Monday, October 20, 2014

Cinnamon-Ginger "Baked" Apple

This is simply a nice snack for Fall, it's just an Apple diced up and mixed with 1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup and 1 Tablespoon Water with a sprinkle of Cinnamon and Ginger then microwaved until soft!  You get a nice baked apple taste really fast and easy.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Chicken, Dressed Baby Arugula and Garlic-Lemon Mayo Sauce Flatbread!

Our lastest Culinary Invention is this delish flatbread that we experimented in making!  We absolutely loved it!  It was spectacular!  In fact we are making it again tonight because we can't get enough!  LOL
Do you see that drip of awesome sauce right there!?!  Yup, the white one!  LOL  That is what inspired this dish!  The first time we had it was in a recipe from Blue Apron, the Japanese Okonomiyaki with Dressed Mizuna & Garlic-Lemon Sauce.  We made the Garlic-Lemon Sauce the same way and dressed the 85g Baby Arugula with Lemon Juice and a Drizzle of Olive Oil!  The flatbread is simply 4 oz. of Bread in 5 Master Dough per person formed into a rustic shape aka not perfect round like pizza.  Then I spread a thin layer of olive oil over the dough, sprinkled with salt and pepper and popped it in the oven to cook.  We also added 2 oz. of grilled chicken to each that we cooked while the bread was baking.  When the flatbread comes out of the oven we split the Garlic Lemon Sauce between the 2 breads, topped with half the dressed Baby Arugula each, and then the 2 oz. of sliced Chicken to finish it.  Tonight when we make this again I am going to add some of the green tops of scallions as the final touch!

This was out of this world garlicy goodness!

Blue Apron: Week of 16 Sept.

First we made the Lamb Sliders with Harissa-Labneh Sauce & Cucumber Salad! This was so very good!  We really enjoyed these little mini burgers and the middle eastern flavors!  We'd make it again, maybe skip the lamb and just keep it simple with ground beef since I'm not even sure we could find ground lamb or a a mix for that matter! LOL  But we really loved these!  It was the perfect amount of spiciness too!
Next we made the Chicken Hiyashi Chuka with Fresh Ramen Noodles & Summer Vegetables!  This also was a home run! Though finding the fresh ramen noodles and the spice blend would make it hard to make this again though if it was easy to come by we totally would!  I forgot to add the corn in before I took the photo but once we started eating we realized the mistake and added it in...too late for the photo, but WOW the corn really went so well with it, one of the best elements!
Last we made the Peperonata & Fried Eggs with Creamy Parmesan Polenta.  When I was a kid my Dad was stationed in Italy and I got to experience a lot of food and culture, one day I remember getting to taste Polenta at school it was part of "Host Nation" class.  Anyway I remember the firm kind that was in a rectangular stick, it was bland beyond belief and I remember it tasting rubbery.  I have a lot of good food memories from Italy but polenta wasn't one of them!!! LOL  So I've always been hesitant when it comes to polenta even though I've never had creamy polenta and seen it left and right on Food Network!  So when we made this dish I was happily curious to finally get to taste it and see if it was better!  And it was!  Yes this creamy polenta was delish!  In fact because of this experience I will be open to making it many more times in the future!

Cucumber Water

I was craving Cucumber Water so I sliced up a cucumber and added some to a cup and added water!  It's so yummy.  Also I looked up benefits of cucumber water and am happy that there are some nice benefits and most sites recommend slicing up a cucumber and adding it to a pitcher of water and letting it soak overnight.  I just love it!

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese Two Ways!

First I had found a recipe for Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese with Crispy Sage on Blue Apron.  I printed out the recipe and made it with white pasta, flour, breadcrumbs instead of whole wheat...I'm not fond of whole wheat things and I already had these things in the white variety so I used them!  This turned out really great!  I added the cinnamon they recommended and I really enjoyed this dish it really reminded me of fall and pumpkin things!  The cinnamon really brings out and enhances the squash flavor.  Also the crispy sage is a real treat!  It's fried in the butter so it gets a nice brown butter taste to it as well, it's something I will make again for sure!  After enjoying this recipe I got an idea for another variation and this is what I came up with since I had a half a butternut squash leftover!
Brown Butter Garlic Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese!  I made it very similar to the original except I added 2 cloves garlic microplaned into paste to the butter!  This was really amazing too and it had a nice garlic flavor and you really didn't realize that butternut squash was in it!  It would be a good hidden veggie dish to make for people!

A side note is that with both versions of this recipe we split it into 4 servings instead of 2!  Split into 2 was just way too huge!  I could even see it split into 6 easily and served with a side salad.

Maple Pecan Greek Yogurt

I made a yummy snack that could also double as a dessert!!!  LOL  It's 1 Cup Plain 4% Whole Milk Chobani Greek Yogurt with 2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup stirred in.  Then topped with a teaspoon of Maple Sugar, that melts on the top of the yogurt like you see in the photo, and a teaspoon of Chopped Pecans!  Very yummy, silky yet crunchy!

Blue Apron: Week of 9 Sept. Plus Bonus

First we made the Smoky Swiss Chard & Black Bean Tostada!  They were really good but not something we would make all the time because of the Swiss Chard, it's not our favorite green.  It was our first time having Mexican Crema and using Roasted Piquillo Pepper!  We loved both those things!  We both thought that it could have used a tad more spice since beans tend to suck up flavor and can mellow flavor.  We loved the idea and would play around with ideas to make future flavors of Tostadas that aren't typical or traditional because it was fun and different!
 Here's us working on the Eggplant Parmesan!
 The next day we made the Eggplant Parmesan with Chia Seeds.  Instead of egg for a binder they used Chia Seeds, it was our first time working with Chia Seeds they worked okay but I'm not sure that it's not easier to just use egg!!! LOL  We loved the flavors it was good but I felt it didn't have enough Parmesan.  If I made it again I would rework how it was made and would do like what I did the next day with a few extra components we had left over!
Reworked Eggplant Parmesan!  I used a breaded eggplant slice and set it in a little Corningware dish then I topped it with a 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce, placed the basil, then the mozzerella cheese, but I topped it with a 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese and popped the whole thing in the Broiler on Lo for about 2 min. and the cheese was nice and browned and crispy and the flavor with the extra parmesan was amazing!  I would make it exactly like this from now on!
Last we made the Heirloom Carrot & Toasted Farro Salad with Labneh Cheese & Pickled Dates!  We LOVED this dish!  It was so wonderful!  We loved everything about it the dates and almonds, the Lebneh Cheese that we had for the first time, the mint, the Toasted Farro, the roasted carrots with sumac!  We would totally make it again!  Now if we can find the Labneh Cheese that would be awesome!  LOL  The Labneh tasted kind of like a cream cheese but with more of a yogurt taste to it and the texture was similar to a Greek yogurt.  If I can't find Labneh I might consider trying to make something using other ingredients to give a similar taste and texture, like say mixing cream cheese with plain Greek yogurt.
For the Bonus we bought the ingredients for the Pork Chops with Smashed Sweet Potato, Roasted Broccoli & Herbs!  And yes we got the wrong kind of sweet potato, not the one with the orange flesh so it looks like regular mashed potatoes in this photo!!! LOL  Ah well!  It was okay, this wasn't our favorite, I prefer my broccoli cooked a bit different I think if I were to try to roast broccoli again I would first steam it half way and then roast it in the oven the other half, by just roasting it was still a bit undercooked but a tad burnt at the same time, the blackened bits were good tasting but ya I would just like it a bit more tender than it was.  The smashed sweet potato was okay as well, the maple flavor wasn't strong enough, I would probably consider using a maple syrup if I tried it again.  But I am happy to have found Maple Sugar and I love it mixed in yogurt now!  Also the pork chop was good but I would have preferred some sort of spice rub on it.  So there ya go!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Blue Apron: 4 Recipes This Week

This week we opted for the Vegetarian Options to be sent to us but I really wanted to try the Chicken Recipe for that week too so we bought the ingredients for it and made it as well!  Here's the results of what we made!
First we made the Japanese Okonomiyaki with Dressed Mizuna & Garlic-Lemon Sauce!  I was a bit worried about this recipe, I'm not fond of whole wheat flour and such and I was unsure about the cabbage as well.  But we loved it!  All of it!  The two sauces really made the whole thing taste amazing.  One sauce was sweeter and the other sauce was nice and garlic-y and the two played together really well!  As for the cabbage I didn't really notice it so it was a great combo of veggies, and the whole wheat flour you couldn't really tell that was there because the sauces were strong enough!  Also the Mizuna dressed with lemon really added a brightness that also played amazing with the sauces.  I had never had mizuna before or a Japanese Okonomiyaki and I loved it all!  We would make this again for sure!  It was one of those things we would never have tried or made on our own but did because of Blue Apron!  I really appreciate how many things I'm getting to make and try new and loving them!
Next we made the Fresh Cavatelli & Sun Gold Tomatoes with Basil Seed Ricotta & Opal Basil.  This one we really enjoyed the ricotta with basil seeds but the pasta was good but not our favorite and I put a bit too much red pepper flakes so it was a tad too hot for my tastes and for some reason I don't really care for those little cherry tomatoes.  I think it might be the skins on them are a bit too, what's the right word to describe maybe tough or too thick.  I also wish I had added a bit less of the basil.  I do like basil but if it's too strong it's not my favorite.  I could see lots of people really liking this, it's just not my preference is all.  Again really loved the ricotta with the basil seeds that was a really nice touch!  I could see stuffing some little tomatoes with that mixture for a little snack or appetizer!
The last recipe we made from the shipment was Rose Romaine & Painted Oak Lettuce Salad with Plums, Cucumber & Toasted Brie Baguettes!  This was a real winner!  We will make this again for sure!  One note the instructions say to peel the cucumber and I say DON'T!  I kept the peel on for the nutritional benefits and it was still amazing!  The new delectable treat I got to try for the first time was BRIE!!!  Oh my goodness I've been missing out!  LOL  I also loved making the vinaigrette it was fun and I loved the flavor of it too.  It was sweeter using the sherry vinegar and honey as well as the shallots being sweeter, it was a nice tangy-sweet dressing!  It pairs so perfectly with the flavor of the Brie!  The plums really made the sweetness stand out and the cucumbers went well too.  We'll make this dish again.  We've already bought some Brie and I plan on making baguettes from the Artisan Bread in 5 Master Dough.  For the lettuce I'll just buy a baby lettuce mix, it's easy to substitute since it's simply a leafy lettuce and a romaine so any combo of those types will work.  Also I'll probably up the size of the salad and lower the size of the bread and use only 1 serving of cheese next time.  I do so love my salads!  LOL
Here's the bonus meal we made!  And it's for sure a winner-winner-chicken-dinner!!! LOL  It's the Chicken & Snow Pea-Radish Sauté with Candied Pistachios!  This is OMG!!!  We made sure we bought chicken breasts with the bone in and skin on and I'm so glad we did because it was so juicy and flavorful!  It's simply seasoned with salt and pepper but oh wow it was like eating at a restaurant!  You use the fond and juices from the chicken left in the pan to saute the potatoes, radishes and snow peas and it's just amazing!  I've never had cooked radishes before and I have to say I liked them that way too!  They mellow out and aren't spicy like they normally are raw.  All the flavors worked together so well like the sweetness of the snow peas and the candied pistachios were out of this world good and went with all the flavors really well too!  They were so easy to make I was so surprised and we will make them again just on their own as a special little treat!
The only difference we had to make was that I can't find fresh tarragon locally so I had to settle for adding a quarter teaspoon of dried tarragon when I added the shallots to the saute pan.  It worked, but of course the fresh herbs make a huge difference.  I'm now dreaming of an herb garden with tarragon as one of the new herbs I have fallen in love with that is used a lot in Blue Apron meals!
Have you any doubt that we will be making this one again?!! LOL  This is one I would say you HAVE to try and make yourself even if you normally wouldn't!
And for this meal we tried out Kendall-Jackson's Vintner's Reserve Sauvingon Blanc 2012 the brightness of the lime and crispness of this wine went well with this meal as well as the nice mineral finish and it had a sweetness too!  It just really worked.  It reminded me of an unoaked chardonnay.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Baby Kale Maitake Mushroom Salad

I tried out Baby Kale for the first time and found that I really enjoy the taste of it!  So for lunch one day I dressed some Baby Kale in a serving of Panera's Balsamic Vinaigrette and topped it with a serving of Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (28g) and then topped it with some Sauteed Maitake Mushrooms (about 3oz).  It all tasted really good together the brightness of the balsamic really contrasted nice with the earthy flavors of the baby kale, mozz and maitake mushrooms.

Another Week of Blue Apron Meals!

First we made the Tomato, Watermelon & Farro Salad with Seared Halloumi!  It was wonderful, a home run, a surprising spectacular treat!  LOL  We loved it so much that we have already made it a total of 3 times, though we can't find Halloumi we used Yanni Grilling Cheese instead and I think I prefer the texture of the Grilling Cheese even better!  The watermelon in this was the most surprising to me, it was a nice sweet bite and I really enjoyed it in this dish so very much!  The mix of basil and mint was really fun and refreshing tasting too.  Also the Farro was dressed with a honey and red wine vinegar dressing before added to the watermelon, tomato, shallot combo.  I would never have thought to do something like that and the results were very succulent!   This recipe is also pretty easy to make and the longest amount of time is for the farro to cook!

Next we made the Palak Paneer with Naan Bread & Kachumber Salad!  We loved this recipe as well and plan on making it again too!  It was fun wilting the spinach down and was our first time doing that.  The results were very fresh and good tasting.  I've worked with frozen spinach in the past and didn't like the taste and now I know that I can simply wilt spinach myself and have much better flavor results!  We were surprised at how easy it really was to make and had never tried to make anything like this before because of how daunting it seemed.  Well it's easy-peasy!  So simple and the results are worth it too!

Lastly we made the Whole Wheat Gramigna Pasta with Roasted Corn & Baby Greens.  We enjoyed this one too, not as much as the other two but I would make it again using different pasta like penne or farfalle.  If anyone is a fellow Trekkie you might enjoy that this looks a lot like Klingon Gagh!  LOL

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Zucchini "Pizza"

Well I had seen an idea for Zucchini "Pizza" on Pinterest but decided to do it my own way instead of following another person's preferred method.  I also had a very LARGE zucchini from the garden that I needed to use up.  You can still use them large though you have to scoop out the more mature middle with seeds.

While the oven was preheating to 400 I simply scooping out the middle, and coated the halves with olive oil, sprinkled with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Then added my fave pizza sauce, Mezzetta, and then added 56g which is 2 servings of shredded mozzarella cheese to each half, then I cut some pepperoni into quarters and only used 3 and a half slices total for each half.  Then I stuck them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and cooked for about 15 min. till the fork could pierce them and then I transferred them to the broiler on low for 2 min.

I tell you the broiler does magical things!  LOL  The result was nice browned cheese, crispy pepperoni, and a nice tender-crisp zucchini flesh!  The favor was amazing, everything you love about pizza but meanwhile transforming zucchini in a new way!  The zucchini flavor was hidden by all the flavors and you just got really yummy pizza to eat!  I would do the same thing for normal size zucchini, simply adjusting the amounts of things, but it's nice that the larger one resembles French Bread Pizza!  And the middle was nice and oooy-gooy cheesy!

I will make this again and again!

Steak, Cauliflower Rice, and Heirloom Tomatoes

I've really been loving Heirloom Tomatoes lately, I mean look at how pretty these are!!!  I simply dressed them with red wine vinegar and salt and pepper.

We cooked the steak in a pan so that we would get the tasty fond, the brown bits, and extra juices left behind to flavor the cauliflower "rice" with.  See I learned that trick from Blue Apron!!!  Fond is your Friend!  LOL

For the cauliflower rice, it was a trying-something-new experience for me!  I used a recipe I found on Pinterest for Roasted Cauliflower Rice from A Spicy Perspective Blog.  After adding a teaspoon of oil and some onion to the pan with fond, and that being ready, I added the "rice" to it so that it would collect up all the flavor there!  It turned out really well!  Now I would NOT say that it is the same as rice because it's not in so many ways...I think it fails as rice.  However, I loved the cauliflower rice itself and would make it for it's own yummy uniqueness but I would not use it the same as I would use rice.  It would simply be a side dish instead.

Last Weeks Blue Apron Meals

This weeks meals were not our favorites so far but there were a few things we did like in a couple.  First we had made the Roadside Noodles with Bell Pepper, Tomato & Broccoli Rabe.  I'm not sure what happened but it did not turn out like the photo on the recipe.  We thought we followed the directions correctly but you never know if we messed something up unknowingly.  But even if we would have done it perfectly neither of us liked the flavors of this one.  We ended up making something else for dinner instead.  You win some and you lose some, not every meal is going to be a perfect love it experience but from what we've been experiencing the ones that are amazing make it all worth it in the end!

The next recipe we tried was the Summer Vegetable Stew with Cranberry Beans & Crispy Mushroom Salad.  We liked this one okay, we ate it willingly but decided we wouldn't make it again.  What we liked about this one was the Crispy Mushroom Salad that had fresh corn cut from the cob and used oyster mushrooms!  I think if it hadn't had that salad topping it we wouldn't have enjoyed it at all so it really saved the day!  We also liked the okra in this dish.  I've always like okra and love the nutty flavor of it!
The last meal we made was the one I was really looking forward to making the most!  It's was the Zucchini Fritters with Endive, Nectarine & Parmesan Salad.  I think what we didn't like about it was simply the mistakes that we made making it.  I think we didn't salt it enough, the directions said to salt to taste but didn't give a good starting measurement to go by so we tended to under season it.  The batter didn't turn out right and I think it was the lack of salt causing the zucchini to not sweat into the batter and liquifying it to the desired consistency.  I would try this again to see if we could perfect making it and have it turn out better the next time.  Because the fritter batter ended up being to dry after all it was more like a hash than a fritter!!! LOL  Oh well, I see it as a good learning experience!  We did eat it all though!  And I really really loved the Endive, Nectarine & Parmesan Salad!  I didn't really know what endive tasted like but it has a very normal lettuce type flavor and I was surprised how the parmesan went so well with the nectarine!

Even those these 3 weren't the most amazing we've had, we learned tons along the way and look forward to what is still to come!  Oh and we've also been making the Spice-Rubbed Pork Medallions with Peach Salsa & Cilantro-Green Bean Rice here and there, and have actually made it a total of 3 times now!  That one is such a hands down winner!  My friend, and also my sister have both made it with success and love it too!  OH and for the spice rub we substituted dried tarragon instead of the ground fennel since we couldn't find it and the flavors are similar and it worked well.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Angel Hair with Garlic and Oil

I made a simple version of Angel Hair with Garlic and Oil aka Aglio Et Olio. It has a yummy nutty/buttery/garlic taste kinda like garlic bread is.

The following makes 2 Servings.
Cook 2 Servings (4oz.) Angel Hair Pasta according to the directions and drain when finished.
Heat up 1 Tbs. Olive Oil, 1 Tbs. Butter, add 2 cloves of Garlic (minced), when the garlic is fragrant and a bit golden add 2 Servings of Cooked Angel Hair Pasta.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Get it all coated and heated then split and serve.

The neat thing about this recipe is that it can be the base for other added ingredients like mushrooms, tomatoes, capers, olives, artichoke, asparagus, basil, parmesan and other things in any combo you'd like.  It's fun to experiment and see what you can come up with!

Juilienned Cucumber-Radish-Carrot Salad with Garlic Yogurt Dressing

Cucumber-Radish-Carrot Salad with Garlic Yogurt Dressing! I made This Recipe from Diethood Blog but with a few changes!  I juilienned everything instead of slicing.  Julienning made it better to me, I can taste the radish better cut this way whereas when it was sliced they seemed to lose their flavor weirdly enough!  I added carrot into it for fun, and I used a regular cucumber and scooped out the seeds with a spoon.  It's the same dressing in the recipe though.  I could also see spiralizing all the ingredients and it working well too in noodle form!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Garlic, Butter, and Olive Oil Angel Hair Pasta with Maitake Mushrooms

Today my order of Maitake Mushrooms arrived today so I was inspired to whip up some Angel Hair Pasta using them!  This is about 100g Maitake Mushrooms browned in a teaspoon of Olive Oil and 1/2 Tablespoon Butter.  I added a cloved of garlic minced up to that when they were near done.  I added the cooked Angel Hair Pasta, I only used 1oz. pasta which is a half serving since it was only lunchtime, added salt and pepper to taste and when it sizzled I plated it!
I was too hungry to take a really good photo but I did snap this one for Instagram/Facebook and then after eating it and being like "OMG this tastes so awesome!" I had to grab the photo and blog it here too.  I can't wait to make this for dinner but I would do a full serving of pasta next time instead of the half serving of 1oz.  I just made less for lunch.
I tell ya, I am in love with Maitake Mushrooms!  The taste is different from the normal mushroom taste.  More nutty!  It went well with the butter and garlic flavors!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Peach Salsa Spicy Chicken Baby Arugula Salad

Ever since making the Peach Salsa for our Blue Apron Meal last week, which I really loved, I was inspired to use the Peach Salsa in other ways like as a layer in a salad!  My idea worked beautifully and it has the Sweet, Sour, and Spicy Trifecta that works so amazingly for your taste-buds!

I used a bed of Baby Arugula dressed in a serving of Panera's Balsamic Vinaigrette that you can find in the cold section of the produce near the bagged salads of your grocery store.  I've found that with baby arugula it works best if you toss the leaves and get them thoroughly coated with the dressing before adding the rest of the layers of your salad first.  Then I added half of  Blue Apron's Peach Salsa which I made pretty much the same as how I learned from Blue Apron which is a Diced Large Peach or 2 smaller peaches (around 280g) and I add a couple Tablespoons of Small Diced Red Onion, about a Tbs. of Lime Zest, and the juice of the Lime, some Basil Chopped (I probably added a bit less Basil and chopped it a bit more than roughly) with salt added to taste and a small drizzle of Olive Oil.  On top of that I added some Sliced Spicy Chicken that was cooked up using seasonings to make it nice and spicy.

This makes 1 Serving and I assemble the salad on large dinner plates and just multiply it by how many people as needed.  The Peach Salsa makes 2 Servings.

Waldorf Inspired Salad with Rosemary Honey Lime Dressing

This weekend I made a Waldorf Inspired Salad.  The first time I had a salad like this was in one of those ready packaged ones you get at the grocery for a fast on the go meal.  That one had chicken, raisins, sunflower seeds, green apple and used a poppy seed dressing.  I had never came across a classic Waldorf Salad before so I had no idea what they were really like.  So mine is inspired from that one.  It seems that most Waldorf Salad variations have only grapes and walnuts in common!!! LOL

Mine is made using baby lettuce, and topped with 100g of red and green grapes.  You could get away with half that amount though, I will probably do 50g next time, and could use either red or green or do a mix as well.  I simply cut the small grapes in half and cut larger grapes into quarters.  I also topped it with 50g of Diced Green Apple, 14g of Chopped Walnuts and 7g of Sunflower Seeds.  I added sliced chicken too.
This makes one serving and I assemble the salad on large dinner plates and just multiply it by how many people as needed.

For the dressing I used about 2 tsp. of Lime Zest and then about 2 Tbs. of Lime Juice, I then added about a teaspoon sized pinch of Fresh Rosemary Minced and Bruised, 2 tsps. Honey, 2 tsps. Light Olive Oil, and added Salt to Taste.  This made 2 servings of Dressing that I split between 2 assembled salads!

I really love the play of sweet and tart mixed with the earthy nuttiness of the walnuts and sunflower seeds!  This is a salad I will make many times!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Miso Ginger Spiralized Carrot Lettuce Cups

After blogging about my Toasted Sesame Miso Ginger Spiralized Carrot and mentioning how I could see it used in a lettuce cup I just had to go and try it out!  I had some leftover chicken that had spicy seasoning on it which made it even more perfect!  So for this wrap I used some Iceburg Lettuce leaves but I'm thinking it would be awesome using some Cabbage leaves as well.  A Large Spiralized Carrot througouhly coated with a serving of Bolthouse Miso Ginger Vinaigrette Dressing, 7g Toasted Sesame Seeds, 1/2 oz./14g Chopped Cashews, and 2 oz. of Chicken.  It was really great!  Having everything I loved about the Toasted Sesame Miso Ginger Spiralized Carrot plus some!  I look forward to making it again.

Food Adventure with Blue Apron's Fresh Gnocchi & Maitake Mushrooms with Sweet Corn & Thyme Brown Butter

   Last night we made the third meal that was shipped to us this week by Blue Apron!  It's the Fresh Gnocchi & Maitake Mushrooms with Sweet Corn & Thyme Brown Butter!  WOW was it great!  I'm already a fan of Gnocchi since as I said before I lived in Italy as a kid because my Dad was stationed there.  I remember the first time I ate Gnocchi I was being picky at a restaurant where my Dad had taken me with him to go to lunch with someone.  I was a difficult one, being picky, I knew what I liked and didn't like, but he convinced me somehow to trust him and try the Gnocchi.  So I received a shallow bowl of little white oblong things with a bright red tomato sauce over it!  Now I LOVED tomato sauce so I figured I would like it...maybe that's how he convinced me to try it in the first place!  LOL  I tentatively took a bite and YUM!!!  Soft and pillowy!  And the tomato sauce was so fresh and simple, I still try and recreate that simple beautiful tomato sauce it's hard to come by!  One day I will hit upon how to make that sauce, or find one that will be a great day!  So over the years I've tried various store bought Gnocchi and they are never as good as what I remember in Italy, hardly anything is...LOL!  I've also made my own a couple of times and it's kind of tricky but I have made some that came pretty close.  This one being the closest!  I think with practice I could make them perfect, the only trouble is they are very time consuming!
    That leads me back to this delicious little bite!!!  I really loved the buttery, nutty flavors, with a light sweetness!  I tell you the bright thyme flavor played so well with the sweet creamy flavors too, I really enjoyed this dish and I want to make it again!  If there was a downside I would say it was the actual Gnocchi they sent.  While it WAS impressively fresh, they were a bit gummy to me, still better than most store bought kinds so I enjoyed them still.  Just not how I remember the perfect Italian Gnocchi tasting like.  I believe it was the use of egg in them, an authentic Gnocchi doesn't use egg at all.  I think if I made my own and then used them in this recipe it would be even more out of this world than it already was!  And what you see that looks a lot like Roast Beef is Maitake Mushrooms!  This is my first time having them and cooking them and I REALLY loved them!  I am wanting to see if my local grocer can stock them because I think these, if I can get my hands on them, will become a regular part of my diet!!!
   Another first for me was taking corn on the cob and cutting the kernels off.  I would normally just buy frozen corn to add in the recipe instead but I figured why not give it a try and see what difference it makes.  Not sure it makes that much of a difference, especially if you use a very good frozen kind that tastes the same as fresh, but it's more convenient than cutting the corn off the cob yourself.  I enjoy eating the corn ON the cob the best when I get it in cob form!
   Lastly, but definitely not least!  The wine paring!  We chose a nice toasty Dark Earth Chardonnay, that has a wonderful buttery note that plays so well with all things buttery!  (We found it at our Local Stater Bros.) When we first tasted this wine we loved the creamy toasty flavors and then Hubby stated "You know what, I think this would go well with?  CORN!" and at once I replied "YES, it totally would!" so we did what any sane wine pairing connoisseurs would do and whipped out a fresh Corn On The Cob we had in the fridge, cooked it up, split it between us and slathered it with butter and a sprinkle of salt and WOW does that pairing work spectacularly!!!  The buttery corn just sang with the creamy-toasty-buttery chardonnay!  It was food and wine synergy at it's best!  It's worth hunting down this chardonnay just to try it out with with buttered corn on the cob!
   Now that you've heard the background story, you can see why we chose this wine to pair with this meal, and it certainly worked really nicely with the browned butter and sweet corn as well as the mushrooms and potato gnocchi!  I also think that the Toasted Head Chardonnay would also pair well since it's also very toasty and creamy.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

English Muffin Melt

The other day for lunch I got the idea to create a sandwich using our Artisan Bread In 5 Master Dough turned into English Muffins!  I really love how versitle the Master Dough is and that it's so EASY to make and just have on hand for any given moment you want to make something with it and how many different things you can make using the same dough!!!  One of which is these tasty English Muffins!!! 

I simply pull out 3oz. of dough, shape it into ball and then into a disk and let it rest for about 15-20 min covered with a bit of plastic wrap so it doesn't dry out.  Then you just heat up a skillet to about medium and I used a butter spray to save on calories but still get the flavor.  You put the disks into the pan and let it cook on that side for about 3 min or so, then you flip it and let it go another 3 min or so.  Sometimes it can be around 4 min per side, you don't want it to be doughy in the middle.  Anyway once they are done I like to let it cool for a bit to let the steam out and so the inside is nice and done.  I split them using 2 forks one stabbing it the other pulling away to separate it gently.

After I got the English Muffins done I grabbed a serving of deli style chicken meat, a slice of provolone cheese and a slice of tomato.  I split the cheese into quarters and put half on the bottom and half on the top to act as "glue" for the sandwich.  I popped it in the microwave for 30 seconds and then returned it to the pan for just a tad bit to keep the crust crispier and make sure the cheese is all melted.

It was so good! The flavors took me back to Italy!  The way the deli sliced meat was in it really reminded me of all the Paninis I've had as a kid when my family lived in Italy when my Dad was in the Army stationed there.

I would totally make this again in a heartbeat!  And there are so many different variations that could be created too!

Food Adventure with Blue Apron's Pan-Seared Chicken Thighs with Roasted Baby Zebra Eggplants & Fennel Salad

Here's the results of last night's food adventure which for us was meal 2 of the 3 we received from Blue Apron this week!  It's the Pan-Seared Chicken Thighs with Roasted Baby Zebra Eggplants & Fennel Salad.

We enjoyed it, the chicken skin was nice and crispy, we only had a couple spots that were a little soft still but it was still a good learning experience for how to crisp chicken with the skin on.  Me and Hubby tag-team our cooking, he handles the meats and I do the other things and we both prep and do what's needed!  It's fun to cook together.  We both agreed that it was good, we ate the whole thing and we would eat it again, but it wasn't our favorite meal either.  As with any food adventure you are taking a risk and so sometimes you will find something out of this world, and other times it will be a great learning experience!  The flavors weren't really our thing with the strong fennel in the salad portion.  I'm not the biggest fan of fennel flavors but there are always exceptions so I'm willing to try it in different ways.  The roasted eggplant and mash was really great.  The mash from the eggplant was I think my favorite thing in this meal!  It had a bit of tart from the sherry vinegar and it worked really well with the earthiness of the eggplant.  Definitely making it again!   As a whole we would not make this meal again, but did enjoy some of the different components of it that are repeatable.

I'm totally in love with Blue Apron right now, they have so much information on their site and even have a YouTube Channel with lots of videos that teach you different things and I've already learned so much!  I love how they are helping home cooks have exciting food at home that we cook ourselves!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Food Adventure with Blue Apron's Spice-Rubbed Pork Medallions with Peach Salsa and Cilantro-Green Bean Rice

Me and Hubby signed up for Blue Apron and got our first box in the mail tonight!  We tried our first recipe tonight and OH WOW was it amazing!  It was the Spice-Rubbed Pork Medallions with Peach Salsa and Cilantro-Green Bean Rice!  Everything we needed arrived already proportioned out so all we had to do was follow the instructions.  It was really fun and I simply trusted the recipe and made it all as is.  I was worried about the basil being a bit too much but when it was all put together it was all perfect!  In fact we loved it all so much that we are planning on buying the ingredients on our own to make it again!!!  It was just really fun to make something I would have never done on my own and have it be such a success!!!  There was a lot of firsts, I never zested a lime before and we've never cooked pork at home and had it be edible before either!!! LOL  The Peach Salsa went perfect with every bite of Pork it was just amazing!  The spice rub played really well with the sweet peach and tart lime and basil flavors!  The rice...oh the had flavortown all up in there since it used the aftermath of cooking the pork to flavor it!  I really enjoyed that the green beans were in it too and they didn't overpower the awesome flavor going on in the rice!

For a wine paring we had a hard time deciding but ended up picking a 2013 New Zealand Marloborough Sauvignon Blanc by Nobilo's Regional Collection.  The flavors paired so well with the peach salsa with it's basil and lime because of it's tropical and citrus fruit notes as well as it's subtle herbal notes!  It really brought out the sweetness in the peach!  We found this wine at our local Von's!

By the way, you can make this recipe as well since Blue Apron freely shares the recipes and instructions online!  How cool is that!  I must say I probably would never have made any of this on my own, but I am so glad that it all came to my doorstep so I could try it out after-all!  So even if it's something you might not make, maybe you should!?!

UPDATE (8/28/14): We have been making this recipe again here and there, and have actually made it a total of 3 times now!  It is such a hands down winner!  My friend, and also my sister have both made it with success and love it too!  OH and for the spice rub we substituted dried tarragon instead of the ground fennel since we couldn't find it and the flavors are similar and it worked well.  We simply used 1 Tbs. Brown Sugar, 1 Tsp. Paprika, 2 Tsp Dried Tarragon, 1/2 Tsp Hot Curry Powder and found it a decent match, it's not exactly the same as what they sent us but it is very similar and the flavors that we loved are there!

Garam Marsala Kale Chips

This was the first time I made Kale Chips!  WOW they are so good!!!  I was so surprised and understand why everyone raves about them!  They are so light and crispy, very delicate!   I love how you get a bit of a crunch and then they just melt in your mouth!  I was scared to make them for a long time, worried that they wouldn't turn out right, but I'm glad I took the risk because these are simply amazing!!!

I went by this recipe's instructions from Jessica In The Kitchen: Three Ways To Make Kale Chips – Salty, Spicy and Cheesy

At first I just used salt and pepper and then I tasted one to see if they were done and it was so good but I thought hmm I bet Garam Marsala spice would be awesome on these so I went ahead and added some Garam Marsala to them. Then let them finish crisping (they aren't as good if not completely crisp so you gotta check them) and WOW I love that flavor with them too!!!  Success!!!

Toasted Sesame Miso Ginger Spiralized Carrot

1 Spiralized Carrot with 5-7 grams Toasted Sesame Seeds and 1 Tablespoon of Bolthouse Miso Ginger Vinaigrette Dressing!  It's amazing tasting!!!   The dressing was nice and silky and it reminded me of eating chow mein!  Also the toasted sesame seeds added a wonderful nutty flavor almost like peanut butter.  It's a good snack or it would be a good side, I could also see using it in other things like adding it to a wrap or lettuce cup with chicken.  I will also add a half ounce of chopped cashews the next time I make this!

Bruleed Banana

I have been making Bruleed Banana for a snacks but also as a little dessert here and there too!  It is just so good!  I loved the crunchy caramelized top, which tastes a lot like the golden brown part on a roasted marshmallow, and the banana tasted so sweet a lot like a banana chip or a banana muffin.  I just love the crunch mixed with the creamy banana!  Sometimes I really think I enjoy a Bruleed Banana more than actual Creme Brulee!

Simply cut a banana in half and add a teaspoon of sugar to each half and torch it with a brulee torch till golden! (You can google search bruleed banana using the oven if you don't have a torch.) I don't torch it with the skin still on like some instructions recommend, in fact I find that if a bit of the edges get a tiny bit blackened that adds to the roasted marshmallow flavor!