Sometimes I find myself a person of contradictions – I swear I hate running but have started putting my sneaks to the pavement lately for weight loss purposes. I swear I’m not a cat person but can’t help but force snuggle any feline I can find (strays aside). I proclaim I’m an anti-fast food eater yet sometimes find myself 2 cars deep in the drive through for Chick-fil-A. And really most importantly, I say I’m a chef-to-be who doesn’t use printed recipes but then find myself cooking at home with Blue Apron.
Now, it’s okay to be contradictory at times – we’re not perfect. Running, felines and Chick-fil-A aside, there’s some pretty legitimate reasons for me putting my heart and my brand behind Blue Apron – connivence. I’m busy – like, around the globe in 8 different countries in 3 weeks busy, and I just don’t want to spend my free, fleeting hours at home trying to be on Chopped. I want to prepare a locally sourced, fresh meal that takes less than 40 minutes, doesn’t require 2 hours on Pinterest and results in a meal I’m not just proud of, but my husband devours.
When they asked me to try out a box to review, that was why I agreed. I’ve had success with others in the past, I’m juggling 3 careers and my wasitline just can’t take another batch of takeout. What I didn’t expect was how true to life their claims on TV were. The ingredients are fresh – actually fresh. The kale is crisp to the bite, the meat looks like it was just pulled from the butcher that morning, the apples have not even the slightest inclination of a bruise. Now, I have to say, this was just my box, and yours could be different – but from first glance, their “fresh, local” claim seemed to stand up.
Beyond the ingredients, which I proudly photographed like a fool with my studio window open, the neighbors staring in with the ut-most-confusion, I found the recipe cards easy to follow. You chop this, mince that, stir this, whisk that. Plus the photos help even the most novice of chefs prepare it without any problems. After the box was opened, the cards poured over, I decided on the fish for the first meal – for one, always cook fish first. And two? I just got back from Austria and couldn’t stomach another piece of red meat, pork or the like.
**KEEP READING TO FIND OUT HOW YOU CAN GET FREE MEALS!**
I followed the step by step, chef created instructions and much to my delight, dinner was done, plated, styled and ready to eat in less than 40 minutes.
Now, as a cook – I’ll admit, it was HARD to not add my own flair to the dish as it was being created. So, I added a bit of this super spicy chile infused olive oil I picked up on a recent trip as a drizzle to the end – just to add a touch of Claire and a bit of heat for my spice loving husband.
So here’s where the contradictions come back – it’s a complaint in you have only the ingredients you need for the dish so there isn’t much wiggle room for creativity – however, I had no problem adding my own spice kick and addition despite the pre-portioned set-up. I think you can be as creative or as strict as you want with these. If you have some tomatoes in your fridge, nothing is stopping you from tossing them in to add more juiciness. Or nothing is saying you can’t add in some grainy mustard or a loaf of crusty bread. You can do as little or as much as you’d like to make each your own if you’re more experienced.
What I loved most about Blue Apron, and this meal, was it gave me time to actually set the table, grab some flowers for the garden and create a date-night at home that’s actually ready when my husband’s done with work.
He was shocked to see a beautiful table set, wine chilled on the table and two delicious meals ready to enjoy. When I cook from scratch, it plays out two ways: i’m still knee-deep in frying onions when he walks in the door or dinner is cold because I had to photograph it at 3pm. Blue Apron, in a way, gave us a date night at home.
I’ll have to say, one of my favorite parts of this meal was the calorie count (which was just 525 for the entire meal), the ease of preparation and the freshness of ingredients. what I love most about the service is their commitment to recycling (you can find a recycling center near you that’ll pick up the boxes and recycle them for free with USPS); the endless array of recipes you get week after week (finding ending the bland chick breast dinner monotony) and the ease for busy families. Whether there’s just two of you or four, Blue Apron gives you some of the freedom of meal planning back so you can, you know, actually sit down and enjoy dinner again.
For me, it gave us a night to celebrate. It wasn’t an anniversary, a birthday or a special date at all – it was just a Tuesday. But we made it special, much in part to Blue Apron. And that’s why I’ll stand behind it – it really has the ability to turn any night into something just a little more extraordinary.
Now, as fun and lovely readers of mine, Blue Apron is offering you an amazing discount to try it out yourselves.
- First 25 readers will get two free meals on their first Blue Apron order! Just click here: http://34.gs/x52t
*NOTE: Blue Apron sponsored this post, but in no way are my opinions persuaded by this. My thoughts are 100% my own.
Celebrate the [unofficial] start of summer with this delicious mango & mixed berry cobbler – the perfect dessert for your Memorial Day table!
This month blew by my face faster than a tornado. True, I was out of the country for most of it, but still. I’m still soaking up springtime, y’all, I’m not ready for summer, both in body and in mind. But, such is life, and I’m kind of excited to embrace the heat, the longer days, the beach weekends, the evening hammock and wine nights and the long walks under the oaks that come with my first summer as an transplant Southerner.
Although I’ve just been here a few months, I know one thing is for sure – southerners love their desserts, and celebrate any day, week, month, season change, birthday, Tuesday or season finale with one. To pay homage to my new roots, I decided to honor the change of the seasons with the most suitable of sweets – a mango & mixed berry cobbler.
To me, you can’t have summer without mango. It’s fleshy, perfectly sweet and oh-so-juicy, not to mention amazingly versatile. You can use them in smoothies, muffins, ice creams, pies or even savory dishes like chicken salad or guacamole. I’ve tried it every which way and can’t decided which my favorite is – because they’re all so good, refreshing, light and, well, summery.
My love for this fruit knows no bounds, so when the Mango Board asked me to partner with them to feature a recipe using the succulent Ataulofus mango, I *literally* jumped at the chance. This variety of mango is one of my favorite, since the seed is smaller than an average mango resulting in more juicy, delicious flesh. Because of this, I knew almost immediately I wanted to marry this beautiful fruit with other fresh ingredients, like blackberries and raspberries, and bake it all into a deliciously fragrant cobbler.
Because I live in the south and cobbler is a religion, y’all (along with spiked sweet tea, but that’s for another post entirely). Truly though, summertime is nota time to be spent sweating over the stove, which is why this dessert is a favorite. It’s mixed, baked and enjoyed in less than 60 minutes. As someone who likes to host parties and entertain, 60 minutes or less is all I want to spend away from my guests (and the wine bottle). That’s why this little number is gracing my Memorial Day shindig menu.
Whether you’re ready or not, it’ summertime – so let’s cheers with this fresh, delicious and amazing mango & mixed berry cobbler!
Mango & Mixed Berry Cobbler
Serves about 8.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: About 40 minutes
Total time: 55 minutes
For the filling:
- 3 cups peeled and chopped mangos (I used the Ataulofus variety)
- 1 1/2 cup blackberries
- 11/2 cup raspberries
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
For the topping:
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup almond meal
- 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 6 tablespoons butter, chilled
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally grease a baking dish (9 x 13, 8 x 8 or 11 x 7) with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle with flour.
- In a mixing bowl, carefully toss the fruit with the lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, honey and flour. Sprinkle in the apple pie spice and toss to combine. Cover and let rest for about 10 minutes.
- In another bowl, carefully whisk the flour, almond meal, sugar, and baking powder together. Using a pastry knife, cut in the butter until mixture resembles sand. Mix in the egg, cinnamon and vanilla and stir until fully combined.
- Spread the fruit over the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit filling.
- Bake for about 40 – 42 minutes, or until topping is golden brown and fruit is bubbly. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream and enjoy!
Nutritional information per serving:
Fat: 12.5 grams
Carbohydrates: 62.5 grams
Fiber: 1.2 grams
Protein: 4.6 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 10
NOTE: THIS POST WAS SPONSORED BY THE MANGO BOARD. HOWEVER, ALL OPINIONS AND STATEMENTS ARE MY OWN.
We’re switching gears today from Mothers Day to Cinco de Mayo – because after the horribly stressful week I’ve had, I need a day focused around cheesy baked corn dips, margaritas a plenty and more salty chips than I can muster.
I won’t go into details -to be honest, I’m just too wiped out to. Instead, we’re going to do something I never do (due to my verbose, never ending desire to blab), we’re just going to talk brass tacks. Or in this case, this dip.
Mexican food in the US is a far cry from Mexican food in Mexico – but anyone could tell you that. Their dishes are fresher, more reliant on zesty spices and herbs and are rarely, if ever, fried. That’s exactly why I truly love visiting that part of the world. The people are unique and hilarious, the settings are as diverse as they are beautiful and the food – it’s just like nothing I’ve ever had before. I’ve only been to Mexico twice (and to the same place, of all odds) but I’m always counting down until I can get my feet back into that sand, my eyes staring off into the breathtaking sunsets and my mouth firmly sunk into a tray of tacos.
Until then, I’m going to enjoy Mexican food as I’ve come to love it here in the states – laden with cheese. Luckily the rest of the dip has healthier ingredients, like lower fat cream cheese, olive oil mayo and Greek yogurt. I did that for one reason – there would be no skimping on cheese.
We need it today, loaded with chiles, corn, zesty spices, cilantro and everything that tastes good in this world. But, you know, to be somewhat healthy (and because I fed all of our tortilla chips to the turtles), it’s served with a side of fresh carrots. You can use whatever you want – chips, pita, a spoon, a fork, your face. However you eat it, one thing will remain the same – you won’t be able to stop.
So just plan to wear yoga pants.
Cheesy Baked Corn Dip
Yields about 2 cups. Adapted from Crunchy Creamy Sweet.
Prep time: About 10 minutes
Cook time: About 12 – 14 minutes
Total time: About 24 minutes
- 1 cup Greek yogurt (I used 2%)
- 1/4 cup olive oil mayo (or regular mayo)
- 4 ounces low-fat cream cheese
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 can (4 ounces) green chiles
- 1 can (14 ounces) corn, drained
- 1 tablespoons crushed red pepper
- 1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Liberally coat a skillet or baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a mixer or bowl, beat the Greek yogurt, mayo, cream cheese and 1 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. Gently stir in the corn, chiles, crushed red pepper, cilantro and salt and pepper.
- Pour the mixture into the baking dish. Top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.
- Bake for about 12 – 14 minutes, or until cheese is melted and golden brown. Serve with additional corn and chiles as garnish with carrots, pita or tortilla chips.
Nutritional information per serving (about 2 tablespoons):
Fat: 13.25 grams
Carbohydrates: 5.6 grams
Fiber: 0.8 grams
Protein: 4.2 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 4
More recipes like this one!
And I’m back again with another post any mama will love – SOFT BAKED BANANA NUT DONUTS.
Yes, they 100% deserve an all caps lock introduction. These moist, melt in your mouth donuts are probably one of the most delicious and decadent things I’ve made in a long time. And the best part? They only taste decadent – these little love bugs are actually lower in fat and calories than you think.
It’s my speciality ya’ll, of course. Making fatty things a little skinnier so we can we nosh without guilt. It’s bathing suit season after all.
At least where I live (humble brag). Moving along from donuts for a quick second, I just have to share my day yesterday. It was one of those perfect Sundays, one where we had no agenda and just did our own thing. We woke up, had a healthy breakfast, went to the beach to kayak and tan, stopped for side-street hotdogs loaded with luscious toppings, smoked fresh and flakey fish and red books on the patio with glasses of red wine. It felt like a vacation day. I didn’t stress at my computer, I barely looked at my phone.
It was the first thing, truly, that I felt like this place is home. And felt so incredible blessed I could hardly stand it. We live in a place people vacation to – and I’ve never had that before. Sure, DC was a huge tourist destination, but it wasn’t the place people escape to for relaxation, coastal breezes, long and leisurely brunches and historic carriage rides. It really hit me last night, on the patio, reading a book with a glass of wine. There was no tv on, no radio. Just the sounds of the frogs bellowing, the late-night birds chirping and the occasional splash of a turtle hopping into a pond. It felt like I was on vacation – but not. This is my home and this is my life. And holy cow – I’ve never felt so lucky and happy.
Okay, back to donuts because I’m sure you guys in colder destinations are building a voodoo doll of me as we speak. I hope this perfect donuts make up for it. They taste like a soft slide of banana bread, in an adorable and delicious donut package. Plus, the icing. THE NUTS. The perfect blend of crunchy, salty sweet. Make a big batch of these for Mothers Day and immediately catapult to favorite child in no time.
Soft Baked Banana Nut Donuts
Yields about 8 donuts.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 – 11 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
- 1 1/2 medium bananas, smashed
- 1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
For the glaze:
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Chopped nuts for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally spray a nonstick donut pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk the flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and cinnamon together. Make a well in the center and add the egg, butter, applesauce, bananas, extract and cream. Mix until batter is fully combined. Carefully add in the nuts and mix just to incorporate.
- Using a spoon or piping bag filled with batter, fill the donut cavities about 2/3 – 3/4 the way full.
- Bake for about 9 – 11 minutes, or until golden brown (they should spring back when you touch them). Let cool for about 10 minutes in pan. Once cooled slightly, remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire cooling rack.
- Meanwhile, mix the glaze ingredients together (except for the chopped nuts). Dip or spread the glaze over the donuts then immediately sprinkle with nuts. Serve and enjoy!
Nutritional information per donut:
Fat: 5.6 grams
Carbohydrates: 28.5 grams
Fiber: 1.4 grams
Protein: 3.2 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 5
You know what mom really wants for Mothers Day? I’ll give you a hint – it’s boozy, filled with fruit and can help mama relax like nothing else. It’s this melon & berry sangria!
I’ve always had a very strong appreciation for my mom. I wasn’t an easy teenager (understatement of the century) and she still put up with me. Fast forward to a few rough college years, and she probably didn’t see an end in sight. Luckily, I grew up, found myself and like to think I’ve since redeemed myself for those awful words, acts and ridiculous angst I put her through. At least I hope.
Now, I’m not a mom yet, but it definitely seems hard. We had some friends over this past weekend from out of town and they brought their sweet, bubbly 4 month old boy. He’s a darling kid – so happy, vibrant and freaking adorable. But he’s still a baby. He doesn’t sleep for more than 5 hours and can go from happy to sad in 20 seconds flat. But my friend? She handles it so gracefully. She’s calm, sweet and so patient. I don’t know how she does it. Having her here gave me even more of an appreciation for mothers.
Also having them here made me realize I’m definitely not ready for a little human just yet. I need sleep – and anything less than 6 hours has me stabby. Also, I’m clumsy and forgetful – there’s no doubt in my mind that I’d be that one mom who leaves her screaming human in the backseat of the car, in the grocery store, at home on the way to the grocery store, in a mall, on an airplane. You name it.
Oh and don’t even get me started on how selfish I am. Give up my sleep and food for a wailing baby? ahh! All jokes aside, I know I want to be a mother – just not sure this moment is the right time. Which is fine. I know you’re never “ready” to have a baby, but I’d rather be a little bit MORE ready than I am now.
But, rant aside, I have so much love and admiration for all the mamas out there. And to salute them, I’m serving up a big cup of delicious sangria filled with fresh, beautiful and bold fruit.
Melon & Kiwi Sangria
Serves about 6. Adapted from Laylita.
Prep time: >10 minutes
Chill time: 30 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
- 1 cup cantaloupe (scooped into balls)
- 1 cup watermelon (scooped into balls)
- 2 kiwis, shaved and sliced
- 1 large orange, sliced
- 1 lemon, sliced and de-seeded
- 1/2 cup cranberry juice
- 1 (750 ml) bottle white wine (I used Skinny Girl Pinot Grigio)
- 1 1/2 cups flavored fizzy water
- Fresh basil leaves for garnish
- In a large bowl or pitcher, mix the cranberry juice and white wine together. Add in the melon balls, kiwis, orange slices, lemon slices and fresh basil. Chill for about 30 – 60 minutes.
- Once chilled, serve and garnish with fresh basil leaves.
Nutritional information per serving:
Fat: >1 gram
Carbohydrates: 18.5 grams
Fiber: >1 gram
Protein: 1 gram
Weight Watchers Points: 2