Food, Life

Plated Review

I love grocery shopping. Probably more than the average person, so when Plated showed up on Rue La La I wasn’t that interested in trying it out. While I was debating whether to buy the voucher, I went to Plated’s website and looked at the meal options – and to my surprise, they looked awesome! For instance one of the available meals I ordered was Skate Fish – something I have only had once, and have been really wanting to try to cook myself. The perfect excuse. The Rue La La discount + my store credit = let’s try this sucker out!

Well the week came (last week) where Plated was needed in our lives. Mostly because we had blown the majority of our food budget on beer and eating out while Tim was here. I went on to Plated’s website to search for meals. Their website is incredibly user friendly. I settled on their Baked Gnocchi, Skate Fish, and Tunisian Chicken, with a scheduled delivery date of 3/25.

I got notice that the box was on its way on Monday, and I was super excited!!! When I got home Tuesday the box was waiting by my door. Not sure who invented the packaging for Plated, but I assume it is an ex-NASA employee. This box is on lockdown. You could easily repurpose it as a cooler.

The first thing I noticed was that one of the recipes they sent me was wrong. (Whoops!) I called to let them know and they apologized profusely and offered to email the right recipe to me, and explained that all of the recipes were on the website as well. The first awesome part was that I got to talk to a real human with very little hassle, and the second part was that they were so nice! I wasn’t upset – just needed the recipe.

Each recipe came with its own bag of goodies – and if an ingredient was loose, it was still labeled. Very organized!!! And I love organized. Like, a lot.

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The first recipe we tried was the Baked Gnocchi. I set up all of the ingredients and read briefly through the directions. Word to the wise – don’t do this, instead read the directions VERY thoroughly. What threw me, was that the directions are given in paragraph form. I am more of a list person – so I definitely skipped over a few items in the paragraph, which caused some confusion later. (Not their fault… my fault). Another oopsie – they forgot to send garlic! We got two packets of oregano, but no garlic! Luckily we pretty much always have garlic in the house… for vampire protection and such. When I let them know about the missing ingredient, they credited me $8, which I thought was nice.

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Tucker was all about Plated.

I started the gnocchi recipe – it was pretty easy, it did take a little longer than they said. But that may have been my fault… I omitted basil from the sauce, since I’m allergic. (Fun fact!) The sauce was rich and delicious, but also super simple. I’ll definitely make it again using my own ingredients. The gnocchi was great – well made, and considering that I have yet to master gnocchi from scratch, much more successful than our last homemade attempt at gnocchi. In my opinion there was not enough cheese, because there is never enough cheese.

On Thursday we made Skate Fish Schnitzel – it was absolutely delicious but made a disaster out of our kitchen. Like tornado disaster. I think it was worth it. The weird thing about this recipe was that an ingredient (parsley) was given directions on how to prepare – but not what to do with it! We figured it was probably for garnish so we used it during plating. Also, we made the mistake of starting the sauce when the pan was too hot. Insert vinegar explosions and “oh sugars.” Total failure. I didn’t know you could burn mustard. A little bit of lemon on the Skate went a long way, and I like to pretend that this made it “light” because it had less butter.

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The sides to the Skate Fish were purple potatoes and fennel. I have had some experience with purple potatoes, which are potatoes that are purple… not terribly complicated. The fennel, however, I had never cooked with. We use fennel seed pretty frequently, but I had never started from the raw stuff. It is really good! See this is the benefit of a service like Plated – you end up trying different foods, and liking them! Definitely a win for Plated.

Our skate fish night was also Tucker’s birthday – so we finished off our Skate Fish with Sprinkles cupcakes. I am #TeamSMore ALL THE WAY. Charlie said the Salty Caramel was average. I don’t even understand why it is a competition. It should be S’More time all the time. Tucker was excited because #TuckerWantsSome finally became #TuckerCanHaveSome! Cannot wait to try out some dog treat recipes in the next month or so.

The last meal was Tunisian Chicken. To be honest I pretty much ordered this for Charlie. He likes spicy food WAY more than me, and this looked spicy and delicious.

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The prep was pretty simple, marinate the chicken while you saute some onions and smoosh some tomatoes with your hands. *Cooking Tip* Make sure to remove the seeds when you are cooking with peppers. I learned this the hard way. Actually, Charlie learned for me – I basically made him pepper spray nachos the first year we were dating. It’s a miracle we made it. And in the interest of full disclosure, we added waffle fries. Because we apparently are incapable of eating dinner without a starch.

I had never cooked with chicken thighs prior to this, and I have to say I prefer the breast meat. But Charlie was 100% totally sold on the meal. What is nice about Plated is that even though they sent “spice mixture” they also included in the recipe all of the spice contents, so we can replicate the mixture.

Charlie wants to take the sauce portion of the dish and make a vegetable stew to serve over cous-cous and goat/feta cheese. I think I love him and want to marry him all over again.

Overall, Plated was a great experience. I can definitely see the advantage of a service like this if you’re a busy professional, or live in a city like LA where it takes 3 hours to drive the mile to the grocer. I think I’ll stick to doing my own shopping for now – but I am definitely going to keep my account for the future!

*Please note that Plated in no way compensated me for this average review. I’m not that cool.

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Food

Breakfast Burritos

For how much I say I don’t like Mexican food… I seem to post a lot of Mexican recipes? Maybe I’ve just been lying to myself, and I actually love Mexican food…

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Anyway, digressions aside… this is the ultimate morning-after-being-overserved breakfast. We made it originally when Tim was in town, constructing a mini-burrito bar in the apartment for everyone to serve themselves from. We combined all of our favorite breakfast foods/burrito fillings and made them into a delicious breakfast burrito! Yum. Charlie and his brother took it one step further, and actually crushed tortilla chips as a first layer to the burrito. So creative!

Breakfast Burritos

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
Ingredients:

  • 4 large flour tortillas
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 roma tomato
  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 1 lb protein (we chose bacon – of course)
  • 1 cup Mexican cheese
  • 1 cup guacamole
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • dried rosemary (or preferred potato seasoning)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place bacon in a single layer on paper.
  3. Add 1-2 tbsp of olive oil into a cast iron skillet. Cut potatoes into 1-1 1/2 inch cubes. Add potatoes to skillet and season with salt, pepper, and rosemary.
  4. Place both taters and bacon into heated oven. Set time for 15 minutes.
  5. After 15 minutes, check and stir taters and check bacon. Continue to check in five minute intervals.
  6. The taters should take about 30 minutes until they’re soft and just starting to crisp. After they soft in the oven, place on stovetop and crisp on medium-high.
  7. The bacon will take about 20 minutes to crisp. After bacon is done, chop into 1 inch pieces.
  8. While bacon and taters are cooking, chop tomato and pepper and place in a bowl.
  9. In a separate skillet – cook eggs as desired. (We chose scrambled!)
  10. After all burrito innards are finished cooking – line a large flour tortilla with cheese (and crumbled chips if desired). Microwave for 30 seconds.
  11. Fill warmed and cheesy burrito as desired. Roll up, and top with guacamole!

*Chef Note: I did make a little “sauce” out of the beans/tomatoes/peppers… but I preferred the fresh ingredients better. If you would like to make the sauce, just mix a portion of the fresh veggies and beans and sauté them for 10-15 minutes until soft.

Life

Sea Cave Tour with Everyday California

Everyday California was once again – the bomb diggity.

This time around we signed up for a Snorkel and Kayak tour. It was an absolutely gorgeous steaming-hot day of 95 degrees. I had convinced myself that my new super spiffy rash guard would be enough to snorkel in the Pacific Ocean. For background – the only other place I have snorkeled is Cayman. And I figured – I’m from Michigan! I can go swimming in cold water! Well, Charlie pulled the husband card, insisted we rent wetsuits and I am SO GLAD that we did. I don’t care if you like to go swimming in your skivvies in Antarctica. The Pacific Ocean is COLD. C.O.L.D. I took the opportunity all day to thank him for his wiseness and repeat those priceless marital words “You were right!” over-and-over again.

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Anyway – enough on wetsuits. We headed out into the ocean with a group of about fifteen other people… To be honest, I figured with it being a Sea Cave Tour – we would actually be going into the caves – but we didn’t! I’m not sure if that was because of tide, or if we’re never allowed. Instead we pulled up next to the caves, docked, and then jumped in the water to do some snorkeling.

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We saw lots of Garibadli (State Marine Fish of California/Giant Goldfish/Dr. Seuss character) as well as some sea lions sun-bathing on the rocks.

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Charlie and Tim saw a leopard shark, but I was back in the boat at that time. I was so bummed! Leopard sharks are totally harmless, their mouth is the size of a quarter, and they’re more likely to give you a hickey than a chomp.

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It was such a beautiful day and so much fun to be out on the water. I was a little bummed we didn’t have our ridiculous aquatic dolphin-bonding experience like the time before, but that may have just been beginners luck! Still love Everyday California – had awesome guides (again) and would highly recommend them to anyone looking for a water-based tour in La Jolla. (For more “tips” see this post.)

Side note – one of the fun things about getting “film” developed is realizing how magical digital cameras are. At the same time – it is so fun to be surprised by what pictures we “caught”! Even though the instant gratification of a digital camera is fun – it was exciting to have a little throwback to our disposable camera days! (No filter needed. The film is literally a filter…) Enjoy the rest of the photos!

Food, Life, The Manimals, Travel

Little Brother Visits/Brewery Tour (SD Bucket List #7)

Family is the best. This past weekend Charlie’s brother came out to visit us in SD. We had a jam packed schedule all weekend, and I am only slightly recovered. Tim got to meet his nephew, Tucker. He was already familiar with his other ornery nephew, Walter. And we got the opportunity to really show off our “home” in San Diego!

Tim arrived late Thursday night and had a Monday afternoon departure, which left us with all day Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and part of Monday to cram as much SoCal as we could. If our sleep deprivation is any proof, we succeeded.

Friday

I had to work… LAME. But I was kept up to date with Snapchats and texts as Charlie and Tim headed out to explore SD. After breakfast at the casa they headed to Fiesta Island/Dog Island so Tucker had a chance to show off his talents. Then they, of course, headed to In-N-Out for a classic animal-style lunch. (Digression – Does anyone else not really like In-N-Out? Not a huge fan. Apologies to the West Coast.) They then headed to the brew store to pick up some brewing equipment as well as the ingredients for a Honey Dunkelweizen (NOMS! Amanda Beer!) I arrived back at the apartment from work to a steaming hot apartment, beer debris everywhere, and two very happy productive men.

After they finished their liquid gold, we headed to Hodad’s for dinner. Hodad’s being what I believe is the best burger place in SD. After a brief line we headed in to the beautiful license plated dining area and ordered our food. I conquered a milkshake for six people, and we all felt terrible about ourselves afterward. (Terrible meaning – absolutely satisfied with no regrets.)

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Saturday

We had a JAM PACKED Saturday, which required a very early morning alarm and a rush out the door to get to a Farmer’s Market where no one was ready for us. (Whoops!) Must have been Daylight Savings Time hangover from last week – the merchants at the Little Italy Market were moving sloooowly. We ordered up some Papalecco coffee drinks and patiently waited for our favorite stands to kick it into gear. We had some delicious Crepes courtesy of La Creperie – the boys feasted on the California Surfer while I returned to the Green Gobbler. With time running out, I headed to pick up our CSA from JR Organics while the boys perused our other favorite stands – including Vonda Lee’s California Cheesecakes – YUM!

We raced home and changed into our sea-adventure clothing and headed out to kayak! We got to La Jolla just in time and wet-suited up to prepare ourselves for a deep sea adventure of snorkeling and kayaking. We brought waterproof cameras, and learned afterwards that no one does one-day film photo anymore? It has to be sent away – so pictures and a recap will come next week.

When our time with mermaids had come to an end, we showered, and changed to go to breweries! We started at Intergalactic. Oh. My. Nerdfest. I say that in the best endearing way possible. Classic Star Wars posters, hilarious beer names, amazing people – definitely a new favorite for this girl.

After Intergalactic we set out for Greenflash – a consistently awesome brewery that is extremely popular in San Diego. Apparently it had been a while since we had gone, because they did a COMPLETE overhaul of the place. It’s beautiful! There is even a fancy Greenflash food truck with meat and cheese plates. And parmesan garlic fries. We were so impressed with the new set-up, and can’t wait to spend some cash in the gift store. When we have cash.

We then set out to Rough Draft, another brewery we had been before, where we played a tantalizing game of Connect Four and drank more beer. (Are you sensing a pattern? A beer pattern?)

To finish off the day we stopped at St. Archer, or the Mockingjay Brewing Company. See the similarity? Credit to Tim. I loved the set-up of St. Archer – they had a great patio with lots of space and some nice lighting that came on as the sun set.

We decided Tucker had probably had enough stimulation for the day and headed home to drop him off before going to dinner. He basically crated himself and waited for us to leave, we must be such a bother to him. We decided the best way to finish a day of total debauchery was pizza – so we headed to Pizza Port. An OB staple that is a must on our visitor checklist. Good beer. Great pizza. Awesome people watching. At this point all of us were completely exhausted, and two of us had definitely been over-served. (Spoiler Alert – it wasn’t me. I was driving).

Sunday

After a VERY long lazy sleep we woke up and crafted some breakfast burritos. They took a long time, but the end result was worth it and delicious. I’ll more purposefully make the recipe again so I can post it on here.

I sent the boys to go to Torrey Pines and told them I would walk Tucker while they were gone, but instead I took a nap… It was 90+ degrees out, so when I did wake up and try to get Tucker to go outside, we made it about a block before he turned me around. In that he dragged me across the street towards home and wouldn’t walk any farther. Dogs are hysterical.

When the boys returned home we cooled off in the pool for a bit and then headed to the ultimate SD spot – Bluewater Grille. We had originally tried to go Friday but it was SO CRAZY. They were basically out of every kind of fish. Sunday was just as insane! They hadn’t run out of quite as much fish though. After about 45-minutes we made it to the cash register to put in our order. I can tell you indisputably, no matter how long you have to wait for Bluewater. It is worth the wait. I will do an entire Bluewater Ode eventually. But here is a preview of what deliciousness is waiting for you if you head our way…

Because we felt that our stomachs still may not be stretched to their absolute maximum capacity, we stopped at a new favorite Baked Bear. To give you an idea of how the gluttony had finally taken a toll on me – I didn’t finish my ice cream sandwich cookie. That’s a really big deal.

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We then all collapsed on the floor at home, praying to the digestion gods that they would move quickly so we could all feel back to normal.

Monday

I again had to work – STILL LAME. So Charlie and Tim headed to Dog Island and Lucha Libre! Ugh – taking away my bucket list items before I even get the chance to go! Not fair. They said it was delicious, and I am making Charlie take me back sometime soon. After that Tim went back to the cold east coast and Charlie and I slept for a day straight.

(Please note the sleeping comment is wishful thinking… we’re still trying to get off the struggle bus.)

xx

Amanda