First Meal Delivery Box Experience

About a month ago I was looking for an idea to gift my mom for her birthday.  Our family has definitely shifted from giving gifts to giving experiences.  None of us really need anything so we all agree we would rather do something together or experience something.  So for her birthday I decided to give a gift card to Blue Apron.  I had never personally tried Blue Apron but recently some of my favorite bloggers were posting great things about them.

Gifting was easy!  Just filled out the form and how much to give (options are one, two or four weeks worth), I opted for one week which included three meals for two people.  An email was sent to her and my technologically challenged mother had no trouble signing up and selecting her meals.  A few week later my parents were enjoying some new recipes!

My mom said she needed to wear a 'blue apron' ...oh mom!

My mom said she needed to wear a ‘blue apron’ …oh mom!

After ordering her gift I really wanted to try it too!  I had a $20 off coupon code so we gave it a try!  A few weeks later our first box arrived.

I’m a vegetarian so in our box were the recipes for:

• Fontina & Preserved Lemon Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Endive, Clementine & Mint Salad

Vegetable Bibimbap & Kimchi with Enoki Mushrooms & Roasted Turnip

Roasted Butternut Squash with Stewed White Beans, Brussels Sprouts & Gremolata

Love how everything was packaged! So cute with the exact amount.

Love how everything was packaged! So cute with the exact amount.

blueaproncollage

Everything was great!  My favorite was the Bibimbap and Tim loved the Grilled Cheese!  It was really fun to make these new recipes.  With our order we did have to sign up for a subscription but you can skip deliveries whenever you want with no penalty so at this time this is the only delivery we’ve had.  We would love to do it again in the future but it is a tad expensive.  I can see it being really helpful if you are just coming back from vacation or for a special occasion.

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We would definitely order for ourselves again and even more likely to gift it to others in the future!


*I have not been asked by Blue Apron to write nor was I compensated for this post…just sharing the love!

Homemade Coffee Creamer – Easiest Way Ever!!

I’ve posted before on making my own coffee creamers.  It’s easy and adds far fewer unpronounceable ingredients than the store bought kind.  For me, it’s also a little science experiment to try to figure out what tastes good.  Well on one of those Target shopping trips where you go in to get a few things and end up walking the whole store I stumbled upon two seasonable flavors of Eagle Sweetened condensed milk and immediately thought…coffee creamer!  The two flavors are apparently seasonal but having chocolate and caramel flavored sweetened condensed milk is a no brainer.  So here I bring you the easiest homemade coffee creamer ever!

IMG_20151129_161834389 (1)

  1. I added about a cup of my milk base of choice…I picked almond milk but you can add whatever you want or have available.  I usually make creamer with almond, soy or coconut milk because it has a longer shelf life than regular milk.
  2. I then added the 16 oz can of flavored sweetened condensed milk.  (pictured above I added the chocolate)
  3. I capped my bottle and shook for about 15 seconds until it was all mixed together.
  4. I tasted to check my desired flavor and I ended up adding a bit more milk but you can add as much or as little as you wish.
  5. I popped it in the fridge and I’m good to go for a few weeks now!
  6. Be sure to shake a bit before each use.

The bottle I use I ordered from Zulily about a year ago and it makes a perfect creamer bottle, the size is right, I can shake with no risk of leaking and the top comes all the way off so I don’t get those weird drips and make everything sticky.  I also found it on Amazon here.

 

*I have not been asked by anyone mentioned above to write nor was I compensated for this post…just sharing the love!

How I Make Homemade Chex Mix That People Crave

This weekend I’ll be leaving for a service trip to the Washington, North Carolina area to work on building a house…we think…we actually don’t know what tasks they will give us to do until we get there.  My mom, dad and sister and a group from Ohio are going and I’ll meet them there on Saturday.   As I have been gathering supplies and getting my stuff together I had an unexpected request from my sister…can you make chex mix?

I use the standard recipe but I do make some tweaks which I think is what makes people crave it.

  1. I use chex mix seasoning packets.  They aren’t the easiest to find but when you do you can usually pick them up for about 50 cents each.  I really wouldn’t pay much more than that.   Not only do I use those packets to season my chex mix but I also double the seasoning packet per batch.  So the directions say one packet per 3 cups of this and that but I do two packets.  I keep the butter the same at 6 tablespoons.  Below are the directions from the back of the packet.

  2. I usually use whatever chex like cereal is the cheapest at the grocery store.  This batch was Weis Market brand.  I always get a corn chex, rice chex and the third chex is one with some sweetness to it…I used a honey vanilla flavor this time.  So now it’s not regular salty chex mix, it’s a sweet and salty mix that really makes it awesome.  I also use a good nut mix, like shown in the picture below.  My personal favorite for pretzels is the butter snaps.  They are square and have a good taste to them and those that don’t like pretzels, like my sister, can easily pick them out.  All these ingredients make about 3.5 batches and I usually use all the ingredients because it does get gobbled up quickly and keeps well.

  1. My third trick is I microwave it in batches.  This really speeds the process along and allows for a nice even cooking time and allows for more stirring so nothing sticks.  I also, by accident, found out that my stock pot lid fits perfectly over this microwave safe bowl.  I tend to make a batch (3 cups of all the chex and double the packets) in my stock pot and pour the butter and seasoning mix over top.  I then put the lid on the stock pot and shake and stir.  This gives a nice even coat and keeps big spoons from breaking your mix.  I then pour half of the coated mix in the microwave safe bowl and put it in the microwave for 1 minute.  I then, using pot holders, take out the bowl, put the the stock pot lid on and shake and stir again so there won’t be any clumping and burning while cooking.  I do this about three times and then spread the chex on a paper towel to cool.

It is so good!  Makes a ton and is great anytime of the year!

Anyone else have some great Chex mix recipes?

What I’m Loving Today! #2

What I'm Loving Today!

It’s Friday…and it’s snowing…again.  Hopefully the last snow of the season.  In protest of winter I took a sick day today (cough cough 😉 ).  Actually it’s supposed to snow all day but not really stick to the roads but I didn’t want to chance it so I said screw it…sick day.  Great day to catch up on things and my work place has a use them or lose the policy so.

What I’m Loving Today:

1. SPRING!

Today is also the first day of spring!!  Yay!  It’s been teasing me for some time now.  I feel the warmer weather calling my name.  Beach season soon.  Spring colors in my wardrobe.  The whole thought of it makes me happy.

spring flowers

2. THE TODAY SHOW

Since I am ‘sick’ today I get to turn into the Today Show!  I love this show.  It’s light and fun and I enjoy the anchors banter.  I used to get up and ready for work as soon as I heard the NBC ‘ding ding ding’ at the beginning of the Today Show when I lived about 5 minutes from my old job but now that my new job starts earlier and my commute is almost an hour I hardly get to see it.  If I hear the opening chime now I know I’m running late!

Today Show Logo

3. BIORE DEEP PORE CHARCOAL CLEANSER

This is my current facial cleanser and I love it!  I have pretty oily skin and this makes my face feel so clean.  You wet your skin, pump out a little on your fingers, rub your hands together to lather it up a bit, wash and rinse.  It feels fresh and rinses clean.

4. THIS RECIPE: Chopped Thai Salad with Coconut-Curry Dressing

The hubs and I have been really good about planning our meals and grocery shopping on the weekends so we are good to go during the week.  We’ve been using the recipe app ‘Paprika’ to store and organize the recipes (that will be another post!).  Yesterday he made ‘Chopped Thai Salad with Coconut-Curry Dressing‘ from the blog ‘The Wicked Noodle‘, which of course I found via Pinterest.  We were a little skeptical since we haven’t always had the best luck with kale but it was amazing!  The dressing especially we would make again and again for other items as well.  It was so tasty and so healthy and pretty filling for a salad!

thai-chopped-salad-pinterest

Photo via The Wicked Noodle…check it out!

5. FITBIT

I have had a Fitbit for about a year and a half now.  I first had the Fitbit Force, which was recalled because it was causing a rash.  I never turned it in because of recall since it didn’t affect my skin.  However after almost a year it broke and I turned it in then under the recall and with no issue received a cash refund.  Right away I went and bought the Fitbit Charge, which had just come out.  Love it!  This one is pretty much the same as the Force with a few added features my favorite being the caller ID.  So when someone calls me it buzzes my wrist and shows who is calling.

A few weeks ago I noticed that my Fitbit back was coming off.  It was weird because it was broken in a way that the Fitbit never bends.  Anyway, I filled out a form on their website and sent a photo of what happened and within a week they sent me a brand new Fitbit, no questions asked.  I love this company’s customer service.  I’ve had friends that have contacted them about different issues and they have all had their’s replaced.  I have a great story about my dad and the Fitbit he received from me as a Christmas present.  That will be for another day.

fitbit

Share what you are loving in the comments!

Homemade Coffee Creamer – Flat White Copy Cat

I love coffee.  I love the taste and the smell.  I am a one cup in the morning type of gal, sometimes another in the afternoon if a social occasion promotes it.  During the week the hubs just makes a pot of Folgers, he has a few cups (black) and takes one to go in the morning and before I leave for my hour commute I fill my tumbler (with creamer) and drink it on the way.  It’s a ritual, it’s comforting and comfortable.  On the weekends, it’s more special and more of an event for us.  We like finding local coffees to be our weekend coffee brew.  We grind the beans, brew it and savor it.

I have experimented a few times and made myself homemade coffee creamer.  Pinterest is full of recipes and I have tried a few.  Most people can agree that making basic food items, like this, are just better for you since you can control what goes in it.

Most recipes call for sweetened condensed milk, which I am not opposed to.  Sometimes it’s just TOO sweet.  The coffee creamer recipes I’ve played around, with using sweetened condensed milk, also call for you to heat the milk with whole milk and add your flavoring in a sauce pot which also takes time etc.  It comes out pretty good but the flavoring usually separates in the bottle and requires a good amount of shaking before each use.  My other issue with this type of recipe is it won’t last as long since your creamer is only as good as the expiration date of the whole milk or whatever you use.

My latest creamer adventure has me using evaporated milk instead of sweetened condensed milk.  I think I like this better because I have much more control over the sweetness.  You also don’t have to heat it up to combine all ingredients.  You just add all ingredients into your jar, shake and go.  I also used Almond milk because it lasts so much longer than cow milk.  Guess what?!?! It actually tastes like the Starbucks Flat White Latte.   Yeah I know I’m not doing fancy steamed milk and espresso but it really does taste similar!

Here is what I did:

Ingredients & Supplies:

• Low-Fat Evaporated Milk

• Almond Milk (I used original flavor but you could use the vanilla flavored almond milk, etc)

• Vanilla Extract

• Belgian Candied Sugar (this can be found at tea shops like Teavana but MUCH cheaper at homebrew shops)

• Bottle to store and pour creamer in

• Funnel (because of the type of bottle I was using)

Directions:

  1. Shake the unopened can of evaporated milk really well and add the whole can into the jar using the funnel, if necessary.  
  2. Add 1 Tablespoon on Vanilla Extract
  3. Add about 1-2 cups of the Almond Milk depending on your taste and how big your bottle is
  4. Add about 2 Tablespoons of candied sugar or more depending on your taste (those are the brown bits you see in the bottom on the jar in the photo)
  5. Screw on the jar lid and shake really well
  6. Taste and adjust sweetness to your liking
  7. Store in the refrigerator, shake before each use and enjoy!

*Also note that if you use a candied sugar like I did it will take a few hours for it to fully dissolve so it will eventually be sweeter once that happens.

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