Monday, March 28, 2016

Blue Apron Meal #3: Spicy Spaghetti w/ Cabbage and Toasted Breadcrumbs

Today it was time to prepare my last Blue Apron meal. This one involved shrimp, panko breadcrumbs, and cabbage.

Out of all the meals I got, this was the quickest to prepare. Between toasting the breadcrumbs, slicing and sautéing the cabbage, cooking the shrimp, and boiling the pasta, I was in and out of the kitchen in under a half an hour. Minus the time I spent washing dishes, taking pictures, and wiping down countertops (let's be real).

I would never have thought to cook cabbage in butter or to put it in spaghetti for that matter, but it was delicious. Now I wouldn't be me if I didn't make a small tweak to the recipe. In addition to seasoning the cabbage with salt, I also used an Olive Garden garlic and herb seasoning that I got from Walmart (see it pictured below).
It took the cabbage over the edge. I will be making this combo again and you should make it too. No, seriously.

After all was said and done, the spaghetti was delicious. The cabbage proved to be a great complement to the dish adding a distinct texture from the toasted breadcrumbs and shrimp. I wouldn't call it spicy per se, but I have high standards when it comes to the use of that word.
Unlike my other Blue Apron meals, this one was spot on about the two person serving. I guess you can't win em all. I'll be enjoying the second serving tomorrow for lunch. Nothing brightens up my day like having a good meal to look forward to.
Overall, my Blue Apron experience was great. I feel inspired to create healthier versions of some of these meals (think curry baked chicken with a coconut lime cauliflower puree). I've also added some new dishes to my repertoire (garlic and herb seasoned sautéed cabbage), and revisited some old cooking techniques (stovetop chicken).

Repeat customer?
Probably. If the right meals came along.

The Pros
You may be able to get more than 2 servings out of the 2 serving meals.
Interesting dishes with step by step instructions.
Perfectly portioned ingredients so there's no waste.

The Cons
You can't always get the specific meal combos you like.

I hope everyone had a fabulous Easter! Here's to an equally fabulous week.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Color pOp!

Spring break has come and gone, and now it's a mad dash to the finish line. It was a pretty good break though. I managed to check off some big to do list items while also trying out a couple new restaurants. One in particular had a banana caramel cheesecake maki dessert on the menu which I had to try. Best. decision. ever. It was so delicious.

Restaurant Shots

Outside Shots (much better lighting!)

Dress: TJ Maxx, Shades & Necklace: Target, Bracelet: J. Crew, Bag: Ralph Lauren via Macy's, Lipstick: MAC Heroine, Sandals: Steve Madden

The Banana Caramel Cheesecake Maki (Sorry! I had to show you.)
At least, I had a sensible lunch. That counts for something, right?!

Here's to making it past the hump. Now there's a cool slide in to the weekend:)

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Spring Fever

Spring is lurking! Although if I'm being honest it felt like it's been here all along. This "winter" was unseasonably warm. With the exception of a few snow days, it didn't get cold. I mean people were wearing shorts and flip flops on Christmas Day?! And this was all along the Eastern Seaboard not just in the South.

I feel a little gipped. I enjoy cold weather (as long as I don't have to be standing outside in it). It's cozy. You snuggle up under a warm blanket, light some candles, and sip on some tea or cocoa while reading a good book or watching a movie. 
I didn't get to do that this winter. I also hardly got a chance to wear my scarves or pull out my knee high black suede boots. What a shame.
Gray Crop Top: Target (it was on sale for $5!), White Top Underneath: The Limited, Jeans: Asos, Shoes: Modcloth, Necklace: Versona, Bracelet: J. Crew, Ring: Thrifted, Shades: Nordstrom
All that being said, spring has its own great qualities - the birds chirping, the blooming flowers, and vivid, vibrant colors.

I've definitely been reaching for my lilacs, periwinkles, and fuchsias more often. My MAC heroine lipstick is going to be in extra heavy rotation this season as opposed to just heavy rotation;)

What are you most looking forward to this spring??
Let me know below!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Blue Apron Meal #2: Acorn Squash Risotto with Radicchio Salad

It's my spring break! I want to start it off by thanking whoever decided to put it up against Daylight Savings Time. Losing that hour sucks but it sucks a little bit less when you don't have to go to classes for the week. I kicked the "break" off by making my second meal from Blue Apron - the Acorn Squash Risotto with Radicchio salad.

I'm a big fan of risotto but only eat it when I order it at restaurants. This was my first time making it for myself. I had also never tried acorn squash before so this meal promised to be full of firsts. Eager to taste the final result I quickly got to work.

I discarded the rough ends of the acorn squash and then sliced it into fours. I put that in the oven at 450 degrees for about a half an hour.
Next, I fried the fresh sage using a tablespoon of olive oil.

Once the sage was done, I sautéed the diced onions in the left over olive oil adding their spice blend.
After that I added the risotto, toasting it before adding the water and bringing it all to a boil.
Once the water started boiling, I reduced the stove temp to a medium simmer and let the risotto finish cooking for about 14 minutes.

While that was going, I took out my roasted acorn squash from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before finely chopping it.

I made sure to keep an eye on my risotto so it didn't overcook. Once it was done I mixed in the squash, the butter, and shavings of the Piave cheese.

My last step was to quickly prepare the radicchio salad and dressing (Note to self: red wine vinegar and honey make a delicious dressing), before plating it all.

Similar to the first meal, I was easily able to get more than two servings out of this one. It's more like four.  While the recipe card said it should take about the same amount of time as the first meal, I found this one faster to make since there were less moving parts.

As far as taste goes it was good, but not amazing. It doesn't compare to some of the restaurant risottos I've had. For my first attempt at risotto though I was quite pleased.

My final Blue Apron meal will be the spicy spaghetti with cabbage and toasted bread crumbs. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Paying it Forward

I'm more than halfway through my semester! *Pauses for dance break.* It may be because this is my last semester of coursework, but I've been trying extra hard not to stress out so much about things. I've been moderately successful. It's not really my courses stressing me out so much as it is the decisions that I'll have to make by the end of the school year - dissertation topic, committee members, post graduation plans. I guess that's why God created spring breaks. With ours being scheduled for next week, I plan to make some headway on these decisions.

It feels like just yesterday I did a post about the semester starting, and now we're past the midway point. I know the work will get done and the decisions will be made, but I wish I could fast forward to that time. God give me strength.

On top of all of that, a friend of mine will be graduating from the program and leaving for a faculty position in August. Me and a couple of my cohort members are trying to figure out what we should do for her as a thank you for all of the support, advice, and guidance she's given us. As women of color in a doctoral program at an R1 university, you realize that there aren't too many people that look like you roaming the halls. Having each other and a person like Diane who's been through the same experiences we're currently going through to turn to for advice and encouragement has been such a blessing. I'm going to miss her!
Top: Forever 21, Scarf: Walmart, Jeans & Shades: Target, Bracelet: J. Crew, Shoes: Kate Spade for Keds
Hopefully, opportunities present themselves so that I can pay it forward. I have had some incredible mentors throughout my life, and those relationships have been invaluable. Ultimately, I know that wherever life takes me, and whatever I end up doing, mentoring others will play an important role.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Blue Apron Meal #1: Trinidadian Chicken Curry with Coconut Grits and Collard Greens

This past week I made my first Blue Apron meal. I set out all of the ingredients I would need, rolled up my sleeves, and got to slicing and dicing.
The recipe card that they send with the ingredients is really helpful because it includes a picture of the final product, as well as pictures of the process. I started by cooking the grits in light coconut milk.

Next, I toasted the coconut flakes.
After that I sautéed the collard greens in olive oil with minced fresh garlic, some sea salt and black pepper.
Finally, I cooked the chicken using their Trinidadian curry spice blend (which was amazing!) and a tablespoon of butter.

The chicken was unreal. I haven't cooked chicken stovetop in a while but I think I may need to go back to that.

Now while they say that this serves two, I got three generously sized portions out of it (bonus!). And quite honestly, I could have easily gotten four. I told my sister and a couple of friends about it and they all want the recipe!

The meal was delicious! The chicken was incredible - a nice crisp on the outside, juicy on the inside, and incredibly flavorful. The coconut grits were a nice blend of savory and tropical with the sea salt, black pepper, coconut milk, and fresh lime zest added. This is a meal I will definitely be making again.

Next, up the acorn squash risotto (yumm!):)