Friday, March 27, 2015

Plated Subscription Box Review - Part 14, 15 & 16


Ingredients for Shepard's Pie with Ground Beef & Vegetables



Recipe Results



Ingredients for Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookie Pies



Recipe Results (left pie is right side up and pie on right is bottom up)



Ingredients for Braised Chicken with Gnocchi & Artichokes



Recipe Results


This is the fifth Plated box we have received so far. I chose two dinners and one dessert instead of three dinners this time. The other meat dish I didn't care for and I'm not going to order their seafood anymore since they don't properly ship it. They were all delicious, but the Chicken with Gnocchi was our favorite.

Shepard's Pie with Ground Beef & Vegetables

One of my favorite dishes my Mum made for me when I was little was Shepard's Pie. She would use foil and shape it like little boats which held the cooked ground beef, then slices of fresh tomatoes and mashed potatoes on top which she would then bake. So very delicious! This recipe included parsnips which made me nervous because I usually don't like that vegetable but I'm happy to report they were very good in this dish. Shepard's Pie is a great comfort food and we really enjoyed this version so much so that it's worth repeating. When we make it again, we are considering adding some garlic and peas with some shredded cheese on top and more quantity of mashed potatoes. So very yummy & comforting, just thinking of it is making me hungry.

Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookie Pies

After the first Plated dessert recipe that we tried, I was nervous to try another since the last one was so awful. Thankfully, this one turned out yummy. It was easy to make and had the perfect portion size. Normally when I bake goodies we eat way more than we should, so this keep us from being little piggies. The changes I would make are to use Kerrygold Irish butter and Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips instead. I like to use the highest quality ingredients when I bake. It really makes a difference in the taste. I don't normally add salt on top, but I really enjoyed it in this recipe and I will be purchasing the English Maldon salt from Amazon soon. I was so happy they included this high quality ingredient since Blue Apron had recommended it and I really wanted to sample it to see if it was worth purchasing. These pies make for a very delicious dessert and it was the perfect portion.

Braised Chicken with Gnocchi & Artichokes

Oh my, this dish was so incredibly delicious and I'm not a fan of artichokes unlike my husband who loves them. Hubby was totally in love with the dish and was sad when he reached the bottom of the bowl. We will have to make this dish again soon if we can find the fresh gnocchi somewhere local. I would have liked a bit more chicken in it, but otherwise it was perfect. I would definitely resist the temptation to substitute chicken breasts in this dish since the thighs and drumsticks have more flavor. You must try this recipe, oh so yummy!

Check out the other Plated dishes we cooked:


We received the following dishes this week, I'll be reviewing them soon:

Shakshuka with Green Garlic Pesto
Peruvian Lomo Saltado Stir Fry with Potatoes
Tomato Braised Tunisian Chicken

We will be skipping the following week since I didn't like any of the meat dishes other than the seafood and that dish I have to skip due their shipping issues with seafood.  The following week after that we will be purchasing the following to arrive on April 8th:

Pork & Chive Burgers with Sriracha Aioli & Kimchi Slaw
Cheesy Beef Enchilladas with Avocado, Spinach & Black Beans
Chicken Tikka Masala

The following week I plan to purchase these dishes for delivery on April 15th:

Chicken Souvlaki with Spinach Feta Rice
Roast Beef Spiced Steak & Salad with Horseradish Dressing
Mustard Roasted Pork with Spring Pea Salad & Crispy Shallots

You can chose and order up to four weeks worth of deliveries at a time but I found out they charge you at the time you order. So now I wait till it gets closer to shipping time to order my shipments. You don't want to wait too long though because some of the dishes sell out. I wish they would charge us at the time of shipping instead.

I also reviewed Blue Apron & Hello Fresh which are similar food subscription boxes. So check those out before you leave and don't forget to enter my Blue Apron Giveaway & get your Free Graze Box. What do you think of our recipe results? 

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

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Blue Apron Subscription Box Review - Part 8 & 9




Ingredients for Pork Dan Dan Noodles with Watermelon Radish & Garlic Lime Peanuts (minus the cracked freekeh)



Recipe Results




Ingredients for Pan Roasted Chicken with Lacinato Kale & Purple Potato Hash



Recipe Results


This is a review of two recipes from our third Blue Apron box. I already reviewed the other dish in the box, Crispy Catfish & Cracked Freekeh with Kumquat, Thai Basil & Chilli Glaze. Out of the three dishes, we liked the Crispy Catfish the most followed by the Pan Roasted Chicken and then the Pork Dan Dan.

Pork Dan Dan Noodles with Watermelon Radish & Garlic Lime Peanuts

We enjoyed this spicy dish but it's not worth repeating. I usually don't like radishes but the watermelon version is less strong and was actually quite enjoyable. It's so colorful! It helped tone down the spiciness of the dish in my mouth. This one was so spicy that our lips were tingling afterwards. There really isn't much to say about it since the spice took over the dish and that's really all I could taste. We liked this dish the least. This dish had a very generous portion so much so that I couldn't eat it all.

Pan Roasted Chicken with Lacinato Kale & Purple Potato Hash

I rarely eat chicken skin so I was a bit nervous about this dish. But the way it was cooked it made the skin quite tasty and there wasn't much of it. My husband was a bit leery of the funny looking Kale called Lacinato but it landed up tasting good and it shrunk down quite a bit during cooking. I usually don't like tarragon, but surprisingly this was a nice little addition to this dish and I enjoyed it's flavor. This was yet another dish that used fruit, this time being apple and I've been really pleasantly surprised how fruit tastes in these dishes. We had not had purple potatoes before and they are very tasty. While we enjoyed this dish, this is not one we plan to make again. This dish had a very satisfying portion of food.

Check out the previous Blue Apron recipes that I reviewed:

Stay tuned for a review of the recipes we made last week:

Tom Yum Style Shrimp & Noodles with Gai Lan & Thai Basil
Corned Beef Spiced Flank Steaks with Braised Cabbage & Buttered Red Potatoes
Turkey Chili with Avocado & Cheddar Cheese

This week we are expecting the following recipes:

Roasted Salmon, Fennel & Castelvetrano Olives with Cara Cara Orange, Farro & Salsa Verde
Short Rib Burgers on Pretzel Buns with Hoppy Cheddar Sauce & Roasted Sweet Potato Rounds
Spicy Thai Chicken Noodle Soup with Red Curry & Mushrooms

The next week on April 3rd, we are expecting the following recipes:

Chili Blackened Cod with Epazote, Avocado & Red Rice Salad
Navarian Style Lamb Meatball Stew with Pea Tips & Carrots
Pan Seared Chicken Verjus with Pearled Barley & Mushrooms à la Grecque

Don't they sound delicious! We can't wait to try all of these recipes and we are having so much fun with this subscription box!

I also reviewed Plated & Hello Fresh which are similar food subscription boxes. So check those out before you leave. Also, don't leave before you claim your Free Graze Box & enter my Blue Apron Giveaway.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Plated Subscription Box Review - Part 11, 12 & 13


Ingredients for Beef & Pork Ragout over Pappardelle



Recipe Results



Ingredients for Pork Chops with Shallot & Rainbow Swiss Chard



Recipe Results



Ingredients for Skate & Papas Bravas & Paprika Aioli




Recipe Results


We were excited to receive our forth box from Plated but unfortunately there were some issues with it. First, we ordered the Chicken Larb dish and received the Beef & Pork Ragout instead. We received the correct recipe card, but the wrong ingredients. Second, the box only had one ice block so the Skate fish they sent was no longer frozen or even partially frozen. That was especially disappointing because we have never tried Skate fish before and were looking forward to it. So we had to go out and buy some Flounder from Costco to substitute. We weren't able to get to the store until the next week, so it was inconvenient. Third, the red wine had leaked a bit and partially ruined the shallots it was sitting next to. Forth, the shallots were a bit smushed by the can of tomatoes. I emailed them and didn't receive a response after several days, so I called them to complain. They need to purchase noise canceling headsets for their customer service reps or do something about the background noise since it was very hard for me to hear him and he had a hard time hearing what I was saying. He hung up before I was able to ask a question also. The conversation was very rushed and I was not pleased. He gave me a store credit for the wrong dish and the unfrozen fish. I appreciate that but I really wish they would use more ice packs in their boxes like Blue Apron does. I really hate to see food go to waste and tossing it in the trash makes me sad. Dry ice would be best for the frozen foods. So since this is the second time we received fish unfrozen, sadly I won't be ordering anymore of their seafood dishes. Out of the three dishes that week funny enough our favorite was the dish that was sent in error, followed by the pork dish and lastly the fish dish.

Beef & Pork Ragout over Pappardelle

This dish was so delicious that we didn't mind receiving it instead of the Chicken Larb dish we were suppose to be sent. The noodles smelled so good when they were cooking, they smelled almost like a croissant! They must have had a lot of butter in them because there was a strong butter scent coming from them while cooking. I hope we can find the Pappardelle noodles at a store around here so we can make this recipe again. This was a generous portion and I could have saved one third of it for lunch the next day but I couldn't resist eating it all and I shared some with our four dogs. I love receiving fresh pasta in these boxes! Fresh pasta tastes so much better than dry and the texture is so much better. It takes me back to Italy where they only serve fresh pasta. Yum!

Pork Chops with Shallot & Rainbow Swiss Chard

I purchased this dish for my husband who loves pork. I'm not a big fan of pork so I wasn't very fond of this dish, while my husband really enjoyed it. This took quite a bit of prep time cleaning and chopping the produce. The shallots were a bit damaged in shipping, but I was able to peel the 1st couple of layers off them and dispose of the damaged part. The swiss chard stems were so colorful with a rainbow of colors. This was an easy recipe to cook and had a good, healthy portion size. While we enjoyed this dish we won't be rushing to remake it anytime soon since there are other Plated recipes that we loved so much.

Skate & Papas Bravas & Paprika Aioli

If you click on the ingredients photo for this recipe, you can see up close that the Skate fish looks like it's not safe to eat. It wasn't shipped at the proper temperature so it arrived with a lot of juice around it from defrosting.  Notice the color of the juice and the discoloration of the fish from white to pink, yuck. I wish they would have shipped it with more ice packs. What a waste of food. We went to Costco and bought some flounder to substitute. I wish they hadn't had the fingerling potatoes in two dishes for the same week. This dish was ok, not really worth repeating well maybe the dipping sauce. Capers are very salty, so remember not to salt what you are serving with them. This is the first time we had tried sunchokes and we loved them though it did cause stomach gas for me.

Check out the other Plated dishes we cooked:


Our fifth box included the following dishes which I will review next:

Shepard's Pie with Ground Beef & Vegetables
Chicken with Gnocchi & Artichokes 
Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookie Pies

We are looking forward to receiving the following dishes this week:

Shakshuka with Green Garlic Pesto
Peruvian Lomo Saltado Stir Fry with Potatoes
Tomato Braised Tunisian Chicken

I also reviewed Blue Apron & Hello Fresh which are similar food subscription boxes. So check those out before you leave and don't forget to enter my Blue Apron Giveaway & get your Free Graze Box. What do you think of my recipe results? 

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

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Giveaway & Blue Apron Subscription Box Review - Part 7



Ingredients for Crispy Catfish & Cracked Freekeh with Kumquat, Thai Basil & Chili Glaze



Recipe Results


Another exciting recipe from Blue Apron, Crispy Catfish & Cracked Freekeh arrived at our doorstep. Click on the ingredients photo above to get a better view of all the wonderful ingredients. We never tasted or cooked with kumquat, cracked freekeh or thai basil before so this recipe was one we were especially looking forward to cooking. Hubby arrived home late from work and was busy packing for his business trip, so I cooked this recipe all by myself. I was impressed with my results since I'm an experienced baker with little cooking experience and Hubby is the chef in our house. So it was especially enjoyable to cook a recipe that looks like a dish you would get at a fancy restaurant yet have no trouble making it. The kumquats are like little cute oranges and they smell so good. They were turned into almost a candy like flavor due to the glaze which was easier to make than it looks. They were so yummy! The thai basil had a very strong earthy scent and made for a nice added flavor to the dish. We loved the freekeh, it's a comfort food for sure with it's soft and sticky texture and delicious flavor. It's a healthier alternative to rice. This meal was really delicious and I hope to make it again soon since it's definitely worth repeating and easy to make.

Giveaway:


Blue Apron has provided me with another free subscription box worth $59.94 to give away. Congratulations to Alison who won the last giveaway! Blue Apron will send the winner one shipment that includes all the ingredients for three recipes for two people for a total of six servings. To enter the giveaway, use the Rafflecopter form below. The winner must be over 18 years old, a new Blue Apron customer, provide me with their name and email address to give to Blue Apron, provide Blue Apron their credit card number in case they want to continue with the service past the first box and live in the US. The states they do not ship to are: Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota & Texas. To cancel future shipments is easy since it can be done right on their website under "Delivery Schedule". You can chose for your delivery to arrive on Thursday, Friday or Saturday. Also, you can select your dietary preferences including vegetarian. Good Luck!


Check out the previous Blue Apron recipes that I reviewed:

Stay tuned for a review of the other dishes we tried that week:

Pork Dan Dan Noodles with Watermelon Radish & Garlic-Lime Peanuts
Pan Roasted Chicken with Lacinato Kale & Purple Potato Hash

The following week we made these recipes:

Tom Yum Style Shrimp & Noodles with Gai Lan & Thai Basil
Corned Beef Spiced Flank Steaks with Braised Cabbage & Buttered Red Potatoes
Turkey Chili with Avocado & Cheddar Cheese

This week we are expecting the following recipes:

Roasted Salmon, Fennel & Castelvetrano Olives with Cara Cara Orange, Farro & Salsa Verde
Short Rib Burgers on Pretzel Buns with Hoppy Cheddar Sauce & Roasted Sweet Potato Rounds
Spicy Thai Chicken Noodle Soup with Red Curry & Mushrooms

The next week on April 3rd, we are expecting the following recipes:

Chili Blackened Cod with Epazote, Avocado & Red Rice Salad
Navarian Style Lamb Meatball Stew with Pea Tips & Carrots
Pan Seared Chicken Verjus with Pearled Barley & Mushrooms à la Grecque

Don't they sound delicious! We can't wait to try all of these recipes and we are having so much fun with this subscription box!

I also reviewed Plated & Hello Fresh which are similar food subscription boxes. So check those out before you leave. Also, don't leave before you claim your Free Graze Box!

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Spring Dry Marble Nail Art



Julep's Kai, London & Jessica


This is my latest manicure using the dry marble technique with three Julep nail polish colors. If you aren't familiar with the dry marble nail art technique aka drag marbling, take a moment to read more about it here. If you have ever tried wet marbling you'll know that it's difficult, messy and time consuming and it uses a ton of nail polish. The dry marbling technique isn't messy or difficult, is less time consuming and uses less polish. The most time consuming part is coming up with three colors that look good together and finding polishes that aren't too thin or thick for this technique. They must also be nail polishes that are opaque with one coat. I'm a bit out of practice, so I had a bit of difficulty with the index finger, did it over and yet I'm still not happy with the results on that nail. I used the following nail polishes:

  1. Kai - It Girl Collection, bright blue color with a rough sea salt finish
  2. London - Classic with a Twist, heather blossom crème
  3. Jessica - It Girl Collection, soft baby blue crème
I started with painting two heavy coats of Kai, then immediately added three dots of London at the top right, left center and right bottom.  Then added three dots of Jessica top left, right center and left bottom. Then I quickly grabbed my yellow colored dotting tool and using the larger end scrolled from the top down to the bottom moving my dotting tool through all six dots. Then I moved on to the next finger repeating the same technique and continued one by one until all ten nails were done. For best results, remember to pull the two dotted colors with your dotting tool up towards the cuticle and the edges of the nail, not just towards the bottom of the nail. Afterwards I waited about fifteen minutes for the polish to settle, stop mixing together and to lay flat & evenly on the nail before I applied one coat of Seche Vite top coat. Don't worry about the nail polish being thicker on some parts of the nail, if you wait fifteen minutes the polish will even itself out. If the polish is so thick it starts running off the sides, just move your dotting tool's metal edge to sides of the nail and the polish will fall onto the dotting tool and then you can wipe it off at the nail's edge. Also, remember to brush the first color on the edge of your nail as you would normally when applying nail polish. The sea salt finish of Kai still felt a bit rough through the first layer of top coat but after applying a second top coat it wasn't rough anymore. A couple days later I added another layer of top coat to protect the nails.

Check out my previous marble nail art manicures:

Christmas Dry Marble Nail Art 2013
Cherimoya Dry Marble Nail Art 2012
Marble Design Manicure for Christmas 2012
Cinderella Collection Marble Design 2012
Fire Marble Design Manicure 2012
Water Marbling Manicure 2012

If you aren't familiar with the Julep line of nail polish, give their subscription box a try today and your first box is free!

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, March 19, 2015

Hello Fresh Food Subscription Box - Part 3



Ingredients for Skillet Chicken Paprikash (click on photo to enlarge)



Recipe Results


This is a review of the third recipe Hubby & I have tried from the Hello Fresh subscription box. This one involves quite a bit of time to chop the potatoes, carrot, parsley and red onion. We also found it took longer than indicated to let the sauce thicken. It states thirty minutes needed for this recipe, but it landed up taking us about forty minutes. It smelled really good while it was cooking and Hubby loved the taste. I wasn't as crazy about it, I felt like it needed more spice or garlic, something. He's also more fond of stew dishes than I am. I suggest making this recipe on the weekend or do the prep work in advance for weekday cooking. There was about two and half servings and Hubby helped himself to the other half serving. Check out the previous dishes we made from Hello Fresh:


While we enjoyed trying out this subscription box, especially with a coupon, I don't plan to continue our subscription at this time. We will probably order another box in the future, but not regular weekly shipments. If you like to keep to basic, common ingredients that are easily found in any grocery store then Hello Fresh is for you. Right now, Hubby & I are more adventurous so our favorite competitor is Plated and our second favorite is Blue Apron. We find their recipes and ingredients more exciting and unusual. Check out my reviews of those boxes before you leave. Have you tried this type of subscription box before? If not, what's your reason for not giving it a try?

Also, before you leave enter my Blue Apron Giveaway and get your free Graze Box.

Bargain Alert - $40 off your first box, use coupon code "YVWF79"

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