Meatless Monday Review: Marley Spoon Recipe Box

Looking for some Meatless Monday Inspiration but short on time, ideas, cooking skills?  Switch it up with a recipe/meal delivery service, Marley Spoon!  We received 2 free recipe boxes from Marley Spoon to review for all you organic peeps out there.  Marley Spoon actually has a wide delivery area including the UK, Netherlands, Germany, Australia and ‘Murica (that’s layman for America).

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We Galentine’s Day-ed it up a little early and decided to have a cooking date night to try two recipes: Quinoa Burgers and Broccoli Coconut Soup.

Here’s how the service works:

It is a subscription service but you can pause the service when you like.  Your order is delivered on either a Tuesday or Friday in a cooler box so it keeps cook ready.  A variety of 7 chef created recipes are available each week catering to different culinary preferences (meaty, veggie, global inspired, vegan, dino..ok no dino but we are checking how closely you are reading).

You have a choice of a 2 person box or a family box to feed a small crowd with pricing that ranges between $48 (2x meals a week) to $139 for 4 family meals per week.  We actually spend more on groceries ourselves sometimes so the pricing seems pretty reasonable for the time you save.

What Rises to the Occasion:

Delivery: Delivery was on point and our boxes were waiting when we arrived.  Everything is pre-packaged so no need to measure.

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Recipes: Recipes come with gorgeous color photos of each step and outline exactly what you need to have on hand on your own (small staples like salt and olive oil).  Portions are more than what we would expect for 2 people.  For example, our Quinoa Burger recipe yielded 5 burgers and we had plenty extra couscous and soup from the Broccoli Soup recipe.  Depending on your appetite, you may be able to get 2 full meals for 2 out of each recipe (hooray leftovers!).

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Appearance: Both recipes looked like what was on the recipes cards when completed.  We felt like fancy french chefs.

Taste: The kale chips were crunchy and addictive…possibly the easiest part of the recipe box.  Our veggie burgers were hearty and filling.  The soup had a bi-partisan reaction…more on that below.

 

What Should Be on the Chopping Block:

Souper Spicy?:  With cooking, there is always room to grow!  With both of us being a level up from amateur kitchen goers, we think a few things could be improved.  The broccoli soup recipe was extra spicy for some reason and didn’t have the creamy consistency that appears in the picture.  We would have liked more of a coconut flavor and would have modified that spice to flavor ratio for some more depth.  It was possibly the green curry with ginger that could have been baby spiced to improve the other flavors in the soup.

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Time: It took us 2 hours to make everything.  For a busy person, this might not serve.  One suggestion would be for Marley Spoon to provide pre-chopped or diced ingredients but we aren’t sure how this would affect the freshness of produce.

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Final Course Thoughts?:

Taste your dishes throughout the cooking process and modify them if you like!  We added paprika and chili powder to our kale chips and were pleased with the results.  Don’t be afraid to be a kitchen rebel if you know how to cook to season items to your liking.

Bonding: We had a super fab time cooking together.  We could see this as a intimate date night, girls night out or bachelorette type experience, or just a way to liven up the ho hum experience of weekly cooking.

Overall, we loved the experience of learning to cook new recipes and spending time in the kitchen together. Ingredients are local sourced and grass fed animules, making you feel a bit at ease for what you are consuming.  Food waste is cut own bu the pre-packaged format as well.  If you’re looking for a culinary adventure with less effort, we suggest giving Marley Spoon a try! Use the Promo Code CHIORGANIC for $35 off your first box.

 

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Meatless Monday: Cranberry Spiced Butternut Squash

Are you suffering from a lingering Thanksgiving coma?  Are you currently looking at a squash that your aunt brought you over the holiday with a perplexion on how to use it.  Squash is one of those winter foods that we didn’t know what to do with during our early cooking days. Now we know there is a multitude of squash available: all that can be turned into awesome veggie meals

Recognize any of these variety of squash???

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Pumpkin, Spaghetti and Carnvial Squash (bottom left to right)
Butternut, Acorn and Buttercup Squash (top left to right)

Here’s a starter recipe for the puzzling squash. This week’s Meatless Monday dish features yummy natural cranberry sauce and a winter superstar, Butternut Squash.  If you’re feeling extra lazy, which we’re guessing you still are as we noticed your Santa pajama pants, you can grab pre-cut and peeled butternut squash from the grocery store instead of machete-ing that sucker. If you’re more adventurous, cut open the squash length wise, scoop out the seeds, peel and cut into 1 inch cubes in preparation.

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Cranberry Spiced Butternut Squash

Ingredients

  • 2 cups butternut squash, chopped in 1 inch cubes, peeled
  • 1 cup natural cranberry sauce (no jiggly cran jelly people!)
  • 1/2 cup no salt sunflower seeds (no husks)
  • Maple syrup to taste

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If you’re feeling spicy, you could add 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (Vietnamese cinnamon is our favorite).

Directions

  • Fill a medium sized pot with water and bring the water to a boil
  • Boil squash until tender
  • Drain water
  • Mix all the ingredients while squash is still warm
  • Add maple syrup until desired sweetness

Easy peasey butternut squash can  be transformed into other various hearty dishes. You can puree it with veggie stock and spices for a delicious savory soup, mix it with arugula and feta, or, for a sweeter treat, try roasting it with cinnamon and butter. Now put on some real clothes and go attack that squash!

A Very Veg Thanksgiving: Baked French Onion Soup and Mushroom Gravy

Here’s Part 2 of delicious side dishes from my cooking adventure, French Onion Soup and Mushroom Gravy taught at Whole Foods Market Cooking School in Lincoln Park.  Thanks to Google+ Local Chicago for hosting this culinary experience!

When you see the food pics below, you’ll know why the whole class was clamoring to get a close view of the finished product.

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French Onion Soup

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 4 large sweet onions, thinly sliced with the grain
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried thyme or 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine, recommend cabernet sauvignon
  • 2 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cups filtered water
  • 1 small baguette
  • 1/2 pound Swiss, Gruyere, or Emmenthaler cheese, shredded
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Emmenthaler Swiss Cheese

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees
  • Dry heat a large soup pot or dutch oven for 2 minutes.  Add to hot pot the sliced onions.  Sprinkle salt and drizzle olive oil over onions.  With a large spoon or tongs, constantly turn the onions so they do not stick to the bottom.  Continue stirring and flipping for 5-10 minutes.  The onions will start to shrink and caramelized beautifully.  Add the thyme and stir once more.  Place a lid on the pot and continue this 30 minutes, stirring every so often.  This is where the base of the flavor comes from.  The longer you caramelize, the deeper the flavor.
  • Slice baguette to fit your bowls, either on a diagonal or in circles.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes, until bread is completely dried out.
  • Add red wine and balsamic vinegar.  This will help deglaze the pan and pick up more flavor.  Let cook another 10 minutes with no lid.  This will concentrate the liquid a bit to help deepen the flavor.  Add bay leaves and water and bring to a boil.  Turn heat to simmer, place lid on pot and allow to cook another 15-30 minutes.

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  • Ladle into bowls, place bread over soup and sprinkle on cheese.  Place under broiler for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes.  Be aware of the time as the broiler can burn food very quickly.  Enjoy!

Vegan Thanksgiving Cooking Class

 

Mushroom Gravy

Whole Foods Market recipe adapted from Post Punk Kitchen

  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour or almond flour for gluten free
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 shallots, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 2tsp thyme
  • salt and peper to taste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast

Directions

  • In a large bowl, mix 2 cups vegetable broth with flour.  Whisk until there are no lumps.  Add remaining 2 cups of vegetable broth and set aside.
  • Heat a large sauce pan.  Add oil and shallots.  Saute about 5 minutes until shallots are limp.
  • Add garlic, mushrooms, paprika, thyme, salt and pepper.  Stir until well combined.  Saute about 5 minutes or until mushrooms are cooked.

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  • Add wine and bring to a boil for 3 minutes, letting the liquid reduce.  Stir often.
  • Add broth mixture and nutritional yeast to the pot.  Let cook 10-15 minutes until gravy thickens.

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So this is my first experience with mushroom gravy as a born vegetarian!  Use on whatever dish you want….cover your greens, your mashed potatoes or slather it on the Whole Foods “meat” loaf recipe from part 1.

Craving more variety for your veggie-giving?  Check out the following veg/vegan recipes as a Thanksgiving side dish or fall treat and have a healthy happy holiday tomorrow!

Super Moist Pumpkin Bread by Post Punk Kitchen 

Sweet Potato Soup with Ginger and Vanilla by Post Punk Kitchen

Candied Yams by Earth Balance Made Just Right

Buttery Apple Cider Carrots by Earth Balance Made Just Right

Vegan Pumpkin Pie by Whole Foods Market

Meatless Monday “Meat” Loaf

Are you reaaaaaady…to learn how to make delicious vegetarian and vegan dishes just in time for Thanksgiving?  Are you prepared to make plant based entrées fit for even the most carnivorous foodie?  You won’t even miss the meat!

On my beauteous bday, I attended Whole Foods Market Cooking School in Lincoln Park to learn about preparing meatless meals thanks to Google+ Local Chicago.

“Meat” Loaf

  • 2 cups cooked brown or green lentils such as Melissa’s Steamed Lentils (all natural, no preservatives, non-GMO)
  • 2 cups cooked short grain brown rice
  • 1 cup rolled oats, blended such as Bob’s Red Mill Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning blend
  • 1/2 tbsp sage
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp ketchup to spread on loaf

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • In a blender, place rolled oats and blend into powder
  • In a saute pan, add oil.  Italian seasoning and sage.  Allow to cook until oil absorbs spices and aroma fills the air.  Add onions and garlic.  Saute until onions are translucent and soft.
  • In a large bowl, add cooked lentils, cooked rice, blended oats, sauted onion and garlic mixture, crushed tomatoes and BBQ sauce.  Mix thoroughly.

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  • Pour loaf mixture into a well-greased bread pan and pat down.  Add ketchup to the top and with the back of spoon, spread to coat the exposed loaf.

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  • Bake for 1 hour.  Let sit for 10 minutes.  Transfer to a plate and enjoy!!

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Kate has been bugging me to demonstrate my new culinary skills for the holiday.  She may have to wait for Part 2, French Onion Soup and Mushroom Gravy, coming soon!  Don’t drool like her while you’re waiting. 😉

**Recipe from Whole Foods Cooking School, Lincoln Park