A Blue Apron Review & Recipe

Back in July, after Ivor’s accident and our miscarriage, we had a mealtrain account set up for us for about a month. So for a month I didn’t have to worry about meal planning, cooking or the usual amount of dishes to clean up in the kitchen afterward. It was wonderful.  But at some point, the mealtrain ended and we still quite weren’t ready for things to go back to normal. Cue all the wonderful convenient silicon valley services (though I realize not all of them are exclusive to this area). Instacart. Door Dash. Google Express. Molly Maid. Freshly. Blue Apron. All things I could arrange from home, quickly on the computer, and have delivered to my door…I was all over it. As a mom, I love that sort of thing anyway, but we became pretty reliant on it during this rough recovery period, when all I had the energy and brain-capacity to manage was caring for my husband and kids. Food? No. Cleaning? No. Shopping? No. It was survival mode over here. I could write (and likely will) reviews for all of the services I just mentioned, but this post in particular is all about Blue Apron.

What is Blue Apron?

Blue Apron is a meal delivery service that sends you all the ingredients necessary to cook a specific meal, which is already planned and “perfectly” portioned to the serving size. I put “perfectly” in quotations because we thought it was a bit off once or twice (more on that later). You choose either the 2-person or 4-person (family) plan, for either 2 meals/week or 4/week. You can skip deliveries at any time and schedule them for whenever is convenient for you. We chose the 4-person/4 meals per week plan ($8.74 per serving).

Here’s a great overview video you can watch and then I’ll get into my review of the service and an example recipe for you:

DSC_2627 copy   DSC_2632 copy

*NOTE: it figures that the box I decided to use for this post got a little beat-up in transit. That is not the norm, and all the ingredients were totally fine. Moving on.

My review in a nutshell is this: This service is great for someone who actually likes to cook and spend time in the kitchen, but might just be stuck in a meal-planning rut or doesn’t have time to shop. I heard some negative reviews complaining that the prep time is just too long, so that’s something you should take into consideration before trying it out. It’s not a fast-food delivery service. It’s basically someone planning a meal for you, shopping for all the ingredients for you and then dropping it off at your house with instructions on how to cook it. It helps if you already have some culinary chops. I am blessed to have a husband with said chops. The prep time for him was usually less than they estimated. For the average home-chef, like me, I’d say the prep time was fairly accurate (only longer if I got distracted by my kiddos).

PROS: We enjoyed the variety of meals we received and thought the majority of them were really delicious (just a few duds that were kind of “meh”). Serving size was *mostly* accurate. There were a few times that the side salad was definitely not enough for 4 people, at least not in my opinion. But since we weren’t giving our 2 toddlers the salad anyway, it wasn’t much of an issue. For me, it made me enjoy the cooking process more and improve my skills. I loved having everything already portioned for me, in neat little baggies or containers, etc. with step-by-step instructions and photos. They even have a few “how-to” videos if you need to work on some of your culinary skills. Not having to meal-plan was also a huge bonus for me. I can browse recipes online all day and not see a single thing that looks good or that I want to spend the time to cook. With Blue Apron, I didn’t even have to think about it. And it might just be because someone else came up with it and it was being delivered to my house, but all their recipes sounded dang good to me!

CONS: Our only negative is specific to us and our lifestyle. Some of the ingredients are not things we usually buy (i.e. white rice, white pasta, white flour, white sugar, etc.) We do brown rice, whole wheat pasta/flour, sweet potatoes only (not white) ..and rarely, if ever, do we eat corn (and we got A LOT of corn in our Blue Apron meals for awhile).  Granted, this service can’t cater to everyone in that way and some of you are probably rolling your eyes at me right now (“ugh, one of those health food snobs”). Yes, we try to eat healthy, is that so wrong? 😛 We still ate it and enjoyed it, but for the most part, in our kitchen, we don’t do processed. Not a “deal breaker” between us and Blue Apron, but not something we want to do on a regular basis, that’s all. We’re currently “on a break” with them right now but still use some of their recipes, and make substitutions when we can. For example, we made their Shepherd’s pie recipe with sweet potatoes instead of regular (yes, we broke tradition). But it was delicious and I felt better about the overall nutritional value of the meal.

Ok, so here’s a quick photo-sample of one of the recipes: Stuffed shells! Since the recipe is in that link and pictured below, I’m not going to write it all out. You can just enjoy the photos to see what making a Blue Apron recipe looks like in real life 🙂

DSC_2641 copy DSC_2645 copy

DSC_2638 copy

DSC_2662 copy

DSC_2692 copy

DSC_2663 copy

DSC_2677 copy

DSC_2693 copy

DSC_2672 copy

DSC_2695 copy

DSC_2698 copy

DSC_2701 copy

If Blue Apron sounds like something that might work for you and your family, please let me know, because I have 5 free meals to give away (meaning 1 free meal for 5 different people)! First come, first served 🙂 *UPDATE*- all free meals have been claimed. I will post again in the future if I receive more!

NOTE: This post contains referral links.

Overnight Oats

DSC_1880

I don’t like to cook breakfast in the morning. I’ll prepare something for Gwen of course, but nothing that requires actual cooking (I leave that to my husband on weekends). In the morning, all I want to do is sit down and drink coffee. So I must do whatever is necessary to make that happen as quickly as possible. So our breakfasts usually include greek yogurt and fruit. Maybe some toast. Fast, easy, no cooking involved and no dirty dishes. Clarification: no MORE dirty dishes to add to the current pile (other than the bowl that the yogurt goes in, of course).

But here’s another breakfast idea I’m a HUGE fan of. Because I’m obsessed with oatmeal. Overnight oats. Before you go to bed at night, get a container of some sort (we use a big glass bowl usually). Add equal parts old fashioned rolled oats and milk to said container, put in the fridge. And then you have breakfast ready and waiting for you the next morning. You can add anything to it that your heart desires. We usually just do a little maple syrup to sweeten it and cinnamon (we add that right away at night). I’d wait until morning to add any fruit. I added blueberries this morning for Gwen because she loves them and asks for them all the time. My husband likes to add chia seeds but I’m not a fan of the jelly-like texture it creates. You can heat it up if you want, or serve it cold, which is what we usually do. You can do the same thing with steel cut oats, but it will be a little more chewy.

So, equal parts oats and milk (we usually do 2 cups of each), sweeten and “spice” to taste. Enjoy!

 

Drop The Beet- Coming Soon!

So because we don’t have enough going on (!) we’re going to start a food blog/vlog soon. We’ve always talked about doing it, and now people are bugging us to do it, so we shall try 🙂 While we’re waiting for it to get fully up and running, here’s a preview of things to come:

Some of these are entrees and some are just sides. We’ll post recipes for each of them soon. And hopefully in the future you’ll see videos too!

Salsa Fresca:

DSC_0957 copy

The ingredients for salsa fresca are staples in our kitchen at this point. Once you’ve had it, you’ll never go back to store bought jarred salsa (ick).

 

French Toast:

DSC_0916 copy

The key to great french toast is thick, crusty bread. Bacon and strawberries are added bonuses!

 

Sauteed Bell Pepper and Zucchini :

DSC_0960 copy

Love sauteed fresh vegetables. We almost always have bell peppers on hand- makes a great, quick side dish for almost any entree. You can throw them in salsa fresca, or eat them raw with a good dip

 

Stuffed Acorn Squash:

DSC_0749 copy

This was such a great fall/winter dish. Savory, comforting and satisfying. We used Alton Brown’s recipe as a guideline but switched up the protein.

 

Spaghetti Squash w/Tomato Sauce:

DSC_0082 - Copy copy

Another great squash dish! Here the squash replaces regular pasta, with a fresh tomato sauce and shaved Parmesan.

 

A Chocolate Taco w/Bananas (my special after dinner treat the other night!):

DSC_0759 copy

My husband knows that almost every night, after dinner, I want chocolate. So he looked to see what we had in the kitchen and came up with this. A tortilla, bananas, chocolate chips, and rum: a chocolate taco is born.

 

And my other favorite thing to snack on, Cheese, Crackers and Fruit (there won’t be a “recipe” for this obviously, just wanted to share a nice healthy snack after that chocolate taco):

DSC_0982 copy

 

Ok, now the ball is in my husband’s court. I took and posted the photos (and enjoyed all the food). Now it’s his turn to get you the recipes!

Vacation Recap!

Our vacation week is (almost) over. It was partly a staycation to work on house projects and partly day trips. What family chooses to work on house projects during their time off?! We do 🙂 Keeping up with dishes and laundry is difficult enough for me with 2 kids. Decluttering and organizing is just impossible on my own (there’s never enough uninterrupted time!) So we took advantage of having Ivor home to get stuff done. And it actually made us happy. Seriously. I feel less anxious in a decluttered house. Toys are one thing, but our own clutter is just unacceptable and really does give me anxiety. Anyway, that said…we made a lot of progress downstairs. We still have to tackle our bedroom and closets, then we’ll be set. Oh, and the garage…but since that’s not a living space I don’t mind as much.

Anyway, moving on to the fun stuff!

We spent a day/night in Napa and tried out 2 new wineries. We ate at The Farmstead Restaurant because they have my favorite burger in the entire world. It’s a “farm to table” place, so every part of the burger is fresh. Homemade buns, fresh arugula, grassfed beef cooked and seasoned perfectly, white cheddar cheese, homemade mustard and ketchup. Basically, it’s the best thing ever. Gwen is also apparently a fan of the restaurant. Well, she’s a fan of food in general. So she was very good and kept asking for “mo”.

Then we tried out the wineries: Conn Creek and Alpha/Omega. The kids started getting a little antsy during the 2nd winery visit, understandably. So we left, checked into the hotel, and headed back out for dinner in downtown Napa at a place called Grace’s Table. Another fantastic restaurant. Really great food, and they were very welcoming of our 2 munchkins. Gwen had figured out by this point that the server is the one bringing the food (not mommy or daddy), so she started asking her (our server) for “mo please” (using both sign language and her own language). It was hilarious. Little Ivor had been sleeping most of the time but woke up and started screaming just in time to order dessert to-go!

I was really worried about staying in a hotel with a baby who hasn’t been sleeping through the night, but he surprised us and slept straight through, from about 9pm to 7am (whew!…I don’t *think* anyone complained about us). Although we were on the 3rd floor and whoever was below us might’ve complained about my toddler sprinting back and forth across the room at 7am. Sorry, 2nd floor dwellers! She’s hard to contain. Also, it was the first time we ever shared a bed with Gwen. Amazing how a tiny human can make a King sized bed feel like a twin….

We headed home Tuesday morning, worked on more cleaning and then went for a family run later in the afternoon. Running Update: my pace is picking up and I met my 3 mile goal! I think I would’ve been able to hang a bit longer if I didn’t start off so fast…need to work on pacing myself a bit more.

I digress.

Wednesday was our trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Ivor and I had visited there a few years ago, before we had any kids. It wasn’t as fun then. We got there just in time for the Open Sea feeding. Gwen said “wow” at first, but then seemed to get grumpy/scared (it was kind of dark in there). But after diaper changes we moved on to some other exhibits and she really started enjoying herself. A lot. Her “wow”‘s got a lot more frequent and a lot more enthusiastic. She ran all around, bouncing from one exhibit to the next. Little Ivor thought the open sea feeding was pretty cool too. After a quick stop for lunch we headed home because they were both tired and cranky (slept the whole way home!)

Later that day we checked out the pumpkin patch right around the corner from us. They had hay tunnels, farm animals, a little train for kids to ride, and of course, pumpkins. Gwen was only interested in running around and watching the train. She didn’t care to see the animals (which was surprising), and she just viewed the pumpkins as running obstacles. But she had fun 🙂

The last part of the week was set aside for relaxing at home and getting projects done. And unfortunately, we got sick 🙁 Gwen was first, then me, now little Ivor. We all have annoying colds. Boo. But we’re thankful Daddy is home and taking good care of us.

Another huge bonus to having Ivor home this week was all the wonderful meals he made us. I took a lot of pictures and will post them with recipes eventually. Keep an eye out for those.

Overall, it was a great week with lots of sweet moments with the kids, amazing food, and house productivity. We so needed that time together. I wish it could last longer, but now we’re looking forward to Ivor taking the rest of his paternity leave in a few months. I’m already making plans!

1609758_637387025832_2268333228962716808_n 10395827_637387275332_435591847504736092_n

Stuffed Poblano Peppers

I saw this made on an episode of “Chopped” recently and told Ivor that he needed to make it for me. Aaron Sanchez, one of the judges, said it was “as good as mama makes it”. Now that is a huge compliment coming from a Mexican food authority. Anyway, I’m not sure how it happened, but I’ve become a big fan of peppers recently. Typical stuffed bell peppers though, for some reason, don’t appeal to me. But the stuffed poblano pepper I saw on “Chopped” made my mouth water and I decided I needed to have it. And so, Ivor made it.

stuffed poblano

Right??

You know you want that pepper.

In our version we used Spanish Chorizo (sausage), brown rice, bell peppers, serrano chiles, and onion for the filling. You may see melted monterey jack or cheddar cheese used on a lot of stuffed poblanos, but we decided to go with a more authentic Mexican cheese, Cotija. Cotija is crumbly like Feta and it doesn’t really melt. It just adds a really nice texture to the dish, and of course, amazing flavor.

This is right up there in my “top favorite dishes that Ivor has made”. The flavors were sooooo good. It had a nice kick to it (I used to hate spicy food, now I love it). And if you need one more reason to try this yourself:

gwen eating peppers

That’s my daughter, a 17-month old toddler, eating the filling (which had peppers in it) like it’s nothing. The girl knows good food when she sees it.

Let me know if you want the recipe. It was really simple and fairly quick to make- everyone’s favorite kind of meal, right? But also very tasty.

 

“Food is essential to life, therefore, make it good.”

– S. Truett Cathy (founder of Chic-Fil-A, RIP)

 

“The best meal isn’t about the food, it’s about the people you share it with…hospitality is the best sauce.”

-Alton Brown (the man)

 

So go make this delicious stuffed pepper and share it with someone you love 🙂

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

It’s important to note that when we cook, and particularly with this meal, we do so to make leftovers.  We then use those leftovers in other ways.  It’s a way for us to be money and time efficient but not get bored with the food we eat.  With this dish, we had a lot of left over filling; and 1 full leftover stuffed poblano.  I ate the stuffed poblano, itself, for lunch the next day; Ivor ate some of the filling with tortilla chips after his gig on Saturday night, then made breakfast burritos with the rest of it on Sunday.

Ingredients:

*Preheat your oven to 400*

2-6 Poblano Peppers (it’s enough stuffing to fill 6)
1 cup Brown rice
1 pound Spanish Chorizo (or Andouille sausage)
1/2 of a yellow Onion (finely chopped)
Serrano Chiles (Jalapeno or Habanero will work too) – as many or as few as you want, depending on your preferred spice level (finely chopped)
1 red, and 1 green bell pepper (roughly chopped – dime sized pieces are ok)
1 anaheim pepper (roughly chopped, like the bell peppers)
Cotija Cheese  (or Queso Fresco)

(is your oven preheated to 400?)

1. Start making the rice if you haven’t already done so. You can make the rice ahead of time; far ahead of time if you want.  One of the things we do is that I’ll make the rice during one of Gwen’s naps.  That way it’s ready for Ivor when he gets home from work.

2. If the sausage isn’t ground, you’ll want to dice it up pretty small.  It doesn’t need to be pretty; but you don’t want big chunks.

3. Place whole poblanos on a baking sheet and put them in the oven for 10 mins. While they’re in the oven, start frying the sausage in a frying pan. Let it brown, it should take about 10 minutes.  The key here is to render out some of the fat and get the meat to start browning.  This is your only chance to add any real texture to the dish unless you’re going to use raw peppers.

4. After 10 minutes, take the poblanos out of the oven and let them cool a bit.  You’ll need to handle and cut them, but they’re going to go back in the oven later, so I’d just let them sit on the tray, out of the heat.

5. Add onions, chiles, anaheim and bell peppers to the pan (with the sausage), and cook until they are soft; then add the rice.  Stir to incorporate.  You can use as much or as little of the rice as you want.  We use most of the rice; but leave enough for a serving to eat with leftovers later.

6. Once the filling is finished, slice the tops off of the poblanos, and slice down one of the sides, to open it up.  Remove the seeds and membranes with a spoon; then stuff them with the filling.  Break off some cotija and sprinkle on top.  Put them back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

Enjoy!

If you’ve made it extra spicy, serve with a glass of milk 🙂

*Note: if you have a gas stove  you can put a nice char on the poblanos first, before stuffing, for extra flavor and texture!

Your Body is a Temple

So we should care what goes into it.

Yesterday I saw this video on facebook:

I thought it was pretty poignant and powerful. It’s not saying that if you give your kids the occasional “treat” of french fries that they’re going to die in their 30’s from heart failure. The point the video is making is that even the earliest established eating habits (note: HABITS- repeated behaviors) can affect you into adulthood. So it’s important to start healthy eating habits as early as possible.

My husband and I feel pretty strongly about it, which is why we’ve changed our own diets in the past few years, cutting out processed foods as much as possible (though I’ll admit that being pregnant for the past 2 years has made that difficult for me….those pregnancy cravings man…the struggle is real). But it’s especially important to us as parents to make sure we don’t feed our kids crap either.

I say the following not to criticize other parents and how they feed their children (though I would exhort you to re-evaluate what you feed your kids for the sake of their health…cause I think it’s important), but I say it also to be an encouragement to you if you do want to establish healthy eating habits for your kids. It can begin as soon as they start solid foods. I honestly don’t know what all goes into jarred baby food. But Gwen has never had it. We decided to make our own baby food from day 1 of solid foods. Yes, pre-packaged foods are more convenient (and convenience is very appealing when you have kids), but we decided this was important to us and our family, so sacrificing a little time to make fresh baby food was something I was willing to do. We don’t want to sacrifice health just for convenience. Again, maybe there is healthy jarred baby food out there that I’m not aware of. It was just more appealing to me to give her something fresh, where I knew exactly what was in it. This book helped me to get started. We also don’t give her juice, only water and milk for now. So she has very little sugary things, if any- only for special treats. And when she does get a special treat it’s usually frozen yogurt.

Now we’re at the point where she can basically eat everything we eat. She gets a lot of fresh fruit and veggies, plain greek yogurt, whole grains, etc. Like adults, kids like tasty food too…who wants bland food?? So we introduced her to a variety of spices and different flavors early on. Healthy food CAN taste good! I don’t know if it’s because of what we’ve fed her up until now, but she eats EVERYTHING. And I mean everything. At a restaurant a few weeks ago, she ate falafel. FALAFEL. And she loved it. We are very lucky!

In addition to eating healthy, we want to live an active lifestyle. We live in California. The weather here is gorgeous. There are mountains and rivers and lakes and the OCEAN is 35 mins away. It’s pretty darn good motivation to be outdoors. This is another “habit” we’d like to instill in our kids- getting outside and being active. Walking, hiking, running, swimming, whatever. It’s all part of taking care of your body, but I think it’s also important to just experience and enjoy God’s creation. There have been times where we realized…”we live in California….we could just up and go to the beach on any given weekend, yet we’ve done nothing but sit in the house the past few weeks…what is wrong with us??”. Life gets busy sometimes so we really do need to set aside time and make an effort to do these things. And as a stay-at-home-mom, I’m responsible for getting my kids out of the house, taking them to the park, etc. It’s a challenge at times, but it’s worth it.

In honor of this post, I’d like to share a side-by-side comparison photo of my husband (with his permission). The first picture was taken 3 years ago when we first moved to California, and the 2nd photo was just a few weeks ago (50 lbs lighter). I hardly recognize the man on the left! Healthy eating, being active, and getting out of a life-sucking stressful job in Philadelphia, are responsible for his transformation 🙂

weightloss.jpg

 

Caprese Panini

It may be a bit late in the season for this post, but you can run out and get your tomatoes now and make this panini tonight. Or tomorrow. A caprese panini. Simple, fast, perfect for summer and only requires a few main ingredients. We had it for dinner last night and I decided, “more people should eat caprese paninis. Let’s feature it on the blog.”

So here it is.

DSC_0978 copy

Ingredients:

Loaf of bread (the good crusty kind, multi-grain to keep it healthy)
Fresh mozzarella cheese
Fresh basil leaves
Tomatoes (highly recommend heirloom if you can get ’em)
Balsamic vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt
Pepper

Step 1: get your griddler/panini maker hot (or cast iron skillet if you don’t have one)

Step 2: slice your bread about ye thick:

DSC_0999 copy

Step 3: drizzle some EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) in a small bowl or ramekin with salt and pepper:

DSC_0980 copy

Step 4: baste that olivey goodness on your bread for extra flavor and crunch on your sandwich (just one side of each slice):

DSC_0002 copy

Step 5: place bread, olivey side down, on the panini maker and start building your sandwich in layers:

Yummy slices of heirloom tomato

DSC_0006 copy

 

Diced tomato of a different color/variety if you want and DON’T FORGET to sprinkle some salt and pepper on top of those bad boys

DSC_0013 copy

 

Step 6: if you haven’t already prepped this, go ahead and chiffonade that fresh basil, for that will be the next layer (if you can’t chiffonade, a good rough chop is fine)

DSC_0020 copy

DSC_0021 copy

Step 7: drizzle some EVOO and balsamic vinegar on top of that (DO NOT USE TOO MUCH BALSAMIC,  1/2 tspn. will do). Balsamic vinegar is the perfect complement to tomatoes. But too much will overpower your dish, so restrain yourself and only use a couple drops:

DSC_0025 copy

Finally, top it with fresh mozzarella:

DSC_0029 copy

Step 8: place 2nd slice of bread on top, and close your panini maker (you can tell we use it a lot because it’s nice and dirty….):

DSC_0030 copy

Wait……

……not long. Watch for melty cheese.

And then…..

DSC_0042 copy

You have a yummy, gooey, healthy sandwich that doesn’t make you feel like crap after eating it. You’ll feel good about yourself, your food choices and your cooking skills. Because this is simple,  yet so fancy at the same time.

Give it a try while you can still get delicious tomatoes!

 

 

 

Milestone Reached: Solid Food!

This past Sunday we officially started Gwen on solids, 2 weeks shy of 6-months. Part of me wishes I could’ve “stuck it out” just 2 more weeks to reach exactly 6 months. After all, EVERYTHING I’ve read about breastfeeding recommends exclusive breastfeeding until baby is at least 6 months, for several reasons. You can read about it on kellymom.com if you’re interested. But, I had to go with my mommy instinct on this one. Gwen had been super fussy and cranky while breastfeeding lately. The only time she wasn’t fussy while nursing was her very first feeding of the day (when my boobs are the most full and she’s the most hungry. Well, I assume she’ s pretty hungry after not eating for several hours overnight). I was starting to get paranoid that maybe my supply was low and she wasn’t getting enough milk, resulting in frustration/fuss. I don’t know if that was actually the case or not. The fussiness could be a result of teething or other unknown issues. But on top of that, she had also been showing “the signs” of being ready for solids. Especially the sudden interest in whatever mommy is eating. She stares with curiosity and longing. If whatever I’m eating is within her reach, she will reach for it (she’ll reach for just about everything that’s in her reach these days). So I emailed her pediatrician, explained how she had been acting and asked if it was okay to start her on cereal…and we got the “ok”.

Oh, and I also realize that there’s a risk of actually decreasing my milk supply by introducing solids now..so my goal is to approach solids as a complement to breastfeeding, not a replacement. I’ll only give Gwen cereal after nursing her. So she can have as little or as much as she wants, depending on her appetite. And since many of the baby-food recipes I’ll be making suggest adding breast milk for consistency, I’ll continue to pump, which will hopefully keep my supply up. I’m still planning to breastfeeding for another 6 months, until she’s a year old .We’ll see how it goes!

So, how did it go you ask? I’ll let this face give you the answer:

IMG_20130908_091503

She loved it so much! She quickly tried to grab the spoon and feed herself, and gave this big smile after every bite 🙂

I made brown rice cereal (homemade) using a recipe from this book. Since the recipe makes 8 servings, we stored the rest in these storage cubes.   We grinded the rice in our regular blender and it worked great (it needs to be super fine, like powder). Our big food processor didn’t really work…neither did our hand immersion blender (but it’s really old…). So, the blender it is!

We’re going to stick with the cereals for the next week or so (oatmeal and barley are next on our list to try). Then we’ll start introducing new fruits and veggies.

I can’t wait to see how she likes everything!

IMG_20130908_091500

 

Quinoa & Beet Salad

quinoa

 

Quinoa and Beet Salad (with Kale, Heirloom Tomatoes and Feta)

We literally just ate this for dinner. I took a picture and said “I must share this goodness with the world”. So, here I am. Sharing with the world.

People, if you haven’t been introduced yet to Quinoa…introduce yourself. It’s seriously good stuff. I took the liberty of doing a quick Google search for you. Read this if you don’t believe me.

Now that I’ve convinced you to try Quinoa, here’s one way (of many) to try it.

First rule of Quinoa, RINSE IT FIRST!! In a fine mesh strainer run cold water over it and use your hands to give it a good rub, for about 2 mins. If you don’t do this, it will taste soapy and bitter. Nobody wants that.

Then, drizzle a little bit of olive oil in the pot you’re cooking with (over medium heat), then “toast” the quinoa (1 cup) for about a minute until the water evaporates. Then add 2 cups of water. Bring to a rolling boil. Lower heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and keep it covered for another 5-10 mins, or until you’re ready to serve.

So next you’ll add the goods. Wash and chop some Kale. Peel and chop a Beet. Chop a nice heirloom tomato up (we picked ours straight from our garden. Heck yes.). Pour some olive oil in a pan and sauté the beets until they’re tender (stick a fork in it and you’ll know if it’s done), remove from the pan and set aside. Add a bit more olive oil to the same pan and sauté the Kale. Oh, you’ll want to season with salt and pepper (both the beets and the kale).

Now you’re almost done! Throw everything (including the tomatoes you already chopped) in a big bowl and give it a good mix. Serve in pretty bowl, crumble some feta on top, devour.

And you’ve just made yourself a delicious and INSANELY good for you meal. Yes, a meal. This doesn’t have to be a side dish. Quinoa is a complete protein (and basically a multi-vitamin). Plus with the beets and kale….are you kidding me?

EAT THIS.

 

Gazpacho

Posted by Ivor:

Looking for a way to beat the heat and enjoy the best produce July has to offer?  We can help!  In our house, July is gazpacho month.  Almost all of the ingredients we use are available fresh this month!

Here’s a step-by-step “photo-blog” of our gazpacho process:

 gazpacho1

First, the ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes (we use heirloom, but use anything that’s ripe!), peeled, seeded and chopped

Watermelon juice or tomato juice

1 cup cucumber + Julienne/Brunoise for garnish

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper + Julienne/Bruniose for garnish

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced

2 medium garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 lime, juiced

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Dried, ground chipotle pepper (to taste)

Smoked paprika (to taste)

2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, for garnish

 

Time:

Active (time spent peeling, chopping, etc) <30 minutes

Passive (time letting the gazpacho refrigerate) optional (but it’s better!) 2 hours – overnight

 

The Procedure:

There’s not a lot of cooking involved here, as this is mostly a dish comprised of raw vegetables.  That said, the first step is to peel the tomatoes, and the best way to do that is by first scoring the bottoms with an X (with a very sharp knife)

gazpacho2 gazpacho3

Then placing them in boiling water for 15-20 seconds, and then plunging them into an ice bath to cool them down.  You don’t want to cook the tomatoes, you’re just trying to get the skin to peel easily.

gazpacho4 gazpacho5

Once the tomatoes are peeled, core and chop them, squeezing out the seeds (and accompanying juice) into a ceive.  You’ll want to harvest as much of the juice as you can (without any of the seeds). You want 2 cups of liquid.  I prefer ½ tomato juice and ½ watermelon juice (or sometimes all watermelon juice).  So if you’ve got 1 cup of fresh squeezed tomato juice, add another cup of either tomato or watermelon juice.

gazpacho6 gazpacho7 

Add the chopped tomatoes to a large mixing bowl (preferably glass, definitely not aluminum). Before you move on to the rest of the procedure, if you’re going to eat this right away, now is a good time to prepare your garnish (this part is totally optional).  For my garnish, I like to julienne or brunoise some cucumber and red pepper, and then sprinkle on top of the finished product, along with a chiffonade of basil.  Don’t worry, we’ll be doing a knife skills episode soon if the pictures don’t cut it (no pun intended).  Even if you’re not going to eat the gazpacho immediately, it’s a good idea to reserve enough of the cucumber and pepper for a garnish later!

julienne gazpaz 

Once your garnish is prepared, it’s time to finish up the soup.  Peel and seed the cucumber, and remove the seeds and membranes from the red pepper and jalapeno.  Chop the onion, cucumber, and red pepper into bite size pieces and add the to the mixing bowl.  Dice up the jalapeno pepper as finely as you can, and add that to the mixing bowl.

gazpacho8 gazpachob gazpachoc gazpachod

Next, add lime juice, salt, pepper, cumin, worcestershire sauce, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar to the bowl of chopped veggies

gazpachof worsh

gazpachoh  gazpachoi

Take half of the mixture (bowl of veggies), and add it to a food processor or blender.  Add the peeled garlic to the food processor/blender, and puree. As it’s pureeing, add half of the juice as well (if you have a food processor, otherwise just add the juice in with everything else before you blend).

gazpachol

This next step is very important…TASTE it.  This is where I add the chipotle and smoked paprika.  I like a lot of kick, and smoke flavor, so I add quite a bit of each.  Perhaps yours needs salt, more pepper, etc.  Experiment!

gazpachom gazpachok

Once you think it tastes good, you’ve got a choice. If you want a really chunky gazpacho, pour the mixture over top of the remaining veggie chunks in your mixing bowl.  If you prefer the soup to be a uniform consistency, transfer what’s currently in your blender/processor into another bowl, and repeat the process (including tasting!) for the other half of the veggies.  Once it’s combined, it’s technically ready to eat; but it will taste better if you refrigerate it for at least 2 hours (or even overnight!).  If the gazpacho is an appetizer, I like to have it a uniform consistency, and serve it in a martini glass.  If it’s the entree, I prefer a chunkier dish and I’ll serve it in a big bowl!  You worked hard on this dish, so make it look pretty (with your garnishes) and enjoy it!

  gazpachoo gazpachon gazpachop

 

If you have any questions about this recipe or if there’s something I didn’t explain clearly, please leave a comment and let me know!