Mushroom & Lemon Cream Sauce – Chicken

I love dark meat, yes it is true. I also love thighs: my thighs, fat thighs, Chris Pratt’s thighs, and chicken thighs…..which is what we are talking about today. Do yourself a wonderful favor and cook with some dark meat because dark meat is heavenly. You cannot argue that! I make this dish so often that I never thought to publish a recipe since to me it isn’t anything special, but good lord I posted a picture on Facebook and I thought I was going to get eaten alive. Y’all came after me. Enjoy! This also takes 30 minutes to throw down from start to finish so this fancy meal real isn’t that time consuming.

Ingredients
4 Bone in – Skin on Free Range Chicken Thighs
2 Cups Sliced baby portobello mushrooms
1/2 red/white onion diced finely
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 Lemon worth of zest & Juice
1 Cup Chicken Stock
1 Cup Whole Fat Milk
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
2 TBSP Kerrygold Butter
2 TBSP Flour

P.S I never said this recipe was healthy.

How To

Start getting a pan hot on medium-high heat, I used my cast iron skillet. Put your butter and a little oil of your choice in the pan. By mixing your butter and oil you get a higher burn temperature so that your butter doesn’t burn and ruin your whole dish. While the pan is getting hot salt and pepper your chicken thighs ON BOTH sides, love everyone equally. Place the thighs skin DOWN in the pan – your pan should sizzle – kitchen music. Let the thighs sit there and work there magic DO NOT touch them for 4-5 minutes and by the time you flip them over they should have beautiful brown caramelization. Now, you can finish your chicken in the pan but I through mine in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes because I wanted to finish my sauce by the time the chicken was done and you NEED those pan drippings. Chicken is in the oven. Throw a another pat of butter in the pan you used to cook your chicken and toss in the garlic, onions, and mushrooms. While you are moving everything around you will notice the drippings coming off the bottom of your pan….we want this! Once your onions are translucent add your flour and let it cook for a minute or so and then finally add your fluids: milk and broth. Stir everything together and let your sauce come to a simmer so that it can thicken. I add in the parmesan and lemon juice & zest right before plating so that it stays bright and fresh. I served this with mashed potatoes, then sauce, then chicken placed on top. The side dish pictured is brussel sprouts roasted with balsamic and walnuts.

I hope you enjoy!

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Vegetarian Coconut Curry

I have been making curry for a long time and every time I do I get these weird ass looks from people. Like, are we not in America? I don’t talk shit about your “Chinese” food……even though orange chicken from Panda Express is not authentic, Kyle. I can have any cuisine I want delivered to my door in a matter of minutes. America is a mixing pot of foods, hello! How are there so many people out there AND that I apparently know that have not had curry?! The real question is why have you waited so long to provide a recipe, Krystal?
Fine.

I just recently started using coconut milk. I know I know, vegan/vegetarian friends I am an awful person, but I have now seen the light. Another weird food people seem to be terrified of. You guys, unless you are allergic to coconut like my mother claims to be you must put coconut milk in this recipe or I will not speak to you. Coconut milk is luxurious, smooth, and adds a creamy component you never thought you needed and will never be able to live without. It does NOT make your dish taste like coconut, it does NOT taste like the coconut I guarantee most are familiar with because although Malibu rum is delicious it is not the real flavor of coconut…….Krystal.

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Now, let us discuss curry. “Curry” is a mix of spices made up mainly of: curry leaf, coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, and chili peppers. I made this particular recipe with a yellow curry blend as it is the only blend Raleys sells…….because it’s not spicy and let’s be honest not too out of the norm. Curry comes in all different colors and spice levels though, and even I have yet to venture out and make those on my own. I do order red, yellow, and green curry when me and the other girl at work order Indian/Thai. You can, of course make your own blend, but no thank you for me. The spices in this blend are perfect as there really isn’t too much of any one spice to overpower the others.
Curry is set it and forget it for at LEAST a few hours. It’s stew but 100000 times better. This is an ultimate comfort dish for us and a staple. I make curry of different variations several times a month.

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Please don’t mind my giant tub of pink salt my dad brought me. Yay Costco!

 

Please please PLEASE get out of your comfort zone and make this. When you do post it. Even if you hate it and feed it to your dog…..tell me!

Recipe (Finally)

Ingredients
1 Can of Coconut Milk
4 Tablespoons Curry Powder of your choosing
2 Tablespoons of Kerrygold butter
1 Tablespoon Avocado Oil
1 Medium Yellow Onion
1/2-1 Cup Veggie Stock
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 Can of Chickpeas
10-15 Small Golden Potatoes cut in quarters
3 Carrots
Green onions or cilantro, jalapeno, lime, and a runny egg for garnish if you so choose.

Saute your onions and carrots in the butter and avocado oil and once they are golden in color add your garlic to cook for 1-2 minutes. Add your curry powder to really wake up the spices, and then add the entire can of coconut milk to the pan. Mix and get all the goodness off the bottom of the pan. Now, when to add the chickpeas is a personal opinion. I personally like them to simmer for the few hours with the potatoes and carrots, but some people prefer them to maintain their body and then you would want to add them about an hour before serving. Add potatoes, salt and pepper. Because potatoes soak up so much flavor/fluid I added half cup of veggie stock which made the curry initially too thin BUT once this simmers for a few hours it is perfect. Consistency is very similar to a beef stew that has marinated all day. Remember you can add whatever you want to this! I simmer mine on low heat for 4 hours and everything comes out magical.

Serve over rice or even more veggies!

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Why I can’t Eat the way You do

I have been wanting to write a post like this for quite some time, and yet lacked the motivation or inspiration until now.

I am more often than not critiqued on the way I eat and even more so the grocery stores I shop at and the money I spend on food. Now, before we continue please read that one more time and really focus on the last word. Food. Food is the essence of life. We live off of food and food alone. We either slowly die from the food we are consuming most or we thrive. Those are truly the only two options. Food is important to me for many different reasons and I am hoping to explain them in way you can understand in this post. I will not blab about organic, GMO, or all the other new hippy words on the market. I am simply going to explain why the quality of the food I feed myself and my family is fundamentally important to me and in so hope to gain some understanding.

#1 Food Fuels My Body
I have an autoimmune disease. If you are new to this blog I have Dermatomyositis to be more specific. You can Google that on your own time, and I wish you luck….no one suffers from it so no one cares. You will not find charities, ribbons, t-shirts or research.
I have to take care of my body. Shocker, right? The funny thing is, though: so do you. You may not be sick, diseased or disabled such as myself, but for me it would be an even better reason to take care of my healthy body. Okay, back to me. Food makes or breaks me. I have been so in tune with my body this year. I can tell you what I need to eat to feel better, I can tell you the exact time I need to go to the bathroom (accomplishment when you’ve taken medication since the age of 9),and I can tell you what I ate that sent me into a spiral of misery. I know my body.

When you suffer from a disease you are forced to become more in tune with your body. When you live in pain you become much more aware of “triggers” because baby Jesus knows you don’t need more. I eat Taco Bell, I eat fried foods, I live on butter, and I am by no means the idol of perfect health. Yet, everything I eat I know exactly what I am in for. Kyle and I had Smash Burger yesterday for lunch. My order: fried chicken sandwich, sweet potato fries, and fried pickles. Yes, girl I can eat. Do you know what the rest of my day looked like? Me rolling around on the floor in agony while my dogs trampled me thinking my entire existence was nothing but a joke. I did nothing the rest of the day. I eat bad. I just know the consequences. Want to know what I ate today? Some dandelion root tea, a vegan protein shake, some chicken sausage, and a banana protein muffin. It is 2:30pm and I am overflowing with energy. I made breakfast burritos for the week, those muffins, marinating chicken for another post, and this isn’t the first post I’ve written today….its the 3rd. If I was physically able to I’d run a couple miles. I feel amazing today, and I have lived too much of my life miserable or in pain to sabotage myself too often. My body suffers when I treat it like crap. My hair is starting to grow back after 15 years. My hair.  This may be due to me no longer being on medications, but I have not taken a chemo based drug in over 10 years….if my hair was going to grow back simply by being off of that it would have happened a while ago. Derma (skin) my skin is better. My joints only ache when I overdose on unhealthy foods (totally worth it from time to time). I have never had a sweet tooth, and I truly think it was my body’s way of protecting me when I was initially diagnosed and still to this day….sugar lights my body on FIRE. I am telling you that I am not healed but I am better. I am better because I eat like I give a damn.

#2 Knowing WHERE my Food comes from is Important
Some foods are much better organic, but I am always more interested in WHERE my food comes from. Why? Because, local is better. Less travel time means food is at its freshest. Less travel time means less chance of contamination or losing quality. Believe it or not I only buy certain foods organic, and the list is very small. I prefer to shop local. I prefer to shop quality. Food is going into your body for one reason: to provide your body energy. Food tastes great but our bodies do not care how food tastes our bodies care about how they can use it to heal us or keep us healthy. I buy Kerrygold butter because it is grass fed (do your own research, ever wonder how I weigh 90lbs but eat butter with ultimately every meal? Grass fed…..breaks down in your body completely differently….your body can use it), I buy meat from our local butcher because the meat comes from a farm less than 100 miles away, I buy local cage free eggs — way more important than organic eggs. Now, buying local comes at a price simply because farmers or local businesses cannot beat out large store prices. Take that or leave it. I find quality and peace of mind in buying ingredients local so I know exactly what I am getting, and you are helping along someone’s dream.

#3 Food is my hobby
Hello? I write a food blog. I love eating. I love cooking and I place importance on those two things. Local and better quality food tastes better which results in a better end product for me to publish. Kyle and I go out to eat maybe twice a month. We do not live a lavish life and so many things that we save on is what allows us to have a larger grocery budget than most. People spend their money on things and items that are important to them. My health and food go together, so how is me spending more money, time, and energy on food any different than someone spending their hard earned money a brand new TV? It’s not. I have priorities different than someone else. Welcome, to life. You can bet anything in the world that I will buy a $5 bottle of almond milk, but you can also bet that you won’t see me at a bar downtown every Saturday night buying drinks or buying name brand socks….Target brand that shit.

I hope this opens the eyes of one person. I know long posts tend to be my least popular, but it was something I felt. I write what I feel. Your food is fuel. Your food is medicine. Your food is your life.

 

 

The “New Me” is already Here – Farewell 2016

I really did not want to be the typical person posting an end of year blog post, but here I am being all typical and shit.

I really only wanted to read today. I am about halfway through Tana French’s The Trespasser and it is beginning to get good. Yet, like 99% of my plans I never seem to follow completely through. I had tea and a pastry for breakfast #newyearnewme and sat at my kitchen table for over a half hour staring into space before I decided to even open the laptop. I still keep writing, sitting back, sighing “this is shit”, and continuing. What do I even have to say?

2016 was not awful to me. Shocker, I know. 2016 was a messy monster for most, but I’ve been battling monsters my entire life. I have looked a lot of fears in the face and so cheers 2016 but 17 may need to step it up. 2016 was my year of letting go, my year of the in-between, and my year of finding a center. I am not going to make any dumb resolutions either. You can choose to start or give up any time of the year do not let the overdose of champagne fool you.

I wrote a post earlier this year about living out the remainder of the year “in-between”. I wrote a book the previous year and it seemed to have stitched some old wounds for me, I wasn’t sure the direction I wanted to head next, I was not really hungry for much of anything, and I somehow someway came to acceptance with that. I had this clarity and it was one of the most beautiful moments of my year if not my life. I don’t always need a plan. I don’t always need to be spreading myself so thin. It is okay to just be living.  So, I lived this year.

I started this blog mainly to keep myself occupied, because we all know I wasn’t too serious about just doing nothing productive. I also absolutely need lists in my life like I need butter or wine. I know they are slowly killing me but they are necessities, dammit. The support for WWB has been overwhelming for me. It took 3 months to post my first article. I am a writer. I am proud of that. I just hate that it took me 25 years to accept my talent and share it. I let that fear go. I have found that people that have been through the most have the most to say. So, here we are blogging and cooking away. A small blog that has branched out to connect me with family, friends, strangers, new business’, new experiences, and most importantly a new outlook on my life.

Cooking, writing, cooking, writing, cooking, writing. If I could hold them both in each hand it’d be a juggle for which I love more. They are my center. I found my center this year. I always knew where those passions were – buried deep in my chest, but I was too busy trying to be successful, I was too occupied trying to prove to everyone around me that the sick girl can do it all. I spent years of my life doing just that. And, you know what? No one cared but me, no one noticed but me, because I may have healed some wounds but the stigma of disease and sick still stalk me like a shadow. I am not healed from those stigmas. Instead of gashed out wounds in my core, though they have shrunk to be like paper cuts between the webbing of my fingers. Sick. Disease. Lemon juice in said cuts. I have made progress because just 6 months ago I would have never let you read that. I would have written it, locked it far away, and hope to God no one ever found it. It’s okay to be hurt, and it is okay to be a work in progress.I never want to be complete. Some of these wounds I will choose to keep.

I still do not have a house, and I still do not know if I’d like to give up my life savings to obtain one just so I can work the rest of my life to pay it off or spend my fortunes on seeing the world. Although, yesterday, I had nothing to do at work at read about deep vein thrombosis and air travel and now I am convinced I am may die on a plane. Who knows? I am happy.

I still do not have a baby. I still do not want a baby. Kyle does not want a baby, because that is always the second question asked “but doesn’t your husband want children?” as if I would sacrifice my body and my decisions for my husband’s happiness. No thank you, sir. Find a new wife. We have our dogs and our little house. We both have a true and meaningful understanding that having one another is what brings us happiness.Not things. Not the American way. Our Life. Our way.

I still only need people in my life that support myself and Kyle. No longer are people allowed to just be blank spaces. Contribute and add something to the many things constantly rotating in our lives or leave. I have left so many people behind this year I feel practically weightless. I suppose as I go into 2017 the thing I feel the most is refreshed. I can breathe for the first time in 16 years.

These were my high points of 2016 and that is how I am going to choose to remember the year by.

Food for Thought 2016

  • Always be reading something
  • Do not eat shrimp
  • Keep all brides drunk
  • Bust your ass at work but leaving everything there after leaving for the day
  • Shop local and shop small business’
  • Have at least 2 dogs…..1 is never enough
  • Support everyone’s dream if they are brave enough to tell it to you
  • You will find the best moments of your life happening when you’re two glasses deep in champagne and eating a grilled sandwich for brunch
  • Butter
  • Mario Kart
  • Laugh until your temples hurt
  • Remember that whatever may ail you, whatever has ailed you speak about it, support research, and share your journey openly – I am not a sick girl, I am not a diseased girl. I am Krystal Renee

Cheers

 

Brussel Sprouts & Cranberries

The holidays are upon us!

Well, they will be when I decide to publish this. Currently, it is the day before Halloween but no one cares because Halloween is on a Monday this year so everyone was drunk yesterday. Also, drunk today if you are me.

Brussel Sprouts are a staple in our home. Kyle will eat them but I am honestly not convinced that he enjoys them nearly as much as myself. I am prepared for no one to like this article since I can count on one hand how many people I know that like the brussels. I will tell all the haters though that you probably just weren’t raised right. When I bring these babies to work I get these disgusted looks from coworkers and always a similar story: my grandma/mom/aunt always made brussel sprouts boiled and made us eat them. Boo hoo your childhood was tragic. Disaster number 1 would be to boil brussel sprouts as they deserve to be sauteed or roasted.

I have many recipes for the brussel: asian, spicy, butter & parm, brussel caesar salad etc. We will see how this recipe goes over before posting any further.

This is one of the easiest side dishes but impressive with the fun ingredients and colors. Just.Make.It.

Ingredients

Brussel Sprouts (I did about 3 cups)
2 Cloves Garlic
Olive Oil
Tablespoon Butter (you know I am the Kerrygold girl)
1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries
1/2 Cup Feta Cheese
Red Pepper Flakes
S&P

I sauteed the brussels in olive oil and butter – added my S&P, red pepper flakes and let these heifers cook.

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Added in cranberries when brussels were about 4-5 minutes away from being done. Taste the brussels as you go since everyone will have their own variation of “done”. I do not like mine mushy so I generally only cook them on medium for no longer than 10 minutes depending on how they were cut.

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When you are satisfied with the done-ness? of the brussels turn off the heat and toss in your feta to serve. Feta is not a good melting cheese so you want to serve this quickly after tossing everything together.

Final Thoughts 

Next time I think I am going to throw some roasted walnuts in here.

Perfect Holiday Dish.

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Battle of the Boxes: Blue Apron vs Plated

If you have not heard of Blue Apron or Plated continue enjoying life living under a rock. Please do not let this blog disturb you as I am sure it is quite peaceful under the shelter of a boulder.

Blue Apron and Plated pop up all over my emails, Facebook, and Instagram on the daily. I’ve never followed either service until we decided to make the two brands duke it out, and so I am assuming the Internet is reading this blog and chooses to advertise food to me. “Hey all you post about is food – here is a box full of it, fatty!” -Internet. So, the idea was born for competitions between meal delivery services.

Blue Apron and Plated are the most advertised and in my humble opinion the most popular for meal delivery make it yourself fancy culinary grade service. Too many adjectives? Both companies are about equally priced, seem to have a similar style in meals, but Blue Apron demolishes in the world of marketing. I can guarantee 9/10 people have heard of Blue Apron, but maybe only half of those people know of Plated. I wanted to change that. I wanted to see who was really better. I was joined by my friend, Rayann on this adventure, and then the idea to include husbands came about. Plated and Blue Apron advertise they provide all ingredients for culinary grade meals with detailed instructions to make the process of cooking a breeze. Well, neither of our husbands can make scrambled eggs. So, we shall see.

This is a full and detailed review of both subscriptions.

Step 1: Ordering

Ordering was not challenging. These are subscription boxes and so upon signing up you will be placed on a monthly order, BUT this is very easy to opt out of once your first box ships if you are just trying the service for the first time. Websites/Apps were user friendly. Blue Apron’s site and app seemed to be more fluid which was not too much of a shock. The only mention in the negative realm for both services was that they are advertised as you (the customer) being able to pick your meals exactly upon signing up or every month, but this is not particularly the case. Instead, both companies give you a list of meat preferences(they also have you notate any allergies & have vegetarian options) and unless you go into your account, view the menu and elect to change the recipes in time you’re stuck with what they send you. I ordered both recipes on a Friday night, went to elect changes the following afternoon (not even a full 24 hours passed) and could only change for Plated because Blue Apron said the order had already been processed.

Step 2: Delivery

Deliveries arrived intact. One of the boys did want us to notate that Blue Apron had a fancier box with a close-able lid. Also, if you choose to order two subscriptions at once do not have food in your fridge if you live in an apartment, because you need to learn from our mistakes.

Step 3: Unboxing

Plated

3 Recipes – 2 Servings – $72 per week
$24 per day
$12 per person/serving

Long Life Noodles with Mushrooms and Soy-Sesame Sauce
Vegetarian


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All ingredients arrived intact and packaged.

Korean Beef Tacos with Bell Peppers, Gochujang, and Kimchi

img_2622All ingredients arrived intact and packaged.

Seared Steak with Sunchoke Hash and Red Pepper Aioli

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All ingredients arrived intact and packaged.

Blue Apron

3 Recipes – 2 Serving – $59.94 per week
$19.98 per day
$9.99 per person/serving

Carmelized Onion & Kale Quiches with Frisee & Pear Salad
Vegetarian

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All ingredients arrived intact and packaged.

Spiced Pork Burgers with Pickled Beets and Cone Cabbage Slaw

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Cone Cabbage did not come wrapped, but rather just placed in box unprotected.

Pan Seared Chicken with Roasted Honeynut Squash and Apple

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Apple was clearly bruised, and squash was unprotected as well, and left at bottom of box so one whole side rested on the ice packs causing freezer burn on one side of the squash.

Step 4: Quality of Ingredients/Packaging

I would really like to know where Blue Apron finds such miniature vegetables and fruits? Seriously, they are adorable and somewhat strange all at the same time. Due to a few of our items arriving bruised, freezer burned or just rolling around in the box quality and packaging has to go to Plated.
The one thing I felt was missing from both boxes was acknowledgment of local or used vendors. Both boxes stated grain free meats, no antibiotics, and then a few items used (honey, for example) had brand packaging but no mention of the brand nor of the farm the meat products came from. I feel both boxes are really missing a strategic move here. I like to know where my food comes from, and even more so if it is miniature sized.

Step 5: Cooking

Plated

Long Life Noodles with Mushrooms and Soy-Sesame Sauce

Plated instructions are very simple to follow and they go in order and do not try to have the cook multitasking too many tasks at one given time. This recipe did say to salt and pepper the mushrooms/leeks while they were cooking but later in the recipe we would be adding quite a bit of soy sauce so I opted out of S&P, but a person that does not cook may not know that. I feared the food would be far too salty upon adding the soy sauce in entirety as instructed. Plated tends to stay in the world of comfort food but with a twist of ingredients not often used by common cooks. I rarely use leeks or wild mushrooms and I cook A LOT.

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Easy to make? Yes
Worth $12 a plate? Yes

Korean Beef Tacos with Bell Peppers, Gochujang, and Kimchi

Recipe was extremely easy to follow. I believe this by far was everyone’s favorite meal of the night. Can you really beat tacos? Really? Once again, a comfort and classic but with a twist. I am not afraid to admit that no one in the household had ever had Gochujang (almost a sweeter sriracha) and it was absolutely amazing. The bell pepper and onion are marinated in this mixture but then mixed in with cooked ground beef so the sauce is dispersed throughout the meal. Every single thing was on point with this meal, AND 3 tacos per person is more than enough. We had 4 people try one taco each and still had plenty of filler mixture left as well as Kimchi.

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Easy to make? Yes
Worth $12 a plate? Yes, absolutely 1000 times yes

Seared Steak with Sunchoke Hash and Red Pepper Aioli

This meal was cooked by Bradley(Rayann’s husband), and there were no “during” pictures as we took video of the men attempting to cook. Bradley was unfamiliar with the ingredient sunchoke and felt kale is the worst food on the planet, but overall he did fairly well. The aioli frustrated him the most as the instructions did state “whisk till smooth” but the task would have been impossible without a blender or food processor (which the instructions also state you may use). The steak was incredible and very high quality. We are hoping to have the video live shortly after this review…..it is far more interesting than this post.

IMG_2808.jpgI was instructed to notate that Bradley was unaware aesthetics of plating were important.

Easy to make? Medium
Worth $12 a plate? For the steak alone, yes

Blue Apron

Carmelized Onion & Kale Quiches with Frisee & Pear Salad

Let me just say that these quiches were good, BUT they are quiches. This was the meal I was most disappointed in. Reason one is because it is quiche. Quiche is quite possibly one of the easiest dishes to make AND master all in the same day so immediately upon opening I was bored. Reason two you only receive two eggs, and yes that means one egg per person. I added an extra egg to one quiche and left the other with the solo egg that belonged to it (pictures below of the difference). I do not feel this would fill someone up even with the little micro nutrient salad to accompany it, and it is QUICHE. I have seen a million recipes just like this one all of Pinterest.

Quiche using only one egg as instructed.

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My quiche using two eggs. I am not bitter. I promise.

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They both puffed up fairly well for the end result but I think we can tell who is 1 egg and who is 2.

Easy to make? Child’s play
Worth $9.99 a plate? Considering I can buy 2 dozens local eggs for that price, no.

Spiced Pork Burgers with Pickled Beets and Cone Cabbage Slaw

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These burgers were unique and have convinced me that switching out a pickle for a beet on occasion would not be the worst. The box came with a little baggy filled with spices for the pork. Pork needs lots of seasoning, and salt, and this little baggy did not do the trick. The flavor was just lacking. Due to the fact that we were not told where the pork was supplied from we cooked it to well, and not medium as the 4-5 per side time allotted. We put the side coleslaw on the burgers because they needed some crunch and sauce, the mayo, mustard and goat cheese blend for spread was not enough for two burgers. Overall these were tasty. Did they knock me on my feet? No, but I’d let them take me out again if they paid for dinner.

Easy to make? Definitely
Worth $9.99 a plate? Yes

Pan Seared Chicken with Roasted Honeynut Squash and Apple

This was the meal Kyle cooked on his own (my husband). He feels the meal was tasty and the instructions were easy to follow. The apple became mushy (possibly as it was bruised) but he is not the biggest fan of fruit with savory items so he may be biased or rude. This meal was outside the box for our household as we do not eat a lot of squash or baked apples.I enjoyed that sage was used since I generally only use it with whole roasted chickens, and never thought to incorporate into sauce. Overall it was challenging enough for Kyle to keep us all entertained but delivered a delicious meal for even the culinary lacking as Blue Apron promised. This is a meal I would make again for a dinner party. It is an impressive meal without all the blood sweat and tears.

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Easy to make? Medium
Worth $9.99 a plate? Yes

Final Thoughts

Will we be ordering again? I think both subscriptions would be amazing for hosting a dinner party (both boxes have options for servings up to 6). For ourselves? We would order Plated again, and it may surprise some as it is the more expensive subscription but it really nailed the comfort food/slightly different aspect. We all enjoyed the familiar dishes but with unique ingredients, and all had a new ingredient we had not previously thought to use. The leeks in the noodles, Gochujang with tacos, and sunchokes with the amazing steak all ingredients that made all 4 of us change our mindset. Blue Apron is the less expensive subscription and they do now have the ability to add bottles of wine to your order, and you know I am all over that. Blue Apron just had a small step down in the category of creativity compared to Plated. Personally I would also order Plated as strictly vegetarian on my second order as I think they would deliver on some really unique and delicious recipes (I am not bitter about the quiche). I read an article the other day about how Blue Apron can reduce someone’s grocery bill, and I am not sure I can agree with that. Kyle and I eat quality meat and vegetables, and spend an average of $100 a week on groceries, but if I used Blue Apron $59.94 I would only have $40 left to provide breakfast, lunches, and 4 additional meals.I do think getting a box for a fun dinner party OR a holiday would in fact be cheaper than buying all necessities individually from the grocery store. Maybe that can be yet another challenge? Rayann and I plan to continue the Battle of the Boxes series with other subscription meal boxes (Hello Fresh, Martha Stewart, the list goes on and on).

I encourage you to try both subscriptions if you have been on the fence. Blue Apron and Plated delivered on unique and tasty dishes for a fair price (you get a discount for your first month from both boxes). Cook the meals with a friend or your spouse as it can definitely be an amusing activity. Overall, it would be a fun week filled with food and eating outside the box. Get it?

Rayann’s Carrot Cake

“What 12-year-old girl wants carrot cake for her birthday?” – Krystal
Prepare yourself (and your taste buds) for something completely out of character for this blog: cupcakes.
Yes, cupcakes. You read that right. BAKED GOODS.
Now, while Krystal is an amazing chef who is talented in all things culinary, she will not step within ten feet of a cake pan… which means you are stuck with me!
Fun fact about me – baking is in my blood. I learned nearly all there is to know about baking from my grandmother. She’s a pro. Just look at the cake she made for my wedding a few weeks ago:

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Wedding Cake

PERFECTION.

But I digress.
When I was in high school I started baking birthday cakes for my friends – it was simply a nice gesture that soon became regular requests from both friends and family alike. So it didn’t take me by surprise when my 12-year-old niece asked me to bake a cake for her birthday. What DID surprise me was the flavor. Carrot cake?
In my niece’s defense, this request is not entirely random. Other members of my family have asked for carrot cake for their birthdays which has given me the chance to perfect the recipe: a delicious treat that still yields a slightly higher nutritional value than your average carrot cake. Now these were adults we’re speaking of, not kids, so I’ll take it as a true compliment that a 12-year-old girl would ask for it specifically!
The secret to this recipe is how the cake is sweetened – applesauce and honey. These both complement the taste of the carrots without overpowering it entirely. The cream cheese frosting gives you just the right amount of sweetness to make it decadent, yet guilt-free.
I decided to go out of my comfort zone and make cupcakes for the birthday girl, but below you’ll find directions for both cupcakes and a traditional cake.

Rayann’s Carrot Cake
(Yields 24 cupcakes OR one 9” round, two layered cake)
INGREDIENTS
For the cake:
– 3 cups carrots, peeled and grated
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 tsp baking soda
– 1 ½ tsp baking powder
– ½ tsp salt
– 2 tsp cinnamon
– 4 eggs
– 1 cup organic honey
– ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (I used California Olive Ranch)
– 2 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 cup applesauce (I used Santa Cruz Organic)
For the frosting:
– 2 cups powdered sugar
– 16 oz cream cheese (I used Philadelphia Whipped)
– 2 sticks unsalted butter (I used Tillamook)
– 1 tbsp vanilla extract

I know many people like walnuts on their carrot cake. Personally, I’m not a fan of using nuts as a garnish on cake, but if you’d like to, you can also use ½ cup of coarsely chopped, lightly toasted walnuts to decorate.

INSTRUCTIONS
How to make the carrot cake:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour your cake pans
a. For cupcakes, use two cupcake pans.
b. For standard cake, use two 9” round pans.
* I chose to use cupcake liners in place of greasing the pans.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, beat eggs on high for one (1) minute. Add in honey and beat on high for another three (3) minutes. Blend in olive oil, applesauce and 2 tsp vanilla extract.
4. Slowly add in flour mixture (½ cup at a time) and mix into a smooth batter.
5. Fold grated carrots into the batter (and walnuts, if you so choose).
6. Divide the batter equally within the cake pans and place in oven.
a. For cupcakes, bake for 15-20 minutes.
b. For standard cake, bake for 25-30 minutes.
*Use this time to make your frosting – make sure to refrigerate it until you are ready to use it.
7. When ready, remove cakes from oven (a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean). Remove from pans when cool enough to handle, and then let cakes cool to room temperature before frosting to keep frosting from melting.

How to make the frosting:
1. Use a food processor to mix together the butter and powdered sugar until the mixture takes on a pale, fluffy appearance.
2. Add in cream cheese (1 cup at a time) and mix until combined. Continue to mix for one (1) more minute.
3. Add in 1 tbsp vanilla extract, and then mix for one (1) minute. Refrigerate frosting until ready to use.

I will leave the frosting of your cakes up to you, get creative and make it your own! Just be sure to be mindful of the frosting – it is perishable and thus needs refrigeration if it’s not going to be eaten right away.

 

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