Monthly Archives: May 2015

Blue Apron 32 — Pizza Burgers w Garlic Parmesan Zucchini “Fries”

pizzaburgers1

“America…Fuck Yeah!”

Could there be a dinner more America than something called Pizza Burgers?

Perhaps… if you used 5 lbs of ground beef, topped it with fries and turned it into some type of eating competition. Let’s just stick with Blue Apron’s recipe for now and I’ll save myself the imagined horrific heartburn.

I was dubious about how these were going to turn out. Pizza burgers seem like one of those marketing ploys where restaurants or companies unsuccessfully try mashing up two things that seem like they’d work well together because they are just so good as stand-alones. The result is usually a big let-down. Like Strawberry Beer. ChocoTacos – sorry, I maintain these are disgusting HFCS abominations.

Pizza Burgers, not to be confused with Burger Pizza (totally different), are made with ground beef, sesame buns, tomato sauce with Italian seasonings and are topped with provolone and basil. The whole dinner was simple, easy to prepare, and highly child-friendly. There would be no dinner battles with this one tonight. They even tried the zucchini, but turned it down after a couple bites. That’s okay, though. The burgers were quite large so no one would be going hungry.

Our box contained three large zucchinis for the “fries” which I needed two pans to cook all of them on. Not a huge deal. I even America’ed-up this recipe by going in guns blazin’ without properly reading the directions. In preparing the sauce, the recipe calls for half the spice blend. Guess who went ahead and dumped the entire contents in? The other half of the spice was meant for seasoning the beef. To fix my errors, I just took a spoonful of the spiced sauce and worked it into the ground beef. My patties were just going to be extra juicy, I guess.

too much zucchini for one pan to contain

too much zucchini for one pan to contain

pizzaburgers4

The burgers did the trick to quickly satiate a hungry crowd. I’d probably go back and grill the meat because 1. why not and 2. America. Happy Summer and Outdoor Eating Season.

pizzaburgers


Blue Apron 31: Dukkah-Crusted Catfish w Sugar Snap Pea & Couscous Salad

I suppose it was inevitable to contact Blue Apron Customer Service at some point regarding a messed-up order.

It just happened to be this order.

I’ve gotten a box with a missing ingredient before. It wasn’t a huge deal. They forgot to throw in a sprig of parsley or something; nothing that critical to the fundamentals of the recipe. I also avoid anything that could be interpreted as complaining at all costs. But, in last night’s dinner, we only received 3 of the 4 catfish fillets. Yeah, so that needed to be brought to their attention anyway.

The gist of my initial contact went something like:

“Hey! I think your service is super awesome! Just thought you should know, we were missing one of our fishes! Could we perhaps get a partial credit or something? WRITE BACK, THX!! ❤ :D!”

Customer Service responded to my e-mail in under 24 hours. The gist of theirs went something like:

“OMG! So sorry! Yes, you were supposed to have 4 fish. Here is refund for dinner!”

So, they tacked on a credit for the full-price of the meal which will apply to our next charged box. Sweet! Good customer service goes a LONG way in my book.

Not sure I have much to add about this. My Awesome Eater half-ate hers and Picky Eater didn’t really touch it beyond a couple bites of couscous. I pretty much ate the yogurt sauce before it was even brought to the table. Feel free to leave a comment on this or any other recipe write ups I’ve done. I still have the cards if you need any questions answered about them. Now I’m off to enjoy a sunny, 3-day weekend.

there are 50 ways to cook a catfish

there are 50 ways to cook a catfish


BLUE APRON 30: Chicken Parmesan w Fresh Mozzarella & Spinach-Zucchini Pasta

Quickest.

Blue Apron Dinner.

Ever?

It felt like it anyway. Although the recommended cook time is 35-45 minutes, it seemed a much shorter time preparing this Chicken Parmesan. The preparation on this one proceeded to go “bam, bam, bam” as it’s one you can pound out quickly. If you’re a quick chopper of onions anyway. It also helps that this is a very tasty and child-friendly recipe!

chickenparmie

Blue Apron sent one zucchini and one yellow onion, which were the only vegetable that required chopping. The garlic needed to be sliced, but I always do garlic in my little Cuisinart. The sauce was so simple: garlic, onion, and a can of petite diced tomatoes. I recently picked up some fancy olive oil and salt (e.g. more expensive) at the market – would it make any difference in taste?

my new, luxury olive oil and pink Himalayan salt SO MUCH FANCY

my new, luxury olive oil and pink Himalayan salt SO MUCH FANCY

an easy recipe to top chicken parmesan: yellow onion, garlic, diced tomato

an easy recipe to top chicken parmesan: yellow onion, garlic, diced tomato

After cooking the sauce, which took all of 10 minutes, I moved on to browning the chicken breasts. First, I patted them with white flour and cooked in the snobby olive oil until browned. I really don’t think the different olive oil made a difference. It still tasted good! There’s a very satisfying feeling to having your hands covered in flour. It feels like you’re really cooking and making an effort, even on a dinner that doesn’t require much involvement at all. Blue Apron sent a decent sized portion of Mozzarella cheese, so these chicken breasts ended up smothered.

getting my hands dirty

getting my hands dirty

super cheesy

super cheesy

The side of pasta was Bucatini Pasta, basically Spaghetti with a hole in it. Like a spaghetti straw! Oh the things you could slurp with a spaghetti straw…

Before we go off on that tangent, let’s examine the contents of the pasta. It had the zucchini rounds and baby spinach and some garlic and parmesan. That was it! Exceedingly simple!

This was a dinner I could easily reproduce. It wouldn’t take much to pick up all these ingredients at the grocery store and to be honest it would cost less than what Blue Apron charges. With some of the other recipes I feel I’m getting that little extra something but this one — hmm, it isn’t all that difficult to pull together on your own. The kids enjoyed it and the adults both chowed down, so I’m putting this one into the success column. Funny, if you think about it, this dinner was misnamed. It should have been Chicken Mozzarella and Pasta Parmesan. Though traditionally, the chicken would be cut up and served with the pasta. No matter. Good eats. Good night.

Piquant Parmesan

Piquant Parmesan


Blue Apron 29 – Panko-Crusted Cod w Roasted Asparagus & Creamy Farro Salad

farrofish00

SCIENCE TIME!

Q: What’s the Melting Point of Tony the Tiger?

A: Apparently it’s 425°.

I’m envisioning my deceased Mother-in-Law (rest her soul) circa 1992 diligently cutting cereal boxes to gather and collect the ‘points’ one could send in to Kellogg’s Company back then and, after waiting some obscene amount of time like 58 weeks, a prize/reward finally arrived in the mail.  The prizes were always lame, guaranteed. You could spend months saving up like 800 points and then waiting a year only to receive a paper POG in the mail. A singular POG with the Kellogg’s Logo. Not even a slammer. Well, after accumulating 10,000 points and waiting 3 years, my Mother-in-Law won a set of bowls with the Kellogg’s cereal cartoon characters on them. Somehow this set of bowls made it’s way to my family in tact 23 years later. Until today.

This morning, I wasn’t feeling too hungry for the egg-scramble we all had for breakfast; it was placed in the oven on a plate to keep warm until later. This plate of eggs was then covered with one Kellogg’s Character Bowl featuring Tony the Tiger. I completely forgot about this sitting around in the oven until it was far, far too late. I pre-heated the oven for tonight’s dinner of roasted asparagus to 425° and only when it was time to put the asparagus in, did I discover one melted, imploded plastic Tony Tiger breakfast bowl, covering a plate of stale, scrambled eggs. For comparison’s sake, you can see what it should look like next to a regular bowl.

farrofish2

farrofish

quit looking so smug, Crackle, this could have been you

quit looking so smug, Crackle, this could have been you

After inhaling approximately seven different chemicals known to the State of California to cause Cancer and Fatal Birth Defects, poor Tony met his destiny in the garbage. So sorry, mate! You’re still GRRRR-EAT! (Fun fact: Thurl Ravenscroft, the voice actor of the original Tony the Tiger was also the bass behind “You’re a Mean One, Mr Grinch” aka my favorite Christmas Carol. Now you won’t be able to un-hear this!)

Nothing else interesting happened making this dinner.

In fact, I thought it was pretty boring by Blue Apron standards. It felt like I’ve done each component of this dinner already. Breaded fish? Yep. Roasted asparagus? Yep. Farro something or other? Definitely recall putting a Farro salad together before. This just means I should be good at this by now, right?!

Actually, I do believe learning from the errors of my past helped me out tonight. I remembered to only bread ONE side of the fish this time which allowed the Panko breadcrumbs and Dijon-mustard glaze to spread and distribute more evenly between each fillet. I remembered to press the shallots in a garlic press AFTER grinding them in my mini-prep food processor to give a smoother texture to the vinaigrette dressing. I pre-cut Picky Eater’s fish into bite-sized pieces so she wouldn’t whine, “it’s toooooo biiiiiiig!” for goodness sakes! I am a smart ape! I can be taught!

farrofish4

farrofish5

only one of the fillet's breadings fell off when I flipped them this time!

only one of the fillet’s breadings fell off when I flipped them this time!

In summary, this was a filling, moderately child-friendly, easy to prepare dinner. Each fillet and serving of Farro salad clocked in at 570 calories. I feel like I’m becoming a progressively better chef through this process! Minus, you know, melting plastic in the oven.

farrofish1


Blue Apron 28 – Spring Miso Ramen w English Peas, Pea Shoots & Soft-Boiled Eggs

springmisoramen

Be forewarned: I’m writing this with a huge noodle hangover right now. This was so very filling and there’s still a big bowl of leftovers in my fridge! This ramen is not your average Cup o’ Noodles.

I always appreciate meaningful coincidences. Synchronicity. Since I like to keep my Blue Apron box contents a surprise (they send out an e-mail with the weekly menu when your package ships) I never know what I’m going to get until I open the box and pull out the recipe cards. We are back subscribing to the two-meal/two-box weekly plan for $69.99. Can we just say $70, please? I’ve been annoying the people in my house – ok, just the husband – marathon watching (well, as much as a parent can after the kids are in bed) a subbed anime series. I’ve had to switch to listening on headphones because the husband is throwing major side-eye having to listen to the loud, exaggerated Japanese voice acting he can neither see nor understand coming out of my devices. Since my channel has been tuned to things Japanese lately, it was funny opening up the food box and discovering a Miso Ramen recipe. The universe is sending signs this is where I need to take my next big travel journey. Maybe.

The “spring” in this miso’s step comes from fresh English peas and pea shoots. The ones they sent were practically fresh off the vine! It took some time to shell 1 pound of peas, but my daughter was excited to help do this part and it made the work go faster. Everything else about this recipe went quickly.

To make the sauce I mixed white miso paste, mirin (whatever this is), soy sauce, and sesame oil. I stirred and whisked the sauce for a full two minutes but it was still looking chunky. These efforts were for naught as it all blended smoothly in the pot after adding 3.5 cups water and simmering the mixture.

this looks SO unappetizing, but it all smoothed out once mixed with water

this looks SO unappetizing, but it all smoothed out once mixed with water

I had to be precise about timing while boiling both the eggs and the noodles. Blue Apron’s instructions clearly stated to boil the eggs for exactly six minutes. Of course, wary of runny eggs, I boiled them for seven. They probably would have come out looking much more like the photo on the recipe card had I not gone that extra minute – our yolks were just on the firm side of soft-boiled – which was fine because I think the kids liked that better anyway. Consider me impressed by Blue Apron’s accuracy! The noodles needed to cook in boiling water for exactly 90 seconds, for which I got to bring out my poor, underutilized egg timer. Ironically, I didn’t use it on the eggs.

Blue Apron secures eggs in shipments in this little plastic crate, wrapped in paper, and in a cardboard box. Receiving broken eggs in the mail would be awful!

Blue Apron secures eggs in shipments in little plastic crates, wrapped in paper, inside a cardboard box. Receiving broken eggs in the mail would be awful!

the rest of the ramen was rounded out with bok choy, the peas, garlic and ginger

the rest of the ramen was rounded out with bok choy, the peas, garlic and ginger

The verdict on this dinner is that it’s kid-friendly – mine loved the noodles and the eggs! – in addition to being very, very filling. I ate this over 3 hours ago and I’m still ridiculously full! Blue Apron sent a huge portion of noodles. The prep/mess was rather involved with the pea shells and lots of bowls for mixing and boiling of things, but that shouldn’t hold anyone back from giving this one a try. It’s a nice upgrade from Top Ramen!

Miso hungry? Not anymore.

Miso hungry? Not anymore.

Now the kids have gone to bed and it’s time to get stoned and watch anime. Yes, I am an adult.


Mother’s Day

I avoid getting too sentimental about my children, but since today was Mothers Day in the USA and all, I’ll just go ahead and say it…

My kids are the most magnificent, sweet, kind, and funny little humans I know.

Half the time it feels like I’m making this whole parenting thing up as I go along. The other half I look on in amazement at these three children I’m responsible for and think, “what did I do to deserve anything as wonderful as you three in my life?”

They bring so much joy to me and those who love them. There are days I feel rather useless, when I wonder what purpose I have on earth, but on days like today when it hits me like a sack of bricks how important it is to be the best possible Mother I can be for them – to raise them to be loving, conscientious adults – well, I don’t feel quite as useless anymore.

18-18


Blue Apron 27 – Zucchini & Yellow Squash Enchiladas w Salsa Roja & Monterey Jack Cheese

zucha

Another Blue Apron dinner. What number is this now? 27, eh? I had to go back and check; 27 is about when I stopped counting my age, too.

I needed to redeem myself after the last cooking flop and the photo for these enchiladas looks very tasty! So I had a good feeling about the outcome of this dinner. This will also be a test of my new phone’s camera, so the photography style might be a bit different from past blog entries, if you’re following that sort of thing.

WOW.

This recipe got rave reviews.

Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much positive feedback from this one. Veggie enchiladas seem like a quick and dirty “I’m hungry, but don’t need anything fancy” kind of dinner. Maybe the kids would take a couple bites, only if they were feeling particularly hungry. But both Awesome Eater and even PICKY Eater were members of the clean plate club tonight AND told me how much they both enjoyed it! I don’t think unsolicited positive feedback has happened before!

yellow squash and zucchini are like cousins

yellow squash and zucchini are like cousins

The enchiladas were completely veggie with an onion, zucchini, yellow squash, spinach, and long grain white rice filling. The sauce consisted of one 15-oz can of crushed tomatoes and a Blue Apron spice blend of smoked sweet paprika, ancho chile powder, cumin, coriander, garlic powder, Mexican oregano, cocoa powder, and ground cinnamon. The amount of cooking time on this was quick and dirty. 20 minutes tops for me. Once the veggies sautéed in oil and the spice blend, all that needed to happen was to mix in the cream, and pop this in the oven until the cheese melted and the tortillas crisped up.

This time, Blue Apron really did send a 1/2 cup serving of “Mexican crema” (sour cream). With the last recipe they sent, it was a smaller container! I knew they shorted me with the last batch! The first redemption.

sour cream...now THAT'S what I'm talking about

sour cream…now THAT’S what I’m talking about

Blue Apron sent along a pack of 10 flour tortillas. More than enough for the 4 of us. The girls both ate one apiece, the adults two. I rolled ’em up and smothered ’em in the tomato/spice sauce. Blue Apron also sent a block of Monterey Jack cheese which I grated and sprinkled over the top. Cooking time in the oven was around 10 minutes until the cheese turned golden and melty. I once knew a person who only would eat cheese that was melted, not solid. I image they would have enjoyed this dinner as well.

en-chee-lah-dah

en-chichi-lah-dahs

Overall rating: huge hit! Low mess factor, easy to bake, difficult to screw up. I’m saving this one for future reference. Who knew zucchini could have such an effect on my kids?

COOKING GAME…BACK ON!!

iljbn4

Nice one, Mom!

Nice one, Mom!