Blue Apron Vegetarian Review

I don’t know how many of you listen to podcasts or watch YouTube family vlogs, but ever since I finished school I’ve been kinda addicted to them. Podcasts make the commute to work 1000% better and the NPR ones can be really informative. Anyway, the reason I am bringing this up is Blue Apron has ads on all of my favorite podcasts and vlogs (perfect ad placement, like how did they know this was something I would totally be interested in?!).

I should also mention that I am not getting paid for this review. The only reason I really got into it is because a friend of mine posted a Groupon for the first 3 meals on Facebook. After using the Groupon deal, I was hooked. I’ve been getting the 2-person vegetarian plan every other week.

The way it works: Once you sign up, you choose a delivery schedule and you can opt out or skip weeks. You have to be careful because it will automatically bill you and send you a box if you don’t sign in and choose to “skip this week” ahead of time. On your chosen delivery day, the Blue Apron box will arrive at your doorstep with all of the ingredients needed for 3 meals including the step-by-step instructions. Everything is fresh and the box is refrigerated so its ok if you aren’t home (just make sure you get it sometime later in the day).

There are several services that send you fresh ingredients and recipes but I was really happy with the vegetarian option at Blue Apron. All of the recipes are really creative, and it’s not just salads and pastas. I don’t need special cooking utensils or appliances, it’s pretty basic. Some of the recipes can take a long time but most of the recipes that I’ve done haven’t been more than an hour including prep time.

Yall know my main complaint with cooking new recipes is that I end up wasting so much food especially when it calls for rare vegetables or spices that I know I will not use again. Blue Apron is perfect for that because they only send exactly what you need! It can be pretty expensive but it works for me because I spend about the same in groceries for 2 weeks. I usually eat the leftovers for lunch or dinner the next night so overall I am able to stretch the 3 meals a week to like 6.

I didn’t take a lot of pics of my meals because I wasn’t sure if I was going to do this post so now I wish I had but here are some of the meals:

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I’ll do another short post of future Blue Apron meals. This also means that I won’t be posting any recipes for the next month but stay tuned because there is still a ton of stuff I want to try.

Overall, I am very happy with the Blue Apron vegetarian plan and would recommend it to anyone who wants to try new recipes and hates grocery shopping lol. Well, it doesn’t eliminate grocery shopping completely…you’ll still need breakfast, lunch, and snacks guys 🙂

 

Spaghetti Squash

Happy New Year!

To start the new year off right, I have a recipe for making spaghetti without pasta!

Whattt?? But you love pasta! Yes, I do indeed love all different kinds of pasta and, as a vegetarian, that’s pretty much all I order when I go out to eat. A good friend of mine recently told me about spaghetti squash and I wasn’t thrilled about it because I’m not a fan of squash in general. Well, I am here to reassure you pasta lovers that the spaghetti squash was a great substitution. It doesn’t taste exactly like pasta but it has the same texture as an angel hair pasta and adding a sauce you can barely taste a difference.

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I got a small one from Whole Foods. Preheat oven to 400. Cut it in half and scoop out the seeds.

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I turned both halves down in a dish. Put in oven and bake for 30 to 45 min depending on the size of the squash.

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After it was done or tender, I took it out of the oven and waited for it to cool before turning them over. Use a fork to separate the strands.

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I put the spaghetti-like strands in a bowl. I made a marinara sauce with baby spinach and added it on top. You can also add shredded cheese too.

Photo Jan 05, 8 33 37 PM It was delicious!

You don’t even have to use a tomato sauce, you can just toss it with olive oil and some salt and pepper. And it’s supposed to be a lot healthier than regular angel hair pasta.

 

Favorite Frozen Meals (single serve)

*Gasp* But this is a food blog! How dare you blog about frozen meals!

Listen, as much as I love cooking and being creative in the kitchen, some…no, most of the time I don’t have time to create a brand new meal every single day. My life is entirely too busy for that..also, I don’t have any kids so I can afford to pop a meal in the microwave and not worry about other little mouths to feed lol.

A lot of frozen meals are not that good. I’ve had my fair share of bad ones, and I’ve had to call the Chinese take-out place across the street instead. Through trial and error, I’ve found some pretty great choices for the days I just can’t find the energy to do anything more than open and close a microwave. This holiday season is going to be hectic just like last year and the year before that. In between all the family visits, holiday parties, shopping, and huge meals, here are some of my go-to frozen faves (in no particular order).

1.Amy’s Thai Pad Thai: The noodles, veggies, tofu, and sauce are really good and pretty comparable to some of my favorite local Thai restaurants.

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2. Butternut Squash Ravioli: I actually like most frozen ravioli whether filled with spinach, cheese, or butternut squash. You just put it in the pot and boil until soft. Sauce is not included. I prefer a white sauce over a red or tomato sauce with this one. Also, this particular brand was from Whole Foods but you can find frozen ravioli in most grocery stores.

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3. Lean Cuisine Five Cheese Rigatoni: I’m actually a fan of most Lean Cuisine dishes but this one is my favorite. Not as filling as the meals mentioned above. With any of these meals, I suggest making a salad on the side if you know that you will still be hungry.

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4. Amy’s Vegetable Pot Pie: As you can see, I’m also a fan of Amy’s frozen meals. The problem is that they can be pretty expensive. This one is really great comfort food…I’m not going to lie, I usually have a scoop of ice cream or some kind of dessert after this meal 🙂

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5. Stouffer’s Macaroni & Cheese: I will admit that most frozen mac and cheese dishes are pretty awful but this one I can vouch for. This mac and cheese is great with some Morningstar “meat” or the nut loaf from my previous post.

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Like I said before, if these single serve meals don’t fill you up, you can always add a salad or some kind of bread/roll to complete the meal. There are a few other frozen meals that I like so I may do a part 2 in another post.

I hope these suggestions are helpful and stay tuned for my holiday post where I will announce my favorite Christmas song of 2015!

Potato and Nut Terrine

I’m always looking for different veggie “meatloaf” types of recipes. They are super easy and I can live off of the leftovers for the next week. My Aunt Judy’s Morningstar veggie loaf is always a big hit at church potlucks.

Lately, I’ve been trying several recipes from the cookbook “Favorite Vegetarian Dishes”. The recipe for Potato and Nut Terrine was slightly modified but it came from that book.

Ingredients: 1 1/2 c potatoes, 1 1/2 c pecan nuts, 1 1/2 c cashew nuts, 1 onion, 2 garlic cloves, 2 1/4 c mushrooms, 2 tbsp butter, 2 tsp herbs, 4 eggs, shredded cheese, salt, pepper, paprika, ketchup and sugar for the glaze

Dice the potatoes and boil until soft. Chop the onion and garlic and saute in butter in a pan. Then add diced mushrooms. You can chop the pecans and cashews in a food processor.

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Mix the nuts into the mushroom mixture. When the potatoes are ready, drain the pot and add the potatoes to a separate bowl and mash them together.

Add the beaten eggs and shredded cheese to the potatoes and then add the nut/mushroom mixture. I used shredded cheddar cheese and you can also use shredded Parmesan. Mix everything together and add any seasonings (salt, pepper, paprika, Tony Chachere). Grease a bread pan and pour the mixture inside.

Photo Oct 06, 7 50 13 PM Preheat oven to 375.

For the glaze, mix ketchup and brown sugar in a separate bowl and coat the top of the uncooked loaf like icing on a cake. Bake in the oven for 1 hour.

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When you take out of the oven, let it set for a little or else it will crumble when you try to cut it. I know my plate looks a little bare lol…I had short grain brown rice, broccoli, and a roll with it but I forgot to get the whole picture. Also, I’m not that great at photographing food as you can tell. The whole meal was delicious and so filling, I will definitely be making this again!

Side note: It’s Octobeerrrr! Best month ever! I might be biased since it also happens to be my birthday month. Got this cookie today..I’m totally on the fall pumpkin bandwagon. Shoutout to Panera 🙂

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Spinach and Nut Pasta

This recipe is very similar to the Spinach Puffs that I made in my last blog..in fact it has most of the same ingredients minus the puff pastry.

Quick question: why are pine nuts so expensive?? Up until this point, I’ve refused to use recipes that include pine nuts because 1. I wasn’t sure where to find them and 2. I’ve only had them in salads. Now I have a third reason because when I finally found some at Whole Foods, I found out that a small package was $10! They come from pine cones right? I guess I should have known since anything sold at Whole Foods is already expensive (hence the nickname Whole Paycheck)…I have a love/hate relationship with Whole Foods..mostly complicated by how much I love their fruits..they are just so good…and there’s one not far from my house as opposed to Trader Joes which is so far I would have to make a special trip to get there..Ok I digress, back to the recipe.

Spinach and Nut pasta: pine nuts, 1 c. any kind of pasta, 2 handfulls of baby spinach, mushrooms, 1/3 of a red onion, 1 chopped garlic clove, 1/2 c. olive oil

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Saute onion, spinach, mushroom, and garlic in pan with olive oil until soft. Add salt, pepper, and pine nuts. Cook the pasta in a separate pot.

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After pasta is done cooking, drain and put in a separate bowl. Add the spinach mixture and mix it all together.

This pasta is super easy and quick to make, I even had leftovers for lunch. Everything about this dish so good and I’m even happy about the pine nut addition!

Stuffed Bell Peppers

I’ve met a lot of wonderful people since I’ve moved to Connecticut; it’s almost been surprising. It’s not easy making new friends at my age because most people already have their well-established cliques or group of friends and aren’t looking to include anyone new in their circle. Anyway, the person who gave me today’s recipe is one of my closest friends here and I am grateful that we found each other 🙂

Ingredients: 3 bell peppers (doesn’t matter what color), 1 c. short grain brown rice, 1 can of black beans, 1/2 can of corn, 1/2 onion, garlic, 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 tblsp olive oil, shredded cheese, 1 cup Morningstar Griller crumbles (optional), salt and pepper

This dish took longer than I expected. It was mostly the rice which is one of the reasons that I’m not a huge fan of rice because it takes so long to cook. At first, I had the rice cooking separately in a small pot while the other ingredients simmered in a large pan but I ended up transferring the rice and cooking everything together. Altogether, it took about an hour for the rice to cook; and if you follow the directions on the bag, it says around 45 min to an hour.

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First, saute the onion, garlic, and Griller crumbles with a little olive oil in a pan. After the crumbles are cooked, add the rice. For 1 cup of brown rice, add 2 cups of water. After that has boiled for a while, add the diced tomatoes, black beans, and corn (drained). Let it all simmer on the stove for about an hour covered. Keep checking and stirring periodically, add water if needed to finish cooking the rice. Also, add the salt and pepper to taste and whatever other seasonings you feel are needed.

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For the bell peppers, I used one of each color. I cut the green and red pepper horizontally (just cut the top with the stem off) and cut out the insides that way. I cut the yellow pepper vertically just to see which one I would prefer…I think I like the way I cut the green and red peppers best.

After cutting the peppers and removing the insides, grab an extra pot and put them in boiling water for a few minutes. This makes them softer while the rice mixture is cooking. Preheat the oven to 350.

When the rice mixture is finished, fill the bell pepper cups with it and place them in a pan. Put them in the oven for about 15 to 20 min.

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After taking out of the oven, sprinkle cheese and enjoy. The bell pepper cups make the presentation so pretty and makes me feel like a contestant on Chopped or something. I had two and it was really filling and delicious!

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Simple Breaded Tofu

This month’s recipe is so easy I debated posting because it seems pretty self-explanatory..Breaded tofu. But I realized that some people think tofu is this mysterious/weird food that is impossible to make taste edible. It’s not that complicated yall, and this is coming from someone who was never a huge tofu fan. However, I realized tofu can be really great if it’s seasoned well (which is true for most foods). I use regular seasoning like Tony Chachere’s and Season Salt but if you are more of a professional, just use whatever you usually season chicken (or whatever meat) with.

Ingredients: Italian bread crumbs, 1 egg, 1/2 chopped red onion (or yellow onion), olive oil, seasoning (salt, black pepper, Tony Chacheres, and a little Season Salt), and extra firm tofu.

Heat a frying pan with olive oil (or vegetable oil). Slice the tofu into squares and sprinkle some salt and pepper on it.

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Have two bowls ready: the first bowl has 1 beaten egg in it and the second has the Italian bread crumbs with the seasonings in it. Dip the squares in the first bowl with the egg. Then, cover it in the bread crumbs and seasoning from the second bowl.

Place tofu in the heated frying pan and flip over until both sides are golden brown. Then place fried tofu on sheet of foil. As you can see from the pic below, some of the squares got broken up lol.

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When I finished frying all the tofu squares, I put them in the oven for a little bit just to make sure they were cooked thoroughly. I’m not that good at frying things…I should probably buy a deep fryer.

Separately or together, you can saute the chopped onion and put on top when time to serve.

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I had my tofu with mashed potatoes and broccoli. It’s a quick and easy dinner and really filling!