Trying on Blue Apron

Does anyone remember waaaaaaaaay back in September when I had ambitions to create easy weeknight meals for when you come home and want to eat your microwave because you’re so damn hungry (#hangrymeals)? Well, being a workin’ woman who only occasionally remembers to shop for groceries and things, I’ve only come up with a few since then. I have also discovered Blue Apron. They take the shopping and meal prep out of the equation, so all you have to do is chop, sauté and season your way to a homemade dinner. No meal planning. No aimless wandering in the grocery store (am I the only person who tries to plan for the week and ends up coming home with six candles and a jar of peanut butter?). Drop your things at the door and remember that cooking can be enjoyable.

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I recently got a chance to sample three meals from Blue Apron. The sign-up process is simple, which I appreciate (I get distracted when I see too many buttons and brightly colored objects): you choose meat- or plant-based meals, how many people you’ll be cooking for, and when you’d like them delivered. It costs $9.99 per person, which is cheaper than going out and you have the fun of preparing something adventurous at home. I found myself waiting all week for the package to arrive because A) I love getting mail B) I love eating food, so getting a box full of food and recipes was like whatever the Flying Spaghetti Monster equivalent of Christmas is.

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When the box arrived, I tore it apart and rolled around in the pile of ingredients on my kitchen floor. I spent three hours deciding which to make first. I decided the eggplant tagine would do, so I cooked it all up in under 30 minutes (whole wheat couscous and a medley of vegetables with a Has El Ranout spice mix, dates, olives, CHICKPEAS, and toasted almonds). Obviously anything with chickpeas wins my heart. I am not an eggplant lover (I’m generally an avid eggplant hater, actually), and I loved this dish. The mix of ingredients was somewhat exotic and was mostly stuff I’d never pick out myself in a grocery store. Score.

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The next day I tried the Vietnamese Bun Cha. This was the most similar to what I usually make (throw a bunch of veggies together, fry tofu, coat in some sauce that involves soy sauce), but had much more grace and some cool ingredients like Thai basil and a Bird’s Eye Chile.

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My last precious Blue Apron meal was mole-mushroom tacos with kale. The ingredients were fresh and came with pepitas and lime juice, which were nice touches and amped up the flavor significantly. I have to admit that this was my least favorite of the three meals, but I think that’s because when I eat tacos my general love for kale and anything green goes out the window (I want something big and greasy and oozing salsa, which this was not). Still, it was tasty and Ben and I gobbled the tacos up faster than you can say heartburn.

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The first 30 people who sign up using the Veganizzm code can get two free meals from Blue Apron! I recommend checking them out (they’ll spice up your mid-week meal routine) or giving a gift box for the holidays.

Click HERE to redeem your two free mealz.

 

In the mean time, if you’re salivating over that Seared Tofu Bun Cha, here is the recipe from Blue Apron (serves 2!):

  • 1 14-Ounce Package Extra Firm Tofu
  • 6 Ounces Vermicelli Rice Noodles
  • 2 Ounces Bean Sprouts 
  • 1 Carrot
  • ¾ Pound Red Cabbage
  • 1 Bunch Mint
  • 1 Bunch Thai Basil 
  • 3 Tablespoons Peanuts
  • 1 Lime
  • 1 Tablespoon Coconut Palm Sugar 
  • 1 Bird’s Eye Chile
  • ¼ Cup Golden Mountain Sauce

1. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Heat a medium pot of salted water to boiling on high. Cube the tofu. Peel and cut the carrot into thin matchsticks. Remove and discard the core of the cabbage; thinly slice the cabbage leaves. Thinly slice the bird’s eye chile into rounds; remove the seeds. (For a less spicy dish, discard half the chile.) Pick the mint and Thai basil leaves off the stems; discard the stems. Roughly chop the peanuts. Using a peeler, remove the rind of the lime, avoiding the pith; mince to get 2 teaspoons of zest. Quarter the lime.2. In a medium bowl, combine the golden mountain sauce, coconut palm sugar, bird’s eye chile, lime zest and the juice of all 4 lime wedges; whisk until thoroughly combined and the sugar has dissolved.

3. In a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the tofu and cook, flipping occasionally, 7 to 9 minutes, or until evenly browned. Transfer to a bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon of the bun cha sauce; season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

4. While the tofu cooks, add the noodles to the pot of boiling water. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, or until tender. Drain thoroughly and rinse under cold water for 30 seconds to 1 minute to stop the cooking process.

5. In a large bowl, combine the cooked noodles, carrot, cabbage and remaining bun cha sauce; season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss gently to mix.

6. Divide the noodle salad between 2 dishes. Top each with half the cooked tofuand half the bean sprouts. Garnish with the Thai basil, mint and peanuts. Enjoy!

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Herbed Cranberry-Squash Vegan Stuffing

I rarely do anything ahead of time.

I promise myself week after week that I’ll make lunches on Sunday night so I will ACTUALLY bring them to work. I always forget, and most days I end up eating peanut butter jelly scoops* for lunch.

My laundry is currently forming a hard shell at the bottom of my hamper, which I will need to break apart with an ice pick. I feel I’m always talking about my laundry, but seriously, I’m just really bad at doing it.

In terms of blogging, I always promise myself I’m going to be better about posting recipes that actually pertain to the upcoming time of year. I end up posting Halloween cookies mid-November and really great summer salad recipes when it’s already too cold to feel any of your digits.

*peanut butter and  jelly eaten straight up on a spoon.

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WELL, NOT THIS YEAR, MY BAES!

I have a Thanksgiving recipe that you can make ahead of time for Thanksgiving Day to share with your family while you talk about what you’re grateful for, watch football, and commemorate the massacre of hundreds of Indians. ‘Merica! Seriously though, Thanksgiving has a seriously messed up history, but in its present incarnation is my favorite holiday (except for all the other ones).

I went to a Friends-giving party this weekend and this was NOT the only vegan stuffing (since when does that happen!?), but it was, in my biased opinion, the tastiest. I mean, cranberries, squash, rosemary, thyme, and sage… it’s just a Thanks-plosion in your mouth. So, in the spirit of getting things done ahead of time, here’s a pre-Thanksgiving recipe. And in the spirit of the holiday, I’d like to say I’m thankful for you all. And chocolate. Very much chocolate.

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Herbed Cranberry-Squash Vegan Stuffing

Seriously, this is the only stuffing recipe you need.

1 loaf crusty sourdough bread (or your favorite), torn into pieces

1 onion, chopped

1 small carrot, chopped finely

1 acorn squash, halved and seeds removed

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup fresh cranberries

2 cups white mushrooms, cleaned and chopped

4 + 1/4 cups vegetable broth

2-3 fresh sprigs of rosemary (go for the fresh! It’s so worth it.)

2-3 fresh sprigs thyme, leaves removed (discard stems)

4-5 fresh sage leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400*

  1. Rub the flesh of the acorn squash with olive oil and salt. Place face up on a lined cookie sheet and roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the orange flesh is very tender. Let cool. Once cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh of one half of the squash into a bowl. Set aside
  2. Spread the torn bread on a cookie sheet and place in the oven at 400*. Bake for 10 minutes or until the bread is golden and crisp. Pour into a large, shallow casserole pan. Set aside.
  3. While the bread/squash are in the oven, heat a large pan with 3 teaspoons of olive oil. Add the onion and cook until they start to brown, about 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic, carrots, and mushrooms. Cook another 7-8 minutes, stirring frequently. If necessary, add another ½ or 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
  4. Add the cranberries and half the fresh herbs and cook for another 3-4 minutes. When the cranberries start to split, add the scoops of squash and ¼ cup vegetable broth. Cook the whole mixture another few minutes and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Reduce the oven temp to 350*
  6. Grab the crusty bread-filled casserole dish and pour the cran-mushroom-squash mixture in. Add the remaining fresh herbs. Pour the vegetable stock over one cup at a time until the mixture seems moist, but not swimming in liquid. Mix well. In necessary, add another ¼ or ½ cup vegetable broth or water. Pat the whole thing down in the dish and place in the oven. Cook at 350* for 20-25 minutes or until the top is nice and crusty. Serve warm!
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Delicata Squash & Roasted Poblano Pizza

Fall, to me, is about making mistakes. Not the wrote-cunt-instead-of-count kind of mistakes or even the locked-my-keys-in-my-car-in-Gary-Indiana mistakes, just dumb mistakes you make when you’re in transition. By default, I spend the first three weeks of the season dressing like summer is ostensibly going to hang around for a while, but end up shivering and bitter that I can’t learn my lesson. I giddily bike places at dawn only to end up stuck peddling home in the dark (invariably sans bike light). I jump the gun to get in winter hibernation mode and find myself two pints deep in a pub on Monday night then show up at work Tuesday morning with a vicious hangover. I eat cereal out of the box at my desk for lunch most days, which isn’t a mistake per se, but is at least something I should probably think about changing.

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Mistakes catalyze learning. Fall is the perfect time to open a new chapter of change. This particular autumn has brought a new job in a new place where I’m meeting new people and making a whole new dose of mistakes. In all this newness I am learning about myself; I’m seeing my strengths and more clearly defining my weaknesses. Most days are good, a few are scary, some suck a big one.  Like, the biggest one ever. I try to remind myself that in all the newness some turd days are inevitable, but they still slap me in the face like I’m in an episode of Basketball Wives.

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Amid all of this learning and growth I can also appreciate the rock-solid support I have in my life. My boyfriend, Ben, is always there to cheer me up, or at least make all of the jokes he knows about beef tacos (only two). My family is supportive and my mom’s vegan baking habit still hasn’t subsided (can I get an amen?). I have awesome friends and family who are encouraging every step of the way. And I have pizza. Okay, mainly I have pizza.

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Squash and Roasted Poblano Pizza
#squashtober

  • 1 pizza dough (store-bought or homemade!)
  • 1 Delicata squash
  •  1 poblano pepper
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup pizza or other tomato sauce
  • handful of spinach
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • baking spray (or more coconut oil)
  • salt

Preheat the oven to 400*

1. Slice the squash the long way and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Slice into thin (1/2″ or so) slices and rub them with melted coconut oil and sprinkle with salt. Spread on a foil-lined cookie sheet and roast at 400* for 20-25 minutes, or until nice and tender. Remove and set aside.
2. If you have a gas range, place the whole poblano over a medium flame. With tongs, rotate the pobalano every 2-3 minutes until the whole pepper is charred on the outside. Place the charred pepper in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap (this helps loosen the skin). Set aside for 5 minutes, then carefully peel off the charred skin. Chop the pepper into thin slices. If you have an electric range, roast the pepper along with the squash in the oven.
3. Increase the oven temp to 450*.
4. Prepare your dough. If using store-bought, sprinkle with flour and stretch out. Spray a pizza pan or round cookie sheet with baking spray and spread the pizza dough on the sheet. Cover the crust with pizza sauce, leaving 1″ around the rim for proper crusty goodness. Layer on sliced onion, sliced poblano, cooked squash, and spinach to top the pizza. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the crust is golden and crispy. Remove and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes, then serve hot.

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