Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Blue Apron Again

The brown box with the blue apron arrived this morning. I haven't opened it yet. I know what's inside: today's shrimp dinner. And that's all I'm going to say about that. Why? Because I never mentioned what was in my previous box.

I had three delicious meals from the previous box and had them two or three times each. The portion size of each meal usually allows me at least three servings. Since I'm on the smallest plan (service for two) and I am the only one eating the meals, I cook three times and have enough to eat for at least six meals. More often it's seven or eight meals. I divide and freeze the leftovers for the next week or just refrigerate them for the next day or two. It's wonderful!

The previous box, two weeks ago, brought me Za'atar-Spiced Steaks, Italian Wedding Soup and Miso Zuzu-Glazed Cod and they were all enjoyable.

In recent weeks I've been trying to eat more fish and shellfish (or less meat, depending on how you think of it). I've designated Monday, Wednesday and Friday my "no meat" days. When I receive a Blue Apron box on Wednesday morning it works very well for cooking my Wednesday seafood dinner because there is always one seafood option in the box of my plan--Omnivore as opposed to Vegetarian.

I was thrown off last time because of winter's last hurrah, a final snowstorm, the worst. My box wasn't delivered until Thursday. I had to fend for myself for Wednesday's seafood. I ended up eating a  swai fillet from my freezer with stewed tomatoes (from a can) and a salad. 

I try really hard to make my meals as flavorful as the Blue Apron offerings. This one was close. I seasoned the fish and the panko bread crumbs with a little Kosher salt and some freshly ground pepper. I've found that layering seasoning makes a big difference. Not only do I eat well from Blue Apron, I also learn a thing or two for when I cook on my own.

Fried swai, stewed tomatoes and green salad
And now, on to the Blue Apron offerings.

Za'atar-Spiced Steaks
with Rutabaga-Barberry Tabbouleh & Labneh Cheese

I've done my job as my own sous chef.

The plated dish
with a glassof Sutter Home White Merlot

Miso Yuzu-Glazed Cod
with Black Rice & Water Spinach

Let the "sous cheffing" begin!

The plated dish
with a glass of Principato Pinot Grigio-Chardonnay

Italian Wedding Soup
with Fregola Sarda & Spinach

All the ingredients

After the preparation

The chicken meatballs

After reading reviews from others,
I decided to brown the meatballs for extra flavor.

Sautéing the aromatics
with the chicken meatballs

Finishing the soup

The plated dish
Although I liked it, I'm afraid this was one of my least favorite Blue Apron dishes. I love Italian Wedding Soup, but this one lacked flavor. Maybe the answer is using ground beef instead of ground poultry. However, I think more seasoning in the ground chicken would have made the difference. More onion, more garlic, more Parmesan cheese, and then sautéing the meatballs before adding them to the aromatics will be my solution when I make this dish again, on my own. Yes, I will make it again.

And now off to make Tum Yum-Style Shrimp & Noodles.

Kitchen to Kitchener

Monday, March 2, 2015

Catching Up/Eating Up

It's almost time for another Blue Apron delivery and I realize I failed to post about the last one. Not only that, some other kitchen events were photographed and never made it any farther than Facebook.  Maybe a collection of pictures with a few words will suffice.

In January I revisited my obsession with Mason Jars:

Ball Brand Mason Jars

I got these little short, squat ones for making and storing individual desserts. They worked well:

Strawberry Shortcake and Tiramisu

I had some more wonderful meals thanks to Blue Apron:

There was Crispy Chicken Thighs with kumquat relish & freekeh salad,

Crispy Chicken Thigh

Center-Cut Pork Chops with beet, heirloom carrot & hazelnut salad and

Center-Cut Pork Chop

Pan-Roasted Salmon Ramen with spicy miso broth & wakame.

Pan Seared Salmon Ramen

All three were a snap to prepare and I can't decide which was my favorite. Each brought something new to the table. I enjoyed every bit.

I took some time to bake for my baby:

Peanut Butter Dog Bones! Maybe I'd better explain who "my baby" is. He is my little Bichon mix I rescued last March when he was "2- 4 years old." He acts like a two-year-old puppy; however, I will go with the birthdate the rescue organization gave him, 03/07/2010. I named him Snowman.


One day at the super market, while searching through the frozen foods for peas and carrots, I discovered this Asian Style Rice with carrots, peas, edamame and onions. Along with some frozen shrimp from my freezer, and using sesame oil, it made a very good Asian style shrimp fried rice.

I was intrigued by a recipe for "spaghetti and sand" that I stumbled across on the Internet. I'm on a low(er) carb kick for a while so I brought out one of my favorite gadgets, the Paderno brand spiralizer, and made "zu-ghetti" to use zucchini to replace the pasta. I roasted some root veggies to go with it. "Spaghetti and Sand" is made with spaghetti, breadcrumbs, olive oil, minced garlic and red pepper flakes, then sprinkled with plenty of parmesan cheese. A little parsley sprinkled on top doesn't hurt.

Another snow/ice storm overnight leaves me housebound. I wonder what trouble I will get into in the kitchen today. I have some fresh strawberries marinating in sugar. Shortcake? Ice cream? Both? Maybe it would be better if I just knit and watch cooking shows on TV.

Kitchener to Kitchen

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Pancake Day

It's Shrove Tuesday, "Pancake Day." I got off to a good start by making a slight adjustment to the popular dish "chicken 'n waffles" by having chicken and pancakes.

The Liddle Griddle by Presto


I don't get credit for frying chicken. I never fry chicken anymore. I buy it from the super market hot out of the fryer. I can't even take credit for buying the chicken this morning. I took it from my freezer, vacuum packed and frozen last June.

I did make the pancakes though . . . from a box mix--Krusteaz. Just one cup of mix and 3/4 cup cold water and I have four nicely-sized, fluffy, delicious pancakes. That means I'll have two left over for a breakfast this weekend. Unfortunately, there is only one lone chicken wing left. Oh well. Actually, today's drumstick and thigh were enough fried chicken calories for a while . . . a long while.

Kitchener to Kitchen

Monday, February 2, 2015

. . . and Cake

I've been baking a cake a week for many more weeks than I should have. There have been seven cakes.

The first cake, glazed with a lemon syrup
Actually there were six cakes and a pie. Each time, except for the pie, I was attempting to bake a cake that was really good, really delicious, like the ones my grandmother and my Aunt Edith used to bake. The kind baked by others that I couldn't seem to duplicate. Nothing fancy. Just goooood. You know the kind I mean. Those other bakers seem to know the recipe and just throw the ingredients together, transfer them to a tube pan, throw it in the oven and out comes a beautiful golden, lofty, delicious cake. No icing needed.

The second cake, plain

Another cake right out of the oven. 
 cooled and ready for glaze
covered in an orange liqueur glaze

And another . . . Let Them Eat Cake!

Perfect texture

a strawberry glaze makes it ideal

 and one with a dusting of powdered sugar
Through trial and error I can now make a good, delicious cake. The crazy thing is the recipe has been around forever and it came from the Swans Down Cake Flour box many decades ago. I've tried a lot of recipes. I even have a more intricate one that I had declared "THE one" some years ago.

This recipe that I will share with you is my new "THE one." 

"THE one" with lemon glaze

It is a version of the Swansdown's 1-2-3-4 Cake. Aha! The secret to my success.  I made a few tweaks, but my cake is based on the original. You can find the original recipe at and many other variations on the Internet. My recipe follows:

1-2-3-4 Cake


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

2 cups white granulated sugar

3 cups sifted cake flour

4 large eggs at room temperature

1 cup milk

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 tps vanilla extract

1 tps lemon extract


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Butter and lightly flour a 10 inch tube pan or bundt pan. 

Sift the cake flour, then lightly spoon into measuring cup for 3 cups.

In large mixing bowl cream butter and gradually add sugar, creaming until light and fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time to creamed mixture blending after each addition.

Sift the sifted cake flour with baking powder and salt. Add the extracts to the milk.

Add flour mixture alternately with milk mixture to the creamed mixture, just until combined, starting and ending with flour (three additions of flour, two of milk). Do not over mix the batter! It will make the cake dry.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a tester inserted into the cake comes out clean. 

Cool in pan 15 minutes on a wire rack. Remove from pan and continue cooling on rack.

That's it! You can serve it plain, ice it or glaze it. Your choices are unlimited. I vary the amounts and flavors of extracts depending the flavor cake I'm making. My usual formula is 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tbs of lemon because I am partial to lemon cakes on which I drizzle a lemon glaze.

Easy Lemon Glaze

2 cups confectioners sugar

3 to 4 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice (start with 3 tbs, adjust based on desired consistency)

Combine and use a wire whisk to mix until smooth. Drizzle it over the cake.

THE one

I may have gotten the pictures out of order. I do know that somewhere along the way I discovered the secret and finally baked "THE one." The lemon glazed one above, pictured twice, is one of THE ones I made from my tweaked version of the 1-2-3-4-Cake. 

Last week I gave you ice cream. This week I give you THE cake. Enjoy!

Kitchener to Kitchen

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ice Cream and . . .

Some time ago I went through a homemade ice cream phase. I became quite good at it (even if I do say so myself). I bought a few ice cream cookbooks. Cookbook buying is always a prerequisite to my going gung-ho on a culinary idea. I won't bore you with the book list. I'll just say my absolute favorite and go-to book is Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream & Dessert Book. Yes, that Ben and Jerry.

Warning: CONTAINS RAW EGGS. This is an older book, Copyright 1987. Without going into all the controversy about eating raw eggs that developed and died down since then, just know that one of the three ice cream base recipes (the best one of all IMHO) calls for raw eggs. If you have an aversion or dietary objections to raw eggs, you should consider making one of the other two ice cream bases in the book. They are Philadelphia-style ice cream which requires no eggs.  Or use a recipe in another favorite book of mine, The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz, in which all the recipes call for cooking the eggs.

I experimented with a lighter ("lite") recipe for strawberry ice cream based on Sweet Ice Cream Base #1 from the Ben and Jerry's book. I said I would share the recipe if the ice cream was any good. It's more than good.  I think it's delicious. So here is the recipe.

Lite Strawberry Ice Cream
Makes 1 quart

1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

1/3 cup sugar

2 tbs fresh lemon juice

Combine strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a bowl.
Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.
You will be using just half of it in the ice cream.

Mash half the sliced strawberries and juice into a puree. Save the other sliced half and juice for a topping.

Mash half the sliced strawberries into a puree. Save the
other half in slices for a topping.


3 tbs Egg Beaters (or you can use one large egg)

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup half and half

1/2 cup milk

In medium bowl whisk Egg Beaters until light and fluffy.

In medium bowl whisk Egg Beaters until light and fluffy.
Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time and continue whisking until completely blended.
Pour in the half and half and the milk and whisk to blend completely.
Add the strawberry puree and stir.
Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer's instructions.

Transfer mixture to ice cream maker.

When the ice cream reaches soft serve consistency, I transfer it to a freezer container,  cover and freeze for about an hour or until it reaches desired firmness. I like mine "scoopable" without having to use much muscle power.

I like mine "scoopable" without having to use much muscle power.

A scoop of ice cream on a slice of cake with a drizzle
of leftover strawberries. Yummy!

Eat up! And do it soon after you make it. Since this contains much less butterfat, it will be less creamy (more icy) over time. That's why I make only a quart at a time. After a day or two in the freezer you might want to let it soften, stir until creamy again and refreeze. However, it shouldn't last that long.


Kitchener to Kitchen

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Back to Blue Apron

I completed the remaining two meals from my first Blue Apron shipment. They were completed and eaten some days ago and I'm just getting around to telling you about them. So much cooking, eating, blogging/so little time.

The second dish I made was Thai Coconut Shrimp Sour with Lemongrass & Red Curry. It was so tasty and wonderful on a chilly winter day!

The ingredients and recipe card

After being my own sous chef and
cutting the peppers less thin than suggested.

They all get sautéed in a pot.

Coconut milk, lemongrass and red curry paste get added.
I had never used lemongrass before. The outer fiberous layers had to be removed to get to the inner pliable cores. One core was minced and added to the soup. The other was cut lengthwise and each piece smashed with the back of the knife. Those are the two smashed halves being steeped in the soup.  I ended up cutting them to make them shorter to fit in the broth better.

Shrimp are added.

The completed dish.
The completed dish with rice, a sprinkle of cilantro and a wedge of lime made a beautiful and delicious meal. I could hardly wait to have it again for another meal . . . and another . . . four times altogether.

A few days later I made the last dish: Pulled Chicken Tacos with Jicama, Avocado & Cilantro Salad. Another winner!

The ingredients

The ingredients after sous chef action

I had never worked with or tasted jicama before. I had to cut it into matchsticks. The first ones that I did on a mandoline were better than the last ones that I had to cut by hand. Jicama is crunchy and has a refreshing, clean, almost citrusy flavor. It made a great salad with the avocado and slices of red onion. I will be using it again if I can find it in my nearby markets. So far I haven't found any. I will have to go farther afield.

A quick sauté of the aromatics

The tomato sauce was added and here the chicken goes in.

Pulling apart the chicken breasts

The finished plate
Yummy, yummy, yummy! It made three meals for me and could have been four. The spice blend gave the chicken just the kick it needed and a squirt of lime on everything, including the salad, was the finishing touch that put it over the top.  I'm especially looking forward to making the salad again. Jicama! Who knew!!!

Two thumbs up on all three meals in my first Blue Apron delivery.

Kitchener to Kitchen