Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Marley Spoon Review

After trying Blue Apron, Hello Fresh and Plated I tried Marley Spoon. As I did with the previous  companies I tried it for 3 weeks so I could get a feel for what I liked and didn't like about it.  I got 3 meals a week (that each had 2 servings) so I tried 9 different meals. While I tried 9 meals you might notice there are only 8 pictures. Seems I forgot to take a picture of one meal. Oops!

The first dish I made was a Pan-Seared Cod with Greens and Garlicy Smashed Potatos.  In addition to the garlic the potatoes had vinegar in them which gave them a really unexpected taste.  I thought it was great but my husband wasn't a fan. Overall this was a solid dish.

While I cook soups and stews regularly I don't normally make stews with beef in them so this Beef and Root Vegetable Stew was a nice change.  It was delicious and pretty easy to make.


These Black Bean Burgers were delicious in taste but the execution/directions was a bit of a fail. You were meant to make the black bean mixture, refrigerate it and then shape it into a patty to cook it. The mixture was so soft and wet that even after leaving it in the fridge for double the time and adding some extra bread crumbs from my cupboard I could barely get it into a patty shape to cook it.


The second week started off with a Quinoa and Lentil Curry which was good but nothing super special.


The Pepperonchini and Broccoli dish was pretty good but it is not one of the recipes I have made again though I would consider it.


This Kale and Squash Flatbread was really good and not something I would normally think to make.  The orange salad on the side was also really good and refreshing.


These Fish Tacos with Orange and Jicama Slaw were probably the best things I have gotten from any of the boxes.  I have made these tacos again at least half a dozen times since we first got them in the box. They are super easy and very refreshing. This is a great summer dish so I plan to share the recipe for this one sometime soon.


This curry was also a hit.  I have not made it again but would definitely if I was ever in the mood for a curry.


Pro:
  • It was nice to only have the ingredients I needed for a recipe and not to have to buy a whole bottle of something I will only use once.
  • There were multiple recipes that I have made again or plan to make again.
  • Made me cook things out of my comfort zone and use ingredients I don't normally use but I feel like the ingredients weren't quite as out of my comfort zone as with Blue Apron.
  • There were 10 meals to choose from (7 that are new every week and 3 that are encore recipes so stay the same for a month at a time) and I could choose any 3 without restrictions.
Cons:
  • As I said in the pros there were not as many ingredients I had never used/had never heard of. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as it will make these recipes easier to recreate but didn't push me as much to try new things.
  • Not quite as many options to choose from as Plated.
The cost this one was within a dollar or two or Blue Apron and Hello Fresh so that overall was a neutral point.  Plated is the only one with a noticeable price difference. I think the balance of the cost and larger number of options makes this the one I am most likely to continue to order from of the services I have tried so far.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Stitch Fix #23

Another month another fun Stitch Fix box. This box came right before my latest trip to Disneyland (post on that coming up later in the week) so I asked for some things that I would wear to the park.

In addition to park appropriate wear (which this is obviously not) I always ask for work appropriate clothing too so this is what was sent for that.  It doesn't look that cute all spread out on the bed but on me it is adorable.  The full skirt and defined waist are very flattering on me so I kept this one.

This one I was on the fence about keeping.  The navy color was great and the lace detailing is adorable but the lace didn't have any stretch to it.  Without stretch in the lace it pulled just a little around my hips so I ended up sending it back.

I loved the color and the comfy fabric of this causal dress.  It would have been a perfect casual dress if it had been about 2 inches longer.  It technically covered everything but I would have had to be way too careful wearing it for me to want to keep it.


I knew the minute I saw these in the box that I would not be keeping them.  I don't need clothing that comes with holes already in them. Even without the holes the fit of these shorts was not good so I wouldn't have kept them anyway.


This picture doesn't quite do this shirt justice in terms of color but in real life it was a very pretty pale mint green.  The shirt was a great color and fit well but I the eyelet fabric it was made of was see through.  If it had come with a matching mint green camisole I would have kept it in a heartbeat.
My next box arrives this week but if you want your own fun Stitch Fix box you can get one here


Monday, May 8, 2017

Week (end) Wrap Ups

After a rainy winter here in the bay area the sun has come out and spring has sprung.

Last Wednesday was Administrative Professionals Day and my office likes to go all out. This year theme was "You are a Lifesaver" so it was kind of cruise ship/ocean themed.

They even covered up the big windows in our conference room to make it look like the ocean with fishies swimming in it.


There were all kinds of fun props to use to take pictures and I never pass up a good photo op!


The party was held during lunch time so of course lunch was provided.  We had a make your own burrito/taco salad bar and it was delicious.  All that was missing was a make your own margarita bar but since this was a work event we had to do without margaritas sadly.


Since Easter was over and weather was so nice I decided to decorate my house for spring.  I really just took down anything that was specifically Easter and put up more things with flowers on it.  I put a really cute tablecloth on our dining table that just makes the whole room look so colorful.


Last weekend was quite warm so we decided to take advantage of the nice weather and head to a German restaurant downtown for dinner Sunday night. Sunday was pleasantly warm but the rest of the week was just outrageously warm!


Great thing about being able to take the lightrail to downtown from our condo is that no one has to be the designated driver.  German beers for all! After enjoying our beers on the patio we ordered some dinner and then we still had a bit of room in our stomaches so dessert.  Dinner was good but dessert was amazing.  My husband had an apple strudel and I had some sort of rhubarb tart thing that was super good.


The weather finally cooled down at the end of this week just in time to head down to Salinas for my uncle's surprise party.  I was excited to get to wear a fun dress that I had bought to be my Easter dress a few weeks ago.



I didn't take many pictures at the actual party (we were having too much fun) but the decorations were all about fishing.  My cousins and aunt did a great job planning the party.


Even though the party was for my uncle his actual birthday was a few days ago but my mom's actual birthday was that day.  It was nice to be able to see my mom (and dad) on her birthday and we will be heading down to Salinas again next weekend for mother's day and to see my little sister while she is home from school.



Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Plated Review

After trying Blue Apron and Hello Fresh I moved on to try Plated. As I did with the previous two companies I tried it for 3 weeks so I could get a feel for what I liked and didn't like about it.  I got 3 meals a week (that each had 2 servings) so I tried 9 different meals. While I tried 9 meals you might notice there are only 8 pictures. Seems I forgot to take a picture of one meal. Oops!

First meal we tried was a steak with caramelized onions and a butternut squash gratin. I was all really good but the onions on top were my favorite part.


Next we had chicken empanadas with a lime creama and an arugula salad. Again very good.


Roasted eggplant and noodles with a peanut sauce. This dish rounded out our first week and was also delicious. Dishes like this are one of the reason I like having just the ingredients I need delivered instead of having to buy whole bottles of things just for one tablespoon in a recipe. 


Another steak dish but his time with a panzanela salad.  The steak was good salad was the highlight of this dish.


These Mexican stuffed sweet potatoes were one of my favorite dishes I got from Plated.  I have not made them again but have plans to.


I love pretty much all pasta dishes and when you add sausage too it there is a high likelihood it will be good. This pasta dish with sausage and peas in a brown butter sauce was amazing.  I actually made it again a few weeks ago but substituted wheat pasta for the regular pasta.


It is hard to go wrong with potatoes and cheese and this dish was not a disappointment.  Poutine with an arugula and watermelon radish salad to cut the heaviness.


I didn't take a picture of it but I also made sausage stuffed portobello mushrooms that week.  My last meal was a Shepard's pie that was good but nothing to write home about.


Pro:
  • It was nice to only have the ingredients I needed for a recipe and not to have to buy a whole bottle of something I will only use once.
  • There were multiple recipes that I have made again or plan to make again.
  • Made me cook things out of my comfort zone and use ingredients I don't normally use but I feel like the ingredients weren't quite as out of my comfort zone as with Blue Apron.
  • There were 12 meals to choose from (6 that are new every week and 6 that are encore recipes so stay the same for a month at a time) and I could choose any 3 without restrictions.
Cons:
  • As I said in the pros there were not as many ingredients I had never used/had never heard of. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as it will make these recipes easier to recreate but didn't push me as much to try new things.
  • This was the most expensive of the 3 companies I had tried so far.  It was about $10 a week more expensive than Hello Fresh or Blue Apron
I have to say I really liked have 12 choices each week and never had trouble finding 3 meals that I wanted to try.  With so many choices it was nice that 6 of them repeated the next week because sometimes there were more than 3 meals I wanted to try. If it weren't for the price difference this would easily be my favorite meal delivery service so far but the price difference would add up over time.

Come back in a few weeks to hear my thoughts on Marly Spoon and if you missed it you can go back and see my Blue Apron and Hello Fresh reviews.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

All About Prom

This month the prompt for Show and Tell Tuesday is All About Prom.  This would be a great topic if I had thought about it in advance and had gotten pictures from my parents house...since I did not there is only one picture from prom that I have access to.

Since I have very few pictures I went to the good old internet to at least find a picture of the location of my prom and pictures of the restaurant we had dinner at. 

I went to prom with a whole group of friends (like everyone did) and we decided that fancy outfits deserved a fancy dinner.  The restaurant we went to was called Fresh Cream and overlooked the Monterey Bay. This place was fantastic but sadly it closed a few years ago. I didn't know this at the time (hello only 18 here) but this place had fantastic cocktails. My parents actually took me here to celebrate my 21st birthday hence the cocktail knowledge.

I have no idea what I ate for dinner that night but I am relatively certain I had this delicious chocolate box filled that was filled with a coffee milkshake. Ummm now I am dreaming about this desert.


After dinner we headed to the main event.  Our prom was held at Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey.  Our prom committee generally books the location about a year in advance so they had no idea when they booked this location the fact that it was a military facility would present a unique challenge. My prom was about six months after September 11th so security on military bases was at an all time high.  There we no limos allowed onto the base so we had to park in a random parking garage and were bused to the prom.  Not quite how most people pictured arriving at prom but it ended up not being that big a deal


Here is the one picture I actually have access to.  These were my two best friends who I had known since kindergarten.  It is hard to tell in this picture but my dress had a variety of beads and sequins on the bodice. You might notice that I am not wearing a corsage. It is not because I didn't have one but it itched so I put it on my ankle.  If only I access the pictures at my parents house you would see the many pictures of our feet (and fancy heels) that we took over the course of the night.



Prom was a fun night and looking back I have to say I don't cringe too much at the outfit I chose to wear.  Not sure I would pick the same dress if were choosing it now but it worked for the time.  

Monday, April 10, 2017

Disneyland and the Food and Wine Festival

A few weeks ago I headed to Southern California to head to one of my favorite places.  Disneyland!! A big reason for the timing of this trip was to go during the Food and Wine Festival that was happening at California Adventure so this post will be especially heavy on the food pictures. 

My first day there my annual pass was blacked out (I knew it was) but it was cheaper to fly in the morning than later in the day so I just spent my day hanging out in Downtown Disney and at the various hotels. Had to stop at the Lego store to take a picture of this scene from Beauty and the Beast.

Since I had eaten breakfast so many hours before (at like 5 AM) by the time I had checked into my hotel and headed out to Downtown Disney I was hungry again. While they are not Micky shaped the beignets in Downtown Disney are equally delicious to the ones in New Orleans Square at Disneyland.


Always nice to relax in the Grand Californian lobby so I spent a bit of my morning doing just that. Funny story. I used come here and do some of my course reading during college in this lobby so I kind of felt like I should have had a book while sitting there.

Around lunch time I headed over to the Disneyland Hotel. 


I know this may come as a shock but despite always hearing good things about it I had never been to Trader Sam's. I rectified this during this trip.


I started out with piraƱa something drink that was delicious before moving on to some shrimp tacos.




After I finished lunch I figured I am on vacation so why not have another drink?  I slowly sipped this drink since it was quite strong before heading out to check into my hotel.


Usually when I go down to Disneyland I stay at the Hilton by the convention center or some other Hilton brand hotel since I can get a free breakfast there but this time I decided as a treat to stay at the Paradise Pier hotel since I thought it might be my last time in the parks for a while but I actually am taking another trip in a few weeks because the stars aligned.

When making the hotel reservation the agent had a little finger slip and my card got charged twice and while they fixed it right there and then and it was not problem the lady felt horrible and she told me that for being so nice about the mistake she would see if she could do something.  Apparently the something was being upgraded to a room with a view of the parks.  The view was gorgeous so moral of the story is being understanding and nice pays off.

The view was great during the day but being able to see the park all lit up from the comfort of my room was wonderful.  Soo pretty!


Sunday I got up bright and early and headed into the park.


The feeling of walking down Main Street first thing in the morning and seeing the castle in the distance never gets old. 


After riding a few rides I started to get a bit hungry so I headed over to New Orleans Square for some Micky shaped beignets. The special seasonal ones had lemon and glittery sugar on them.  I was excited to try them but they are good but nothing compared to the butterscotch ones they had in the fall.

One of the reasons for the lemon glitter beignets was to make them seem like the treasure from Pirates of the Caribbean since the weekend I was there was the 50th anniversary of the ride.


In addition to some special food offerings they also had some fun props to use to take pictures.


After a morning in Disneyland I headed over to California Adventure for the Food and Wine Festival and some lunch!


First thing I had was some cheddar ale soup that was fantastic.  I love soup in a bread bowl anyway so this soup was right up my ally. It was a nice size and small enough that I had room for a couple more items to count as lunch.

After the soup I had some corn nuggets with a beef chili on it which was also very good. I rode a few rides and then finished off my "lunch" with an onion mac and cheese dish.  You see no picture of said mac and cheese because as soon as I saw and smelt it it went straight into my mouth.  Sooo good!


By mid afternoon it was getting a bit hot (as it does) so I decided to head to Carthay Circle Lounge for a little air conditioning and some desert. 


A mojito and a trio of macrons are a nice way to cool off and relax.  I had gotten a fast pass for Soarn' Around the World when I first got to the park so I used that and then headed back to my room for a little rest.
I love having dinner at the Alfresco Tasting Lounge so that is what I did.  They have a whole variety of wine flights and all kinds of good appetizers.  Besides the food and drinks being yummy this place has a great view of Cars Land all lit up at night. 


After dinner I stopped by one more Food and Wine Festival booth and got some desert. I decided to be brave and try the artichoke cake pop. It was covered in dark chocolate and pistachios and didn't taste at all like artichoke.  The cake inside had almost the consistency of cookie dough and was really good.



The next day after a morning in Disneyland I headed over to California Adventure for some more food from the festival booths for lunch.  I had some steak and kimchi tacos first and they were delicious.


What goes better with tacos than a margarita? Not much so I grabbed a jalapeno margarita to go with the tacos.


I liked the mac and cheese so much the previous day that I got a second helping of it.  


I also tried the bacon mac and cheese and it was fine but nothing compared to the french onion mac and cheese.


I grabbed a bacon maple whoopee pie for desert on my way out of the park. It was good but not the best think I have ever had.


I had a little extra time before I had to catch my shuttle to the airport so I stopped by Trader Sam's for one last drink to cap off my trip. 


As I always do I had a wonderful time on my trip to Disneyland yet I was very glad to come home and be in my husbands arms in my own bed.