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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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Giveaway: Primo Manual Water Pump + Water Coupons

This post is sponsored by Primo Water.

When I was in college, I boldly declared to my friends that I was never going to live in a city that didn’t have good tasting tap water (I believe that my thinking was that water flavor would be an indicator of the quality of the municipality). And then I proceeded to make my home in Philadelphia, a city with many fine qualities, but decidedly lackluster water.

Happily, I’ve learned that much like judging books by their covers, cities shouldn’t be judged by the flavor of their municipal water supply because there are a number of relatively easy fixes. In my case, my easy fixes for water flavor are an in-sink water filter and the occasional purchase of a jug of Primo Water.

When I first considered Primo Water, I thought that it wasn’t actually an option for me because I didn’t have the space to dedicate to one of their dispensers (though I do love the looks of their Ceramic Water Dispenser). However, then I spotted the Manual Water Pump and realized that this was the perfect solution to my space limitations.

The manual pump allows me to buy a bottle of water when I need one for canning workshops, picnics, and parties without having to commit space to a larger dispenser. The plastic bottles (they come in either 3 or 5 gallon sizes) hold plenty of water for my events and when they’re empty, can be refilled or returned (with tons of locations, there’s bound to be one near you). Best of all, the water always tastes great.

The water goes through a careful, multi-step filtering process that leaves you with water that you’re excited to drink, use, and share. Another thing to note is how Primo Water can serve as the perfect blank slate for homemade syrups and pickling brines. It’s a really good option if you find that your tap water is giving your preserves a funky flavor.

As we head into the holiday entertaining season, instead of picking up a case of individually bottled water for your guests (so much disposable plastic!), consider a refillable/reusable bottle of Primo Water, a manual pump, and a stack of dishwasher safe glasses. It’s an easy way to ensure that everyone has access to plenty of tasty, clean water, no monitoring and refilling necessary. When the party is over, return the bottle and tuck the pump away until the next event!

Thanks to the good folks at Primo Water, I have five of these manual pumps to give away this week. Each winner will also receive 2 coupons 5 gallon jugs of water. Please use the widget below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This is a sponsored giveaway. Primo Water sent me the pump you see pictured here, as well as a pair of coupons to cover the cost of the water. They also compensated me for my time and attention. However, alll thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

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Giveaway: Raw Rutes Yaozu 2 Liter Fermenting Crock

Longing for a mini fermenting crock to call your own? Read on to learn about a charming little fermentation vessel and enter for a chance to win one as well! (This is a sponsored post!)

When it comes to fermenting, small batch is the name of my game. As much as I admire the folks who make sauerkraut 25 pounds of cabbage at a time, my space constraints mean that my very largest batches of kraut, kimchi, or brined dilly beans top out at no more than five pounds of total ingredients (and often, much less than that!).

Over the years, this small batch approach has meant that mason jars have been my vessel of choice for fermentation. I do have a 10L crock that I was given years ago, but it’s just too darn big for my workflow (it sits next to my desk and holds my collection of airlocks and jar-sized pickle weights).

Still, I’ve often gazed upon the various large pickle crocks out there with a good deal of envy, wishing that there was one that would work for my small batch life. Amazingly, the folks at Raw Rutes sensed that I was pining for a petite pickling crock and created one (okay, so they didn’t make it just for me. But it’s the perfect size and is so adorable that it feels like the answer to my wish!).

The Raw Rutes Yaozu fermenting crock is small enough to fit on the counter of even the smallest kitchens. Made from natural clay and finished with food-safe white glaze, this little crock feels solid and is easy to use. It comes with a pair of clay weights and a built-in water channel (which means you don’t have to mess around with airlocks).

Best of all, this crocks holds the perfect amount for my household. When the fermentation phase is done, you’ve got between one and two quarts of tasty kraut, kosher dills, or sauerruben to decant into jars, tuck into the fridge, and fork up alongside any number of sandwiches, salads, and soups. As you can see in the picture below, it’s actually not even that much bigger than a quart jar!

At this point, you’re probably thinking, “This all sounds great, Marisa. But how do I get my hands on one of these sweet mini crocks?” You could either head over to the Raw Rutes website and get your order in before the rush. OR, you can take your chances and try to win one of two crocks I’m giving away this week!

Use the widget below to enter the blog giveaway and then head over to Instagram to enter the second giveaway I’m hosting over there. So many chances to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. The folks at Raw Rutes have compensated me for my time and efforts. However, I only accept sponsored posts from businesses that jive with the mission of Food in Jars (to educate and inspire people to pickle, preserve, and cook from scratch) and Raw Rutes is most decidedly in line with that mission. The thoughts and opinions expressed here are honest and entirely my own.

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The Dinnertime Hand-off with Blue Apron

Today’s post is sponsored by Blue Apron.

Over the last year, I’ve had several opportunities to write about my experiences with Blue Apron meal kits. I’ve shared how I used them to be a good houseguest, how they helped me avoid take-out while preparing for a conference, and how they bumped me out of my weeknight dinner rut.

This time, our box of three meal kits (we get the plan designed for two people. Bigger households might like the family plan better) made all the difference during a week when I down with a rotten cold. Here’s why. Most of the time, when I make dinner, all the information lives in my head. I don’t follow a lot of recipes and often simply improvise with what we have.

This is an approach that works well for us when I’m functioning at the top of my game. But on those nights when I am sick, tired, or have to teach a class, keeping everything in my head makes it hard for Scott to step in and make dinner happen.

However, when we have a Blue Apron recipe to make, the hand-off is seamless. We’ve already got all the high-quality ingredients necessary, so there’s no shopping necessary. Then, I can start things, tell him exactly what I’ve done, and he can simply pick up where I’ve left off. Being able to surrender dinner responsibility to him without worry made all the difference for me this week. It was magical.

Another really exciting thing that happened for us with this Blue Apron box was the fact that one of the recipes helped push the boundaries of Scott’s culinary comfort zone. The chef-designed recipe for Chicken Tagine with Cherry Tomatoes, Dates, and Couscous initially did not speak to him (he’s not typically a fan of dried fruit in savory dishes). But after his plate was clean, he said he enjoyed it and would happily eat something like it again. Score one for Blue Apron!

In addition to the Chicken Tagine, we also had these Heirloom Tomato, Lamb, and Beef Burgers with Loaded Cheesy Potatoes (the burgers were really good, but those potatoes were amazing!) and the Fairytale Eggplant and Mozzarella Pizza (another winner).

One of the worries 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.

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 Aproncheck 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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Early Summer Cooking with Blue Apron

Today’s post is sponsored by Blue Apron.

In my household, I do the vast majority of our grocery shopping and meal planning. Most of the time, this makes sense for my husband and me. I work from home. I like cook. I make a podcast about home cooking. And I write about food for a living, for goodness sakes.

However, there are times when I am tired. I run out of ideas and the very thought of coming up with a nutritious, relatively easy to make, and tasty meal feels like a mountain too high to climb. My husband’s answer to these periods is to order take-out. And while that’s an adequate answer in the short term, it’s not a good solution for more than a night or two.

In the last year, I’ve discovered that there is a really good solution to these times when I can’t dream up another hearty, healthy soup, stew, or casserole. Salvation, thy name is Blue Apron.

This is now my third go-round with Blue Apron and this most recent box could not have come at a better moment. Life has been busy. My teaching schedule has ramped up. And I’ve been doing some recipe development for a future project. Finding the mental energy to dream up dinner after spending half the day testing recipes is harder than you might think.

As I unpacked the ingredients for the Crispy Chicken Tenders, the Smoked Trout & Asparagus Salad, and Roast Beef & Farro Salad, I was really 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 flavor combinations were outside my regular wheelhouse, which made the whole thing feel exciting.

Those unfamiliar flavor combinations are one of the things I like most about Blue Apron. I always take away some new culinary tidbit or new-to-me ingredient when I cook my way through a box. This go-round, I discovered that smoked trout is a delicious ingredient and that I always want to eat roasted squash when it is dressed with a couple spoonful of bright gremolata.

I was also impressed by how little packaging there was, particularly compared to my first Blue Apron experience last year. And, if packaging is a concern for you, know that if you can’t find ways to reuse or recycle the materials in your area, it can also be returned through the mail for reuse and recycling.

There’s one other thing that I love about Blue Apron and that’s the fact that the instructions are so approachable that anyone with some basic kitchen sense can tackle the recipe. This means that on nights when I’m simply too spent to cook, I can recruit my husband to handle dinner. Those step-by-step recipe cards give him all the confidence he needs to make a tasty meal.

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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Beeswax Food Wraps from Kentucky Home

This post is sponsored by Kentucky Home (makers of those nifty MasonToGo lids!). To learn more about their new beeswax food wraps, read on!

I started using beeswax food wraps four or five years ago in an attempt to give up my plastic wrap and plastic baggie habit. I was already solidly on the reusable container and jar bandwagon, but hadn’t quite figured out to store food that functioned best when wrapped or swaddled.

When I discovered the beeswax food wraps, I thought my food storage prayers were answered. And while I’ve happily used them from various brands and makers for years, I’ve always struggled a bit with their cost (they can be pricy, particularly if you’re paying for shipping!). That has led to me running a funny mental calculation whenever I’m putting away leftovers or packing food for the road.

I find myself questioning whether the item is worthy of one of my beeswax food wraps. If the item fails to pass muster, I find myself rooting around in the cabinet under the sink for a plastic produce bag to reuse or I pull down the roll of plastic wrap that I’ve been nursing for half a decade. However, thanks to the folks over at Kentucky Home, my beeswax food wrap equation has changed.

Earlier this week, they started selling beeswax food wraps in bundles affordable enough to allow me to simply use them without feeling like I should be saving them for good. Best of all, they’re made right there in Leitchfield, Kentucky by retired farmer Mr. Dale.

So, now that I’m no longer encumbered by worries over cost, how am I using beeswax food wraps? To cover bowls and dishes. While I have plenty of food storage containers with lids, sometimes I just want to throw the leftover grain salad into the fridge in the bowl in which it was made. You just form the wrap around the bowl and then press your hands into it for a moment to soft the wax enough to hold its shape (if you suffer from perpetually cold hands like I do, run them under warm water for a moment to help make the wax behave).

I also now feel free to use them to cover dishes bound for potlucks and other gatherings. While each time I hope that I’ll go home with the wrap I brought, if it does wind up in the trash at the end of the night, I don’t feel the same compulsion to dig for it.

They’re also great to cover cut pieces of fruits and vegetables. Lemon halves, partially eaten avocados, and half-used cucumbers have never looked better or stored more sustainably. If you’re working with a new beeswax food wrap, give it a good crinkling to help work the wax into the fabric and make the surface a little tackier. Then, to keep these bundled bits of produce neatly sealed, give the ends a firm twist and they’ll stay in place for days.

Another way that I like to use beeswax food wraps in to cover sandwiches and snacks that I’m packing for later. One of my errand running tricks is to go first thing in the morning so that the day doesn’t get away from me. When I tackle my to-do list like that, I like to pack a little peanut butter and jam sandwich to bring with me, rather than spend time eating breakfast at home (I’ll also bring a reusable coffee mug so that I can treat myself to a fancy cup without incurring the guilt of a disposable).

Another thing that beeswax food wraps do well is swaddle bread. Whenever I’m deep in a home baking phase, I find myself with needing something to keep my loaves from getting stale. I find that these wraps do a lovely job of keeping a homemade loaf of sourdough fresh for the time it takes us to eat our way through it.

Cleaning the wraps is also a breeze. Just use a little gentle soap and lukewarm water (no super hot water or you’ll start to melt away the wax). Oh, and keep them away from things like raw meat and poultry. When the wraps finally wear out (which they do after about a year of heavy use), they can be composted.

You can buy these affordable beeswax food wraps from Kentucky Home in two different configurations. A 12 pack of 7″ x 7″ wraps (perfect for wrapping up bits of cheese, half sandwiches, and halves of lemons, limes, avocados, apples and more) is just $19.97.

For those of you who want more options in the sizes of your beeswax food wraps, the 7 piece variety pack is your best bet. It comes with one 29″ x 29″ wrap, two 15″ x 15″ wraps, and four 7″ x 7″ wraps.

If you try them, make sure to check back in and share the creative ways you’re using them in your home!

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