Loco Moco

If you follow my Facebook ….. which hello? It’s me. You will know I LOVE Loco Moco. What is Loco Moco? Loco moco is a meal in the contemporary cuisine of Hawaii. There are many variations, but the traditional loco moco consists of white rice, topped with a hamburger patty, a fried egg, and brown gravy. Thank you, Wiki.

I have been going to Aji Japanese Bistro which is nestled in the El Dorado Hills Town Shopping Center almooooost every weekend, and they make the most amazing Loco Moco. I have a problem. Well, this past weekend I hosted a Cousin Cult Party and decided I would just make my own version! What is Cousin Cult, you ask? Exactly what it sounds like. Mikaela (my cousin & photographer) and I find it very important to spend time with family so we often plan Cousin Cult parties filled with food, cards against humanity, and funny movies. The other night’s theme was Christmas in August as Mikaela and I are holiday freaks! My two brothers came as well, Jacob and Lucas. Pictures below if you dare. Fill your life with memories and food!

Ingredients
1Lb Grass-fed Ground Beef
2 Cups of White Rice (Serving is 4 people) – Cauliflower rice could also be used here, wild rice, brown or whatever you dietary needs
8 Finely Chopped White Mushrooms
2 Cups Beefstock
1TBSP Flour
2 TBSP Kerrygold Butter
2 TBSP Soy Sauce
1TSP Sesame Oil
S&P
Garlic Powder
1TSP Rice Wine Vinegar
Bundle of Green Onions for Garnish
2 Eggs per serving

How To

Always start with your rice because out of all the items we are preparing rice is going to take the longest. Now, I have a rice cooker, but if you do not follow the instructions for the rice you choose to use. I do put the sesame, soy, and vinegar IN the water I am cooking my rice in as it infuses the flavors throughout the entire cooking time so no matter how you choose to cook your rice make sure to put those ingredients in.

Beef Patties – the simplicity of this dish is key so I ONLY use S&P and garlic powder on my little meat patties and fry them in butter until medium rare(once again, any temperature you prefer is fine). Out of the pound of ground beef I made 6 patties about half an inch thick and smooshed down to the size of my palm, and I have little hands. The patties took only 4-5 minutes on each side on high heat for a medium/rare cook. Let them get those crispy bits on their tops.

Gravy – In the pan that we fried the beef in begin your roux – add the butter and then cook the flour and add beef stock. I add the mushrooms last as I like them to have a bit of bite left but you can saute them in beef fat/butter and then make a roux and add stock.

Eggs – Traditionally, the eggs are served fried and medium so the yolk mixes with the gravy and rice…..gurl. Make your eggs the way you like but fried over medium is how they turned out for this recipe.

Assembly – Take your beautiful rice and place on the bottom of a bowl, add your beef patty, gravy, and finally your eggs. I garnish green onions and maybe some hot sauce! I hope you like this dish and are willing to try it!

Enjoy the random pictures of Cousin Cult night and yes, I do eat store bought frozen fries and weird cinnamon rolls out of a cardboard tube…..I am a real person.

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Sweet and Spicy Chili and Beer Cheese Sauce FRIES
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Left to Right: Lucas, Yours Truly, Jake, and then Mikaela as a snowman!
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Kyle isn’t really a cousin but he wore a taco Christmas shirt so we let him in ❤
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Weird Cardboard Cinnamon Roll “Christmas Tree”

Vegetarian Coconut Curry

I have been making curry for a long time and every time I do I get these weird ass looks from people. Like, are we not in America? I don’t talk shit about your “Chinese” food……even though orange chicken from Panda Express is not authentic, Kyle. I can have any cuisine I want delivered to my door in a matter of minutes. America is a mixing pot of foods, hello! How are there so many people out there AND that I apparently know that have not had curry?! The real question is why have you waited so long to provide a recipe, Krystal?
Fine.

I just recently started using coconut milk. I know I know, vegan/vegetarian friends I am an awful person, but I have now seen the light. Another weird food people seem to be terrified of. You guys, unless you are allergic to coconut like my mother claims to be you must put coconut milk in this recipe or I will not speak to you. Coconut milk is luxurious, smooth, and adds a creamy component you never thought you needed and will never be able to live without. It does NOT make your dish taste like coconut, it does NOT taste like the coconut I guarantee most are familiar with because although Malibu rum is delicious it is not the real flavor of coconut…….Krystal.

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Now, let us discuss curry. “Curry” is a mix of spices made up mainly of: curry leaf, coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, and chili peppers. I made this particular recipe with a yellow curry blend as it is the only blend Raleys sells…….because it’s not spicy and let’s be honest not too out of the norm. Curry comes in all different colors and spice levels though, and even I have yet to venture out and make those on my own. I do order red, yellow, and green curry when me and the other girl at work order Indian/Thai. You can, of course make your own blend, but no thank you for me. The spices in this blend are perfect as there really isn’t too much of any one spice to overpower the others.
Curry is set it and forget it for at LEAST a few hours. It’s stew but 100000 times better. This is an ultimate comfort dish for us and a staple. I make curry of different variations several times a month.

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Please don’t mind my giant tub of pink salt my dad brought me. Yay Costco!

 

Please please PLEASE get out of your comfort zone and make this. When you do post it. Even if you hate it and feed it to your dog…..tell me!

Recipe (Finally)

Ingredients
1 Can of Coconut Milk
4 Tablespoons Curry Powder of your choosing
2 Tablespoons of Kerrygold butter
1 Tablespoon Avocado Oil
1 Medium Yellow Onion
1/2-1 Cup Veggie Stock
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 Can of Chickpeas
10-15 Small Golden Potatoes cut in quarters
3 Carrots
Green onions or cilantro, jalapeno, lime, and a runny egg for garnish if you so choose.

Saute your onions and carrots in the butter and avocado oil and once they are golden in color add your garlic to cook for 1-2 minutes. Add your curry powder to really wake up the spices, and then add the entire can of coconut milk to the pan. Mix and get all the goodness off the bottom of the pan. Now, when to add the chickpeas is a personal opinion. I personally like them to simmer for the few hours with the potatoes and carrots, but some people prefer them to maintain their body and then you would want to add them about an hour before serving. Add potatoes, salt and pepper. Because potatoes soak up so much flavor/fluid I added half cup of veggie stock which made the curry initially too thin BUT once this simmers for a few hours it is perfect. Consistency is very similar to a beef stew that has marinated all day. Remember you can add whatever you want to this! I simmer mine on low heat for 4 hours and everything comes out magical.

Serve over rice or even more veggies!

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Grown Up Ramen

I am fairly confident that I ate Ramen in moderation growing up. I was not obsessed with it as so many people my age were. My husband would quite literally live off of Ramen if I allowed him to, and not the good Ramen you buy at a reputable restaurant but the crunchy noodles that come in plastic packages for .10 cents.

My fondest memory of Ramen comes from preparing a bowl of it with my aunt. My aunt always had the “cool foods” aka name brand foods AND real soda….these were cool things as a child, okay? I have no idea what we added to the crunchy packages of noodles that day to make them awesome, but I remember thinking how strange it was to add more food to an item that you are supposed to eat solo. Well, Ramen is not meant to be just noodles and broth I am well aware of that now.

Ramen comes down to the broth. If you are a hermit like me and stay at home most weekends it is perfect because the broth can simmer all day long. Or if you are not a hermit and also not afraid of your crockpot you can achieve the same goal. Winning! I made my own broth for this recipe, but I still used the crunchy noodles from the cheap plastic bags that only costs me .10cents….nothing else really compares.

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Recipe for Broth

6 Cups Water
2 Tablespoons Miso Paste
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Ponzu Sauce
1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
1 Tablespoon Siracha
1 Yellow Onion Cut in Half (just throw it in)
4 Carrots (again, throw in)
3 Cloves Garlic
4 Stalks Celery
1/2 Jalapeno
*Simmer at minimum 4 hours…..6-8 is ideal*

Recipe for MY Ramen (pictured above)

Want to know what is so great about Ramen? You can put whatever you want in it! Whatever! Customize it to your liking, and if you do not like mine then do not make it that way. How easy is that?

Instructions

Boil crunchy weird noodles in broth for 5 minutes.

Toppings
Green onion
Sliced Jalapeno
Siracha
Sauteed Mushrooms
Bean Sprouts
Crispy Tofu (Put a cast iron skillet on top of extra firm tofu wrapped in a paper towel, you want to get as much moisture out as possible, and then slice, fry in butter/oil in cast iron skillet – done)
Black Sesame Seeds

 

Make some super weird Ramen like a grown up and tell me what you put in it!!!

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Cauliflower Chowder with Crispy Chickpeas

Well, California is currently becoming one with the sea. For years I have been mocked as the unnecessary worrier constantly riddled with anxiety when storms come knocking.

-“We live in California, Krystal we don’t have storms”.

Well, California just pulled some Noah’s Ark bullshit up in here this week. Six days of rain and looking like we may end on the eighth. As always when the end is approaching and my home is about to break into a free floating island I prepare. I went to Barnes & Noble, spent entirely too much money on books to read during the apocalypse, bought yarn so I could crochet myself clothes upon the end of civilization, and made cauliflower chowder. Ready.

My cauliflower chowder is not labeled as healthy, gluten free or any of that crap. The end is near I am damn well eating butter.

Let’s go!

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Ingredients

-3 Heads of Cauliflower – roasted (This step is VERY important, in fact the most important part of the recipe, if you find yourself too lazy to roast the cauliflower save it for another day because you’ve already ruined it.)
-4 Medium Yukon Gold Potatoes
-3 Cloves of Garlic
-1 Yellow Onion
-3 Carrots (peeled)
-3 Stalks of Celery
-3 Cups of Chicken Stock
-1 Cup Half & Half
-3 Tablespoons Butter
-Green Onion
-1 Can of Chickpeas
-3 Tablespoons Avocado/Olive Oil

Recipe

Roast all 3 heads of cauliflower roughly chopped with some love (oil, salt, & pepper) at 400 degrees. I like mine very tan so I keep them in there about 25 minutes.

In a stock pot put diced carrot, celery, potatoes, butter, and oil. You will want these all to be diced roughly the same size for even cooking. Once the potatoes are cooked and onions translucent add the garlic.

Chickpeas! Do not knock it til you try it.
Strain your chickpeas, rinse, and completely dry! Put on a baking sheet with some avocado oil, garlic and chipotle powder, salt and pepper. 450 degree oven 15 minutes later garnish and healthy snack. I eat these all day long.

Now, I have an immersion blender. Yet, I was too lazy to get it down. So, once your veggies in the stock pot are cooked throw them in a blender, add some chicken stock, and blend til the mixture is creamy. Repeat the routine with your cauliflower. Then, throw everything (cauliflower included) into your stock pot, and season, and TASTE. I added salt, pepper, red chili flakes, some Italian seasoning, chipotle powder, garlic powder, and a bay leaf. Feel free to get creative and add whatever may suit your fancy. The chowder is technically done other than adding half & half, but all things are better with time. I let mine simmer for about 2 hours before adding the half & half.

I like cauliflower chowder better than potato soup because there is some texture. This is not a cauliflower soup you can sit on the blender for 10 hours with because of the potatoes, they will release too much starch upon over working them and you will have glue. Trust me I have done it before when Kyle had teeth pulled. Thank you jesus for Vicodin sucker didn’t even notice.

Trust and believe – make this!

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Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup – A Lazy Girl’s Dream (Featured Article)

Article & Photos  – Rayann Benson

I don’t know about you, but I love Fall.  There’s just something about the changing leaves, the approaching holidays and the cooler weather that is a breath of fresh air for me.  Unfortunately, Sacramento has yet to receive the “It’s Fall!” memo, and so we’re still dealing with nearly 80° weather.  Ew.

Nonetheless, I am still celebrating my favorite season by whipping up my favorite comfort foods like soup and chili.  Sacramento weather, you’re not the boss of me!

Last week I pulled my slow cooker out for the season.  If you do not currently own a slow cooker, you are missing out on one of the greatest things to grace a kitchen since the invention of sliced bread.  Although I love to cook, many times during the week I lack motivation with dinner and end up making the same dish over and over and over again.  Nothing wrong with consistency, but that kind of routine definitely starts to wear on you.  My slow cooker is my saving grace for these situations.  Just a little bit of morning planning and I have a flavorful and delicious dinner waiting for me when I’m off work that I barely have to lift a finger for.  A lazy girl’s dream.

I made the decision to make chicken noodle soup while I was making the carrot cake for my niece – gotta find some way not to waste them, right?  Well, funnily enough, I accidentally threw away the leftover carrots during one of my weekly refrigerator purges… hence why the carrots you see in my photo aren’t diced, they’re carrot chips.  I had to make a quick run to the store and grabbed these out of convenience.  But, they do add an interesting texture to the soup?  I know, I know, that’s a stretch.

Chicken noodle soup is one of my favorite soups to make because of how versatile it is. However, it can quickly become a bland meal if not properly seasoned, which is why it’s important to use pungent herbs and spices in the soup.  I honestly eyeball the spices and seasonings I add but for the sake of the recipe have included actual measurements.  Also, I personally choose to have extra veggies in mine to make it heartier, but you can adjust the amount you add to meet your tastes.

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Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients

  • 2lbs boneless skinless chicken breast, frozen *
    • Because it is such a lean meat, I use frozen to keep it from drying out while cooking – you could also use another cut of fresh chicken, such as thighs)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced (1 cup)
  • 6 medium carrots, diced (2 cups)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons lemon-pepper seasoning (preferably Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
    • Be mindful on how much you add – the lemon-pepper seasoning already includes salt and pepper. I omitted adding additional salt, and added ½ teaspoon pepper.
  • 32 ounces low sodium chicken broth
  • 24 ounces unsalted chicken stock
  • 2 cups egg noodles

Directions

Place chicken breasts at bottom of slow cooker and top with celery, carrots, onion and garlic.  Next, add parsley, thyme, basil and lemon-pepper seasonings.  Stir in chicken stock and broth then season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Cover and cook on low heat for 6½ hours.

Remove chicken from slow cooker and shred, using two forks.  Stir shredded chicken and egg noodles back into the slow cooker, then cover and cook for an additional 20-30 minutes (or until egg noodles are tender).  Serve warm, and enjoy!

Battle of the Boxes: Blue Apron vs Plated

If you have not heard of Blue Apron or Plated continue enjoying life living under a rock. Please do not let this blog disturb you as I am sure it is quite peaceful under the shelter of a boulder.

Blue Apron and Plated pop up all over my emails, Facebook, and Instagram on the daily. I’ve never followed either service until we decided to make the two brands duke it out, and so I am assuming the Internet is reading this blog and chooses to advertise food to me. “Hey all you post about is food – here is a box full of it, fatty!” -Internet. So, the idea was born for competitions between meal delivery services.

Blue Apron and Plated are the most advertised and in my humble opinion the most popular for meal delivery make it yourself fancy culinary grade service. Too many adjectives? Both companies are about equally priced, seem to have a similar style in meals, but Blue Apron demolishes in the world of marketing. I can guarantee 9/10 people have heard of Blue Apron, but maybe only half of those people know of Plated. I wanted to change that. I wanted to see who was really better. I was joined by my friend, Rayann on this adventure, and then the idea to include husbands came about. Plated and Blue Apron advertise they provide all ingredients for culinary grade meals with detailed instructions to make the process of cooking a breeze. Well, neither of our husbands can make scrambled eggs. So, we shall see.

This is a full and detailed review of both subscriptions.

Step 1: Ordering

Ordering was not challenging. These are subscription boxes and so upon signing up you will be placed on a monthly order, BUT this is very easy to opt out of once your first box ships if you are just trying the service for the first time. Websites/Apps were user friendly. Blue Apron’s site and app seemed to be more fluid which was not too much of a shock. The only mention in the negative realm for both services was that they are advertised as you (the customer) being able to pick your meals exactly upon signing up or every month, but this is not particularly the case. Instead, both companies give you a list of meat preferences(they also have you notate any allergies & have vegetarian options) and unless you go into your account, view the menu and elect to change the recipes in time you’re stuck with what they send you. I ordered both recipes on a Friday night, went to elect changes the following afternoon (not even a full 24 hours passed) and could only change for Plated because Blue Apron said the order had already been processed.

Step 2: Delivery

Deliveries arrived intact. One of the boys did want us to notate that Blue Apron had a fancier box with a close-able lid. Also, if you choose to order two subscriptions at once do not have food in your fridge if you live in an apartment, because you need to learn from our mistakes.

Step 3: Unboxing

Plated

3 Recipes – 2 Servings – $72 per week
$24 per day
$12 per person/serving

Long Life Noodles with Mushrooms and Soy-Sesame Sauce
Vegetarian


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All ingredients arrived intact and packaged.

Korean Beef Tacos with Bell Peppers, Gochujang, and Kimchi

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Seared Steak with Sunchoke Hash and Red Pepper Aioli

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All ingredients arrived intact and packaged.

Blue Apron

3 Recipes – 2 Serving – $59.94 per week
$19.98 per day
$9.99 per person/serving

Carmelized Onion & Kale Quiches with Frisee & Pear Salad
Vegetarian

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All ingredients arrived intact and packaged.

Spiced Pork Burgers with Pickled Beets and Cone Cabbage Slaw

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Cone Cabbage did not come wrapped, but rather just placed in box unprotected.

Pan Seared Chicken with Roasted Honeynut Squash and Apple

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Apple was clearly bruised, and squash was unprotected as well, and left at bottom of box so one whole side rested on the ice packs causing freezer burn on one side of the squash.

Step 4: Quality of Ingredients/Packaging

I would really like to know where Blue Apron finds such miniature vegetables and fruits? Seriously, they are adorable and somewhat strange all at the same time. Due to a few of our items arriving bruised, freezer burned or just rolling around in the box quality and packaging has to go to Plated.
The one thing I felt was missing from both boxes was acknowledgment of local or used vendors. Both boxes stated grain free meats, no antibiotics, and then a few items used (honey, for example) had brand packaging but no mention of the brand nor of the farm the meat products came from. I feel both boxes are really missing a strategic move here. I like to know where my food comes from, and even more so if it is miniature sized.

Step 5: Cooking

Plated

Long Life Noodles with Mushrooms and Soy-Sesame Sauce

Plated instructions are very simple to follow and they go in order and do not try to have the cook multitasking too many tasks at one given time. This recipe did say to salt and pepper the mushrooms/leeks while they were cooking but later in the recipe we would be adding quite a bit of soy sauce so I opted out of S&P, but a person that does not cook may not know that. I feared the food would be far too salty upon adding the soy sauce in entirety as instructed. Plated tends to stay in the world of comfort food but with a twist of ingredients not often used by common cooks. I rarely use leeks or wild mushrooms and I cook A LOT.

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Easy to make? Yes
Worth $12 a plate? Yes

Korean Beef Tacos with Bell Peppers, Gochujang, and Kimchi

Recipe was extremely easy to follow. I believe this by far was everyone’s favorite meal of the night. Can you really beat tacos? Really? Once again, a comfort and classic but with a twist. I am not afraid to admit that no one in the household had ever had Gochujang (almost a sweeter sriracha) and it was absolutely amazing. The bell pepper and onion are marinated in this mixture but then mixed in with cooked ground beef so the sauce is dispersed throughout the meal. Every single thing was on point with this meal, AND 3 tacos per person is more than enough. We had 4 people try one taco each and still had plenty of filler mixture left as well as Kimchi.

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Easy to make? Yes
Worth $12 a plate? Yes, absolutely 1000 times yes

Seared Steak with Sunchoke Hash and Red Pepper Aioli

This meal was cooked by Bradley(Rayann’s husband), and there were no “during” pictures as we took video of the men attempting to cook. Bradley was unfamiliar with the ingredient sunchoke and felt kale is the worst food on the planet, but overall he did fairly well. The aioli frustrated him the most as the instructions did state “whisk till smooth” but the task would have been impossible without a blender or food processor (which the instructions also state you may use). The steak was incredible and very high quality. We are hoping to have the video live shortly after this review…..it is far more interesting than this post.

IMG_2808.jpgI was instructed to notate that Bradley was unaware aesthetics of plating were important.

Easy to make? Medium
Worth $12 a plate? For the steak alone, yes

Blue Apron

Carmelized Onion & Kale Quiches with Frisee & Pear Salad

Let me just say that these quiches were good, BUT they are quiches. This was the meal I was most disappointed in. Reason one is because it is quiche. Quiche is quite possibly one of the easiest dishes to make AND master all in the same day so immediately upon opening I was bored. Reason two you only receive two eggs, and yes that means one egg per person. I added an extra egg to one quiche and left the other with the solo egg that belonged to it (pictures below of the difference). I do not feel this would fill someone up even with the little micro nutrient salad to accompany it, and it is QUICHE. I have seen a million recipes just like this one all of Pinterest.

Quiche using only one egg as instructed.

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My quiche using two eggs. I am not bitter. I promise.

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They both puffed up fairly well for the end result but I think we can tell who is 1 egg and who is 2.

Easy to make? Child’s play
Worth $9.99 a plate? Considering I can buy 2 dozens local eggs for that price, no.

Spiced Pork Burgers with Pickled Beets and Cone Cabbage Slaw

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These burgers were unique and have convinced me that switching out a pickle for a beet on occasion would not be the worst. The box came with a little baggy filled with spices for the pork. Pork needs lots of seasoning, and salt, and this little baggy did not do the trick. The flavor was just lacking. Due to the fact that we were not told where the pork was supplied from we cooked it to well, and not medium as the 4-5 per side time allotted. We put the side coleslaw on the burgers because they needed some crunch and sauce, the mayo, mustard and goat cheese blend for spread was not enough for two burgers. Overall these were tasty. Did they knock me on my feet? No, but I’d let them take me out again if they paid for dinner.

Easy to make? Definitely
Worth $9.99 a plate? Yes

Pan Seared Chicken with Roasted Honeynut Squash and Apple

This was the meal Kyle cooked on his own (my husband). He feels the meal was tasty and the instructions were easy to follow. The apple became mushy (possibly as it was bruised) but he is not the biggest fan of fruit with savory items so he may be biased or rude. This meal was outside the box for our household as we do not eat a lot of squash or baked apples.I enjoyed that sage was used since I generally only use it with whole roasted chickens, and never thought to incorporate into sauce. Overall it was challenging enough for Kyle to keep us all entertained but delivered a delicious meal for even the culinary lacking as Blue Apron promised. This is a meal I would make again for a dinner party. It is an impressive meal without all the blood sweat and tears.

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Easy to make? Medium
Worth $9.99 a plate? Yes

Final Thoughts

Will we be ordering again? I think both subscriptions would be amazing for hosting a dinner party (both boxes have options for servings up to 6). For ourselves? We would order Plated again, and it may surprise some as it is the more expensive subscription but it really nailed the comfort food/slightly different aspect. We all enjoyed the familiar dishes but with unique ingredients, and all had a new ingredient we had not previously thought to use. The leeks in the noodles, Gochujang with tacos, and sunchokes with the amazing steak all ingredients that made all 4 of us change our mindset. Blue Apron is the less expensive subscription and they do now have the ability to add bottles of wine to your order, and you know I am all over that. Blue Apron just had a small step down in the category of creativity compared to Plated. Personally I would also order Plated as strictly vegetarian on my second order as I think they would deliver on some really unique and delicious recipes (I am not bitter about the quiche). I read an article the other day about how Blue Apron can reduce someone’s grocery bill, and I am not sure I can agree with that. Kyle and I eat quality meat and vegetables, and spend an average of $100 a week on groceries, but if I used Blue Apron $59.94 I would only have $40 left to provide breakfast, lunches, and 4 additional meals.I do think getting a box for a fun dinner party OR a holiday would in fact be cheaper than buying all necessities individually from the grocery store. Maybe that can be yet another challenge? Rayann and I plan to continue the Battle of the Boxes series with other subscription meal boxes (Hello Fresh, Martha Stewart, the list goes on and on).

I encourage you to try both subscriptions if you have been on the fence. Blue Apron and Plated delivered on unique and tasty dishes for a fair price (you get a discount for your first month from both boxes). Cook the meals with a friend or your spouse as it can definitely be an amusing activity. Overall, it would be a fun week filled with food and eating outside the box. Get it?