My Hello Fresh Meals

I’m finding it really hard to cook a variety of meals each week, but I wanted to expose my toddler to different flavors and ingredients since he was becoming more and more picky. I decided to try Hello Fresh’s introductory offer. I picked the 3 meals a week for a couple. The meals were fairly easy to make, however a little time consuming for me. I needed to dedicate 30 uninterrupted minutes, sometimes 40 minutes to prepping and cooking the meal. This usually ended up an hour since my time with a kid is never uninterrupted. I really wanted to like using a meal service, but much like Blue Apron, I found the portion sizes were way too small for my husband, which wouldn’t be an issue if not for the cost of each meal. Also, many of the meal choices one of us couldn’t eat (due to allergies or intolerances or in my husband’s case, he just hates it) so we were very limited in what we could choose for the week. I did LOVE not having to go to the market. Maybe in the future, we can try this again, but for now I’ll have to just do a little more prepping and research on my end.

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Healthy Carrot Cake Muffins

I was looking for a healthy yet tasty muffin recipe for breakfast. I’m not a breakfast fan. I don’t like any breakfast foods except pastries, which are super unhealthy for me. But I love a good scone or croissant with my coffee. Unfortunately, I do have to eat breakfast. My toddler has me up at 5:30 every morning so by 8am, I’m starving. I found this recipe from Mel’s Ktichen Cafe. You can definitely taste that there’s no sugar in this, but it’s actually pretty good. When it’s warm, it tastes moist and goes well with my coffee. Plus there’s vegetables in it and my toddler will eat it too. Double bonus! I was only able to get 11 muffins out of the recipe. I also made one little substitution. I replaced half the whole wheat flour with oat flour to get a little bit of protein. I’m not sure I can eat this everyday as I will probably grow tired of it, but every few days is fine. If you have any other breakfast ideas that aren’t breakfast foods or healthier pastries that tastes good, please comment below. Thanks.

Cajun Spice Mix

The other day I was at a fish place on got a plate of tilapia that had blackened Cajun spices on it. It was so GOOD. I mean I don’t even really like fish and the fact that this was good and probably on the healthier side was a huge plus for me. I’ve tried to make many things with Cajun spices on it before but always felt that the pre-made spice mixes I get from the market are overly salty. So I finally put together this spice mix. It takes less than five minutes too assemble but I’ve always been lazy.

Cajun Spice Mix

  • 1 tbs paprika
  • 1 tbs dried oregano
  • 1 tbs ground black pepper
  • 1/2 -1 tbs cayenne pepper (depending how spicy you like it)
  • 1 tbs garlic powder
  • 1 tbs onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt

I only used 1/2 a tablespoon of cayenne pepper in mine and it has a nice kick to it. Store it in a nice glass jar and you have Cajun spice ready to go whenever you need it. I use this almost weekly in my dishes. Below I added it to some tilapia.

Blueberry Cake Loaf

The other day I decided to make a blueberry loaf. I much rather eat a slice of loaf then a muffin. I don’t know why. Theoretically they both taste the same, but I just prefer one over the other. I used this recipe from Taste of Home’s website. I substituted the flour with half whole wheat flour and I cut the sugar in half. I wanted to make it slightly healthier since I was planning on eating a slice everyday for breakfast. I also sprinkled less cinnamon and sugar on top.

I feel like because of the wheat flour, this really tastes best when it’s warm, so I always heat my slice up a little bit before I eat it. I like something carby in the mornings with my coffee.

Hoisin Pork Chops

I’m not a big fan of chicken, unless it’s fried, so I take every opportunity I can to make any other type of meat. Pork chops are a good staple to have. These are so simple to make too. The flavors remind me of my childhood. You can find hoisin sauce in the Asian aisle of the supermarket. It’s good on fish, pork, and chicken. I use it a lot in my stir frys. I just marinate my pork chops for several hours or overnight if you have the time.

Hoisin Marinade:

3 tbsp Hoisin sauce

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp chopped garlic

1 tbsp water

Mix marinade ingredients together in a ziplock bag. Add your pork chops. Marinate the pork chops for at least 2 hours. The longer the more vibrant the flavors become.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 15-18 minutes depending how thick your pork chops are. I usually get 1 inch pork chops. Or you can cook these on a skillet. They come out wonderful that way too.

Everyday Blueberry Muffins

It was a bit overcast this morning and cold and when it feels gloomy, I like to bake. I was too lazy to go to the market so I looked in my fridge and cupboard to see what I had. I really wanted to make scones but I was a bit low on butter, so as a compromised I made muffins. I didn’t have fresh blueberries so I used frozen, however I highly recommend using fresh blueberries. Also, I’m not big on crumb topping as I don’t like my muffins that sweet so I only used half the crumb topping mixture on my muffins but the recipe below is for the full streusel topping. I overfilled these cups so they were more like bakery muffins. I also went a bit healthier using whole wheat flour and cutting some sugar. These are perfect everyday muffins.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup of oil
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp of lemon zest
  • 1 cup of blueberries

Streusel Topping:

  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup of butter

Mix flours, sugar, baking powder together. In a measuring cup, add 1/3 cup of oil, milk, egg, vanilla extract and lemon zest. Mix wet and dry ingredients together until barely combined. Toss blueberries with a little bit of flour (so they don’t sink to the bottom of your muffins). Fold blueberries into the mixture. Pour into 6 muffin tins. If you like smaller muffins you can fill them halfway only and make 12 muffins.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and butter. Sprinkle mixture on top of muffins. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes (18-20 minutes if you’re making smaller muffins). I didn’t top one of my muffins since I prefer my muffins without streusel, but my husband likes the streusel. Enjoy.

Meal Planning

When I was pregnant with my baby I thought I was going to be this amazing mom who would be able to keep the house clean and still cook dinner. I thought I would not only make my own baby food but have all my food be homemade. It's not like I don't have the technical skills to cook and bake. But then reality hit.

I was so sleep deprived. Even now with Aiden being 13 months, he's still not sleeping through the night. I did attempt to make puréed baby food the first 2-3 weeks and then I gave up. Aiden not really wanting to eat any food really deterred me from continuing. I ended up buying the jars for a few weeks and then moved straight to pouches only. Thank goodness he finally started eating solids. He still has his moments where he won't touch anything I give him. So now that he's finally eating actual food I thought I would try to do some meal planning and get back to cooking instead of getting delivery or going out to eat.

It's only been a week but I did manage to cook 5 days out of the week. Sometimes there's an impromptu menu change. I usually just add in whatever vegetable I have on hand. I'm trying to keep at least two different type of vegetables in my fridge at all times. Currently I have bell peppers and zucchini. I think I'll make a taco bowl tomorrow for dinner.

I'm trying really hard to attempt to cook more and eat out less. Sometimes I fail but tomorrow is a new day and you can start over. Being a mom is so challenging and rewarding at the same time. Remember not to be too hard on yourself. We deserve a break too and if that means you ordered in because it was a long day then that's okay too.

Sweet and Savory Salmon

I really enjoy a good salmon. Especially when it's barbecued on a nice cedar plank. Unfortunately, I did not have any cedar planks on hand. My next go to is my sweet garlic soy glaze, but this time I thought I would mix it up a little and add Dijon mustard. The mustard gives it that extra umami flavor. I love this sauce so much that I have decided this is my next chicken wing sauce. I can imagine it being nice and sticky and oh so good.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup honey (you can substitute with 2 tbsp of brown sugar)
  • 1 minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp of Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp of low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp of rice vinegar (you can substitute with red wine vinegar)
  • 1/2 the juice of a lemon
  • 1 tsp of black pepper

Mix all the ingredients together. Use half as a marinade for the salmon. Marinade for 15 minutes. Place the salmon in a rimmed baking dish. Bake salmon at 400 degrees for 8 minutes. Pour remaining marinade on top of the salmon and bake for another 10 minutes (baking times may vary depending how thick your salmon is). Enjoy.

I think you'll find this sauce just as addicting as I did. I wanted to pour it on everything. Whenever I decide to make wings, the only changes I may make is adding an extra garlic clove and marinating the chicken wings for an hour. I love garlic chicken wings. Tonight's dinner was paired with some oven roasted asparagus and potatoes (both tossed lightly with olive oil and salt and pepper).

Blueberry Muffins or Cupcakes??

I was looking for a new blueberry muffin recipe. The current one I had was good but wasn’t great. I wanted something great. I found this Jordan Marsh blueberry muffin recipe online and everyone was raving about it. For the original recipe, please click here. I altered the recipe slightly. I could already tell there was too much sugar for my taste. I followed the same process though. The debate here is whether the texture is more like a muffin or a cupcake. I’ll let you know my opinion below.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of soften butter
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup of milk


Cream butter and sugar together. Add one egg at a time to creamed mixture. Then add the vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt, baking powder and lemon zest together. Add half of dry ingredients to creamed mixture, alternating with the milk. Fold in the blueberries. I didn’t use any smashed blueberries in my muffins, nor am I going to top my muffins with sugar. 


I also tossed my blueberries with a little bit of flour before folding it into the mixture. 


Spoon muffin mixture into muffin tins. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes.


Some say this is more of a cupcake texture than a muffin, especially since the directions say to alternate dry and wet ingredients like a cake recipe usually says. Here is what the inside looks like:


Biting into it reminds me more of a cake like texture. Perhaps I will alter this recipe slightly to make a vanilla cake one day. It isn’t quite crumbly as I would have liked my muffin. For now, I will stick to my old muffin recipe. Let me know which texture you prefer for your muffins. 

Chicken Meal Prep 

I find myself not really having anything to eat if I don’t do any meal prep. There isn’t much time to prep and cook when you have a baby fussing at you wanting his lunch now. I am not the best at meal prep. I’m not very good at meal planning either. The other day I bought almost 3 pounds of chicken tenders and thought there has to be a lot I can do with this. So I decided to split the chicken to thirds. One third I cooked with some salt and garlic powder for future chicken quesadillas. The other third I marinated in bbq sauce for a future lunch or dinner. I can just pair it with veggies and roasted potatoes or put it in a sandwich or pita. The last third I froze but plan on using it for some chicken stir fry for dinner one of these days, which I can marinate during another day when my baby is napping.