my week with Blue Apron and a giveaway



For about a year now, my husband and I have subscribed to Blue Apron, a subscription meal delivery service that takes the stress out of that dreaded question:  "What's for dinner tonight?"  We subscribe about two weeks a month for three nights a week.  We are devoted to Blue Apron and here's why:  The food is fresh and seasonal, the recipes are restaurant quality, and there is no planning or shopping required--my least favorite part of meal prep.  If you enjoy cooking and eating, but hate the planning and shopping, you will appreciate Blue Apron.  The subscription is flexible and you can cancel or pause your service at any time.  I have a giveaway at the end of this post.  But first read on to see if Blue Apron is right for you.

Delivery day is terribly exciting around here!  As we empty the box we oh and aw over the pretty food.  To keep things simple on cooking day, everything goes into the bottom drawer of my refrigerator.  I pretty much know what nights we'll be home to eat during the week, and since we are almost always home on the evening of the Tuesday delivery day, around 5:00 my husband will pour us each a glass of wine and we'll sit on the patio and I'll read the recipes aloud and we'll plan our week of dinners.

Everything you need, every ingredient, including something as small as a pat of butter or a teaspoon of red pepper flakes comes in the refrigerated box in recyclable containers. The only thing you have to have on hand is salt, pepper and olive oil. Each dinner takes about 30 minutes to prep and cook.  There's always plenty and most often we'll have leftovers.  (I have to share that because people who know us know my husband has a very hearty appetite.)  The food is always fresh and seasonal but because of our big summer garden I tend to use Blue Apron less in the summer.  Take at a look at a week from last fall:

Menu
Chicken Meatballs and Creamy Polenta with Tomato Sugo and Lacinato Kale
Cod and Potato Brandade with Watermelon Radish Salad
Roast Pork with Sauteed Spinach and Olive Smashed Potatoes

Tuesday:  When the refrigerated box arrives (first picture), I unpack it and put in the refrigerator.  We decided to have the Chicken Meatballs and Creamy Polenta with Tomato Sugo and Lacinato Kale that night (second picture).  It was scrumptious and we both rated it a 5 out of 5.  I have a smaller appetite than my husband so he gets about 2/3 of the dinner; that just works for us.  The plated dinner is a picture of my smaller serving, but I couldn't finish it as it was very filling; but no problem, my husband happily ate my extra meatballs.  Leftovers? Yes, some polenta which I fried the next morning and served with eggs and salsa.  We loved it.  By the way, I'm gluten free and always keep gf breadcrumbs and bread in the freezer.  It's easy to switch out and I just tossed their breadcrumbs away or give it to my neighbor's chickens.

Three dinners for two are in the box. The little brown paper bags have the individual "knick-knacks" to use for each dinner.

The knick knacks for the chicken meatball dinner were butter, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and meatball spice blend.



Hmmm, I not so great at taking food pics, but you get the idea.  This is my small serving, my husband's was much bigger.

Leftover polenta served as a base for an egg and salsa for next morning's breakfast.

Wednesday:  My husband played poker that night and had dinner at his club.  I met my girlfriends downtown for dinner, so no Blue Apron for us this night. 


Thursday:  I go to choir practice on Thursday evenings so I like Thursday night's dinner to be as easy as possible.  We decide on the Cod and Potato Brandade with Watermelon Radish Salad and happily it turned out to be one of the faster recipes to make this particular week. Since I was in a hurry that night there's no prep pictures to share.  We gave this meal another 5--we both loved the crunchy topping on the casserole and the simple salad.  Again, that's my small portion below--my husband's portion was much larger.  I am gluten free so I switched the Panko breadcrumbs for my own gf breadcrumbs and asked my husband if he wanted the garlic toast.  He said no, so the loaf went to my neighbor's chickens.  Leftovers:  Nope.


The knick knacks for the fish dinner were butter, red wine vinegar, shallot and breadcrumbs.  Besides that, there's also a head of garlic and fresh thyme for the brandade and watermelon radishes for the salad.


My plate with a smaller serving.  We gave it a 5 out of 5.

Friday and Saturday:  We went out both nights so on Thursday night I popped the remaining pork roast into the freezer just to be on the safe side.  The vegetables will be fine in the fridge.

Sunday:  Roast Pork with Sauteed Spinach and Olive Smashed Potatoes was our third and last dinner of the week.  We both love spinach and it had such a bright taste with the addition of lemon zest.  The potatoes were fantastic with the surprising addition of lemon juice and olives.  This dinner showcases one of the reasons why I love Blue Apron:  The recipe requires only 2 tbsp. of sour cream and that's all you get.  No need to purchase a pint and throw away the spoiled, unused leftover two weeks later! My husband rated this a 5 as he loves anything with meat and potatoes.  I gave it a 4 because I would have loved to see a simple sauce for the pork.  Leftovers:  None--my husband would never leave meat and potatoes behind.

Knick knacks in tonight's pork roast were Castelvetrano olives and sour cream.

Lemon zest flavors the spinach.

Lemon juice, sour cream and chopped Castelvetrano olives and garlic chives will go into the smashed potatoes.  They were fantastic.

The recipes are easy step-by-steps tutorial with pictures.

A shot of my smaller portion.
Hungry yet?  That was our delicious week of Blue Apron.  Of course, you can order more if you have a bigger family and you can opt out of fish or beef or anything else you don't care for.  We opted out of vegetarian meals as my husband is just that kind of guy who opts out of anything that doesn't include some kind of meat.  I think this service is for anyone who likes to cook but doesn't care for the planning or the shopping (that's me) or for busy people who enjoy cooking together but need some incentive!  The latter is not us as my husband leaves the cooking to me, but he is a great guy to cook for because he really appreciates a home-cooked meal and lets me know, plus he has been known to wash a dish or two. 

I have tried other subscription meal services and prefer Blue Apron for their food and restaurant quality recipes, and by they way, Blue Apron doesn't know me from Adam.  Over the past year they have given me close to a dozen free weeks to give away to introduce my friends to BA.  I have saved 3 weeks for 3 lucky winners!   

(edited 8/1, this giveaway is closed and winners have been chosen) Giveaway:  I have 3 free weeks of dinners to give away.  Each winner will receive one delivery of  3 meals for two people (6 free meals total).  If you would like to enter, please leave me a comment and include YOUR CONTACT information which is either your email address or your Ravelry ID.  This giveaway is for US residents only.  Click here to make a comment.  Good luck!  I'll come back early next week and announce the 3 winners.

 The links:


You can find the individual recipes here:




My bowls and plates are from Arte Italica.





Rowan Pure Wool Superwash DK can be purchased at your local Rowan stockist or online at
- See more at: http://knitionary.blogspot.com/2015/12/my-options-kal-is-finished-wardrobe.html#sthash.z40QzSLf.dpuf

all summer long


All summer long we're making tomato sauce.



 Start with fresh, ripe, produce.  
Jumble it all into a few roasters.
Add spices and olive oil.
The full recipe is here.

At first, it looks like this:



After roasting, which intensifies the flavor, it will look like this:


Now it goes into the food processor...


...and then through the chinois strainer...


...where all the skin and seeds are removed.  
This is one of the best parts as my recipe eliminates the time consuming
 task of removing the skins before cooking.   Yay!




No more cooking.  Now all you have to do is bottle it up...


...and it's ready for the freezer or your favorite sauce!


Take it from the granddaughter of a California commercial tomato farmer, if you've never had tomato sauce made from fresh tomatoes, you are missing a summer treat.  And it's easy.  It may be a bit time consuming, but I promise it's worth it.  I hope you'll try it!


The complete recipe.  

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Here's another summer treat:


 When making sauce I generally make this terrific appetizer at the same time:

In a flat pie plate or quiche dish, place 3-4 C cherry tomatoes,
top with 3 crushed garlic cloves and several onion slices,
squeeze in some fresh herbs such as rosemary, oregano, and basil.  
Add 1/3 C olive oil, then sprinkle with salt, pepper to taste and 1/4 tsp. dried red pepper flakes.
Bake loosely covered in foil (along with the tomatoes you're roasting for the sauce)
for about two hours on 450 F.
Everything will caramelize and melt together and be delicious.
Serve room temperature and spoon on bread or crackers.

The Roasted Tomato Sauce recipe is here

Happy summer!

 


Here's a picture of our summer garden:






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Elsie













Tiny baby-knits are so quick and rewarding to make.  I love my newest, very soft and feminine finished knit:  here's Elsie from Little Rowan Cherish by Linda Whaley, knit in Rowan Pure Wool DK.  Lace and baby girls are perfect for each other!  I loved knitting it and cannot wait to gift it to a grade school, middle, and high school chum of my son who has recently moved back to the area with his wife and new baby.  This was a very fun little bit of lace to knit and while I didn't make any real modifications, I did choose not to make the lace pattern on the back and knit plain stockinette instead. 
 

Cherish, this book is darling!
Rowan Pure Wool DK, wah, it's discontinued,
and replaced by Pure Wool Superwash DK
The button is a hand-painted vintage glass button from Etsy

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sophie june



This morning I gave this sweater to a very dear childhood friend as a present for her new granddaughter.  When I was young, my parents and her parents were part of a large group of second generation Scandinavians who grew up with my dad on the same streets of Chicago.  After WWII, they moved to the same neighborhoods in Southern California where my father met my mother and where she was adopted into this big, loud, crazy, Scandinavian bunch.  Kids were born, houses were purchased, pools were built and parties were hosted.  It seemed like every weekend someone threw a pool party and most often it had the same Tiki or Luau theme: Don Ho or Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass blasted on the Hi-Fi; Martinis and Mai Tais, Caesar Salads and Teriyaki Steaks were on the menu with hot dogs and cokes for the kiddies.

I loved all my parents friends and always thought of them as aunties and uncles.  My favorite by far was my Auntie June.  Auntie June was a big personality packed inside a tiny body; she was trim and petite with a massive blonde beehive piled on top of her pretty head.  She was a people collector; people gravitated towards Junie and if I conjure her up in my head, she is never alone, but surrounded by laughing people.  She would have us in stitches wearing her bark-cloth bikini while dancing her "scarf dance" to the striptease song.  The kids used to beg her to dance either that or her dirty boogie as she called it; gosh I cannot help but smile while writing this.  There are some people that pass through our lives that are truly unique--real originals--and Auntie June was one.  Man, I loved her.  But here's the big thing, Auntie June taught me how to sew.  Yep.  That was huge in my life.  My mom didn't sew and I was dying to learn how to use a sewing machine.  I remember a whispered exchange and next thing I knew I was invited to Auntie June's house for a few after-school sessions where she first taught me how to make Barbie clothes, then make my own clothes.  She taught me how to cut fabric using a pattern, sew a straight seam, later to make a collar and a waistband and how to fit lining into a skirt.  She also must have been the one who talked my parents into buying me my own machine when I was 12.  Bless her heart.

I hope that Sophie June, the baby who will wear this sweater and who is Junie's great-granddaughter, will be as lucky as me and grow up surrounded by plenty of adults who will laugh a lot, have wild pool parties, play loud music, and dance crazy dances.   I also hope she will  have someone to mentor her passion, whatever it is.  I know I thanked June many times before she died and know that she knew how much I valued her attention, but I'm still happy to have this blog to thank her again.

The sweater details:  I used the kid-and-mama-friendly Rowan Pure Wool Superwash DK.  The pattern is a variation of the free Fuss Free Baby Cardigan pattern.  You know how much I love owls; they totally crack me up with their serious, Beethoven-like faces so I had to squeeze a few owls into this sweater.  You know I also love Rowan Pure Wool Superwash DK, it's springy and easy to knit and easy care.  My Ravelry Project Page has all the details. 

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Thank you for popping by! xo Kristen





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midsummer garden

































Midsummer at Casa de Knitionary means the garden is in full throttle and we are in the water-weed-harvest-repeat mode.  July is the prettiest time in our garden, and while the work never ends, we enjoy it all.  The weather has been so nice; it's pretty much always nice but we never forget to be grateful for it.  We recently attended a party to honor twelve newly retired servicemen, none of whom live in California but were here taking a Stanford University course designed to integrate service men and women back into the changing work force.  The one thing they all marveled over was our beautiful weather. We are proud of our mild, sunny days, and of course immensely proud of our men and women who serve our country in the armed forces.  It was an honor to meet these terrific young men.

Garden Details

the giant tomato I'm holding is a Black Krim, beyond delicious

the sunflowers are pollenless Moulin Rouge
 
the cherry tomatoes are Sun Gold

the vegetable casserole is a summer standard around here and is my variation

I profess an undying love for pesto and make a traditional one with
the basics: basil, garlic, salt, pine nuts, parmesan, and olive oil
but I'll share my two tips for making a great pesto even better:
lightly toast the pine nuts and at the end add the juice of half a lemon;
toasting the pine nuts gives a fuller flavor, and the hint of lemon gives a fresh finish--
or for a variation add a few mint leaves for a hint of mint,
or some nasturtium leaves for a peppery kick
here's my recipe


I've never been crazy about melon so I wrap prosciutto
around fresh summer stone fruit--this summer try a plum or a peach!

most requested quickie summer dinner
is tuna salad on tomato slices

summery stuffed bell peppers 

for the best crunchy/salty summer snack
shake a tablespoon of soy sauce into a cup,
add small cucumbers quartered lengthwise
~you're welcome~

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"If I ever go looking for my heart's
desire again, I won't look any
further than my own back yard..."
--Dorothy, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz"




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