Blue Apron · Recipes

Tomato Zucchini Quiche

Boy, do I love quiche. Too bad it isn’t the healthiest thing around! What it lacks in fiber it makes up for in protein, however, and for vegetarians this can be a very good thing. Not to mention it’s a simple meal to throw together on a hot night, and if you toss a light salad alongside, you can make it a balanced dinner that’s budget- and family-friendly. I use pre-bought pie crusts when I’m crunched for time, and zucchini and tomatoes from my garden when they’re abundant. Combine that with some ricotta, eggs, and cheese, and you’re only 20 minutes away from yum.

QUICHE (1)

Zucchini & Tomato Quiche

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large, pre-baked pie crust (or 2 mini), store bought or home made
  • 1 zucchini, diced small
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup skim ricotta
  • 1/4 cup fontina cheese, grated or chopped small
  • salt, pepper & olive oil

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 425. Set the pie crust(s) out on a non-stick baking sheet to come to room temperature.

Small dice the zucchini and quarter the tomatoes. Dice or shred the cheese if it comes in a block. Peel and mince the garlic and smash into a paste using either the side of a knife, a mortar and pestle, or a zester.

In a medium non-stick pan, heat olive oil over medium-high until hot, then add the zucchini and cook, seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes or until browned and soft, then add the tomatoes and garlic paste. Stir for a couple minutes or until fragrant, then remove from the heat.

In a medium sized bowl, crack the two eggs and whisk; add the ricotta and whisk again, the add the cooked zucchini and tomatoes, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper.

Pour the mixture into the pie crust(s) and evenly top with cheese.

Bake the quiches in the oven for 18-20 minutes, or until the edges are browned and the fillings are set. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes.

Serve warm, at room temp, or even cold straight from the refrigerator!

Notes: 1/4 cup cheese is about one ounce, or 4 TBSP; you can also just eyeball the amount you’d like based on how heavy you want the dish to be. Add more or less to your health and taste needs, and vary the cheese type if you like something else better. You can also add a little more garlic; I did. Don’t want to overdo it, though.

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This recipe came to me in my Blue Apron delivery. Unlike some of their meals, this featured no hard-to-find ingredients or complex preparation steps, so it was easy for us to replicate. I’ve also made more than a few quiche in my day, but even for newbies it’s a pretty hard dish to mess up! Enjoy and stay cool in this drought-level heat wave.

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Blue Apron · kid-friendly · Recipes · Uncategorized

Coconut Kale & Sweet Potato Casserole

Well, I guess the nasty weather has officially arrived. The Southern temps were fun while they lasted! (Although 70 degrees on Christmas just felt wrong). Now that we’ve had to turn the heat back on and bundle up for commuting again, it feels like it’s time to start making casseroles again. Especially all that holiday cooking…who wants to do anything fussy now? This vegetarian dish is hearty, nutritious and as spicy as you want it to be (or not). A few inexpensive ingredients will feed you for days and warm you from the inside out. As a bonus, you can make tea from the leftover ginger peels, and that’s great for healthy digestion (and for kicking the common cold, if you toss in some honey, lemon and bourbon 😉 ). Cuddle up for some home cooking and, as Georgia likes to say, “get cozy.”

Coconut Kale & Sweet Potato Casserole

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 Ounces Egg Noodles
  • 1¾ Cups Light Coconut Milk
  • 1 Bunch Kale
  • 1 Pound Sweet Potatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
  • 1-Inch Piece of Fresh Ginger
  • ⅓ C Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • ¼ C Panko Breadcrumbs
  • If you want it spicier, add some red pepper flakes or chilli powder. Totally optional.

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 475°F. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Heat two large pots of water to boiling on high. Peel and medium-dice the sweet potatoes. Peel and mince the ginger. Remove and discard the kale stems and rough-chop the leaves.

Add the sweet potatoes to the first pot of boiling water. Cook 7 to 9 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Drain thoroughly and place in a large bowl.

While the sweet potatoes cook, add the noodles to the second pot of boiling water. Cook 5 to 6 minutes, or until just shy of al dente. Drain thoroughly and transfer to the bowl of cooked sweet potatoes. Rinse and wipe out the pot.

In the pot used to cook the noodles, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the ginger and cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until slightly softened and fragrant. Add the flour and spices, if using; cook, whisking frequently, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until toasted and fragrant. Slowly add the coconut milk (shaking the can before opening) and ¾ cup of water; season with salt and pepper. Cook, whisking frequently, 3 to 5 minutes, or until thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stir the kale into the pot of béchamel sauce. Cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until the kale has wilted. Turn off the heat. Add the cooked sweet potatoes and noodles; stir until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer the finished filling to a baking dish. In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and cheese. Stir in enough olive oil to moisten the mixture; season with salt and pepper to taste. Evenly top the filling with the breadcrumb-cheese mixture. Place the baking dish on a sheet pan. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until bubbly and browned on top. Remove from the oven and let stand for at least 2 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

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This recipe is modified from my Blue Apron delivery subscription. I love when they have budget-friendly, easily-replicable recipes for our family to add to our repertoire! I hope you enjoy this as much as we did. The first time I made it as part of my Blue Apron delivery, it came out rather spicy, so I toned it down a LOT the next time I made it. I’m really happy with the non-spicy version and will likely make it that way from here on out. I hope you like it! It reheats for lunches and leftovers so well.

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Happy New Year, everyone! Here’s to a healthy, fulfilling 2016.

Tiny Prints - Birth Announcements and More

Blue Apron · kid-friendly · Recipes

Tomato, Sweet Pepper & Goat Cheese Pie

You might call this too summery, but I say we are in the midst of a warm spell and we might as well eat like it. Soon enough, we’ll be back to chili, soups, stews and risotto, so for now: bite into a tangy tomato, and a seasoned bell pepper, and enjoy the creamy goat cheese floating under this tender crust! Before you know it, the winter foods will be back in rotation, and wouldn’t you like to have this recent memory to sustain you through those days of early nightfall and windy, icy commutes? I thought so.

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This is very easy, but the most critical tip I can share is to assemble the pie right before you put it in the oven. If you put the tomatoes in and let them sit while you prepare the rest of the filling, it will make the crust too soggy to hold together while baking, so it’s critical to prep your ingredients and then put it all together at once before placing into a pre-heated oven. As with most recipes I share involving pie, I use a pre-made, store-bought crust. If you’re looking for a great homemade pie crust recipe, I like this one.

This recipe originally came from my Blue Apron delivery and I’ve recreated it using my own seasonings and garden tomatoes with excellent results. It really is easy and crowd-pleasing, and vegetarian to boot.

Tomato, Sweet Pepper & Goat Cheese Pie

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Pie Crust, homemade or store bought pre-made
  • 2 Tomatoes (large beefsteak/heirloom variety)
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • Sweet Peppers (3-4 small ones or one large)
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 1 Bunch Basil
  • ½ Cup Crumbled Goat Cheese (or more if you really love it!)
  • 1 Tablespoon Sherry Vinegar (or sub another kind you prefer)
  • ½ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • ¼ Cup Panko Breadcrumbs
  • 1½ TBSP Spice Blend: equal parts Flour, Mustard Powder & Dried Thyme

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Peel and mince the garlic (I used a garlic press). Cut out and discard the stem, ribs and seeds of the sweet pepper and thinly slice them into rings. Chop the onion. Cut the tomatoes into ¼-inch-thick slices. Pick the basil leaves off the stems and discard the stems.

In a medium pan, heat some olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the garlic, onion and sweet pepper; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 4 minutes, or until softened and fragrant. Stir in the vinegar; cook, stirring frequently, about a minute or until well combined. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Next, make the breadcrumb topping: while the onion and pepper cook, combine the Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs in a small bowl, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in enough olive oil to moisten the mixture slightly.

Layer half the tomatoes onto the bottom of the pie crust in an overlapping pattern; season with salt and pepper. Top with the cooked onion and sweet pepper, half the spice blend, half the goat cheese and the basil; drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Repeat with the remaining tomatoes, spice blend and goat cheese.

Evenly top the assembled pie with the breadcrumb topping; season with salt and pepper.

Place the topped pie on a sheet pan. Bake, turning halfway through, 20 to 22 minutes, or until the topping and crust are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Eat all in one sitting with a glass of white wine!

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Other things you can try if the crust comes out soggy: either pre-bake it for a couple minutes on low heat, then proceed with the recipe as usual; or, you can move it lower in your oven and thus closer to the heat source, which may solve the problem. Other solutions might include pricking the bottom of the pie with a tooth pick before baking, and/or lining the bottom of the crust with Parmesan before you add the tomatoes. If you pre-bake and are concerned about the top getting over browned, you can always cover that part with foil while it’s cooking, and it should prevent burning. But again, I didn’t have any issues with sogginess, I just noticed it was a common complaint about this recipe on the Blue Apron Facebook page.

The last piece of advice I would give is something that Blue Apron has taught me, which I must admit has improved all of my cooking: seasoning with salt and pepper throughout the preparation of any dish is essential to making sure it’s fully flavored at the end. You don’t have to be too heavy-handed with it, you just have to keep the seasonings coming at each step of the recipe. That’s definitely true of this pie as well!

Good luck, have fun cooking, and tell me how you’re getting ready for Thanksgiving! I’m cooking a turkey for the first time this year, for our community’s “Don’t Be Alone on Thanksgiving” event, which feeds over 900 people on Thanksgiving each year. Some come in person for the meal at our local high school, while families in shelters and elderly or disabled shut-ins have a meal delivered to their home. I’m using this helpful guide for first timers, although Ina Garten (aka the Barefoot Contessa) also has an excellent one. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Something tells me cooking the bird will pale in complexity against actually delivering the darn thing to the proper location with a rambunctious two-year-old in tow! 🙂

Blue Apron · News · Tips and Tricks

Finally! @BlueApron offers packaging return

Whenever someone asks me about the pros and cons of Blue Apron, I always tell them: it’s a cost effective, high quality, fun ingredient-delivery service to supplement your weekly meal planning, but it’s really hard to stomach all the packaging. They describe themselves as anti-waste because they only ship the exact amount of food you need for each meal, but with everything in its own box, bag or carton, it does feel as if you’re throwing away a lot of garbage as you cook. They’ve long had instructions on their website for breaking down and recycling the shipping and packing materials, but after trying all those suggested steps just once, I decided it was too labor-intensive and time-consuming for even a die-hard recycle-er. So I gave up, put the cardboard shipping box out with our paper goods on trash day, and threw away everything else. Until now!

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Enter the new Blue Apron package return system.

There are two options:you can still follow this guide to recycling the packaging at home, or you can send all the packing materials back to them at no charge for reuse and recycling on their end. This page has detailed instructions on how that second option works. We are definitely going to do this, especially since the shipping is covered by Blue Apron if you wait to send back two weeks worth of packing materials at a time. All you have to do is create a mailing label on their website.

It won’t solve the problem of how long it takes to clean all those little baggies properly for recycling, but it will take care of the worst offenders — the large freezer bag and jumbo reusable ice packs that I’ve had no choice but to thaw and discard up until now.

What do you think? Does this change your mind about Blue Apron? Read my initial thoughts on the service here, and check out a couple Blue Apron recipes here and hereAnd have a great week! 

Blue Apron · Recipes

Sirloin Steak with Smashed Purple Potatoes & Green Beans

As you all know, I am barely a meat-eater, never mind a steak eater. But in the interest of broadening my child’s palate, and in treating my poor Irish husband to more of the meat n’ potatoes fare he grew up with, I have branched out into cooking sirloin … for the first time ever. And I dare say it came out really good.

Thanks to my Blue Apron membership, I had a recipe that I knew would turn out really well, and I loved the idea of pairing a good-quality organic meat with something offbeat, like Purple Potatoes and this tangy Green Bean side dish zipping with the flavors of garlic, tomato and scallion.

Sirloin is a cut from the back of the animal. It is a bit less tender than top sirloin, but not at all tough if you cook it for the exact amount of time called for. Seriously, if I can’t screw this up, then truly nobody can.

Sirloin Steaks with Purple Potatoes & Green Beans

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 sirloin steaks, best quality you can find
  • 10 oz. purple (sometimes also called ‘blue’) potatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 8 oz. green beans
  • 2 scallions
  • 2 oz. cherry tomatoes
  • 1 bunch of tarragon
  • 4 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP red wine vinegar
  • olive oil for the pan
  • salt and pepper to taste for seasoning

DIRECTIONS

To start, wash and dry the fresh produce. Heat a small pot of salted water to boiling on high and large-dice the potatoes. Peel and slice the garlic thin. Cut off and discard the root ends of the scallions; thinly slice the scallions, separating the white bottoms and green tops. Trim off and discard the stem ends of the green beans. Halve the tomatoes. Pick the tarragon leaves off the stems (discarding them).

Add the potatoes to the pot of boiling water. Cook 10 to 12 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Drain thoroughly and return to the pot. Off the heat, add half the butter. Using a fork, mash the cooked potatoes to your desired consistency. Stir in the white bottoms of the scallions; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and set aside in a warm place.

While the potatoes cook, pat the steaks dry with paper towels; season with salt and pepper on both sides. In a large pan, heat 2 TBSP olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the seasoned steaks and cook 2 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare, or until cooked to your desired degree of doneness. Transfer to a cutting board, leaving any browned bits (or fond) in the pan. Let the cooked steaks rest for at least 5 minutes.

While the steaks rest, heat the pan of reserved fond on medium-high until hot. (If the pan seems dry, add 2 teaspoons of olive oil.) Add the green beans; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 4 minutes, or until slightly softened. Add the garlic and tomatoes; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until the tomatoes have softened slightly.

Add the vinegar and ⅓ cup of water to the pan of vegetables; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 4 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by ¾ and the green beans have softened. Add the tarragon and the remaining butter. Cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until thoroughly combined. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Slice the meat against the grain and add any juices left on the cutting board to the vegetables, then stir to combine. Divide the sliced steaks, mashed potatoes and finished vegetables between two plates, garnish with the green tops of the scallions, and enjoy!

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Options: If you really prefer much creamier potatoes, you can add milk, sour cream or creme fraiche to these, but I prefer them without. You could also decrease the amount of garlic and/or scallions if they’re too strong for you. And, it’s possible to substitute other types of vinegar (such as cider) if you don’t have red wine on hand.

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Buon Appetito!

And enjoy the last truly warm week we are going to get. I know I am. 


Recipes

Chicken Piccata for Two

I don’t eat chicken that often, but when I do, this is one of my favorite dishes. It looks so simple on the surface but so many flavors lurk within, and it’s always so satisfying. I’ve never really had a go-to recipe for it, though, and it always seemed silly to order chicken in a restaurant when there are so many more complex dishes and new cuisines to try when ordering out. Plus, chicken? Put it right alongside pasta and risotto as having the biggest markups of any food you could order in a restaurant.

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Well, now I’ve lost my fear of doing Chicken Piccata right, and thanks to one of my first Blue Apron deliveries way back when, I now have a date-night dish that I whip up for just Mark and I to feel special without any of the hassle I was expecting.

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Chicken Piccata for Two

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Chicken Cutlets
  • 6 Ounces Fresh Linguine
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Bunch Garlic Chives
  • 1 Organic Lemon
  • 1 Large Bunch Parsley
  • 3 TBSP Chicken Demi-Glace (reduced stock)
  • 3 TBSP Flour
  • 2 TBSP Butter
  • 2 TBSP Capers
  • 2 TBSP grated Parmesan Cheese

DIRECTIONS

Wash and dry the fresh produce. Heat a medium pot of water to boiling on high. Peel and thinly slice the garlic. Cut the garlic chives into ½-inch pieces. Zest the rind, then quarter and deseed the lemon. Pick the parsley off the stems, discarding. Thinly slice half the parsley, keeping the rest whole. Rough-chop the capers.

Separate the strands of the pasta by hand and add to the pot of boiling water. Cook 2 to 4 minutes, or until al dente (still slightly firm to the bite). Reserving ¾ cup of the cooking water, thoroughly drain the cooked pasta; rinse under cold water to prevent sticking. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Rinse and wipe out the pot.

While the pasta cooks, pat the chicken dry with paper towels; season with salt and pepper on both sides. Place the flour on a plate. Coat the chicken in the flour, shaking off any excess. In a medium nonstick pan, heat 2 tsp olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the coated chicken and cook 3 to 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Flip and add half the butter. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through.

To the pan of browned chicken, add the chicken demi-glace, capers, sliced parsley, the juice of 2 lemon wedges and ¼ cup of water; season with salt and pepper. Cook, occasionally swirling the pan, 2 to 3 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened slightly; season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside in a warm place.

In the pot used to cook the pasta, heat 2 tsp olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the garlic, garlic chives and lemon zest; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 2 to 4 minutes, or until the garlic is golden brown and the garlic chives are bright green.

To the pot of aromatics, add the cooked pasta, Parmesan cheese, remaining butter and ½ cup of the reserved pasta cooking water; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 2 to 3 minutes, or until heated through and the sauce is slightly reduced in volume. If the sauce seems dry, gradually add the remaining pasta cooking water to achieve your desired consistency (I usually use all of it). Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Divide the finished pasta between 2 dishes. Top each with a finished chicken cutlet. Garnish with the whole parsley leaves and remaining lemon wedges. Enjoy!

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Want to make it vegetarian? Try using Seitan instead of chicken.

Miss that white wine flavor of many piccatas? Deglaze the pan of chicken with a splash before proceeding to add the next ingredients.

Can’t get enough lemon taste? Squeeze the quarters over the dish before plating instead of just using as a garnish. That’s what I did.

Need some more veggies? Serve a salad alongside.

Chicken cutlets too thick for your liking? Pound them flatter before cooking.

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This takes me under an hour start to finish (probably around 40 minutes total) and is a stress-free recipe that turns out a special dish. I hope you get a chance to try it soon.

Georgia and I are going away for Labor Day and will be back shortly after, hopefully with lots of fun pictures. See you then!

Recipes · Tips and Tricks

Have you tried Blue Apron?

I know I’m late to the trend! But a couple weeks ago I finally got to give Blue Apron a try, thanks to a friend who couldn’t cook her order before leaving for vacation.  And I have to say, it was absolutely delicious, and I felt like it broke me out of my usual recipe rut. I never cook something with this many ingredients these days, and the flavors were so much more complex than what I typically end up making for weeknight dinners. Overall, I’m definitely a fan and am considering signing up.

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What I made

The recipe I got was for Roasted Japanese Sweet Potatoes with Miso-Dressed Spinach and Candied Cashews. YUM.

The ingredients included two sweet potatoes, brown rice, baby spinach, scallions, sesame oil, sugar, fresh ginger, miso (fermented soybean) paste, cashews, mirin (rice wine) and a spice blend.

Everything comes labeled, packaged for freshness, and with picture-heavy step-by-step directions.

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How it works

Blue Apron delivers original recipes with ingredients pre-portioned alongside step-by-step directions. It is designed so that both experienced and novice cooks can take part, and menus change seasonally. Blue Apron work with hundreds of farms to source quality ingredients, which they say stay fresher longer than what you get at the supermarket. You can pick your recipes, including family-friendly options, and deliveries are booked around your schedule. According to their website, their main value add is offering specialty ingredients you might not otherwise be able to try, at a better value than shopping at your local grocery store. Competitors include HelloFreshPlated and Din (currently just CA and NV but expanding nationally soon).

Pros

  • Everything comes pre-measured and portioned, so there’s minimal prep work involved (I had to slice some scallions and sweet potatoes for my dish; otherwise everything was ready to go) and zero food waste.
  • If you really don’t know how to cook much at all, this can teach you! It’s that easy to follow. They also have tutorials for specific techniques (mince, caramelize, etc.) on their website.
  • You can adjust the portion size for each order. I found that the two-person order I cooked left me with enough for two filling dinners and some leftovers for lunch, too.
  • Expands your child’s palate, if you share with them; gets you out of the usual rotation of recipes we all fall into.
  • Customizable for any dietary preferences. Especially for vegetarians, this will introduce you to some original new recipe ideas.
  • Delivery is free and arrives refrigerated in case you aren’t home.
  • Recipes are seasonal and healthy (between 500 and 700 calories) and are designed to be ready in about half an hour.
  • The quality of the ingredients seems top notch — mine lasted several days after I received them in the fridge, even the greens, and still tasted great.
  • Allows you to cook with specialty ingredients that would otherwise be too pricy or hard to find.

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Cons

  • The convenience of having things pre-measured means lots of packaging, which felt a tad wasteful.
  • I found that the time estimate — 35 minutes — was ambitious. While the timing of the instructions (“preheat the oven, then chop X ingredient, then while that’s cooking, candy the cashews,” etc.) was accurate and helpful if followed literally, the overall start-to-finish time frame was more like an hour because I had to re-read techniques I wasn’t familiar with, double check that I hadn’t missed anything, and just take it slow simply because it was an unfamiliar recipe.
  • While it’s great to learn new skills (I had never candied nuts, for example) I had the benefit of trying Blue Apron on a weekend night after Georgia’s bedtime. This would have been WAY too chaotic for a weeknight dinner with a toddler underfoot. Alone? Forget about it, unless your kiddo is big enough to help or at least watch safely.
  • This is nit-picking, but the cleanup from using every burner on my stovetop, several pots, pans, and the oven was substantial.  I’m sure if you have a dishwasher this won’t bother you too much, but for me and my small kitchen, cooking something with this many ingredients absolutely took over the joint and took ages to clean up by hand.
  • Expensive. Three meals for two people every week is $60, and weekly is the only interval for shipping they offer. You can skip any week or cancel any time, but it would be nice if you could get just one meal a week or two meals a month, etc. For a family of four, the price jumps to $140 for four meals per week ($70 for two meals).

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Bottom Line

My overall take on this is that, if you love cooking but don’t have the time to pick up lots of specialty ingredients or you’re trying to break out of a rut and gain some new ideas or skills, this is fabulous. I felt like I could easily handle the cooking and plating instructions, and got to experience a flavor profile I never would have tackled on my own. It’s not a meal or grocery delivery service, though, and it really shouldn’t be used for dinner every night of the week. You could eat out at a casual sit-down restaurant or order take-out and pay less! Lastly, although we didn’t do it this way because Mark works nights, I’d imagine this would be fun for couples to do together.

How about you — have you tried one of these services? What’s your take?

psst! A couple last-minute Mother’s Day deals for you. My favorite cardigan is on super sale at Nordstrom, and ThredUp is having 15% off sitewide with code MAMASDAY15. Good luck shopping and have a wonderful Mother’s Day!