Tazo Wild Sweet Orange Tea, What Have You Done To Me?

There I was at work, riffling through the tea shelf in the employee kitchen. I love tea, and recently switched to decaffeinated because I’m just not sure about caffeine all the time. So for me, that means decaf green tea (with lemon) and herbal/floral/etc. teas galore.

I picked up a Tazo Wild Sweet Orange tea bag. Never tried it before.

My reaction:

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This orange is from Sesame Street

This experience was similar to but not exactly like when you split the shy but friendly Vitamin C atom and it embeds itself in every pore. I’m either going to die of the citrus-plosion or come out of this bursting with health.

So far I’m alive. Hey Tazo, you’ve got a great thing going here! Seriously, I may actually have to buy a box for at home.

As with anything, you can get it on Amazon (that’s an affiliate link there), or you can just relax and watch this orange sing “Carmen.”

What’s your favorite tea?

Blue Apron: Sweet Chili Chicken

Sweet Chili Chicken was fun to make! And very tasty.

For us, it was the third and final meal from our Blue Apron box for that week. (Here are the others: Empanadas, and Brown Butter Gnocchi.)

This recipe included something I’d never used before: Coconut milk powder. (I’d also never personally used tinkerbell peppers or ponzu sauce, but those were more recognizable.)

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All the innards

Another cool thing: For whatever reason, the green beans that were supposed to come in this grouping were replaced by snow peas. There was a very nice, formal-looking card that explained this substitution. I like how Blue Apron strives to ensure that we get quality goods.

Plus, we like snow peas. So does our guinea pig.

I probably started this a little early, but I wanted to get the rice going, so I dumped the coconut milk powder into a saucepan:

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Nothing to see here, just coconut milk powder hanging out

And started up the jasmine rice (with water) so that it eventually looked like this, though not as sticky as it also kind of looks:

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Really pretty and fragrant, I thought

While in the meantime, I was furiously chopping veggies.

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Results of the choppening

Meanwhile to that, on another board with another knife, the chicken was being prepared so that it soon looked like this:

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The chickening

And with the addition of garlic, ginger, and the white ends of scallions, it soon looked like this:

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Look at that, all nice and unstirred for the moment

But oh! We get to add the sweet chili sauce (hence the name) and the ponzu, so that the whole mass of yum then looked like this:

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You can imagine how good the kitchen smelled by then

The rice having been done and patiently waiting all this time, the moment the final bubble in the chicken and vegetable mixture was done bubbling, we swept it all into bowls for the mini-feast.

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Yes. Delicious. I’d make it again. Since you get to keep the in-your-face recipe (plus you can find it online at BlueApron.com), that takes the guesswork out of your next grocery shopping excursion.

We enjoyed very much our trial run of Blue Apron. In the end, it came down to us realizing that we were perfectly capable of getting our own ingredients; we just needed a bit of a nudge to stop sticking always to the easy course (which alas, includes carry-out), and to start being smarter about what we’re exchanging our money for.

This is not to say we won’t try Blue Apron again–the meals are so tempting, and the service is impeccable!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue Apron: Brown Butter Gnocchi

I love gnocchi. Golden little textured potato puffs–mmmm!

So of course I was happy to have this dish in my Blue Apron box.

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Here are all the goods.

I don’t actually have gnocchi that often, much as I like it. I can’t recall ever having made it, myself. So this was to be a wholly new experience.

I have squash even less, and I’m less sure about it. But I felt I could handle a nice, compact squash such as this guy.

It even sliced up very well.

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I don’t know how it felt about this process, but it was well-behaved

I don’t usually brown butter either, but this was a fun experiment to get it to just the right frothiness and nutty scent, without overdoing it.

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At this point, you may also picture two eggs soft-boiling away. They asked that we respect their privacy at this time.

And now for the Extreme Closeup portion of this post!

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Pre-gnocchi, and notice the almonds magically appearing

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Post-gnocchi, and I already would like to eat this, yes.

~Short interlude to allow for cook and plating time~

Voila! Garnished with parmesan and parsley, and the afore-mentioned soft-boiled egg, which almost entirely but not quite behaved itself during the unpeeling, but hid its unfortunate gouge quite well.

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Conclusions:

I liked this dish more than the empanadas, but I suspect that has a lot to do with the lack of scallions here. I can’t really compare two such disparate concoctions, and my love for gnocchi gives it an unfair advantage to begin with.

This went down very well, and I found my taste buds wanting more even as I recognized that this was a complete meal in itself. You might not think so, looking at the portion sizes, but the proportions are just right.

Add to that the sheer mix of ingredients complementing each other, and you have an extremely satisfying meal; one we can easily make again because we have the recipe!

 

 

 

Blue Apron First-Timer Review: Empanadas

Last night, we made our first ever Blue Apron meal: Empanadas! This was also the first time we ever made empanadas, period.

Here’s how it went down. I arrived home after work to find this lovely box of goodies: Blue Apron had delivered!

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Eco-friendly packaging!

I did not waste much time digging in.

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Great refrigeration going on here! Plus ice packs.

I was quite taken by the darlingness of this tomato cup.

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Not to mention the double-egg carrier.

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With the 2-person plan, you get recipes and ingredients for 3 meals a week. Here’s the full array. If you’re wondering how much counter space you need, well, this is how much we have on this side, unless we want to angle and wedge ourselves awkwardly over the sink.

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Mental note: Buy new house with bigger kitchen

Yet it all fit, as these things tend to do despite one’s disgruntlement.

Here’s a close-up of the first meal we chose to make: The aforementioned empanadas.

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I kept that tomato cup, by the way

We commenced chopping, slicing, zesting, and dicing. I include this picture of the cucumber because it was the first time I’d ever alternately-peeled a cucumber just to add some pizzazz to a salad, and the first time I’d bothered to scoop out the seeds. Usually I eat ’em.

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Let me tell you, slicing a cucumber after de-seeding is an interesting experience

I started the meat while I was chopping and slicing, and my husband was chopping and zesting, and after adding more of the included ingredients, it looked like this:

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Yep. MEAT.

Then came the apex of our journey: Putting the empanada together without screwing it up.

The recipe recommended 1/4th cup of meat per empanada wrapper. I duly measured out 1/4 cup of meat, because what did I know?

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Then, the careful folding and fork-crimping that may or may not have pierced the poor thing in the process, but it all stayed together, so…

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Getting this thing off our cutting board to the baking sheet was a process in itself.

There were four total, with meat left over. And, through the magic of the internet, they are already done!

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This pan may have seen better days

Plated! With salad and lime crema on the side.

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Lest there be any doubt, the entire contents of this plate were et.

Taste:
Quite good. If I make this again, I will not add as many scallions. I am not an onion person in general, so the amount requested here could already have been too much for me and just fine for someone else. Otherwise, and overall, this was a nice blend of flavors and textures.

Prep time/angst:

Not bad. We have a tiny kitchen and both of us worked on things together. Naturally this took more time than bringing home take-out, but perhaps that was our perception: We’d still have to choose take-out and go out and get it, which takes time doing different things, but still takes time. I enjoyed cooking together. It made a good contrast.

Did it fill us up?

Yes. Goodness, yes. Two empanadas, plus salad, were remarkably filling. This didn’t stop us from coming up with dessert (all that prep work made us feel a bit hollow…or something).

Conclusions:

  • Acting on a recommendation from a friend, I had taken advantage of a discount offer on the Blue Apron website to get this week’s box. I am not sure I can afford to continue it at their regular price, but then again, I’m not sure I know that for sure, because:
    • I will need to do some serious food budgeting as well as look at our lifestyle realistically: How often do we go out to eat? How careful are we comparing prices in grocery stores? Do we EVER stick to our list? Are we exchanging our money for seriously good food, or not?
  • You can choose not to have upcoming weeks’ deliveries, or cancel outright. One of the problems we saw was that there were more choices that I favored than my husband did. This might not be cost effective unless both of us wanted the majority of available selections.
    • This is not to say that there weren’t loads of tasty options that appealed to us separately.
    • Or that we shouldn’t take another look.
  • But! This has spurred us to take a true, closer look at our dinnertime habits, and resolve to be more mindful about planning meals, shopping for them, and actually sticking to a budget and a list.
    • At least, that’s the plan.

And we have two more meals to make this week!

Have you tried Blue Apron? What do you think of these kinds of delivery services?

What’s Cooking: Blue Apron

No, not literally, except in the sense that this company finally flew within my sights, and I decided to try it out.

BlueApron.com promises tasty, cookable ingredients in return for a very nice discounted price if you act now. I can’t say any more than that because my first delivery will come on July 6.

But weighing up costs and potential benefits showed me that this is an option worth trying. It’s very easy to spend your entire food budget and then some on crap. Maybe Blue Apron is a good way to try doing it right for a change.

And I can cancel with no hassles, so that also sold me on it. 🙂