Big Cooking Day

I am so happy the weekend is here! This week was tough: I had a midterm on Monday, an exam on Tuesday, a quiz on Wednesday, and another quiz on Thursday. It was so exhausting that my parents decided to visit me a week early in addition to visiting next week, as we had planned.

It is great seeing my parents, and I had also received a delivery from Terra’s Kitchen. Since the process is different from other meal kit services, I will explain it to you. Every week, you pick what items will get delivered to you in a vessel. A vessel looks like this:


It has about 100 uses to it. Like other meal kits, it is delivered right to your door. The delivery sticker gets peeled back to reveal a return sticker. On an agreed-upon date, the delivery service will pick up your vessel again, which means that you won’t have to worry about disposing of superfluous containers and packaging. Another aspect of the vessel that I like is the magnetized doors that attach to the sides once they are opened.


Now, you ask, what options does one have for a vessel? Different from other meal kit services, there is a minimum total price of $62-ish before the vessel will ship. However, your options are more varied. The meals differ in price per serving, and the company also offers snacks, extra proteins, and smoothies. Once the delivery arrives, the doors open to reveal another door of sorts, and once that door opens, you will find your recipe cards.


The vessel functions as a mini refrigerator and your ingredients are on the shelves of the vessel. Each shelf contains an ice pack to keep the food cool. All of the ingredients are pre-sliced and prepared with numbers that correspond to the numbers on the recipe cards. Here is a picture of the empty shelves after unboxing.


You can then place your food in the refrigerator, close the vessel with the ice packs remaining in their, and return the box in a nice, consolidated fashion. This is what the food looked like in the refrigerator (my parents were staying at a guest apartment in my complex, so this is more empty-looking than my fridge).


This afternoon, I made the sweet potato tacos. Below is an example of a recipe card, but it is not the recipe for the sweet potato tacos.


There are several things that I love about this service (this is not a sponsored post, by the way). I really like how there are lower calorie options available, something that many of these services don’t offer. Each week, you get to choose from fifty-three different meal options, which is so much more than other meal kit services. Here is where the variety of meal options offered by Terra’s Kitchen becomes a pro and a con. Due to calorie and price constraints on my part, and due to the repetition from week to week, that still doesn’t leave many options for me if I were to use this service on a weekly basis. Eventually, I would have to choose the same options again either because the calorie count would be too high or the prices would be too high otherwise. Terra’s Kitchen has taken this into account and has recently decided to start adding new meal options every week. We’ll see how that works out.

One of the best parts of the cooking thus far was that the cooking times are very accurate, and it was easy to make the dish. Blue Apron’s dishes had more lengthy cooking times and many more working parts that from what I saw that it seemed more burdensome. The longest amount of time spent for this dish was further chopping the sweet potato slices into cubes. Below is a picture of the cooking process.


Because of the ease of cooking, my parents arrived to a lunch already made for them. Not pictured are the avocado slices, prepared pico de gallo, and the jalapenos and garlic (already chopped and minced) that were added to the same pan as the sweet potatoes once they were cooked. Initially, I had ordered meals with two servings, but the portions were so generous that we stretched it to three servings with some leftovers to boot. Tomorrow, we will have lunch and dinner from Terra’s Kitchen.  One recipe is the black bean sliders, and the other one is a curry chickpea bowl with jasmine rice. My parents and I will also be using this service next week to avoid the cost of eating out.

In addition to the Terra’s Kitchen lunch, we made Thai chicken ginger stir-fry and mixed the filling and dough for hamantaschen. Purim is next weekend, and I found a cannoli twist on the traditional hamantaschen to try out:

I will post more on the rest of Terra’s Kitchen recipes and the hamantaschen with some more pictures! I hope you’re having a great weekend!


This Week So Far

Hello, dear readers!

I just wanted to give a little update on this week so far. It was a light enough school week (only two quizzes yesterday and one quiz today- you know you’re in PA school when you call that a light week) that I was able to go to the young Jewish professionals’ group’s version of paint night. It was very relaxing and just what I needed. Unlike other professionally put on paint nights that I have been to, and I’ve been to four of them, the artist that the group brought to help with the painting did not go through the process step by step. Fortunately, I had been to enough Paint Nites (not sponsored) that I knew the general process and was not completely clueless. To that extent, I was also able to help the person next to me in her endeavor.


I have photos of others’ paintings, but as I do not have their permission to post them, I will just leave you with mine. The artist’s design was great, though! For the hamsa, we did our own designs, and some people got more creative and did not use the skyline. One person even used his hamsa to draw his own face in!

Next week, we have a much busier schedule. The original schedule was supposed to be a midterm on Monday, two exams on Tuesday, and a quiz on Wednesday. Fortunately, our class has amazing officers, and they negotiated for one of the exams to be moved to Thursday instead. My boyfriend is also making an unexpected visit. He is trying to move to the area, and he got a job interview. Normally, he tries to get Skype interviews if he was not planning on visiting me already, but this particular company would not allow for that, so he has to spring for lodging and gas for the 6.5-hour drive that he has to make. I’m still happy to see him, though! Otherwise, we might have gone yet another two months without seeing each other.

As I mentioned before, I have fallen in love with the idea of sheet pan dinners. It’s so easy to prep everything, throw it on the sheet pan, put it in the oven, and clean up or study while it cooks in the oven. The cleanup takes so much less time as well. I have also introduced my mom to the idea, and I’m hoping it will save my parents time too (they both do the cooking). She has never in all this time heard of the idea. I personally saw it for the first time when one of my roommates made it for one of the dinners that we have together (I cook two nights a week and she cooks two nights a week for the both of us). Tonight, I made chicken thighs with potatoes, carrots, and onions. I got the recipe from here:  Here is my dish in the oven:


I noticed that readers really enjoyed my Blue Apron series, and hopefully, they will also want to read when I review Plated (not sponsored) in a few weeks. A couple of weeks ago, when there was the issue of cooking during my boyfriend’s visit here, my friend gave me not only a free Blue Apron box but a free Plated box so I will post my thoughts on that. I decided to redeem the free Plated box during a week when I could save money and have the time to cook. Have a great rest of the week and a good weekend!

Pros and Cons of Blue Apron Part III

Sorry to not update immediately! My boyfriend left yesterday, and we probably won’t see each other for another couple months. In addition, I had to prepare for the upcoming week. I also did not take a photo, and I apologize. On Sunday, we cooked chicken with kale, apple, and potato hash, which included red onions and a sauce.

I really liked the dish, although I still think that the pork dish was my favorite out of the three recipes. I’m not sure how partial I am to kale, and if I were to eat it in the future, it would have to be pretty concealed, which in this dish it was. As I said before, I’m appreciative of getting this meal kit so that I could try a couple new, different ingredients. At one point, my boyfriend had trouble with timing because he underestimated how much space the ingredients would take up in the pan. What I noticed about Blue Apron is how large the serving sizes tend to be. Maybe I will try FreshRealm because you can pick the exact recipes you want, and they have a lot of Cooking Light recipes on there, which is a magazine from which I love using recipes. Their ingredients are also presliced. Thank you for reading! Hopefully, in the future, I will cover topics like what life is like as a PA student, more cooking, and other topics.

Pros and Cons of Blue Apron Part II

Continuing from yesterday’s post, my boyfriend cooked cumin-crusted pork with farro and in a sauce with figs, red wine vinegar, and blood orange juice. While I liked the vegetables from last night’s dinner, I really enjoyed the flavor profile of this dish more. I really wish I knew what went into the cumin spice rub that was provided. Blue Apron did have to replace the fennel that was supposed to go in the farro with a sweet yellow onion because they claimed that the fennel wasn’t fresh enough. In addition to the onion that went in the farro, there were almonds in it.

One thing that I do like about Blue Apron is that it allows me to try new ingredients. For example, I found out that I liked figs in dishes tonight, and I will try kale tomorrow night. Otherwise, I wouldn’t try ingredients as easily knowing that if I didn’t like it, I would be wasting food and money. Although this dish was higher in calories than yesterday’s dish, it seemed to be healthier because the vegetables were sauteed in olive oil instead of butter, and the sauce did not involve saturated fats in it.


The pork turned out a little dry, but that is because my boyfriend is still working on timing in cooking, as am I. I wish they had provided more sauce, as it would have enhanced the dish more. Farro is one of my favorite grains because it has good protein and fiber to it. Any suggestions for dishes that involve figs in it now that I like them? Please comment below!

Pros and Cons of Blue Apron Part I

February 10, 2017

Hello lovely readers!

I wanted to do a special review of Blue Apron (not sponsored), after having one of their boxes delivered to me this afternoon. Maybe I will give a day-to-day update based on the meals we eat. Here’s how the endeavor started. My boyfriend is visiting me to celebrate Valentine’s Day. While talking with a friend, I was telling her how hard it was to constantly be shifting from one place to another (he stays at an Airbnb to not bother my roommates), whether it is finding a good study pattern, going back to my place to gather more things, and figuring out how we were going to eat. In short, I wasted a lot in transition time that could be replaced with studying.

After hearing all of this, my friend suggested that we use one of her free meal options with a meal subscription service that she has earned. That way, my boyfriend can learn how to cook better because the recipe cards are so detailed, we wouldn’t have to extensively grocery shop and plan as much, and the ingredients would be delivered to us! The first quirk I encountered with Blue Apron was when I was choosing which meals to be sent to us. According to the company, they have limited amounts of various ingredients. Therefore, if you choose a recipe, other recipes will become unavailable to you. You are able to choose three out of six recipes, but your choices are limited based on what I have already said. I am not sure about the vegetarian options since my meals had meat options in them. If you are on a vegetarian plan, they may give you more options, or they may just limit you to two meals per week. In my case, I only saw two vegetarian options.


Our first meal was barramundi (a type of fish) with horseradish sauce, leeks, potatoes, and roasted broccoli.  It sounds healthy upon inspection, right? Not necessarily. While the calorie amount seemed reasonable, the amount of fat in the dish amounted to 75% of the daily value on a 2,000 calorie diet. Even if you don’t have fewer calories that you want to eat in the day, you don’t want to have 75% of your fat for the day in one meal. I think most of the culprits that contributed to this number were the sour cream in the sauce and the butter involved in sauteeing the leeks. You could replace these fats with lower fat options, such as low-fat sour cream and smart butter or olive oil, but then you would be wasting the products that came in the box or having to figure out what to do with them. (My boyfriend ate the leeks on a different plate in the picture.) On the plus side, my boyfriend found this pretty simple to cook despite the long prep and cooking time, and it was delicious!

So far, my impression is that you are certainly paying for convenience because it is less expensive per serving to go to the grocery store and buy the ingredients. You are also relinquishing control in choosing recipes, but you can sometimes spend lots of time searching for them on your own. It is great for people who want to learn how to cook better and for those who want to learn how to build a more balanced plate. The dishes are certainly more healthy than, say, fried foods, and they balance protein and vegetables very well. However, if you are really trying to cut fat away from your diet or eat less than 2,000 calories per day, I would stay away from these services. In other meal kit subscriptions that I’ve looked into, the amounts of sodium are pretty high, and yet the recipes are advertised as “heart healthy”.

For me personally, I am still trying to find a balance between eating frozen bean burgers all of the time and putting too much time into making recipes. One technique I have embraced is the sheet pan dinner because once I prep and put things on the sheet pan and into the oven, I’m able to study while dinner is cooking instead of having to watch my food over the stove. Are there any cooking hacks that have worked for you? Any experiences with meal kit subscriptions that you would like to share? If so, please comment!

Mindful eating

On Friday, I listened to a TED health talk about mindful eating. To see the talk, click on this website:  The concept of mindful eating is the concept that you only start eating when you are hungry and stop when you’re full.  Sounds like an easy concept, right? Wrong! (At least for me.) I really enjoy eating.  I love trying new combinations and different cultural cuisines (well, within certain parameters- no weird body parts, and no shellfish because I’m allergic).

If something tastes really good, especially if I’ve gone out to eat and paid for it, I want to just eat it all, no matter how full I feel.  Sometimes, I also feel hungry all the time, and I feel like I have to curb my hunger.  For a long time, I’ve constantly thought about food all day: What do I feel like eating? How long do I have to wait before it’s acceptable to eat something again? Am I eating the right things? Why do I feel hungry all of the time? If so, should I be constantly eating anyway? Why am I not feeling hungry at all? If so, should I force myself to eat anyway? This type of thinking drives me insane.

Sandra Aamodt says that the main reason diets don’t work is because when you’re not dieting, you binge on the forbidden food.  I am experiencing this right now because I am observing Passover.  Even though I do not usually eat lots of bread products, I am constantly craving them because it is forbidden to me right now.  I’m also craving the extra things that are forbidden during Passover, such as corn, beans, lentils, peas, rice, peanuts, and all of their by-products.  The concept that Aamodt is trying to push is to not feel guilty about occasionally eating the dessert.  She’s also not saying to not watch the quality of the food you’re eating.  The concept is to eat healthy, and the occasional dessert in moderation but to let your body dictate portion control.

She also says to eat without any distractions.  That component is difficult for me because when I eat alone, I tend to do things on my iPhone or occasionally read a book.  However, distractions  take your mind away from how hungry or full your body is feeling.  Aamodt also says that integrating these concepts takes a full year to achieve, and I now understand why.  So, in summary, I am trying to integrate these concepts into my own life.  I’m welcome to any thoughts.  Have any nutrition lifestyle changes worked for you.  Comment if you like!


This is my catharsis right now, as I just finished a lecture on sexually transmitted diseases/infections, complete with graphic pictures. Just a note: this is not intended to promote abstinence. Here’s the deal: STDs are ugly. Some that used to be able to be treated, like gonorrhea, are now largely resistant to several forms of antibiotics. The consequences can be disastrous: sterility and death, depending on the infection. In some cases for males, and even more for females, there may be no obvious symptoms. And, by the way, infected mothers can pass some infections on to their babies.

So, here’s the message. Stay safe! Get educated. Protect yourself from transmission of disease in all forms of sexual contact, including oral and anal. Get tested with a new partner. Treat treatable diseases to prevent spread. Transmission is easily preventable. Don’t get it in the first place! Didn’t mean to lecture or judge, but this is an important topic for me.