Food

Let’s get Plated!

Let’s get Plated! 5

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Every time I visit New York, I’m exposed to some new fun product or service that I desperately want to try. Unfortunately, the majority of these “new fangled” indulgences are’t available in Smalltown.

Until now, that is.

On a recent trip to Brooklyn, I was introduced to the concept of a recipe delivery service. Essentially, the vendor delivers a perfectly portioned amount of fresh ingredients, and accompanying instructions for a gourmet meal. It seemed to be the best of both worlds — the convenience of avoiding the grocery store and the comforts of a home cooked dinner. But surely, such a service wouldn’t be available in my rural little corner of Minnesota, right?

A few weeks ago, a Facebook advertisement for Plated caught my eye. They claimed to deliver fresh ingredients to 80% of the Continental U.S. — could Smalltown possibly be part of that 80%?

I hastily entered my zip code, delighted to see that my address was eligible for delivery. I quickly signed up, ordered two different meals, and texted Scott with the exciting news.

His response?

“No. That’s sacrilegious.”

Apparently, this food snob skeptic was going to need some serious convincing in regards to my latest culinary endeavor. I crossed my fingers, hoping the recipes I’d selected would change his mind.

The meals were delivered a few days later, right on schedule.

plated

The packaging was great, and the ingredients (which included fresh seafood) were in tact and perfectly chilled. I placed the goods in the refrigerator, anxious to prepare my first Plated meal with Scott later that evening.

The only problem? Scott was having no part of the prep work. I believe his exact words were, “This was you’re idea–you deal with it.”

My husband–who is practically a self-trained chef–cooks the vast majority of the meals in our household. My lack of experience (and fear of cooking fresh prawns) had me incredibly nervous. But my supper certainly wasn’t going to cook itself. I took a deep breath, turned on the stove, and pulled out my very best skillet. It was go time.

Forty minutes later, I was plating my finished Southwestern Gulf Shrimp with Leeks and Asparagus. The craziest part? It actually looked good.

shrimp

 

The really crazy part? It tasted good, too! Even Scott complimented my efforts. I couldn’t believe it! Surely this was a fluke, and my next recipe would end in disaster.

But it didn’t! I’d say the Soy Glazed Pollock with Pea Shoots and Miso Mashed Potatoes was even tastier than the shrimp.

fish

The moment Scott asked me, “So how much would it cost to do this on a regular basis?”, I knew I’d achieved success. I’ve since ordered two more meals, and can’t wait to give them a taste.

Thinking about trying PlatedHere why I’m loving it:

  • A variety of meals to pick from on the menu each week. There are always meat, seafood and vegetarian options.
  • Nutritional info is clearly posted.
  • The food is tasty.
  • Instructions are clear and easy to follow. I also feel like I’m learning new skills!
  • Portions are great. Scott eats a little more than I do, and the both of us are always satisfied after we’re done. Sometime’s we even have leftovers.
  • Saves SO MUCH TIME since you don’t have to plan and go to the grocery store. All you need from your own pantry is salt, pepper and olive oil. Plated handles the rest.
  • Just the right amount of ingredients. I can’t tell you how many times we buy waaaay too much food and end up wasting it by not using or eating all of it. With Plated, nothing goes wasted or unused.
  • You can pick your delivery date so you know exactly when stuff is coming.
  • The packaging is recyclable and biodegradable.
  • Food is seasonable, locally sourced and sustainable whenever possible. Plated purchases meats from family owned purveyors and partners with Sea to Table to ensure seafood is wild-caught whenever possible.
  • Plated donates all extra ingredients to local food banks.
  • There’s no monthly minimum.
  • It’s a great way to try new foods and recipes.
  • Preparing the food is actually…well…fun.

The only con? Plated is a tad bit pricey…but I honestly believe it’s worth the investment. You can purchase meals a la carte at $15 per plate, or sign up for an affordable monthly or yearly membership and score meals at just $12 a plate. They also have an awesome referral program where you can earn free plates by sharing Plated with others. (Full disclosure– all the links in this post are referral links, so if you order something, I get a little boost of credit.) I believe Scott and I are spending less with Plated due to fewer wasted ingredients, less trips to the supermarket and reduced urges to eat out as “we don’t have any food at home”.

Want to give Plated a whirl? You can learn more about it here.

Anyone else using Plated, or a similar service? Have you had your culinary ego inflated as much as I have?

(Here’s hoping it doesn’t deflate too much when I –gulp–make my first attempt at risotto this week.)

*****

Note: This is not a sponsored post — Plated doesn’t even know I’m writing it. I’ve simply enjoyed their services and wanted to spread the word!

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I’m back…and I look like a drunken lion.

I’m back…and I look like a drunken lion. 1

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Did you miss me? Wonder if I had stayed in SoCal to become a chubby, mediocre surfer girl? Assume I was dead?

Apologies for taking a longer blogging hiatus than originally planned. San Diego was fabulously exhausting and I just didn’t feel like writing anything when I made it home. Sometimes, you just have to carve out time to sleep, do the laundry, and sleep some more.

The good news is that San Diego was incredible. Scott and I had a blast spending time with my brother and sister, and my CrossFit Level One training was kind of the best thing ever.

cali

The very best part? Eating my way through Ron Burgundy’s hometown, of course. There were fish tacos, margaritas, ice cream, and of course…more fish tacos. Remember the scene in Charlotte’s Web where Templeton the rat eats everything in sight at the fair? It was kind of like that…just with a long blonde ponytail and (thankfully) no trash cans.

Luckily, my SoCal food frenzy didn’t just leave me with some extra plump thighs…I managed to pick up a few nuggets of foodie knowledge along the way. Here’s what four days and approximately twenty-thousand calories taught me.

 

Lesson 1: Put butter in your coffee

Per a suggestion via Instagram, I swung by San Diego chain Better Buzz Coffee for the Best Drink Ever.

Yep, that’s actually the name of the drink.

betterbuzz

I ordered a medium without actually knowing what I was about to slurp down…with a name like that, who needs to ask questions?

(Apparently, I do.)

“What’s actually in this?” I asked the barista after I swiped my credit card.

It was difficult to hear her over the roar of the espresso machine, but I could swear she mumbled something like “vanilla butter”.  Butter in coffee? Well, why the heck not!?

After visiting the Better Buzz website, I learned that I’m losing my hearing as the Best Drink Ever is 100% butter-free. It’s simply an Americano with a touch of sweetness, cream and vanilla. (Still…it was totally the best drink ever.)

I also learned that putting grass-fed butter in one’s coffee is actually a real thing! It allegedly tastes delicious, burns fat and boosts your energy and performance all day long. Normally I’d be skeptical, but I love butter on anything, so I’ll probably end up giving this a try sooner rather than later.

The moral of this first point? If you’re ever in SD, make sure to swing by Better Buzz for the Best Drink Ever, which surprisingly lives up to its name. Secondly…putting butter in your coffee no longer earns you fat kid status, so by all means, toss a dollop (or two) in there!

 

Lesson 2: Don’t dip your French Toast. Soak it.

On our last morning in Cali, Scott and I headed to La Jolla for brunch at the famous Brockton Villa Restaurant. We’d heard several rave reviews of their infamous “Coast Toast”, and I wasn’t about to leave San Diego without trying a bite for myself.

coast-toast

 

It was definitely one of the top 10 brunches of my life. In addition to a breathtaking ocean view (which smelled strongly of sea-lion dung…but who am I to complain?), and the most divine fresh squeezed OJ, the Coast Toast was out of this world. I pride myself in being a French Toast connoisseur, and I’ve got to stay, Brockton Villa’s version was unlike anything I’ve ever tasted. I know several of y’all can’t stand the word moist, but you’re just going to have to deal with it because the moistness of this toast was the very thing that made is such a stand out. It was reminiscent of a lightly sweetened bread pudding. I may or may not have yelled “Come to Momma!” three times during the meal.

How did they make it taste so good? What was their secret? Could I bribe the waiter to casually sneak “momma” a copy of the super secret, extra moist recipe?

Imagine my surprise when I noticed a basket of free Coast Toast recipe cards on my way out of the restaurant. They’ve even posted it online!

Apparently, the secret is soaking the bread for at least an hour instead of just dipping it in batter. I suspect the combination of grilling it and then baking it in the oven also has something to do with it.

Long story short, I can’t wait to try to recreate this at home, and pretend I’m in sunny La Jolla as I sit on my balcony overlooking our humble little lake. (It’s not the Pacific…but at least there’s no sea-lion poop to be smelled.)

 

3. Do not have your husband take photos of you eating food. No matter how delicious it is.

You will think you’re being totally cute, but…well…let’s just say the proof is in the pudding.

My friend told me I looked like a drunken lion. I can't say that I disagree.

My friend told me I looked like a drunken lion. I can’t say that I disagree.

 

Visiting San Diego? Here are some of my other fave places:

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A slice of heaven, indeed

A slice of heaven, indeed 5

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If I had a dime for each time I’ve screwed up a magazine recipe, I’d probably have almost twelve dollars.

Let’s just say my finished product never ends up looking quite as good as the professional photo in the magazine.

But last Saturday, I got close. Really close. I’m proud to present, my first attempt at ‘Green Herb and Goat Cheese Pie with Potato Crust’ from this month’s issue of Shape magazine.

shape

Shape’s version

pie

My version

Not bad, eh?

Although if I’m being perfectly honest, the recipe probably turned out so well because I didn’t actually make it by myself. After noticing the phrase “Goat cheese pie” (ummm…yes, please!) while quickly flipping through pages, I decided to host an impromptu “potbrunch”.

Relax, it’s not a weed smoking brunch.

Think of it as potluck meets baking party. All of my friends from CrossFit were responsible for brining one of the ingredients over to my place after our Saturday morning workout. We all prepped, assembled, and baked the pie together.

I was responsible for making/refilling coffee.

(Like I said, this is probably why the recipe turned out so well.)

Scott — initially skeptical that we were making a “diet recipe from some girlie magazine” enjoyed the meal so much, he’s requested I bake it again this weekend. We’ll see how successful I can be when left to my own devices.

Want to try it out with me? The recipe is simple, healthy, and perfect for a lazy weekend breakfast. Here’s how to do it:

 

Shape’s Green Herb and Goat Cheese Pie with Potato Crust

  • 12 ounces Swiss chard
  • 8 ounces curly kale
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1.5 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/4 cup heaving whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 ounces  goat cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Melt butter in a 10-inch baking skillet over low heat. (We used a cast iron skillet, and it worked beautifully.) Make sure the bottom and sides of the pan are coated.
  3. Slice the potatoes (with the skins on) into super thin slices. You can use a knife, or do like we did, and bust out the mandolin slicer. (I make someone else do this part as I’m prone to slicing my fingers open.)
  4. Place the potatoes in the pan on top of the melted butter. Overlap them by about half an inch, covering the bottom and sides of your baking dish. This will be your crust.
  5. Remove the stems from the kale and Swiss chard and chop into medium size pieces. Toss the chopped up greens with the thyme and parsley. (I went out and purchased fresh thyme and parsley for this recipe, and then  forgot to add them. FML.)
  6. Press the green mixture firmly into the bottom of the potato crust.
  7. Beat the eggs, salt and heavy cream. Pour on top of the greens.
  8. Sprinkle the top with goat cheese. Bake for 40-45 minutes.
  9. Allow pie to rest for 5 minutes before slicing into 8 wedges.

Nutrition per serving: 241 calories, 14g fat (7.5g saturated), 18g carbs, 13g protein, 3g fiber, 422mg sodium

********

I hope you love this recipe as much as my friends and I did. The buttery potatoes for a crust? Brilliant. And let’s be honest…everything is better with goat cheese.

Also, I highly suggest picking up this month’s issue of Shape if you don’t already have a copy. They had so many amazing looking recipes, especially in the Cinco de Mayo inspired feature. Black bean tostadas and mango guacamole? I can’t wait to whip those up beg Scott to make them for me.

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Regrettable choices

Regrettable choices 3

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A series of stupid decisions I made over the weekend:

1. Eating a ridiculously hot chicken wing. To my credit, I was attending a 21st birthday party, and feeling kind of…well…old. Something about taking a risk and ingesting the wing tricked me into believing I was closer to 20 than 30.

(And to think, if I had managed 11 more I would have gotten a free t-shirt and my name on the wall!)

chicken-wing

2. Going through an uncovered drive-thru in the middle of one of the worst downpours I’ve ever experienced. Truly, the only thing worse than eating greasy fast food is eating greasy fast food that’s sopping wet.

3. Purchasing a high-waisted graphic print jumpsuit, complete with cutouts that are strategically placed over my Christmas hams. (That’s my affectionate nickname for “love handles”.)

4. Drinking an entire bottle of wine before hitting up T.J. Maxx. (Don’t worry — I didn’t drive. But yes…this may have been behind the Christmas ham jumpsuit.)

5. Dedicating my Sunday afternoon to the two-hour Breaking Amish Season 1 reunion special. (The worst part? It was on-demand, which meant I selected it from dozens of  more preferable viewing options out of my own free will.)

6. Ordering “The Tour of Italy” at–cringe–the Olive Garden. (Scott still doesn’t know about this.)

7. Willingly drinking a giant glass of Mountain Dew. I hate Mountain Dew! I judge people who drink Mountain Dew! (Let’s just say it’s kind of a long story.)

8. Willingly drinking a giant glass of Mountain Dew fifteen minutes before bedtime. Pretty sure that stuff is made of nothing but caffeine and mildly toxic food coloring.

Truly, my only sound decision of the weekend was finally getting around to starting season 1 of Vikings. Ragnar Lothbrok is pretty much my new hero. Can you blame me? He’s strong, has awesome hair, and has probably never allowed a drop of Mountain Dew through those rugged Nordic lips of his.

Seriously…why are all the bad choices I make a direct result of the things I put in my mouth?

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