Category Archives: General

NatureBox: Yay or nay?

I’ve been toying around with the idea of trying out NatureBox for awhile. I see ads in my Facebook newsfeed. I’ve read stories in magazines. I had previously tried out Goodies box, another food subscription box, and was not impressed. It wasn’t until one of my coworkers handed me a delicious bag of NatureBox trail mix that I decided to take the plunge.

This purchase was also spurned by the need to have some healthy snacks available in my office. Right now the snacks that are offered to us are very heavy on the Doritos and Cheetos variety, which are delicious, but not exactly what I want to eat when I am trying to eat better.

For those of you who don’t know, NatureBox has a collection of healthy snacks that are nutritionist approved. They are made with natural ingredients and very little fillers or extra additives, which I like. You get five snacks a month, and you can either choose which ones you want or let them choose for you. It’s $20 per box, which at first seemed a tad high to me, but the bags of snacks are a decent size so you actually get a good amount of product.

As a control freak, I chose each of my snacks in my first box. They have quite the lengthy list of choices so it took my quite a bit of time to choose (not joking).  They have a decent amount of salty and sweet snacks (but too many granolas if you ask me). Here’s what I got and what I think about them.

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I have to start with my favorite: the plantain chips. Man, these are delicious. I love eating them with chips and salsa. I saw plantain chips at Trader Joe’s the last time I was there so I’d be interested to see how these compare.

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My next favorite are the Dark Cocoa Nom Noms. They are little chocolate oat cookies which are just the right about of sweet. A nice little sweet treat.

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I have mixed feelings on the Sea Salt Pop Pops. Upon first taste they were rather bland, but the second time I ate some, they were much better. The popcorn is like partially popped which is kinda weird, but also kinda interesting.

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I was pretty excited to try these Bruschetta Pretzel Pops, and was sorely disappointed. They tasted like pizza, which some people might like, but I didn’t get any of the pretzel flavor I was going for. However, I brought these in to work and they went over quite well with some of my co-workers.

The last two snacks I got I don’t have pictures for because one of them isn’t on the site for some reason and the other appears to have sold out. They threw in an extra snack with my first order — poppyseed sticks. These were pretty standard in terms of poppyseed sticks I’ve had in the past. The one that is sold out is the Taj Mahal Snack mix and that stuff is MONEY. Trail mix with curry-esque spice mix. Mmmm. So good. It saddens me that they don’t have it anymore.

So will I continue to get the NatureBox? Probably. At least for the time being. It all depends on how often they change up their snacks in terms of variety. Part of the fun is trying out new things and if they don’t change around the stock, it sort of defeats the purpose. But I already have half the snacks in my July box picked out and am pretty excited about it.

Lesson learned

Cooking is all about making mistakes. Sometimes you have to test recipes a few times before you get the desired result. Sometimes you just aren’t thinking straight. Over the weekend, that was me.

It has been nice and warm here in Atlanta lately — time to start firing up the grill. Eric and I were in the mood for coconut shrimp so I figured, hey, how hard could it be? I’ve made them before in the oven with great success so I just followed the same recipe.

Welp, I didn’t think about how coating shrimp in flake coconut might not be the best idea on the grill. About 30 seconds after I put the skewers on the grill, most of the coconut had fallen off the shrimp and was beginning to catch on fire. Not good. Luckily, I was able to control the flames and still salvage the shrimp. They were tasty, just not coconutty — and with a bit of a sweet char.

Next time I want to do coconut shrimp on the grill, I think I will marinade the shrimp in coconut milk for an hour or so before putting them on the grill. I think that will be met with a much higher success rate.

But not everything has been a failure! I have finally figured out the perfect way to cook quinoa — and I have The Kitchn to thank for that. I’ve used this method a few times and every time it results in the perfect, fluffy batch of quinoa. Quinoa is so much better when cooked properly, by the way.

I still owe you a recap of our eating adventures in Charleston. Spoiler alert: everything was amazing. We are heading to Las Vegas tomorrow for our anniversary trip — where we will also be eating quite a bit — so I will have a combined eating recap when we return.

It doesn’t always have to be perfect

The other night while scrolling through my blog roll, this article from The Kitchn popped up and I immediately bookmarked it. It basically talks about food bloggers don’t usually post about the ordinary things they cook and eat. They try to make every post about something amazing or groundbreaking. But not everything that comes out of the kitchen is something new and amazing.

I’ve been feeling bummed about my lack of posting as of late, but the truth of the matter is, that is the way life goes sometimes. While Eric and I are getting in to our new routine with my new job — not going to lie — there’s been a lot of convenience food for dinner. Frozen pizzas. Eating out. And as a lover of cooking and food, it pains me. But there has been nothing as of late that has felt worthy of sharing on here and I don’t want to clutter your feed with less than stellar posts.

But that is also a cop out. Just because I haven’t been cooking doesn’t mean I don’t have stuff to share. Until I get back in the routine of trying out new recipes and what not, I am going to try to at least blog about what I’ve been doing or loving at the moment. For example, if you are in the market for a frozen pizza and can find California Pizza Kitchen ones on sale near you (they can be kinda pricey), the Greek one is excellent. Thin crusted, delicious flavors. I highly recommend it. It’s a great easy dinner served alongside a salad or some quickly cooked up veggies.

There should be a post going up soon from Eric about the meal we (mostly he) cooked this weekend when my mom came over. And one of the recipes is definitely worth sharing. I just have to get him to write it. If you know Eric in real life, tell him to get on it!

Adventures in eating

I have survived my first two days at the new job! Hooray! And now that I have some time to blog, I can finally share my weekend eating extravaganza with you.

Some friends — Lauren and Jason — were visiting us this weekend so we had planned on a good deal of eating out. After I fetched them at the airport on Saturday morning, we headed over to the Westside of Atlanta where we spent most of the day. We started off with lunch at Star Provisions. This was my second time eating there and it has been delicious both times. I had this amazing chicken sandwich — the bread was incredible. Bread is very important to me as you know.

After we finished lunched, we walked across the way to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream.  As I mentioned on Friday, Lauren and I had been jonesing to go to Jeni’s for awhile. And it did not disappoint. Don’t go in expecting your typical mint chocolate chip and cookies and cream. These are gourmet ice creams. I tried a goat cheese ice cream with cherries, and while it might sound weird, it was quite delicious. I ended up getting ndali estate vanilla bean and black coffee.

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For dinner that night, we hit up Fox Bros. The hour-long Saturday wait didn’t deter us, and our patience was rewarded with amazing bar-b-que. My love of their Frito Pie now knows no bounds. Eric got their beef rib special and it wasn’t just tasty — it was massive.

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He did manage to eat most of it, which I found to be quite impressive.

The main event of the weekend was my birthday dinner at Canoe. It was hands down one of the best dining experiences of my life. The service, the ambiance, the food. All amazing. I can’t wait to go back. I ordered one of their signature dishes — the rabbit.

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The rabbit is slow cooked and served alongside these chard and bacon ravioli — WHICH ARE INCREDIBLE.  I didn’t think my main course could be topped, but that all changed when dessert arrived.

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Behold the popcorn ice cream sundae. Canoe’s homemade Cracker Jack with ice cream and caramel sauce. Shut. Up. I mean really. The texture combination of the ice cream and the popcorn is addictive. Eric and I were battling for the final bite (which I of course got since it was my birthday).

All in all, it was a great weekend filled with great food — but more importantly great people.

Hosting an at-home wine festival

I think I’ve mentioned here before that Eric and I very much enjoy all things wine. We got engaged while on a trip to California wine country. We like trying and tasting new wines. We also love to attend an occasional wine festival every once in awhile.

After one such trip to an poorly organized wine festival last year, we thought “hey, we could put on a pretty good wine event at home.” And so we did. We’ve hosted two little at-home wine festivals so far and they’ve both been a ton of fun.

Here’s how it works. Everyone brings one bottle of wine for sharing (some people end up bringing more, which of course isn’t an issue in the slightest). Eric and I provide the venue along with some light snacks. We also usually contribute a few bottles of wine to the mix. Everyone comes over, we open the bottles, everyone samples what they want, drinks more of what they like. It’s a very fun time.

Now these at-home wine parties aren’t very structured — at least the way we do it. You could ask certain friends to bring white and others to bring red if you want. We just leave it open to what they like.

IMG_20140301_200835For snacks, I like to do a cheese plate. Cheese and wine are just the natural pairing.  I like to do a brie and some hard cheeses (above are druken goat, iberico and manchego), then I add some slices of apples and grapes, nuts and honey and boom — cheese plate done.

We also usually do some sort of small appetizer (the first time we did pigs in a blanket it. This last time we did Bagel Bites). We throw in something sweet too, like chocolate or a baked good. It isn’t a full meal or anything — just something to snack on while you are all drinking.

You don’t need to be a wine aficionado to host one of these gatherings. This is a great opportunity for people who might not know that much about wine to try a bunch of different kinds without having to take the plunge and buy a whole bottle. And it is just a good time overall. I highly recommend doing it.

Ranking the herbs

Winter storm Pax is officially past us! As I am typing this, I can hear the ice and snow melting off the trees outside our house. Which is good because Eric and I have dinner reservations tonight and you best believe I want to make them.

I saw this Buzzfeed article ranking a bunch of herbs and couldn’t help but weigh in on it. I love me some herbs. Now I’m not going to lie — some of these I haven’t used or even heard of (what the heck is hyssop?). But I definitely agree with their top five.

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1. Basil
2. Mint
3. Coriander (aka cilantro)
4. Rosemary
5. Thyme

Throw sage in there and those are all my favorites. Granted, I do think they have oregano a little low on the list (my Italian roots make me biased, I suppose), but I’ll let that one slide.

For the past few years, I’ve attempted to grow basil, mint and cilantro on my own, but basil has been the only one that I’ve had success with, which is sad because I love some fresh mint for mojitos and cilantro for homemade salsa or guac. I have little to no green thumb so maybe it’s best if I just give up.

What are your favorite herbs?

Another trip to HomeGoods

I sometimes feel that if I don’t go to HomeGoods at least once a week, I am missing out on something. I’m sure that is not the case, but it makes sense in my head. I take my trips to HomeGoods without any specific item in mind, and sometimes I leave empty handed, but sometimes I find some good things.

My last trip resulted in a few goods things, all of which I had been keeping my eye out for for a little while. I didn’t go crazy and spend too much (I think the total was less than $20) but I figured I’d share what I got with y’all anyways.

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I’ve always wanted one of these olive oil bottles, but all the ones I’d seen before had weird designs painted on. When I saw this plain one, I had to scoop it up. I buy olive oil in bulk so it is much easier to use this when cooking than trying to drizzle out of a giant bottle.

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This little French press is the cutest thing ever. It makes about one cup of coffee (or tea) so it’s great for solo use. I’ve been wanting a French press for awhile and this small one is giving me a chance to try it out before I get a bigger one. Spoiler alert: I love this. I’ve mostly been using it to make loose leaf tea and it’s amazing.

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Now there are sometimes when I’m making something and I don’t think it’s right to be served on a plate, but it’s not quite bowl material. Enter these pasta bowls. They are like the perfect hybrid of a bowl and a plate.

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Here is some kale I was cooking with last night. I think these are going to be great for salads as well as pasta. I am now regretting not getting the other box that HomeGoods had, but like we need anymore plates, bowls, etc.