Earlier this month, I ordered a box and, without getting to pick the dishes, I received all the ingredients I needed to make a chicken torta, pan-fried tilapia and steaks with roasted vegetables. The box was still cold and sitting on my front porch when I got home from work, and because I was in the mood for a sandwich, I immediately made the chicken torta, which was easy to make and even more satisfying to eat. The other two meals weren’t as memorable, only because I’m not a huge caponata fan, which was the Sicilian side dish for the fish, and because I thought the steaks and their side dish of roasted potatoes and Asian long beans were a little on the small side.
Having said that, I do think these kits provide a good option for people who aren’t worried too much about how much each meal costs and might otherwise spend that money on takeout or eating at a restaurant. The two-person plan, which includes ingredients for three meals per week, costs $59.94 per week, including shipping. The family plan, which feeds four people per meal, costs $69.92 or $139.84 per week, depending on if you get two or four meals in each box.
You can cancel or pause the subscription at any time, and even though you don’t get to pick the dishes, as you can through some other services, you can exclude certain kinds of protein if you don’t eat, for instance, seafood or pork. (Speaking of pork, I was inspired by the Blue Apron meal to make a pork torta with some of the leftover tomatoes and pickled red onions.)
An update on some of the other local companies I wrote about last year: Fairy Tale Meals has closed, but Gourmet By Numbers (gourmetbynumbers.com) and Greenling Organic Delivery (greenling.com) are both still selling meal kits for delivery.
Mexican-Style Chicken Tortas with Tomato, Avocado and Cucumber Salad
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 lb. cucumber
1 red onion
1 large bunch cilantro
2 Tbsp. queso fresco
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. Mexican spice blend (with ingredients such as ancho chilie powder, Mexican oregano, smoked sweet paprika, garlic powder and ground cumin)
4 tsp. olive oil, divided
2 torta rolls
Wash, dry and prep the fresh produce. Halve the tomato; thinly slice one half and medium dice the remaining half. Cut off and discard the ends of the cucumber; large dice. Pick the cilantro leaves off the stems; discard the stems. Crumble the queso fresco. Peel, halve and thinly slice the onion; place in a bowl with the vinegar. Quarter the lime. Halve, pit and peel the avocado; thinly slice one half and medium dice the remaining half. Top with the juice of one lime wedge to prevent browning.
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Season on both sides with salt, pepper and all but a pinch of the spice blend. In a medium pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 2 tsp. olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the seasoned chicken and cook, loosely covering the pan with aluminum foil, 4 to 6 minutes per side, or until browned and cooked through. Transfer to a cutting board. Wipe out the pan.
While the chicken cooks, in a medium bowl, combine the diced avocado, diced tomato, cucumber and half the marinated onion; season with salt and pepper. Add the juice of the remaining lime wedges and a drizzle of olive oil; toss to combine the salad and season with salt and pepper to taste.
When the cooked chicken is cool enough to handle, thinly slice crosswise on an angle. Halve the torta rolls and lay the rolls, cut sides up, on a clean, dry work surface. Divide the sliced chicken, sliced avocado, sliced tomato, as much of the remaining marinated onion as you’d like (you may have extra) and half of both the cilantro and queso fresco (reserve the rest for garnish) between the roll bottoms; season with salt and pepper. Complete the sandwiches with the tops of the rolls.
In the pan used to cook the chicken, heat 2 tsp. of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the assembled tortas. Place a heavy pot on top of the tortas to press them down. Cook 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until toasted and lightly browned. Transfer the toasted tortas to a cutting board.
Cut each toasted torta in half diagonally. Divide the sandwiches between two plates. Garnish the salad with the remaining cilantro, queso fresco and spice blend and serve on the side. Serves 2.
If you’re an above-average home cook and wouldn’t mind some time in the limelight, you’ll be interested to know that MasterChef, the popular cooking competition show on Fox, will be hosting a casting call in Austin on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Residence Inn Downtown, 300 E. Fourth St.
Prospective competitors need to preregister at masterchefcasting.com and bring a prepared dish to serve to the casting team.
Coterie Market, the online shop that features foods, gifts and goods made in Central Texas, has added a monthly subscription box, the Coterie Sampler, which will include an assortment of the kinds of products available on the Coterie website, coteriemarket.com.
Customers can choose a box for delivery with four to six items for $39.95 per month or one with six to eight items for $59.95, and each will include a mix of sweet and savory foods and some body products or nonedible items for your home. Owner Chelsea Staires Sun says that some of the items will be products from local chefs that will only be available through Coterie.
The first round of boxes will ship Sept. 7, and if you know someone who loves Austin but doesn’t live here, shipping is free to all 50 states. You can sign up at coteriesampler.com.
Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing social media project called Austin360Eats. To submit your photos, use the hashtag on Instagram, and each week, we feature our favorite photos in print and online.
Oatmeal with a side of magazines is how Victoria Wykoff (@queenvictoria9 on Instagram) likes to spend Saturday morning, especially if it’s at Walton’s Fancy and Staple, 609 W. Sixth St., which serves sweet and savory breakfasts and pastries, as well as lunch.
Gregarious Fort Worth chef Tim Love opened his first Austin restaurant, Lonesome Dove, at 419 Colorado St. earlier this summer, but Austin photographer Madelinne Grey (@madelinnegrey) let the food do the talking with this photo of steak tacos she had for lunch last week.
Many people head to Uchiko, 4200 N Lamar Blvd., when they are craving some of Tyson Cole’s inventive Asian cuisine, but diners like Sarah Jacober (@sarahjacober) know you shouldn’t skip the dessert menu, which includes such creative concoctions as tobacco cream, sweet corn sorbet, fried milk and olive gelato.
Fried oysters are one thing, and chilaquiles are another, but at Mongers Market and Kitchen, 2401 E. Cesar Chavez St., they combine the two into a brunch favorite that @andreanuu enjoyed earlier this month.
If your Saturday is filled with errands, sometimes it’s a good idea to both start and finish at the grocery store, that is, if your grocery store doubles as a place to fill up the tank before you head out. Last weekend, @traveling.eats and friends gathered at Central Market on North Lamar for pizza, tacos, a burger and a salad.
After a public fall from grace following a listeria outbreak that left three people dead and 10 sick, Blue Bell is trying to win back public favor.
Videos and pictures showing Blue Bell trucks on the road have gone viral and now, Blue Bell is teasing its former fan base by making daily announcements about what flavors will be the first available. Today’s announcement: Homemade Vanilla.
For the third year, Prizer, an art gallery at 2023 E. Cesar Chavez St., is hosting an exhibit of artwork from local farmers.
The free “Farmer as Artist” exhibit will debut this weekend with an opening reception from 7 to 9 p.m. on Saturday. After that, guests can browse the pieces from area farmers including Tim Miller of Millberg Farm, Carol Ann Sayle of Boggy Creek Farm, Brenton Johnson of Johnson’s Backyard Garden, Skip and Alex Connett of Green Gate Farms, Max Elliott of Urban Roots and and Germaine Swenson of Munkebo Farm by making an appointment by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
When late summer starts to turn to fall, our nesting instincts tend to kick in.
We get back in the swing of things with school, work and our social calendars. As the schedule fills up, it’s good to have shortcuts stocked away in the fridge or freezer. Maybe that’s pizza dough, pie crust, veggie burgers, tamales or — a recent crutch — breaded chicken cutlets that I like as much as my kids do.
The theory is that if you roast and shred chicken ahead of time to put in your freezer, you won’t be tempted to buy the more expensive heat-and-eat shredded chicken sold at grocery stores. When it’s time to make dinner, you can flip to the chicken chapter and find a dozen recipes for inspiration with what to do with that chicken you thought ahead to make.
The book includes base recipes for ground beef, sausage, tomato sauce, shredded pork, shredded chicken and a grain, bean and lentil mix that can easily cut weeknight cooking time in half. While we’re holed up inside because of this heat, we might as well make use of the time and get a jump start on dinner for the next three months.
Make-Ahead Shredded Roasted Chicken
7 1/2 to 8 lb. bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried thyme, crushed
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line two 15-inch-by-10-inch baking pans with foil. Place chicken thighs in the prepared baking pans. Drizzle with lemon juice and oil. In a small bowl stir together salt, thyme, paprika and pepper. Sprinkle seasoning blend over chicken.
Roast, uncovered, for 35 to 40 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink (180 degrees). Remove from oven. When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones; discard bones. Using two forks, pull chicken apart into shreds.
To store, place shredded chicken in 1-cup portions in airtight containers or freezer containers. Cover and store in the refrigerator up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months. If frozen, thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using.
Asian Chicken and Noodle Bowl
2 cups water
1 3-oz. package ramen noodles
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 cup shredded chicken
1 1/2 cups torn fresh spinach
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 tsp. sriracha or other hot sauce
1/4 cup chopped peanuts (optional)
In a medium saucepan, bring the water to boiling. If desired, break up noodles; drop noodles into the boiling water. Reserve flavor packet for another use. Return to boiling; boil for 2 to 3 minutes or just until noodles are tender but firm, stirring occasionally. Drain noodles.
Pour oil into a wok or large skillet. Heat over medium-high heat. Stir-fry ginger and garlic in hot oil for 30 seconds. Add chicken broth and soy sauce. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat and stir shredded chicken base into broth mixture. Cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes or until heated through.
Add noodles, spinach, carrots, cilantro and sriracha sauce to mixture in wok; toss to combine. Ladle into soup bowls. If desired, sprinkle with peanuts. Serves 2.
Macaroni and cheese from a blue box conjures a certain kind of American nostalgia that many of us still harbor — even those of us who might use the word “foodie” and can make homemade mac from scratch.
Miyoko Schinner, author of “The Homemade Vegan Pantry: The Art of Making Your Own Staples” ($22.99, Ten Speed Press), admits a soft spot for that bright orange cheese sauce, but she also wanted a DIY vegan alternative that would be just as easy to mix with water or a dairy substitute on a busy school night (it would also be tasty made with milk if you’re not vegan).