Protein Packed Twice Baked Potatoes (Vegetarian)

Protein? Without meat? Krystal, c’mon.

Y’all c’mon. In case you have not noticed a lot less meat is being consumed in my tiny household. A couple months ago I started having an odd aversion to chicken(no, I am not pregnant). I’m very in tune with my body and its cravings and dislikes. When I crave eggs I fry up an egg and eat it. So, when chicken became repulsive and I was still traumatized by seafood – vegetarian became much more dominant in my life, and since Kyle can’t cook his as well. I have been participating in meatless Monday for months now and at least 2 other dishes for any given week are also vegetarian. I have been challenged for new recipes that are unique, tasty, and still have an appropriate amount of protein. I have muscle dystrophy (muscle wasting) I need protein in my diet – it’s not negotiable. On average, I try to stay around 60-75g of protein a day.

Greek Yogurt!

If you have not tried subbing out mayo/sour cream with greek yogurt you are missing out. I swear it is good! AND packed with protein! Now, my secret is to still mix in a tiny amount of sour cream or mayo whichever the recipe called for with the greek yogurt because you will get less of that tang. I promise if you get a good quality greek yogurt and put it in a sauce or dip you may be able to tell the difference but it will not be bad! I used a cup of greek yogurt in these bad boys with just a couple tablespoons of sour cream. Delicious!

I ate these for lunch all week. Each HALF is as follows: 15g protein, 10g fat, 15g carbs.

Ingredients – 4 Servings
2 Large Russet Potatoes
1 Cup Greek Yogurt (I use Fage)
2 TBSP Sour Cream
1 TBSP Butter
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese
1 1/2 Cup Broccoli – chopped finely
1 Cup Spinach – chopped finely
S&P
Garlic Powder

How To

Line a baking pan with foil. Get your oven set to 450 degrees. Poke holes all around your potatoes and pop in the oven for 25 minutes, take them out coat in olive oil and sea salt and bake in for 20 minutes.
All other ingredients go in a large mixing bowl.
When the potatoes are down let them cool……or don’t like me and burn your fingers off. You’ll want to cut them horizontally and scoop out the filling into your bowl with all the goodies. Give everything a quick mash, stir, and then the filling goes back into the potato skins….add some extra cheese and cook for another 10-15 just so your small broccoli florets cook.

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Healthy, fast, and veggie.

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Grown Up Chili Mac

Kicking off the series Cook Like A Grown Up is a childhood favorite Chili Mac. Traditionally: the combination of boxed macaroni & cheese and chili from a can. Yum. My dad made this constantly and then our babysitter made it constantly. Chili Mac was and is still a staple in many homes. I was probably the only kid that did not leap for joy when it was placed in front of me.

I do not like beans in my chili. Hate them. The only person that would comply with my spoiled requests for no beans was my grandpa, but that was homemade chili that we ate over white rice with ranch. Yes, white rice and Hidden Valley Ranch. Oh, cheese.

So, my liking for chili mac at home was not the most enthused but I ate it, because I was hungry, and my parents made it because it was easy and cheap. I gave this dish a much needed twist with not only homemade macaroni and cheese AND chili but twists on both dishes individually. NO BEANS.

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Pepper Jack Mac n Cheese

Other than my choice of cheese this is a pretty basic mac, no fancy tricks here. I wanted it to be smooth and velvety without orange dust incorporated.

Ingredients

1 Box Elbow Macaroni
1 Block of Pepper Jack Cheese Shredded
1 Cup Whole Milk
1/2 cup flour
3 Tablespoons of Butter
3 Cups Chicken Stock
S&P

Recipe

Make a roux with your butter, flour and an oil you keep on hand. We have been over roux before, please try and keep up.
The ONLY fanciness here is that I don’t use ALL milk in my sauce, reason being I did not have enough #adultingalready. We do not drink milk sooooo I did not know how much to buy.
Once your flour is cooked add your chicken stock—-hey this is gravy! 3 recipes in 1. THEN add your milk and finally your cheese. Wait for the cheese to melt and you will have a beautiful cheese sauce to drown your pasta in. DONE.

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Chipotle Chili

I realize this is probably too much reading for most adults.

Ingredients

1lb Grass Fed Ground Beef
32oz Crushed Tomatoes
1 Can Chipotle Peppers – Chopped
2 Cloves of Garlic – Chopped
1 Yellow Onion – Chopped
2 Tablespoons of Butter
S&P
Chili Powder
Garlic Powder
Cumin
Paprika

Recipe

Sweat your onions in butter and a little oil, once translucent add garlic. Brown ground beef. We went over “browning” as well in previous posts. Add tomatoes and chipotle peppers, and spices. Simmer for 4-6 HOURS. Cry me a river.

The Chili Mac

Mix. Together. Relish in your adultness.

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Grown Up Ramen

I am fairly confident that I ate Ramen in moderation growing up. I was not obsessed with it as so many people my age were. My husband would quite literally live off of Ramen if I allowed him to, and not the good Ramen you buy at a reputable restaurant but the crunchy noodles that come in plastic packages for .10 cents.

My fondest memory of Ramen comes from preparing a bowl of it with my aunt. My aunt always had the “cool foods” aka name brand foods AND real soda….these were cool things as a child, okay? I have no idea what we added to the crunchy packages of noodles that day to make them awesome, but I remember thinking how strange it was to add more food to an item that you are supposed to eat solo. Well, Ramen is not meant to be just noodles and broth I am well aware of that now.

Ramen comes down to the broth. If you are a hermit like me and stay at home most weekends it is perfect because the broth can simmer all day long. Or if you are not a hermit and also not afraid of your crockpot you can achieve the same goal. Winning! I made my own broth for this recipe, but I still used the crunchy noodles from the cheap plastic bags that only costs me .10cents….nothing else really compares.

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Recipe for Broth

6 Cups Water
2 Tablespoons Miso Paste
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Ponzu Sauce
1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
1 Tablespoon Siracha
1 Yellow Onion Cut in Half (just throw it in)
4 Carrots (again, throw in)
3 Cloves Garlic
4 Stalks Celery
1/2 Jalapeno
*Simmer at minimum 4 hours…..6-8 is ideal*

Recipe for MY Ramen (pictured above)

Want to know what is so great about Ramen? You can put whatever you want in it! Whatever! Customize it to your liking, and if you do not like mine then do not make it that way. How easy is that?

Instructions

Boil crunchy weird noodles in broth for 5 minutes.

Toppings
Green onion
Sliced Jalapeno
Siracha
Sauteed Mushrooms
Bean Sprouts
Crispy Tofu (Put a cast iron skillet on top of extra firm tofu wrapped in a paper towel, you want to get as much moisture out as possible, and then slice, fry in butter/oil in cast iron skillet – done)
Black Sesame Seeds

 

Make some super weird Ramen like a grown up and tell me what you put in it!!!

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Crispy Bean Tacos with Avocado Sauce

Sometimes……a lot of times…. I feel like this blog should have been named Wine, Whisk, Bliss, and Tacos. Tacos got kicked out though simply for the rhyming issue.

Our house eats tacos at least once a week. Yes. No shame in our game. Kyle and I have been eating less meat the last few months, well, mainly I just haven’t been cooking a lot of meat products and Kyle is forced to go along with it because he can’t cook. An easy dinner for when you just don’t feel like cooking but don’t want to eat out is always bean burritos. Open some beans, saute some veggies, add a little cheese (or a lot if you’re me) and throw in the oven for 20 minutes or so. Done. Dammit I just gave away a recipe!

We did not have flour tortillas the other night so burritos were out of the question. We did have leftover corn tortillas.

I like crispy tacos. I don’t like mushy tacos. I also do not like mushy avocado. Overly ripe avocado is what you want for this sauce.

Avocado Cream Sauce

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Ingredients 

2 slightly over ripe avocados
Lime juice
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Clove Garlic
S&P

Put all these ingredients into a blender and blend away! I have made this before by substituting the sour cream with salsa verde and it is equally delicious and vegan.

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Crispy Bean Tacos

Ingredients


Refried Beans
Shredded Cheese (we are a Tilamook house)
Red Bell Pepper (sliced)
Red Onion (sliced)
Corn Tortillas
Avocado Oil

Slightly coat your pan with avocado oil you don’t want to deep fry these. Put beans, cheese, bell pepper, and red onion on one half of the tortilla, fold over, and then place in pan. Cook on each side until crispyness has been achieved.

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Serve with some salsa, hot sauce, and of course your avocado sauce.

This is a healthy poor girls meal. Tacos can use up leftover veggies very easily and they are tacos so everyone HAS to love them!

 

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?