Thursday, December 22, 2016

Balsamic Chicken and Pears with Confetti Quinoa

We bought some pears last week and this seemed like the perfect dish to use them in. We love quinoa and although we didn't have all the "confetti" ingredients, just carrots seemed to do just fine. An added bonus was that Kaspian actually liked it because there was no "green stuff" in his quinoa. Astrid of course happily consumed anything given to her.
We also did not have white balsamic vinegar so we just went with the regular one and it worked out okay. The color was most likely the biggest difference. Overall the dish was very flavorful and everything seemed to go very well together. Surprisingly, the cherries and rosemary complemented the dish and were delicious. For the Quinoa, we used our turkey stock that we made from the Thanksgiving turkey, this gave it a little bit more flavor and we would recommend using chicken stock if you have it instead of water.

This is an easy recipe that looks and feels very fancy.

Original recipe can be found here:

Confetti Quinoa:


Chicken & Pears:
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup chicken or turkey broth
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 medium unpeeled pears, each cut into 8 wedges
1/3 cup dried cherries or dried cranberries

Confetti Quinoa:
2 cups stock (turkey or chicken)
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil


Chicken & Pears:
1. Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook until a thermometer reads 165°, 8-10 minutes. Remove.
2. Meanwhile, stir together next five ingredients until blended. Pour into skillet; add pears and dried cherries. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat and simmer, covered, until pears are tender, about 5 minutes. Return chicken to skillet; simmer, uncovered, until heated through, 3-5 minutes. If desired, sprinkle with additional minced rosemary.

Confetti Quinoa:
1. In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add next five ingredients. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, until liquid is absorbed, 12-15 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and oil; heat through. Remove from heat; fluff with a fork.

What we liked:

The dish went together very well and it was fun to try something new and different!

What we didn't like:

Nothing, it was great. 

What Kaspian and Astrid thought about it:

He liked the carrot quinoa. Astrid loved everything! Although she did seem to think at first that the cherries might be chocolates and was very excited. Upon realizing that they were still a fruit, she was happy. 

Next time:

Try with white balsamic vinegar. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Gyoza (Japanese dumplings)

We got a new toy this week - a Kitchenaid attachment of a meat grinder! We picked up some wonton wrappers from the grocery store and made our first meal with meat we ground ourselves. It was AWESOME. They were probably the best dumplings we have ever had. The dough will probably be better if we make it ourselves, and we plan to next time. But even with the store bought wonton wrappers it was pretty amazing. We had to make some adjustments, and fold them into triangles as the dough was too brittle to be cut into circles and properly pinched into the proper dumpling shape. However, the triangle dumplings were very easy and fast to make and turned out delicious.
The sauce was probably the best sauce we have tried and made also and to think that it is just three ingredients. Very yummy, will definitely make again!

We had some extra wrappers left over, so we also made some quick cream cheese wontons. We made those by blending 8oz of cream cheese with 3 cut green onions and filling the wontons. Then the edges just get pinched together into the middle and voila, the wonton is done. Also probably the best ones we have had and SUPER easy to make. They beat out some restaurant ones, possible because we used really good cream cheese.

Here is the original recipe for the gyoza:



They are just ready to be eaten

okay, last one

Gyoza done!

Wontons being assembled

Wonton assembly

Wontons assembled

Wontons frying

More frying wontons 
Cream Cheese Wontons ready for eating!


4 cups, loosely packed, minced Napa cabbage (use the frilly leafy half of the cabbage)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
11/12 ounces ground pork
1/2 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (with a Microplane grater)
5-6 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon green onion (green part only), minced
2 teaspoon aka miso paste (red/dark miso paste)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 red bell pepper (optional - we ground this through our meat grinder at the same time as pork)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
40 dumpling wrappers

For cooking the dumplings:
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 cup water

Dipping Sauce:
6 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
Several drops of sesame oil 


1. Toss the minced cabbage with the salt in a large bowl and let it sit for 10 minutes. Using a sturdy paper towel, wrap the cabbage and squeeze to drain and discard the excess water (prevent your dumplings from becoming mushy) and then transfer the cabbage to a deep bowl. Add the pork, ginger, garlic, green onion, miso, sesame oil, red bell pepper, and sugar. Mix everything together with your hands until all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Using your hands, scoop the mixture into a ball, lift it, and then throw it back into the bowl. Repeat several times to tenderize the meat and help the mixture stick together. (we mixed with just a spoon, but our ingredients were ground, so that probably made a difference)

2. Have a small bowl of cold water ready. Lay a dumpling wrapper on a dry work surface, and place a heaping teaspoon of the meat mixture in the center of the wrapper. With a fingertip moistened with water, trace a line along half of the edge of the round wrapper. Fold the wrapper over to enclose the filling, and pinch the wrapper in the center to seal the edges together at that spot. Holding the filled half-circle in the left hand, pleat the top of the wrapper from the middle out, pressing it to the flat edge of the wrapper at the back. Set aside the stuffed dumpling with the pleated-wrapper edge up. Repeat to make 40 dumplings in all.

3. In a large skillet with a tight fitting lid, heat 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil over medium-high heat. Carefully place as many of the dumplings that can fit without touching in the skillet with the pleated-wrapper edge up. Cook the dumplings for 3 minutes, or until nicely browned on the bottom. Check the progress by lifting 1 or 2 dumplings by their pleated edge.

4. Once the bottoms are nicely browned, use the skillet lid to shield yourself and carefully pour in 1/4 cup of the water. When the hissing and splattering die down, drizzle in 1/2 teaspoon of the sesame oil around the edge of the skillet. Place the lid on the skillet to trap in the moisture and then quickly lower the heat to keep the liquid at a bare simmer.

5. Check the dumplings after 2 minutes. When the wrappers appear slightly translucent and the meat feels firm when pressed lightly with a spoon, remove the lid and raise the heat slightly. Continue to cook until all the water has evaporated and only the oil remains (about 2 minutes). Once you hear a sizzling sound, shake the skillet. The dumplings should slide about. If they seem to stick to the skillet, move the skillet away from the stove and replace the lid for a moment. Remove the dumplings from the skillet with a broad flexible spatula. If you'd like, flip them over so that the seared surface faces up. Cook the remaining dumplings the same way. Serve the dumplings hot accompanied by the dipping sauce.

4. While the dumplings are cooking, make the dipping sauce by mixing the soy sauce and rice vinegar together in a small bowl. Pour the sauce into a small serving pitcher or distribute among individual dipping dishes.

What we liked:

SOOOO GOOD. Best dumplings ever. The meat grinder is also awesome. Cannot wait to make kofta kebabs with it!

What we didn't like:

The store bought dough, but even with that it was great. 

What Kaspian and Astrid thought about it:

Astrid loved it all, especially the meat. Kaspian was really into the cream cheese wontons, although he really did not like that there were green onions in there. We told him that it was a necessary ingredient to keep the wonton from falling apart.

Next time:

Try our own dough!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

HelloFresh: Protein Packed Rice Bowl Disaster

This was one of the worst dishes we have made. This is especially bad since it was handpicked by hellofresh. Let's start with the fact that the veggies were SAD. The carrots, which normally have a pretty long shelf life were super squishy and soft. The green beans were close to the end of their life span and the ginger was pretty much rotten. We had to use our own for that. Not something you should have to do in a fancy delivered box meal. The scallions were also very wilted and barely usable.
The whole bowl was non-harmonious, and kind of tasted like Hello Fresh's "kitchen sink" dish where they just wanted to ship the remainders of all random odds and ends of recipes and get rid of them in one dish.
We actually ended up not eating this, after taking a few bites we decided to go out and get some burgers. That is how bad it was.

Here is the original recipe:

Finished bowl

Chopped veggies and our own ginger

black spots/ bad ginger

what came in our box


0.75 cup Brown Rice
1 Carrot
1/2 can Corn
2  Scallions
1 thumb Ginger
2 cloves Garlic
6 ounces Green Beans
1 ounce Cashew Pieces (Tree Nuts)
1 tablespoon Sesame Seeds
4 Tablespoons Soy Sauce (Soy)
1 tablespoon Olive Oil


1. Wash and dry all produce. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add rice and cook until tender, 20-25 minutes. Drain.
2. Place cashews on a baking sheet, and toast in oven until fragrant, about 5 minutes. (TIP: Keep an eye on these so they don’t burn!) Remove from sheet and set aside.
3. Peel and finely dice carrot. Trim and cut green beans into 1-inch pieces. Thinly slice scallions, keeping greens and whites separate. Mince garlic. Peel and finely mince or grate ginger. Drain half of corn.
4. Heat a drizzle of oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add carrots and toss until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add green beans and corn, and toss until green beans are crisp-tender, 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from pan and set aside.
5. Heat a large drizzle of oil in same pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and ginger. Cook 1 minute, until fragrant. Add cooked rice and toss until slightly crispy, 2-3 minutes. Add cooked veggies, soy sauce, and scallion whites. Toss another 1-2 minutes.
6. Divide rice between bowls. Sprinkle with cashews, sesame seeds, and scallion greens.

What we liked:

It smelled good.... but that's about it. 

What we didn't like:

EVERYTHING. This was a terrible recipe. 

What Kaspian and Astrid thought about it:

Astrid liked the left over corn in the can, Kaspian did not want to eat this either. 

Next time:

Do not make this. 

HelloFresh: Pistachio Crusted Chicken over Couscous with Jalapeno Salsa

This was our third recipe from Hello Fresh that we made on Sunday night. The chicken was really good and we definitely want to save the chicken recipe for a use later on. We bought some pistachios yesterday to do just that in the near future! However, the couscous was okay but PRIOR to the addition of the sherry. The jalapeno salsa was not very good and did not go very well with this meal at all. Also, the veggies that we received in this box and the following box were pretty sad. The cucumber was getting pretty squishy, and at this point has only been in our fridge for 3 days,so really shouldn't have been to that point. The tomato was also starting to look pretty sad, as well as the jalapeno.

Pistachio Crusted Chicken over Couscous with Jalapeno Salsa

Yummy chicken!

Out of the oven!


Jalapeno salsa/sald

Chicken ready to bake

What came in our box for this recipe

Here is the original recipe:


12 oz chicken breast
1 jalepeno
1 small cucumber
1 lime
1/2 shallot
0.5 cup Quinoa
2 tablespoon Sherry Vinegar
0.25 ounce Mint
1 Roma Tomato
2 tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 ounce Pistachios
1 packet Vegetable Stock Concentrate
1 tablespoon Olive Oil


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place stock concentrate, quinoa, 1 cup water, and a pinch of salt in a small pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer until tender, 15-20 minutes.
2. Wash and dry all produce. Shell and roughly chop pistachios. Pat chicken dry with a paper towel, and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Evenly spread a thin layer of mustard on top of chicken. Press pistachios into mustard. Bake until no longer pink in center, about 20 minutes.
3. While chicken cooks, dice cucumber and tomato. Chop mint leaves, saving 1 TBSP for garnish. Halve, peel, and finely dice 2 TBSP shallot. Zest and halve lime. Dice jalapeño, removing ribs and seeds for less heat. Combine everything in a medium bowl. Toss with a squeeze of lime and drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
4. When chicken is cooked through, remove from oven and rest 3 minutes before thinly slicing.
5. When quinoa is ready, fluff with a fork and season with salt and pepper. Stir in a drizzle of sherry vinegar and drizzle of olive oil (to taste).
6. Serve pistachio-crusted chicken on a bed of quinoa. Spoon cucumber jalapeño salad on top and garnish with reserved mint.

What we liked:

The chicken was great!

What we didn't like:

The salsa and the sherry addition to the couscous

What Kaspian and Astrid thought about it:

Kaspian liked the couscous, plain. Astrid went crazy for the cucumbers and tomatoes and made us pick them out of the salsa that we were not eating anyways. She at them ALL. 

Next time:

Keep the chicken, make couscous without sherry and do not make the salad. 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

HelloFresh: Shepard's Pie

The second HelloFresh meal we made was called Easy as (Shepard's) Pie. Nick loves Shepard's Pie in all forms and was very excited about this one! We ended up adding three extra large potatoes and cheese to the what they sent in the box because there didn't seem to be quite enough of them. The Shepard's Pie turned out pretty good, but the sauce needed to be significantly thicker. However, the carrots were so amazing we are going to head out to the local farmers market to try to find some more of them.


16 oz       Yukon Potatoes (+ 3 large potatoes)
8 oz         Baby Carrots
1              Yellow Onion
2              Cloves Garlic
1/4 oz Thyme
10 oz Ground Beef
1 TBSP Flour (Contains: Wheat)
1              Chicken Stock Concentrate
4 oz         Peas
1/4 Cup Reduced-Fat Milk (Contains: Milk)
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese (Contains: Milk)  (+ 1 cup of Cheddar cheese )


1. Wash and dry all produce. Preheat oven to 420 degrees.

2. Toss carrots on a baking sheet with a drizzle of olive oil and pinch of salt and pepper. Roast until starting to brown, about 20 minutes.

3. Cut potatoes into ½-inch cubes. Place in a large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until fork tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and put in a mixer bowl.

4. Halve, peel, and thinly slice onion. Mince garlic. Strip thyme leaves off stems. Discard stems.

5. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add beef and thyme. Cook until browned, 3-4 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

6. Add another drizzle of olive oil and onions to pan. Cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and ¼ cup water.

7. Sprinkle flour over onions and stir 1 minute. Add stock concentrate, ½ cup water, and peas. Stir until sauce thickens, 2-3 minutes.

8. Add beef and stir to combine.

9. Use a mixer to mash the potatoes with ¼ cup milk and 1 TBSP butter until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

10. Transfer beef mixture to a medium baking dish. Spread mashed potatoes over top. Sprinkle with Parmesan and Cheddar cheese, and bake until melted and bubbly, about 5 minutes.

11. Serve with roasted carrots on the side.

What we liked:

The carrots were amazing. We wish there were more of them! The Shepard's Pie was pretty good, it was not the best we have made but it was still very good.

What we didn't like:

The sauce for the Pie was way too thin. A proper Shepard's Pie really needs a thick gravy like sauce, but this recipe made a far too little of a very thin sauce. The sauce tasted great but it just wasn't quite right.

What Kaspian thought about it:

Poor Kaspian was still feeling bad from his strep infection (again!) and didn't feel up to trying it out.

What Astrid thought about it:

Astrid loved the peas! She went absolutely crazy over them and would yell at us whenever we had one on our spoon heading for our moths instead of hers. 

Next time:

We would make much more of a thicker sauce by adding beef broth (or onion broth) and more flour to the sauce step. We would also put some Cabernet Sauvignon in the sauce to give it a little more flavor. Finally, we would add carrot circles directly in the pie and maybe put the pie in a nice crust. 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

HelloFresh: Cod Over Couscous with Citrus Dill Slaw

Hello Fresh had a deal for black friday, so we opted to try again for one week. Easy meals, with all directions delivered. We tried it about a year ago for a couple of weeks and enjoyed trying pre-picked recipes. It seems that now the recipes are a little simpler than they were last year.

The fish came out a little rubbery and could have been made better if cooked with butter and on a lower heat. The slaw came out shockingly good. It seemed like an unlikely combination of ingredients, but it was wonderful. The couscous was also okay.

Here is the original recipe:

Cod with couscous and citrus dill slaw

cod frying

Citrus Dill Slaw

All ingredients cut up

Items in our box!

In the box!


1 Orange
1 Lemon
3 Scallions
0.25 oz Dill
2 tbsp Capers
2 cups Shredded Red Cabbage
2 tbsp Sherry Vinegar
1 packet Veggie Stock Concentrate
3/4 cup Whole Wheat Couscous (Contains: Wheat)
12 oz Cod Fillets (Contains: Fish)


1. Wash and dry all produce. Peel and slice orange end-to end into rounds. Cut each round into quarters. Alternatively, peel orange and dice segments. Halve lemon. Thinly slice scallions, keeping greens and whites separate. Coarsely chop dill. Drain capers.
2. Make the slaw. Toss cabbage in a large bowl with oranges, scallion greens, dill, capers, sherry vinegar, and a large drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Make couscous. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a small pot over medium-high heat. Add scallion whites and toss until softened, 2-3 minutes. Add 1 cup water and stock concentrate, and bring to a
boil. Add couscous, cover, and remove from heat.
4. Sear the cod.  Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large nonstick pan over high heat. Pat cod dry with a
paper towel, and season on all sides with salt and pepper. Sear cod until flaky and opaque, 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and set aside. TIP: Flip cod carefully—it’s very delicate!
5. Make lemon-butter sauce.  Add 1 TBSP butter to same pan over medium-high heat. Once
melted, add a squeeze of lemon (to taste). Season with salt and pepper.
6. Serve. Fluff couscous with a fork, and season with salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon. Divide
between plates. Place cod on top, and drizzle with lemon butter sauce. Serve slaw on the side.

What we liked:

It was fun to try the new recipe. The slaw was surprisingly good!!!

What we didn't like:

The fish could have been significantly better if prepared a little bit differently. 

What Kaspian thought about it:

He did not care for this fancy dish. 

Next time:

Definitely make the slaw, do not make the fish following the recipe. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Sage and Garlic Rubbed Cornish Hens

These birds take a while to defrost if you have them frozen, so make sure to take them out to defrost early in the morning or maybe put them in the fridge a day or so before to start the process.
The hens themselves cook fairly quickly, and would be great with a side of mashed potatoes or rice. We served them with a simple green bean casserole (green beans + cream of chicken soup + onions and milk all baked for about an hour) and baked yams.

Here is the original recipe:

Cooked Cornish Hens


Simple Baked Yam

Green bean casserole

More Cornish Hens!


6 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
12 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 Cornish hens (about 2 2/3 pounds total), butterflied and backbone removed
2 lemons, halved and seeded


1. Preheat oven to 425°. Place a wire rack in a roasting pan or on a heavy-duty baking sheet.

2. Smash garlic cloves with the back of your knife; then, with the flat side of your knife, press them to grind to a fine paste with the sugar and salt against the cutting board.

3. Combine garlic mixture, chopped sage, rind, and oil in a small bowl.

4. Pat hens dry with paper towels. Rub garlic mixture under skins.

5. Place hens on rack; roast at 425° for 30 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 160°.

6. Remove hens; let stand 5 minutes. Remove and discard skin. Split hens along breast plate. Serve with lemons.

What we liked:

It was easy and good!

What we didn't like:

Nothing, it was great

What Kaspian thought about it:

He was more into his mac and cheese. Astrid, however, loves all forms of meat and enjoyed the cornish hens greatly.

Next time:

No changes needed

Mile High Cranberry Meringue Pie

We woke up on Thanksgiving morning, and started making the feast with this recipe. After being finished, the pie needs to sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours, so, after we made it we could put it away and focus on other dishes.
The pie turned out delicious. The meringue was perfect and the tart cranberry filling really complemented it well. We did cheat a little and use a prepared pie crust, but we don't think it detracted from the pie too much, it was still wonderful! In addition, it also looks beautiful!

Mile High Cranberry Meringue Pie

Out of the oven!

Ready to bake!


Baked pie crust

Cranberry filling!



4 large eggs, separated
Pastry for single-crust pie (9 inches)
4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed
2-1/4 cups sugar, divided
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar


1. Preheat oven to 425°. Let egg whites stand 30 minutes at room temperature.0
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to a 1/8-in.-thick circle; transfer to a 9-in. pie plate. Trim pastry to 1/2 in. beyond rim of plate; flute edge. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
3. Line unpricked pastry with a double thickness of foil. Fill with pie weights, dried beans or uncooked rice. Bake on a lower oven rack 15-20 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Remove foil and weights; bake 3-6 minutes longer or until bottom is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Reduce heat to 325°.
4. In a large saucepan, combine cranberries, 1-1/2 cups sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to medium; cook, uncovered, 4-6 minutes or until berries stop popping, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks, 1/4 cup sugar, flour and salt until blended. Gradually whisk in 1/2 cup of hot cranberry liquid; return all to saucepan, stirring constantly. Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
5. For meringue, beat egg whites with cream of tartar and remaining vanilla on medium speed until foamy. Add remaining sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high after each addition until sugar is dissolved. Continue beating until stiff glossy peaks form. Transfer hot filling to pastry. Spread meringue evenly over hot filling, sealing to edge of pastry. Bake 25-30 minutes or until meringue is golden brown. Cool 1 hour on a wire rack. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving. Yield: 8 servings. 

What we liked:

Everything! It was great. 

What we didn't like:


What Kaspian thought about it:

He was also suspicious of this

Next time:

No changes needed.