Blue Apron Believer: A Review

I'm a Blue Apron Believer!
Disclaimer: I received no compensation for this review and after the initial free week, have paid full-price for each subsequent week of meals.

When a colleague offered me one of his free week links from Blue Apron in July, I was ready to hop on the offer immediately. My husband, Josh, on the other hand, is super skeptical of subscription services and wasn’t thrilled about the idea of getting stuck in a subscription that would be difficult to cancel. We received our first box the week of the 4th of July and we have never looked back.  We LOVE it. We’ve only had one or two meals we didn’t care for, but most nights, I get serious compliments from Josh on dinner. It’s not stuff I would have normally chosen to make, whether it be because of ingredients I’m not used to working with (or have never heard of) or because it’s a cuisine that I’m not a fan of, but I love that it takes me out of my comfort zone and makes me try new ingredients and cuisines that I may not have otherwise attempted. According to our year-end report, I cooked meals from 13 different cuisines in 2016. That’s probably 9 more than I would have otherwise.

Blue Apron Year in Review
I love that I only have to have salt, pepper, and olive oil on-hand to make 3 fantastic meals and you get to choose (with some limitation on the combinations) from 6 different options each week. If you don’t like one of the proteins from one of the “default” three meals, you can switch to another meal instead, as long as you change it enough in advance of the shipment. I love that I’ve got our meals planned out for the next 5 weeks right now and I know exactly what we’ll be having from Blue Apron each week.

Also, no more food waste! We use exactly what they send us and we don’t throw out any rotten fruit or veggies or meat we didn’t get to. I used to throw out hundreds of dollars worth of food that went bad in the fridge or that I stuffed in the freezer, thinking I’d use it in a reasonable amount of time, but found it hiding in the back with several years of accumulated freezer burn.

Because it costs more than I would have spent previously (each serving is $9.99), I make cooking those three nights each week a priority and schedule which nights I’m going to cook. If I know that I have meetings each night one week, I’ll skip that week ahead of time so we don’t waste the food. This also means we don’t make excuses to order delivery or go out to eat when I’ve got Blue Apron on the calendar.

As far as how long it takes to cook each meal, plan for a little longer than the recipe cards say, unless you’ve got experience in a professional kitchen. Maybe I’m just too much of a perfectionist, but it takes a decent amount of time to cut and prep the fresh veggies before you even start heating anything up.

Subscribers are occasionally given the opportunity to share free weeks with friends and family and, so far, I’ve had 7 friends cash in their free weeks from my referrals.  I know that a couple of them just tried the free week and decided to pause their subscription until they finish grad school, but others are still subscribers and love it, as well.

Josh and I travel a lot and we were on vacation for 2 and a half weeks in October, then two days after we returned, I left for a work trip to London for a week. We skipped Blue Apron deliveries for the whole month of October and picked right back up when I returned from London in early November. Skipping weeks is incredibly easy, you just have to remember to stay on top of it if you know you need to skip a week.

Blue Apron has changed the way we eat and has given me the opportunity to get out of a cooking rut that included casseroles most nights and very little fresh fruit and vegetables.  I’m cooking with ingredients I’ve never cooked with before and am learning to love things I’ve never tried before.

A few photos of the meals I’ve made over the past 6 months:

If you’re on the fence about trying Blue Apron, I encourage you to seek out a friend who might have a free week to offer and give it a shot.  You’ve got nothing to lose and so much great food and experience to gain!  Bon Appetit!

Curry in a Hurry – Lawrence

Today, I stopped by the new location of Curry in a Hurry on the outskirts of Downtown Lawrence.  We’ve been hearing a lot about it through the Journal World and local twitter users and Josh really wanted to try it.  I had the day off of work for a doctor’s appointment and had some errands to run, so I stopped by on my way home.

The setup is like nothing I’ve seen before in a restaurant.  Sammi has a buffet-style setup where all of the curries are pre-packaged in to-go containers and you just select which variety of curry you would like, grab a container of rice and any side items that you’d like (I grabbed naan bread, but there were at least two other items that I didn’t pick up) and take your selections to the register to check out.  I chose the chicken curry and rice for Josh (and unfortunately, he ate it all before I could get a photo) but Sammi was also offering pea and potato curry today.

The store has also been converted into a small storefront convenience store with candies, sodas, cigarettes and other convenience store items.  It’s definitely a unique addition to Downtown Lawrence.

Josh thought that the curry has some great flavors and that it was very good.  We hadn’t tried Sammi’s curry before, when he was working out of the Shell gas station near 19th & Mass but people have raved about his set-up for quite some time.  I know his true fans are delighted to have him back with his curry in a hurry.  I also know that we will be back to visit Sammi and see what kind of variety he will bring to Indian cuisine in Lawrence.  We’re definitely looking forward to it.

Curry in a Hurry is located at 1111 Massachusetts Street in Downtown Lawrence, KS.

Jarritos Nation Contest

Today, I was contacted by someone from Jarritos, a soda manufacturer from Mexico.  They seem to be expanding in the US and asked me if I would sample some of their products and let you all know what I think about them.  I’m excited to receive my package and will let you all know what I think after I’ve had a chance to test them.

In the meantime, check out the Jarritos Nation contest! It’s a website designed to bring all fans of Jarritos together and award prizes for posting photos. Entering is very easy – just head to www.jarritosnation.com and “claim” a location on the map with a photo. Prizes range from packages of Jarritos to digital cameras and even a 12 day cruise to Hawaii!  Good luck!

Valentine’s Day at Pachamama’s in Lawrence, KS

 

I meant to get this review up sooner than today, but it just didn’t happen.  Better late than never, right?

 

Pachamama’s is touted to be one of the very best restaurants in Lawrence, Kansas.  It has been located in two different buildings since it was first opened in 1996.  The first location was a wonderful building on the far west side of town, but because it sat out of the sight of the public (or for some other reason) it was not the most popular restaurant in town.  Since moving to their current location at 800 New Hampshire Street in downtown Lawrence in 2006, their business has flourished.  Whenever Josh and I walk by on our way somewhere else they are always busy.  They also have the Star Bar, which Josh and I have been to a few times before and they make some pretty awesome drinks.  If you’re ever there when it’s cold outside and they’re offering the hot chocolate with the homemade marshmallows, you should definitely order it!  It’s to die for!

 

Unfortunately though, I had never been to Pachamama’s to actually eat.  I’ve heard other people talk about how great it was, but we’ve just never had occasion to actually go there until last Saturday. . . Valentine’s Day. 

 

Josh was completely in charge of determining where we were going to eat and planning the evening, so I didn’t know until Friday night that we would be going to Pachamama’s.  They had designed a set 6 (really 5) course menu for $75 per person with an optional $25 wine pairing.  Josh and I both decided to do the wine pairing and we weren’t disappointed.  I’m slowly becoming acclimated to drinking wine (which I previously thought was pretty disgusting).  The wine pairing on Valentine’s Day was a good way for me to try several different kinds of wine without having to have a whole glass or whole bottle.  Unfortunately, I don’t yet feel comfortable whipping out my camera and doing a photo shoot in the middle of a busy restaurant, but I’m sure I’ll get there eventually. 

 

The menu was as follows:

 

Three Lovely Bites

Crispy Bacon-Oyster Brochette, Tomato Confit, Hollandaise

Smoked Salmon Tartar Lemon, Chives, Fried Fennel

A Slider A La Plancha, Idiazabal Cheese, "Special Sauce"

Juve & Camps Brut Rose Cava N.V.

Porcini Mushroom "Cappuccino"

Wattle seed dusted parmesan-goat cheese foam

Alto Adige Terlaner, Italy

 

Tasmanian Sweet Crab

Avocado, Mango, Beet Green Vinaigrette

2007 Dr. Loosen Riesling, Germany

 

Ginger-Blood Orange Refresher

 

Choice of:

Pan Roasted Barramundi (Josh ordered this one)

Warm shitake-lentil salad, minted sweet pea crush, tangerine-sherry pan sauce

2007 A to Z Pinot Noir, Oregon

or

Seared Hanger Steak (I ordered this one)

Potatoes Aligot, ruby chard, roasted garlic, salsa verde

Colle Dei Venti Barbera d’Alba, Italy

Tres Leche Caramel Soaked Sponge Cake

Whipped cream, espresso ice cream, Irish cream creme anglaise

Chamber’s Muscadelle, Australia

 

My favorites from the menu were the Crispy Bacon-Oyster Brochette, the Porcini Mushroom "Cappuccino", and the Seared Hanger Steak. 

The brochette had just the right amount of crispiness and the oyster was not overpowering.  Besides, everything is better with bacon, right?

If you know me well, you know that I am NOT a mushroom fan by any stretch of the imagination. My real reason for not liking mushrooms is the texture.  I can’t stand the slimy chunky ick that is a mushroom.  This "cappuccino" was blended so well that if you didn’t know better, you would have no idea that it involved mushrooms.  If all mushrooms were prepared like these were, I would eat them all day!

Now, the steak was other-worldly.  There is no other way to describe it than to use the phrase that I used that night.  This steak was "close your eyes and enjoy it" good.  It was cooked exceptionally and just melted in your mouth.  The potatoes and ruby chard matched the steak perfectly.  It is absolutely something that I would go back to Pachamama’s for and it probably wouldn’t matter how much I had to pay for it.

 

All of the other dishes were great as well, but those were the top three for me.  Josh said that he enjoyed my steak more than his barramundi, but the barrramundi was good as well.  All in all, it was an amazing meal and well worth the wait for me.  It’s been open for over 10 years and I have lived in Lawrence through that entire time, but still hadn’t made it in.  I definitely won’t wait that long to visit again.

 

They’ve even got a great Sunday Suppers event that will be going on through at least the end of March, according to their website.  3-course meals for $25 at Pachamama’s. . . who could ask for more???