The Salvation Cocktail

The Salvation, a Gin Cocktail

The Salvation, a Gin Cocktail

Last summer we visited Seattle for the first time and had a blast eating and drinking our way though many of the fabulous restaurants in that city.

One restaurant stood out, called Heartwood Provisions, in downtown Seattle. They’re known for pairing cocktails instead of wine with every menu item. While there we had a gin cocktail with celery bitters paired with a gorgeous yellowtail crudo. I was so struck by unusual the flavor of the celery bitters that I knew I wanted to play with it myself. When I told my mother about the drink, she said “I can make celery bitters for you!” You can also buy them of course, here.

Fast forward to the end of the year when we had a celebration at our house for my mother’s birthday (a big one, ending in a zero). On the menu was a wide assortment of canapes and two custom crafted cocktails I created to celebrate the occasion. This was the menu:

Party Menu

Party Menu

For this cocktail I used Bombay Sapphire gin, but you can use which ever kind you prefer. I’d recommend avoiding the more “floral” flavored gins for this one however.

This recipe calls for simple syrup. While you can buy it, please don’t. Why spend $5 to buy something you can easily make for about 12 cents?
Simple syrup really is simple. Take two equal parts sugar and water (1 cup of each for example) and combine in a small pot. Heat and stir until the liquid becomes clear. Cool and store in a clean glass jar or bottle in the refrigerator. It should last a couple of months. If it becomes cloudy, discard it (sometimes mold can grow).

The Salvation Cocktail

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces gin
  • .75 ounce lime juice
  • .75 ounce simple syrup
  • 3-4 drops celery bitters
  • cucumber ribbon for garnish

Instructions

  1. Measure out the gin, lime juice and simple syrup into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for a count of 10. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with cucumber ribbon.
  2. For the cucumber, use a peeler to cut thin flat ribbons lengthwise from the cucumber. Thread onto 6" bamboo skewer and place atop cocktail.
http://www.formerchef.com/2017/02/18/the-salvation-cocktail/

Note; Some links in this post may be affiliate links. They are there to provide examples of items I mention and should you chose to buy from Amazon, your cost is the same and I get a few cents to help support the cost of running this site. Thank you!

Chocolate Spiced Pear Cake with Cream Cheese Filling

with Cream Cheese Filling

Chocolate Spice Pear Cake with Cream Cheese Filling

This is not the most beautiful cake I’ve ever made.

It may not be Pinterest-worthy or inspire a thousand “likes”.

It’s no tart dressed up for the prom (see what I did there…tart…get it…oh never mind…).

The cake is rich with dark chocolate, and fragrant with spices and sweet pears that remind me of a cool Fall day. It’s also not particularly difficult to make and it holds up well enough to bring it to a dinner party or Thanksgiving.

Basically, this cake is your favorite sweater and softest pair of worn jeans. It’s not fancy. It’s humble and home made, a little sweet and a little special, and best of all, delicious.

Chocolate Spiced Pear Cake

Bosc Pears

Chocolate Spiced Pear Cake with Cream Cheese Filling

Ingredients

    For The Cakes:
  • 2 each Bosc pears (or other type, should be ripe, but firm).
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup strong coffee
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • For The Filling and Garnish
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened (let this sit out for a couple of hours)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar plus extra powdered sugar (about 1/4 cup) for garnish
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut paper to fit the bottom of two 9" cake pans. Butter and flour each pan then line the bottom with the paper rounds.
  3. Cut the pears into quarters. Cut out the core and then thinly slice lengthwise. Lay the pears on the paper in the bottom of each cake pan in a single layer.
  4. To make the batter:
  5. In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Whisk them together to get rid of any lumps.
  6. Melt the chocolate in a large heat proof bowl, either over boiling water or in the microwave in 30 second increments. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then whisk the oil, sugar and vanilla into the melted chocolate.
  7. Whisk the buttermilk, egg and coffee into the chocolate mixture.
  8. Add half the flour mixture into the chocolate mix and stir. Add the other half of the flour mixture and stir until smooth.
  9. Pour the batter into each cake pan, dividing it equally.
  10. Bake for 35-40 minutes until a wooden skewer comes out clean.
  11. Set the pans on a baking rack until cool enough to touch. Run a knife around the edge and then invert onto a baking rack. Remove the paper and finish cooling.
  12. To make the filling:
  13. Using an electric mixer, whip the cream cheese for a few minutes. Add the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla and beat until fluffy.
  14. Select the cake with the nicest looking pears and set it aside for the top.
  15. Take the other cake and pear side up, place on a serving plate. Using a cake spatula, spread the cream cheese filling over the top of the cake on the plate. Set the first cake on top on the cream cheese filling with the pear side up. Sprinkle the top of the cake lightly with powdered sugar through a fine mesh sieve.

Notes

Tip: Sprinkle on the powdered sugar right before serving. If you do it in advance, the moisture from the cake and the pears may make it melt and disappear.

http://www.formerchef.com/2016/10/23/chocolate-spiced-pear-cake-with-cream-cheese-filling/

Chocolate Spice Pear Cake with Cream Cheese Filling.

Chocolate Spice Pear Cake with Cream Cheese Filling.

*Amazon link in the recipe is for an example. If you choose to order something your cost is the same, but I get a teeny-tiny percentage which goes to help support this site.

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Berbere Spice and Orange

Berbere Spiced Chicken

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Berbere Spice and Orange

If you read my recent post comparing the meal kit services of Home Chef and Blue Apron, you might have noticed that one of the most enjoyable perks of using these companies was being able to learn about and try new ingredients and cooking methods without much investment. One of my favorite home chef meals were chicken thighs made with Berbere spice blend, and I liked it so much I’ve adapted it and put it into regular rotation at our house.

Berbere spice is a mix of spices commonly used in Etheopian cuisine. It typically contains such spices as paprika, cayenne, fenugreek, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and ginger. When I looked it up, I found that every recipe was different, much like a curry. In the end, instead of making it myself, I bought Organic Berbere Spice* from Amazon and I found it to be almost identical in flavor to the one I got from Home Chef (also much more affordable at $3.50 than buying all the spices separately).

In the Home Chef recipe, they simply coated the chicken in the spice. In my version, I’ve included it in a marinade (as well as on top of the chicken), but also added orange zest and juice for a complimentary flavor and I’m incredibly pleased with the result. I chose bone in, skin on chicken thighs because they have more flavor and are almost foolproof to cook to a juicy doneness with crispy skin. And who doesn’t like that? If you prefer boneless, skinless chicken breasts you can use this recipe on them too, just take care not to overcook them.

Berbere Spiced Chicken

Berbere Spiced Chicken

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Berbere Spice and Orange

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Berbere Spice and Orange

Ingredients

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Berbere Spice, divided
  • 1 orange, zested then juiced (about 1 tablespoon zest and 1/3rd cup juice)
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3- 3.5 lbs bone in, skin on, chicken thighs (6 large thighs)

Instructions

  1. Combine the minced garlic, 1 teaspoon of the Berbere spice, the orange zest and juice (I like this zester)*, vinegar, oil and salt in a container large enough to snugly hold the chicken.
  2. Place the chicken in the marinade, turning it a couple of times to coat each piece.
  3. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, allowing to marinate. Turn the pieces a time or two while in the marinade. Can be held in the marinade up to 24 hours in advance.
  4. When ready to roast the chicken, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Place the chicken on a wire rack in a roasting pan*, skin side up. I do this because it elevates the chicken so it's not sitting in the chicken fat and juices. This gives a crispier skin.
  6. Sprinkle the chicken with the remaining 1 teaspoon of Berbere Spice, generously coating the skin side of the chicken.
  7. Roast the chicken in the oven for about 45 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit and the skin is crisp.

Notes

I served this dish with grilled zucchini and cous cous cooked with dried apricots, dried cherries and pistachios mixed in. I know this is not Ethiopian, and more Moroccan in flavor, but it some of the spices are similar in both cuisines and it worked well.

http://www.formerchef.com/2016/10/01/roasted-chicken-thighs-with-berbere-spice-and-orange/

Berbere Spiced Chicken

Berbere Spiced Chicken

*Amazon links above and in the recipe are for examples. If you choose to order something your cost is the same, but I get a teeny-tiny percentage which goes to help support this site.

Roasted Garbanzo Beans with Rosemary and Garlic

Garbanzos-with-Rosemary2-post

Happy Summer! Here’s a dish that’s so simple it can be prepped and cooked within 15 minutes, and eaten at any temperature. It works as well for a crowd as it does for a simple weeknight side dish. There’s really not much a of a recipe, but I love the story behind it so I’ll share that, along with the instructions on how to make it below. I made it this weekend for a Sunday family dinner and it was all devoured which made me only a little sad because there were no leftovers.

This time last year we were just starting on a two week holiday in Italy. One of the cities we visited was Sienna, home to a stunning Gothic cathedral, a medieval piazza known for its famous horse race called the palio, and the actual head of St. Catherine (on view in a box in the Basilica of San Domenico). For us, it’s where we had an unforgettable lunch in a one tiny hole-in-the wall osteria.

We wanted something simple and inexpensive for lunch and Osteria Vinaio Da Trombiche fit the bill. This place is tiny; maybe 5 tables/16 seats total and a little bar with cold case. It’s more of a bar with food than a restaurant, similar to a Spanish tapas bar.

Trombichefront

Osteria Vinaio Da Trombiche

We ordered an assortment of small dishes; mixed marinated vegetables, roasted garbanzo beans in olive oil and rosemary, a pasta with arugula pesto, zucchini stuffed with pork sausage,and an incredibly creamy artichoke flan. With a big bottle of water, a beer and 1/4 liter of house white wine, lunch was a reasonable 40 euro. Our “simple” lunch grew into quite a meal, but it was worth it. I knew when we got home I’d want to recreate several of these dishes and since then, I’ve made these garbanzo beans many times.
One caveat for food snobs; because the place is so small, and all the food is prepared in a case in the front, this means most of the food reheated to order (if needed) or served cold. But seriously, it didn’t matter because everything was delicious. They also had a gorgeous cheese and meat platter which we saw on another table, but did not order. The owners were nothing but warm and friendly to us and even offered us some complimentary after-lunch glasses of Vin Santo.

TrombicheMeal

Clockwise from top left; garbanzos with rosemary, pork stuffed zucchini, arugula pesto pasta, assorted antipasti vegetables, artichoke flan.

Roasted Garbanzo Beans with Rosemary and Garlic

Yield: Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 3 each (15 ounce) cans of garbanzo beans
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 oz fresh rosemary
  • 2 ounces extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans. Pat dry as much as possible with a paper towel.
  2. Slice the garlic. Pull the leaves off the rosemary branches and roughly chop, reserving a few small branches with leaves for garnish.
  3. Heat a large saute pan on medium high heat and add half of the olive oil. Add in the garbanzo beans and cook for about 5 minutes. Add in the sliced garlic and chopped rosemary. Lower the heat to medium and continue to cook until the garbanzos begin to brown just slightly. Add the rest of the olive oil and cook another minute or two. Add more oil if needed (you don't want them dry). Season well with salt and pepper.
  4. Garnish with the reserved rosemary and an extra sprinkle of salt. Serve warm or cold. When warm there should be plenty of olive oil in the serving dish to keep the garbanzo beans moist (if not, add more). Serve with a slotted spoon.
http://www.formerchef.com/2016/07/04/roasted-garbanzo-beans-with-rosemary-and-garlic/

The sign in the window at Trombiche; a little dig at all the tourists. No, we don't have pizza or cappucchino, but we do have pork and wine! A place after my own heart.

The sign in the window at Trombiche; a little dig at all the tourists. “No, we don’t have pizza or cappuccino, but we do have pork and wine!” A place after my own heart.

A Month of Meal Kit Menus; Home Chef vs. Blue Apron

Home Chef Tonkatsu Salmon

Home Chef Tonkatsu Salmon

I’ve been feeling uninspired lately, when it comes to cooking dinner during the week. I work full time and a have a heinous commute (1.5-2 hours each way) at least 3 days a week. Some days I’m away from home 13+ hours and by the time I get home the last thing I want to do is think about what I want to cook. Much of this could be solved by deciding what I want to cook each week, making detailed menu plans and shopping for the ingredients on the weekend. But honestly, that’s not me. Rarely do I plan in that type of detail; typically I buy a bunch of core ingredients (various proteins and vegetables) and anything that catches my fancy, and wing it.

Cue Dr Phil, “How’s that workin’ for you?”

Answer: Not so good. Because of this, I’ve decided to give a couple of the meal prep companies a try. if you’re not familiar with the concept, these are companies which send you all the ingredients for several meals and the recipes, and you prep and cook the meal yourself.

I have several friends who have tried these services and loved them, yet I resisted. I’m a (former) chef right? This would be great for someone else, but not me.  It’s easy to get all judgy and think “why can’t you just shop?” I know, because I thought that myself.  So, why would I need something like this? Well, for exactly the reasons listed above. For me it’s time, lack of desire to plan, and a lowering of food waste.

But for others, the reasons might be different. Some people are intimidated by the thought of planning and cooking several meals per week because they don’t know how to cook and plan. These kits can help alleviate the stress and they even might teach people how to cook. If that happens, it’s all good in my book.

Fortunately, the initial risk is fairly low in terms of cost. Both companies offer free or discounted trials. Neither of them approached me for this review and I paid for it out of my own pocket. If you want to try one, see the details at the bottom of the post.

Home Chef (referral link with discount) and Blue Apron were the companies friends had tried and liked so that’s where I started. There are at least a dozen other similar companies out there which fill all kinds of niche dietary markets; vegan, paleo, southern, organic, it’s all out there.

My plan was to try two weeks of each company so I could get a broader impression than the reviews I’d read which had done as little as one meal or much as one week. I went online and selected Home Chef first simply because based on my order date, they would be able to deliver first.

Cost: 

  • Both companies cost the same, about $9.95 per person or $19.90 per meal (each meal is for two people).
  • Home chef allows you to order as many or as few meals as you want and offers free shipping for boxes over $40. Without that, shipping is $10 so it makes sense to order three meals instead of two (when you have to pay for shipping on two).
  • Blue Apron is fixed at 3 meals per week (for two people) and shipping is included for the $60. They also offer a family meal plan that 2 meals a week for 4, for $70.

Choice:

  • Home Chef offers 10 main course choices each week plus a breakfast, and a smoothie and a fruit basket (the last two cost less). You can pick from any of the items and there are always at least 3 vegetarian options, plus a couple each fish, chicken, pork and beef options. If you want, do nothing and they will send you a auto-selection each week or go in and pick what you want.
  • Blue Apron offers 6 choices; one each of meat, chicken and fish and 3 vegetarian. You can de-select one of the meat proteins options, but doing this does not always allow for a vegetarian option. I found this very frustrating (more on this below).
  • I did not order the vegetarian options from either company. While some of them sounded delicious, I didn’t feel the “value” was there for $10 per person and I would have liked to see more alternative proteins added like tofu.

Packaging:

  • One of the criticisms of all these companies is that there’s a lot of packaging, and while there’s truth there, it’s also necessary. You can’t just throw a bunch of meat, chicken and fish lose in a box with a bunch of vegetables and expect it to arrive safe and sound.
  • When you shop at a grocery store you put vegetables in plastic bags and meat comes wrapped and packaged so it’s not much different.
  • The biggest amount of excess packaging is for the small items. For these items, Home Chef uses hard plastic bottles and jars with screw caps on them. These seem pretty wasteful, but I’ve saved them and re-used them for packaging items for my lunches. Blue apron uses more disposable-type containers for pantry items, similar to what you’d get in a restaurant’s to-go orders and they aren’t meant to be re-used.
  • Home chef puts each meal’s ingredients in a separate bag with the proteins separate. Blue apron has them all loose in the box so you really need to take care when unpacking that everything is there and that you don’t accidentally misplace or use an ingredient meant for another dish.
  • Both companies say all the packaging is recyclable.
  • For me, the flip side of all this packaging is that there’s a lot less food waste. Things like demi glace, figs, fresh herbs, and creme fraiche are all delivered in the right size for the recipe and I’m not throwing away the molding rest of the container 2 weeks later.

Portions and Ingredients:

  • Both offer two portions for every meal. I found the portion sizes to be generous, especially with the vegetables and carbs (rice, potatoes, grains, etc). We often had leftovers of the sides.
  • Protein portions were typically around 6 oz per person.
  • There was some repetition of ingredients. Depending on what you select, it could be more cost effective to shop on your own, but then you would have to plan each meal too. Many of the meals used garlic, ginger, green onions, green beans, or lemons. There was one week with Home Chef that had green onions in every meal and one week with with Blue Apron that had lemon zest in every meal.
  • Single people might find meal kits a bit more of a challenge but I know several singles who have enjoyed it. It may mean eating one of the portions from each meal as leftovers or cooking it separately. On the other hand, they found that many times they could stretch the 2 portions to 3 meals for one person.
  • Blue Apron makes an effort to use all natural (no hormones or antibiotic) and sustainable meat and seafood and I very much appreciate it. Their packages of proteins are clearly labeled as such and Home Chef’s are not. I found the quality of the meat and chicken coming from home chef to be fine (though unlabeled as to providence) but the salmon to be basic farm raised Atlantic (which I would not normally buy).

The Actual Meals:

Home Chef:

  • It arrived around noon on the day scheduled, and was opened at 4pm by my husband. He said everything was well packed and cold. The box was insulated and had at least 6 ice packs in it.
  • When I got home I pulled out everything to take a look and my first impressions were good. There was a thin flexible plastic binder and 3 hole punched full color recipe cards to go in it. Everything was well labeled and organized into separate bags for each meal, with the protein separate.
Home Chef Recipes

Home Chef Recipes

  • Then I noticed that one of the protein items (a flatiron steak) was missing. We searched the box. Not there. We searched the refrigerator. Not there. In inside any of the meal bags. Just. Not. There. By this time it was too late to call the company so I emailed them my disappointment. It took until 1pm the following day to get a reply; it was very apologetic and they offered full credit for that meal. Still, not a great way to make a first impression.

Home Chef, Meal #1

That night I decided to make the first meal; shrimp pad thai. This is not a dish unfamiliar to me. I’ve traveled at lot in Thailand, and I live in Los Angeles, home to the largest Thai population outside Thailand and to literally hundreds of excellent Thai restaurants. It was decent, but not the best version or even in the top 10 I’ve ever had. It was too sweet and too spicy.

Ingredients for Home Chef Shrimp Pad Thai

Ingredients for Home Chef Shrimp Pad Thai

HomeChef003

Home Chef Pad Thai Shrimp

Home Chef, Meal #2

Steak salad with caramelized onions and blue cheese. This was the item with the missing protein but I didn’t want to waste it so I used my own steak. The salad was good, though there were a lot of steps. Both mustard and honey ingredients came in little foil to go packets and the walnuts were pre chopped instead of whole as in the photo. A day after the box was shipped Home Chef sent out a warning about the spice mix for the steaks saying the feedback was that it was too spicy. Glad they did and because of that I used only about 1/10th of what was provided and it was plenty spicy.

Home Chef, Meal #3

Pork chop with kumquat butter- there were lots of steps in this recipe, which might be a bit of a challenge for inexperienced cooks or for people who don’t like cooking. But for people who want to learn and try new things, this is a good way to gain experience. The mix of flavors wad interesting and I never would have made something like edamame fritters if I were doing my own meal planning do it did get me making something out of the norm.

Home Chef Ingredients for Pork Chop with Kumquat Cilantro Butter

Home Chef Ingredients for Pork Chop with Kumquat Cilantro Butter

Home Chef Pork Chop with Kumquat Cilantro Butter

Home Chef Pork Chop with Kumquat Cilantro Butter

Home Chef, Meal #4

Salmon Tonkatsu with miso ginger vegetables- green beans, red bell pepper (plate photo at top of page). This could have been better if they’d used a better quality salmon, but we enjoyed it and vegetables had good flavor. Nice to have a meal not loaded with carbs.

Ingredients for Home Chef Salmon Tonkatsu with miso ginger vegetables- green beans, red bell pepper

Ingredients for Home Chef Salmon Tonkatsu with miso ginger vegetables- green beans, red bell pepper

Home Chef, Meal #5

Berbere chicken thighs with green beans and cous cous with almonds and apricots. This was one of my favorite meals. Again, I learned something. I’d never heard of Berbere spice which is a blend of spices commonly used in Ethiopian food. Again, I went lighter on the spice, saved what was left and was able to use it again in a later meal. I even turned the leftover cous cous and green beans into a salad the next day.

Home Chef ingredients for Berbere chicken thighs with green beans and cous cous with almonds and apricots.

Home Chef ingredients for Berbere chicken thighs with green beans and cous cous with almonds and apricots.

Home Chef Berbere chicken thighs with green beans and cous cous with almonds and apricots.

Home Chef Berbere chicken thighs with green beans and cous cous with almonds and apricots.

Home Chef, Meal #6

Steak with grains of paradise spice, zucchini and mashed sweet potatoes. This recipe was fairly easy and the grains of paradise spice was an interesting and new to me ingredient. The recipe included veal demi-glace which makes a very rich sauce but wouldn’t be something I’d normally have on hand.

Ingredients for Home Chef steak with grains of paradise, zucchini and mashed sweet potatoes

Ingredients for Home Chef steak with grains of paradise, zucchini and mashed sweet potatoes

Home Chef steak with grains of paradise, zucchini and mashed sweet potatoes

Home Chef steak with grains of paradise, zucchini and mashed sweet potatoes

Blue Apron:

When planning for the two weeks of Blue Apron, I looked ahead at the options and while the first week looks ok, the second week has chicken wings which neither my husband nor I are especially enjoy. Unfortunately, Blue Apron offers no other choices if I want to change out that meal. Sure, there are 3 vegetarian options, but none were available if I want to get something instead of the wings. I’d have to change out the beef or salmon dish instead. So basically, I’m stuck with the wings. the lack of choice leaves me unhappy.

  • Like Home Chef, our first week was scheduled to arrive on a Tuesday with 3 meals in the box. BA sent an email the day before letting us know it had shipped and with a tracking number. We followed it all day Tuesday, but the package did not arrive at our house until well after 7pm.
  • Opening the box; even with the late delivery, everything was quite cold and the two giant ice packs were still mostly frozen.
  • All the ingredients were in the box and labeled with what they were, but not for the dish in which they were to be used. This means you need to be very careful to pull out all the ingredients for the dish when you make it and also not to accidentally use any of those ingredients (like whole lemons which are just loose, not packaged).
  • The box came with 3 recipe cards set up similar to home chef with a large photo and description on one side and instructions on the other, as well as an ingredient focus card, this week on fresh mint. The recipes are not 3-hole punched and did not come with a binder. My husband noted that all of the 3 meals looked the same this week; a protein on top of a starch in a bowl.
  • My first impression is that there are far fewer ingredients per meal, which leads me to feel like Blue Apron might be the better option for a more inexperienced cook.

Blue Apron, Meal #1

Wild salmon on top of warm creamy barley “salad” with zucchini. Blue Apron gets an extra point for their commitment to sustainable and wild seafood. Our salmon was clearly marked as wild. However, it was sockeye, not king and we got two very thin tail pieces. The barley-zucchini mix was tasty but didn’t wow us with any innovation.

Blue Apron Lemon Butter Salmon with creamy barley and zucchini.

Ingredients for Blue Apron Lemon Butter Salmon with creamy barley and zucchini.

Blue Apron Lemon Butter Salmon with creamy barley and zucchini.

Blue Apron Lemon Butter Salmon with creamy barley and zucchini.

Blue Apron, Meal #2

Chicken Thighs with lemon picatta buccatini. Again, very flavorful but protein on carbs. The garlic chives were a nice addition to dish otherwise devoid of color and vegetables. It was nice to have chicken clearly marked as antibiotic free. Chicken demiglace and use of pasta water in sauce was a good option instead of butter. This was a 2nd meal with lemon zest.

Blue Apron Chicken Thighs with lemon picatta buccatini

Ingredients for Chicken Thighs with lemon picatta buccatini

Blue Apron Chicken Thighs with lemon picatta buccatini

Chicken Thighs with no antibiotics

Blue Apron Chicken Thighs with lemon picatta buccatini

Blue Apron Chicken Thighs with lemon picatta buccatini

Blue Apron, Meal #3

Spiced lamb and beef tagine. This was one of my favorites from Blue Apron. The ras al hanout seasoning was delicious and the addition of the labneh (yogurt cheese) was made it even more “authentic”. Again, it was nice not to have to buy a whole container of labneh, there was just enough for the meal. Only downside was that the mint was missing from the ingredients but I have some in my garden. This was the third meal in a row with lemon zest.

Blue Apron Spiced Lamb and Beef Tagine

Ingredients for Spiced Lamb and Beef Tagine

Blue Apron Spiced Lamb and Beef Tagine

Blue Apron Spiced Lamb and Beef Tagine

Blue Apron, Meal #4

Pork Chops with fig compote on top of kale and barley. This was really tasty and the pork was all natural antibiotic free.

Blue Apron Pork Chops and Fig Compote

Blue Apron Pork Chops and Fig Compote

Blue Apron Pork Chops and Fig Compote

Blue Apron, Meal #5

Salmon with thyme potatoes and green beans. This was good, very simple, and not much different from something I’d make on my own.

Blue Apron Salmon with Thyme Potatoes and Green Beans

Ingredients for Salmon with Thyme Potatoes and Green Beans

Blue Apron Salmon with Thyme Potatoes and Green Beans

Blue Apron Salmon with Thyme Potatoes and Green Beans

Blue Apron, Meal #6

Miso glazed chicken wings with purple rice. Ah, the dreaded chicken wings. They were tasty, but I would skip the week rather than be forced to have them again.

Blue Apron Miso Glazed Chicken Wings

Blue Apron Miso Glazed Chicken Wings

Blue Apron Miso Glazed Chicken Wings

Blue Apron Miso Glazed Chicken Wings

Tools:

Both companies use the same format in cooking in that they try to keep the pots and pans to a minimum. In this way, they often have you cook something in a saute pan, move that item to a plate and then cook something else in the same pan. They also recommend, rightly so, that you prep your mise en place in advance.

Useful tools used over and over (amazon affiliate links*):

insta read thermometer
non stick pans (these are my favorites)
baking sheet (lined with foil)
prep bowls
cutting boards

If you’ve made it to the end of this post, chances are you might be interested in trying one of these meal kit services.

If you’d like to try Home Chef, please click here and you’ll get $30 off your first box (and I’ll get a referral discount as well, so thanks!).
I no longer have any Blue Apron free boxes to give away.

Have you tried one of these companies or a different one? I’d love to hear what you thought about it. Let me know in the comments!

*Amazon links are for examples. If you choose to order something your cost is the same, but I get a teeny-tiny percentage which goes to help support this site.