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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Friday, February 20, 2015

Plated Food Subscription Box Review - Part 3



Ingredients for Ricotta Corn Empanadas with Spinach in Honey Vinaigrette



Finished Results


This is a review for a food subscription box called Plated. This is the third of the three recipes we received that we tried. I was excited to try it since I never had empanadas before and I love spinach. This recipe wasn't as easy as the other two to make. It didn't help that Hubby & I waited till we were overly hungry to start cooking and we were tired. If I was to make it over again, I'd pay particular attention to the ingredients that you have to use half of. Since we didn't, we landed up using all the shallot in the empanada mixture and then we didn't have the other half left for the vinaigrette. We also misread the recipe and chopped all of the spinach instead of half of it. I would suggest using a bit less than half the spinach in the empanada mixture since I had difficulty closing the empanada dough over the mixture. As you can see above, part of the mixture leaked out of the empanadas. I found that they needed to be baked six minutes longer than the recipe suggested in order to brown on top. I cooked the leftover egg so it didn't go to waste and our dogs enjoyed it on top of their dinner. We absolutely love the vinaigrette recipe and plan to make it year round for our salads. It's preservative free, low in calories, sugar free and easy to make! The empanadas were good, but we felt they needed at least double the amount of spice that was included. They weren't spicy enough for our liking. I was impressed with our results even though we made a couple of mistakes. I'm happy I was able to get my husband to eat a vegetarian meal even though when we first met he said I'd never get him to. You won't miss the lack of meat in this recipe and the serving was a good portion that left our bellies full. This recipe took us about forty minutes from start to plate.

So there you have it, a review of the 3rd Plated recipe we have tried. We loved our first box of three recipes so much that I have already chosen and ordered the next three boxes!  We are truly addicted!  These are the recipes I chose:

February 25th:

Sweet Potato Skillet Lasagna with Turkey Sausage
Cheesy Quinoa Casserole with Brussel Sprouts & Cauliflower
Japanese Style Shrimp with Avocado Grapefruit Salsa

March 4th:

Lamb Kofta with Pistachios & Herb Salad
Mojo Style Fish with Chayote Squash & Poblano Chile
Thai Coconut Khao Soi with Chicken & Crispy Noodles
Chocolate Chip & Ricotta Cannoli

March 11th:

Chicken Larb Cabbage Cups with Sriracha, Lime & Green Beans
Port Cutlets with Shallots & Rainbow Swiss Chard
Seared Skate Wings with Papas Bravas & Paprika Aioli

So stay tuned for reviews of the above entrees from Plated! I'm so excited, I can't wait to try the next meal. This subscription box is really fun and it's inspired me to cook more. It's much easier than it looks and that's coming from someone who's husband does most of the cooking while I do the baking normally. What's your favorite food subscription box? Before you leave be sure to read all about the first and second meals we made:

Plated Food Subscription Box - Part 1
Plated Food Subscription Box - Part 2 

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


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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Plated Food Subscription Box Review - Part 2



Ingredients for Seared Chicken with Mushroom Sauce & Twice Baked Potatoes



Finished Results


This is a review for a food subscription box called Plated. To see Part 1 of the review click here. This is the second of three recipes we received that we tried. The Seared Chicken with Mushroom Sauce & Twice Baked Potatoes recipe was the least attractive of the three recipes to me, but after tasting it became number two. The mushroom sauce was so yummy and really livened up the chicken. The mushrooms were so fresh and so perfectly cooked that they sprung back when I bit into them. I've never made twice baked potatoes before because I thought they were more time consuming than they were worth. They weren't actually very time consuming, but baking them a second time dried them out too much for my liking. I'll stick to regular baked potatoes or mashed potatoes. Maybe some cheese or sour cream would have helped the dryness. I also prefer spring onions over chives. We will use the mushroom sauce part of this recipe in the future. It really transforms a boring chicken breast into a taste sensation! Hubby was silent during dinner, so that was telling that he really enjoyed it. This recipe was suppose to take forty to fifty minutes and it took Hubby & me forty-five minutes from start to plate. It would have taken longer if we didn't take the short cut of cooking the potatoes the first time in the microwave. I recommend baking them rather than microwaving them, if you have time. We waited too long to start cooking, so we were really hungry and as a result chose the short cut. The instructions were easy to follow and the portions were perfectly sized. Our dogs also enjoyed the samples we gave them. I'm really loving this subscription box and wished I had tried it sooner. Don't hesitate to try it out as I did, get $30 off your first Plated order by clicking here. Each plate costs $12 normally.

Stay tuned for Part 3 featuring Ricotta Corn Empanadas with Spinach in Honey VinaigretteI will also be receiving the competition boxes from Blue Apron & Hello Fresh in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for those reviews. What's your favorite food subscription box? Before you leave, check out the other food subscription boxes I have reviewed:

Cravebox (out of business)
Goodies Co Tasters Box  (out of business)
Nibblr (review coming soon)

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

QVC's TSVs for March 2015


Preorder Numbers for Today's Special Values


2nd - Perricone MD Super Size Daily Treatment, A266399 A/D or A266329, $198.00 or 5 payments of $39.60, a/d every five months for two years

4th - Green Pan 11 Piece Cookware Set, K42388, $139.96 or 5 easy payments, comes in 6 colors.

6th - Vionic with Orthaheel Embellished Slide Sandals, A267136, $61.72 or 3 payments of 20.57, comes in 6 colors

9th - bareMinerals Fresh Forward 8-piece Collection, A267135 or A/D of 3 shipments A267219 $69.96 or 4 payments of $17.49, comes in 12 shades

17th - Aran Craft Merino Wool Irish Spring 3/4 Sleeve Cardigan, A267132, $99.96 or 4 payments $24.99, comes in 6 colors

18th - Lenox Butterfly Meadow 24-piece Porcelain Dinnerware Set, H205430, $149.96 or 5 payments of $29.99, comes in 2 colors

21st - WEN by Chaz Dean Rice Based Cleanse & Treat Essentials, A267134 or A/D every 90 days A267543, $69.96 or 3 payments of $23.32, comes in 2 scents Bamboo Green Tea and Mandarin Fig

22nd - Vitamix 48 oz 16 in 1 Variable Speed Blender with 32 oz Dry Jar, K42444, $449.95 or 6 payments of $74.99, comes in 6 colors

23rd - G.I.L.I Pebble Leather Convertible Backpack, A267131, $179.98 or 5 payments $35.99, comes in 7 colors

26th - Rykä Adjustable Sandals with CSS Technology, A267130, $37.26 or 2 payments of $18.63, comes in 6 colors

28th - LOGO by Lori Goldstein Slub Knit Embellished Top with Trim, A267133, $45.48 or 2 payments of $22.74, comes in 8 colors

I hope you enjoy the convenience of ordering the Today's Special Values in advance or having the information to assist you in your March shopping decisions. What are you most excited about for March? I'm tempted by the WEN, bareMinerals & Orthaheel Sandals TSVs. The handbag is really pretty but I'd never spend that much on a bag when I can get bargains at TJ Maxx.  I highly recommend the Vitamix, I love mine. But you may want to buy it directly from them, as I did, since they sometimes have a better deal.

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Plated Food Subscription Box Review - Part 1


Ingredients for Three Plated Dinners



Ingredients for Spaghetti with Ricotta Beef Meatballs & Marinara Sauce



Ingredients for Ricotta Corn Empanadas with Spinach in Honey Vinaigrette



Ingredients for Seared Chicken with Mushroom Sauce & Twice Baked Potatoes


This is a review of a food subscription box from a company called Plated. They ship weekly on your choice of Wednesday or Saturday delivery via FedEx. I chose Saturday so that Hubby & I could cook together on the weekend. Since we have been quite bored with our recipes lately, I decided it was time to try out a food subscription box like this one. Our box arrived at 11:30 am on Saturday at our home in North Carolina.  It was shipped from Brooklyn, NY and arrived with two large artificial ice packs that were brick hard. I was relieved since my previous experience with ordering food shipments from other companies has been hit and miss with the dry ice or artificial ice packs not lasting long enough. Upon opening the box, we saw that it was very nicely packed and so organized. The vegetables were packed in those green bags that are suppose to keep vegetables fresh longer. All of the ingredients are high quality and very fresh, we were very impressed and happy.

We needed to decide which recipe to try first. We decided on the Spaghetti with Ricotta Beef Meatballs & Marinara Sauce since Hubby was craving Spaghetti. We placed the ingredients in the refrigerator and a few hours later we started cooking. Plated provides a color, two sided, recipe card that is 8 1/2 x 11 in size on thick paper. Thankfully, the instructions are concise & easy to follow. I noticed the marinara sauce is from North Carolina.  I got a chuckle out of that since it was shipped to New York only to return back to North Carolina. We just love how all the ingredients are measured out and ready to go as if you were a chef on a cooking show and had assistants do all that work for you in advance. We also like that there is no waste. There isn't a half empty marina sauce jar in our refrigerator or a huge tub of Ricotta cheese waiting to go bad. There isn't a huge box of bread crumbs in my pantry either! Also, there is no need to pack up the leftover meat to place in the dreaded freezer. No more trying to figure out other recipes to use the many leftover ingredients and no guilt of throwing out ingredients that we didn't manage to use before they went bad. The only ingredients that they didn't include were the olive oil, salt, pepper and one egg. Not a problem, since we always have those items in stock at our home. So back to the cooking part, it took the two of us thirty five minutes from start to plate. The recipe card states thirty-five to forty-five minutes so that was accurate. Only one person cooking would probably take forty-five mintues. At first glance it didn't look like that would be possible and I seriously doubted we could cook it that fast. Also, it looked like there wasn't enough quantity of the ingredients but in the end it was the perfect amount! That really pleases me because I hate leftovers and it forces portion control. We usually go back for seconds when we make spaghetti. We were very pleased with the amount of food and had very happy, full bellies. So after thirty five minutes, voilà, feast your eyes on our finished dish:




Wow, it was so yummy! We plan to purchase the ingredients on our own and make the recipe again soon. Though I don't know where to find the fancy Pecorino Italian cheese. Anyone know which grocery store chain sells it? I also don't know where to purchase that brand of marinara sauce. I really like that it doesn't have any sugar or preservatives in it. 

So there you have it, my latest subscription box review. Stay tuned for Part Two & Part Three which will feature:

Ricotta Corn Empanadas with Spinach in Honey Vinaigrette 
Seared Chicken with Mushroom Sauce & Twice Baked Potatoes

Bargain Alert - $30 off your first Plated order, click here.

I will also be receiving the competition boxes from Blue Apron & Hello Fresh in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for those reviews. What's your favorite food subscription box? Before you leave, check out the other food subscription boxes I have reviewed:

Cravebox (out of business)
Goodies Co Tasters Box  (out of business)
Nibblr (review coming soon)

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