Protein Packed Twice Baked Potatoes (Vegetarian)

Protein? Without meat? Krystal, c’mon.

Y’all c’mon. In case you have not noticed a lot less meat is being consumed in my tiny household. A couple months ago I started having an odd aversion to chicken(no, I am not pregnant). I’m very in tune with my body and its cravings and dislikes. When I crave eggs I fry up an egg and eat it. So, when chicken became repulsive and I was still traumatized by seafood – vegetarian became much more dominant in my life, and since Kyle can’t cook his as well. I have been participating in meatless Monday for months now and at least 2 other dishes for any given week are also vegetarian. I have been challenged for new recipes that are unique, tasty, and still have an appropriate amount of protein. I have muscle dystrophy (muscle wasting) I need protein in my diet – it’s not negotiable. On average, I try to stay around 60-75g of protein a day.

Greek Yogurt!

If you have not tried subbing out mayo/sour cream with greek yogurt you are missing out. I swear it is good! AND packed with protein! Now, my secret is to still mix in a tiny amount of sour cream or mayo whichever the recipe called for with the greek yogurt because you will get less of that tang. I promise if you get a good quality greek yogurt and put it in a sauce or dip you may be able to tell the difference but it will not be bad! I used a cup of greek yogurt in these bad boys with just a couple tablespoons of sour cream. Delicious!

I ate these for lunch all week. Each HALF is as follows: 15g protein, 10g fat, 15g carbs.

Ingredients – 4 Servings
2 Large Russet Potatoes
1 Cup Greek Yogurt (I use Fage)
2 TBSP Sour Cream
1 TBSP Butter
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese
1 1/2 Cup Broccoli – chopped finely
1 Cup Spinach – chopped finely
S&P
Garlic Powder

How To

Line a baking pan with foil. Get your oven set to 450 degrees. Poke holes all around your potatoes and pop in the oven for 25 minutes, take them out coat in olive oil and sea salt and bake in for 20 minutes.
All other ingredients go in a large mixing bowl.
When the potatoes are down let them cool……or don’t like me and burn your fingers off. You’ll want to cut them horizontally and scoop out the filling into your bowl with all the goodies. Give everything a quick mash, stir, and then the filling goes back into the potato skins….add some extra cheese and cook for another 10-15 just so your small broccoli florets cook.

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Healthy, fast, and veggie.

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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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Veggie Mushroom Burger with Roasted Pepper Sauce

Yes, gurl.

I love veggie burgers. I do not care what kind of master cook you are, barbecue master for Jesus – whatever – veggie burgers are ALWAYS more flavorful and juicy than beef. Here come alllll the haters.

Well, make me a juicy delicious beef burger and maybe we can duke it out, but for now I will keep my veggie burgers fried in butter. Thanks.

This recipe was honestly just a lunch I threw together but the roasted pepper mayo was delicious so I figured I would share. I also had a lot of fun blistering peppers on my stove since the BBQ was off limits due to a horrendous storm taking tole on California this weekend. Sharing is caring.

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Oh, and a side coleslaw and mushrooms. Yes.

Recipe for Mayo

1 Cup of Good quality mayo (you could of course make your own, but I was too lazy)
Lemon Zest
Lemon Juice
Roasted Red Bell Pepper  ( I only had yellow, which was a shame as the color contrast would have been beautiful)
Garlic Powder
Chipotle Powder
Salt & Pepper
Avocado or Olive Oil

*Roasting bell peppers is not only easy but my favorite way to eat them….blister them on a grill or your gas range like me, scrape off the charred skin and enjoy!*

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-Now, as always I just throw everything in my blender at one time and pray it turns out, and it did! That easy, and I swear this sauce is the bomb. We ate it on the open face burgers, on the coleslaw and then the next day on our potato and egg hash. Just trust me. What else are you reading this blog for?

I paired the sauce with some shredded cabbage topped with avocado, green onion, and chipotle seasoning. Burgers are Morningstar but go ahead and have your meat patties, fools. Shrooms and cheese.

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!

Brussel Sprouts & Cranberries

The holidays are upon us!

Well, they will be when I decide to publish this. Currently, it is the day before Halloween but no one cares because Halloween is on a Monday this year so everyone was drunk yesterday. Also, drunk today if you are me.

Brussel Sprouts are a staple in our home. Kyle will eat them but I am honestly not convinced that he enjoys them nearly as much as myself. I am prepared for no one to like this article since I can count on one hand how many people I know that like the brussels. I will tell all the haters though that you probably just weren’t raised right. When I bring these babies to work I get these disgusted looks from coworkers and always a similar story: my grandma/mom/aunt always made brussel sprouts boiled and made us eat them. Boo hoo your childhood was tragic. Disaster number 1 would be to boil brussel sprouts as they deserve to be sauteed or roasted.

I have many recipes for the brussel: asian, spicy, butter & parm, brussel caesar salad etc. We will see how this recipe goes over before posting any further.

This is one of the easiest side dishes but impressive with the fun ingredients and colors. Just.Make.It.

Ingredients

Brussel Sprouts (I did about 3 cups)
2 Cloves Garlic
Olive Oil
Tablespoon Butter (you know I am the Kerrygold girl)
1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries
1/2 Cup Feta Cheese
Red Pepper Flakes
S&P

I sauteed the brussels in olive oil and butter – added my S&P, red pepper flakes and let these heifers cook.

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Added in cranberries when brussels were about 4-5 minutes away from being done. Taste the brussels as you go since everyone will have their own variation of “done”. I do not like mine mushy so I generally only cook them on medium for no longer than 10 minutes depending on how they were cut.

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When you are satisfied with the done-ness? of the brussels turn off the heat and toss in your feta to serve. Feta is not a good melting cheese so you want to serve this quickly after tossing everything together.

Final Thoughts 

Next time I think I am going to throw some roasted walnuts in here.

Perfect Holiday Dish.

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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

img_2622All ingredients arrived intact and packaged.

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?