Hello Fresh

If you've followed here any length of time, you know I absolutely LOVE to cook and am always trying out new receipes! I also have a huge garden during the summer so I appreciate fresh foods and incorporating them into my cooking. You can imagine my delight when I recently got the chance to participate in reviewing a fresh food & recipe delivery service from Hello Fresh.

(click on photos to enlarge)
vegetarian, recipes, food delivery service, fresh food

What is Hello Fresh?

Hello Fresh is a company that sends out boxes of food weekly that contain almost all of the ingredients you need to make 3 mouth-watering meals. They do the work for you of coming up with creative recipes that are good for you & use fresh food, all delivered right to your front door!

How does this work?

First, you want to check out their page to find out if they deliver in your area. If they don't but you have a near by Fed-Ex office that accepts ground shipment, you could have your box delivered there for you to pick up. From there, set up your own account then take a look at the upcoming weeks meal choices and see if it is something you would enjoy. They offer 2 types of boxes, the Classic box & the Veggie box (for those who may prefer  meat-free meals). Select which kind of box you prefer. Then you can choose if you want your box to be for 2 or 4 people. If you selected the Classic box and you see a recipe you don't care for, Hello Fresh offers 2 different meals you can swap them with (not offered for the Veggie box at this time). Your order has to be placed by Wednesday night for delivery for the following Wednesday.

Speaking of delivery, no worries if you aren't home when your box of food is delivered. Those boxes are packed exceptionally well and can stay cold for a long period of time!

A keypoint about this company is just because you ordered a box one week, does not lock you into a certain number of boxes you have to have delivered. If you don't like any of the upcoming recipes for the next week, or you are going on vacation, simply pause the delivery service. You can even cancel at any point with no problem or added cost!

How we used it:

My kids were anxiously awaiting for Fed-Ex to arrive as I had shown them the recipes online we were expecting and they were drooling!! The meals we were expecting were chili dusted shrimp with corn relish, steak & brussels sprouts stir-fry and chicken quinoa stew. The box was securely wrapped and was evident it could not have been tampered with. On top were the 3 large recipe cards and then inside was all the ingredients bagged & labeled according to which meal each bag was. It was amazing how cold the inside of the box was. The large, reusable ice packs were still frozen solid!

Since the food box was delivered around supper time, we waited until the next day before we dove into making our first meal which was the chili dusted shrimp with corn relish. I love the large, colorful recipe cards that they include for each recipe. Not only does it include the list of ingredients & measurements but it also includes the nutritional info! Then on the other side, it shows pictures along with the step by step instructions of how to make this recipe. So the guess work is taken out of it for even the most novice cook. 

All seasonings were pre-measured, even the garlic cloves were peeled & ready to chop up!

My kids love to cook so they really enjoyed taking over a lot of the food prep & cooking. They felt the recipe cards made it easy to know exactly what to do & they didn't think the recipes were very complicated at all to prepare. 

Occasionally, there are one or 2 minor things you need to add to the dish that isn't included, like a 1 tsp of sugar but this is noted on the recipe card with an asterisk. 

The second meal we made was steak & brussels sprouts stir-fry over basmati rice.

I never would've thought to put brussels sprouts in a stir-fry but let me tell ya, it was amazing!!! Browning them in the pan with a little olive oil (after quartering them up) really gave these veggies awesome flavor (I hated them as a kid). We loved the kick of heat that the jalapeno added to it.

The pic isn't smudged, that's steam coming off this yummy dish!

The third recipe we made was chicken quinoa stew. I have been cooking with quinoa for awhile so I knew we would love this recipe!

chicken quinoa stew
We enjoyed this soup and found it very filling, perfect for a cold, winter day!

Each meal we made was meant for 2 people but let me tell ya, those portion sizes were very generous and easily fed my older 4 kids & I for a lunch. In fact, we had some of the stew leftover for another day. All the veggies were fresh and things like the scallions & garlic were in sealed baggies so no worries of the other food all tasting like them. The meat was vacuum packed. We loved the steak & brussels sprouts stir-fry so much, I went out & got some meat & brussels sprouts to make it for another meal this week!

All in all, this was such a treat having someone come up with tasty meals AND put the food on my doorstep! I definitely felt spoiled! I think Hello Fresh would be perfect for the busy family who doesn't have time to come up with & shop for healthy food & recipes. It would also make a great gift for new parents! How about a friend or family member who lives in another state and since you can't take them a meal when they need a hand, this would make a great gift as well.

Classic Box Price (3 meals):
2 people- $69
4 people- $129

Veggie Box Prices (3 meals):
2 people- $59
4 people- $109

Pricing includes shipping!

If this sounds like something you'd like to try or to treat yourself to one week, use the code MBDSX9  to receive $40 off your first box!!!

Christmas Party (w/recipes!)

The 2nd Christmas after Noah died, I decided I wanted to host a Christmas party for my fellow homeschool co-op moms. I figured it would be a way to be surrounded by supportive friends and a way to distract myself for just a little bit. Since then, I've continued to have them over as it gives me something to focus on with the holidays being bittersweet. And because I love cooking so  much, I make all the food so the moms can feel like they truly have a night out! I didn't do up the food as fancy this year since the party was the day after one of my children was discharged from the hospital and my time was a bit limited in the days prior due to that.

I forgot to take pictures until we were already digging into the food but you get the idea! I had a surprise for the moms this year, a chocolate fountain!! No, that's not mine unfortunately. I have connections and was able to borrow one though.

For a simple veggie tray, I laid out broccoli, broccoli-flower (a green cauliflower), cherry tomatoes & red/orange/yellow peppers to make it look like a decorated Christmas tree (and it was partly eaten in this picture lol) Another idea for a veggie tray would be to make a wreath with the veggies.

These cute little bites were filled & shaped to look like little Christmas trees (didn't try it but as I write this I guess I had a theme going huh?) I used yellow tomato in these but wish I had used red so the color would've popped a bit more.

8 oz. Cream Cheese softened. 
1/2 cup mayo
 8 slices Bacon, cooked & crumbled
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
4 tortillas (8 inch) I used green but any will work
1/2 cup shredded romaine lettuce
Black olives (cut in half if they are big)

  Mix cream cheese and mayo in medium bowl. Add bacon and tomatoes; mix well. Spread onto tortillas making sure to go to the end so it "holds" when you roll it up; top with lettuce. Roll up tightly. Shape it into a triangle then wrap & let chill in the fridge to let the cream cheese harden up. Cut into slices then using a toothpick, secure a piece of black olive on the bottom.

The cups on the back of the cookie sheet are Taco Bites and the ones in front are Pepperoni & Sausage Pizza Puffs. I had a dish of sour cream & salsa that everyone could top their taco bites with and in a mini crockpot, I had some of my homemade pizza sauce to dip the pizza puffs in.

Pizza Puffs
3/4 cup flour 
3/4 tsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3/4 cup whole milk
1 egg, lightly beaten 
1 c shredded cheese 
(I used some mozzarella & cheddar, any kind would work)
1/2 c pepperoni, diced up
4 oz sausage, cooked and crumbled 

pizza sauce for dipping

Pre-heat the oven to 375°. Grease a 24-cup mini-muffin pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, garlic powder and baking powder; whisk in the milk and egg. Stir in the mozzarella, sausage and pepperoni; let stand for 10 minutes.
Stir the batter and divide among the mini-muffin cups. Bake until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 minutes.
(printable recipe)

Some of the other food I had were dip & homemade hummus for the veggies, cocktail weiners in a sweet & spicy sauce (in one of the mini crockpots), a hot dip served with a side of beer bread or crackers, and all sorts of things to dip in the chocolate fountain. To drink, there was hot mulled cider and a Christmas punch.

For the hot dip, I know this sounds weird but it is a HUGE hit! Mix 1 cup of real mayo, 1 cup of shredded parmesan cheese and 1 cup of diced vidalia onion (I chop mine up good in the food processor). Blend well and place in a baking dish. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes or until top browns. Serve with bread pieces or crackers, yum!!!

Of course, we played our typical regifting game of "Now You Have It, Now You Don't". We all bring something from home wrapped up and the gifts are anything from practical to funny or embarrassing!

Have you gone to any Christmas parties this year or hosted any? Do you have any favorite "go to" appetizers or finger food you like to make?

Don't forget to check out the Christmas Recipe Exchange. Last I saw, there were 29 recipes linked up!

Signs from Heaven

Last fall, I had shared a post about signs from Noah. Those special things that happen out of nowhere that remind me Noah & Jesus love and care about me.

Earlier in the week, I was having one of "those" grief days, they've been happening more frequently lately. This time of year is tough with the holidays and knowing my son isn't here. I was feeling so unmotivated and not up to doing anything. I forced myself out of the house even if it was only to drop off a book at the library and a stop at the bank. My 2 youngest were napping so it was a rare few moments alone.

My older kids told me to swing by the Reuzit store (a second hand shop) to see if I could find any Christmas decorations for a party I was going to be hosting. So I stopped by to take a quick look around.

There are several areas and many shelves filled will all sorts of Christmas themed knick knacks, ornaments & really anything you can imagine that people would donate. I was walking around with several pieces in my hands trying to envision a sort of arrangement I could make all the while keeping my eye out for other pieces I could possibly add to it.

I was pretty much done but felt drawn back to an area I had already passed. As I came to this corner, I stopped and looked down on the shelf. I saw this piece of material folded up. I don't know why I even bothered to pick it up as I had already walked by it earlier. At first glance while it was folded up, it didn't look like it belonged in the Christmas section but rather in the craft area.

Whatever it was, was still brand new with tags on it from Michael's.

I opened it up and my jaw just dropped and I got tears in my eyes. I was dumbstruck and had to read it twice before it truly sunk in:

Wow!! Talk about an obvious sign! Of course I didn't hesitate and bought it!! It looks like it was meant to be the front of a large pillow but I think I am going to turn it into a wall hanging.

I like to think the "and friends" part are the babies of so many of my friends, both online & in real life, who are also in Heaven with Noah!

I'm so very thankful for these precious signs at a time especially most needed!

2nd Annual Virtual Cookie Exchange

YAY!!! The week has arrived to share your Christmas recipes!! Whether it's cookies, candy, a dessert or whatever you feel like sharing! My goal is to hopefully share a new recipe each day this week but we'll see what life allows. We've had some challenges the last few days so no promises. But either way, this link up will be open until Dec15 so please feel free to link up new or old posts sharing your favorite recipes! Go ahead and share this post all over so we can get as many people to participate as possible! I love reading & trying new recipes so even if you don't have a blog to link up, come back & check out the new recipes. And thank you to each of you who take time to participate!!!

To get started, here is a simple candy recipe that is a hit with everyone!

1 pack of Oreo cookies (or a knock off brand which is what I usually use)
1 8oz block of softened cream cheese
Melting chocolate

Crush the cookies either in your food processor or put them in a ziploc bag & whack the heck out of them to smash them up. Then blend the crumbs well with the cream cheese. Roll into small balls & place on a waxpaper lined cookie sheet. I put them in the freezer to harden to make it easier to dip. Melt your chocolate either in a mini crockpot (like I used), microwave or double broiler. Dip the balls into it & let harden. Chill & try not to eat them all at one time!

Don't forget to check out all my recipes I have listed on my blog!

This recipe is also part of a Christmas recipe roundup hosted by the SchoolHouse Review Crew.
Christmas Recipes

Online Cookie Exchange!

I don't know about you but I love this time of year knowing all the baking my kids and I get to do. We have recipes that we make year after year but we also like to branch out and try new things. Last year I started doing a virtual cookie exchange here at TLB, a way for us all to share our tried & true Christmas recipes we love. Once again, I will be hosting a link up where you can post your favorite Christmas cookie or dessert recipe that you make for the holidays. Feel free to link up an older post or use this as an excuse to dive into baking this week and post a new recipe. The linky will be open from Dec 2-7 so come back and link up as many recipes as you'd like. If you don't have a blog, that's ok. Come back & visit the other blogs to check out the recipes and maybe find some new ones to try this year. Please feel free to share this on your social media, the more the merrier (and the more recipes we get to see!!!) I can't wait to see what you all share this week!!!!

link up party, christmas cookies, recipes, desserts