Tie On Your Blue Apron – Review & Giveaway!

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As much as we cook around here, there’s lots of days we get stuck in a food rut. Limited time and hungry children means cooking old standbys because they’re fast and easy. But the flip side is that meals can get BORING, at least that was my kid’s opinion of dinner the other night. Which is why I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review Blue Apron this week, a home delivery service that allows you to create delicious chef-designed recipes without leaving the house.

What is Blue Apron all about?

Blue Apron is not just a food delivery service, it goes way beyond that. Each week Blue Apron sends three meals for two, four, or six people based on your protein choices. Fresh, high-quality ingredients along with amazing recipes are delivered right to your door. No trips to the grocery store! And since the ingredients come in exactly the right proportions, there’s no waste from unused portions. All shipments are delivered in a refrigerated box so you don’t even have to be home when it arrives.

Getting Started

Signing up for Blue Apron is easy – all you have to do is fill out your shipping address and pick your choice of proteins. That’s it! So easy a child can do it. And since, at the age of seven, my child knows his way around the computer better than I do he checked off the boxes. We opted for the pictures of a cow, chicken, pig, and fish.

Then we marked the calendar and waited for our box to arrive. Not knowing what was coming was part of the fun – it was like ordering a tasting menu at a restaurant – except the cooking would be done by me in my own kitchen.

The Box Arrives

I’ve never seen children excited about unpacking groceries, but when our Blue Apron delivery arrived it was like Christmas morning. And give a kid some packing foam and they might just leave you alone long enough to cook dinner! Everything in the box was clearly labeled and accompanied by three beautiful recipe cards with step by step directions to make each dish.

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The three dishes included in our box were:

  • Seared Pork Medallions – with Rhubarb Chutney & Sauteed Freekeh
  • Maple & Ginger Glazed Salmon – with Watercress, Orange & Parsnip Salad
  • Lemon-Parsley Chicken Thighs – with Squash & Zucchini Salad & Red Quinoa

These recipes might not fit the standard definition of “kid-friendly” BUT there were parts of each of these meals that my kids loved. And I loved that there were ingredients that I had never cooked with or heard of (can you say Freekeh?) So although not everything got rave reviews I learned a lot just from one shipment and definitely broke out of my food rut!

The Finished Product

In the end our plates looked almost identical to the recipe cards. For each meal I set aside a portion of vegetables to make the side dishes a little more appealing to the boys. I knew that the watercress salad was probably a lost cause… But with a few adjustments all three meals went remarkably smoothly.

Seared Pork Medallions

Seared Pork Medallions

Kid-friendly twist: Make tiny pork sliders with rhubarb spread, grill asparagus

And the VERDICT is:

Matthew: “Pork was good but don’t like that brown stuff”

Liam: “No, to that sauce”

Dylan: “I tried it and thought I would like it but I didn’t like it”

Maple & Ginger Glazed Salmon

Maple & Ginger Glazed Salmon

Kid-friendly twist: Scallion-free orange dressing over orange and parsnip

And the VERDICT is:

Matthew: “Can I eat the salmon after you take the picture?”

Liam: “Too much yucky sauce on salmon”

Dylan: “Salmon is great”

Lemon-Parsley Chicken

Lemon-Parsley Chicken

Kid-friendly twist: Roasted zucchini and squash, topped w/pine nuts

And the VERDICT is:

Matthew: “More chicken!”

Liam: “It’s good with a bone”

Dylan: “No green please”

Who is this service good for?

At first glance this might not seem like a good fit for families with small children. But it’s actually a perfect way to introduce new ingredients and flavors. And since all the recipe components are pre-portioned, you don’t have to invest in a whole bottle of an ingredient you might only use once. The easy to follow recipe card instructions are so clear anyone can cook these dishes. But they’re also complex enough to appeal to someone who knows their way around the kitchen. I would highly recommend this plan to anyone looking to spice up their home cooking but wants to let someone else do the legwork and planning for them!

Special House of Bedlam giveaway!

My first 50 readers get 30% off their first Blue Apron Box- redeem here:  https://www.blueapron.com/houseofbedlam

Disclaimer: I was not financially compensated for this post. I did receive complimentary products to sample.

 

 

 

Stew Leonard’s Brussels Sprouts – Product Review

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We are big into food shopping around here and one store I always love to shop at is Stew Leonard’s. If you’re looking for a weekend activity with your kids, this store is the place to be.

Walking into Stew Leonard’s is very much like walking into a casino. There’s so much going on you don’t’ know where to look first. Buttons to push, food to taste, cows mooing, singing chickens, and a great assortment of groceries stocked on the shelves.

Being asked to taste test one of their products was like winning the roulette wheel. And if going to a supermarket to pick up Brussels sprouts gets your kids excited how awesome is that? The minute we walked into the store the boys were anxious to hit every demo food station there was. They pushed every button and sampled every dish. We ended our shopping excursion with a picnic lunch at the Little Farm (yes, they even have a tiny petting zoo!) followed by some complimentary ice cream.

What makes Stew Leonard’s Brussels sprouts so different from any other market?

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I’ve cooked Brussels sprouts before but the difference in buying them at Stew Leonard’s versus another market is that they sell them washed, cleaned and shaved for you. Not only is most of the labor done for you they also provide a great Brussels sprout recipe on their website. I loved the convenience of this because there are many nights that I don’t have time to slice and dice.

The day we picked up our sample groceries there was also had a station demonstrating a Brussels sprouts recipe (different from the one featured on the website). And to make it even easier all the ingredients needed to cook the demo dish were stocked conveniently at the same station. You don’t have to run around the store looking for all the components, they are all in one spot, ready to go.

The recipe we followed was developed by the chefs at Stew Leonard’s and is featured below:

Not Your Mother’s Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients

4 strips premium bacon, diced

1 Tbsp butter

½ red onion, diced

2 8oz pkgs Stew Leonard’s Shaved Brussels Sprouts

1 oz water

¼ cup maple syrup

Salt & Pepper

 

Method

Add bacon to a large saute pan (very large!), pre-heated at medium-high heat. Render bacon till crisp. Add butter. When melted, add onions and continue to cook until onions are translucent.

Add Brussels sprouts and water. Continue to cook for 2-3 minutes. (Note: We needed to add a few more tablespoons of water. It also took a lot longer than 2-3 minutes to cook down)

Add maple syrup and cook an additional 2-3 minutes and serve.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 6): “It looks disgusting but tastes pretty good”

Liam (age 5): “How many do we have to eat?”

Dylan (age 5): “Brussels sprouts are good but where’s the bacon?”

Would we buy prepackaged, prewashed Brussels sprouts in the future?

Besides the recipe above, there are so many ways to use this product. Simply sauté with olive oil, garlic and salt. Add them to a pasta sauce. Toss them in a salad. Use them as a healthy pizza topping. To be honest, the recipe we made was a little too sweet and rich to eat on a frequent basis but I would definitely stock these in our fridge, especially since my kids did eat them! The convenience factor is always welcome at our house and this product definitely fits the bill. Priced at 3.99 for an 8oz. package.

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Disclaimer: I was not financially compensated for this post. I did receive complimentary products to sample.

We’ve Been Chipped! – Product Review

 

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When I told the boys we were going to be reviewing some of the newest flavors in the Food Should Taste Good (FSTG) product line they whooped and hollered. A bag of chips is always a welcome treat at our house – so when four bags show up at our door it’s a cause for a celebration.

A Little Background…

For those not familiar with the FSTG Company it was founded in 2006 by Pete Lescoe with the goal of making a unique new snack with great taste and real ingredients. All Food Should Taste Good chips are gluten free, cholesterol free, have zero grams trans fats. They are also certified Kosher.  Plus, many varieties are certified vegan.

The Tasting

To be honest, I wasn’t sure how these healthy chips would go over with my kids. To them a chip or snack food is defined by something that’s shaped like a fish or stains their hands orange. But they were all business when it came time for the tasting. I was impressed with their enthusiasm to try something different even when one of the chips turned out to be green!

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We tasted the following four flavors and here’s how they stacked up:

SWEET POTATO

Of all the chips these were the ones that had the least amount of added ingredients. Simply, sweet potato, salt and oil. No added spices nor did they need any. They were crispy, flavorful and tasted like real sweet potato, absolutely delicious. One of our favorites- the bag was finished in about 30 seconds flat.

Verdict

Matthew (age 6): “I’ve had these before, pretty good”

Liam (age 5): “Love these kind, thumbs up”

Dylan (age 5): “Sweet potato is best, give me 16 handfuls”

GUACAMOLE

I was so excited to try these, as I love guacamole, so I was slightly disappointed in the flavor. We did like the serrano pepper spice, which kind of snuck up on us, but felt it overpowered the cilantro and avocado. Of all the chips, these were our least favorite. Although, they did taste them, the green color was a big turnoff for the boys.

Verdict

Matthew (age 6): “EEEWWW”

Liam (age 5): “Not interested”

Dylan (age 5): “Boring”

OLIVE

OMG – these were delicious! They tasted like fresh olives, salty and briny. The flavor was perfect, not overpowering at all. Even if you don’t like olives you might like these chips. We will definitely be buying these!

Verdict

Matthew (age 6): “Olive chips! That is hilarious”

Liam (age 5): “They ARE good”

Dylan (age 5): “It tastes just like olives”

MULTIGRAIN

We thought the multigrain flavor would be a little boring after the spicy guacamole and salty olive but not at all. The chips were nutty and the bits of seeds added a perfect note. Although I felt they begged for a great dip to go with, they were quite yummy on their own.

Verdict

Matthew (age 6): “I think these are my fave”

Liam (age 5): “Me too”

Dylan (age 5): “The multigreen is my favorite”

Would we buy FSTG chips?

We will definitely be making use of our coupon (sign up for their eNewsletter and get one too!) to buy more FSTG chips. The company does live up to their claim – their food really does taste good. We’re looking forward to trying other flavors, especially the chocolate!

Follow FSTG on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. And make sure to sign up for the eNewsletter; you’ll receive info on recipes, sweepstakes, and the latest chip news.

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Disclaimer: I was not financially compensated for this post. I did receive complimentary products to sample.

 

MommyCoach – Product Review

As a contributor to Kidville: Voices from the Ville, I was offered the opportunity to review a new service called MommyCoach. You might wonder why I would be interested in reviewing a product that did not pertain to food? The simple answer is I believe that the moms who read my blog would also be very interested in this service.

First a brief description of MommyCoach:

MommyCoach, in partnership with Kidville, is a new web-based platform that will enable moms to connect with hundreds of the nation’s leading experts, specialists, and coaches from anywhere at anytime. Along with Kidville, four nationally recognized experts in their field joined forces to create this parenting service, and make it available as an online destination, at an affordable price.

My experience:

The first step in the process is picking an expert or a topic. This to me was the hardest part because there were so many choices. I suppose this is both a pro and a con. Although, this is a parenting service there were many topics that were outside of the realm of parenting. From fitness and nutrition to life coaching, the list of topics was broad and covered many options. There were also many experts to choose from within each category. I wanted to try many but finally narrowed my choice down to life coaching.

After I made my selection, I picked a time that worked for me, clicked a button and my appointment was set. It couldn’t have been easier.

The day of my session I received a reminder email. Unfortunately, my computer did not want to cooperate and I was not able to experience my session by video. Although the help desk was extremely easy to work with – I was unable to correct the problem. However, I did go forward with my session by phone, which worked out just fine. I would like to add that MommyCoach offered me a second complimentary session in order for me to have a chance to experience the video chat.

Before my appointment I had an email exchange with my expert to make introductions and give her an idea of the type of assistance I would be seeking. Since the sessions are only 30 minutes long this initial contact was extremely helpful as we were able to get right to the heart of the matter. I didn’t have to use any of my session time explaining why I was seeking her expertise. I walked away from our call with thought-provoking advice and concrete strategies to put into practice on my own. If all of the experts at MommyCoach are of the same caliber I think this company is bound to succeed.

Would I recommend this product?

In the end, although I was not able to correct my technical issues I would still highly recommend this service. The system was extremely user-friendly and the service itself was an excellent value for the price. I was able to fit in a session easily around my kids’ schedules without having to add in extra travel. And since I didn’t have to leave the house I was able to cook dinner at the same time!

Disclaimer: I was not financially compensated for this post. I did receive a complimentary session for review purposes. The opinions expressed here are solely based on my personal experience with the service.