watch out blue apron

A new Stop & Shop opened about 2 miles from my house. What makes this extra appealing isn’t just a new grocery store in suburbia, but it has a drive-thru Starbucks too! Yes, we are living the mom dreams over here in the Metro-west. And to make this sell even more desirable, the first kiosk when you enter the pristine grocer is a section of curated dinner preps. It is exactly like those meal delivery services like plated, one potato, and blue apron minus all that packaging waste! One bag filled with all the ingredients needed to prepare a quick, delicious home cooked dinner. Just grab the bag and head home and have dinner prepped and ready in approximately 20-30 minutes. As a working mamma, this is life-saving. A habit has recently formed in which this “meal kit” dinner is our Tuesday night cuisine.

Tuesdays are a bit of a hustle. It is after Monday which is always tough. Anyone else feel more tired on Tuesday than Monday? I guess Monday I run on adrenaline but Tuesday my body is like, “Oh hey we have to do this again?” And then after getting home from my hour long, traffic-filled commute it is time to get dinner on the table before I sneak off to pottery class. In an attempt to not only eat pizza quesadillas or frozen chicken fingers,  this Stop and Shop “kit thing” has been awesome! And David liked it so much he requested it join the dinner rotation and therefore, it is appearing here on the blog for posterity, since unless I log it, I will forget all about how to make it (and of course I threw out the recipe card because I am such a purger!).

Pork Chops and Sweet Potato Hash

2 bone in pork chops (or more if needed)

Salt and pepper

1 sweet potato

1 gala or honey crisp apple

thyme

honey

chicken broth (about a 1/2 cup)

3 strips of bacon

red onion

You will need two pan on the stovetop for this. In one pan, add some olive oil and bring to a medium-high heat. Salt and pepper both sides of the pork and cook each side in the pan for about 4-5 minutes depending on the thickness of the chop. Once the pork is cooked remove from the pan and add in the chicken broth, some thyme, and honey. Stir and let simmer until reduced by half. This will become a nice deglaze sauce for the chops.  In the second pan, add some olive oil and diced bacon, apples, sweet potato, and red onion, and some more thyme. Cook for about 15 minutes stirring occasionally. Plate together and enjoy! Super simple, flavorful, and delicious.

Chicken Pot Pie for the American Soul

Apple pie might get the American stamp of approval but I would argue so too does Chicken Pot Pie! Let’s be honest, pie crust makes your belly smile, no? So whether it is a vehicle for apples or chicken, I am likely down to try it and enjoy it. The weekends have been our time to shine in the kitchen. Once the littles go down for their afternoon naps, David and I get grooving in the kitchen. And this chicken pot pie was so delicious my served piece kept getting bigger and bigger as I sliced a little bit and then a little bit more…

For the pastry: (And/or you can just buy pre-made pie crust!)

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp  salt
  • 4 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup ice water

For the Contents:

  • 1 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, finely sliced
  • 2 small carrots, sliced
  • 1 cup mushroom caps, quartered
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 Tbs plus 1 tsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 2 cups diced chicken thighs, cook ahead of time
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water

To make the quick puff pastry, in the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the flour and salt. Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment, scatter the butter over the flour mixture and mix on medium speed until the butter is the size of large peas and coated with flour. On medium-low speed, add the vinegar and then drizzle in the ice water until the flour mixture is moistened and starts to come together. You may not need all of the water.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, gather it into a ball and knead lightly. Roll out into an 11-by-17-inch rectangle, 1/2 inch thick. Dust off the excess flour from the surface with a clean, dry dish towel. Roll out and fold in half. If the dough seems warm, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Using the rolling pin, press the folded dough lightly. Cut the folded rectangle into thirds, and wrap each piece tightly with plastic wrap. For use in this recipe, refrigerate 1 piece for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat and warm the butter. Add the onion and celery and sauté until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the carrots and mushrooms and sauté 3 minutes. Pour in the wine, bring it to a simmer and reduce for 3 minutes. Add the stock and thyme and simmer until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the flour. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the vegetables are just tender, about 5 minutes. Add the diced chicken, return to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes to heat the chicken through. Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl, let cool.

Preheat an oven to 400°F. Lightly butter a 9-inch pie dish. Pour the filling into the dish. On a floured work surface, roll the pastry into a 12-inch circle. Brush the top and bottom of the edge of the dish with some of the beaten egg. Lay the dough over the filling. Crimp the dough against the lip of the dish with the tines of a fork. Brush the top of the potpie with the remaining egg. Cut a few vents in the center. Bake until the crust is golden and the filling is hot and bubbling, about 45 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Chinese barbecue pork

When we went to Sur La Table, we were surprised by how enjoyable it was to do a cooking class. The chef was fun and funny and made the meal prep easy and non-intimidating. He definitely saw potential in David though and gave him all the “hard” prep tasks and my more hesitant self was perfect for peeling the ginger with a spoon. When we are among friends and strangers in social settings, I am for sure the extrovert while David takes a bit longer to warm up to the crowd. However in task-oriented or performance-based activities, David readily let’s down his hair, dons his apron and digs in, while I question everything about myself and am paralyzed by my crushing imposter syndrome! By the end of class though, I eased up on myself and enjoyed every bite of the meal we cooked alongside Chef Roy. The food was so delicious that we decided to make a new New Year’s Day tradition of cooking Chinese food at home. So we invited my parents over and served up some Chinese barbecue pork and it tasted like perfection!

Marinade:

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon Chinese five spice

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 teaspoons fresh minced ginger

1 teaspoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons honey

1lb pork tenderloin

Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and pour over pork. I placed the pork is a casserole dish covered in the marinade and let sit in the refrigerator for two hours. Take out of the frig thirty minutes before cooking to get it to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 400 and line a baking dish in foil and place a wire rack on top. In a non stick skillet add a tablespoon of olive oil and heat over medium. Add the pork to the skillet and brown on all sides about 4 minutes per side. Using tongs transfer to wire rack and roast in the oven about 15 minutes or until internal temperature registers 145. Transfer pork to cutting board with a well and tent with foil to let rest for ten minutes. Then slice and enjoy.

Broccoli Cauliflower fritters

Mrs. Constantine asked Henry at preschool: What is your favorite food? Henry earnestly responded as though there could be only one right answer for him and everyone else: BROCCOLI. At pick up, Mrs. C had to verify the validity of that three year old’s statement to which my mother, who gets Henry from school, confirmed swiftly. He has said that green vegetable is his all time food choice for almost a year now, so yes, we eat a ton of it! I once heard a TV doctor say that broccoli is better for you than an apple so we are going with that. Broccoli is part of at least three-four meals at our house since it is green, easy, and both boys don’t protest it. From time to time, I try to do more with those flowery stalks than a mere steam or sheet pan roast. Two days ago we turned some broccoli and cauliflower into fritters and we won’t be turning back!

They may not look like the most tantalizing dish you have ever laid your eyes on but I promise that once this plate went down we left no fritter behind!

1 head of broccoli

1 head of cauliflower

Salt and pepper to taste

2 eggs

1 tsp dices garlic

1/4 cup panko

1/4 cup flour (or you can do all panko or gf panko)

Steam the veggies together on the stovetop for about five minutes. Remove and place into a large mixing bowl with all the other ingredients. Mash together with a potato masher. In a frying pan, heat up a tablespoon of olive oil, with that tablespoon grab a heaping scoop of the broccoli mixture and plop into the pan. Using the back of the spoon give your heap a little press to flatten a bit. Repeat until you have about four patties in the pan. Cook for 2-4 minutes or until fritter is golden then flip and repeat.

Coconut Curry Squash Soup

Are you ready for the snow-apocalypse? the bombogenesis? the bomb cyclone? They are predicting quite a monster storm to hit Boston tomorrow. Some stations are saying 12 inches others 15, but the consensus is that there will be super high winds accompanying the storm ranging from 50 to 60 mph. Sheesh! That sounds nasty. My biggest concern is having power during this storm. Living in the woods is delightful during delightful weather but a little nerve-wracking during storms when trees come down. Please keep everything crossed that the timber falls away from any homes and that the power stays on. In preparation for staying home for at least the next 24 hours, we prepped some healthy cozy soup. Nothing feels better in winter than a warm belly. Especially after a week of record low temps! Tonight’s dinner was a crowd pleasure and super simple to throw together because you just throw everything into a single pot. My favorite kind of recipe because clean-up is easy peasy so this will definitely be a dinner we make during the busy work week.

1 butternut squash cut into 1 inch cubes

1 diced onion

14oz can of coconut milk

2 tablespoons lemongrass (I bought the Roland brand)

2 tablespoons fresh diced ginger

1 tablespoon diced garlic

2 tablespoons of butter

salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons of red curry paste

zest of two limes

juice of one lime

2 cups of water

In a large pot over medium heat, add the butter, garlic, onion and ginger and sauté until fragrant. Add the curry paste and mix into the aromatics. Add the butternut squash and water, bring to a simmer. Let simmer in pot half covered for 15 minutes. Add coconut milk, lemongrass, salt and pepper and simmer for 15 more minutes. Stir in zest of two limes and the juice of 1 lime. Use a blender or immersion blender to make smooth and creamy in texture. We toasted up a slice of bread and used it as a spoon to shovel in this delicious soup! Enjoy.

holly jolly

WOW Christmas is kind of like the motto for the month of March: In like a lion and out like a lamb. Or maybe it is more like frenzied like Black Friday shopping all day everyday for three weeks and then a quick retreat into a stress induced nap until New Year’s Eve? Driving home from my last present run, I turned to my mom and said, “Okay now for the the next three days we won’t go near route 9” and just saying that out loud felt exhilarating and liberating and like a lie. We both knew that three days before Christmas was too long of a stretch to truly avoid the “need” to venture back out into the storm. Once David was officially off from work for a four day holiday weekend though we slipped into our pjs and did not come out of them! We committed to eating our way through the holidays in stretchy pants with the little ones magically experiencing the joys of Santa’s present delivery.  Henry and Owen spent a lot of time in front of the fireplace calling up to Santa in the days before his arrival to ask if they could have cars and if they were good and if Santa sees them. I nearly died laughing at the cuteness. And then it snowed on Christmas morning and all the magic just exploded over Massachusetts. The little guys exhausted themselves outside running in the snow and eating more of it than is appropriate. It felt a little hectic at times as we tried to cook enough meals to feed at least four hundred people but it also felt like the first year we were starting some real holiday traditions: baking cookies, watching a few Christmas movies under blankets, baking pies and cooking dinner together as a family, playing in the snow, opening presents, and spreading Christmas cheer loud enough for all to hear! We had two sets of grandparents with us, a fire, smiles and enough coffee to fill a swimming pool. It was all quite delightful. Fast on its heels was my thirty-third birthday yesterday which started with sleeping in until 7AM (HOLY DOODLE!) and ended with a pile of cannoli! Now it is time to tuck myself into sugar coma for a minimum of 7 days. The boys are busy playing, David is back to work, and I get to take one more week off before going back into the classroom. The holidays hit fast but they are so sweet….especially with the littles the holidays are so so so sweet.

Protein breakfast 

Eating breakfast isn’t something I do enough. Yes, yes, that is a terrible thing to say but with two kids and a clock ticking for me to get in the car and head to work somehow the easiest thing to strip away is my breakfast. With a half cup of coffee drunk, we are off to races! Thankfully summer and the explosion of timelines is a reminder that actually I need breakfast to keep me from snapping at those around me and to just fuel up for what the day brings. I have been experimenting with ideas for easy get up and go breakfasts and landed on this protein packed meal that kept me full way past lunchtime even! 


I made it mostly overnight and then just warmed it up for the rest of week. 

1 cup of quinoa and 1 cup of steel cut oats soak overnight in water and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Then rinse in the morning in a strainer and toss into a saucepan with almond milk. Bring to a simmer and stir for about ten minutes. Place in a bowl and top with anything! I did cinnamon, raspberries, and almonds. And then just heated up the leftovers and had a hot belly warming meal every morning. It was quite delightful.