Thursday, May 5, 2016

Blue Apron Review: Zucchini & Parmesan Quiche

My second shipment of Blue Apron arrived last Tuesday while we were away at the hospital. I had planned to pause that week, since Peter's schedule had changed and he would be home after all, but I didn't get to the computer to change the delivery date in time. So once again, the meat went in the freezer and the fresh stuff would have to sit in the fridge until we could get home to use it. We ended up home one night last week, so onThursday night, I made the quiche recipe for our dinner. We both loved it and there was plenty of it, but Peter felt it lacked meat of some sort. I was fine with the veggies only, and actually even left a few bites, as it was very filling. The salad was plentiful too, but wasn't as good as the arugula salad I made in the first BA shipment. Here is the recipe:

Zucchini & Parmesan Quiches w/ Red Leaf Lettuce Salad & Pink Lemon Vinaigrette

2 farm eggs
2 pie crusts
4 cloves garlic
4 oz. spinach
1 head red leaf lettuce
1 pink lemon
1 zucchini
3 T. shaved parmesan
2 T. creme fraiche
1 shallot
1) prepare the ingredients: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash and dry the produce. Crack the eggs in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Peel and mince the garlic. Small dice the zucchini. Cut off and discard the root end of the lettuce and separate the leaves. Zest 2 tsp. of the lemon. Quarter and deseed the lemon - cut into quaters. Peel and mince the shallot - 2 T. needed. Place shallot in bowl with juice of all 4 lemon wedges. Set aside.
2) cook and drain the spinach: in a non-stick pan, heat 2 tsp. olive oil. Add spinach, season aith salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally 2-3 minutes. Transfer to strainer and drain. Transfer to cutting board and finely chop. Set aside.
3) cook the zucchini: In same pan, heat 2 tsp. olive oil. Add garlic and zucchini. Cook, stirring frequently, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat.
4) assemble and bake the quiches: Place pie crusts on sheet pan. To the bowl of eggs, add the creme fraiche, lemon zest, and 2 T. water, season with salt and pepper. Whisk until smooth. Stir in zucchini and spinach. Fill both shells evenly, top with half the cheese. Bake 18-20 minutes or until crusts are brown and quiche is set. Remove and let stand 5 minutes before serving.
5) make the vinaigrette: While the quiches bake, season the shallot-lemon juice mixture with salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in 2 T. olive oil until combined.
6) make the salad and serve: Just before serving, in a large bowl, combine lettuce, remaining chhese and salt and pepper. Add enough dressing to coat. Toss to combine. Divide the salad and quiches between two plates. Enjoy!
I had never made quiche before, but had wanted to try. This was an easy and delicious recipe! The salad was a little bland, but went well with the rich quiche. Definitely another win for Blue Apron!

Hello Fresh Review: Paprika-Rubbed Chicken w/ Barley, Tomato, & Avocado Salad

This was the last of three of the Hello Fresh meals. I just got around to making it a few nights ago, due to being away at the hospital. I had frozen the chicken and oddly enough, the other ingredients were still useable (not as fresh as they were when they arrived two weeks ago, but everything was usable). This was my first ever time cooking/eating barley, and I was surprised at how good it was. This recipe was very easy to make and was very, very delicious!

1) Cook the barley: wash and dry all produce. Remove the chicken from the fridge and bring to room temperature. Place the barley and a little salt in a small pot and enough water to cover by 2-inches. Bring to a boil and cook 25-30 minutes, until tender. Drain.

2) Prep the ingredients: core, seed, and cube the tomato. Thinly slice the scallions, keeping the greens and whites separate. Peel the cucumber and cut out seeds, then put into 1/2 inch cubes. Halve, pit, and peel the avocado, then cut into small cubes.

3) Marinate the vegetables: toss the tomato, cucumber, scallion whites, and avocado in a large bowl with 1 T. Balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.

4) Cook the chicken: with about 15 minutes left on the barley, heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large pan. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Season both sides of chicken with salt, pepper and paprika. Cook 5-6 minutes on each side. Let rest 5 minutes before thinly slicing.

5) Toss the salad: toss the barley into a large bowl with the vegetables along with a large drizzle of olive oil and the rest of the balsamic vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

6) Plate: serve the chicken on a bed of barley, tomato, and avocado salad. Enjoy!

Calories: 553 per serving
This meal was a win! The combination of flavors was delicious! My overall experience was similar to my success with Blue Apron. I am still signed up with Hello Fresh and will get a shipment during the time Peter is away since (a) it isn't enough food for him, (b) it is too expensive for our budget unless cooking for one and getting 6 meals out of it,  and (c) I love to cook and have no problem coming up with and preparing good meals for our family. It has definitely solved my bad eating routine while home alone. I LOVE getting the boxes of food, preparing the delicious recipes, and enjoying the awesome meals!! I highly recommend both Hello Fresh and Blue Apron!!
If you want to save $40 off of our first shipment from Hello Fresh, use my code S9E8CM.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Hello Fresh Review: Shrimp & Chorizo Paella

I was very excited to make meal #2 from the Hello Fresh shipment. It actually was supposed to have been made first, but I overlooked the sticker on the box. I had never made or eaten Paella, but have always wanted to try it! This dish proved to be easy to make and super delicious!!

Paella: Spanish: [paˈeʎa]a Spanish dish prepared by simmering together chicken, seafood, rice, vegetables, and saffron and other seasonings.

Shrimp & Chorizo Paella w/ Smoked Paprika, Tomato, and Peas

8 oz. shrimp
3/4 cup Arborio Rice
1 pkg. dried chorizo
4 oz. peas
1 Roma tomato
2 cloves garlic
chicken stock concentrate
smoked paprika
1 tsp. parsley
1/2 oz. saffron
1 onion
olive oil
salt and pepper
1) prep the ingredients: wash and dry all the produce. Halve, peel, and dice the onion. Mince the garlic. Core, seed, and dice the tomato. Halve the chorizo lengthwise, then slice into thin half moons. Chop the parsley. Bring 4 cups of water , the saffron, and the stock conentrate to a simmer in a medium pot.
I have never cooked with or eaten chorizo, so I was anxious to try!
2) Start the Paella: Heat 1 T. olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the chorizo, diced tomato, and half the paprika to the pan and cook, tossing, 4-5 minutes, until the chorizo renders its oils.
3) Stir in the rice: Add the dry Arborio rice to the pan and toss to coat. Cook - stirring 1-2 minutes. Add 2 cups warm chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer 25-30 minutes. Add more broth if needed.
4) Finish the Paella: When the rice is almost al dente, stir in the peas and increase the heat to high for 2-3 minutes until a golden crust begins to form on the edges of the pan. TIP: To get best results; do NOT stir rice.
5) Cook the shrimp: season the shrimp with salt, pepper, and the remaining paprika. Top rice with shrimp, cover with a lid, and let cook for 2-3 minutes until shrimp are pink.
{side note}: the picture on the recipe card is highly deceiving.....notice the 3 dozen shrimp in the picture....count the 10 shrimp in my picture! Luckily, they were pretty good size shrimp, because this was one of the meals that Peter and I both ate!
6) Finish & Plate: Sprinkle the pan with parsley, divide the shrimp and chorizo paella between two bowls.
Calories: 662 per serving
This meal was a HUGE win!!! We both thought it was absolutely delish. The blend of ingredients made for a very tasty dish! I will definitely be making PAELLA again soon!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Hello Fresh Review: Pan-Seared Steak w/Herb Butter

Thanks to Shellbell I just received my first shipment from Hello Fresh absolutely FREE! :O) I was very anxious to try this meal service since my experience with Blue Apron had been such a hit! I decided to try it while Peter was home (Nathan & Kayla would be away so that worked great since each meal is only 2 servings), and I made our first of three meals as soon as the box arrived. I am going to do a complete review and compare to BA.

The delivery: on time.

The packaging: packed nicely in a box with 3 individual boxes for each meal. The 4 ice packs were almost completely melted, but everything was still cold. With BA, the ice packs were frozen solid when box arrived. HF shipped UPS, BA shipped FedEx.

And I am just noticing the "make me first" sticker on the shrimp box! :O( I'll be sure to make this one next!!

The Ingredients: the ingredients looked very fresh. I liked BA packaging a little better.

The recipe: the food comes with recipe cards similar to BA. The directions were easy to follow as well.

Pan-Seared Steak w/ Herb Butter, Roasted Potatoes, & Green Bean Saute

12 oz. sirloin steak
12 oz. yukon gold potatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 sprig parsley
4 oz. green beans
1 tsp. dijon musturd (a tiny jar was included)
1 T. butter (not included)
olive oil (not included)
salt & pepper (not included)

Calories: 639 per serving

my plate
Peter's plate
Overall thoughts: I guess I should have started with something a little more exciting than steak & potatoes, because while this meal was good, it just didn't WOW me. Also, it definitely wasn't enough food for Peter. I could easily have made two meals out of it, Peter probably could have eaten both plates. I'm anxious to try the other two meals in the box, since they are a bit more adventurous! Overall, I liked this meal, but the steaks we cook are hard to beat, so it was hard not to compare.

Friday, April 29, 2016

She's here!!!!

Our tiny little princess made her appearance a whole 10-1/2 weeks early!

Kamry Lynn was born at 8:54 p.m. on April 22nd. She weighed 2 lbs. 12.5 oz. and was 15.3 inches long, but at only 1 week old, she has earned the title of little miss feisty and full of personality by all of her nurses in the NICU.


After feeling bad for several days and her blood pressure running high, Lindsey went in to see her doctor last Thursday. She had blood work done and was put on HBP meds and was told to return the following day to see what the results of the blood work was. She felt bad that night, and after going back to the doctor's office on Friday morning, was sent right away to PRMC. Dr. Jennings was the doctor on call, and after looking at her chart, diagnosed her with HELLP Syndrome, a life-threatening complication of preeclampsia. He immediately made the call that Lindsey be transported by helicopter to John's Hopkins for an emergency c-section.

It was Logan's very first week as captain and his boat was in NY. After getting word that Lindsey would deliver that day, he had to make arrangements to get to her asap, but also worried about leaving his boat and crew. I want to give huge credit and thanks to his company for not only taking the burden of worry about his boat off his shoulders, but for making sure they got him to Lindsey's side as quickly as possible. Within the hour, they had a driver waiting to take him to Baltimore and put him out at the front door of John's Hopkins.

Looking back, we can clearly see God's hand in the entire situation. Lindsey wasn't able to be taken by helicopter due to storms in the area, instead she was taken by ambulance. God's timing is amazing, because 15 minutes after she arrived, Logan walked into her room. Had she been taken by helicopter, the baby would have been born a few hours earlier and Lindsey would have been all alone. That had been her fear since she found out she was pregnant - that Logan would be on the boat and not be with her when the baby came.

Unfortunately, Lindsey was heavily sedated and Logan was unable to be in the OR with her for the delivery. She was in recovery for an hour and then Logan spent the next hour with her before she was brought back to her labor and delivery room.

We got there just minutes before her birth, her Dad arriving just after. Nathan and Kayla came through the night and we all spent the rest of the night camping out outside her room.

Logan and Lindsey got to see Kamry around 1 a.m. for only a few minutes. Logan got to be with her the next morning, and later that day, they began their regular treks over to the NICU to spend more time with her. Lindsey started pumping right away, and Kamry started getting her milk through her tiny feeding line a few days after her birth. She advanced from 3cc to 10cc over the last few days, and they upped it even more yesterday.

The four grandparents got to see her on Saturday evening, and Peter and I stayed until Monday night, so we got a few more visits in as well. We stayed at a hotel on Saturday and Sunday nights, and went back to their house on Monday night. We had some things to take care of for them, so we stayed there Tuesday night too, and headed back to the hospital on Wednesday, this time the great-grands, Gran and Pop, went too.

Lindsey was discharged on Wednesday afternoon, and they had gotten their spot at the Ronald McDonald House. We got them settled in, and then spent a few more hours with them and Kamry back at the hospital, before heading back down. We got home yesterday, but came back to their house today. We will head back to Baltimore for the weekend in the morning.


She had a breathing tube at birth, only long enough to get a dose of surfactant for her lungs, then she was put on a CPAP, so she didn't have to work so hard. She was given a second dose of surfactant (via breathing tube) on Monday, but 12 hours later, it was back off again. Yesterday (6 days old), the CPAP was removed, and she now has an oxygen strap only!! The bili light was turned off yesterday as well. Lindsey was able to hold her for an hour (skin to skin) at 5 days old. Kamry will continue to be fed through the feeding line until at least week 32 (which she would have been on May 10).

We are taking things day by day and while we are concerned, we are very encouraged by Kamry's progress so far. Logan and Lindsey are adjusting quickly to their new role as parents and Lindsey is feeling stronger each day. All of her pre-delivery problems went away as soon as Kamry was born, which is the only cure for HELLP Syndrome.

Again, we thank the Lord for his protection and blessings to this sweet little family and thank everyone who has prayed for this situation. They have definitely been felt by all of us.

I can hardly wait to share the many pictures and videos that have been taken of our sweet, precious granddaughter, KAMRY! She is absolutely beautiful and we are already crazy in love with her!!!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Blue Apron Review: Nepalese Chicken Tarkari

This meal was the third of three from my first Blue Apron shipment. It seemed to take a little more time to prepare, but no more than 1 hour start to finish. It was, like the other two meals, delicious!!

Nepalese Chicken Tarkari w/ Garlic - Spinach Rice & Spiced Tomato Sauce

The chicken is full of flavor - seasoned with a blend of spices: curry, cumin, cinnamon, and ground cloves. The jasmine rice is infused with garlic and combined with sautéd spinach. The spiced tomato sauce brings the dish together - packed with flavor from the fresh ginger, scallions, and seasoning. Delicious!!



2 boneless - skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cups jasmine rice
1- 15 oz. can crushed tomatoes
4 oz. spinach
3 cloves garlic
2 scallions
2 T. creme fraiche
1 (1 inch) piece ginger
1 T. chicken tarkari spice blend (curry powder, ground cumin, ground cinnamon, & ground cloves)

(1) prepare the ingredients: wash and dry the fresh produce. Peel and mince garlic and ginger. Cut off and discard root ends of scallions; thinly slice the white bottoms and cut the top greens into 1/4 inch pieces, keeping them separate.


(2) start the rice: In a medium pot. heat 2 tsp. olive oil on med-high until hot. Add garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add rice, big pinch of salt, and 1-1/2 cups water; heat to boiling on high, then reduce to low and cover. Simmer 12-14 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with fork. Set aside.

(3) cook & drain spinach: In pan, heat 2 tsp. olive oil on med-high until hot. Add spinach; salt & pepper, and cook 2-3 minutes until wilted. Transfer to strainer to remove excess liquid then finely chop. Wipe out pan.

(4) cook chicken: pat chicken dry with paper towel; season on both sides with salt & pepper and half the spice blend. Heat 2 tsp. olive on on med-high until hot. Add seasoned chicken and cook on both sides 4-6 minutes each; cover loosely with foil. Transfer to cutting board, leaving any browned bits in pan.

(5) make tomato sauce: Add to pan, white bottoms of scallions, ginger, and remaining spice blend (add a little olive oil if pan is dry). Cook 1 minute then add tomatoes; season with salt & pepper. Simmer;stirring occasionally 4-6 minutes or until thickened. Add creme fraiche and simmer; stirring frequently (about 1 minute).Remove from heat.

(6) finish rice and plate your dish: Slice the cooked chicken crosswise. Add the chopped spinach to pot of rice; stir thoroughly to combine. Season with salt & pepper if needed. Divide finished rice and tomato sauce between two plates. Top the sauce with chicken. Garnish with green tops of scallions. Enjoy!!!


Saturday, April 9, 2016

Our Disney Vacation - Day 7 (Magic Kingdom & Disney Springs)

Day 7 - Wednesday, March 9, 2016 (Magic Kingdom & Disney Springs)

Once back on Main Street, we talked about what we wanted to do next. Our last Fast Pass (for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train) wasn't ripe for another hour, but we really wanted to take a break at the resort, which we ended up doing.


We got to the bus stop and it was deserted. I guess nobody leaves Magic Kingdom at 3 pm! This extra-long double bus pulled up, our first ride on one like this!

I couldn't believe we had the whole bus to ourselves! Normally, when we leave MK, we are packed like sardines! A young couple from Canada ended up joining us for the ride back to ASMusic. They had two small kids with them, one being a 3 month old baby boy. We had a very nice chat on the way back and I couldn't help getting excited about coming to WDW with our family and the baby someday!!

We got back to our room and found that Mousekeeping hadn't been in yet. I really like coming back to a fresh room, but when she knocked a few minutes later, we told her to just leave extra towels. We gave her our last tip envelope and thanked her for the great service we had gotten all week. :O)
I couldn't wait for our dinner ADR tonight! We chose Fulton's!
We were both impressed right away by the atmosphere, then the service, and most importantly, the food!!
First, they brought out these delicious crackers with a crab/cream cheese type spread. YUM!

We both got salads: Peter got the House Salad - mixed greens, tomato, cucumber, hearts of palm, sherry vinaigrette and I got the Caesar Salad - romaine hearts, Parmesan traditional Caesar dressing and garlic croutons. Both salads were just average, but good.

Peter also ordered the Mussels & Beer - Maine mussels, Yuengling lager, leeks, creme fraiche. I think he ate these at every place we went this week! :O)
He said they were VERY good!! :O)

For my entree, I chose the Seafood Combination - fresh from the fryer jumbo shrimp, sea scallops and cod filet served with Old Bay french fries. It was delicious!!

Peter got the Atlantic Salmon - cedar plank roasted, butternut squash puree, edamame-smoked bacon succotash and said his was delicious as well.

We skipped dessert because we were too full at the moment (and I had ideas for later!!!).
An overall wonderful dining experience! We will definitely return on a future visit!
$111.83 + cash tip (OOP)

We wanted to do some shopping after dinner, so we spent a little time at World of Disney. Oh my!! that place is HUGE! I couldn't help myself in the princess section!! :O)
We realized that our trip was quickly coming to an end. We thought about finishing the night back at Magic Kingdom, but we both wanted to spend the rest of the night right here in Disney Springs. We had enjoyed the live music when we came here a few nights earlier, so we just walked around a bit, stopping to listen to different performers. I really love all the changes here!
I suggested getting dessert and we headed over to try something from Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop.
I got this......

The Ocean Beach - Sea Salt Caramel Sundae. Vanilla ice cream smothered with creamy caramel, handmade hot fudge and sea salt. Perfectly topped with whipped cream, creamy caramel, sea salt and a Ghirardelli SQUARES milk chocolate.
OMG!!! I am not a big sweets fan, but this was amazing!!! :O)
Peter was boring in his choice, and chose a double dip of Black Cherry Vanilla. He ended up sharing mine too!!
There was a DJ/Dance party nearby, so we found a seat there to enjoy our treats.
Other than stopping by Goofy's Candy Co. to finish using our snack credits on treats to bring home, we were ready to call it a night.
Day 8 - Thursday, March 10, 2016 - Travel Day

We had an early wake up for our Magical Express bus ride to the airport. Our flight was at 8:15 a.m., so we were scheduled for pick-up at the front of the resort at 5:15! We checked our bags there, then boarded the bus for our sad ride to the airport. We had an easy walk through security and had plenty of time to get breakfast at McDs before boarding. The flight was good and in no time (less than 2 hours to be exact) we were safely back in Baltimore.
We had an absolutely amazing time!  We say this every year, but this trip will be hard to top. The weather was gorgeous and we had such a wonderful time! Once again, we didn't get to do everything on our list, so, of course, we just have to go back!! I was so happy that Peter loved flying, because as much as we enjoy our road trips, I much prefer spending that extra time in Disney!! We almost went a different route for our vacation this year, and we both mentioned several times during our trip how sad we would have been if we hadn't gone back to WDW!!!

I can't wait to go back again and have already started thinking about plans for next year. I have been a little homesick (more than usual) since we got back home. It is such a special place for Peter and I, I am very thankful that we get to enjoy that time together there.

Until next time.....I'll be dreaming of Disney!!! :O)


Our Disney Vacation - Day 7 (Magic Kingdom)

Day 7 - Wednesday, March 9, 2016 - Magic Kingdom 

Today was our last day in Disney!! :O( I woke up early to get our boarding passes for tomorrow morning's flight home. While Peter slept, I went up to the front desk to have our passes printed out, fill our mugs, and grab a little breakfast.

We took the bus to Magic Kingdom and realized as soon as we got to bag check that it was going to be a crowded day in the park. We were both a bit draggy this morning (and my feet still hurt - note to self: never wear the wrong shoes to walk around World Showcase!!!). I had decided to leave my camera at the resort today, mainly because it was our last day and I just wanted to soak up every last minute we had left in Disney. Besides, Peter's phone takes amazing pictures!

We had a few Fast Passes, but no real touring plans for the day. We decided to take it easy today and just enjoy! We had a FP for Pirates of the Caribbean, but it wasn't quite time, so we got right on the train at Main street station, and took a ride around the park.

We went all the way around the park, got off in Frontierland and walked over to Adventureland to find our favorite snack, stopping first to watch a little Captain Jack Sparrow!

We looked for Aloha Isle, which we found out had been relocated.

$11.37 or 2 SC
Next, we headed over to PotC to use our Fast Passes.

We started talking about lunch and decided on Casey's Corner. We had never eaten here and were anxious to try it out.
Peter got the Barbecue Slaw Dog - topped with pulled pork, cole slaw and barbecue sauce, a large Coke, and Cracker Jack for his dessert.
$15.00 or 1 CS credit
 I got the Hot Dog Meal....

$8.83 (OOP since our CS credits were gone)
It was was VERY crowded here and no seating left. We had to eat standing at one of the tall tables. We both prefer to sit and enjoy our food!!! We would definitely return there though for a quick lunch.
Next, we headed over to use our Fast Pass for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Peter ended up skipping this ride because he had a slight headache. He waited for me in one of the shaded areas.
We jumped on the WDW train again, and took a ride to the front of the park.
We spotted Woody & Jesse here doing a Meet & Greet!

and Thunder Mountain from another view.
Somewhere along the way today, we had watched the parade....



 coming up......all good things must come to an end :O(