Blue Apron Review

Howdy Y’all,

Happy hump day! So todays post is a review of a new service I have tried last week called Blue Apron. I love to cook, I like trying new recipes and producing home cooked meals, I don’t always enjoy meal planning, list making, shopping etc. I often thought how nice would it be to have a service who took some of the hardwork out of it and voila we have Blue Apron. I had been meaning to try this for a while but with moving etc the time had never been right. When I got my hands on a coupon I thought lets give this a try. Now I am aware that Blue Apron is not the only place that provides this service but from what I have read to date Blue Apron has good feedback. It is a service which sends you in refrigerated boxes with fresh produce to provide meals for your family. You have two basic options 2 meals for 2 covers (2 person plan) or 4 meals for 4 covers (family plan.) I went with the latter because I need leftovers to send with Mr L for his lunch. Blue Apron explain that the meals are farm-fresh, seasonal produce, meat and poultry with no added hormones and sustainably-sourced seafood. So if like my family you are conscious about where your food comes from this is for you. As well as the fresh produce you are provided with extensive recipe cards which guide you in producing each meal.

A Photo Diary Of My Blue Apron Experience

Blue Apron Delivery
Here waiting on my doorstep as described was my first delivery
Blue Apron Box Open
When I opened the box, everything was well packed and very cold from the efficient ice packs provided, these can be reused by you if you want to. I was also impressed with the small brochure with seasonal ideas and the menu cards provided.
img_7400
Inside the boxes, you can see how cold the products are kept, which is a deep concern for people like me who live in a warm climate.
img_7406
The first meal I prepared was Lemongrass Roasted Pork . This had the thumbs up. Mr L loves pork so I knew it would be a hit.
img_7404-2
Please don’t judge my messy plate, I should have wiped it. But this is a view from above.
img_7411
This is Pan-Seared Barramundi with Prince of Orange Potatoes & Spinach. This was also delicious, I perhaps chopped the potatoes a little small, I enjoyed cooking with Barramundi, I love to cook fish but had never cooked this. I love extending my repertoire.
img_7412
An overview and the plate is a little cleaner.
img_7414
This was the vegetarian option Broccoli & Cheese Enchiladas with Tomatillos & Sour Cream, now a veg dish has to be good to get Mr L’s approval and this did. It was delicious. Plus it got Little L eating lots of veggies.
img_7416
These were yummy.
img_7417
Seared chicken with brown rice and glazed carrots. This was yummy and the purple carrots were different.

I have Blue Apron delivering this week, mainly because I have been so impressed. The app and website have a great interface, clear and easy to use. The service is first class, every time I have emailed the response has been prompt and effective. I will add, this service is not for someone who has little or no interest in cooking, it does require prep. If you are looking for a prepared meal service this is not for you. If you are a family or couple pushed for time who like wholesome good food and enjoy eating around the table this is for you. If you are in a meal rut and like some insipiration this also may help. The meal cards, provide extensive photographic and written method so if your wanting to improve your cooking this would also help. I really wish they had this service when my husband and I were both working. This would be a great gift idea for new parents or a family or couple on the go. I have been so impressed I intend to keep the service up, I will use in weeks where we have lots going on. If you wish to cancel or miss a week to do so is very easy and straightforward.

If you were thinking of giving this service a try I urge you to do so.
Enjoy the rest of your week.
Ta ta for now
TLLx

The Crock Pot Challenge!

Howdy Y’all,

Happy Tuesday, how are you doing? Life here is pretty good, I was a proud Mama Lifestyle yesterday because Little L had her first swimming lesson without me. It was bittersweet. I was full of pride, if you had looked closely you may have seen a tear (heaven forbid;) but also it was like someone had kicked me in the stomach as I realized that Little L is needing me less and less. Full blown “big girl” status has begun, but there maybe one place that she will always want to go with mummy and that is the kitchen.  It is that which provided inspiration for today’s post. I want to establish a meal/family time atmosphere where we gather and share not only food but thought and feelings about our day. In my childhood sitting together at dinner was not always possible with my fathers work commitments but without fail (unless traveling) we sat to a breakfast together every morning. (Civilized Brits!) I want to continue this where I can.

Whatever your situation is in life we are all busy and stressed, and are all looking for ways to be more effective and efficient. I for one have much more energy in the morning and by the end of the day I am tired and the idea of producing a home cooked meal is less appealing so another reason for my love of October is cracking out the Crock Pot or Slow Cooker. For those of you who have an Aga you could follow the same recipes, in your cooler oven. Several months ago a dear friend linked something on her Facebook page which appealed to me. 8 Super Easy Crock Pot Freezer Meals. The article suggested that these meals could be prepared in 45 mins (not buying the groceries obviously.) The Lifestyle Lady loves a challenge so low and behold I had a crack at it. I loved the fact you prepared the meals raw into individual freezer bag and then leave to thaw overnight in the fridge, then the next morning very little is needed other than to throw it into the Crock Pot.

Preparing for the challenge x
Preparing for the challenge x

Here is what I found…….

Meals to be prepared:-

  1. Crock Pot Orange Chicken
  2. Crock Pot BBQ Spareribs
  3. Crock Pot Cheesy Chicken Potatoes & Broccoli
  4. Crock Pot Honey Garlic Chicken
  5. Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff
  6. Crock Pot Nacho Chicken
  7. Crock Pot Chicken Sweet Potatoes
  8. Crock Pot Pulled Pork
IMG_5889
The majority of the ingredients needed for the challenge
  • The first thing I did was label up all the bags so they were good to go.
  • Use a black Sharpie I have found these survive the freezer best. Plus it is the easiest to read when you need the instructions after thawing.
  • I then piled them up in order of preparation so they were much easier to grab.

IMG_5898IMG_5899

  • If you notice in the ingredients picture I did cheat a little and buy smaller carrots which do not require peeling or chopping they can go straight in the bag. Which I think must also have been used in the original challenge because 45 mins does not leave much time for food preparation even if you use an electric chopper or food processor.

Crock Pot Orange Chicken

  • This one was an easy start and not labor intensive, the bell pepper required chopping ( you could cut time down by using a machine.
  • I also used the entire bell pepper as I get fed up with that quarter or half that ends up in glad wrap looking sad in my fridge and more often than not I end up throwing out.
  • You will also note that I used chicken breasts that were already sliced, yes this is expensive but I got these on deal. Plus I am always a little anxious of raw chicken.
  • I am also a fan of the chopped garlic in a jar, I know it is not as good as the fresh variety but for meals like this it works great and I found easier do deal with and more economic.

IMG_5902Crock Pot BBQ Spareribs

  • This was not labor intensive but when I was buying the ribs I could only find 4lbs of ribs (this is Texas after all.) I got chatting to the butcher and he cut one of the portions in half. If I had a larger freezer I would have bought the full portion and made two meals.
  • I also had to cut the 2lb portion in half to fit into the zip lock effectively.
  • We have already eaten this and it was delicious. Ribs are a big hit with the men in my life. I served them with coleslaw and jacket potatoes but you could easily serve with fries or a salad. Whatever your thing is!
IMG_5905
Super easy and super yum!

Crock Pot Cheesy Chicken Potatoes & Broccoli

  • As you begin to hit your food prep stride this one is a little more labor intensive.
  • I am not the greatest delicate chopper. This does require some delicate chopping. In fact if you have a mandolin to slice the potatoes very thin, that would be the best.
  • The cheese is not pictured as it is required to be added on the day of cooking rather than freezing. I may also vary the cheese, Velveeta might not be my thing.
IMG_5909
Got to love anything with Worcestershire Sauce

Crock Pot Honey Garlic Chicken

  • The preparation for this was less because of my choices. Buying small prepared carrots and garlic in a jar, all I had to do was add it to the bag.
IMG_5910
God Bless easy prep

Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff

  • This one is more time intensive just because of the sheer amount of ingredients.
  • The preparation is very straight forward.
  • I also bought the mushrooms already sliced.

IMG_5912

Crock Pot Nacho Chicken

  • This was the easiest to prepare. Not rocket science.

IMG_5915

Crock Pot Chicken Sweet Potatoes 

  • Just when you thought you had this prep thing in the bag another slightly intensive one springs its head.
  • I did cheat and use my food processor as I was SICK of chopping by this point.
IMG_5919
Little more prep to this one!

Crock Pot Pulled Pork

  • Again this final meal is super easy to prep.
  • The size of the meat is the most difficult to store, I did cut this up into smaller parts as it was easier to manage and marinade.
  • To be honest by this time I was a little sick of measuring and chopping.
IMG_5923
One big old butt and I can not lie :0)
IMG_5924
The collection of meals!
IMG_5927
All done, prepared and labelled!

I think the preparation took me a little over one hour, please note that I was taking photographs at the same time, which certainly added to the preparation time. I do think I am a fairly competent cook so 45 mins for all prep seemed a little ambitious. But maybe as I become more familiar with the recipes that would shave time off. I have not cooked all the recipes yet. I take comfort in knowing if I have a busy day coming up I can pull something out of the freezer (if I remember!!!) I do not have a large or practical freezer, if I did I would be off storing more of these meal ideas. I did keep the receipt for these meals but in my LL cleaning frenzy I threw it, but I think I remember it costing around $150 mark. Please note I buy organic and I also buy certain things already prepared purely for convenience so you could shave some cost that way. You also don’t have to do all this they way I have. You could wait for store deals or coupons and make meals on individual basis. I am the sort of person who likes to prepare a few meals at one time. This is also a great idea if you have a friend who is sick or had a baby. They can freeze and cook when needed. I enjoyed the process and have had positive feedback from the family regarding the results. We have not had many of the meals but the ones we have, we certainly enjoyed.

Do you use a slow cooker? Do you have menus you love? Is this challenge something you would be willing to try? Get in touch!!! I would love to hear from you!

IMG_5893
Bon Appetite I am off to enjoy a drinkie with the fruits of my labor x

Ta ta for now!

TLL xx

Recipe Organization – My Pink Bible

Howdy Y’all,

Happy Tuesday. One question I often have been asked is how do I meal plan? When I am out with friends we often quiz each other with “what you cooking for dinner?” One thing I have learnt that does not work (for me at least) is to turn up at the store and think that inspiration will fly out at me from the grocery aisle and say “make me.” Despite knowing this I occasionally find myself in this predicament. I do love to cook, this does not mean I am good at it, or that I love to cook all the time. I should say I love to cook when I’m organized in my life. My mother and grandmother are and were excellent cooks so they set the bar and probably started my interest in cooking . To some the idea of planning and a lack of spontaneity may take the joy out of cooking but for me it is quite the opposite, the more I plan, the more I enjoy. I have meal planned for a while and I am an avid recipe collector. I think I mentioned in an earlier blog I have a bookcase almost exclusively dedicated to cookery and baking. I do very much enjoy looking through the books in the evening and gaining inspiration. I also use websites, Pintrest and I luckily do have food magazine subscriptions. In Casa Lifestyle you will often see print outs or tear out recipes on my coffee table where something has inspired me to try it.

It was several years ago where I found I had a plastic wallet full of recipes I wanted to or had tried and very little order to them. This did not agree with my slightly organized side and my Bible was born. I mean no offense to anyone by referring to it as my Bible. It is a very important file to me. It would probably be in my top ten possessions to save in case of fire. (Fear not Mr L and Little L your above it.) It is a work in progress, I am constantly adding and editing it. It is not neat or beautiful but I think that adds to its authenticity. To me its a little like an old cookbook, I like to see splash marks over the pages it signifies love and usage, my pink Bible is like that. It is a little like me it has swelled and has had to move up a size but it is full of love and memories. I can honestly tell you that I am very proud when my family tell me something tastes delicious and Little L goes “num num num.”

The Pink Bible - special to me x
The Pink Bible – special to me x

I mentioned that my pink Bible is a work in progress. I will explain. I have ten dividers :-

Beautiful handwriting
Beautiful handwriting
  1. Recipes I want to try. If I have a new recipe I wish to try it goes in here. I aim to try at least one from this section once a week. I also cull this section regularly, if something is not a fit out it goes.
  2. Menu Plans. If I have a very successful week, where every meal has been a hit then I will add the plan here. If my week is crazy busy and I have had little or no time to menu plan, I have menus with grocery lists in here where I can grab and go get what I need. I try to use these only in emergencies because I like the discipline of creating new menus each week.
  3. Everyday Meals Meat. To make it into this section, the recipe will be tried, tested and loved. These are recipes I know how to cook and will be a hit. They are scruffy and covered in notes where I have added comments to remind me what works better. This applies to all the following sections.
  4. Everyday Meals Fish and Veg. Similarly to meat to make it to this section the recipes are much-loved. Fish is loved in this house but I am married to a carnivorous male who enjoys meat and fish, so vegetarian meals have to “cut the mustard” so those recipes are good.
  5. Everyday Meals Slow Cooker. My favorite section especially at this time of year. I have been asked lots of questions about slow cooking and I promise to do some blog posts about it.
  6. Starters. These next sections relate more to entertaining or special occasions, like the rest, a collection of recipes that work.
  7. Entertaining Mains. These recipes tend to be more complex or extravagant than everyday but they are ones I have used and work very well. This is a great idea if you have unexpected guests or recipes you can lend to friends.
  8. Desserts. Who doesn’t love a pudding, we don’t have them very often but occasionally if entertaining or on a Sunday I might whip something up and I have a much treasured collection.
  9. Baking. I actually have baking books with recipes that I am loyal too but I have occasionally found one or two that I have found tried and loved and they go in here.
  10. Holiday Cooking. This is full of recipes relating to holidays that I have tried and love. This is ever-expanding. Halloween cookies, pecan pie etc. I am including lots of my new US finds in here.

So that is how I arrange and organize my recipes. Do you do similar things? Do you have a system that works better? I will explain in another blog post how I actually plan meals. I also find that this system would benefit you, if you are a coupon lover or if you use the store flyers to plan your meals. Fresh produce can soon add up so having a collection of recipe means that you have something that works when pork loins are on special or there is a great price on fillet steak. I also enjoy the familiarity of it. I will share with you a little secret, it is my ambition to create a file full of recipes Little L loves so that when she flies the nest I can duplicate and give it to her and she can share with her family. I have several recipes in my file which belong to my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother and take comfort in handing these on.

I will blog soon on how I actually plan my weekly meals.

Ta Ta for now.

IMG_5994
Sometimes a much-loved recipe will be typed, printed and laminated. (God I love a laminator.) This is often when I have shared it with others or it has been destroyed by my messy cooking style :0)
IMG_5996
An example of recipes torn out of a mag, but used and loved x

TLL x