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A Late Winter Cooking Reset with Blue Apron

Today’s post is sponsored by Blue Apron

In the fall, when the days first begin to turn cold and crisp, I am elated. I cannot wait to pull out my biggest soup pots and braising pans to start making hearty, weather-appropriate food.

However, by the end of the winter season, I am weary of my regular dinners and am hungry for fresh inspiration. Often I turn to cookbooks to help break up the routine. When that doesn’t work, I call on Blue Apron and their chef-designed meal kits.

My first encounter with Blue Apron came last year, when Scott got a 2-person box as part of his podcast’s sponsorship. Thanks to the photo-filled recipe cards, he was able to make a trio of tasty dinners without a lick of help from me.

I wrote about my second go-round with Blue Apron back in September. That time, I had the family-sized box sent to my sister’s house while I would be there visiting. I cooked dinner for them and scored some major houseguest points.

This time, I planned the box for the week before I was leaving town for a four-day conference. Busy and lacking inspiration is almost always the perfect formula for a week of takeout, but not this time. Blue Apron to the rescue!

Another reason why getting Blue Apron just before leaving town was such a good idea is that is prevented food waste. Scott isn’t one to do a lot of cooking for himself, so if I’d left a fridge full of ingredients for him to use, they would have withered and wilted while I was away. The perfectly portioned Blue Apron meals meant that there was nothing to throw out.

We had Chicken Yakinuki (I particularly loved the simple shredded carrot salad), Tangelo & Honey Glazed Salmon (remind me to use cooked apples in savory applications more often), and Smokey Pork Burgers (why aren’t pork burgers more of a thing? They were so delicious!).

One of the things I like most about Blue Apron is the fact that the I always take away some new culinary tidbit when I cook my way through a box. Going forward, I’ll be cooking my farro like pasta and will always roast broccoli at 475F (my typical temperature had been a lazy 400F, but no more!). I also appreciate that you can access all their recipes online.

One of the worries that people often have about Blue Apron is the amount of packaging involved. I was pleased to see that there was less packaging this time than in past orders, and that all users can now return the packing materials through the mail for reuse and recycling.

The fried rosemary garnish in this salmon dish was another tidbit I will take with me. I always thought that frying herbs was a fussy step, best reserved for restaurant meals, but I am converted. Quickly pan-fried in a shallow puddle of olive oil, the rosemary became fragrant and crisp.

The aforementioned farro! When you cook it in ample water, you don’t have to worry about the pot boiling dry. When the farro is tender, you just drain and dress.

If you’re intrigued by my experience with Blue Apron, they’ve got an offer for you, too! The first fifty readers to use this link to sign up for the service will get three meals for free on their first Blue Apron order.

Oh, and if you want to take a peek at more of the possible meals you’ll get from Blue Apron, check out their recipe page.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Blue Apron. They sent me a 2-Person box, containing three meals for two people. They’ve also compensated me for my time and attention. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely mine.

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Glass Spray Bottle with Soap Flakes from the MightyFix by MightyNest

I have always had an affinity for things made from glass. Even in the days before this jar-focused website wasn’t even a glimmer in my eye, I opted for things made out of glass whenever possible. It feels good in the hand, has a pleasing heft, and never, ever absorbs the smell of the thing you’ve kept in it. Plus, it is easily recycled when you decide that an object has reached the end of its useful life.

In recent years, I’ve really enjoyed seeing the increased availability of glass spray bottles. Once just the domain of Martha Stewart home shoots, it’s now quite easy to get one’s hands on a lovely, refillable glass spray bottle. One such delightful bottle is the Meliora K. Glass Spray Bottle with Soap Flakes available from MightyNest.

This spray bottle comes with a tablespoon of unscented soap flakes inside. You fill up the bottle with warm tap water, give it a good shake, and have the perfect all-purpose cleaning spray that is safe and effective for every corner of your home. The FIX bottle comes with extra soap flakes (enough to make two more bottles of cleanser) and you can additional refills from MightyNest.

For the rest of this month, new subscribers to the MightyFix from MightyNest will get their very own glass spray bottle with soap flakes as their first month of the FIX for just a buck. If this deal interests you, just click here to place the bottle (with discount attached!) into your cart! And if the code doesn’t work for you, just use the code FIJGLASSBOTTLE at check-out.

Just to recap, if you use this link or the code, you’ll get your first fix for just $1. New folks only. Canadian and Australians are welcome to join the Fix for a small shipping surcharge.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. MightyNest is a Food in Jars sponsor and helps keep this blog afloat. 

 

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Duralex Snack Set from the MightyFix by MightyNest

Thanks to the arrival of this fresh, new year, we’ve been talking a lot about challenges, resolutions, and goals here at Food in Jars HQ. I’ve loved reading about your canning and preserving goals here and on the FIJ FB Community page and hearing your responses to the cooking resolutions Joy and I shared on Local Mouthful this week.

Before all this productive intention setting energy escapes us entirely, let’s talk about another set of healthy habits that I’m trying to build in this new year. Yes, that’s right. I want to be a better packer of snacks in 2017.

In my adult life, I’ve never been great at being prepared for those moments when hunger strikes and I’m out in the world. Most of the time, this lack of preparation results in a large bag of cheesy popcorn finding its way into my grocery cart or basket. I then inhale half the bag while driving home.

However, I’m ready to change all that and thanks to my friends at the MightFix, I have the world’s most charming containers to tempt me into tucking small snacks into my bag. These adorable Duralex containers can hold a few nuts, some dried fruit, or even some sliced up vegetables and they’re so cute that I WANT to fish them out of my tote instead of springing for the popcorn.

You might be thinking to yourself that I’m crazy to use glass containers, but Duralex containers are made from tough tempered glass that is 5x times sturdier than typical glass. And if you choose to tuck leftovers into these containers rather than an emergency snack pack, know that they’re safe for the microwave, dishwasher, or freezer.

For the rest of this month, new subscribers to the MightyFix will get these sweet Duralex containers as their first month  of the FIX. And it will only cost you a buck. $1. That’s right, a single dollar will bring you the tools to help create healthy habits all year long. And if you get yourself a yearlong subscription, each month of 2017 will bring a little treat in the mail.

You might get a set of wool dryer balls to replace your dryer sheets. Or a new water bottle so that you can ditch single-use plastic bottles forever. Perhaps a set of Bee’s Wrap, might help you finally kick the plastic wrap habit.

To sign up for a full year of the MightyFix for just $99, head this way. Offer expires January 31, 2017! MightyFix is currently available to US customers with free shipping. Canadian and Australian MightyFixes ship for a small fee. Full shipping details here.

When you follow this link, the discount will be automatically applied. You should see a note at the top of the page when you click over that says that the promo code has already been applied. However, if you don’t see that, you can also use the code FIJDURALEXFIX.

Here’s to healthy habits in 2017!

 

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Cooking Dinner with Blue Apron

Today’s post is sponsored by Blue Apron

beef-and-lamb-burger-ingredients

I live in an apartment in the middle of Center City Philadelphia, surrounded by restaurants of all stripes. And despite the fact I live in the midst of this edible bounty, I cook dinner at home most nights.

My reasons for cooking at home are many. It’s far more affordable that getting takeout every night. It’s often vastly more delicious (at least most of the time). And both Scott and I feel better when we eat food cooked at home.

cutting-eggplant

However, I often find myself tumbling into home cooking ruts. No matter what I make, my food ends up tasting like my food. In the past, I’ve used cookbooks to help me out of these ruts. The only trouble there is that during particularly busy weeks, that can take more planning and careful shopping than I have time for.

Happily, I’ve discovered a new way to shake up my home cooking routine. Enter Blue Apron. Their chef-designed meal kits are the perfect way to breathe fresh inspiration into my kitchen routine.

making-eggplant-salad

My first encounter with Blue Apron was back in June, when they sponsored my husband’s podcast. Because he needed to share his experience with the meals, he did the cooking that week. Thanks to the easy-to-follow recipe cards, he was easily able to turn out a series of three seriously delicious dinners.

What’s more, I liked what he cooked so much that I ended up incorporating some of the techniques and flavor combinations into my own culinary skill-set.

plated-burger

More recently, the folks at Blue Apron approached me about a sponsored post. Having had such a positive experience with the food when Scott did it, I said sure. I had the meals sent to my sister’s house in Austin, Texas, to coincide with the week when I would be there visiting.

boys-with-blue-apron-ingredients

My thinking was that it would be an easy way for me to cook for my sister and her family, and I hoped that by choosing the family portions (you can either get three meals that serve two, or two meals that serve four), we’d wind up with things that my picky nephews would eat and enjoy.

crispy-chicken-ingredients

Most of my hopes came true. Having the box sent to my sister’s house was a huge win when it came to being a good houseguest. The pre-portioned ingredients made life incredibly easy, the quality of the food was fantastic, and the adults in the house all really enjoyed the two meals I cooked. My sister and brother-in-law also appreciated having a break from kitchen duty.

set-up-for-breading-chicken

Sadly, as excited as the little boys were when it came to unpacking the well-insulated box of food, they were not at all interested in the Lamb and Beef Feta Burgers when it came time to eat (though the two-year-old did end up absconding with one of the potato buns).

Thankfully, the Crispy Chicken Tenders and Roasted Potatoes were a bigger hit with the pre-school set. No matter the response from Emmett and Benny, I still feel like it was a resounding success.

prepped-side-ingredients-for-crispy-chicken

Blue Apron isn’t something I will use all the time. But it’s such a useful tool during busy weeks, when I need a little fresh inspiration in the kitchen, or when I want to be a helpful and considerate houseguest.

I plan on keeping my account open and occasionally dropping in to check out their new recipes. Perhaps I’ll treat myself to another box around the holidays, when baking for gifts takes over my culinary imagination!

plated-crispy-chicken

If you’re intrigued by my experience with Blue Apron, they’ve got an offer for you, too! The first twenty readers to use this link to sign up for the service will get three meals for free on their first Blue Apron order. Oh, and if you want to take a peek at more of the possible meals you’ll get from Blue Apron, check out their recipe page.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Blue Apron. They sent me a Family Plan box, containing two meals for four people. They’ve also compensated me for my time and attention. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely mine.

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Whole Foods Market Field to Store Program + Tangy Eggplant Tomato Spread

Today, I’m partnering with my area Whole Foods Markets to tell you about their 24 Hours Field to Store program and to share my recipe for Tangy Eggplant Tomato Spread. This is a sponsored post!

Whole Foods Market 24 Hours Field to Store sign

One of the things I love most about living in Philadelphia is the amazing access we have to really great, local produce. I’ve been here for nearly 15 years now and have watched how the city has changed for the better. Between the farmers markets, CSA shares, buying clubs, corner stores, and merchants at Reading Terminal Market, it is easier than ever to get my heads on hyper-fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables that are grown nearby.

Local eggplant at Whole Foods Market

Now, thanks to a partnership between our 11 area Whole Foods Markets and the Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, you can add one more option for incredibly fresh, local produce to the list. They have teamed up for a program called 24 Hours Field to Store. Certain products from LFFC are harvested from the field and delivered to all Philadelphia-area stores within 24 hours.

eggplant, tomatoes, and garlic

The featured item in the Field to Store program changes every two weeks. Last week, they were highlighting gorgeous heirloom tomatoes, and starting today and running through August 16, the featured item is eggplant!

prepping tomatoes for peeling

I was at the Callowhill store on Saturday, and picked up a plump, firm, glowingly fresh eggplant and brought it home for a little experimentation. Knowing that eggplant is a low acid vegetable, I had to be careful when developing a recipe using it that would eventually go into a jar.

simmering eggplant and tomatoes in red wine vinegar

After doing a bit of research, I decided to make a highly acidified spread using eggplant, tomato, and garlic. I peeled and chopped the eggplant, and cooked it down with a small amount of olive oil, a pound of peeled and chopped tomatoes, three cloves of minced garlic, and a full 1 1/2 cups of red wine vinegar.

tangy eggplant and tomato spread

The resulting eggplant tomato spread is a luscious, tangy condiment. It is perfect on slices of toasted ciabatta or in place of tomato sauce on a homemade pizza. The yield is relatively small, so I plan on making more before eggplant season is done.

finished jars of tangy eggplant tomato spread

I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next in the 24 Hours Field to Store program!

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Online Canning Tools and Tidbits from Ball Canning

Interactive Canning Map June

This summer, I’m partnering the lovely folks at Ball Canning, to help spread the word about their new tools and products. Today, I want to take a moment to zero in on the online tools they’ve released this season, all designed to help inspire you to gather some produce and pull down your canning pot.

First up is their recently launched Tumblr, called Freshly Preserved Ideas. This page is bursting with ideas, recipes, and hypnotic gifs (truly. I’ve watched this one loop at least a dozen times). You’ll find introductions to the team of Fresh Preservers as well as the new recipes for summer preserves that we’ve all been tasked to dream up (the first of my recipes is Blackberry Lavender Jam).

Another fun tool is the Interactive Canning Map (that’s what’s pictured at the top of the page). It shows the various regions of the country and what’s currently in season in those areas. Clicking on the various images of fruits and vegetables will take you to preserving recipes that utilize those ingredients.

And just today, Jarden Home Brands (parent company of Ball Canning) released survey results in which they found that 40% of gardeners plan to preserve half or more of the food they grow this season and 44% freeze it for later use. A whopping 77% of gardeners have canned, frozen or dehydrated foods to preserve them, and 33% of those preserving gardeners are millennials.

Here’s hoping you all find some of those tools useful!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. My partnership with Ball Canning is a paid one. All opinions expressed are my own. 

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