Family · food · health · Planning · Recipe

Meal Planning -Delivery Kits Review

Coffee time equals quiet time around here and I was reviewing blog ideas realizing I owe you an update on some of the other meal kit delivery programs we tried: Sun Basket and Martha & Marley Spoon.

If you recall, I posted a few weeks ago about out family pleasing experiences with Home Chef. This Friday another delivery will be at my doorstep and I am excited. Next week’s meal planning is practically a fait accompli thanks to Home Chef.

The past couple of weeks we tried a couple of other offerings.

Sun Basket

I immediately unboxed and loved all of the paper packaging knowing how easy recycling would be.

I was not excited about the recipe book. A magazine style that included EVERY single recipes shipped to any customer. That meant I had to find the recipes by flipping through the pages. (Each time I made a meal.)

I was slightly annoyed that the ingredient list didn’t include measurements. Now, I get that it is all pre-measured but I am a girl that wants the ability to re-create a winner. What if I really like it and don’t want to wait to see it again in rotation?

We received a few meals and the first one we tried was the steak meal.

I really enjoyed this meal. It was easy and light. My dauggter, however did not. She thought the steak was bland. We both were not impressed in the quality of the steaks. We had much better cuts from Home Chef.

My daughter wanted nothing to do with the vegetable dish but I loved it!

The other two meals were really pretty tasty as well. As far as quality goes, if I were cooking foe just myself I might try it again, but no one in my family was adventurous enough to try. I, myself had plenty of options for lunch and dinner all week.

If you recall, Home Chef has very little waste for us. Sun Basket had far too many vegetables. Yes…even for me.

I have skipped the next few weeks because I want to browse the rotation of menu options to see if there may be another week to try again. But our initial review is only moderately pleased. Also, the cost per person was $1-2 more per meal on average. We all have to love it to make the cost worth it.

Martha & Marley Spoon

Did you know Martha Stewart had skin in the game too? I shouldn’t have been surprised.

So we ordered a box.

The unboxing made me smile. I loved the recipe card! The note making it seem more personalized was a nice touch. And the small magazine that introduces the team and concept was a nice addition. They didn’t send a binder like Home Chef did. And I guess that little organization perk tickled me. Not having one from Martha was disappointing but not a show stopper.

Did you notice the quantities and measurements? I was so happy to see them. Re-creation is a possibility. That made me happy.

When making this dish, the recipe was hard to follow. It is based on 2 servings with notes for 4 servings. I really struggled because the formatting, amounts, and discerning the difference between 2 and 4 servings just didn’t jive. Not sure it hurt the outcome but this wannabe mom chef did not find this experience enjoyable.

The dish was delicious! And I would make it again. My daughter is not a fan of rice so I may have over served myself and ate leftovers the next day as well. We went with the lower prices cut of meat and it was a good cut: much better than Sun Baskets option but still not on par with Home Chef. We could have spent a bit more for higher end cuts of meat. I didn’t and wouldn’t feel it made a difference.

Now Martha is new skin in the game and the menu options from week to week are very limited. Especially if you are trying to align to dietary needs.

I am not compelled to order in the next couple of weeks as the menu choices just do not interest me nor my family. I am going to skip a few weeks and jump in again. I feel Martha deserves another go to see if the one meal we tried was an anomaly in my struggle to discern the recipe and instructions.

Overall we were pleasantly surprised and are sad the menu isn’t more robust yet. Martha does give me hope to try again.

So many more to try: One Potato, Blue Apron, and Platrf to name a few.

Next month maybe we will give them a spin. But for now, I am sticking with Home Chef because they have delivered consistent winners.

Have you tried any meal kit deliveries yet? Which ones? I love having these as options on busy weeks.

Family · food · Planning · Recipe

Corned Beef and Cabbage (Gluten Free) – Cooking Once and Eating Twice (or thrice)

While sipping coffee this morning I gathered the following list of ingredients:

1 Flat Cut Corned Beef package (3-4 pounds)

2 pounds of red potatoes, halved

1 large onion (peeled and cut into large sections)

1 pound of baby carrots

3 Tablespoons of Apple cider vinegar

1 half a head of cabbage, sliced (feel free to add more)

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon cracked pepper

1 Tablespoon Corned Beef pickling spices

Then I grabbed my slow cooker. I layered the potatoes, cut in half on the bottom first

Next, I tossed in the carrots and onions.

After unpackaging and rinsing the corned beef, I set it over the veggies with the fat side up.

I prefer Penzeys spice so I added my own, sprinkling it over the meat. You certainly can use the packet provided. But this picture may show you why I like Penzeys.

Add the vinegar, salt, and pepper.

What about the cabbage? I prefer crisper cabbage so I wait until the last hour to put mine on top. Feel free to put yours on sooner.

Water!!! Add water into the crock pot until the meat is half way in the water, at least. The veggies and meat will make more fluids so you don’t want to fill the whole pot.

Pop on the lid and set it on low.

After 8 hours, add the cabbage if you decided to wait like I did.

Cook on low for another hour.

Take the meat out and let it rest for a few minutes. Slice it and plate up the rest either as side dishes or right next to the main event!

Enjoy!

Tip: grain mustard goes great with it.

And if you have leftovers, plan for sandwiches tomorrow while you enjoy March Madness!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

food · Goals · health · Planning · Planning · travel · Vision

Planner for that: Focus on Fit and Healthy

Of course I am sipping coffee.

It was a rainy week. And today, the forecast calls for more. In Phoenix? Yup. Unusual to be sure! January is usually a rainy month and not February. So with the rain, I have been feeling lazy. No walking around the neighborhood. To be honest I am still recovering from some illness that took over my body while in Florida on business. I tell myself every morning that I feel better but by the end of the day, my body wants to rest. So I let it.

In January, I set simple goals.

And this post is a way of being real with myself and everyone else. I did not meet all my goals. Not in the pen and paper sense anyway. My fitbit does track some but my planner has a lot of white space left.

I started strong as you can see in week one.

And week two looks similar.

But the last half of the month looks like I fell off the wagon.

I didn’t completely fall off. I was definitely more focused on food. I did monitor my weight. I did work on sleeping better. I certainly focused on moving more. I just epically failed on tracking everything.

What do you do when you recognize you failed? Do you ask yourself why bother? Do you reset and start again.

Me? I sat in my chair and I looked at my vision board hanging on the opposite wall and I remembered that this is no New Year’s Resolution fail. This is a journey to a better me. It is where I want to be.

And the healthier me remembered that I should take time to reflect and reset.

After reflection, a vacation and a business trip have passed, I am picking right back up for the balance of February.

I am keeping the same goals and focus for the month and reminding myself to be kind as I reset.

The bonus to all of This? There is one. I may have not been perfect but I did come home from vacation and a business trip maintaining my weight within a pound. Oh…and as of today I lost two more.

Perfection is nowhere on my vision board. Loving myself and focusing on self-care in easy manageable ways one day at a time is. Let’s see how I do for the next 30ish days.

How are you doing with your plans and vision? I would love to hear. Please comment and share.

Family · food · lists · travel · vacation

New Orleans…Day Two…Eating on the Bayou

The French Quarter is a world in itself. It is colorful and musical and wonderfully unlike anything in my desert oasis home of Phoenix. Waking up in the Big Easy in The Prince Conti Hotel, mere steps from Bourbon Street was surprisingly relaxing. I could have stayed at a newer hotel but I wanted a place that had history and was locally owned. This hotel, although older, has a charm that appeals to my writing soul. If I didn’t have a day of adventure planned, I could easily relax here and let words flow. If you are going to visit this wonderful city, stay in a place like Prince Conti and feel part of the history. This was my second time in this city and my second time at this hotel. The decor always takes my mind to corsets, ball gowns, pegnoirs, and beignets. The stuff in all the historical romances I have loved to read for decades. The staff is friendly, thoughtful and helpful with directions and suggestions on what to do.

My bestie and I enjoyed the late morning and early afternoon. We wandered Bourbon Street stopping in to listen to live music here and there taking advantage of great bar service along the way.

I loved every minute she and I spent. I had a thing about this place because of the fire and water fountain. I had to take a picture.

I had to eat too. And finding gluten free in the French Quarter is not so easy.

My true mission the second day in the city was finding my way to The French Market. And by late afternoon I was hungry. When I asked the best walking path to the market, Prince Conti staff were quick to point me in the right direction and suggested I try crab cakes at Meals From The Heart. Little did they know. I already had that place on my list from my research. I was also in search of The Crepe Cart . I dragged a couple of friends with me.

What a treat! My friends and I walked just over a mile toward the river past Jackson Square.

Until we found the place for crepes.

The folks at the cart matched the personality of the deliciousness they crafted. I couldn’t decide between savory or sweet so I asked for a suggestion and I went with it: Goat Cheese, Nutella, Bacon, and Ref Pepper Flakes on a gluten free crepe….amazing combination of flavors. This was totally off menu. You don’t have to be as daring as me. But you really should visit the market for this great stop.

And crab cakes? I did save room for one.

Melt in your mouth moist and perfectly flaky crab cakes. This is literally the best crab cake I have ever had. Their secret to gluten free is no secret. They simply do not put in bread crumbs as a filler. Pure crab and spices. And gluten free. The owner was friendly. He shared stories of how his mother as the master chef makes it her mission to devise vegan and gluten free foods with authentic Creole and Cajun recipes. I didn’t have enough tummy space but I really wanted to try their gumbo too. There was nothing fancy about eating at these places but they were definitely hidden gems in the French Market. I know that each and every opportunity I get to return to New Orleans a day of tummy pleasing grazing will be planned in the heart of The French Market.

And I will wash it down with a nice cup of New Orleans Coffee at Cafe du Monde nearby.

If only someone somewhere in The Big Easy would master a gluten free beignet! My foodie heart would be complete.

Now that I am home all I can think about is beignets and I keep looking at internet recipes and thinking about making them at home. If I do, I am inviting all my friends over to help me eat them and tell me how close they might be to the real thing. What if I mastered them, moved to New Orleans, and opened The Beignet Basket in The French Market myself?