Blue Apron Vegetarian Dinners – Night One – Spring Pea Gnocchi


All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

images (1)download (1)

6-26-15 (59)

6-26-15 (27)


vromans back



First of all- CONGRATULATIONS to the LGBT community!  The Supreme Court upheld gay marriage so – now – we can finally just say MARRIAGE, for everyone.  That Jesus meme, above, really reduces the objections to gay marriage for the farcical horseshit that they are.  So – bravo to the LGBT community for a win over bigotry!

6-26-15 (57)

Now – on to this gnocchi.  My good friend, Jackie O, VERY GENEROUSLY gifted me three meals from Blue Apron.  Thanks, Jackie O!   You gifted me a food adventure!  AND – at least three blog posts that require no thought or inventiveness from me.  Whew!

They have a meat or vegetarian option so, obviously, I chose the vegetarian.  Here is what showed up at my door yesterday:

6-26-15 (6)

6-26-15 (8)

6-26-15 (10)

6-26-15 (11)

6-26-15 (15)

Organized!  Pretty!  Exciting!!

I decided to make the Spring Pea Gnocchi.  There were lots of fresh ingredients portioned perfectly to make this dish for two.  They gnocchi were fluffy & soft & I wanted to eat them at their freshest – hence my selecting that recipe first.  I had never heard of or seen garlic scapes – which are, basically, scallions that taste like garlic.  I assembled & prepared the produce as instructed.

6-26-15 (13)

6-26-15 (14)

6-26-15 (16)

I boiled the gnocchi & drained it & made the sauce.  My first issue was the suggestion of two tablespoons of olive oil to saute the scallions & scapes.  That seemed high to me so I used only 1 TBS.  When it came time to add the grated Parmesan – the portion they provided also seemed high – and I am a gal trying to drop a few LBs – so I cut that cheese in half, too.  I did not, however, think to cut the water by half so the sauce was pretty thin & I could never get the Parmesan to fully melt & incorporate…maybe my fault for tweaking the ingredients/directions.

6-26-15 (17)

6-26-15 (18)

Another direction I ignored was the suggestion to use a non-stick skillet to brown the gnocchi.  I like my chrome-looking pan more & it photographs well – so I used that, instead.  Mistake.  Before the veggies could soften – I was burning the fuck out of the gnocchi & at risk of mashing them into a mashed potato thing.

6-26-15 (21)

6-26-15 (22)

6-26-15 (25)

So – I transferred it all to a non-stick pan & completed the cooking process.  I plated a single serving (because each recipe is for two) and did my best to photograph it on my stove top.  I was starving & taking photos was the last thing I wanted to do but – if you wanna blog you gotta photograph.  It is a curse.

6-26-15 (43)

It tasted pretty good – I will admit – but it has a pretty high calorie count at 560 per serving and, I must say, the cooking process was no simpler than any other recipe I might make – except that the portions are pre-measured.   It took about an hour before I was eating & then a good twenty minutes of clean-up, afterward – and that burned pan is still soaking.

So – is it easy – easier than just making your own recipes?  Only if measuring things makes you want to shoot yourself in the face. I guess you get to skip the shopping for things – which is nice – and you have no leftover portions of stuff to leave until they rot in your fridge.  But – on the down side – the vegetarian version offers no options or opportunity to customize the selections – so your menu is set & inflexible.  Plus – vegetarian meals often cost less that the $10 per person you pay for each meal on this plan.  HERE is the menu I will be getting next week – Black Bean & Red Quinoa Enchiladas, Fried Green Tomato Burgers & Mozzarella & Barley Stuffed Zucchini.  I am pretty sure I could make all those things at home for less than $20 a meal.   Another issue for me is that I live alone.  Which means I eat each meal 2x – meaning my dinners are booked 6 nights a week.  As a blogger – a food blogger – that shit ain’t gonna cut it.

6-26-15 (43)

6-26-15 (33)

6-26-15 (37)

So – while it might work for you – Blue Apron is not a fit for me.   I mean – my other menu items THIS week are a Grilled Brie Sandwich & Szechuan Tofu & Long Beans.  One – I am not a huge tofu fan – despite the success of my awesome Vegan Tofu Chilaquiles with 5-Minute Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce – seen below.

6-21-15 (54)

And two – I would never eat so many heavy meals in a week & I pretty much never eat bread – which brings me to the nail in Blue Apron’s coffin: they delivered 4 – count’em FOUR – loaves of bread.  Airy, chewy & totally unyummy bread.  The kind that has absolutely no crispiness or flavor.  Look at it.

6-26-15 (78)

It is exactly as lame as it looks.  Not even worthy of being made into garlic bread.  Yet, after I cleaned up from the gnocchi – it was like 9:30p – shockingly late for me to be doing my post-dinner settling in – and my brain began quietly flashing the word BRIE in my head.  Brie….brie.  SHUT UP – I told my brain.  Brie.  Brie.  STOP IT.  BRIE.  BRIE.  Fuck off!  BRIEBRIEBRIEBRIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!    Then- I realized.  The brie was not calling from my head.  It was calling from INSIDE THE HOUSE!  There was brie – IN MY FRIDGE!  Brie for the Goddamn Grilled Brie Sandwiches I was supposed to eat two times in the next few days.


That cunting brie in the fridge was calling.  BRIEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!  Coaxing.  Taunting.  Demanding to be acknowledged.  To be heard.  To be EATEN!

And I am weak.  I would never be foolish enough to stock my house with things like bread & cheese – especially after my admitted obsession with tortilla cheese pizzas.  I never buy junk food because red wine, a weak will & junk food under the same roof are a calamity waiting to happen.  I know.  I have seen the carnage.  Carnage like the roof of my mouth seared by Family-Size Bag Dorito-induced chemical burns or hanging in shreds from an orgy of reduced-fat chips & shitty powdered onion dip (made with yogurt to save calories).  Yes – of course – the champagne involved typically dulls my sense of shame in the immediate aftermath of these blood baths but my scale is always there in the morning to bear witness to my gluttony & chide me for my shallowness of character.

So – yeah.  Fuck it.  Fuck you.  I got up & got that brie out of the fridge and without even the decency to let it warm to room temperature – I placed it on the table & sat down in front of it.  I tried to rip off a chunk of the uncrustiest bread ever but it moved in my hands like a Stretch Armstrong – rubbery & flexible.  But it was no match for me.  I had low-end, hard & cold brie in front of me & I was going to eat it.  Just SOME of it – settle the fuck down.  I dug a nail into a loaf to create a perforation in the defiant bread & ripped like a strongman tearing a phone book in two.  The bread was no mach for my brie-frenzy.  It gave in – and tore – jagged & ugly – revealing just how much of the loaf was just a honeycomb of air & thready dough – but with the resiliency of a particularly stubborn cobweb.  My mouth was already hanging open in anticipation – and my fatty Memphis was table-side to catch any errant orts that might fall his way.  The brie – like a jaded hooker on the job too long – was too cheap to even pretend to want to spread & the bread was too flaccid to gain any leverage to use against the brie – so I just placed a hard slice atop the porous carbs and crammed them into my pie hole.  There may have been unsavory sounds, groans or slurps, as I ingested the stuff – I can’t rightly say – but I can say the bread & cheese combo was underwhelming to the extreme – as if it had come from 7-11.  Even the plastic container I was eating the cheese from (because who had time to bust out a plate?) – screamed 7-11.  It was just awful.   Absolutely just the worst sort of emotionally-unsatisfying, empty calories.

6-26-15 (76)

6-26-15 (81)

So, as you likely could predict, I ate the rest of it.  All of it.  Well – almost all of it.  Out of decency & for appearances  – I left that little bit there – which actually looks bigger than it was.  I say was – because I promptly ate it – in one tiny bite – early this AM.  But know that it was no larger than one from a standard pair of dice.

So, yeah, Blue Apron.  You can suck it.  I worked all evening to prepare a calorie-dense gnocchi, I still have a charred pan still soaking in my sink and I am cramping up at work from a belly-full of what was meant to be two more meals.  What did I eat last night?  2000 calories?

So – I will go home tonight & make the Szechuan Tofu & Long Beans – and I might report on them in the near future.  Also – I canceled too late – so I will get the menu for next week, too, and likely share the results but – the bottom line is that Blue Apron it not safe for a single old lady with no willpower & who is happy eating tortilla pizzas & curling up with a bottle of red every night.  It is just NOT SAFE!  You have been warned.

Sriracha Ginger Soy Sugar Snap Peas


All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

images (1)download (1)


All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.


2-24-15 (35)


2-24-15 (23)


vromans back


These are extremely easy & quick to make.  The hardest part is cutting each of the sugar snap peas in half.  Apparently, you can break the stem end of them & pull down on the string, like a zipper, and string these guys but that didn’t work on mine.  Maybe they were not fresh enough.  I don’t know.  But – if you want to string your beans – knock yourself out.  Mine were great without that step.

I used vegetarian hoisin sauce in these but if you cannot find that (or regular hoisin) – do not be discouraged.  These are awesome without that one ingredient, too.

This really makes just one serving so increase as needed to suit your head count.

2-24-15 (16)

2-24-15 (22)


Sriracha Ginger Soy Sugar Snap Peas

Serves ONE as a side dish


8 oz fresh sugar snap peas – strung (see note above) and cut almost in half along the seam  (split them but not totally in half)

2 TBS soy sauce or tamari (I always use low sodium)

1 TBS sriracha

1 tsp sesame oil

1 TBS hoisin sauce (optional)

4 garlic cloves – cut in half or in thirds (you want big chunks so it doesn’t burn)

1 TBS minced fresh ginger (or 3-4 slices about the size of a quarter)

2 tsp olive oil

Sesame seeds – black and/or white as garnish

2-24-15 (12)

2-24-15 (13)

2-24-15 (14)

2-24-15 (15)



Whisk together the soy sauce, sriracha, sesame oil & hoisin sauce.  Set aside.

Prepare your sugar snap peas.

Have everything ready to go because these cook fast.

Heat a pan on HIGH HEAT for a minute & then add the olive oil.  Once the oil is hot, add the garlic & ginger (beware splatter).  Cook one minute & then add the sugar snap peas.  After about 2 minutes, add the sriracha mixture.  Cook on high – stirring continually so the garlic doesn’t burn –  until most of the dressing cooks off – maybe another minute.

Serve with sesame seeds.

2-24-15 (20)

2-24-15 (30)

Chipotle Vegetable Split Pea Soup (Vegetarian – Vegan)

1 Comment

All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

Wednesday night I had the great pleasure of being invited to return as a guest on the Sheena Metal show – this time to promote this very blog!  We talked about many things, however, some food related, others not.  Sheena is a great hostess & keeps the conversation flowing & interesting.  The entire interview can be heard HERE.  Some topics we covered were my pitch to the OG 90210 producers to do a Gilligan’s Island (with the Mosquitos) episode & cast the West Beverly High gang as members of the Gilligan’s Island cast.  I couldn’t wait to get Brenda (as Mary Ann), Kelly (as Ginger) & Andrea (as Mrs. Howell) on screen doing this:

We talked about my growing guilt about buying anything but pastured eggs – having seen this video below.  It isn’t slaughterhouse footage or gory in any way.  It just shows 100 free range hens being released to a sanctuary – but the state they are in is deplorable.  I post this here now hoping you all will watch it & maybe buy/use fewer eggs – or better yet – support the growing pastured egg business by seeking out that variety.  This isn’t gross video – just very sad.

We also discussed how much we both hate Facebook (as a necessary evil) and I brought up my new obsession with internet sensation – Colonel Meow.  Check this “scotch & treaties” obsessed bad boy out.



(Colonel Meow images borrowed from his Facebook page.)

Have you ever seen anything more glorious??  Plus – he has the funniest things to say to us, his minions.  Seriously.  The only thing that makes me happier than Colonel Meow is Loca the special pug.  TRUST me & watch this awesome guy HERE.  I must admit I cry at the end (in a happy way) but I cry watching The voice – so take my tears with a grain of salt (See how I did that?  Salt?  Cooking?  I’m a real card.).

Speaking of The Voice — Bruno Mars – a new discovery for me.  LOVE this song!

After & hour of intellectualizing & laughing with Sheena – I got in the car to head back to Hollywood from the valley.  At rush hour.  Impatient with traffic, I jumped into the center lane in a rush to get up to the green arrow in the left turn lane.  As I sped up there & took the turn – I saw a cop car pull into the lane & take the turn with me.  Fuck.  And yup.  He got me.


I played innocent (“I didn’t realize it was illegal to pull into the center lane to turn.”) which had no impact.  “The double yellow lines are CLEARLY marked, m’am.”  License, registration & proof of insurance.  Ugh.  Then – a stern little speech about cleaning up my act and he let me go with a warning.  MERRY CHRISTMAS to me!  Thank God!  I told him I was insanely grateful & he waved me off & went back to the squad car.

Ah – so – what for dinner?  Having already spent way too much money on groceries & black market wine (that story HERE) – I forced myself to cook something with ONLY what I had on hand.  I threw it all together & behold!  My Chipotle Vegetable Split Pea Soup is IRRESISTIBLE!   Another easy, low cost & fairly healthy result.  Try it!  So yummy on a cold day!  Don’t be thrown by the ingredients.  If there there are some you do not have or do not like – omit them.  I used celery root because I had it & love it – no other reason.  If you don’t have smoked paprika – blow it off.  If you hate spicy food – drop the jalapenos & chipotle.  Add cooked ham if you like meat.  This soup is endlessly customizable.

12-21-12 (25)


Chipotle Vegetable Split Pea Soup


1 lb split green peas

4 TBS olive oil

1/2 celery root (optional) – diced

5 carrots – diced

4 stalks of celery – diced

2 jalapenos (optional) – seeded & diced

4 garlic cloves – whole or diced

1 onion – diced

1-4 chipotle peppers & adobo sauce (optional) – diced fine

1 TBS fresh thyme – chopped

2-3 bay leaves

1 tsp savory

1 tsp poultry seasoning

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

S&P to taste (I used about 1 tsp of each)

7 cups vegetable stock (or bouillon dissolved in 6 cups water) – more for thinner soup – less for thicker soup

Fresh parsley or cilantro – for garnish


The best thing about Smart & Final’s brand of split peas is that they are “great for cooking.”  Says so – right on the bag!



Chop all your vegetables up.


Heat the olive oil in a deep stock pot.  Saute all the vegetables (celery root, carrots, celery, onion, jalapeno, garlic)  for about 15 minutes or so – until softened.


Add thyme, bay leaves, savory, poultry seasoning, smoked paprika, chipotle peppers and S&P.  Stir it about & then add the split peas.


Stir this around then add maybe 1/2 cup of your stock & deglaze the bottom of your pan.  Once everything seems nicely blended – add the balance of your stock.


I used 4 cups that I had in the freezer of my own homemade vegetable stock (plus 3 cups of tap water) but water & some veggie bouillon is great, too.

Heat until boiling.  Lower heat to low, cover & simmer for and hour or so – or until the peas are soft & begin to break up.  Remove the bay leaves.  At this point – I used a hand immersion blender & blended most of the soup up – leaving about 1/4 in chunky form, unblended.  You can choose to go all rustic & blend none of it – or traditional & blend it completely.  Totally your call.  Top with chopped parsley or cilantro – and devour it!



Half & Half Pizza – Pea Pesto and Mozzarella & Spicy Arrabbiata Mushroom



All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

This isn’t a proper blog post but this pizza I made last night was so pretty & so delicious – I just had to share it.  If you haven’t made a homemade pizza yet – let me take this opportunity to pressure you to try it.  Below is an informal presentation of what I used to make the pizza above but you can use whatever toppings you prefer.


Parsley – chopped for garnish

Fresh mozzarella and/or a grated pizza cheese (mozzarella or a blend)

1/2 lb mushrooms – seared in 1 TBS olive oil with 4 whole garlic cloves

Pizza Dough Recipe HERE


Pea Pesto Recipe

1 packed cup fresh basil

2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup olive oil
2 oz goat cheese
2 oz feta cheese
(or 4 oz of either one – Goat or Feta)
S&P to taste
Blend in a food processor.

QUICK & EASY ARRABBIATA (Spicy Tomato Sauce)


1 15 oz can tomato sauce

1 TBS olive oil

2 cloves garlic chopped

1 tsp sea salt

1 TBS black pepper

1 TBS crushed red pepper

1 TBS dry oregano


Heat the oil in a deep sauce pan.  Saute the garlic until it begins to turn golden.  Add the tomato sauce & stir over high heat for about a minute.  Lower the heat to medium & add the rest of the ingredients.   Bring this to a boil & then cover & lower heat to low & let simmer – the longer the better.

Assemble your pizza as you will with these or other toppings.  Place in an over PRE-HEATED TO 450 degrees.  BE SURE the oven is already at 450 before putting the pizza in.  This will assure a crispy crust.  Bake for 10-20 minutes or until the cheese begins to turn golden & the crust is nicely browned.