Review: Blue Apron

When I was working at Google last year, the commute could easily become 1.5-2 hours each way on a bus. So I’d end up leaving on a 6:40am bus, coming home around 6-7pm, even 8pm at times. So naturally, Brian and I ended up eating out a ton. The price and calories start to add up, and you have no control over the ingredients going into your body.

I have a few recipes that I do well, and I sort of just rotate them without experimenting much. When I try something new, I usually do a cost/time analysis. I ask myself How much time and money will it require to make, and will the finished product taste better and be more convenient than if I were to order it out? For example, I love Pad See Ew with crispy tofu, but we live walking distance to at least 5 Thai restaurants, where the meal for two is around $20. Therefore, this is not something I make at home. Does that make sense?

A dear friend recommended Blue Apron, and I figured it was worth a shot. I like the concept: A box arrives one day per week (we picked Wednesday) with the ingredients to make three meals during the week. Everything from a pinch of oregano (which we actually don’t even have stocked) to a couple of cage-free eggs or a cup of organic milk. It arrives in the cutest containers, with color-coded stickers for each of the three meals.

The meals for our week were:

Review Blue Apron_recipes

What I love about Blue Apron is the creativity of the meals. Each recipe has a beautiful card with a picture of the dish on the front (and the ingredients you need) and step-by-step instructions with photos of how to make the meal on the back.

The price for two people to make three meals per week is $60, which ends up costing roughly $20/meal (or $10/serving). This is about what we’d spend out on a quick week night meal out, so I’d say it’s a pretty fair price. The serving sizes are on the larger side, and we were satisfied after each meal.

The pros: 

  • Creative meals that I wouldn’t have thought of myself (they have a culinary team & renowned guest chefs working on recipes)
  • Having the exact amount of ingredients for each meal
  • Knowing exactly what’s going into your body
  • Each serving is between 500-800 calories
  • Spending time cooking with your significant other

The Cons:

  • Weekly choices aren’t always the best (especially if you don’t eat meat)
  • Lots of waste (cardboard box, ice packs, excess packaging)
  • Took us a little longer than the instructions suggested (1 hour or more for each meal)
  • The mountain of dishes to do afterwards

Do I continue to use Blue Apron? When the recipes for the week are outstanding, you bet! If I could order one or two recipes per week, I’d probably do it more often, but three per week is a lot for us. Now that I’m not enjoying the Google perks of breakfast, lunch, and snacks anymore, I’m not able to skip the grocery store completely. So in that respect it just makes sense to plan our own meals.

However, if you’re looking for the perfect housewarming or back to school gift, I’d highly recommend gifting a week of these meals. It’s great if you love to cook or for a fun date/girls night.

If you have any experience with Blue Apron or any other meal service, I’d love to hear about your experience. Any others I should try?

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Creamy Mushroom Stroganoff

I decided at a young age that I would no longer eat meat. I was grossed out at the thought of chewing on an animal, and as an avid equestrian, cows were just too similar to horses.

At first, my dad told me that I could eat what the family was having, or not eat at all. I ate just the potatoes or only green beans for a few days before my mother realized that I was serious about not eating meat. She was very accommodating over the years though, and experimented with a lot of meat dishes to make them into some vegetarian version. One of my favorite dishes is this incredible creamy mushroom stroganoff my mom developed just for me.

Having just come home to California from a busy week long East Coast visit (with just one meal at my parent’s house), I was missing my mom and craving her creamy mushroom stroganoff. Though it was already 7pm PST, so I knew I couldn’t call and get directions from my mom because it was 10pm EST. Instead I tried to remember how she makes hers, developing my own recipe.

Creamy Mushroom Stroganoff3

Ingredients (serves 4): 

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 shallots, very thinly sliced
  • 1 bag of egg noodles
  • 1.5 pounds of mushrooms (I use Baby Bellas, but any kind works), thinly sliced
  • 2 cups broth (can use veggie, but I recommend beef flavored broth for best taste)
  • 1 TBS all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parsley (optional garnish)

Directions: 

  1. Boil a pot of water and cook egg noodles according to the directions on the package.
  2. Melt butter in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and sauté until lightly golden, 5 or so minutes.
  3. Add the thinly sliced mushrooms and cook until they have softened and released most of their liquid, about 5 or so minutes.
  4. Sprinkle in the flour, and once you’ve stirred it all in you can start slowly pouring in the broth.
  5. Remove from the heat, and stir in the sour cream and use salt/pepper to taste.
  6. Toss to combine the pasta and the sauce. Serve in bowls (with an optional parsley garnish), and enjoy!

Easy Garlic Angel Hair Pasta

Sometimes my boyfriend and I fall into the groove of eating out every night. Instead of taking the time to cook at home, we might end up eating a greek yogurt or even skipping dinner entirely out of laziness.

Courtney is the queen of throwing together simple ingredients to make a dinner for two, and often the person I call when I can’t seem to find the inspiration to cook. I’m sharing her easy garlic angel hair pasta that takes less than 20 minutes to make.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 cloves of fresh garlic (or about 2 and 1/2 teaspoons of minced from a jar)
  • 2 tablespoons of Italian style bread crumbs (or if you’re feeling adventurous, you can make your own)
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh kale
  • Angel hair pasta (The kind with added protein preferably)
  • Parmesan cheese (to taste)
  • Cracked pepper (to taste)

Step 1: Fill a pot with water and a touch of salt, and heat it to a boil.
Step 2: Pour yourself a glass of wine. Add olive oil to a skillet, and start to mince garlic cloves. Add garlic cloves to olive oil, and heat on medium, stirring every minute or so.
Step 3: Wash, massage (it’s as silly as it sounds, but you’re supposed to do this), and chop kale, removing and discarding the stems. Add angel hair pasta to the boiling water, and it should take about 6 minutes to cook. When it has about 2 minutes left, take 1/4 cup of the pasta water and set it aside.
Step 4: Add the breadcrumbs to the skillet and stir them in well. Next add the kale, and the 1/4 cup pasta water and stir for about 5 minutes.
Step 5: Add angel hair pasta to skillet, and stir everything together well. Serve in bowl, and garnish with a few breadcrumbs, some cracked pepper, and parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

I hope you enjoyed Courtney’s easy garlic angel hair pasta recipe! What’s your favorite quick meal to make?

Cherry Tomato Bowtie Pasta

I was going through the produce section at the grocery store last night trying to decide what to make, and was inspired by the cherry tomatoes. They had almost a dozen different sizes and colors, and they all looked ripe and delicious.

I wanted to cook something really simple, but still tasty. Brian and I are currently Netflix binging on Orange is the New Black (almost caught up to the new season), so I didn’t want to make anything too labor intensive (aside from the prep, as mincing garlic can be a pain). This was done in about an hour, and the best part is that I only had to get up sporadically to stir while it was cooking.

Ingredients:

  • Around 1 cup Extra virgin olive oil
  • 8+ cloves of fresh garlic (or about 4 teaspoons of minced from a jar)
  • 1 container of cherry/grape tomatoes
  • a few leaves of fresh basil
  • Bow tie pasta
  • Fresh mozzarella balls (1 container, can cut them in half if desired)
  • Cracked pepper (to taste)
  • A sprinkle (less than a teaspoon)
  • Optional: Italian sausage (if you/your partner eat meat)

Tips: If you or anyone eating this dish eat meat, you can add an Italian sausage. Simply   cut it up into 1″ slices and pan fry it on the side. I don’t eat meat, but Brian does, so sometimes I’ll do this for him.

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Step 1: Fill a pot with water and a touch of salt, and heat it to a boil. Add pasta when water is at a rolling boil, and once it’s finished boiling (check the box for al dente time), drain and put to the side.
Step 2: Pour yourself a glass of wine. Add olive oil to a 12″ pan, and start to mince garlic cloves. Add garlic cloves to olive oil, and heat on medium, stirring every minute or so.
Step 3: Once garlic is starting to brown, turn the heat to low-medium and stir in the cherry tomatoes and 3/4 of the basil. You’re going to keep stirring these tomatoes every 10-15 minutes until they’re soft and literally bursting from the slow heat. If they’re not all bursting when you get to the hour mark, you can press lightly with your spatula and it will have the same effect.
Step 4: Sprinkle less than a teaspoon of sugar into the pan and stir. This is to help cut the acidity of the tomatoes.
Step 5: Add bow tie pasta to pan, and stir everything together well. Serve in bowl, and garnish with fresh basil, some cracked pepper, and several mozzarella balls. Enjoy!