Blue Apron · Grow Your Own Way · kid-friendly · Recipes

Summer Squash Enchiladas

With gardens getting ready and fresh, homegrown produce just over the horizon, I’m teeing up some warm-weather recipes perfect for using up the bounty of squash, eggplant, greens, peppers and basil we’ll all have handy soon. This one originally came to me via Blue Apron (read more about my thoughts on the service right here) and I’ve enjoyed making it many times over since.

We no longer subscribe to the service, but for a while there it REALLY helped us get out of our takeout rut after having a newborn. Cooking was the one thing I couldn’t handle amid scarce sleep, pumping, packing daycare bags, washing bottles and (of course) playing with my new baby, and I could always count on Blue Apron to drop fixings for three meals off on my porch every week. It was one less thing to worry about, but eventually we got our groove back and started meal planning and grocery shopping (sans meltdown) again.

I did end up with some real keepers from the Blue Apron recipe archive. A few of my favorites: this Tomato Zucchini Quiche, this Sweet Pepper & Goat Cheese Pie, this Sirloin Steak with Smashed Purple Potatoes & Green Beans, these healthy Salmon Burgers with Potato Salad & Tossed Arugula, and (mmmmmm) this Chicken Piccata for Two, perfect for date night at home.

The key to this recipe’s unique flavor comes from the Tomatillos, or “Mexican husk tomatoes,” which are the sweet-tart ingredient that gives salsa verde its flavor. Cultivated since pre-Columbian times, they are elemental to modern Mexican cuisine and also played an important role in Mayan and Aztec culture.

They’ll stay fresh in your refrigerator with husks on for a couple of weeks, or you can remove the husks and seal them in plastic bags to keep even longer. They’re easy to find in any grocery store.

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Summer Squash Enchiladas

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 Corn Tortillas
  • ½ Cup Jasmine Rice
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Lime
  • 1 Poblano Pepper
  • 1 Yellow Summer Squash
  • ½ Pound Tomatillos
  • 1 Bunch Cilantro
  • ½ Cup Sour Cream
  • 1/2 Cup Grated Cotija Cheese+
  • 1 Tablespoon Mexican Spice Blend*

+Cotija is a dry, Mexican grating cheese, similar to Parmesan. A good substitute is Feta.

*Mexican Spice Blend is equal parts garlic powder, chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin and dried oregano. You can also buy pre-mixed Mexican Seasoning from a supermarket brand such as McCormick. Carne Asada Seasoning is also a good substitute, and you can find a version by McCormick or Wildtree for a certified organic, unprocessed option.

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 475°F. In a small pot, combine the rice, a big pinch of salt and 1 cup of water and heat to boiling on high. Once boiling, cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender. Remove from heat and fluff the cooked rice with a fork. Transfer to a large bowl.

While the rice cooks, wash and dry the fresh produce. Remove and discard any tomatillo husks and dice small, then peel and mince the garlic. Using a zester, zest the lime peel then cut the lime into quarters. Dice the squash. Roughly chop the cilantro leaves and stems. Stack the tortillas on a plate; cover with a damp paper towel (or heat up in the microwave, then cover with a paper towel). Remove and discard the stem, ribs and seeds of the poblano, then small dice, immediately washing your hands and work surface.

In a pot, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the tomatillos and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for a couple of minutes or until fragrant. Add 2 tablespoons of water; cook, occasionally smashing the tomatillos with a spoon, for about 10 minutes or until soft. Remove from the heat then stir in half the sour cream and the juice of 2 lime wedges. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

While the salsa verde cooks, in a medium pan, heat 2 TBSP of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the squash, poblano and spice blend and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes or until browned and softened. Transfer to the bowl of cooked rice.

Add the lime zest, half the cilantro, half the cheese and remaining sour cream into the bowl of cooked rice and vegetables and stir to combine. Place the tortillas on a clean, dry work surface. Spread about ⅓ cup of the filling into the bottom of a baking dish. Divide the remaining filling between the tortillas; tightly roll up each tortilla around the filling. Carefully transfer the rolled tortillas to the baking dish in a single layer, seam sides down. (**A good tip here: mist the tortillas with water to keep them soft and pliant and prevent them from cracking in the pan. As you can see, this happened to me on the day I photographed these, but the trick has worked for me every time since**).

Evenly top the assembled enchiladas with the salsa verde and remaining cheese. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned and heated through. Remove from the oven and let stand for at least 2 minutes. Garnish with the remaining cilantro. Serve with the remaining lime wedges on the side. Enjoy!

If you’re ever looking for a recipe like this on a menu, they’d be called “enchiladas suizas,” which technically means “Swiss enchiladas” — so named, supposedly, for the Swiss immigrants to Mexico who brought their love of dairy to the new country’s cuisine, resulting in a range of recipes with European influence. Blue Apron filled this version of enchiladas suizas with squash, poblano pepper, and jasmine rice, topping them with a “salsa verde,” or tomatillo sauce with a dash of sour cream.

This dish pairs very nicely with a fruity, crisp rosé … perfect for summer!

Want to make this dish even more hefty? Add in some beans for a vegetarian option, or some poached shredded chicken.

If, like us, you’ve just planted your garden and can’t wait to start cooking with the fruits of your labors, pin this recipe to save for later! I have a long list of dinners I’m dying to try, and Pinterest is the only thing that keeps me organized 🙂 You can see my own recipes, plus the ones I’ve saved from other bloggers and am dying to try, on my profile.

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I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and Mother’s Day for all the moms out there. It was crappy weather in New England, but I had an amazing relaxing weekend with my babies. We took a drive up to Plum Island and grabbed dinner at a diner on route 1, and had a nice low-key lunch with my mom on Sunday, after which Gramma helped us pick out a big girl bed for G! We think we’ve decided on the one we want, and she is so excited to move out of her toddler bed as soon as we can order the new twin. (We are also excited for her to hopefully stop waking us up at midnight to fix her too-small blankets). On Thursday, Georgia’s school had all the parents in for an adorable Mother’s Day pageant with songs and poems, followed by treats in each child’s classroom. They all looked soooo proud of all the gifts they had made, including a miniature cake baked and decorated by each child to share with their mum that morning. It was just lovely and I never, ever want her to grow up from this sweet age.


Are you local? Don’t forget the Boston Public Market @ Dewey Square Plaza opens for the season tomorrow, right on the Greenway across from South Station! Check out a list of vendors here. They’ll have a farmer’s market plus prepared foods for lunch and dinner every Tuesday and Thursday from 11:30 to 6:30, now through November 21.

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Have a wonderful week everyone!

kid-friendly · Recipes · Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken

Inspired by a popular post on Damn Delicious (one of my favorite cooking blogs), this recipe for Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken is beyond foolproof, with no braising, marinating or prep work required — just toss it in the slow cooker, come home after work and eat. You can use any cut of chicken and it still turns out moist and delicious. The original recipe called for chicken thighs, but boneless breasts were on sale and are something Georgia prefers, so we decided to try the recipe with those instead. And it worked perfectly. Life = easier, just like that!

Honey Garlic Slow Cooker Chicken

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 Chicken thighs (or two packages of boneless breasts, which I used here)
  • 16 oz. red potatoes (half a 2.5 pound bag)
  • 16 oz.baby carrots (one bag)
  • 16 oz. green beans, trimmed (one bag)

FOR THE SAUCE

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce (preferably reduced sodium)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Dried oregano, basil, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste (about a tablespoon total)

DIRECTIONS

  • Mix the sauce together and set aside.
  • In your slow cooker, nestle the potatoes and carrots into the bottom of the pot, then layer the chicken on top. Pour the sauce over and set to cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
  • The original recipe calls for basting every half hour, which is fine if you are home but not fine if you’re working. It turns out well either way.
  • In the last 30 minutes of cooking, add in the green beans.
  • Serve warm on a cold day!

OK, so this doesn’t photograph very well as a finished product. Trust me when I tell you it’s even BETTER as leftovers! 

This is a great recipe to pair with the Maple Dijon Pork Chops I posted about a couple of weeks ago when you’re meal planning for the week, because you can buy one bag of potatoes and use half in this meal and half with the chops; the same goes for the green beans.

Are you all set for Halloween?? We are in full Spooky Swing. Last weekend was the “Boo at the Zoo” event at the same place where we hosted Georgia’s birthday party this year, and we had a blast with friends riding the kiddie rides, seeing the animals in their exhibits, dancing to some monster tunes and of course picking up some toys and (healthy) treats along the walking paths. Monday we had a trick-or-treat in my office, which was another hit, and tomorrow G has her preschool Halloween party. It’s an exhausting life when you’re three — and the actual holiday hasn’t even hit yet! I’m not sure Rapunzel’s wig will make it to Monday intact… 🙂

Have a great rest of the week everyone. 

Recipes

Braised Fennel & White Beans

What a delicious side to meat or standalone vegetarian dish! I made this to go alongside my brined pork chops in citrus sauce, which I shared last week, and then ate the leftovers as a light lunch all weekend. Lucky me that a co-worker was looking to get rid of fennel from their farm share, and that’s what inspired this recipe! Despite not really liking licorice, I love fennel and have ever since I studied abroad. Italians are all over it. The fragrance mellows quite a bit when you cook and blends nicely with contrasting flavors like cider vinegar, red onion, savory stock and a touch of butter.

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I’ve hung onto the greens in the past when making soup, and I’ve heard that it makes a slammin’ pesto, too, though I haven’t tried that myself. Generally, though, you just want to keep the “bulb” part of fennel, which you slice up any which way you please before cooking. I love that this recipe offers a protein boost with the white beans, another staple of Italian cooking, and that the cooking process softens the bite of the red onions enough that they just add a nice seasoning and don’t overwhelm. Paired with the vinegar and a touch of butter, this comes in a creamy sauce seasoned with oregano or whatever Italian-type spices you have on hand. The last time I made this, I used my Wildtree spaghetti sauce blend, and it came out fab.

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Braised Fennel & White Beans

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped/sliced, greens discarded
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced
  • 1 can of white (cannellini) beans
  • 1 can chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 TBSP butter (omit if desiring a vegan dish)
  • 2 TBSP red wine or apple cider vinegar
  • olive oil for the pan
  • salt, pepper and oregano (fresh or dried) if available, for seasoning

DIRECTIONS

Heat the olive oil in a good sized saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the fennel and onion and cook, stirring, until they are tender and the edges are browning, approximately 10 minutes.

Add the beans, chicken stock, oregano or other seasoning you’re planning to use, plus salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced by about half, which should take less than 5 minutes.

Stir in the vinegar and butter and remove from the heat. Serve warm!

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Martha suggests making this with pork chops, as shown above, and suggests cooking those first then making this in the same pan with the browned bits left over for extra flavoring. That would obviously make it non-vegetarian, so that’s your choice! I didn’t do it that way — we cooked each dish separately, though they were served together — but I’m sure it would taste great.

Recipes

A drizzly, happy birthday

Yesterday was my birthday (I’m 30 again? How is that possible!) and, naturally, my presents had a culinary twist. Mark never disappoints when it comes to foodie gifts — there was this winner a couple years back, and this classic the Christmas before. But this year….{wait for it}….he COOKED FOR ME! And not just any old meal, but breakfast, the one time of day I’m so focused on getting everyone else ready that I never have a chance to eat. It made a rainy, dark birthday so much brighter!

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On the menu: a Greek omelette — my absolute favorite — with spinach, garlic, oregano and feta (!!), plus an English muffin, a (virgin) mimosa since I had to go to work after, and a strawberry lemonade cupcake for dessert from Crumbs Bake Shop.

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 Georgia, of course, contributed her own present, including a good night’s sleep the evening before. (She was down from 8 pm to 7 am with no ‘separation anxiety’ symptoms whatsoever! Last night, not so much).

Mark even agreed to share his omelette recipe, which came from The Chew. This is a guy who literally can barely cook, so to say I was impressed is a serious understatement. How lucky am I!

Mark’s Easy Greek Omelette

 adapted from The Chew

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 tablespoon Olive Oil (plus more to drizzle)
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • 2 cups Baby Spinach
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh Oregano
  • 4 large Eggs
  • 1/2 tablespoon Unsalted Butter
  • 1/2 cup Greek Feta (crumbled)
  • Salt and freshly ground Pepper

DIRECTIONS

In a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Once hot, add the spinach and garlic, cooking until the spinach has wilted then remove to a strainer set over a bowl and press some of the liquid out with the back of a spoon. Set aside.

Crack the eggs into a bowl with the oregano, and whisk with a fork. Set aside. 

Warm a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the butter to the pan, and once it foams and subsides, add the egg mixture. Move the outer edges of the eggs inward and cook until just set. Sprinkle the feta on one half along with the spinach mixture then fold the eggs over in half. Seaon with salt and freshly ground pepper. Slide the omelet off on to a plate, drizzle with olive oil, and enjoy.

Helpful Tips from The Chew
1. The spinach should only wilt a little bit while you’re sautéing it, so don’t over do it!
2. Don’t salt the eggs before putting them in the pan. Salting the eggs pulls moisture out and makes them rubbery, so add the salt once the eggs start to set.
3. Whisks add a lot of air to beaten eggs and make the final product too fluffy. For a creamier omelet, use a fork instead of a whisk.
4. Add the warm spinach directly on top of the feta to help the cheese melt.
5. If you’re having difficulty sliding the omelet out of the pan, try sliding it while holding the pan over the heated stove.
6. Don’t be afraid to make your omelet runny like you might with sunny side up or over easy eggs. Your omelet will still be safe to eat and will have added flavor.

What am I going to do with these two?? What a pair of loves.

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Recipes

Creamy “sausage” farfalle

Now, I’m not usually big on “fake meat” when you can use a real-food meat substitute. But in this case, a soy-based sausage product called Gimme Lean is one of my favorite ways to replicate any dish you love that calls for red meat. My husband and I used to make a creamy pasta dinner with white beans and ground sweet sausage that was tasty but unhealthy and bothersome to my stomach. So, when I went veg, I adapted this meat-free version with great success. It’s a hearty weeknight staple for us that will leave you with plenty of leftovers!

Ingredients

  • 1 tube of Gimme Lean soy sausage (can be found at Trader Joes/Whole Foods or regular supermarkets, near similar products such as boca burgers)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 package of farfalle pasta
  • 1 tub of mascarpone cheese
  • 1 can of Cannellini (white) beans
  • dried oregano, to taste
  • 1 cup of pasta water, reserved
  • pinch of salt to draw out the onion’s juices

Directions

Set the pasta water to boil while you chop the onion.

Chop the onion and saute over medium heat, salting to draw out the onion’s flavor, until translucent.

Add the Gimme Lean sausuage, breaking up with the side of your spoon, until it’s in crumbles.

Add oregano, adjusting the amount to your taste (I give it a liberal shake from the spice jar).

If you decide to make this with real ground sausage, the pan should be plenty moist by now due to the fat draining. If you’re using Gimme Lean, however, you might want to put a dollop of EVOO in there to keep the pan from sticking.

Next, add the whole can of cannellini beans, with their liquid, and continue stirring the entire mixture to blend.

You can also add pepper here if you really like the taste of it. We don’t use a whole ton of pepper, but I know my Mom adds pepper to everything — if you’re like her, then the seasoning will taste great here. Go ahead and add it!

Finally, as the pasta should be finishing its cooking time, add the whole container of Mascarpone cheese and stir to melt it. Add a cup or so of pasta cooking water to the pan to thin out the sauce.

Finally, transfer the pasta to the skillet using a slotted spoon — it’s OK, in fact it’s better — if the pasta is a little wet and drippy while you’re adding it. One reason you want to add some pasta water to your pan while the sauce is coming together is that the starches help bind everything together cohesively. If the pasta is a little bit wet as you add it to the pan, it’ll only enhance this blending of flavors and textures.

Voila! A one-dish meal of comforting, creamy pasta that’s a *little* bit healthier for you than real sausage. A little bit of this goes a long way, so you should be able to get a hearty dinner out of it plus a lunch or two for the week.

Adjustments:

  • You can use any kind of “shape” pasta you prefer; the idea is that it grips the sauce and stays together better than spaghetti would.
  • You can also substitute cream cheese or soy cheese for the mascarpone. Or, if you like the flavor of mascarpone (who DOESN’T), then you can use half the amount here and still get essentially the same taste with half the fat.
  • You can also substitute almost any kind of white bean you prefer. Cannellini are silky and not as fibrous as some others, which makes them easier to digest when combined with the simple carb of the pasta and the soy in the Gimme Lean.
  • Finally, omit the oregano if you hate it! You can add any other seasoning and this dish can take it.

Enjoy!