Menu plan Week #36 included 3 introductory meals from Blue Apron. In the past I did not quite understand why someone would pay for meal delivery and still need to cook the meal. In addition, it seemed to me that the meals were not very cost efficient or budget friendly. BUT, I had a coupon. You must understand that I really like to take advantage of coupons. This particular coupon was $30 off of the normal weekly 3 meal price of $59.94 AND it expired the end of February. I decided it was time to give Blue Apron a try.
The initial sign up showcased the 3 main meal offerings. Although there were 2 alternatives offered, I decided to stick with the main plan. The Blue Apron box arrived on Tuesday.
The food was well packaged, and the perishables very cold, in fact the cod was still frozen.
I did a quick inventory and reviewed the directions for each meal.
Actually I was a little intimated. The directions included foods and methods that I have never tried, and I feel like I am a rather seasoned cook.
My menu plan included three Blue Apron meals. Initially I had them in a different order than I actually prepared them. I opted to do the cod first since I wanted the fish to be very fresh.
Believe it or not the cod was still frozen when I began the meal preparation, but was thawed and ready when needed.
The exquisite crunch on tonight’s cod fillets comes from tempura frying, a Japanese technique that creates a deliciously light crust. (Using extra-cold water when you make your batter will ensure the cod crisps up perfectly!) On the side, our Thai-inspired carrot and radish salad gets its savory depth from a complex dressing made with traditional ingredients like tamarind and rice vinegar.
I must admit that I was the only flaw in the outcome of this meal. My skillet although non stick…stuck. Thus the tempura batter remained in the skillet rather than on the fish. Regardless this meal was quite enjoyable and the parts of the fish that retained the tempura crispness…excellent. The salad surprised me since I am not particularly fond of radish or carrot. It had a great crunch, was very tasty and complimented the fish perfectly.
Unfortunately I did not take a picture of our meal, so I used the image included on the recipe card.
Each meal includes all of the ingredients and full directions. In addition on line at Blue Aprons’s website there are mini cooking lessons and wine suggestions, as well as feedback and reviews from cooks who have already prepared the meal. Helpful.
The only meal that I had reservations about was the lamb, beef and mushroom stew, since I am not a lamb lover.
This dish is inspired by the rich, complex flavor of shepherd’s pie, a hearty meat stew topped with a mashed potato crust. We’re cooking ground lamb and beef with vegetables like mushrooms and celery, plus zesty, aromatic spices like garlic powder, fennel seed and savory.
Once again the complexity of the flavors was delicious. It was as comforting as shepherd’s pie with a twist. I sliced the potatoes a little too thin, but baked them in two batches so that they lay flat on the tray. The potatoes in the first batch were more like potato chips, the second batch not as crispy. I used both to layer our servings and we very much enjoyed this meal.
The final Blue Apron meal was Seared Chicken with Pearl Couscous. This meal was my least favorite to prepare.
I was concerned about keeping things warm as directed, but it worked out fine.
Although I thought this meal would be our favorite when I initially reviewed the three offerings, it was our least favorite. However, that in no way means that we didn’t enjoy the entree. It was extremely good, just maybe a little sweet. I should have added a little more red pepper flakes to balance the sweetness, but I am always overly careful with the ‘Ole Buckeye. He prefers less heat.
Tonight’s dish is inspired by the cuisines of the Mediterranean, where bright, lively flavors reign supreme. To serve with our chicken and pearl couscous (named for its larger, round shape), we’re making a pan sauce that gets a citrusy pop from the fresh juice of a blood orange.
The recipes from Blue Apron were not only delicious, but taught me new ways of layering flavors. Several of the techniques I will definitely use in subsequent meal preparation. Another plus was that I fully utilized the ingredients. I realized that by making these meals on my own, aside from a grocery run, I would purchase more than required creating a need to incorporate the remaining ingredients in later meals.
Obviously menu plan #36 did not only include Blue Apron meals. Two nights were cook once/eat twice meals, and we enjoyed two dinners out with family and friends. The week was rounded out with a new stuffed pork chop dinner that has been planned for several weeks but bumped. The apple, bacon, blue cheese stuffed pork chops were delicious. In fact the ‘Ole Buckeye said they may have been the best pork chops he has ever eaten. Wow!
Apple Bacon and Blue Cheese Stuffed Pork Chops – thick cut pork chops stuffed with a delicious stuffing made with apples, bacon and blue cheese. I’m going through a pork phase again. All I can think of is juicy pork chops and bacon. I think I need to strive for more balance in my meals.
I also created a great spinach salad to accompany this entree. I used leftover dressing from my fall spinach salad (cook once/eat twice). I simply created a side salad with fresh spinach, thinly sliced apples, blue cheese, crumbled bacon, and pomegranate seeds, utilizing many of the ingredients included in the pork chop stuffing.
It was delicious.
Now I have a dilemma. Do I utilize Blue Apron in the future at the regular price? Do I opt out? I am skipping the service next week due to a road trip to Washington DC. I will need to evaluate the pros and cons. Obviously in future menu plans my decision will be evident. Regardless the past week was filled with good eating.