Thursday, August 27, 2015

Treatsie (August 2015)

Treatsie is hands-on down my favorite food/snack subscription service.  I mean, who does not love high-quality chocolates and sweets? 

Each month you get a box of the best gourmet sweets from ever-changing vendors all over the country.  A monthly subscription costs $14.95 plus $5 shipping.  If you buy a 6- or 12-month subscription, you'll see that price go down per box.

Treatsie is exciting because there is such a wide variety of sweets that they send... hard candies, brittles and candy bars, cookies, caramels, gummies, brownies, marshmallows, lollipops, taffy, and all kinds of really exotic treats.

Each Treatsie box comes with a handy card describing each product included.  This month's card also had a map of where the candies came from to be used in a contest.  Here they are:


Chocolate Chip Cookies (2 for $2.50) - A new take on one of America's favorite sweets!  Toasted, chopped pecans have been added, along with a hint of sweet molasses and rich chocolate chips.

Peanut Butter Cookies (2 for $2.50) - Just like grandma used to make... maybe even a little better!  Perfect when paired with a tall glass of cold milk.

I thought something was strange when I gobbled up the chocolate chip cookies without reading the card, but couldn't put my finger on it.  The pecans are subtle but you can taste them.  I'm not sure I'm a big fan of the hard texture of the chocolate chip cookies, but I loved the similar texture in the peanut butter cookies.  There's a sugary crust on it.  They're delicious.

WALKER CREEK CONFECTIONS Sea Salt Caramels ($8) - Handmade in small batches, these soft and buttery caramels are the perfect mixture of sweet and salty.

There's nothing more to say than that.  They are soft and buttery, perfectly sweet and salty.  I like that they're not hard because I have sensitive teeth and biting down into a hard, chewy caramel sets my nerve endings on fire.  These melt in your mouth.


Peach Buds ($2.75 per bag) - This delicious combination of fresh peach nectar and sublime coconut is Butterfields' signature flavor.

Lemon Buds ($2.75 per bag) - These flavorful lemon candies are reminiscent of breezy summer days with a cool glass of fresh lemonade on the front porch.

Honeybell Buds ($2.75 per bag) - The result of nectar pressed from tender orange blossoms, these are the truest flavor of the Sunshine State since the Florida orange.

I had received the Peach Buds as a bonus in an earlier box from Treatsie, and I wasn't too fond of them.  I like peaches, and these taste like peaches, but I've never liked peach-flavored candy.  However, the Lemon and Honeybell Buds are right up my alley.  They were sweet and citrus-y, without being too tart or overwhelming.

I LOVE Treatsie!  I can't indulge often.  I try to get a box every three months or so.  This one was actually accidentally sent to me.  That was one happy accident.  The variety and surprise of discovering new sweets is fun and tasty.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Hello Fresh (08-19-15)

I've been through quite a few food preparation delivery services, but my heart belongs with Hello Fresh.  It was my first and I loved all of the recipes and fresh ingredients so much, I was tickled to find a special deal on Groupon allowing me to purchase a two-week subscription at a substantially discounted price.  This is the review of the second delivery I received with my Groupon.

Hello Fresh provides you with three weekly meals (for two or for four), including remarkable recipes crafted by Hello Fresh's chefs, all of the ingredients you need to create these masterful meals (excluding butter, oil, salt or pepper), and they deliver it right to your door.

My husband and I happily cook our own homemade meals throughout the week, usually repeats... chili, spaghetti, soups, grilled meats and veggies.  But this enables us to take it a step further and make delicious dinners that we wouldn't think to just make on the fly.  With Hello Fresh, you can incorporate gourmet meals into your diet with minimal effort.

Usually they let me select three meals from five they offer, but this time I got the box without the choosing.  That's okay.  Takes me out of my comfort zone a little bit.  Hello Fresh sent me the recipes and all of the ingredients... vacuum-sealed meats, fresh veggies and herbs, and anything else I should need.

The first meal I chose to create was the Lemony Shrimp Linguine with Roasted Red Pepper, Garlic and Chili, primarily because the instruction booklet told me to... :-D.  Also, it contains shrimp, and I don't need any shrimp stinking up my fridge! 

I began by mincing the garlic and shallot.  Through Hello Fresh, I've come to believe that shallots are far superior to onions.  So aromatic and tastier.  I then zested the lemon, and cored and thinly sliced the red pepper.

I heated some olive oil in a pan and cooked the red pepper.  I also added the linguine to a pot of boiling water, until al dente, retaining a quarter cup of the pasta water.  When the peppers were slightly caramelized, I set them aside and added more olive oil to the pan.  Then I cooked the shallot, garlic, chili flakes, and lemon zest.  Just before finishing, I added the shrimp, cooking a few minutes until opaque.

I incorporated back into the pan the pasta water, roasted peppers, juice from the lemon I zested, and a tablespoon of butter, and seasoned with salt and pepper.  Sprinkling chopped parsley on top, I served on two plates.

This meal was DIVINE!  I am not a shrimp fan, but it came out perfectly if I say so myself.  The linguine was unbelievably flavorful with the lemon, and the butter, and the chili flakes... just the right amount of spicy.  And the peppers were a light, fresh touch.  Definitely out of my comfort zone, yet so delicious.

The second recipe I tried was the Chicken & Nectarine Panzanella with Mint, Zucchini and Fresh Mozzarella

I won't lie.  I strayed wildly with this dish.  First, neither my husband nor I like fruit in our meals.  I will say, I ate the nectarine while I prepared the meal and it was delectable.  Also, we don't care for raw zucchini or shallot, as the recipe called for, so I had to work around that.  Finally, we don't like mint, unless it's ice cream or candy.

I cubed the beautiful demi baguette and toasted in the oven with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.  I minced the shallot and cut the zucchini in half.  Then I carefully sliced it into ribbons.  At this point, I put a little olive oil in a pan and sweated the zucchini and shallot till they were soft but still a little crisp. 

I tossed the vegetables in a bowl with the bread cubes, and set about preparing the chicken.  I seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked for about six minutes on each side with a little olive oil.   When finished, I cooled and then cubed the chicken, adding it to the bowl. 

Since I wasn't making a vinaigrette with uncooked shallots, and there was already enough olive oil from the veggies, bread crumbs, and chicken, I mixed in the white wine vinegar.

The recipe called for me to cube fresh mozzarella, but I wasn't given fresh mozzarella.  I got a small bag of shredded mozzarella instead.  Too bad... I am a fiend for fresh mozzarella.  Mmm... a nice caprese salad... can't be beat.  Anyway, I tossed that in with everything else.

Even though I didn't follow the instructions, this was a fantastic meal.  It was light, fresh and DE-licious.  Something I never would've thought of myself and I will make it again.

The last recipe was the Seared Steak & Creamy Chipotle Pan Sauce with Poblano, Corn and Crispy Potato Hash

I halved the onion and thinly sliced one half, while mincing the other.  I cored and thinly sliced the poblano pepper.  I cubed the potato and cut the corn from the cob.  Then I minced one chipotle pepper that came in adobo sauce.  That's spicy stuff.  Make sure you're washing your hands good after playing with those.

I roasted the potatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper for 25 minutes.  I heated a pan with olive oil and cooked the sliced onion and poblano until soft, added the corn and sweated for a few more minutes.  Setting that to the side, I added more oil, seasoned the steak, and seared 3-4 minutes on each side.  I placed the steak on the baking sheet with the potatoes and continued to cook.

I began the chipotle pan sauce by once again adding more olive oil to the pan I cooked the steak in.  I put in the minced onion and chipotle.  Once the onion was opaque, I stirred in a half cup of water and beef concentrate, simmering until thickened and reduced.  I removed from the heat and incorporated the sour cream.

I mixed the potatoes, corn, poblanos and onion in a bowl.

As I started cutting the steak, I realized... I REALLY SUCK AT COOKING STEAK!  This was my second attempt at sucking at it.  I don't eat steak so I haven't cooked it before, and I now know that just because it looks well done on the outside, doesn't mean it's not bloody on the inside.  What am I doing wrong?!?!?!  My husband says I'm not allowed to touch red meat ever again!  Anyway, I proceeded to cut it and then placed the slices in a small pan to cook through a little better.  I placed the sad steak on the hash and covered in the pan sauce.

This dish was super spicy.  I'm very familiar with poblanos and chipotles in adobo sauce, so this was expected.  I'm in love with the pan sauce.  Spicy and creamy... yum!  Of course the veggies were delicious.  I ate a small piece of the steak and didn't think it was too bad.  Despite his declarations of me murdering the steak, my husband gobbled it up.

Hello Fresh usually runs $69 for three meals for two people delivered weekly.  I got mine super cheap with my Groupon.  I highly recommend Hello Fresh.  And they almost always have deals, so look out for those.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Olfactif (August 2015)

Olfactif was one of the first perfume subscriptions that I coveted when I first discovered the sub community, but I have so many perfumes that I couldn't justify a membership.
Olfactif was kind enough to send me this box to review, although all opinions are my own.
Olfactif is unique because they send three niche fragrance sample each month.  The simplest definition of niche is that it’s harder to find and harder to discover. The simplest definition of mainstream is that it’s easy to find in department stores and at major beauty counters around the world.
What Olfactif loves about the niche world is that artists frequently have much more control over the fragrances they create. They don’t create according to the trend of the moment, and they care deeply about the quality of their work because it becomes a part of their own brand. They also don’t treat perfume as a mere beauty product but as a piece of art that has the power to move, surprise, shock, and inspire. Mainstream perfume marketing often appeals to your desire to be attractive to potential mates.
A monthly subscription is $18, but that price goes down if you buy 3-, 6-, or 12-month subscriptions.  You'll also receive a coupon code for $18 any full-size bottle of the current month's perfumes.
My first impression upon receiving the box was awe!  Inside the tiny outer box is a mix of sleek engineering and high-class presentation.  The black inner box has a small ribbon that when pulled, opens to display your fragrances.
This month's theme is Earth, Wind and Fire.  In their words:
"Remember when you  were a kid and the summer seemed to last forever?  Here's an incontrovertible truth of adulthood - Just when summer seems to have begun, we look up and realize that its nearly gone."
"But fleeting time is also precious time.  We know that the end of summer is to be savored, so we pay closer attention to the sensations that make summer so magical - the warm, soft earth that invites our bare feet - the wind that carries the scent of salty air and cotton candy - the heat that draws and keeps us outside.  All three are in this collection for you to relish as summer winds down - before turning into something equally glorious."
The selection for Earth is The Good Earth by Atelier de Geste (50ml for $120)The Good Earth is an olfactive vision of a utopic earth where all is plenty and no one wants for anything. It is uplifting, green, and strong, with top notes that call to mind the sun shining on the green top of a forest canopy and a base that digs deeps into the earth's most precious resins.  It was mixed in a historic perfumery in Grasse, France, with the finest essences.
No sulfates, no phtalates, no parabens, no dyes. Notes include galbanum, fresh leaf bouquet, geranium, peony, bamboo, opoponax, and precious moss oil.
What I found so pleasant about this scent is that it changes as time passes.  It starts out smelling like a pasture full of different wildflowers, but ends with a sweet leathery musk.
The selection for Wind is What I Did On My Holidays by 4160 Tuesdays (50ml for $90).  What I Did On My Holidays is the story of a summer day at the seaside. Suntan lotion and rock pools, in and out of the sea all day until the wind gets too strong, the waves are too high, and you put on your shorts and T-shirt over your slightly damp cooling skin, and head for the café.
What I Did On My Holidays is a lovely, evocative scent tinged with nostalgia. Notes include mint, coconut suntan lotion, sea air, lavender, candy floss, vanilla.
This fragrance is heavy of suntan lotion, pina coladas, and cotton candy.  It really is the perfect beachy scent.  If I had any complaint, it's that the smell doesn't last very long.  You'd probably need to reapply ever couple of hours.
The selection for Fire is Dark Horse by Dame Perfumery (50ml for $65)A "dark horse" is defined as a little-known thing that suddenly, unexpectedly, emerges to prominence, and we're putting our bets on exactly that outcome with Dark Horse from Dame Perfumery Scottsdale. The first hint that this perfume might be something special is on the bottle, which features custom artwork by V. Dave Dame, the perfumer's artist father.
Dark Horse makes you want to run outside and shout thanks to the warm sun. Notes include bergamot, lemon, cinnamon, jasmine, carnation, rose, clove, guaiac wood, vetiver, vanilla, and musk.
Hands-down my favorite of the bunch!  I found this to be a very sultry, sensual scent.  The florals are strong while not being overwhelming, but the cinnamon, vanilla and musk really stick around for a long time.
Olfactif included two cards.  The first announcing their launch of Olfactif for Men.  Although most of their fragrances are already unisex, they wanted to provide a service for the... "less adventurous" man. 
Use the code "4MEN" to get 15% of your first month, or 15% off your 3-, 6-, or 12-month subscription.
The second card helps you to fully appreciate your experience with each fragrance.  Try on each perfume.  Smell the scent periodically to see how it changes.  As they put it so lovely: The artist is telling you a story.  Read it with your nose.
This is such a fun subscription for perfume lovers.  So many mainstream fragrances start to smell the same.  The unique artistry of the niche perfume market allows you to experience different worlds with your nose.  Olfactif seemed to put a lot of thought into their curation for this month's collection.  If you've been teetering about signing up, stop and subscribe.  It exceeds expectations.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Random Product Reviews - Lipstick Queen

I'd been eyeing Lipstick Queen's lip products ever since I first ran across them in a Google search.  Their lipsticks were just too expensive for me at $22 each.  But I recently received an email with a deal that was too good to pass up.  They were selling 3-packs of lipsticks for $24 (or $8 each), and 3-packs of lip crayons for $14 (or ~$4.67 each).  Plus with a $60 purchase I could get free shipping, which gave me cause to choose another color that I have been coveting to round out my order.  Everything arrived beautifully wrapped in this adorable red bag.

Queen Bee - Nourishing nectar, honey shimmer ($22.00)

Oozing with nourishing ingredients to soothe, repair and hydrate your pout, Queen Bee is an unctuous lip treatment with a glamorous bronze gold finish. Enriched with Royal Jelly, which ensures lips remain super soft and plump, it also contains chamomile and sunflower extract to help soothe sore, chapped lips.

I liked this color a lot (see the first set of lips on the photo below).  Being a 90's girl, bronze, brownish, and nude lips are my thing.  It felt like velvet on my lips and smelled heavenly of honey.
HALL OF FAME ($24.00)

A star-studded line up of best-sellers, these three universally flattering shades bestow a natural, youthful beauty to the lips. This enchanting trio is the ultimate capsule collection of nourishing and ultra-wearable sheer kisses of color!  Three intensely nourishing formulations enriched with Shea Butter, Aloe Vera and Vitamins E, C and B.

Medieval - Sheer, sexy hint of flattering red

During medieval times, when lipstick was considered a sin, women used the natural acidity of lemons to bring forth a natural blood-red stain on their lips. This flattering look has been recreated by Poppy in this best-selling tint. Medieval is purely Vitamin E and pigment, making it silky to wear and divinely transparent. And best of all it makes your skin look flawless.  The red anyone can wear!

Jean Queen - Super sheer, JEANious shade

The ultimate shade to wear with denim as it perfectly offsets the blue in the fabric and lights up your whole face. Over the last 20 years of designing lipsticks and glosses, Poppy was often asked, "What is the perfect shade to wear with jeans?" so she decided to create it.  Suits all skin tones, ethnicities, ages and jean styles.  It is a gentle step up from nude, restoring natural youthful beauty to the lips without being overbearing

Butterfly Ball in Float - Pale shimmering nude

The light, airy and magical look of the butterfly wing is the ultimate in glamour produced exclusively by Mother Nature. All the subtle Butterfly Ball shades pay tribute to this. They are as sheer as a butterfly wing with a beautiful hint of shimmer and Iridescence when they catch the light. The formula is incredibly wet, soft and moisturizing to condition your lips, while dressing them at the same time.  The subtle flash of blue pearl in each shade is flattering on the lips and helps teeth appear whiter.

I'm a fan of all of these colors, and how nurturing they are to my lips.  I was impressed with how the Butterfly Ball DID make my teeth appear whiter, which is something I'm always looking for.  The pigments are pretty light, but that's great for me as I don't look for my lipstick to be the statement makeup on my face.  I like to accentuate my large hazel-green eyes.

Left to right: Queen Bee, Medieval, Jean Queen, Butterfly Ball in Float, Mystery, Thriller, Catalina

This is your ultimate wardrobe for glamour-on-the-go. The much-imitated yet never-bettered formulation of Chinatown gives lips a wash of sheer color in three flattering shades and the moisturizing texture keeps lips soft and supple at all times thanks to nourishing Shea and Mango Butters. This is your lip liner, lipstick and gloss all rolled into one tiny package and presented as an excellent value set of three. Get ready to be captivated! 

Mystery - Sheer, vibrant purple
Thriller - Sheer scarlet red
Catalina - Sheer flirty-yet-subtle pink

Inspired by Roman Polanski’s ‘Chinatown’ film, this quirky new take on lip gloss is the ultimate purse essential. In eight sheer shades of vibrant brights and feminine nudes, these deliciously moisturizing chubby pencils offers the lips a light pop of buildable color, perfect for on-the-go use. Fuss-free and flattering, getting creative with your lips is child’s play!

I am all aboard the lip crayon train!  It's great to be able to define my cupid's bow with the same product that I'm coloring my lips with.  These were slightly more highly pigmented than the lipsticks, but still subtle.  I liked the formula, how they made my lips feel, and the beautiful hues in this set.

Yep, I'm a fan of Lipstick Queen.  I can't wait for the next sale so I can try out some of their more radical shades.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Orange Glad (August 2015)

The Monthly Sweet Box is a tasting bonanza.  Every month, they feature five deluxe items highlighting their best marketplace finds. The subscription is $15 plus $4 shipping.  Your plan is auto-renewed on the same day every month, no need to worry about forgetting to order.
  • Enjoy desserts curated by food experts. Every brownie is different, why not try them all. Expand your palate.
  • Learn about the makers behind the sweets, fall in love with their story, and see why the desserts taste so amazing
  • Never guess what you’re eating again, it’s not a secret. Know every ingredient that was in the desserts they bring you.

Orange Glad includes a full-color, detailed guide with information about each treat and the companies that create them.

Here's what I received this month:

Key Lime Coolers by Byrd's Famous Cookies, Savannah, GA (1.5oz) - A quintessential Southern dessert, the rich taste of Key lime pie has long been enjoyed at picnics, dinners and social gatherings.  Bursting with this same, fresh Key lime flavor, the award-winning cookies capture the tart-but-sweet taste and pleasing crunch of the much-loved delicacy.

Mango Coconut Shortbread Tea Mates by Silk Shortbread, Phoenix, AZ (6 cookies) - This thick, pure butter, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread cookie is baked to perfection.  The brilliant combination of coconut and mango brings you to a tropical island vacation on this hot summer day.

What I liked most about the Key lime cookies was that the light icing tasted exactly of Key lime pie.  Exactly.  And the cookie center wasn't too sweet so it offset the sugary outside.  The shortbread cookies were crumbly and really did just fall apart in my mouth.  Neither the coconut nor the mango were overwhelming and kept true to a real shortbread cookie.

Liege Style Belgian Waffle by Julian's Waffle, Brooklyn, NY - Pop this authentic Belgian waffle in the microwave for 15 seconds and enjoy the sweet delicacy made with pearlized sugar that caramelizes into a crispy, crunchy coating.  It is absolutely irresistible.

Lemon Zest Madeleine by Donsuemor, Alameda, CA (0.6oz) - These adorable, round, shell-shaped madeleines are baked with real lemon zest.  Moist and delicious, these Lemon Zest Madeleines are truly refreshing.

I tried the waffle both room temperature and microwaved.  It tasted great both ways, but was crunchier at room temp, while heating it up softened it just perfect.  Very rich... have a tall glass of milk ready!  I would've been happy if the whole box had been filled with the madeleines.  They were soft, fresh-tasting, with just the right amount of lemon flavoring.  I could sit and eat them all day.

Original & Salted Caramel Snack Pack by Three Kids And A Kitchen, Reynoldsburg, OH (2 pieces) - Handcrafted old fashioned and salted caramels paired to create a smooth, rich treat that literally melts in your mouth.

These caramels are so soft, not at all the hard-ish texture I'm used to in a traditional store-bought caramel.  It doesn't just melt in your mouth, it melts in your hand, ooey-gooey caramel.  Yum!  They're the perfect caramels.

I enjoyed my first Orange Glad snack box.  I thought the curation and diversity of treats was great.  I sure would've liked a brownie though! :-D

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Rainbow Honey Mystery Bag (August 2015)

Each new month, the Rainbow Honey mystery bag features sample sneak peeks from upcoming collections and future releases, plus a selection of their custom blended fragrances and body care products.

The mystery pack comes with a letter detailing the products, along with information on upcoming products, RH news, and deals they are offering for a limited time.

I'll start with the body care products:

Fruit Juice Perfume Oil Rollerball (4ml) - Too many hit points got you down?  "Lifeup" with this supercharged blend of strawberry, kiwi, peach and melon perfume oil rollerball.  The silky and soft rollerball formula is easy to apply anytime for extra points!

Fruit Juice Bath Oil (1oz) - Blended with fine oils for bath and body, this supercharged blend absorbs into skin for all over hydration.  Use in a bubble bath, after shower or with your next massage.  Add a small amount of oil into warm tub for a relaxing bath experience.  For skin, apply desired amount to damp skin after your shower.

Fruit Juice Bath Tea (1 bag) - A luxurious and indulgent blend of lemongrass, chamomile, orange peel, rose, passion flower and lavender is relaxing, soothing and pampering.  Gently scented with Fruit Juice, this bath tub soak will leave you relaxed and zen!  Soak your hands or feet.  Simple add the tea bag to warm water and allow a few minutes to steep.

I like Rainbow Honey's fragrance rollerballs, but I'm getting them so frequently, I'll never be able to use them up.  But bath oil!  Yes, thank you!  That was an exciting new product.  So is the bath tea, but I don't think I'll be able to use it.  The oil was very nourishing to my skin, and the scent of both that and the rollerball was so light, not at all overpowering.

Each of the nail polishes included in the mini bag I subscribed to for $10 are 7.5ml, which is not only half the size of the full-size products, but the perfect size for those of us who have entirely too many polishes.

Mr. Saturn Nail Lacquer - the year was 199X and the place was Saturn Valley... meet the innocent and peaceful peachy crème.

Jelly Red Sandals Nail Lacquer - A nod to the classic red jelly sandal we had growing up, this summer jelly red lacquer will definitely turn heads towards your hands and feet.  Exclusive to this month's mystery bag!

All Your Base (15ml) - Formulated with Vitamin E for healthy nails, this base coat provides an even surface for your favorite polish, extends the life of your manicure and protects your nail beds from staining.

Usually Rainbow Honey mixes things up with some solids, opaques and glitters, but they must've heard my pleas from last month, because they sent two gorgeous solid lacquers that couldn't be mixed, so this month I got to really play with some of my manicure tools to pimp my nails.

I have so many fingernail polishes, I keep thinking I might cancel my subscription, but I LOVE the body products, especially the lip and hand care items, and just can't. I'm always looking forward to what else they'll send me in addition to the polishes.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Hello Fresh (08-05-15)

I've been through quite a few food preparation delivery services, but my heart belongs with Hello Fresh.  It was my first and I loved all of the recipes and fresh ingredients so much, I was tickled to find a special deal on Groupon allowing me to purchase a two-week subscription at a substantially discounted price.

Hello Fresh provides you with three weekly meals (for two or for four), including remarkable recipes crafted by Hello Fresh's chefs, all of the ingredients you need to create these masterful meals (excluding butter, oil, salt or pepper), and they deliver it right to your door.

I mean, my husband and I happily cook our own homemade meals throughout the week, usually repeats... chili, spaghetti, soups, grilled meats and veggies.  But this enables us to take it a step further and make delicious dinners that we wouldn't think to just make on the fly.  With Hello Fresh, you can incorporate gourmet meals into your diet with minimal effort.

I selected three meals from five they offered to me, and Hello Fresh sent me the recipes and all of the ingredients... vacuum-sealed meats, fresh veggies and herbs, and anything else I should need.

The first meal I chose to create was the Shrimp and Chorizo Paella with Saffron, Smoked Paprika, and Peas, primarily because the instruction booklet told me to... :-D.  Also, it contains shrimp, and I don't need any shrimp stinking up my fridge! 

I'll start by remarking that this dinner was UN-believable!  I know authentic Spanish food, and this was as close as you'll get making it at home.  And so much fun to make!  There wasn't a moment to rest because there was so much to do.  I like getting a meal done and ready to serve immediately.

I began by dicing the onion and tomato, and mincing the garlic.  I halved the chorizo and sliced it into thin half moons.

In a medium pot, I simmered four cups of water, some chicken stock concentrate (woo, that stuff is strong), and the saffron.  I was super stoked to cook with saffron, being one of the most expensive and delicious spices.

Adding olive oil to a pan, I cooked the onion and garlic and seasoned with salt and pepper.  I incorporated chorizo, tomato and half of the smoked paprika and tossed until the chorizo had rendered its oil.

I poured in the arborio rice and cooked for a couple more minutes.  I added two cups of the chicken saffron stock to my pan and brought to a boil, before reducing to a simmer.  Stirring occasionally, I added more stock as the mixture required.

Right before the rice was finished cooking, I poured in the peas and increased the heat.  At this point they recommended no more stirring as the "soccarat," or crispy crust on the bottom of the pan, is supposedly the best part of the dish.  We'll see.

After just a few minutes on high, I seasoned the shrimp with salt, pepper and the remaining paprika.  I topped the rice with the shrimp, covered the pan and let the shrimp cook through, just about three minutes.  When I finished, I scattered some chopped parsley on top.

Not only was it stunning to look at, it was AH-mazing, DE-licious, WON-derful!  I'm not much on shrimp personally, but I ate a few and it was perfect.  That being said... see that little bowl up there?  That's all I got.  It made at least four servings, and he ate three and a half before I knew it. 

The second recipe I tried was the Reuben Steak with Tangy Braised Cabbage and Russian Dressing Pan Sauce

I will note here that I chose to use the zucchini and mushrooms from my final dish in this recipe.  My husband has decided that he isn't interested in the vegetarian recipes anymore, and so I needed to mix things up a little.  It just made sense to use those veggies in this recipe.

This was so easy to make.  I seasoned the steak with salt, pepper and half the pastrami seasoning and let rest.  Then I set to thinly slicing the onion, carrot, zucchini and mushrooms.

I heated some olive oil and poured all of the veggies in with a cup of water and the chicken stock concentrate.  Then I basically sweated those veggies until all of the liquid evaporated and the vegetables were soft.  I poured in half the white wine vinegar, and seasoned with salt, pepper and the remaining pastrami spice blend.

While the veggies were sweating, I cooked the steak in olive oil over medium high heat and seared about five minutes on both sides.  I rested the meat while I started making the pan sauce.

Using the steak pan, I added the remaining white wine vinegar, scraping up the browned bits from the pan.  Removing from the heat, I incorporated the ketchup and mayonnaise, salt and pepper.

Now, I'm no steak preparer.  I actually have never eaten steak before this.  So when I cut into it, it was very rare.  Even too rare for my husband.  I should have let him cook it, but que sera, sera.  I finished slicing it, placed it over the cabbage, took my pictures, garnished with dill fronds, and put the slices back over heat for a few seconds on each side.  It was an interesting first steak experience for me.  I managed to eat two slices!  But the husband was happy to eat the rest.  And there was so much of the cabbage mixture, I was all too pleased to eat my fill!  I never knew I could like German food so much!

The last recipe was the Layered Enchiladas (formerly with Roasted Mushrooms and Zucchini).  Another recipe that was pretty easy to make.

I diced the onion and minced the garlic.  I chose to mince the jalapeno, keeping the seeds and ribs because we like some spicy Tex-Mex in this house.  In one pan I cooked those in a little olive oil, chipotle chili powder and southwest spice blend, while in another pan, I browned a pound of beef that I bought for our version of this recipe.  I put a little generic taco seasoning on the meat.

As the onion mixture softened, I added the crushed tomatoes and tabasco, slowing the cooking down to a simmer.

Confused at how to proceed with the sour cream since it would have gone into the zucchini and mushrooms, I decided to put it in the replacement beef.

I assembled the casserole in a small baking dish: a little enchilada sauce, two tortillas, meat, more enchilada sauce, cheese, repeat, and repeat again, or something along those lines.  It was pretty self-explanatory.  I baked the casserole for five minutes, just to melt the cheese.

There was a lot of this casserole.  It wasn't my favorite dish, probably because we didn't follow the recipe in order to suit my husband's dietary preferences, but I just didn't care for the tortillas in the middle.  Maybe if I'd toasted them first and they were a little crispier.  But the husband LOVES it!  So it will all get eaten.

Hello Fresh usually runs $69 for three meals for two people delivered weekly.  I got mine super cheap with my Groupon.  I highly recommend Hello Fresh.  And they almost always have deals, so look out for those.