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 🙂

 

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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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Mushroom and Spinach Puffs

Summer travels have kept me away from the blog but now I’m back and ready to do more experimenting. For those who don’t know, you can find books at Goodwill for $1! All of my summer reading has been from random novels I’ve found at Goodwill..so far my favorite has been “Dying in the Wool” by Frances Brody and apparently it’s a part of a series about detective Kate Shackleton. I’m hooked! I kinda want to go back to the same Goodwill to see if the old owner gave away the rest of the series lol.

Amongst my Goodwill treasures, I scored a great vegetarian cookbook called “Favorite Vegetarian Dishes” (see pdf attached). There isn’t one author, it seems to be a compilation by the publishing company but it has several Indian dishes that I plan on trying in the coming months.

Mushroom and Spinach Puffs <—Click this link for the scanned copy of the recipe

I made some substitutes..I didn’t have heavy cream so I whisked soy milk and melted butter together after some googling. I also didn’t use poppy seeds.

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Saute the spinach, onion, garlic, salt, pepper and then add the “heavy cream”. I think I put too much liquid.

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The puff pastry was defrosted so I rolled it out and put the mixture inside. As you can see, I’m not great at wrapping pastry lol. Then, brush with the beaten egg.

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It turned out pretty good and kind of reminded me of Spankopita that I used to get from the freezer section except minus the cheese. If these were smaller, they would make great appetizers or side dishes.

Side note: I went to the beach a week ago by myself with my book and a Chipotle burrito bowl. Listen..it was the most relaxed I had been in a long time. I was so content that I stayed out there in my little beach chair for almost 4 hours just enjoying my food and the perfect weather. I had to take a pic to capture this sweet moment. I hope that whoever is reading this gets a little me-time this summer!

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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!

Chickpea Patties

This simple recipe for Chickpea Patties is something I came up with while trying to make falafel. So essentially this is my version of a falafel lol.

Ingredients: 1 can of chickpeas, chopped red onion, Italian breadcrumbs, 1 egg, feta cheese crumbles, garlic powder, salt, pepper, season salt

First, I put the onion and chickpeas in the food processor.

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Beat the egg and mix it with the chickpea mixture in a bowl. Add the breadcrumbs, feta cheese, and seasonings.

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Take portions of the mixture and roll into balls or patty shapes. Heat olive oil in a frying pan and fry the patties in the pan. Also, preheat the oven to 350.

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When each side is golden brown, place the patties on a sheet of foil. When all of them are on the sheet, put it in the oven to finish baking the inside. I don’t remember how long I had them in the oven, but it wasn’t more than 20 min.

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I had the patties with yellow rice and spinach. Also ranch dressing was the sauce of choice since I don’t have tzatziki sauce on hand 🙂

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I wish I had some pita bread..but all in all it was really good and really easy to make! Maybe I’ll try to make real authentic falafel sometime.