Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Plated Food Subscription Box Review - Part 4


Ingredients for Cheesy Quinoa Casserole with Brussel Sprouts & Cauliflower



Results in Baking Dish


This is a review of the fourth dish Hubby & I have made from the subscription box called Plated. It's a weekly food subscription box company that ships to your door all the ingredients needed to cook three recipes of your choice. I can't tell you how much fun Hubby & I have been having with this subscription! I had put off subscribing since I thought we couldn't keep up with so many new recipes. But I knew we needed to liven up our dinners since they had become so boring that we were eating out too much. Don't get me wrong, Hubby is an awesome chef & I'm a good baker, but having the same dishes for twenty six years gets old. We had tried new recipes over the years but I was usually frustrated with finding all of the ingredients in the store, found the recipes tedious and the results weren't always that tasty. So we really have been enjoying this subscription since their recipes are easy, the ingredients are provided and the results are delicious, so the effort is rewarding. 

I asked Hubby which of the three recipes he wanted to try first and this recipe was his choice. I laughed because there is no meat in it which he soon discovered. The recipe was easy and quick to make. I had never tried quinoa, purple potatoes nor bussels sprouts before. That's one of the many benefits of this subscription, they push you to cook with ingredients you haven't used before. This dish was really yummy and it felt like a nutrient boost since there were so many healthy ingredients. Hubby thought it was best suited to be a side dish since it doesn't have any meat in it. Having been a vegetarian once upon a time I didn't feel that way at all. I have to be careful about eating so many vegetables in one sitting due to IBS, the reason I gave up being a vegetarian, but this dish didn't bother my stomach at all. This recipe made two and a half servings, so I'll be having the leftovers for lunch. It was both filling and satisfying. I love how they already shredded the cheese and brussels sprouts for us saving us lots of time. I was surprised how easy the quinoa was to cook. The only thing I'd change about this recipe is adding a spice other than salt & pepper, but I'm not sure which spice would be best suited. Any ideas? This was a fun & easy recipe to cook and I look forward to the next two recipes this week.

Check out the other Plated dishes we cooked:

Spaghetti with Ricotta Beef Meatballs & Marinara Sauce
Seared Chicken with Mushroom Sauce & Twice Baked Potatoes
Ricotta Corn Empanadas with Spinach in Honey Vinaigrette
Japanese Style Shrimp with Avocado Grapefruit Salsa (coming soon)
Sweet Potato Skillet Lasagna with Turkey Sausage (coming soon)

Be sure to drop by again soon to check out the other recipes we will be cooking and sharing on my blog. Have you tried one of these type of food subscription boxes?  If so, what was your experience like?  Please comment below, don't be shy!

Bargain Alert - $30 off your 1st box from Plated, click here.


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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

It's Hippo to Be Square Manicure - Sephora by OPI



Spring, is it here yet? I wish it was and this polish makes me think of Spring. It's such a pretty lilac color! It also makes me think of Easter and pretty pastel colored Easter eggs. I rarely wear a creme polish, it's usually metallic or glitter because I find them more exciting. But when a nail polish color as pretty as this is available to me, I make it mine! I swatched it with a holographic top coat on top, but I thought it looked better without it. When the Sephora by OPI line ceased production, I was able to snag some of their leftover inventory from HauteLook and this was one that I purchased cheap. This is my favorite line of nail polish, so I was very unhappy to hear they stopped making this brand. This polish went on very well and took two coats. I also used Perfect Formula's Manicure Booster as a base and Seche Vite on top. My dogs were requesting my attention shorty after I painted my nails, so I accidentally smudged the pinky finger. I try to explain to them that my nails are wet, but they don't care, they are very demanding. It's just about impossible for me to say no to them. I'm still catching up on blogging my manicures, so the above photo was taken back in August. It was taken outside in the sunlight.

I have over seventy manicures featured on this blog. Take a quick glance at them all on my Pinterest Manicure Board. Then simply click on the ones you want to read about on my blog, since they are linked to the matching blog post. What's your favorite brand of nail polish?

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Fortune Cookie Soap - Wonderland Collection


Spring 2015 Subscription Box


This is a review of the subscription box from a company called Fortune Cookie Soap. They send out their box quarterly for $19.99 which includes shipping. It even comes with a $10 off coupon! The Spring collection called "Wonderland" is inspired by Alice in Wonderland. Included in the Spring shipment were the following products:
  1. Bath Tea Bag - Twisted Tea Party
  2. Bath Bomb - Off with Their Heads
  3. Perfume Oil - Eat Me
  4. Fortune Cookie Shaped Soap - Almost Alice
  5. Whipped Cream - It's Only a Dream
  6. Incense Cones - Who Are You?
  7. Hand Sanitizer - We're All Mad Here
  8. Body Wash - Futterwacken
When I was in the process of moving, I cancelled most of my subscription boxes except for three and this was one of them. The other two were Graze Box for Hubby & me and Doggyloot's Bully Stick subscription for our four dogs. So that gives you an idea of how much I love and look forward to this box. The perfume oil scent, Eat Me, is my favorite scent out of this collection so far. It's so yummy, it smells like a pineapple cupcake. Just a dab of it on your skin is all that is necessary since it's highly concentrated. I'm thinking of adding a few drops to my spray water bottle to refresh my hair in the morning. The body lotion smells like talcum and roses. While I love the smell of roses, I'm not really into wearing that scent. The incense cones, shown above in the little bag, are perfect for covering up kitchen cooking smells quickly. Sometimes recipes while delicious are just stinky and you get sick of smelling it. They are the perfect solution for that. I simply place one on my stainless steel sink and light it for a few seconds and then blow it out. Shortly thereafter, the stinky cooking smell is gone. That's a new product for them. Hand sanitizer is a must during the cold season. I use it religiously after leaving any public place. It helps keep germs away for sure and this one has a masculine scent of cedar wood. It's very pleasant and Hubby will appreciate it over the florals! Prior to receiving the bath tea bag, I had not heard of such a thing. I'm anxious to try that along with the rose bath bomb. I've been too busy lately to take the time for a bath. Hopefully, I will be able to take the extra time and try those products out soon. I appreciate that their bath bombs don't irritate my sensitive skin that even more expensive brands irritate. Their fortune cookie shaped soap smells like freshly cut grass to me. It screams Spring! The body wash has a fresh, invigorating grapefruit scent. While this wasn't my favorite collection so far, it was yet another fun box which I have been enjoying. The scent that I highly recommend that is currently in stock is In the Loop. It smells just like Fruit Loops cereal. Yum! I will be purchasing it yet again soon with my coupon. I wish they would bring back Marshmallow Dreams & Captain's Berried Booty which are my most favorite of all the scents I have tried so far. I miss them so much!

Be sure to visit their Facebook page tomorrow night at 6:30 pm CST to click on the link to join their online launch party of this collection. The owners give out prizes and they are entertaining and informative. They also give out a discount code at the end of the party to use prior to midnight. I won a prize the first time I attended! Check out some of the previous boxes & orders I have received:

Witch Please - Fall 2014

If you decide you would like to try out this subscription box, be sure to sign up right away since there is a waiting list. What's your favorite subscription box that you can't live without?

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Plated vs Blue Apron - Food Subscription Box Competition


Now that Hubby & I have tried three recipes from Plated and three from Blue Apron, I'd like to summarize with a list of our ratings. I have listed them from our most favorite recipe to our least favorite recipe:
  1. Spaghetti with Ricotta Beef Meatballs & Marinara Sauce - Plated
  2. Shrimp Po' Boy Sandwiches - Blue Apron
  3. Seared Chicken with Mushroom Sauce & Twice Baked Potatoes - Plated
  4. Chicken & Sage Biscuit Pot Pie - Blue Apron
  5. Ricotta Corn Empanadas with Spinach in Honey Vinaigrette - Plated
  6. Orange Beef Lo Mein with Gai Lan & Napa Cabbage - Blue Apron
Here are pictures of the top three recipes we made:



1st Place - Plated's Spaghetti with Ricotta Beef Meatballs & Marinara Sauce



2nd Place - Blue Apron's Shrimp Po' Boy Sandwiches



3rd Place - Plated's Seared Chicken with Mushroom Sauce & Twice Baked Potatoes


Plated won the competition with two of their dishes in the top three. We plan to make two and a half of Plated's recipes again with only one alteration. The twice baked potatoes were too dry, so we'll just bake them once next time. The empanadas were ok but not worth making again. We loved the spinach in honey vinaigrette and plan to make that salad dressing often. 

For the Blue Apron recipes, we plan to make two of them again with many alterations and the Orange Beef Lo Mein was so bad I couldn't eat it all. The Po' Boy Sandwiches were so delightful, but I didn't care for the use of the mustard in the salad and the sandwich. It was just too much mustard for one meal and the dressing had too much lemon. A salad dressing that doesn't have mustard in it would be a good substitution. The Pot Pie needs many alterations as stated on my review

Plated's Spaghetti with Meatballs and Chicken with Mushroom Sauce recipes are the easiest and fastest to make, so we plan to repeat those the most along with the Spinach in Honey Vinaigrette recipe. Blue Apron's Shrimp Po' Boy Sandwiches and Chicken Biscuit Pot Pie will be made when we have more time and energy, since I consider them more of a weekend type of meal.

So there you have it, the results of the competition. Stay tuned for more reviews of Blue Apron's, Plated's and Hello Fresh's recipes. Have you tried any of these type of food subscription boxes?  If so, what do you think of them?  Comment below.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Blue Apron Subscription Box Review - Part 3



Ingredients for the Chicken & Sage Biscuit Pot Pie Recipe



Results in Baking Dish



Results in Serving Dish


This is a review of the Chicken & Sage Biscuit Pot Pie recipe from a subscription box called Blue Apron. This is the third Blue Apron recipe Hubby & I have cooked. We really liked this dish, so much so that we plan to make it again soon. This recipe is the most time consuming of those we have tired so far, so I'd recommend making it on your day off. You could do the prep work of washing the produce and chopping it prior, if you wanted to make it on a workday. The recipe stated it would take about forty-five minutes, but for us it took longer than an hour. The part that I wasn't crazy about was the biscuit mix they included. Next time, we will use Bisquick mix, organic milk & Irish butter. I also think that a wash of garlic powder, melted butter & dried parsley brushed on top of the biscuits would be a nice touch. Sage has a nice flavor, but I think the biscuits would taste better with fresh rosemary instead. I'd also suggest cooking the celery last, so it's not so soft. I was nervous when it called for an entire onion since it looked like too much. So I was happy to see the onion cooked down quite a bit. I'd suggest cooking only half the onion in the beginning and adding the other half when baking so it doesn't lose so much of it's flavor. I also plan to use yellow turnip (aka rutabaga) instead of white turnip, since it has more flavor. In addition, next time I think we'll add some peas. The gravy had the perfect consistency, not too thick nor too thin. Though the gravy needs lots of black pepper, so be generous with it or add another spice to liven it up. The baking time needed to be extended about three minutes. This recipe made about two and a half servings and it was delicious. 

Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of my Blue Apron Review:


Be sure to check back for a review on our second box from Blue Apron which will feature the following recipes next week:

Za'atar-Spiced Steaks with Rutabaga-Barberry Tabbouleh & Labneh Cheese
Italian Wedding Soup with Fregola Sarda & Spinach
Roasted Poblano Chilaquiles with Sunny Side-Up Eggs & Avocado

I will also be posting a review on our second box from Plated and our first Hello Fresh box, so stay tuned. Have you tried one of these food subscription boxes or are you thinking about trying one? 

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Blue Apron Subscription Box Review - Part 2



Ingredients for Orange Beef Lo Mein with Gai Lan & Napa Cabbage



Results of Orange Beef Lo Mein with Gai Lan & Napa Cabbage Recipe


This is a review of a food subscription box called Blue Apron. To see Part 1 of my review, click here. Hubby chose the second dish for us to cook. This recipe looked really yummy. The most time consuming part was the washing and chopping of the produce. Cooking time was only a few minutes. We were extremely disappointed with the taste of this dish. While we were cooking the ground beef, it smelled really good. I think the orange zest and the orange juice just ruined the dish. Also, a dish such as this would be better suited with steak rather than ground beef! I understand they are trying to keep the cost down, but I'd be willing to pay a couple dollars more per dish for the proper ingredients. The flavor was lost because their was so little meat compared to the tasteless noodles. They should have supplied us with the noodles that have some flavor instead. I don't know what they are called, but they are yellow in color rather than this cream colored version of noodles. The flavor was so bad I could not eat it all. Hubby ate all of his, but only because he was hungry. He agreed it was just awful. I've read some other reviews of this dish and they all agree. They should not have skimped on the meat and given us steak or skipped this recipe completely. I was really thinking that we would love this recipe, but it was the worst dish I've had in years.  I only ate some of it because I was hungry and I hate being wasteful.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of my Blue Apron review which will feature the Chicken & Sage Biscuit Pot Pie recipe. Check out my reviews of Plated, a competitor:


I will also be reviewing another competitors subscription box, Hello Fresh, next weekend and have another shipment of Plated arriving on Wednesday which I will review too. I'm addicted to Plated's subscription box. Have you tried these type of subscription boxes before? If so, please let me know by commenting below what your thoughts are on these subscription boxes.

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Blue Apron Subscription Box Review - Part 1



Orange Beef Lo Mein with Gai Lan & Napa Cabbage



Shrimp Po' Boy Sandwiches



Chicken & Sage Biscuit Pot Pie


This is a review of a food subscription box from a company called Blue Apron. They ship weekly via FedEx to arrive on your doorstep on your choice of Thursday, Friday or Saturday. You can chose from two packages of which have three recipes each. I received my first box for free since a Blue Apron subscriber was offering them on her blog, Everyone Loves a Treasure. Apparently, after you have had several boxes sent to you they offer you a couple of free boxes to give out to friends. I was lucky to snag one of those. I will be doing the same if they offer the free boxes to me also. In the above photos, you can see everything that was sent in my first box. The plastic bag the Po' Boy Spice Blend was in had a tear in it, so it was leaking all over the other ingredients in the paper bag it was in. Also, some of the butter lettuce had wilted and was wet. In addition, the mustard leaked on to the mayo container. After cleaning that up, I notified Blue Apron via their website and received an email only a few minutes later. As an apology, they have credited my account so that my next box will also be free. That was way more than I expected, so I am very impressed. The shipment also came with three full color 8 1/2" x 11" recipe cards on thick card stock paper. They also allow you to pin their recipes on Pinterest for future reference. Here's the pined recipes:


I decided to try the Shrimp Po' Boy recipe first since shrimp doesn't last long in the refrigerator. I forgot to time how long it took us to cook the recipe until after I started cooking, so I'm guessing it took the two of us approximately thirty minutes. The recipe says it should take between fifteen to twenty-five minutes. There is a lot produce to wash and chop, so that was the most time consuming part. I was impressed with our finished results:


It looks more difficult than it is! Wow, it's so colorful and oh so yummy! I was a bit nervous because it has so much mustard in it. Both the vinaigrette for the salad and the remoulade sauce for the sandwich have whole grain mustard in them. The only thing we would do differently next time is use less lemon in the vinaigrette. It was a bit tart for our liking. We look forward to cooking the next recipe tomorrow. So stay tuned for our results of the Orange Beef Lo Mein recipe. In the meantime, check out our results from our first Plated subscription box:

So far in comparison to Plated's subscription box, I'm more impressed with Plated. Plated provides green bags to keep the produce fresh longer, gives you larger portions of chicken, has fresher produce, has more recipes to chose from and nothing was damaged. Blue Apron on the other hand is $2 per meal less expensive. I also like that Plated allows you to order three weeks of recipes in advance. Blue Apron requires that you visit their website weekly to make your choices or they decide for you. What's your favorite food subscription box?

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