Cooking At Home With Blue Apron

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Steak & Green Peppercorn Sauce with Sauteed Kale and Baked Potatoes

I wish I could say that Blue Apron is paying me to write about them, but in truth, I just love it and wanted to share.  As many of you know, I love to cook.  It’s a passion that I indulge in as often as possible.  I love to create new recipes and work with new flavor profiles, but like many home cooks, I can easily get stuck in a cooking rut.  With meals that everyone loves already, it can be easy to just keep making the same things over and over again.  But BOOOOOOO to that.

Blue Apron is a home delivery meal system that works for me.  I didn’t want to commit to anything, but when I read their policies, I was sold.  You can quit whenever you want to and skip week after week if you feel like it, too.  My subscription is for 3 meals per week for a family of two.  A box arrives on my doorstep on Wednesday morning with everything I need to make 3 meals for my family.  There’s usually at least one ingredient each week that is new to me and there’s often ingredients that are not my favorites, but they’ve taught me how to prepare them so I now love them.  My best reference to this is the week I received turnips.  I literally cried when my mom would serve these to me growing up, so as an adult, I never gave them another chance…until Blue Apron.  I made baked turnip matchsticks one week and I was sold.  My point is that for me, it inspires me to try new things and new cooking techniques.  Blue Apron also keeps waste to a minimum in my kitchen.  If you need a one inch piece of ginger for a recipe, that’s how they send it to you.  There’s nothing to go bad.  My only complaint is that we never have leftovers.  So here’s a few of my Blue Apron creations.  I hope you’ll try it, too!

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Tinkerbell Pepper Quesadilla

 

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Sesame Chicken With Bok Choy and Jasmine Rice
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BBQ Sloppy Joes With Green Bean & Tomato Salad

 

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Spiced Pork Burgers With Pickled Beets & Cone Cabbage Slaw
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Easy Instructions with pictures come with every meal.

When Life Gets Too Easy…You Aren’t Doing It Right

Complacency leads to a life less fulfilled.  It fools us into believing we are doing things right.  When we don’t push ourselves to be more and to do more, we are short-changing ourselves and others around us.  Before 2017 begins I am really evaluating my life and the things I want to accomplish.  Without knowing the final deadline date, (as none of us do) I need to jump on it.   With that more in perspective, I’m eager to set a new pace.

Sometimes all it takes is a new point of view to remind us that life really isn’t a picnic for everyone.  It can be so easy to see only the perfect facade displayed.  Self doubt and insecurity can wreak havoc on a person’s psyche and hold them back.  Thoughts that people have it better than, are smarter than, skinnier than,  can be destructive and halt our own forward progress.  That’s when perspective usually strikes.

I was quickly reminded  yesterday morning of that very thing.  A close friend lost her sister.  It felt like a sumo wrestler sat on my chest and sucked the breath out of me when I heard the news.  I couldn’t fathom her pain of losing a sibling.  The last year plus has been so much about my grief, my sister’s pain, and my mom’s survival.  It’s been a lot of Me. Me. Me.  Damn it.   People come out of the wood work when bad things happen, too.  So many of us share the same types of loss.  Yes-it’s a part of life, but it doesn’t mean it’s okay.  It doesn’t make it easy.  We all struggle in our own ways.  Some are better at hiding their pain, while some (like me) wear it and write it all over.

But life is meant to be felt.  Pain can often create growth.  I know I’ve learned to be more compassionate with people through my own grief.  I would like to think that I’ve  learned to be a better friend, because mine have been amazing.  It has taught me how important it is to keep checking in on people and their lives.  We can miss so much when we don’t  ask.

Complacency is the easy way and not the direction I’m going to follow in my life. Life is beautiful and a gift.  It’s often hard, but through it, we can become stronger.  We can be better.  We can have a new and better perspective.  When my days feel like they are getting easier, I question what I’m missing or doing wrong now.  I wonder what else I should turn my attention to.  I want to really kick ass in life so when I take my final breath I can feel like I really lived it.  I hope this life is ready, because I have this feeling that I haven’t been doing it right.

Bring it 2017!

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Good Enough Works For Me

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A few weeks ago, I gave the hubs about five minutes to get ready for our annual Christmas shot.  (I’ve learned that trying to plan something that he doesn’t want to do will not work, so why not catch him off guard when he’s in a cheeky mood)?  A few moments later we were over the “trying to pose” and agreed it was good enough.  Shadows on the face-no problem.  Dog wants to sit on my lap and avoid looking at the camera-who cares?  I only mailed out a few this year anyway.  I just couldn’t get it together and I’m okay with that.

Even though I am okay with not reaching perfection, I still secretly strive for it;  but this year, I let go of the effort much faster.  I played Shopkins with my niece until she tired of it.  I decided not to cook the green beans on Christmas Eve, so I could have a cocktail while everything else baked in the oven.  I attended as many social functions as I could and didn’t stress when I couldn’t make them. Even when I attended events that I normally take scrumptious food, I was okay when all I had was good wine.  I even had friends over when my house wasn’t quite ready for visitors.  It made the holiday season easier.  After the prior Christmas and the year plus of palpable grief, I just wanted to rejoice in the blessings that had been shadowed by my pain and I did.  I also convinced myself I had surely lost a pound or two, but alas, that was just a farce.

To know me is to know that I dance to my own tune and it’s rarely pretty and it is always far from perfect…but I do so with enthusiasm and a smile.  It’s just not in me to be flawless.  In fact,  my sister bought me a tank that says I’m Flawsome.  I do believe that our flawed selves can be awesome and that “Good Enough” works for me.

 

 

Cheesy Jalapeño Dip

OMG-let’s talk about the holidays for a moment.  It’s crazy everywhere I go.  I went to the grocery store at 7:30 am today and I still had to wait in line.  So let’s think about good things…like my recipe requirements for the holidays.

  • Must be spicy.
  • Inexpensive
  • Quick to make
  • Gluten & Peanut free food for my besties

When the holiday shopping and traffic begins to overwhelm you, go home and make this.

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Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup of freshly chopped Jalapenos.  Remove the stems and seeds.  (It’s okay to leave a few, but remember that’s where the real heat comes from)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Extra Sharp Cheddar.  Do yourself a solid and don’t use the pre-shredded mess.  Enlist a teenager or a spouse to grate the cheese if you don’t want to do it.
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan/Romano blend.  I’m not as picky about grating this, but please do, if you can.
  • 2 cups room temperature cream cheese.  I use the lighter version, but all versions work great in this recipe.
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped cilantro.  If you hate it  (as many of my dear friends do), substitute parsley.  It’s good for you.
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • Corn chips-yassssss!  Frito chips take me back to my childhood.

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Preheat oven to 375 degrees while you are prepping everything.  It should be hot by the time you are finished with your mise en place.

  • Mix the cream cheese, mayonnaise, and sour cream together.  Blend in 3/4 cup of the cheddar, 1/4 cup Parmesan/Romano, jalapenos, and all but a pinch of the cilantro.
  • Transfer to a casserole dish.
  • Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes.
  • Uncover and add the rest of the cheese and broil for an additional 3-5 minutes.  Don’t walk away or it may burn.  You just want  a crunchy top.
  • Sprinkle the remaining cilantro on top of the hot casserole and serve hot with corn chips!  Yummy!