Monthly Archives: April 2015

Blue Apron 25 – Braised Chicken Thighs w Bell Peppers, Onion & Cheesy Polenta

This morning was like waking up from a bad dream, only realizing you’re still stuck in one. I’m sad, but going to take some time to figure things out, like if I want to continue the next 10 years, or lifetime, in the same holding pattern of disappointment. I was especially sad about stepping away from cooking, since I’ve been enjoying this project tremendously over the past two months. It’s given me a purpose. So while I had to suspend Blue Apron deliveries for at least the next two weeks until I figure out what to do, I still have to cook the last 4 meals from today’s and Friday’s boxes. I wasn’t prepared to write about them, but equally wasn’t prepared for a meal that easily was in my Top 5. Of course, of course, this would be delicious! So I had to give this meal it’s due with a short write-up.  I mean, what is cheesy polenta exactly? IT’S A GIANT LUMP OF CHEESE GOO. How was I not supposed to love this?!

braisedchickenthighs2

braisedchickenthighs1

I liked this recipe most of all for it’s simplicity. Reminiscent of the Roast Chicken & Root Vegetables dinner, it took a hunk of chicken meat, a couple complimentary veggies, and a rich, filling side-dish and combined them with a spice blend of ground sweet paprika, dried oregano, dried thyme, and whole fennel seeds to achieve something I felt was easily reproducible and could be enjoyed on any given night. I can’t imagine this one would be all too terribly expensive to put together by yourself purchasing the same ingredients from the grocery store.

Much like the other favorite Blue Apron recipes thus far, my expectations were absent starting off. Things like the Beef Stroganoff are so up my alley, my bias is that I’ll enjoy it no matter what. And with things like fish I’m already not enthusiastic about, I at least try to put my best effort in to give it a chance. It’s kind of these middle-of-the-road dinners which I don’t expect to feel one way or the other, just to eat and hopefully enjoy, that I’ll end up more than pleasantly surprised.

I wasn’t planning on doing a write-up, so I didn’t take photos until the very end when I started to get excited about eating this. The only real flub-up that happened was the chicken and veggies were still too watery when they came out of the pan and I ended up sucking out the excess liquid with a blue bulb syringe. Yes, one of those blue bulb syringes.

braisedchickenthighs

Every parent knows that these suck at their intended purpose, but make AWESOME bath toys later on

If you want to find out if someone is a parent, ask them, “do these work well at their intended purpose? True or False.” It’s like a parenting initiation.

I’d make this dinner again in a heartbeat.

It was the second best part of the day just behind finding twenty dollars I didn’t know I had in a pocket of a pair of jeans which hadn’t been worn in a while because I can fit in them again. There are few things in life that can top that feeling though.

braisedchickencheesypolenta


Blue Apron – On Hold

Found out some bad news today that necessitates stepping back from my cooking project indefinitely. Surrogacy is still forthcoming. I just need to take some time and assess the state of things. Family. Work. Marriage. And so forth…

When life hurls rotten tomatoes at you…at least you can always make pizza now that you’ve learned how…

pizzapie

ppizaa1


Blue Apron 24 – Almond Crusted Cod w Coconut Rice & Ginger Spinach

The good news about this recipe is that it’s healthy, about 510 calories per serving.

The bad news about this recipe is that it’s not idiot proof.

Remember, I am a cooking nincompoop. I’m still learning, only 24 meals into a 40 meal cooking project. This dinner provided a couple technical difficulties. It still came out tasting ok…I think it just looked kind of off; surely not like the golden breaded fillets in the photo on Blue Apron’s recipe card.

almondcrustedcod

The first task was to cook the rice, since it was going to take 25 minutes in total to fully cook. This was actually the easy part. I followed the instructions to mince the ginger, add one cup water, a small can of coconut milk, and a big pinch of salt to the bag of rice Blue Apron sent.

actually using ginger this time (see previous entry for ginger mishap)

now THIS is Ginger (see previous entry for ginger mishap)

While the rice cooked, I finished the spinach and breaded and pan-fried the cod. This is where things all fell apart. I shouldn’t have used my only large cooking pot for the rice; had I known one pound of spinach is a fuckton of spinach, I would have used the pot for that instead. I ended up having to cook it in batches.

and she gazed down upon the spinach and said, "verily, this is a fuckton of spinach"

and she gazed down upon the spinach and said, “verily, this is a fuckton of spinach”

almondcrustedcod4

Spinach shrinks in the wash, so it actually all compacted nicely into a serving bowl once each batch was cooked – I wish it could have done so more evenly. Some pieces were totally soggy and wilty and others were fresh like salad. Blue Apron sent a dollop of butter to cook it with so that accounted for the 10 calories in the 510 calorie serving.

How come I couldn’t bread the cod the right way? I stuck to the instructions. The almond flour wouldn’t stick, fell off, and got all clumpy. Should I have brushed the fish in oil beforehand so the breading would stick? They wanted me to cook the fish with coated side down first, but the coating never turned that pretty and golden color. I ended up having to scrape it off the bottom of the pan and adding the crumbled pieces on later. The kids wouldn’t care how janky this was, but I care darnit!

OH MY COD

OH MY COD

Final verdict: meh. I don’t know how apt I am to bread fish again. The rice cooked in coconut milk had a very nice flavor and Blue Apron always sends enough rice so we have left-overs for lunch the next day. I feel as if I’m getting my money’s worth in that aspect. The spinach was a good side dish for keeping on the diet, butter be damned. It made more dishes and mess than I’d hoped for – a 3/3 pancake cleanup job. Usually the most involved dishes have been the best ones, but this failed to live up to expectations.

Both my Awesome Eater and Picky Eater didn’t walk away in horror. They both ate half the fillets and rice and maybe a bite or two of spinach. I’ll take it, with shoulders shrugged and a valiant attempt under my belt.

almondcrustedcod5

there was a very sweet place setting laid down for me :)

there was a very sweet place setting laid down for me 🙂


Blue Apron 23 – Pan-Seared Steaks & Salsa Verde w Roasted Broccoli & Purple Potatoes

Sigh. Still no contact lenses. My literacy has been severely impacted, which affected last night’s dinner. Not in a major way but being able to properly read directions would have helped. Dinner was still edible though!

Steaks and Salsa

Steaks and Salsa

Our dinner choice was accidentally decided by means of my poor reading ability. Blue Apron sent two meals in the box: a fish dinner and a steak. My intention was to cook the nice looking breaded fish sticks up for lunch yesterday and save the steaks for tonight. So I pull out the instruction card for the fish recipe, read Step One about mincing the garlic and get to work on it. Go back to the card and discover, “Oh…that doesn’t say garlic. That says ginger. Please let this recipe have garlic. Please? Nope. Ok.” They both begin with the letter ‘G’ alright?!

this is....not ginger

this is….not ginger

Sooooo, looks like we’re having steaks and potatoes.

I tossed the garlic in a bowl with sliced onion, potatoes, cut broccoli, olive oil and a Blue Apron blend of spices and spread them out in a pan to roast in the oven for 25 minutes. I just barely averted disaster with this by letting the vegetables go too long in the oven (it was difficult to pry my boobs away from baby, mkay?) and the broccoli got toasty and lightly-burned. Sometimes such mishaps occur.

Do we have everything in here? Ok, good.

Do we have everything in here? Ok, good.

I started cooking the steaks after the veggies came out of the oven because the children were being needy so the timing was all off on this dinner. I think the steak being warm vs slightly cold potatoes was more important. Nobody enjoys cold steak.

This dinner had a recipe for a tomato-less salsa. The majority of the Salsa Verde I’ve ever tried has green tomato, onion, and plenty of vinegar. Blue Apron’s Salsa Verde contained none of these ingredients. In fact, the primary base was Pecorino cheese and sliced almonds. Tell me more, Blue Apron…!

In my current state of poor vision, I ended up using this Cuisinart mini prep food processor a lot so I wouldn't slice my fingers off. This kitchen tool is awesome! Everyone needs one!

In my current state of poor vision, I ended up using this Cuisinart mini prep food processor a lot so I wouldn’t slice my fingers off. This kitchen tool is awesome! Everyone needs one!

Salsa Verde...con queso?

Salsa Verde…con queso?

It was an interesting combination of flavors.. The sharpness of the cheese complimented the tanginess of the lemon juice,  the parsley gave it some texture, and the almond a crunch. I would have never thought to top a steak with anything besides salt and pepper. I’m just expanding my food horizons everyday!

The good news was, despite the crispy veggies, this meal was very child-friendly and both my eaters were members of the clean-plate club. Score one for Mom! Even though we didn’t have the fish like I hoped, this still went over well. I always appreciate good-tasting dinners that don’t take much time to cook up AND are low-mess.

ignore those burned veggies lurking in the background

ignore those burned veggies lurking in the background and focus on the steak, the tasty, tasty steak

this is my assistant in the kitchen...isn't he cute? he is so cute

this is my assistant in the kitchen…isn’t he cute? he is so cute


Surrogacy in the Media

A well-rounded glimpse at surrogacy up on OregonLive.com which touches on adoption agencies now adding gestational surrogacy services in light of falling domestic and international adoptions. It’s refreshing to read a non-inflammatory piece on surrogacy in the news once in a while.

“Flamer-Powell said surrogacy isn’t about giving up a baby but about giving a baby back. “This is not a bonding experience between you and an infant,” she said. “Honestly, this is more a bonding experience between you and the family.”

In her case, she said, the women she carried for became close friends who now text her regularly with photos of their growing boy. On the day she delivered their son, she said, her 3-year-old told them, “Here’s your baby. My mommy carried him for you.”

Black said surrogacy is, ultimately, about families.

“It’s one of the most beautiful family-building options out there,” she said. “So intentional, with so much love and care and thought. And that’s really magical.”

So much YES! While my 3-year-old at the time was pretty much unaware of it all, this woman’s sentiments echo my own. You go, Oregon Surrogates!


Rant Post: Life’s A Blur

I would like to keep up with cooking, but I’ve had to step back for trivial reasons. Last week, the last contact lens of my higher-strength prescription tore, so I’ve been walking around blind the past several days and have little motivation to do much of anything while life is blurry. I tried to send a re-order into 1-800-Contacts but they couldn’t fulfill the order due to my prescription being out of date, so it’s either schedule an appointment with a new optometrist and take weeks to be seen – when will I have the time to do this with three young children?!? When??? Or, now I must wait until the contacts I ordered online through an international place come in. It’s so silly. I know my prescription… -5000 for near-sightedness…that may be an exaggeration, but close enough, so whyyyyyy can’t I just order them and have them shipped direct?

Bitch. Moan.

One of the things I’d like to accomplish with surrogacy compensation (yes, I’ll talk about this controversial issue in another surrogacy post) is get mother*&#cking LASIK surgery. It would be amazing to wake up and SEE. I’ve been wearing glasses or contacts for almost 20 years now. I’ve been nervous about the procedure but I think I’m ready to just get it done with.


Blue Apron 22 – Za’atar Spiced Chicken w Tabbouleh, Roasted Cauliflower & Tzatziki

Do you consider yourself a saucy person?

Are you a fan of dipping, tripping, mixing and fixing?

I love me a good sauce, and on my list of all-time favorite sauces, TZATZIKI is right up there at the top.

zaatarspicedchicken2

My husband, for the record, is not a sauce-lover which is a point of contention in our marriage. But that’s all good because more for me!

Whenever we go out to eat at greekchicken.net, they give us funny looks for ordering 25 extra sides of tzatziki. And those are just the ones for my pita bread.

It’s something I’ve always been curious to learn to how to make. I assumed it must be pretty simple…it just consists of yogurt, cucumber, and maybe some lemon juice? I’ve mostly been too lazy to look a recipe up and also didn’t want to tarnish the sanctity of the restaurant tzatziki. So I was excited when Blue Apron sent a recipe with instructions on how to make some!

zaatarspicedchicken

As predicted, it’s astoundingly simple to make and Blue Apron clued me in to the ingredient I was omitting: garlic paste.

Taking a spoon (they suggest using the flat side of a knife, but I find I’m a better smasher with spoons) I crushed two pre-minced cloves of fresh garlic into a paste. I was hesitant if this was correct – did they really want me to put raw garlic in something? Isn’t that going to taste too…garlicky?

pasty enough for you?

pasty enough for you?

Turns out the garlic is what gives my favorite restaurant tzatziki it’s yummy flavor! I wouldn’t have guessed. Oh, and of course the cucumber, lemon juice, yogurt, salt and pepper. I also learned it’s possible to grate cucumbers. Pro-tip: turn the grater around and scrape the back. There’s goodies hiding back there! I would probably add a sprinkle of fresh dill leaf the next time I make this.

cucumber clingers

cucumber clingers

The rest of dinner was fairly straightforward. Roast the cauliflower in a Dothraki spice called Za’atar and olive oil. Season the chicken with the remaining za’atar and make a tabbouleh with wheat bulger, baby spinach, and lemon juice. This was a healthy dinner (555 cals) that the kids liked, was quick to prepare (25 mins), and didn’t make a lot of mess. 1/3 on my pancake clean-up messy scale. Hoo-rah!

I’m just so happy I now know how to make restaurant quality tzatziki!!

zaatarspicedchicken5

Time for a serious question: is there a subscription service like Blue Apron, but for booze? Our grocery store trips have cut back significantly, which is awesome, but a beer-and-wine delivered to your front door service would be even better and save more time and gas! Must look into this.