What's for dinner? That seems to be the question that everyone is always asking. Sure we have our go-to dishes, but we don't want to eat the same things over & over. Then there's the recipes we'd love to make, that always have at least one ingredient that isn't found at any store within a 100 mile radius. But even if we have the "perfect" recipe, who says we feel like taking all the time to get everything ready (aside from a bit of prep). So, what's for dinner? How about Blue Apron?
Blue Apron is a box subscription service that gives you just about everything (aside from salt, pepper & olive oil) you need to prepare dinner 3 nights a week. Available in a poultry/meat/fish or vegetarian option, Blue Apron is delivered right to your door (in a refrigerated box of course). The best part is if you see a box that you don't quite care for, or you'll be on vacation, you can easily choose to skip that week by the given deadline date. You can also cancel your subscription at any time.
As you can see, everything comes clearly labeled, except a few of the obvious (lemon & red onion). But then again, some that are still quite obvious are labeled as well (like the carrot).
But what really had me wondering was a brown paper sack labeled "Knick Knacks". Surely it couldn't be filled with what I refer to as knick knacks (like those little odds & ends figurines).
What a relief that I was wrong (which I knew I would be). This bag was packed with all of the seasonings & clearly labeled as well (except for the garlic & shallots).
The box also included three large recipe cards for the meals that I would be making. The original recipes serve two, are roughly 500-700 calories per serving (mine were all 675 calories) & take an average of 35-40 min. to prepare.
I'll be honest here, I had checked out some of the recipes from the previous boxes & all of the recipes sounded delicious. There was one here & there that I thought it might be good. So when I received my box I made a beeline for the recipes. Instead there was only one that I thought sounded remotely good (& that was pushing it). The other two I was sure I wouldn't like them at all. But I thought, "What the heck!". If all else failed, it would be PB&J for dinner. What would you expect after already making a full meal (technically two since the kids had their own meal also).
First up, was Chicken Supremes & Broccolini with Forbidden Rice, Pepitas & Mustard Sauce. This recipe brought Chicken & Rice to a whole new level. The Forbidden Rice is actually black rice which got it's name in ancient China - it was meant for the Emperor only & was forbidden from the general population. I love rice so I was certain I was going to like this dish.
The Forbidden Rice is mixed with chopped broccolini, & toasted pumpkin seeds; served alongside a browned bone-in chicken breast which is topped with a tangy Dijon mustard sauce & chopped fresh tarragon. I have to say that even though I was the most hopeful about this dish, in comparison to the others it was my least favorite. For me, the tangy Dijon sauce was too tangy. And that was even using it sparingly. I did however find myself practically shoving the black rice mixture into my mouth (it was that good!).
Next I decided to make Pan-Roasted Hake with Roasted Fennel, Fresh Grapes & Brown Butter Vinaigrette. Hake, if you've never heard of it (I sure hadn't) is a mild white fish. I'm not really a big seafood fan, but there is some that I love, like scrod/cod which I found Hake to be comparable to. But I was really curious how the seafood was going to pair with the robust anise flavor of the fennel in this dish.
This ended up being my second favorite dish. Roasting the fennel brought out a natural sweetness that I wasn't expecting. And then there was the Brown Butter Vinaigrette! Browned butter, minced shallot & lemon juice blended with sliced red grapes & fresh parsley. All I can say is wow! It was the perfect compliment to the mild Hake, slightly sweet roasted fennel & the farro. The toasted walnuts on top were just like the cherry on top.
More honesty here, I was borderline dreading this last dish. It was just full of ingredients that I was certain would not go together. Moroccan Beef Tagine with Ras el Hanout, Dates & Honey. I know what you're thinking, what the heck is Ras el Hanout?! It's actually a spice blend of coriander, turmeric, cardamom, clove, cinnamon & nutmeg. No way was that going to go with the ground beef in this dish. Also, the cilantro for this wasn't good (the only ingredient in the whole box that was past its prime) & for some reason I couldn't find any at my local stores. I had my fingers crossed that having to substitute dried cilantro wasn't going to ruin this dish. Not that I thought it could possibly be good enough to ruin in the first place.
The verdict was surprising, I absolutely loved this! I got lots of comments that it didn't look very appetizing, but I don't really blame them - it is basically a beef stew over couscous after all. But somehow everything went together perfectly, even with my dried cilantro on top. Of course I'm sure it would have been all the better with a mound of fresh cilantro to accompany the toasted almonds topping this dish. Perhaps I can track down some Ras el Hanout so I can make this again. Yep, I liked it that much!
One of the great aspects of Blue Apron is that they include those hard to find ingredients (hopefully the Ras el Hanout won't be too hard to find). Not to mention that they really make you explore your foodie side. And starting at $9.99 per person/per meal ($59.94 per box - delivery & tax included), Blue Apron is well worth it. I really love how it takes the guessing out of figuring what's for dinner. Plus with everything pre-measured & minimal prep, it's perfect for the hubs to make dinner once in a while (or 3 nights a week).
Want to try Blue Apron for yourself?
The kind folks at Blue Apron will graciously supply one lucky winner with one Blue Apron box. (The winner will have the option of choosing a poultry/meat/fish or vegetarian box.)
Blue Apron currently delivers to most of the United States including the following states: CA, CT, DC, DE, FL, ID, IL, IN, KY, MA, ME, MD, NH, NJ, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, TN, VA, VT, WA, WV. They also deliver to some parts of the following additional states: AL, AR, AZ, CO, GA, IA, NM, MI, MO, MS, NC, SC, UT, WI, WY. For a more precise delivery map, click here.
The giveaway will conclude on at 12:00 a.m. est on Sunday 2/16/14. Winners will be announced via rafflecopter & in a separate blog post which will be published no later than 3:00 p.m. on Sunday 2/16/14. Winners will also be notified via email & announced on the Smith and Blessings facebook page. Winners will have 48 hours to submit shipping information, which will then be passed on to Blue Apron for distribution of product. If 48 hours has lapsed, a new winner will be picked & then will also have 48 hours to submit their information. *Giveaway open to U.S. residents only.
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Keep up with the latest from Blue Apron on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest & Instagram. And don't forget to check out their Cookbook for all of their past meals.
**Disclaimer: I have received products to try from Blue Apron & am simply sharing my personal opinion which may vary from yours. I was not compensated for this review.