Tag Archive | food

Boxed Dinners ~ Activities for Foodie Couples

imageIf you haven’t heard about these blessings in a box, they are called Meal Delivery Services, and they are being shipped to most locations worldwide. I think they are an awesome idea for folks wanting to learn how to cook, learn new meals, save money and time, stuck in a ‘food rut’ (us), along with dieting or even just eating better!  We’ve batted this idea around for a bit… Having fresh ingredients arrive at our door to make meals for a few nights a week. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a savings or an expense. My husband really took a hold of this idea and ran with it. He compared many of the Dinner Box companies that deliver in our area. He decide Blue Apron was the best fit for us. They source the food as local as possible to me. I love supporting my community.

When he told me about the future box coming, he had sparkles in his eyes. He was genuinely excited to cook these meals! He then tells me the most mushy, lovey-dovey thing… “I can’t wait to spend time with you in the kitchen cooking these meals.” Awe! What a Sweety-Pie!!! I love you, honey.

Our first three meals arrived on a Friday. We picked Friday, so we would have more time to cook the meals over the weekend. The part I really like is that the amounts are per-determined, and there is no waste or leftovers. I feel like we waste too much food here. Another huge pro for going with this arrangement.

There are also beautifully done recipe cards with photos for most of the steps in the recipe. If there is something missing on the card, you can always go to their website to learn how to reproduce the technique they are asking you to do. There are many how-to videos, other recipes and comments from other Blue Apron clients.

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Lemon Caper Catfish, Chicken Paillard and Bucatini Pasta Bolognese, were our weeks choices. In plain English: Lemon catfish w/kale, Chicken & potatoes & Spaghetti w/meat sauce. There are generally 3 meat meals and 3 vegetarian meals, for a total of 6 meals to choose from for a week. Blue Apron only offers 3 meals a week, whereas other companies do offer 2 -7 meals a week. As I am a carnivore, the veggie meals are somewhat wasted on me. Yes, roasted cauliflower sounds yummy, but that is a side dish, not the centerpiece of the meal.


The Chicken Paillard was to die for! I have never roasted a fennel before and I have been missing out! If you’ve never done it, buy one in the next grocery run. They are amazing roasted. We figured even if we didn’t like some part of the meal, it would introduce us to other types of food and how to cook it. A con was the size of the potato. It was smaller than my fist, and we had to split it. I get it. It’s called PORTION CONTROL 😉 Fatty-Fat-Fat!

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Sometimes we had to read the directions 10X to wrap our minds around something. The directions for the Bucatini Pasta Bolognese had us cooking veggies and sauce before we cooked the meat in the veggies. Huh? I’ve generally always cooked the meat first, then added other ingredients. This recipe also had us adding chopped brussels sprouts near the end of the process. In the end, it was a super yummy meal. I still like my spaghetti sauce better (I use pork shoulder), however I will now add carrot, celery and chopped brussels sprouts to mine!

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Here is the Lemon Caper Catfish. The catfish was great. It was on a bed of lentils and kale. I like many veggies, but you lost me at both lentils and kale. Blech! I can say that the lentils were not the same kind my Mom used for soup. These were called the ‘caviar of lentils’ and even resembled it. They were actually pretty good. Not the texture of dirt, like my Ma’s. The kale was kale. There was no helping it. In the end, I would just do this recipe with spinach and call it a day.

My hubby and I are very pleased with our choices, the turnout and the amount of fun we’ve been having in the kitchen. I’d really have to wait for more data, however the total amount of groceries and the Blue Apron box were even last week, thus it is a wash, budget wise. YEAH!! I would highly suggest trying one of these services out! Even if it’s just for a week here and there. I love that we don’t have to argue about ‘what’s for dinner?’ or spend time making a list or being pissed that we forgot something at the store!! I feel like this may take a lot of stress away from us, which makes it worth its weight in gold.


I can’t wait for our next box and our next foodie adventure!!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Fried Turkey, Cranberries, Stuffin’ et all!

This is a reblog of my recipes for my cranberries and stuffing =-)

We’ve been frying our turkey for years now. I’m not going to get into all the rules for frying here, although there are some funny EPIC FAILS on this topic!

I will share my recipe for stuffing though. Many who have come over to my house for Turkey Fry Friday in the past have asked me for it.


I am horrible about placing ‘amounts’ on ingredients, as I add more of what I like and less of what I don’t. With this recipe, there really is no wrong answer. However, have these thing for the base and add things you like including: pork sausage, celery, carrots, use cornbread instead of plain bread, cranberries, raisins, water chestnuts (nice crunch!) or even nuts.


Melt a stick of butter in a large pot. Cut up and combine everything except the chicken broth and stuffing. Here you see: Onion, Mushrooms, Celery and Apples.

I’m not really cooking it, just getting it started. I then add my seasonings like: Onion powder, salt/pepper, garlic, rosemary and of course some thyme. After this, I add my chicken broth.


I then put my stuffing into a large bowl.

**As my family celebrated Thanksgiving November 2nd this year, ironically, I could not find stuffing (dried bread quarters) to save my life. I used fresh bread this time and the stuffing turned out like a bread pudding. Actually, everyone liked it more than normal!

Back to the directions…

Pour the pot mix over the stuffing and mix. Depending on how you like your stuffing (dry or moist) add more chicken broth or more stuffing to compensate. At this point I take a taste to see what I came up with. I tend to make mine moist, however you will loose some moisture cooking, be aware.


Smash either into your turkey or into a oven safe dish if you are frying. Remember, you CANNOT fry the turkey stuffed. Bake at 350F for about 45 minutes.


Although you really don’t need to inject anything into the bird for moisture, we like to add some garlic butter for some zing.


Although my family loves the jelly-type cranberry sauce, I find it quite disgusting. This year I made fresh cranberry sauce, something I never thought of doing. It was a big smack to the head as to how easy it is and why I’ve not been doing it over the years.

  • 12oz of fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of water

Other additions (after cooking): orange slices, raisins, cinnamon..

Boil all 3 ingredients while stirring until the berries ‘pop’. You will hear it. Then remove from heat, let cool and add other enhancements if wanted.


Turkey Time!!

Most of the fails happen upon entry. Be sure your turkey is defrosted, dry (water will make it splatter) and you use the ‘2 person + pole’ method of dunking for safety.


Almost down!


It only takes 3 1/2 minutes per pound @ 350F. Pretty quick, IMO.

Hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving!!

Copyright – Ilex Farrell


imageYa know… When it comes to holidays at my house, I tend to spend them on the down-low and don’t want to get sucked into the commercialized side. I’m also not religious.

There are other ways I celebrate and look forward to. Today is that day. The beauty of today is that I didn’t know exactly when this holiday would be celebrated. I knew it generally falls towards the end of April  (2015) or possibly the beginning of May (2014). Either way, it brings me great joy… More than Christmas. I’m sure you’ve already checked your calendar to see if this holiday is national or recognized. I’m sure there are some folks that will become celebrators after I let you in on what the big hub-bub is…

It’s Asparagus Season!!!! Yeah!!!! Woo hooo!!

Grilled, steamed, garliced, fresh, wrapped in prosciutto (thanks Mongo’s Dad!) & provolone, creamed soup, pickled, omelettes, sauteed… Did I leave out any other way to enjoy these succulent, juicy, gifts from Mother Earth?!?


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Potatoes AuGratin

Since being labelled with hot-headed, blood pressure issues, I’ve had to scale back on my salt. Poor innocent salt. I feel I should quit my job and my pressure would be fine.

Aaaanyway. I used to enjoy the boxed variety of Potatoes Au Gratin, however have you seen the sodium in those things?!? Yikes!!

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I had to find a homemade alternative with less salt. I looked through a large amount of recipes, but none of them seemed to fit, so I had to mash them up to get what I wanted.

As with most of my recipes, I’m going to give approximate measurements for the ingredients.

I used a pie dish – Set oven for 350F

  • 6 peeled potatoes – sliced thin
  • 1 sweet onion – sliced thin
  • 2 cups Shredded cheddar
  • 1/2 cup Shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup of whole milk or better
  • 1 Stick melted butter
  • 1 Teaspoon of potato starch (thickener)
  • Dash of pepper
  • Dash of garlic powder

Mix the butter, milk, potato starch, pepper, garlic and any other spices you might like.

Start layering the potatoes, then onion, then cheeses, then splash some of the milk mix in. Put less in at the bottom and more towards the top as it will soak down, so to speak.

I ended with all the junk on top with some onion, hoping they would get caramelized, which they did!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

U.S Citizens Fight For GMO Labeling – Monsanto Still Fights to Poison Us!

Food Democracy Now! (a non-profit for the labeling of GMO foods, chemical use on/in foods Monsanto, and other organic food related fights) is a great place to learn about what is going on with GMO labeling in the United States. It’s a downside of capitalism (Not that I’m against capitalism).
Sadly, I think our government feels the need for population control and Monster-santo jumped to the front of the line to provide it!
Although they’re is a huge outcry from the citizens of the U.S., our government still votes in benefits or protections for labeling and the use of carcinogenic chemicals in our food.
All we citizens are asking for is a label. We don’t expect ALL citizens to care what they are eating (Come-on! McDonald’s & fast food joints are pulling in the bank $$).
If you’re in the U.S. and have a few moments, please take a few moments to write/tweet/call/visit your Senators.
I’m still curious about how Monsanto was shut down in other countries. I think labeling is required in Australia, France and many other countries. Please comment about this if you’re not in the U.S., I’m curious.
I admit to fully plagiarizing this email, sent to me from Food Democracy Now!… I couldn’t write it better!

RED ALERT: Right now a handful of Senators are trying to pass another Corporate Loophole for Monsanto to escape from complying with common sense state GMO labeling laws! – Stop Monsanto’s GMO Trolls in the Senate – Every voice counts!

If you thought Congress couldn’t get any more corrupt, we’re going to have to ask you to sit down when you read this. When we woke up this morning, we almost fell over when we read a New York Times front-page story about how Monsanto received extra legal protection from the House of Representatives last year when it passed a bill to update the 40-year-old Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA), which leaves millions of Americans vulnerable everyday to more than 1,000 hazardous chemicals still in sale across the country.

In the process of writing this bill, an unknown member of the House of Representatives slipped a one-paragraph provision in the TSCA bill that exempts Monsanto from ALL financial liability from lawsuits and financial settlements sought for PCB contamination and cleanup sites.

This is essentially a Get-out-of-Jail-Free card for Monsanto, exempting them from BILLIONS of dollars of legal liability from lawsuits for damages which have been filed in several major cities, including Seattle and San Diego and a lawsuit filed last year from individuals seeking damages for diagnoses of a form of cancer known as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The St. Louis-based chemical and biotech seed giant is now claiming they “had nothing to do” with this new “Monsanto Clause”, even though Monsanto was the only company that made this toxic chemical.

According to the New York Times, “the provision does not mention the company by name, but between the early 1930s and 1977, Monsanto manufactured almost all of the 1.25 billion pounds of PCBs sold in the United States.”

That’s right, a member of Congress intentionally slipped in a provision to protect Monsanto’s toxic profits over those of individuals with cancer and major U.S. cities seeking millions in legal fees for cleaning up the cancer-causing PCBs, which are now pervasive in the environment.

Now, Monsanto is seeking extra legal protection from the Senate so it can continue to deny America’s their basic right to know what’s in their food by making state GMO labeling laws illegal.

Now Monsanto Seeks Special Legal Protection from State GMO Labeling Laws!

FDN_MonsantoGMOTrollsSenate_1Tomorrow the Senate Agriculture Committee will vote to outlaw state GMO labeling laws in order to give extra legal protection for Monsanto and the biotech industry once again and we can’t let them get away with it!

Right now, Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) are desperate to try to prevent the state of Vermont’s GMO labeling law from going into effect on July 1st of this year and your Senator could go along with it! Last summer the House passed a similar Dark Act bill by a vote of 275 to 150 and we can’t let the Senate pass this outrageous bill!

Rumors from DC are that they are trying to wrap up negotiations and votes this week!

We need to make sure they hear – Loud and Clear – that we won’t allow them to steal our basic democratic rights to protect Monsanto’s toxic profits.

Make a call today! This corrupt deal – the ultimate Monsanto Protection Act – will be voted on tomorrow in the Senate Ag Committee and your Senators need to hear from you today!

Tell your Senators to support mandatory GMO labeling and to stand up for your rights and the Constitution.

Click here to send a letter to your Senators today! Every voice counts!

After spending more than $100 million to defeat us in GMO labeling ballot initiatives in California, Washington, Colorado and Oregon, Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association are once again trying to get Congress to violate our basic Constitutional rights by making it illegal for states to pass reasonable and common sense GMO labeling bills like we did in Connecticut, Maine and Vermont.

Then SHARE this image far and wide to Stop Monsanto’s GMO Trolls in the Senate!

Facebook link here – https://fdn.actionkit.com/go/1606?t=10&akid=1818.971594._Lqc-h

Deja Monsanto Vu ~ 2013 Congress Passes The Monsanto Protection Act

A little History Lesson: We’ve been here before! A little over 2 years ago, Monsanto lobbyists successfully snuck in a rider, which Food Democracy Now! called the Monsanto Protection Act, into an emergency must pass spending bill, a continuing resolution (CR) that only funded the government for 6 months because Congress now is so broken it can’t even accomplish its basic business functions, like creating a budget, without the help of corporate lobbyists. They then use these intentionally manufactured spending emergencies to attach outrageous corporate loophole protections like the Monsanto Protection Act.

Despite overwhelming opposition, both chambers of Congress allowed the Monsanto Protection Act to pass and President Obama signed it into law in March of 2013.

Food Democracy Now! members like you were so outraged that you made more than 100,000 phone calls to the Congress and the White House and generated more than 250,000 signatures opposing the Monsanto Protection Act, which we then flew to DC and delivered to the White House. It was a moment that captured the attention of the White House and Congress and the world and made it clear that the People would not tolerate special interests, like Monsanto, to write our laws. Six months later, this unconstitutional loophole protecting Monsanto’s profits was removed from the next budget bill – all thanks to action by people like you!

We can do this again – this our moment – It’s all hands on deck! We are in the final hours to protect our right to know what’s in our food and states’ rights so we can achieve mandatory GMO labeling. Please share with your friends and call Congress today! Every voice counts!

Remember, democracy is like a muscle, either you use it or you lose it!

Thanks for participating in food democracy,

Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! team


  1. “Monsanto Could Benefit From a Chemical Safety Bill”, The New York Times, Eric Lipton, February 29, 2016

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Creamed Corn Buttermilk Cornbread


4 eggs
1/2 c. butter
2 c. corn meal (I chose the buttermilk kind)
2 tsp. salt
2 tbsn. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1 c. sour cream
1 c. cream style corn

Beat eggs. Blend in sour cream, butter and corn. Blend corn meal, salt, baking powder and add to the corn mixture. Stir well. Pour into 2 – 8 inch square pan.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes.


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl