Tie On Your Blue Apron – Review & Giveaway!

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As much as we cook around here, there’s lots of days we get stuck in a food rut. Limited time and hungry children means cooking old standbys because they’re fast and easy. But the flip side is that meals can get BORING, at least that was my kid’s opinion of dinner the other night. Which is why I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review Blue Apron this week, a home delivery service that allows you to create delicious chef-designed recipes without leaving the house.

What is Blue Apron all about?

Blue Apron is not just a food delivery service, it goes way beyond that. Each week Blue Apron sends three meals for two, four, or six people based on your protein choices. Fresh, high-quality ingredients along with amazing recipes are delivered right to your door. No trips to the grocery store! And since the ingredients come in exactly the right proportions, there’s no waste from unused portions. All shipments are delivered in a refrigerated box so you don’t even have to be home when it arrives.

Getting Started

Signing up for Blue Apron is easy – all you have to do is fill out your shipping address and pick your choice of proteins. That’s it! So easy a child can do it. And since, at the age of seven, my child knows his way around the computer better than I do he checked off the boxes. We opted for the pictures of a cow, chicken, pig, and fish.

Then we marked the calendar and waited for our box to arrive. Not knowing what was coming was part of the fun – it was like ordering a tasting menu at a restaurant – except the cooking would be done by me in my own kitchen.

The Box Arrives

I’ve never seen children excited about unpacking groceries, but when our Blue Apron delivery arrived it was like Christmas morning. And give a kid some packing foam and they might just leave you alone long enough to cook dinner! Everything in the box was clearly labeled and accompanied by three beautiful recipe cards with step by step directions to make each dish.

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The three dishes included in our box were:

  • Seared Pork Medallions – with Rhubarb Chutney & Sauteed Freekeh
  • Maple & Ginger Glazed Salmon – with Watercress, Orange & Parsnip Salad
  • Lemon-Parsley Chicken Thighs – with Squash & Zucchini Salad & Red Quinoa

These recipes might not fit the standard definition of “kid-friendly” BUT there were parts of each of these meals that my kids loved. And I loved that there were ingredients that I had never cooked with or heard of (can you say Freekeh?) So although not everything got rave reviews I learned a lot just from one shipment and definitely broke out of my food rut!

The Finished Product

In the end our plates looked almost identical to the recipe cards. For each meal I set aside a portion of vegetables to make the side dishes a little more appealing to the boys. I knew that the watercress salad was probably a lost cause… But with a few adjustments all three meals went remarkably smoothly.

Seared Pork Medallions

Seared Pork Medallions

Kid-friendly twist: Make tiny pork sliders with rhubarb spread, grill asparagus

And the VERDICT is:

Matthew: “Pork was good but don’t like that brown stuff”

Liam: “No, to that sauce”

Dylan: “I tried it and thought I would like it but I didn’t like it”

Maple & Ginger Glazed Salmon

Maple & Ginger Glazed Salmon

Kid-friendly twist: Scallion-free orange dressing over orange and parsnip

And the VERDICT is:

Matthew: “Can I eat the salmon after you take the picture?”

Liam: “Too much yucky sauce on salmon”

Dylan: “Salmon is great”

Lemon-Parsley Chicken

Lemon-Parsley Chicken

Kid-friendly twist: Roasted zucchini and squash, topped w/pine nuts

And the VERDICT is:

Matthew: “More chicken!”

Liam: “It’s good with a bone”

Dylan: “No green please”

Who is this service good for?

At first glance this might not seem like a good fit for families with small children. But it’s actually a perfect way to introduce new ingredients and flavors. And since all the recipe components are pre-portioned, you don’t have to invest in a whole bottle of an ingredient you might only use once. The easy to follow recipe card instructions are so clear anyone can cook these dishes. But they’re also complex enough to appeal to someone who knows their way around the kitchen. I would highly recommend this plan to anyone looking to spice up their home cooking but wants to let someone else do the legwork and planning for them!

Special House of Bedlam giveaway!

My first 50 readers get 30% off their first Blue Apron Box- redeem here:  https://www.blueapron.com/houseofbedlam

Disclaimer: I was not financially compensated for this post. I did receive complimentary products to sample.

 

 

 

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Fairway Market – Review of the New Latin Table Line

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It’s no secret that Fairway Market is one of our favorite stores; we mention it often here at House of Bedlam. So when I got an email asking if I would be interested in reviewing their new product line, Latin Table, I was thrilled to do it. 

What is the Latin Table Line?

The Latin Table Line consists of tamalas and empanadas, available in the deli pack-out section. Precooked, fresh food, that only needs to be reheated and are ready to serve. Available in the following flavors:

Tamales: beef, chicken and black bean

Tamales

Empanadas: Argentine-spiced beef, chicken and spinach-Portobello mushroom

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When I got to the store to pick up the food samples, the manager mentioned that the line had literally just hit the shelves that day. In fact he hadn’t even had a chance to see it yet. When we got to the section, the empanadas were already almost sold out. As we were in for a major snowstorm that night, I took the one flavor left (Argentine-beef). Although I was disappointed about missing out on the spinach-Portobello mushroom, I had a feeling my little crew wouldn’t mind since it had spinach in it.

Both the empanadas and tamales are packed in a convenient portable container, which includes two sauces, a chipotle dip and an avocado-tomatillo sauce. The empanadas, priced at 4.99, are medium size, and come two to a package. The tamales, priced at 3.99, come four to a package but are smaller. Each would be a perfect amount for lunch or dinner, with a side of veggies.

What are they made of?

I was very happy to see the ingredient lists on both the tamale and empanada were all-natural and free of any preservatives. If you would rather not serve your kids processed foods these are a great option for a quick easy dinner. Plus, the overall price was less than we would typically spend on take-out for our family of five.

Are they hard to cook?

The cooking instructions on the tamales were easy and fairly straightforward. They can either be micro-waved or steamed. We did both and if you have the time I would recommend steaming them. I don’t have a steamer so I just put them in a saucepan with a few tablespoons of water and covered them. The microwave dried them out a tiny bit but it was a lot easier and meant no pan to clean. Always a positive in my book.

The package of empanadas did not list any cooking instructions. I chose to microwave them but regretted the decision as it made them soggy. I would definitely recommend popping them in the oven on a baking sheet to reheat them.

Overall, both items are super-easy to reheat and serve.

The Tasting

The kids were very excited about tasting these. They’ve had empanadas before but tamales were new for them. Of the three tamale flavors the beef and chicken were their favorites. I thought the bean was delicious but they did not agree. As for the empanada, the Argentine-spiced beef was a huge hit.

The spice level was pretty mild on both the tamale and empanada but the sauces made up for it. Before I could stop him, Matthew took a huge taste of the chipotle dip. Much to the amusement of his brothers, this caused him to jump up from his chair and run from the room. Even I had trouble with this one but Brian didn’t even flinch. I much preferred the avocado-tomatillo dip which was spicy but in a good way. After Matthew had fled the room it was a losing battle to convince the younger boys to try either one of the dips.

Next time I would serve separate dipping sauces for the kids, probably a mild salsa and some sort of creamy avocado dip.

And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 6): “The empanada is the best” “ I don’t like the seaweed on the tamale”

Liam (age 4): “Too spicy, no thank you”

Dylan (age 4): “This looks good! Chicken best, not eating the bean, too yucky”

It might seem obvious but if your child has never had a tamale, it is best to remove the corn husk for them! How was I to know they would actually try to eat it?

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Would we buy these in the future?

Absolutely. Based on my children’s verdicts I would stick with the chicken and beef varieties. But for Brian and myself I would purchase all flavors. I would also buy these to serve at a dinner party as a fun appetizer. And the empanadas are the perfect size to pop in a lunchbox. Since they are precooked, it would be fine to eat at room temperature in a lunchroom setting. Anytime I can find something for my kid’s lunchbox that is quick and healthy, I am sold!

Disclaimer: I was not financially compensated for this post. I did receive complimentary products to sample.

Life’s Questions

In this country, football is as much a part of Thanksgiving as is the turkey. Since I always cared more about eating than playing sports, the televised games were always background noise to me. It was something that the “guys” would watch while my sister and I hung out with the ladies sneaking tastes of all the delicious food in the kitchen.

I didn’t realize that watching Thanksgiving Day football was so deeply rooted in our culture until my kids learned about this tradition at school. Having three boys I decided I should brush up on this phenomenon so I could answer the inevitable question; “Why do we watch football on Thanksgiving?” I am sure it will be right up there in importance to them as “Is there a God”? “Is there really a Tooth fairy” “Where do babies come from”- so I thought I should be prepared.

I was surprised to learn that the tradition of playing football on Thanksgiving dates back to the 1800’s. The first Thanksgiving Day game was played in Philadelphia in 1869 and the tradition has continued yearly to this day. And the football is not limited to the TV. Apparently, there is modern day tradition called the “Turkey Day Bowl” which is played by families and friends on their own lawns. I know Brian can’t wait to get our little football team on the field and partake in this ritual. He has been coaching the boys for months now and they can definitely catch a football better than I can. Although that is not saying too much…

And another one of life’s questions: “Why do people like to eat chicken wings when they watch football?” I did some preliminary research into this but was unable to come up with much on that one.

Parmesan Chicken

– This recipe works great for wings or drumsticks, whichever is your family’s preference.

Ingredients:

2-3 lbs chicken drumsticks (about 10 pcs.)

Salt & pepper

1-cup flour

2 eggs, plus a few Tbsp water

2 cups seasoned panko breadcrumbs

1 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

Method:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare a baking sheet with foil and a baking rack. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Set-up breading station: Place flour in a shallow dish. In a second dish, whisk the eggs with a few tablespoons of water. In a third dish, combine the breadcrumbs, grated cheese, and the garlic.

Coat the chicken in the flour, shaking off any excess. Next dip in the egg.

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And lastly, place in the breadcrumb mixture. Press the crumbs firmly to the chicken and place on baking rack.

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Bake for approximately 30-45 minutes until crispy and chicken is cooked through. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

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And the VERDICT is:

Mattthew (age 6): “The breadcrumbs ruin the taste of the chicken – not a big fan”

Liam (age 4): “I like the breadcrumbs and the chicken A LOT”

Dylan (age 4): “The breadcrumbs are good but I don’t like the chicken”

Not a touchdown with this one, although there were only 2 pieces left after dinner!

Fresh Herbs

Our local farmers market was bustling with people last week. Everyone seemed to be out enjoying the first days of cool Fall weather. All the vendors had long lines but I didn’t want to leave empty handed so we stopped at a vegetable stand that was offering some fruits to sample. Just the thing I needed to occupy the boys while I picked up a few things and waited in line to pay.

You know how at the supermarket register there are displays of impulse items designed to prompt a last minute purchase? Well, this particular vendor had a similar set-up, although instead of packs of gum, there were little bundles of fresh herbs. While waiting we played a game of smelling the herbs to see who could guess what the different kinds were. Of course the boys didn’t get any right but it occupied them long enough to reach the end of the line.

When our turn came, I had them choose their favorite smelling herb and it was unanimous, they all loved the rosemary. Liam said it smelled like a holiday, which immediately sold me, so I added a few sprigs to our order.

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Here is a dish that I think would be perfect for any holiday – it was fast, easy, and the perfect accompaniment to the fish appetizer I cooked last week. All I had to do was put it in the oven and let it do its thing. This left me plenty of time to gut the fish we had caught that day. See my post from last week on the How To’s of gutting a fish.

Rosemary Chicken w/Roasted Veggies 

Ingredients:

2 russet potatoes, cut into 1/2” cubes

1 cup carrots, diced

1 onion, diced

2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped, divided

1 Tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped, divided

1 Tbsp garlic salt, divided

1/2 Tbsp salt, divided

1/2 Tbsp black pepper, divided

6 Tbsp olive oil, divided

8-12 pieces of chicken, legs & thighs, bone-in, skin-on

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking with parchment paper and set aside.

Peel and dice the potatoes and place them in a bowl of cold water. Dice the carrots and the onion and place in a large mixing bowl. Drain and rinse the potatoes and then pat dry. Add the potatoes to the onion and carrots. Add half of the rosemary, thyme, garlic salt, salt, pepper, and olive oil to the chopped vegetables and mix well. Spread the vegetables on the baking sheet in a single layer.

IMG_6183 In the same large mixing bowl, add the chicken and combine with remaining half of the spices and olive oil. Mix well to coat. Nestle the chicken among the vegetables and place in the oven.

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Roast for approximately 60 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and the skin crispy, and vegetables are caramelized.

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Note 1: Soaking the potatoes in cold water will draw out the starch and help them crisp while roasting.

Note 2: I would recommend only using dark meat for this recipe so the meat doesn’t dry out while the vegetables caramelize.

And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 6): “Chicken bones, my favorite!”

Liam (age 4): “Is this too healthy?”

Dylan (age 4): “I got the foot!”

The only change I would make to this recipe is to add more carrots. Otherwise, a very successful dish.

Back to School

It’s almost time to start packing up those lunch-boxes. Wow, the summer goes fast…

Looking for some inspiration for school lunches?

See our latest post on Kidville Voices! from the Ville – Strategic Lunch Makeover

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