Review: Plated

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A few weeks ago, I shared a recipe for the Very Vegetarian Recipe Challenge hosted by OXO and Plated. Afterwards, I got quite a few emails with questions about Plated - What was it? Have I tried it? Would I recommend it? I figured the best way to answer these was with a review.

If you’re interested in trying it yourself, you can sign up via my affiliate link and get two free plates with your order.

Plated is a service that delivers fresh ingredients so that you can easily make gourmet meals at home. The website offers a new menu of seven dinners each week. You order a minimum of 4 plates (4 servings of one meal or 2 servings of 2 meals) and all the ingredients and recipes are shipped to your door. All of the recipes feature fresh ingredients and are designed to be prepared in about 30-40 minutes.

We ordered for delivery last week and chose two meals: Rosemary Roasted Chicken with Parsnips and Carrots and Tampiqueno Steak with Rajas, Corn and Mexican Squash.

 

Everything is shipped in a box with a thermal lining with several ice packs to keep everything nice and cool. Mine didn’t come until after I was home for work and things were still very cold.

 

Inside the package, the ingredients were all well-labeled and packaged by recipe. It made it really easy to toss everything into the fridge and not have to dig for it when I wanted to cook.

 

The first dish up was the Rosemary Roasted Chicken with Parsnips and Carrots. I made this after work one day and it was nice to not have to really do any thinking or prep – everything was there, pre-measured and ready to go. The instructions were clear and were accompanied by pictures which made it extra easy-to-follow.

 

There were a few things that I took a little bit of an issue with once I started cooking. For one, the pictures of the dish showed a pretty equal number of carrots and parsnips, but ingredients-wise, there were twice as many parsnips. It’s not the biggest deal as it didn’t really change the dish any but I love carrots so I was a little bummed to not have more. I also felt that the cooking time they gave for the chicken was a little off. I followed their directions and when I pulled it out, the chicken was under-done and it had to go back in for about 10ish minutes (nearly double the 10-15 they recommended). The meal also included a salad of arugula, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, which I just wasn’t crazy about – too bitter for my taste.

 

Overall, though, it was a fine weeknight meal. We liked it and there were no leftovers.

 

The Tampiqueno Steak with Rajas, Corn and Mexican Squash was more of a hit for us. My husband cooked this one up over the weekend and it came out well. There were a few hiccups. The directions specified to halve the chayote and discard the seed, and there was a picture of this step. Our chayote had no seed. We’ve never cooked with chayote before so it threw us a bit. Also, as a personal opinion, I thought the onion was too small but we went with it. Also as a personal preference, we cooked the steak a little longer as it was really rare when the directions said to pull it off the heat.

 

We liked the end result a lot more than the chicken. The veggies were absolutely delicious and something I’d try to recreate (not sure how easy it’ll be to get chayote!) at home.

The big pro with Plated is the convenience. Even though I enjoy menu planning and grocery shopping, it was really nice to click a few buttons and know everything would show up on Tuesday without me having to think about it at all. It was a time saver, for sure. If you’re the kind of person that has good intentions of making dinner and then gets takeout instead of hitting up the grocery store on the way home, I think Plated would be a perfect solution.

It is a little expensive for regular use, though – four plates (the minimum order) is $48. That’s significantly more than what we normally spend on two at-home dinners. You also have some basic cooking knowledge to be able to adjust as needed. For the purposes of reviewing, I tried not to adjust too much, but in the future I’d be more likely to tweak as I go.

Would we order again? Yes. This is something I’d love to rely on for busy weeks. I’ll likely order in a few weeks so when we get back from vacation, I’ll have a few meals to get me through the week without having to make time to shop. It won’t be an all-the-time thing for us, but it’s definitely something that will find a place in my kitchen.

Disclosure: We purchased this box on our own for review purposes. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.


Weekend Review: Diamond Candles (& the chance to win one!)

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Disclosure: I received a free product in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The folks at Diamond Candles contacted me recently and wanted to know if I’d be interested in doing a review. I’ve heard a lot about their candles lately and candles in general are a staple in my kitchen, so I was excited to check them out. Diamond Candles are 100% soy candles with a special surprise inside – a ring worth $10-$5000. Now, let’s be real: most candles aren’t going to have rings worth a lot of money – but the fun is in the possibility.

I picked the black raspberry vanilla scent to try. There are lots of different scents and even a collection called “Life Moments” with candles themed to birthdays, anniversaries, etc. Shipping took a full two weeks, which surprised me as I feel like most packages we order make it to us within a week – so if you’re ordering for a deadline, make sure you plan ahead.

When the candle got here, I opened it to sniff and was pleasantly surprised how fragrant it was, even without being lit. I always end up sniffing a lot of candles before picking one, but obviously that doesn’t work with ordering online. I wasn’t sure if I’d end up liking it, but this was a great scent and I was really pleased.

And, of course, I wanted to see the ring so I started burning it pretty much immediately.

The rings are packaged in a small plastic bag covered in foil. It was a little messy to get the ring out. Despite being in the wax, the ring itself have zero wax on it. It took me about 15 hours of burning to make it down to my ring. Since all of the rings in the candles are different, its always a surprise what you get.

My ring is sort of adorable.

It doesn’t fit my fingers, but I wasn’t expecting it to either. They include most standard sized rings – think 6-8 mostly, with some bigger and some smaller. My freakishly tiny size-4 fingers didn’t stand much of a chance. I uncovered one of the rings valued at $10. Despite the fact that it doesn’t fit, I really like it. I’ll probably pass it along to a friend who can wear it.

Another fun thing is that Diamond Candles is all over social media – and people like to share their ring reveals. You can check them out on FacebookInstagram, Twitter and Pinterest. I’ve been loving looking through and seeing what rings other people got!

Overall, I thought this was a really cute concept and would make a great gift for candle-lovers.

Diamond Candles is also offering a Kate’s Recipe Box reader the chance to win a candle too. You can enter to win below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Weekend Review: Puddin’

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Puddin’: Delicious and Unforgettable Puddings, Parfaits, Pudding Cakes, Pies, and Pops; Recipes from New York City’s Hottest Dessert Shop

 

Written by: Clio Goodman
Published by
: Spiegel & Grau
Publication Date: October 8, 2013

Review copy provided by Spiegel & Grau  via NetGalley

 

This is the essentially cookbook for pudding lovers. Written by the owner of Puddin’ in New York’s East Village, it’s chock full of all sorts of pudding goodness.

 

The cookbook starts off with pudding recipes – both classic, like chocolate and vanilla, and more imaginative variations like Nutella and passion fruit. It also includes helpful tips and what equipment works best for pudding-making. The book than moves on to  recipes for pudding toppings – brownie crumbs, caramel whipped cream and sprinkles, just to name a few.

These are all true from-scratch recipes. A lot of the pictures are simple – because, let’s face it, there’s only so many ways to make pudding look pretty – but everything is drool-worthy.

After the basic recipes are out of the way, the book moves on to other desserts you can create with the pudding – parfaits, cakes and frozen pudding pops. If you’re a fan of pudding, I think you’d love these recipes – they start with a great pudding and elevate it to something absolutely delectable.

I was really a fan of this book because there were no shortcuts here – it definitely works on the philosophy of if you’re going to make pudding, you should do it right. It’s nice to look through a cookbook and see simple ingredients that I usually have in my pantry made up in such a delicious way!


Cookbooks Coming Soon

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For the last two years, I’ve had the opportunity to attend Book Expo America – a publishing-industry conference. I go as a reader: meeting authors, grabbing copies of books I want to read and generally fan-girling over all of the books. Each year, I also pick up some cookbook previews. Unlike novels, they don’t seem to hand out advanced copies of cookbooks at BEA – instead, they offer shortened versions that give you a taste of what the whole book will be like.

I wanted to share some thoughts on some of the previews I picked up. These eight books are ones that caught my eye at BEA – and ones I’m still interested in checking out after looking through the previews.

Nom Nom Paleo: Food For Humans by Michelle Tam and Henry Fong
Expected publication: December 17, 2013

If you’re a fan of the blog, I think you’ll love the book. It looks like it stays very true to the voice and style of the blog, which is sometimes hard to do in book-form.

Quick & Easy Paleo Comfort Foods by Julie and Charles Mayfield
Expected publication: September 24th, 2013

The recipes and photos in here look delicious and totally accessible. It also includes little graphics on each recipe page that shows on a clock how much hands on time and how much total time they take – which makes it easy to pick something when you’re time-crunched.

Gluten-Free Breakfast, Brunch & Beyond by Linda J. Amendt
Expected publication: October 15, 2013

Breakfast seems the hardest for gluten-free recipes for me because I love all the baked goods. This looks like it’ll give some great alternative options.

Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats: Allergy-Free & Vegan Recipes from the Famous Los Angeles Bakery by Debbie Adler
Expected publication: October 29, 2013

If you or someone you bake for has food allergies, this would be a great book to check out. The recipes are free of gluten, eggs, dairy, soy, sugar and nuts – and they all look amazing. The salted caramel apple muffins are going on my short-list to make this fall!

Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey: Recipes from My Three Favorite Food Groups (and then some) by John Currence
Expected publication: October 1, 2013

I picked this one up because I loved the name. It’s full of down-home style recipes – think: NOLA-style BBQ shrimp with creole gream cheese grits and pork fat beignets with bourbon caramel. There’s also a whole chapter on pickling and canning.

Balaboosta: Bold Mediterranean Recipes to Feed the People You Love by Einat Admony
Expected publication: September 3, 2013

I honestly didn’t think I’d be particularly interested in this one, but once I started looking through I changed my mind. The recipes are unusual, but not inaccessible. And they all look easier than I was expecting.

Sweet by Valerie Gordon
Expected publication: October 8, 2013

This is a book of fancy desserts. They all make me want to lick the page, but I think they’re fancier than I’d make at home. I did like that it includes a section encouraging you to mix-and-match recipes.

The Kinfolk Table: Recipes for Small Gatherings by Nathan Williams
Expected publication: October 15, 2013

The preview for this reads like a fashion magazine – the photography is gorgeous. It’s based on the Kinfolk magazine and includes recipes and profiles of different food people. I wasn’t particularly struck by any of the recipes in the preview, but I’m interested in checking out the full book.

Are there any cookbooks coming out soon that you’re looking forward to?


Weekend Review: Amish Cooks Across America

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Amish Cooks Across America:
Recipes and Traditions from Maine to Montana

Written by: Kevin Williams and Lovina Eicher
Published by: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Publication Date: May 28, 2013

Review copy provided by Andrews McMeel Publishing via NetGalley

 

 

Half cookbook and half cultural history, Amish Cooks Across America gives a peak into Amish life in different regions of the US, and what they’re cooking in each place. Accessable recipes are interspersed with profiles of different Amish communities and some really striking photography of their area.

When I first started flipping the pages, I was expecting some old fashioned, down-home recipes. I wasn’t disappointed. Broken up by region (East, Midwest, South and West), each section highlights what’s popular and traditional for the Amish in each area. Obviously, these aren’t strictly Amish specialties – seafood is popular in Deleware and apples in New York whether you’re Amish or not – but the Amish recipes have that great this-could-have-come-from-my-grandma feel. They’re not trying to be fancy or trendy, they’re just trying to taste good.

 

This is much more than a cookbook, though. Within each section, there are profiles of the communites the recipes come from, complete with notes about when they were established and how many church districts they encompass. The profiles focus on food traditions within the communities so by the time you move on to the recipes, you have an understanding of why these are important or routine for each group. Also included throughout are tidbits about Amish life in general - like how to make lye soap or how the old-order Mennonites different from other groups.

The photography in the book is simple, but gorgeous. So pretty, in fact, that I didn’t notice my first go-through that every recipe did not have a picture with it. This is something I really prefer in my cookbooks, but it didn’t feel lacking in this one. I think the simple dishes and the daily-life photography fill what otherwise would have been a short-coming.

This would be a great cookbook for anyone who loves classic, homemade recipes or recipes with a history.


Skillet Chicken Parmesan + Review: The Complete Cook’s Country TV Show Cookbook

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 When the people at America’s Test Kitchen told me they were sending a copy of The Complete Cook’s Country TV Show Cookbook for me to review, I didn’t know what to expect – I’ve never seen the show! You don’t need to be a fan of the show to appreciate this book, though.

The book (and the show) focuses on perfecting regional and nostalgic favorites for the modern cook. Each section is themed and includes a variety of recipes and tips.

Cooking is not something that’s loved on my Mom’s side of the family. My Mom remembers her grandmother making hot dogs when she visited. I remember lunch meat spreads when visiting my grandmother. So, the chapter As Good As Grandma’s is really appealing to me – I love the idea of having perfect, classic recipes to make for my own family.

It’s not all nostalgia, though – these Ultimate Spicy Beef Nachos, in the chapter Tex-Mex Favorites, look thoroughly modern and perfect for my upcoming Super Bowl menu.

It also includes some great basic recipes – like Better-Than-the-Box Pancake Mix. I especially appreciate the tips and explanations that are included – like how to know when the pan is hot enough for pancake cooking and why they use malted milk in the recipe.

There are some recipes that are just fun, too, like these Chocolate Cream Cupcakes. With Hostess Cupcakes now a thing of the past, I can’t wait to try this out!

There are so many recipes in this book that look fantastic that I literally couldn’t decide where to start – so I asked my husband to pick instead. He selected this Skillet Chicken Parmesan. It was easy – perfect for a weeknight dinner. The modification of sprinkling breadcrumbs over the top instead of breading the chicken worked like a charm. We served this with some crusty garlic bread and green salad for a nice dinner.

Skillet Chicken Parmesan
(from The Complete Cook’s Country TV Show Cookbook)
Serves 4

2 slices hearty qhite sandwich bread, torn into large pieces
3 T. olive oil
1 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 (6 oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 c. all purpose flour
3 T. vegetable oil
3/4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 c. shredded provolone cheese

In a food processor, pulse the bread until it is coarse crumbs. In a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, toast the bread crumbs for about five minutes, until browned. Transfer breadcrumbs to a bowl and toss with 1 T. olive oil, 1/4 c. shredded parmesan cheese and half of the basil.

In another bowl, combine the remaining olive oil, 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese, remaining basil, tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper.

Place flour in a third bowl.

Using a sharp knife, slice each chicken breast horizontally, into two thin cutlets. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dredge in the flour.

Heat 2 T. vegetable oil in the skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add 4 of the dredged cutlets and cook until golden brown on both sides, about five minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining cutlets and oil.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add tomato mixture. Return the cutlets to the pan in an even layer and press down in the pan to cover with the sauce. Sprinkle remaining cheeses over the chicken and cook until melted, about five minutes. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over and serve.

Disclosure: I recieved a complimentary copy of The Complete Cook’s Country TV Show Cookbook for review. All opinions are my own.