesn’t do you any favors. Keep mentally undressing me with that gaze, it’s cool, you saucy minx. You were a gourmand with lofty tastes and had a personal chef who created a new dish named just for you! Life was made. I’ll bet your chef, who as far as I know died nameless, would have been pleased to know that 300 years later people all over the world were still cooking and enjoying his or her creation for you.

We sure did! Saturday’s dinner was a Blue Apron version of a classic Beef Stroganoff.

bstrog

I shouldn’t over-criticize my husband’s cooking here, because he has a kick-ass family recipe for BS that uses steak instead of ground beef. I’ll try to convince him to write it up so we can compare his vs. Blue Apron’s.

This recipe was savory and creamy. Heavy on the mushrooms, in my opinion. I ended up only using 2/3rds of the cremini mushrooms Blue Apron sent. I wanted the beef flavor to stand out more. I’ve also been trying to make more fond with every recipe, because that IS where the best flavor comes from.

bstroggw

The stroganoff did not take all that long to cook; the egg noodles hardly any time at all. They boiled up in under 5 minutes. After it all came together, I was left with the most random ingredients: a dish of fresh-squeezed orange juice and 1/4 of the remaining sour cream. This is supposed to be for the salad?

orange juice and...sour cream?!

orange juice and…sour cream?!

Yep! Pat, smart man that he is, accurately predicted, “won’t the orange juice curdle the cream?” It did. But once I added olive oil, it un-curdled. Chemistry in action! The dressing coated the iceberg lettuce and sliced radishes and actually made a salad my Picky Eater ate all of!!

Kid-friendliness of this recipe: high. Awesome Eater said ‘yuck’ to the mushrooms (she takes after her Grandfather) but otherwise they both practically gobbled this one up. Ease of cooking, mess-level, overall prep: pretty standard from all the Blue Apron endeavors. 2/3 pancakes. We’ll get the family recipe going and see how the two fare against one another.

Stronga-right on!!

Stroga-right on!!

Oh, and Happy Spring! My helpers assisted in planting up a couple containers for our front door this weekend. Gardening: It’s how we build strong appetites.

flowerfavorite


How to Cook Everything – Turkey Meatloaf w Buttermilk Biscuits

My husband, Patrick, handled the cooking of tonight’s dinner. This is (in part) a recipe from one of his favorite cookbooks, How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. We have exceptionally high standards here at surrology.com, so if he gets out of line, you let him know about it. Take it away, Pat…

ps: you better eat the last two Samoas before I do

——————————————————————————————————-

Greetings loyal subscribers.

Something abnormal has been happening in our house over the past month: Helen has been cooking.  During our 5.5 years of marriage, I have been the primary cook and have probably prepared 70% of meals consumed by our family.  For the past month we have been receiving food from Blue Apron, like care packages dropped on some forlorn island nation.  They are fantastic, and they are helping Helen learn how to cook great meals.
That being said, the following meal has nothing to do with any of that.  It was prepared by me without the help of Blue Apron…
Anyone still reading?  Ok, here we go.
PAT1
1.25 lbs. ground turkey
1 lb. turkey or chicken breakfast sausage
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 large egg
2/3 cup breadcrumbs
1 bottle of beer
This is a recipe of my own creation inspired by my Mother’s classic meatloaf, but with ground turkey and breakfast sausage used in place of ground beef.  You’ll notice there aren’t any additional spices used.  The nice thing about using the breakfast sausage is that it is already sufficiently spiced.
First, open the beer and begin drinking it, then preheat the oven to 370.  Take the ground turkey, breakfast sausage, onions and garlic and mix them together.  You could use a mixer here.  I used my hand, and then chased Helen around the kitchen with my gross, smelly meat-hand.  Good times.
PAT3
After these are thoroughly mixed, add the egg and the breadcrumbs.  The mixture will be sticky.  Move the soon-to-be meatloaf to a 9x5x3 inch pan and press it down so the top is flat and the whole pan is filled.  Now go wash your hands.  Seriously.  They are covered in meat.  Nobody likes that, especially not your wife.
When the oven is up to temperature, cook the meatloaf for 40 minutes.  When I cook meatloaf, I put a casserole dish filled with about an inch of water in the oven also (usually on a lower rack).  This keeps the meatloaf from drying out and/or shriveling up while it cooks.  Or maybe it doesn’t…in either case I feel better about my efforts, and isn’t that important?  I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggonit my meatloaf is juicy.
PAT7
While the meatloaf cooks, prepare the Buttermilk Biscuits.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons baking powder
7/8 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons (1/2 of a stick) of butter.
Take my directions here with a grain of salt (one for yourself, the rest of the teaspoon for the biscuits).  I botched this recipe but good.
PAT4
Mix the dry ingredients together and add the butter.  When you add the buttermilk, be sure to add only 7/8 of a cup.  I poured in the 7/8 cup, AND an extra cup to go with it.  I read the measuring cup wrong; 7/8 and 1-7/8 don’t actually look that different when you’re not paying attention.  Needless to say, the dough was a bit runny.  I found myself adding spoonfuls of extra flour trying to get the dough to behave like…well, dough.  I must have doubled the flour content before I realized my error, at which point it seemed all too appropriate to double the flour content.  Surprise double biscuit batch!
PAT6
Bake your proper biscuits at 450 for 7-9 minutes.  My mutant biscuits needed significantly more time.  I was using 1 oven for both the meatloaf and the biscuits, which requires some juggling.  I finished the meatloaf after the 40 minute cook time in the oven as it transitioned from 370 to 450.  While the biscuits cook the meatloaf will cool to an ideal serving temp.  You’ll remove the perfectly fluffy biscuits, plate them, and serve up a great duo of comfort food.
I, on the other hand, waited patiently for the biscuits to brown.  They never did. They were dense enough to defeat a biscuit’s natural tendency to fluff up, and the ratio of butter to flour was skewed enough to prevent browning (or so I assume).  They came out of the oven more like dinner rolls–minus the airy interior that leavened dough provides.  Bad news, but they still tasted OK.  The fact that the taste was still acceptable speaks to the simple quality of Mark Bittman’s recipe.  I am eager to try this recipe again, and I’ll have my 5 year old help me because she can count.
PAT9
I served this dish with a quick green salad of romaine, bell pepper, and green onion.  I’m happy to say that both of our girls ate the meatloaf and the “biscuit” eagerly, though neither cleaned their plate.  These days the Clean Plate Club is the exclusive province of Helen and myself.
So ends my first ever blog post.  Time for another beer…and perhaps a cookie.

Healthy Snack – Best Guacamole No Tomato

Don’t ever buy pre-packaged guacamole from a store. Yuck. Don’t do it. When it comes to avocado delight, nothing beats fresh. I’m proud to be a total guacamole snob.

We’ve come to an agreement as a family this is our favorite guac recipe:

2 whole avocados

1/3 cup green onions

1/3 cup cilantro

1/4 diced red onion

1 teaspoon olive oil (not for taste, for consistency)

salt and pepper to taste

guacamole2

Since we aren’t fans of raw tomato, we don’t use it. I’ll tinker around with other variations on guacamole, but these 5 ingredients are the foundation.  Since I’m on the “food with ingredients you can pronounce” diet, there should always be a container of fresh guacamole in my fridge.

muy bueno

muy bueno