America’s Farmer – Farmer’s Market In A Box

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In a pleasant surprise, I received a complementary box of produce from America’s Farmer.

The slight problem with the surprise delivery though was that it sat for a few days before I realized it was there. (I didn’t check my mail room at the condo with the Thanksgiving holiday.)

But, what we were able to salvage has been delicious and I would recommend their box delivery.

My 2 year old daughter loves the yellow pepper slices:

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We also received a lemon, cucumber, red green and orange peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, apples, pears, and a butternut squash.

This seems like a perfect service for when you can’t get to a local farmers market because they’re during working hours.

My daughter Elise and I were regular attendees at Quincy Farmers Market this year and we love getting direct from the farm produce.

Photo Blogging Challenge – Whatcha eatin’?

The November photo blogging challenge was “Whatcha eatin’?”

It’s great to be back participating in the monthly photo blogging challenge!

My daughter Elise is 23 months old so her trying new foods is a huge thing right now.

Her favorite food is apples:

Her second favorite is green beans:

Here’s her eating the fruit off my salad while we wait for lunch at a restaurant (Thanks Nanie and Grandpa for lunch!)

Uncle God Dad, did you say pie and ice cream?!!!

And of course, Thanksgiving turkey with Grandpa Tony showing my daughter what’s cooking on the stove

Looking forward to seeing everyone’s posts!

This monthly photo blogging challenge is facilitated by PJ of the Northeast Bloggers Network.

Ladies Night Out at University Station

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Last week, I attended a fun women bloggers night out at University Station in Westwood.

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First, we got manicures at Miniluxe.

I’m a huge fan of Miniluxe and when I lived in Boston I had my nails done at their Newbury Street location nearly weekly. It’s great to see them have a location closer to me on the South Shore.

Next we visited Nordstrom Rack, where the manager pulled some clothes to show us examples of the brand names at discounted prices available at their store. I bought myself a new pair of flats.

Finally, we headed over to Not Your Average Joe’s for some appetizers and met with their executive chef for the whole chain. It’s a different space for Not Your Average Joe’s – but in a good way. The restaurant was packed even though it was a Wednesday night.

I’m a Not Your Average Joe’s fan – since I love that their cooking is from scratch with locally sourced ingredients. You can usually find me at the Randolph location though – so this was a nice change of pace.

Thanks to Miniluxe, Nordstrom Rack, Not Your Average Joe’s, and University Station for hosting us!

The Perfect Portion Cookbook

“Getting fit” is not about working out alone.

The saying “You can’t out exercise a bad diet” is true.

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I was given a review copy of The Perfect Portion Cookbook.

I like the concept of healthy makeovers of comfort foods – that have 100 calorie portions.

For a snack during the Super Bowl, my husband and I made the Spinach & Artichoke Dip recipe from the book.

It tasted wonderful! My husband said, “This doesn’t even taste like a ‘healthy’ food! We can totally make this next time we go to a party.”

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Above is our dip. I like that it isn’t picture perfect! It shows we actually cooked it. 🙂

I’m looking forward to trying other recipes from The Perfect Portion Cookbook

I recommend it to anyone trying to eat healthier food without sacrificing taste.

Just Add Cooking

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A few weeks ago, my husband & I were asked to try out Just Add Cooking – in exchange for reviewing it on my blog.

Just Add Cooking delivers ingredients and recipes to your house, and you “add cooking” to make the meals.

Just Add Cooking is based in Boston and they source their ingredients locally, using local farmers, vendors, and purveyors. They use seasonal ingredients whenever possible. They deliver throughout Eastern Massachusetts.

Because Just Add Cooking sources locally, they pack and deliver via courier the same day. No FedEx means less packaging – everything but the freezer bag is biodegradable. This process also helps ensure freshness and lower food miles for the ingredients.

Just Add Cooking provides seven recipes to choose from each week. Typically there is a poultry, seafood, pork and beef option along with 3 vegetarian options. You make a selection by 12 pm on Wed and get delivery on Sunday or Monday depending on your area. Just Add Cooking also has designated gluten-free meals, which have been evaluated by a dietitian and are clearly labeled as such.

If you do not pick meals on a week you’re scheduled to receive a shipment, the meals will be picked for you. They do have an option to “skip” weeks though.

Full disclosure: I do not like cooking. I don’t think that any product or service will change that about me, but I’m working on expanding my skills beyond grilling frozen chicken on a George Foreman grill.

My husband made the meals we tried, and I helped with prep work.

We prepared 2 meals & we’re not quite sure why the one marked easy was a harder recipe for us than the one marked hard. (Chicken meal & pork chop meal.)

We froze the ingredients for the 3rd meal because we had a busy week with after work activities and couldn’t fit in cooking a 3rd meal.

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Breaded pork chops and kidney beans are a success & delicious!

Thanks to Staying Square in MA, my husband David, for putting up with my lack of cooking skills.

I don’t think I have time to make Just Add Cooking, or any ingredient delivery service fit in my life, but I highly recommend them if you’re someone who likes to cook and has time to!

We kept the recipe for the breaded pork chops and kidney beans so we can make it again on our own.

Just Add Cooking is offering boxes starting at $39 for a 2-person, 3-meal box (normally $69) and $69 for a 4-person, 3-meal box (normally $109). This is for the first box for new customers and the price will be automatically applied to their first purchase if they visit www.justaddcooking.com and register by clicking “Get Cooking.”

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Just Add Cooking is working with with the Greater Boston Food Bank this December. Just Add Cooking will be donating $1 per box delivered this week and next week to GBFB. Every dollar donated provides three meals for people in need right here in the Boston area, and this is part of Just Add Cooking’s commitment to the local food economy and community.
The donation is automatic, but it’s only good for orders placed before next week’s cut-off of Wed., Dec. 9 at noon.

Good luck & happy cooking!

Let me know in the comments if you’ve had an experience with meal delivery services.

Progressive Blogger Dinner at Bel Ari and Les Zygomates

Thanks to Blog & Tweet Boston, I attended a complementary progressive dinner at Bel Ari and Les Zygomates in the South Station/Leather District are of Boston in early October.

Both restaurants are owned by Mark Tosi, President of Pastene Co. (The only tomatoes that my family buys for sauce are always Pastene.) Mark was there to greet us and stayed to intro the meals at both locations. It was a real treat for me to meet him, since my family is loyal fans of Pastene brand products.

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Mark and I at Les Zygomates

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Decor at Bel Ari

There were delicious menus just for us offered at both restaurants.

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At Bel Ari, I tried both appetizers, Whipped Ricotta with honey, pistachio, sunflower cranberry bread (amazing!), Arancini vand an entree of Shrimp & Lobster Gnocchi. I’d order all the items again! I’d never had ricotta and honey before, so that was a tasty discovery! (I’m a sweet & savory fan.)

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Arancini

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Shrimp & Lobster Gnocchi

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Table photo at Les Zygomates

At Les Zygomates, I ate the pistachio crusted sea bass and apple Napoleon.

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pistachio crusted sea bass

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apple Napoleon

There was a live jazz band playing at Les Zygomates as well, that added to the atmosphere.

Huge thank you to Bel Ari and Les Zygomates for hosting us and Blog & Tweet Boston for organizing the night out!

Bonefish Grill – Westwood

I mentioned in my previous post about my blogger night out in Westwood that I’d write about our complementary dinner at Bonefish Grill in a separate post.

Huge thanks to Janelle, blogger at Boston Wannabe for the food photos. I don’t know where my head was but I didn’t take a single picture at dinner and she bailed me out with the awesome photos below.

The waitstaff at Bonefish Grill were attentive to our table and the food seemed like it would never end!

We were stuffed, but it was all worth trying.

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The appetizers were Thai Coconut Shrimp, Ahi Tuna Sashimi, Bang Bang Shrimp, and Calamari

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Chilean Sea Bass & Atlantic Salmon with Mango Salsa

The sea bass was one of my favorite bites of the meal!

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Fontina Chop:

Boneless pork chop, fontina cheese, garlic, prosciutto, mushroom marsala wine sauce

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Lily’s Chicken: 

Goat cheese, spinach, artichoke hearts + lemon basil sauce

This was so creamy and delicious! I’d recommend trying it.

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The steak was so tasty it was nearly gone before a picture could be taken!

It was topped with lobster and a cream sauce.

I was pleasantly surprised that a restaurant that specializes in fresh fish would also have tasty steak and chicken options too!

Just when we thought we couldn’t eat anymore, out came desserts.

Doughnuts

Warm croissant-like doughnuts, tossed in cinnamon sugar, served with sea salt caramel and chocolate sauce

These were tasty and it was fun to plunge the squirt bottle of caramel in the doughnut to fill it.

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Pumpkin Crème Brûlée

I took home leftovers of this! So good!

Thank you again to Bonefish Grill for hosting our group of bloggers!

I’ll be back in the future and I’ll bring my husband next time.

Blog & Tweet Boston Dinner at Terramia

Thanks to Blog & Tweet Boston, I attended a complementary dinner at Terramia in the North End of Boston on Sunday night.

The North End is the Italian American section of Boston.

It was a lively night, with celebrations of Saint Agrippina’s Feast going on right outside the restaurant window!

(Summer in the North End is great! There’s a feast going on nearly every weekend.)

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Here’s a table shot of the group.

I’m on the left side of the table, towards the back.

On to the food!

Appetizers were Caprese, Frittelle Di Aragosta (lobster fritters), and Zucchini blossoms stuffed with mozzarella and truffle honey. All were delicious!

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Lobster with Sweet Potato garnish

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Everyone got to pick their own main course, and I had Anatra. (Hudson valley duck breast with wild mushroom risotto, broccoli rabe, cherry red wine reduction and green sauce.)

It was very tasty but I traded for a bite of fig filled ravioli and was impressed by that as well. I think I’ll be ordering that as a meal when I return.

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Duck 

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Erica got a picture of me ready to dive into the duck!

Variety of meals at the table

Finally, we were spoiled with a selection of desserts to share:

Tiramisu, bread pudding, and chocolate cake

My favorite was the bread pudding.

I was really impressed with the food and service at Terramia and will definitely be back!

Thank you to Terramia for hosting us!

Blog and Tweet Boston – Blogger Brunch at Elephant Walk South End

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Thanks to Blog & Tweet Boston, my husband Dave & I attended a blogger brunch at Elephant Walk in the South End of Boston on Sunday.

The fitness portion of the day for me was when my husband Dave & I showed up at the wrong location and had to run to get to the actually location on time. Ooops! I guess that means #bruchearned though right?

Elephant Walk has a mix of Cambodian and French cuisine.

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The chef stopped by our table to explain her influences.

For the 1st course we had Rouleaux (Cambodian spring rolls).

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They were amazing. The chef mentioned that you’re supposed to wrap them in the lettuce & add sprouts/mint to the wrap before eating it. (She gets sad when people think that the lettuce & sprouts are just a garnish and don’t eat them.)

For the main course, I tried Crêpe au Canard (crepe filled with duck braised in soy tamarind juices, portobello mushroom, crème frâiche, scallion, dressed baby greens). I’m a big duck fan but I don’t get to eat it often. This was a delicious presentation and I hope to be back to try it again soon. The duck was tender and the flavors worked great with the mushrooms!

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For dessert, I had Délice au citron.

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Delicious way to end the meal!

Thanks to Elephant Walk for hosting us and Blog & Tweet Boston for setting up the lunch for us!

Quick, Easy, Delicious Meal – Smart Flour Frozen Pizzas

Disclosure:  Through my role as a Northeast Bloggers Network member,

I was sent complimentary Smart Flour products in exchange for my review.

The opinions expressed are completely my own.

My house is a wash with holiday spirit.

But with all the present buying, gift wrapping, etc. – finding time to cook dinner isn’t happening.

Thank you Smart Flour pizza for coming to the rescue!

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Their pizza is not only delicious, but bonus, it’s gluten free!

I had planned to invite a friend over that keeps a gluten free diet (due to celiac disease) to try the pizzas with me & my husband – but the winter season is also a season where it seems too many bugs are going around & she’s sick. (Get well soon!)

So, when I had an evening spent wrapping presents, my husband suggested we make the Smart Flour pizzas for dinner.

What a great suggestion!

Now, my husband & I don’t normally eat gluten free food, so we wondered if it would taste as good as other frozen pizzas.

We were pleasantly surprised that it did!

Here’s a photos of the cooked margarita pizza:

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We also tried the pepperoni & cheese pizzas and they were equally tasty. If I had to pick a favorite of the 3, I’d pick the pepperoni.

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The pizzas are a little smaller than the frozen pizzas I usually get from Stop & Shop, so my husband & I made 2 pizzas instead of 1.

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Gifts are wrapped & ready for Christmas