Blue Apron During a Busy Work Season

Today’s post is sponsored by Blue Apron.

In a little less than three months, I will be turning in the manuscript for my 4th(!) cookbook. This book focuses on cooking, baking, and otherwise transforming homemade preserves. Over the last month or so, I’ve been deep in the recipe development phase. This means that I might spend a full day in the kitchen and end up with nothing that can be eaten for dinner

Occasionally, I pre-cook strategically for those days when the recipe development schedule leans sweet and have some leftovers ready to go. Other nights, a bag of salad and a grocery store chicken is the answer. And during one recent busy week, Blue Apron swept in and saved the day by delivering three meals directly to my doorstep, so that I could easily cook dinner without having to plan, shop, or waste a drop of food.

You might think I’d be tired of being in the kitchen after a day of recipe testing, but as long as I don’t have to make any additional decisions or hit the grocery store, I don’t mind it a bit. Blue Apron does all the choosing and thinking for me, which transforms the process of making dinner into something pleasurable. Each week, they offer up eight new recipes that are designed to satisfy eaters of all stripes (including vegetarians!).

We can just add this to the list of ways that Blue Apron meal kits have saved my bacon. They’ve also helped me be a good houseguest,  avoid take-out while preparing for a conferencebumped me out of my weeknight dinner rut, and made it possible for me to hand off dinner prep to my husband.

This time around, our 2-person box (there’s also a family plan) included ingredients for Seared Steaks and Mashed Potatoes (cheesy mashed potatoes!), Soy-Marinated Chicken Tenders (yellow sweet potatoes! delicious!), and Spiced Chicken and Garlic Rice (I loved how the roasted squash was tossed with the rice before plating).

As always, I was impressed by the food I found in the box. The quality of the ingredients was top notch, the portion sizes are perfect for two people, and the chef-designed recipes were approachable, educational, and delicious.

One of the concerns that people often have about Blue Apron is the amount of packaging involved. I continue to be impressed with how the amount of packing materials seems to reduce with every order I receive (and most of it is recyclable). If you can’t recycle the materials in your area, you can also opt to return the packing materials through the mail for reuse and recycling.

This blog post is the last one in my formal blogging partnership with Blue Apron, but I plan on continuing on as a Blue Apron customer. I don’t plan on ordering every week, but will opt in during my busy times because it allows me to skip the grocery store and still eat high quality, home cooked food. They add dishes to the rotation on a regular basis, so there’s always something new to try.

If you’re intrigued by my experience with Blue Apron, they’ve got an offer for you, too! The first 50 readers to use this link to sign up for the service will get $30 off their first Blue Apron order.

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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Glazed Turkey Breast and OXO Roasting Gear

A month or so ago, I signed on to participate in a blogger campaign with OXO that had a roasting theme. My intention was to use the goodies and get the post up well in advance of Thanksgiving, because that would have made a whole lot of sense. Best laid plans.

Instead, there was a dab of travel. The cookbook I’m working on continues to expand and absorb my every waking hour. And I’ve been fighting a cold that will not end. So I am behind.

Instead of throwing in the towel or trying to find something else to roast before the campaign deadline, I am going to talk about apricot-glazed turkey breast. A few days after Thanksgiving. Perfectly appropriate, right?

My argument is that there are plenty of roasting opportunities still to come in the coming weeks. And I firmly believe that turkey breast is a really good option for holiday parties and gatherings (easier than a whole turkey! But just as festive and delicious!). At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Before I dig into the roasting and glazing technique, let’s talk about the OXO gear. They sent…

For the juiciest and most flavorful finished roast, you want a whole, bone-in turkey breast. This isn’t something you typically find in the poultry case, but it’s something specialty butchers will have and you can always have your grocery store arrange one for you. Here in Philadelphia, you can almost always get a bone-in turkey breast at Godshall’s in Reading Terminal Market.

Now, if you’ve struggled with roasting turkeys in the past, know that you’re going to have a much easier time when you roast just the breast (the big issue with whole turkeys is that dark meat needs more time in the oven than the white meat, making it hard to get white meat that isn’t woefully overcooked).

You just salt the turkey breast well, pop it on the roasting rack, and get it into a 325F oven. It roasts for about two hours, until the skin is crisp and the internal temperature is around 150F. Once you reach that threshold, you paint on a generous layer of jam (I used apricot, but peach or cherry would also be good).

The temperature gets reduced to 300F and you roast for another 25-30 minutes, until the internal temperature is close to 165F (you want the final temp to be 165F, but the turkey will continue to cook after you take it out of the oven, so you want to remove it a few degrees shy of that).

The jam will darken into a gorgeous, sticky, flavorful crust. It makes a lovely addition to a holiday party spread (pair it with slices of good bread and homemade cranberry mustard for DIY sandwiches).

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Black Friday and Small Business Saturday Deals

Hello friends! For those of you in the US, I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving. We were just four for dinner last night, with a bigger family gathering still to come.

I wanted to take a moment to round up some of the Black Friday and Small Business Saturday deals that some of my favorite jar and canning-centric shops are offering.

If I spot any other deals throughout the weekend, I’ll update this post. Happy shopping!

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How to Make Homemade Quince Butter

Regular Food in Jars contributor Alexandra Jones is here today with a recipe for homemade quince butter. Quince is one of my favorites and I loved this glimpse into her process! -Marisa

quince for homemade quince butter

Quince is one of my favorite fruits to preserve — and where I am in Pennsylvania, it’s also one of the hardest to find.

Luckily, I happened on a farmers’ market in Old City Philadelphia recently where Beechwood Orchards, the only farm I know to offer quince at retail, happened to have a single crate on their stand. After sending out a quick alert over social media — quince spotted! — I promptly bought several pounds.

Peeled and chopped quince for homemade quince butter

It may seem silly to go so wild over a fruit that, when grown in a temperate climate, you can’t even eat raw, although its floral scent will perfume any room in which you stash your fruit. Quince flesh is dry, tannic, and unpalatable until you poach slices in syrup or cook it down with sugar into a thick paste, when it becomes tender, toothsome, vibrant and bright, with that unmistakable floral note.

The traditional way to prepare quince is as quince paste, or membrillo — cooking down the mixture so long with sugar that it becomes a firm, sliceable brick after refrigeration, still tender in texture but more like a fruit cheese than a spread.

quince puree for homemade quince butter

But knowing that I might not come upon quince again for another few years, I decided to find a way to can it, with visions of giving some away for the holidays. It’s delightful to serve on a cheese board alongside aged wedges made the traditional way. I found a Williams-Sonoma recipe for inspiration and set to work.

While parts of the recipe were really out-of-whack — the quince were supposed to redden in 20 minutes, according to the recipe, but this took closer to three hours in my kitchen, and resting the pot off the heat didn’t help redden them at all — I ended up with a dreamy finished product.

pink quince puree for homemade quince butter

It isn’t a chunky jam nor a runny compote, and it’s not a firm-set fruit cheese more reminiscent of membrillo. The best way I can describe it is quince butter — despite the sugar added.

It’s lush, smooth, and stands up on a spoon in a way that’s reminiscent of my favorite long-cooked, no-sugar butters made with sweeter fruits. Spread it on a thick slice of toast with good cultured butter, drizzle it over drop biscuits with whipped cream or ice cream, or spoon an artful dollop onto your next cheese board.

finished homemade quince butter

While it might take a little effort to track down quince in your area, those of you in the northeast may still be able to track some down (I assume you may also have luck in California, though I’m not sure of the fruit’s season out there.) I’ve also seen specimens grown overseas at Asian markets here in Philly. But once you get your hands on some and get a taste , you’ll know if was worth it.

My four pounds of quince cooked down into six pints of supple, rosy butter over a few hours on low heat, but you should be able to halve (or double) this recipe without issue. I canned mine in a mix of half-pints and quarter-pints, perfect for gifting or bringing to a party — or hoarding all to yourself.

finished homemade quince butter

I also swapped out the spices in the original recipe with a few long sprigs of rosemary from my garden. I might add another the next time I make this, hopefully sooner than later.

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Giveaway: Fermentation Kit from Fillmore Container

This month in the Mastery Challenge, we’re focusing on fermentation. In honor of our topic and in celebration of their brand! new! website!, long-time FIJ partner Fillmore Container is sponsoring a ferment-focused giveaway here on the blog.

Before we dig into the details of the giveaway, let’s talk a little about the new Fillmore Container site. First of all, it’s faster, mobile-friendly (so important for those emergency jar orders!) and so much easier to navigate. They’ve improved shopping, ordering, and reordering experience and have lowered their shipping rates!

The Fillmore Container blog is also brand new and ready for visitors. There’s an easy-to-use navigation bar at the top that makes it simple to find the information you want. Seasonal content is featured at the top of the page and as you scroll down, you’ll see thumbnails and links from the eight most recent posts.

Now, on to the giveaway! This time, one lucky winner will receive…

To enter the giveaway, use the widget below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: Fillmore Container is a Food in Jars sponsor and buys a monthly banner ad on this site. This giveaway is being offered as part of our partnership agreement. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely mine.

And one more thing! Fillmore Container is also hosting a giveaway on their blog in conjunction with CanningCrafts over the same week that this giveaway will be live. Make sure to head over there and enter that as well!

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A Gravy Story in the Fall Issue of Edible Philly

Stirring toasted flour and turkey drippings into roux

Photo by Courtney Apple for Edible Philly

Apart from the bird, the most important element on my family’s Thanksgiving table is the gravy. I learned the art of gravy making watching and working alongside my dad. His skill came from his mother in similar fashion. I’ve written tidbits about our particular obsession with turkey gravy in the past and this year, I brought the story together with the recipe for a piece in the fall issue of Edible Philly.

If you’ve been looking to improve your gravy situation, the recipe I shared in the article will help. It is scaled to make just a quart, but depending on how many guests you plan on serving (and how much leftover gravy you want to have), you can ramp up your production as is needed.

While we’re on the topic of Thanksgiving, if you’re in the market for cranberry options for the upcoming holiday, I have you covered.

Finally, there’s a trio of sweet potato recipes I wrote for Table Matters five years back that are so good that they’re worth revisiting.

For those of you who are in the US, how’s your Thanksgiving planning going? What are the classics that you serve year after year? And are there any recipes you’re trying for the first time this year?

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