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