Cooking

Blue Apron Takes the Logistical Blues Away

One of the ways I have streamlined my lifestyle in 2014 is through a meal delivery service called Blue Apron.  I talk about it more on this post, but essentially it sends ingredients and recipes for three meals each week to your doorstep, and you can skip weeks whenever you want. Average cost is $10 per person per meal, or $60 a week. There is  a meat and vegetarian option.

Dec 29 2013 118

Dec 29 2013 119

I personally wouldn’t do more than two shipments a month, because our schedule tends to ebb and flow with busy-ness around dinner time.  Instead of being less stressed by Blue Apron, I’ve been more stressed during busy weeks because I was worried our meals would go to waste. It’s nice to take off-weeks and eat normal dinners, like cereal and hot dogs.

Here’s what I like about it:

  • You only need salt, pepper, and EVOO on hand to do any of the recipes. Everything else is shipped in the most adorable little baggies and packages.
  • Tristan likes the food and the program, and helps out with the cooking – bonding, aw.
  • I’m able to enjoy the cooking process and learn new techniques without the stress of meal planning and shopping.
  • The meals have only taken around 30 minutes to prepare and have had quite a range of flavors and formats.
  • The ingredients are all seasonal and fresh, some of which I would’ve had no motivation to explore if left to my own devices. A good example of this would be bok choy and treviso.
  • The recipes are easy to follow and well thought out – there are photos and a timeline; there’s not that panic at the end, when I’m cooking on my own and everything seems to be burning at the same time.
  •  The recipe cards are laminated with measurements so we can make the recipe again, if it was a hit. And call me old fashioned, but I don’t have a tablet and I’m real sick of trying to keep my cell phone from timing out every five minutes while I’m trying to follow a recipe. It’s been nice having the old-school recipe sheet.
  • They often have you use the same pan for multiple steps and everything comes in pre-measured packages, so there’s no ingredient waste and a lot less cleaning. A very high-ranking perk for us.

What I don’t like:

  • I mean, nobody wants to pay $60 a week for three meals when the afore-mentioned cereal will run you $3. But I will say, when I’ve tried new recipes in the past, a single ingredient can run me $7 (i.e. spices).
  • There can be a lot of chopping, depending on the recipe. Get a garlic press FOR SURE.
  • It’s despairing if you realize you forgot to skip a week online and immediately receive a shipment. Kiss those happy hour plans goodbye! You can skip several weeks at a time, though.
  • Some people don’t like seafood. There isn’t a way to select to receive specific meals, or omit the seafood dish from the meat option. It’s a prix fixe menu.
  • As mentioned, I looooove all the little packages and baggies the ingredients come in, but some of my eco-friendly Seattle neighbors might find all of the packaging wasteful.
  • I’ve had a few ingredients go bad by the end of the week, as fresh produce has a tendency to do. Nothing disastrous; I was able to salvage them all. But it’s as if I expect the produce they send me to have super secret life-extending powers (…and for $60, shouldn’t it?!).

We’ve made six meals thus far – here’s some photos:

Roast Beef with Horseradish Sour Cream & Grilled Treviso

Roast Beef with Blue Apron - TorieandTristan.com

Chopped Chicken, Bacon and Brussels Sprouts Salad with Blue Cheese, Currants and Sherry Vinaigrette

Chopped Chicken Salad from Blue Apron

Cioppino Tagliatelle with Bay Scallops, Crusty Bread & Garlic Aoli

Scallop Dish from Blue Apron - TorieandTristan.com

Scallop Dish from Blue Apron - TorieandTristan.com

Minute Steaks with Picadillo-Style Sauce & Yellow Rice

Steak at Blue Apron - TorieandTristan.com

Steak at Blue Apron - TorieandTristan.com

Steak at Blue Apron - TorieandTristan.com

Pan-Seared Cod with Soy-Maple Glaze, Baby Bok Choy and Rice Noodles

Cod from Blue Apron - TorieandTristan.com

Cod from Blue Apron - TorieandTristan.com

And, Tristan and I agree that this was our absolute favorite – Chicken Wedge Salad with Crisp Apple, Walnuts, and Lemon-Blue Cheese Dressing

Chicken Wedge from Blue Apron - TorieandTristan.com

Chicken Wedge (15)

****

If you’d like to give Blue Apron a try, TODAY through Feb. 2 Gilt City is offering 50% off your first Blue Apron shipment when you purchase from the mobile app. A coincidence, being “Blue” Friday? I THINK NOT… Go Hawks!

Let me know if you decide to give it a try and what you think!

-t&T

T&T

The Pinterfast

Image

I’m not into new year’s resolutions, but by necessity, I do need to make some lifestyle changes this year. I got the flu in early December, did a full round of antibiotics only to have an allergic reaction to the antibiotics at the tail end, and then get violently sick with flu and pneumonia a week later. I am now done with that round of antibiotics and have had the full realization that I need to take it easy and rest, and build a rested lifestyle for at least a month or two. I don’t want to just “do less;” I want to completely remove everything that complicates my life and/or causes me a modicum of stress and re-build from scratch.

Image

In terms of meal planning and grocery shopping, I have a few solutions in mind. I’d like to try Amazon Fresh, for one. Amazon is headquartered in Seattle and our city is one of a few around the country to test-drive their new grocery delivery services. I’ve heard good things – you can get free delivery if you spend $300 or more each month, and specify a really narrow delivery window (i.e., between 8 – 9 a.m.). For produce, you can select ripe, almost ripe, or not ripe. You can pre-set different grocery lists onto your account for different meals and rotate lists throughout the month. It appeals to me that I wouldn’t be able to impulse shop, which would hopefully counteract the lack of sale pricing.

Second, Tristan and I recently finished our first round of Blue Apron meal delivery. I will definitely post a full review, but off hand, it was great … even Tristan thought the meals were worth the money. Blue Apron delivers ingredients for three meals for two people each week, and you can skip weeks whenever you want. The meals are $60 each week ($10 per person per meal), but there are Gilt and Rue La La deals periodically. This meal subscription service is perfect for people who like to try new foods, use seasonal produce and enjoy cooking, but who don’t like (or have time) to plan or shop. Sounds like me!

Image

In regards to mental health, I’ve decided to take a serious whack out of my Pinterest habits. I think it’s made me more manic than anything else. In the words of my friend Kiri, Pinterest has a tendency to make you hate your clothes and want a brand new house. I would agree – and if I’m not feeling inadequate, I’m feeling judgy. Or just plain overstimulated. I mean, am I the only one here, guys?! I have enough pins already pinned to last me a lifetime, and I’ve enjoyed that creative inspiration, but constantly looking for that new pinspiration is causing more headache than it’s worth (perspiration?). I’ve removed the app from my phone so that I can’t “mindlessly” scroll through in bed or when I’m killing time. I am “allowed” to refer to existing boards and pin my blog posts but not look at the main feed. No. new. pins.

Similarly, I am taking a serious look at my blog consumption, especially now that I have a blog myself. My friend Erika wrote a great post on jealousy … which I read immediately following having the thought “gosh, I’m so jealous of her blog.” HA! She says, “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” Isn’t that the truth? Anyway, I have a solid handful of blogs that I follow regularly, and I’m not going to get too caught up on never ever looking at them ever (I have enough on my plate trying to give up Pinterest!). But I do want to be cognizant of things in my life that cause me to be discontent; that make it all too easy to fall into the comparison death cycle, and again lead me to feel inadequate and/or judgy. I think I can have a completely inspired blog without “seeking inspiration” as much as I have been.

Image

In terms of keeping up on chores, back in December, I did some research on grown up chore charts. In case you’re wondering, here were some of my findings:

As a newlywed, for me it was helpful to simply see all of these tasks listed out… it made the chores seem finite and therefore doable. But the most important thing I started doing was to stop trying to be Superwife. Tristan had me tell him the stuff I needed help on. He’s far more a creature of routine than I am, so even if I don’t get to my chore goals each week, at least one of us is doing something around the house.

I’m not sure I want to pour myself into some new chore chart while I’m working on a getting a “rested lifestyle,” but perhaps adding just one weekly chore a month into my routine will slowly add up to a clean home. Or maybe I make a chore chart, but keep it lighthearted by integrating stickers and prizes. We’re all really just a bunch of big kids in this world. What do you think? Any non-stressful ideas to keeping up on housework?

I’m kind of excited at the prospect of giving myself one giant break. When I’m busy trying to be the perfect wife, I’m not a very fun wife (I’m exhausted, for one!). It’s important that the things I’m investing in are meaningful to Tristan, too.

It occurred to me that pioneer women back in the 1800s (the quintessential housewives) didn’t have modern technology to waste time on or compare themselves to others with. Even Martha Stewart didn’t have the internet when she first got famous for being able to “do it all.” Were we ever supposed to be perfect housewives AND have full time jobs AND document it all via perfectly posed pictures and eloquently written blog posts on the internet? Surely we can’t expect ourselves to uphold all the tasks of females in generations past AND in generations present! I’m ranting. But it seriously makes me question the sheer volume of tasks on our lists and why we try to do it all. Is it because we look at our blog sisters and assume that they’ve got it figured out? Until I learn how to be realistic with myself, I need to seriously wean off the blogosphere.

Anyway, I’m getting all worked up and clearly that is not very restful.

-t&T

T&T

NYE Smorgasbord Party

Image

New Year’s Eve is generally annoying in the Seattle area. This is my blog, so my opinion is fact. You can either spend $100+ per ticket to attend a gala with hundreds of ostentatiously dressed drunk people, or buy your way into a private, deluxe dinner at a restaurant. Or, one of your friends can host a party, which gives you an excuse to dress up in a far more low key environment, with people you actually like.

This year, Tristan and I discovered that the Swedish Club behind our apartment building is hosting a mid-century NYE “ball” with live ABBA music and Swedish pancake breakfast at 12:15 a.m. for a mere $25 per ticket. SIGN. US. UP.

Image

We have put together a group of friends to go with us, and are hosting a prefunk party at our house just in case our destination is filled with 400 old people. The prefunk party will be Smorgasbord themed in honor of our Swedish destination. Not literally (no herring and beet salad), just in the fact that I’m throwing everything together and hoping it works, both in decor and menu. I don’t have time to go unearth my gold shimmery tablecloth or striped runners from the storage unit, nor do I feel like spending a ton of money on creating some perfectly paired menu with signature cocktails. We bought chips and guac (the essentials), some mixers, and I made fudge. My friend – bless her heart – informed me that she’s bringing cheese…YAY! I bought a really cute garland and hats from Metropolitan Market yesterday. But other than that, we are using what we already have (including a very well stocked bar, thanks to some of Tristan’s work vendors!).

Here is the garland I purchased, to give you an idea of the color scheme I’m locked to, seeing as I have no color in my apartment (unless you count leopard).

NYE Garland 2

NYE Garland

It’s by Meri Meri, a super cute vintage-style party supplies company.

I don’t want the look to be a tidy tablescape; I want it to be jam packed with knick-knacks, sparkles, festive-ness and yummy treats. I love this bubbly bar from La Mia Vita:

Image

I love this tablescape from Tiffany Pratt in Rue Magazine:

NYE Inspiration 5 NYE Inspiration 6 NYE Inspiration 7 NYE Inspiration 8

And tell me you don’t love this party hat from A Subtle Revelry:

Tulle Poof Hat

Here are some other “crowded” tablescape pics that tickle my fancy…

Studio DIY:

NYE Inspiration 1

Green Wedding Shoes:

NYE Inspiration

Kelly Lee for Rue Magazine:

NYE Inspiration 4

Also Rue Magazine:

NYE Inspiration 3

If I’m lucky, I’ll figure out a way to create cute stir sticks for this party in the next 8 hours! 🙂 As mentioned on this post, I get such fulfillment from re-purposing items and materials I already have. And I’m CONVINCED I won’t be running around stressing out all day. If I can prove to myself (and Tristan, ha!) that I am capable of a low-cost, low-stress party, then it is sure to be a happy new year, filled with lots more parties. 🙂

-t&T

T&T

header image via Studio DIY

Baked Brown Sugar Chicken Wings with Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce

Ah, back to flavors a bit more familiar. My previous recipe, Bang Bang Shrimp, was challenging in that I have never deep fried before (nor did I have proper equipment), and typically don’t make Asian dishes, so I’m not adept at improvising with spices, etc. The third and final recipe I made last week involved baking and brown sugar, so it was more in my zone (on paper, anyway)…plus it was a great excuse to use our new Ninja!

Baked Brown Sugar Chicken Wings with Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce

from Damn Delicious

Yields 3-4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 pounds chicken wings
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/3 cup roasted red pepper, chopped
  • 2 ounces goat cheese
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

blog 141

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  • In a large bowl, combine the wings, olive oil, brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper.
  • Place the wings onto prepared baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, using metal tongs to turn at halftime.
  • To make the dipping sauce, combine the roasted red pepper, goat cheese, sour cream and salt in the bowl of a food processor until emulsified.
    • TORIE’S NOTE: If you’re like me and didn’t know how to roast a red pepper, instructions are here.
  • Serve wings immediately with dipping sauce.

Everything was going as planned until – RUH ROH! – my wings did not look like their wings. In the package, they looked like adorable little drumsticks all lined up like toy soldiers. But upon opening the package…

blog 145

WAY DIFFERENT. Panic ensued. Frantic cries to Tristan to Google how to chop wings. Those bones were thick, man. Chicken-slimed fingers didn’t help with using a knife. After hacking away for several minutes, I was content to move on with the smaller pieces I’d created.

Pepper roasted and chicken coated with divine sweet and savory spices:

blog 143

blog 149

NINJA ACTION for the cream sauce!

blog 152

And ta da!

blog 154

blog 160

blog 157

Very very nummy. Next time, I would do the chicken in my broiling pan instead of on a foil-lined pan to increase the crisp-ness. The cream sauce is like crack – would be great on pita triangles with sea salt, or really anything. Definitely my favorite recipe of the week, and it was nice to go out on a high note.

I hope you liked my first series, 3 Recipes, 3 Days! If you missed any of the others, here is 1 and 2.

What awesome recipes have you created lately? I have several birthdays (and duh, holidays) coming up and would love ideas!

-t&T

Monogram

 

This Weekend

This past weekend I attended the International Food Blogger Conference, and let me tell you – after eating and drinking for 48 hours, I am in a day-long FOOD COMA! Such a first-world problem, I know.

At the conference, I learned several cool things, which I will be sharing throughout the week. I thought I’d share a few highlights first.

The first highlight: I got to meet Dorie Greenspan, the conference’s keynote speaker and James Beard award-winning cookbook author/NY Times food writer extraordinaire. She commutes between her three kitchens in Paris, NYC and Connecticut, currently working on her 12th cookbook. One of the cookbooks, Baking with Julia, was written with and for Julia Child. Dorie was writing about food before food was cool. AND! She didn’t even bake so much as chocolate chip cookies before she was married and working on her doctorate.

Torie & Dorie 2

She’s about yea big (not sure how with all of the French pastries!), so perky and inspirational, and now I’m a huge groupie  (officially known as Doristas). I have selected her cookbook Around My French Table to add to my Christmas list.**

Image

** Yes, I already have a Christmas list; in fact, I ALWAYS have one… it helps me only buy truly urgent and important items throughout the year. Generally, I don’t start talking about what’s on my list until Thanksgiving though, so Tristan/people don’t hate me.

The second highlight was meeting my new friend Kate, of A Byte of Life! We met in line for the very first session (lunch), and were inseparable all weekend. We have a lot in common, and conveniently, she’s local, so we are excited to partner on blog posts in the future!

Here we are enjoying one of the things we have in common – a love of craft cocktails:

Image

We were sipping Moscow Mules at RN74, one of the 20 amazing restaurants that hosted a group of us bloggers for dinner on Saturday evening through Urban Spoon.

Here’s a bit of what’s to come this weekish:

  • Fondue for Game Day
  • Discover the top 5 (or so) recipes I’m most excited to try.
  • I took a break from the conference to go shopping in Paris (AKA Watson Kennedy). See my top picks from their amazing shop.
  • Wine Tasting for Dummies
  • Top 5 Back-to-School Snacks << Food blogger taste tested and approved!

Okay, bedtime!

-t&T

Monogram