#BlueApronMeals 

Hey y’all! Sorry we’ve been MIA! Chef Des & I haven’t been able to post as much as we’d like since homework & everyday life has been keeping us very busy! Needless to say this whole household is counting down the days, weeks, & months until summer break!! While we haven’t been able to post, we have been busy with some parties & in the kitchen, things I still plan to share soon. I did want to take a few minutes to talk to you about Blue Apron meals. Have you heard of them yet?? Let me say we have been impressed so far. What is it? Blue Apron is a weekly delivery service that sends the supplies needed to cook gourmet meals directly to your door with easy to follow step-by-step directions. There are so many things I love about this company!! You can cancel at any time or opt to skip weeks with ease! They send you high quality ingredients… non-gmo products, meat with no added hormones or antibiotics used, only sustainable seafood, fresh beautiful produce, high quality meats, etc. They partner with growers that use regenerative farming practices to replenish their land. You skip the middle man like grocery stores that often pick ingredients before they ripe. Instead, you get fresher, high-quality food from the farm to the kitchen, avoiding long and wasteful detours at costly grocery stores. They avoid waste by only growing what they need & sending you just the right amount of those produce items so you don’t end up throwing unused portions away. They even offer free recycling services for packaging that cannot be recycled under normal at home conditions. My favorite part though is the recipes! I have stated before how blah daily cooking can become… I mean how many times can you serve your family the same rotation of recipes… tacos, spaghetti, meatloaf… it gets old, & dinner planning & cooking becomes a dreaded chore which especially sucks for someone like me that likes to, well, used to like to cook. That all has changed with Blue Apron… I am enjoying adding new fresh meals in between our normal go-to dinners. We are trying recipes & ingredients we’ve never even had before! My 10 year old has started to love veggies I never even thought she’d try before like spinach, kale, napa cabbage, ginger, shallots, etc. I’ve wanted to try gnocchi forever but never knew how to cook it or what to make with it & guess what showed up on our menu for the first week! Ok I think I’ve got off on a tangent… how does it work? You have two delivery options… (info copied from Blue Apron website)



They preselect meals based on your plan & preferences, but you can easily choose another meal offered for your week if the ones picked aren’t appealing to you. When signing up, you can also choose what meats you & your family prefer & vegetarian options are available as well. There are no shipping costs. The Blue Apron meal app is so easy to use allowing you to see upcoming meal schedule, make choice changes, or chose to skip any week you’d like to fit your needs. You are only charged for the weeks you chose to receive meals & like I said before able to cancel at any time. So I think I’ve covered most of the whats are far as the service so far, but on to what you actually are receiving & what happens after that box is delivered at your door. Oh wait, before I forget… delivery… 1st) You can pick whatever day you’d like to receive your shipment. 2nd) Perishables delivered to the door? What if I’m not home? What if you live in Florida like we do? No need to worry! They are safely packed in an insulated box with long lasting icepacks allowing you plenty of time to get home from work or picking up kids in long car lines keeping everything nice & cold until you are able to transfer things to your fridge. Anyways, back to what I was saying… I love to cook, but I’m self-taught & learning as I go. The step-by-step are full proof. Actually Chef Des (my 10 year old, if you missed my last post) has been helping me make our Blue Apron meals & honestly though we have been cooking together could easily follow the instructions & cook these fancy dishes on her own! I’m sorry if this post is jumping all over the place… Darn ADD! Lol So let’s show you some pictures… these are of our very first family plan order…




Not very good pics plus I am doing this post on the WordPress phone app for the first time so bare with me.


Check out the cute little packaging in the spices & dry ingredients! Oh side note… the only recipe ingredients not supplied are salt, pepper, & olive oil… things most households have on hand.


Some actions shots of Chef Des helping me cook our first meal. Please excuse the messy kitchen… we live in a very small apartment with very little kitchen storage or counter space. Ok so I feel like I’ve covered a lot of info about Blue Apron’s services & what you get, but how about a few pictures of the recipes we’ve cooked? (PS The Blue Apron app allows you to take pictures of your food, add recipe headers, & share them to your favorite social media platforms!)





Just a few of all the wonderful meals out there, & look at all the variety & veggies! We’re only on our 3rd week, and I am the biggest fan. Want to see more? Check out Blue Apron’s Instagram page here or on Facebook here! Not only is Blue Apron a dinner slam dunk, but the app also offers tips & videos to help you unleash your inner chef. I haven’t tried it out yet, but they also offer wine parings you can purchase to compliment your meal. Oh crap, I just thought of something else I wanted to mention. Does the price seem high to you? Honestly, I first thought “I’m not sure this is an expense I can justify”, but then I broke it down. I honestly probably spend about the same per person on our boring, everyday meals, plus, as I sometimes do, I try new recipes & have to purchase ingredients that I either never use again or, when I do, I realize they have expired. If I just went out to make these meals, I would spend way more buying produce & spices in larger quantities that necessary (example a whole bunch of green onions when I only need 2 or a bottle of sesame oil when I only need a couple tablespoons). The proportioned seasonings, sauces, & produce is another cost & waste saving thing I love about Blue Apron! Plus your family is going to think you went out & became a chef when they weren’t looking! Does Blue Apron sound like something your family would like to try? I can help you out with that!! How about your first week of meals free? Yep… 2 family plan meals or 3 2-person meals absolutely free with no commitment, no catches! Believe me you will NOT be disappointed!! How you ask? Just comment your name & email address below & I will send you all the info! Thanks for reading! I can’t wait to hear from any current Blue Apron users as well as those who would like to give it a whirl! Please, I’d love some feedback! Have a great day & happy cooking!!

[Quick disclaimer before I post: This is not sponsored by Blue Apron! I just love the company & wanted to share. The free meals are something every Blue Apron user is given to share with family & friends after they have received a few orders & I chose to offer my readers mine. If you want to get the information straight from the horses mouth so to say or just need more info, check out their website here or look for the Blue Apron app on your smartphone!]

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#Upcycled Leftovers #Taco Pizza Recipe

This week has been kinda rough! I’ve been sick for days & so has my guy. Unfortunately when a mom is home sick, she doesn’t really get the day off. It’s ok though because let’s face it guys are babies when not feeling good… mine’s pretty much been hibernating for days. I mean honestly no matter how society views men as the strong figure in a household, we women know the truth or reality of the situation…

Truth!!

Now I’m not men bashing… they have so many wonderful qualities & I am so blessed to have a wonderful supportive, caring one in my life… just NOT when they are sick lol. Women just function better under-the-weather. Anyways, thankfully I only had some sort of virus & have been blessed to never have had a serious health problem like many of the women I love & admire have had to overcome… and as always, I’ve got a great family support system, who helped with the kids on my worse days, picked us up some KFC (Don’t worry we only have this once or twice a year at the most!) one night, etc. So this week to keep the kids from revolting, we did a little leftover upcycling. I love upcycling projects… I have a whole board of projects I WILL do one day, once we are finally able to  purchase our own home. I, as I have gotten older & had to budget my money, sometimes less than I’d prefer, have learned that we can’t always afford to make a gourmet meal every day or let leftovers go to waste. So I’m beginning to use my love for upcycling in the food department. Whether serving leftover chili over baked potatoes with cheese or making a nice salad with leftover crockpot pulled pork, I’ve learning to keep life & leftovers interesting. Having felt like poop this week, grocery shopping or cooking a big meal might as well have been climbing Mount Everest, it just wasn’t happening! So that leftover fried chicken became a…

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Fried Chicken Salad!

We had tacos on Thursday so instead of just serving the kids the same exact thing, those taco supplies got a quick makeover. Introducing…

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Tasty Taco Pizzas!

In my teenage days, I used to love Taco Bell’s Taco Pizzas & I figured I could make those at home… guess what they were better and, I’m sure, healthier. Here’s the recipe I used… though this is a very customizable recipe & open to so many variations…

Taco Pizza

Supplies:

  • flour tortillas (2 per pizza – we used taco size)
  • refried beans
  • ground beef prepared with taco seasoning according to package directions
  • lettuce (though my 8 year-old is anti-lettuce & requested this item skipped on hers)
  • diced tomatoes
  • mexican blend shredded cheese
  • sour cream
  • hot sauce (optional – made one with & one without… both good, just depends on preference)
  • olive oil

Steps:

  • preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • brush both sides of each tortilla with oil with a pastry brush & “fry” in a frying pan until crispy & brown
  • lay one tortilla on a baking sheet (line with foil for easy clean-up)
  • spread tortilla with refried beans
  • add the second tortilla
  • spread a thin layer of hot sauce on this tortilla if you choose
  • top with taco meat & cheese
  • bake for about 10 minutes
  • use pizza cutter to cut your pizza into quarters (I add this step because I cut it after putting the veggies on for my first one & it got a little messy, learning as I go.)
  • add your veggies… lettuce, tomato, or whatever you’d like, maybe sliced olives (gag) if that’s your thing
  • last but not least, add the sour cream… Instead of just dropping a dollop on it, I put some in a ziploc bag, snipped the corner, & drizzled it on. Not only was it decorative, but it spread it out evenly for a little bit of creamy goodness in every bite!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little upcycling project… grab those leftovers out of the fridge & see what you can come up with!! I’m always looking for new ideas on how to re-purpose mine! 🙂

 

 

 

#Valentine’s Day 2015

Happy-Valentines-Day

from my family to yours!

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We woke up this morning to find that the Valentine fairy (aka me) had delivered some goodies to her favorite valentines!

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Then I made a very simple breakfast. I planned on getting a little more creative, but it was a late night for me & my hubby being date night & all. A few drops of red food coloring & some sprinkles added a bit of Valentine’s Day flair to a can of Pillsbury cinnamon buns, festive & easy, perfect for a tired mommy. And no Valentine’s Day breakfast is complete without some strawberry milk.

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I made a special dinner for my brother, dad, bestfriend, Liz, grandma, & the girls! My mom & hubby had to work so we had to party without them. The stuffed chicken breasts (I’ll be sharing that recipe soon), baked ziti, garlic knots, & fresh green beans were a big hit! Add some hard apple ciders, cherry cheesecake, a heart chocolate chip cookie cake, & dessert kabobs (click here for that recipe on Liz’s blog Got Cache) and you have the perfect family Valentine’s Day dinner party covered!

So that was our Valentine’s Day… I hope you had a wonderful day with your loved ones!!

 

 

#Easy Chicken Enchiladas

Being a mom is a full-time job! With a part-time job as well, life can get crazy busy! While I enjoy cooking, sometimes dinner just needs to be quick & easy! Often a way to accomplish this is semi-homemade cooking! A wonderful example of this concept is my chicken enchilada recipe! The family loves it, but I knock a lot of the work & time by using a deli rotisserie chicken so it’s a win-win!

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What you need: rotisserie chicken (any flavor), 2 cans of enchilada sauce, taco or fajita seasoning (I tend to use whichever I have on hand), 2 cups of Mexican blend shredded cheese, pkg. of flour tortillas (sometime the smaller size fit better in the pan), & rice (forgot to put that in the picture – to save on time I usually use a pkg. of Uncle Ben’s microwaveable Ready Rice, but forgot to grab it at the store so just made a cup & a half in the rice maker)

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While the rice is cooking/microwaving, I pull all the chicken off the bone & shred it a bit. Be real careful of the little bones, don’t want anyone to find one of those in an enchilada! Mix in the rice, about 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheese, the seasoning packet, & one can of the enchilada sauce. Looks about like this when it is done!

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I usually make 6 enchiladas since that’s what will fit in my baking dish. lol I evenly split up the chicken mixture between the tortillas, roll them up, & put them seam down in the pan so they won’t try to unroll! Then I pour the 2nd can of enchilada sauce over them & sprinkle with about a 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Already looking good aren’t they?!

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I bake them at 350 for about 30 minutes. Don’t forget to coat your pan with cooking spray; I did that today & the bottom stuck a bit 😦 Also let them rest a bit before trying to serve them because they come out much easier!

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Added a veggie & a little sour cream! Usually us girls add diced tomato & shredded lettuce on top as well, but I was very forgetful this shopping trip! Anyways, dinner is served!

Now for those of you who follow my blog or know me personally, you know I cook for a veggie-hater! But if that wasn’t the case, I would definitely add some diced onions & peppers to the chicken mixture! This dinner only took 45 minutes start to finish, quick & easy, and the family literally inhaled it so I’ll take that as a compliment! Let me know if your family liked it!

#Crock-pot Pulled Pork

Instead of a new recipe this week, I decided to make a family favorite that I hadn’t made in a while since the main ingredient happened to be on sale at Publix this week. The weather has been so hot lately that I dread having to turn on the oven because in only a matter of minutes the whole house heats up. A couple of years ago I had this yummy pulled pork at a Fourth Of July get-together & quickly found out who brought the crock-pot of deliciousness so I might recreate the magic at a later date. Now obviously no BBQ is better than the traditional, smoked for ridiculous amounts of time, basted with care, & seasoned with love! I mean I wait all year long with great anticipation for the Mims Volunteer Firefighter Department BBQ fundraiser every year after the Mims Christmas parade because firefighter Don, a very close family friend, is the Boston Butt King!! With that said, I do not have room for a smoker at the moment or the time necessary to put into his level of perfection between helping the kids with their school work, housework, my chauffeur duties, work, & everything else that goes into being a mom. So while we count down the days until the first Saturday in December, I settle for the next best thing, Crock-pot Pulled Pork, so easy but definitely a favorite of everyone in the family. So here’s what you do:

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As you’d expect, you need a crock-pot. (PS If you don’t have one, you’re crazy & go buy one now, right Now!!) You also need a Boston Butt (boneless or bone in – really doesn’t matter but bone-in is usually cheaper). a bottle of BBQ sauce (any flavor – pick your family’s favorite), & a single serve size bottle of root beer. I hate root beer, even the smell makes me nauseous, but it does some wonderful chemical reaction here that works as a tenderizer & sweetener so this is an exception. So with crock-pots, the general rule is you can cook it on low for a certain amount or on high for half the time. Having said that I am a firm believer that slow & steady is the way to go. So there is no fancy way of putting this together, put your meat in there & dump the 2 bottles all over it. I cook mine on low for 8 hours. Yesterday we weren’t home at the finishing time so it cooked about 9 hours, & my SO said that it was the best one I’ve ever made. I’d tell him it’s because I slaved over it all day long, but unfortunately he already knows my secrets.

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The meat comes out so tender that you don’t even need to do any “shredding”. It falls apart the minute you try to get it out of the crock-pot so I ended up just fishing it out with a slotted spoon. Usually with this recipe if it is still a solid enough chunk of meat that you need to shred it with a fork or something, it hasn’t cooked long enough. I did take a moment to remove any offensive remaining fatty chunks because who wants to bite into there sandwich & find one of those.

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As for finishing dinner up, we made sandwiches (I had mine on a bun, but the rest of the family opted for their sandwiches on garlic texas toast.), mac-n-cheese, & fresh steam in the bag green beans. I like the meat just like it comes out of the crock-pot, but the rest added a bit of their favorite BBQ sauce to their sandwich before it quickly disappeared.

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Now I’m not sure if ya’ll could tell from the picture how massive a Boston Butt I cooked, but it was 4 1/2 lbs. Obviously that is completely unnecessary to just feed a family of four once, but I prefer to cook more than I need so I have enough for lunches or another quick dinner later in the week. We’ve done all sorts of things with the leftover pulled pork including pulled pork quesadillas, but pictured here is one of my favorite leftover BBQ lunch or dinner options

So that’s my recipe share for the week. I’d love to get feed back from any one who tries it & would be interested in any recipe favorites my readers would like to share with me as well! Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend with their family & friends!!

#Chicken and Rice

I mentioned in my last post how family dinner time has become such a chore & that I was trying to freshen up our family dinner menu. This week I haven’t been able to get as crazy & experimental as I’d like between work & a sick 8 year-old but did end up with some crowd-pleasers anyways. So as always I asked my love for a dinner idea & got very little help with the matter. He means well with his “whatever you’d like to make is fine”, but that just leaves it all up to me, the unpicky one, to decide what to make him, the picky one, for dinner. I did however get a vague “maybe chicken & rice” this time. This led to this conversation which I will share just so you can feel my pain! “But how would you like it cooked?” “Just season it & bake it.” “Just plain rice?” “As long as we have soy sauce, I’m good.” And with that, I feel my culinary gene shrivel up & die as well as my dinner time frustration growing! Anywho, I am not about to eat plain baked chicken & bland rice!! So this is what I came up with…

Chicken & Rice:

2 lbs of chicken breast tenders

1 family size can cream of chicken soup

white rice

garlic salt, pepper, & adobo

Preheat the oven to 375. Put rice in the rice cooker. (I can’t make rice on the stove to save my life!) Season the chicken tenders & bake them in a 9×13 dish for about 15 minutes. Smear the soup all over the top & bake for another 15 minutes. Serve over rice with a side of veggies. (Green beans in my case)

That might sound boring & too easy, but it was warm, filling, & delicious!! It took literally 30 minutes & everything I needed for the whole meal cost $15! There is room here for many variations:  substitute yellow, brown, or wild rice for the white, cream of mushroom or cheddar soup instead of chicken soup, & obviously whole chicken breasts would have been fine though that will lengthen the cooking time. You get the picture! But long story short… everyone loved it which makes this mommy very happy!!

#Best Potato Soup Ever

Lately trying to decide what to make for dinner has become something that I dread! Finding something everyone likes is a challenge since the oldest child in the family (aka the dad) is a bit of a picky eater & pretty much eats no veggies & very little fruits. Lately my menu consists of the same couple of favorite recipes over & over. I mean everyone loves them, but how many times can you eat chicken enchiladas, baked ziti, meatloaf, or anything for that matter in a month before it gets extremely old! So this week I decided to start trying a new recipe every week to attempt revive my love of cooking & add a little flavor & excitement back into family dinner time. My significant other mentioned liking potato soup so I decided to start there even though it isn’t really the weather for it, hot as hell! According to the calendar it is now fall, but Florida hasn’t got that memo yet! After doing some Pinterest research, I came across a recipe for Disneyland’s Loaded Potato Soup from Six Sisters’ Stuff. It was a huge success!! Everyone, especially the picky one, loved it! I did run the onions, celery, & carrots through the blender so there were no offensive veggie chunks floating in there for him to find. LOL While it was absolutely delectable, I think when I make it again (and I definitely will) I will try substituting half & half for the heavy whipping cream to cut down the fat & richness a bit. If you are in need of a fresh & delicious recipe, give this one a try! I personally  am going to check this website again next week for other ideas!best potato soup