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Dinner in a Box: Chef’d Shrimp and Grits with Asparagus

  • Posted on September 24, 2016 at 11:44 am

The second Chef’d dinner we tried was shrimp and grits with asparagus. I didn’t realize that it came with “vegetable base” so I swapped that out for some chicken broth, since it didn’t have an ingredient list on it. This was also pretty good. There were 6 very large shrimp per portion, and more than enough grits for the two of us. They were too cheesy for me, but that’s no surprise. The Husband liked everything well enough, including the pan sauteed asparagus. We’d definitely order this again!


Dinner in a Box: Chef’d Seared Ahi Poke

  • Posted on September 22, 2016 at 10:35 am

I’m fascinated by these dinner meal boxes and companies. To me they are a fabulous idea and something I know I could have lived on in my single days. I’m talking about companies like Plated and Chef’d, where you order from their list of options and a few days later a box shows up with just about everything you need to make those meals. But what I did NOT like about them is the subscription part. We are picky eaters, so it’s always a question if I could get the minimum number of meals of things we’d eat in a single week. Plus our lives are so changeable that some weeks we are having dinner at home every night, and some weeks we are out more than in, or have tentative plans which make it hard to plan for perishable meals.

I had tried Plated first, and had a mixed experience, but it was the subscription part that did it in for me. I kept looking and looking until I found Chef’d, which does two things better. First, no subscription, so you buy what you want when you want it. Second, they seem to sell meals from several different companies and plans, so there is a MUCH larger variety to choose from.

I chose 3 meals for our first Chef’d experience- seared ahi poke, shrimp and asparagus with Parmesan grits and weeknight chicken pad thai. The big orange box arrived yesterday. Everything was well packaged and still quite cold when it arrived. As I unpacked I noted to myself that I would need to add more chicken to the pad thai for us but the quality of the protein otherwise looked very good. We made the ahi tuna first (always make your seafood meals first!). There was a bit of fussing and chopping required which I didn’t really mind and then the tuna got seared on the stovetop. The recipe card said it took 45 minutes to make and I think that was about accurate. The meal itself was pretty darn good, good enough that the Husband was looking for more when it was done, and still talking about it this morning. (Noted for next time, add a bit more protein of some kind on the side for him, or order the meal for 4 instead of 2.) It was easy enough for me to make some small changes to accommodate our specific tastes (left out the sriracha, used much less of the agave they provided, and no sesame seed crust on my tuna). This will definitely go on our reorder list.

I meant to take a picture but I never really plated it. We just kind of dumped things in bowls and ate happily.  So here’s the official Chef’d picture:

Interested in trying Chef’d out? Here’s a coupon link ( Use it to get $10 off, and then I get $10 off too!

Ice cream, ice cream….

  • Posted on July 27, 2016 at 6:20 pm

It used to be that every once in a while I would go on a bender for a little bit. No, not a drinking bender- a baking or dessert bender, where I would make several different versions of a recipe or several different things in like a couple of days. It seems now that I’m on an ice cream binge. In less than two weeks, I’ve made orange popsicle, watermelon sorbetto, mint chocolate chip, maple and blueberry. I’ve got berries put away to make another batch of blueberry ice cream or perhaps pie. As soon as the chocolate flake I ordered arrives, I’ll make some more mint, with the chocolate mint on my deck. You know you have a problem when you need to buy more tupperware to contain your habit. (And ok, fine, maybe I’m also considering buying a second freezer bowl so I don’t have to wait 24 hours in between batches. I’m not ashamed to admit I might have a problem.) I’m thinking egg nog and rum raisin will be next. Make the rum raisin with local maple rum.

I also have to start working on a non-dairy chocolate mousse recipe, especially one that can be made a day or two ahead and will stay stable. I’m helping friends with a dessert reception they are having that must be all non-dairy and prepared in their home as they keep kosher. So it will be interesting working in someone else’s kitchen without my tools. First up on that list is my mother’s tried and true fruit cake with local blueberries. It’s seasonal and local, easy to make, and freezes like a dream plus we can do them with almost any fruit, so do a couple a week with whatever is in market. Then I have gluten free lemon bars and maple apple squares on the list to try!

Taking the Win

  • Posted on July 17, 2016 at 3:42 pm

Some days I have lofty ambitions (some days getting out of the house is a lofty ambition!). Especially when I have company coming, as we do this weekend. One of our guests is from out of the country, and instead of going out for dinner, chose to have a BBQ/grill here at the house. To go along with that theme, I was going to make ice creams for dessert. I made an (outstanding!) orange cream one, and did not have the spoons to make the white chocolate one I had planned. I did also make candied cherries (pitted by hand since I couldn’t find either of my damn pitters), which did not come out quite as candied as I had thought, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. I’ll bake brownies from a box tomorrow and that’s going to have to do. Well with the home made stuff, anyways.

For dinner we’ll have salmon burgers and chicken breasts. I also got some coleslaw, potato salad, Israeli couscous with veggies, wheat-berries with fruits and nuts, and I think there’s one or two more salads, plus I’ll go to the farm stand in the morning and get fresh veggies for salad as well as what should be some beautiful raspberries! And giant marshmallows to roast, should we be so inclined. I meant to get a melon, but didn’t want the fussing. I’ll put together a local cheese plate, I’ve got a big bag of grapes (note to self, throw some in freezer). I have crackers and chips and veggies (maybe make dip?). No one will go hungry.

So I’m going to stop myself with what I’ve got and be good with what I’ve done. The Husband has been cleaning the house for what feels like days (I’ve helped a little where I can) so this is all just going to have to do.


Updated with post event notes: Our guests brought a lovely home made almond cake which had an orange glaze and went great with the orange ice cream, which was declared a resounding hit! There was more than enough food (big surprise there!).

Getting My Groove Back

  • Posted on July 11, 2016 at 4:51 pm

I was going to title this “How Betty Got Her Groove Back” but I haven’t quite got it back yet. I’m working on it. Things have been….rough for pretty much the last year or so, even before I lost my job, but that certainly didn’t help things any. I’m trying hard right now to acknowledge that I haven’t been at my best, and working on doing things to improve my state of being. BUT, I may actually be able to get my Demented Betty groove back, even if it’s just for a little while.

Our neighbors and friends are celebrating the Bat Mitzva of their youngest daughter on the Monday of Labor Day weekend. They are self-catering a dessert reception and have asked me to help them out, with both setting the menu and the actual baking. All the baking has to be done at their house and with their equipment, as it is kosher. I wonder how much work it would be to kasher a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer? So I’ve started to think about different things we can do, keeping in mind that this is to be dairy free and mostly gluten free. I think we’re going to try to go with French macaroons for the centerpiece/main dessert. She’s not really a sweets kind of kid, so it’ll be fun to see what else we settle on. I’ll also have the pleasure of working with her older sister to get this all done, and she is already an amazing baker as a teenager!

We’re having some friends over this weekend and I’ve decided to make some ice cream for us, and candied cherries to go with them. I should probably make some chocolate sauce too and maybe some whipped cream. (Oy. This is where the demented comes from. I get going down that slope, and just keep going…..) Add that to the brownies I’ll make just before they come, and I think I have desserts handled. I’m making a white chocolate ice cream and also an orange creamcicle one. I love being able to keep my ice cream bowl in the freezer! I’ve made the orange one before, and I’m really looking forward to the white chocolate with the cherries. Hopefully the weather will be conducive to grilling, and we’ll get some beef burgers and salmon burgers going. On Thursday and Saturday I’ll go to the farmer’s market and stand and get fixin’s for a farmer’s market salad, with a local maple balsamic dressing. I’ll get some cheese and crackers to nosh on, and I think I’m good to go.

Health and etc wise, things are a mixed bag. I still don’t have a job. I still have issues with my health impacting my day to day life. But I’m trying to manage and do the things I need to, even through the pain.

For the more detailed version….

Restaurant Update

  • Posted on October 9, 2015 at 4:58 pm

We’ve obviously had to try all new restaurants and make all new friends. Our preferred haunt is The Dorset Inn. It is the oldest continuously operating inn in America, I believe. We have been there more times than I can count, for every meal as well as some of their holiday and special dinners. They are just fantastic in every regard. There is the casual tavern and fancier main dining room, both with the same menu. Their summer lobster special was outstanding. Their sister property is the Barrows House. We like sitting outside there in the summer but alas, I think they have already closed that up for the season. Mio Bistro is also wonderfully local and fresh, though we haven’t been back often enough since their renovation. I think part of the draw for us was being able to sit at the bar and talk to Leo the chef/owner as he cooked, and the renovation took that away. These are the ones that are in Dorset, the town 20 minutes from us.

In Manchester there are many more options, and still some we have not tried, or gotten back to enough. I think now with tourist season coming to an end, we’ll be more inclined to try new places. We finally got to both The Perfect Wife and her tavern The Other Woman. We just received birthday coupon cards from them so that will certainly get us to the Wife to celebrate! Brasserie L’Oustau is where we go when the Husband gets his foie gras craving. Yeah, I know. It’s a bit at odds with the local/sustainable/etc that we generally have in VT but what can you do, we all have our vices. We had a wonderful meal at Bistro Henry, which left us asking why we hadn’t eaten there sooner. I wanted to love Depot Bistro at Depot 62 but I liked it very much. Not sure there’s enough variety on the menu for the Husband. I’ve had several good meals at Thai Basil. And the biggest surprise is really excellent sushi at Sushi Boat; they have a very limited menu with few cooked items but everything, especially the eel, has been outstanding. We have been to most of the restaurants at the Equinox Hotel. The Marsh Tavern is a stand-out and one of our go to places for lunch.

We’ve been here and there and more often than not have found some great food. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to start writing more regularly and will have better information and updates.

Restaurant update

  • Posted on August 5, 2014 at 6:06 pm

So things in our restaurant world have changed dramatically.

Elements has closed at its current location (boo!) and will reopen in Princeton, in the same building that currently houses Mistral, in early 2015. This means our Cube is gone. Gone, gone, gone. In some ways this is a good thing, because we are spending less on eating out, but……at the same time it still sucks in a colossal way! And we don’t do much IN Princeton, because parking is a pain and it’s just too damn crowded and too much effort.

We started to go to the Ryland Inn which is lovely and wonderful. Except they can’t seem to do poached eggs right to the Husband’s preferred spec (runny yolks, set opaque whites), so they’re out for Brunch. Getting there for dinner on Friday nights has been challenging. Saturdays they have Bruce Forster who plays piano and sings (and takes requests!). So we’ve been down to the bar a couple of times to catch him there.

We’ve actually been back to the Pluckemin Inn and have an absolutely wonderful dinner there. But they get crowded and we’re picky and spoiled, and it’s hard to find a good off-hours time to get there.

So we are eating in more and trying to save money. I’m trying to get back into the cooking groove, which will be a necessity once we move. So I’ve broken out the wok and done a simple stir fry. It wasn’t bad, but there’s definite room for improvement. We need to start a list of things we want to try to cook at home. I certainly have enough cookbooks to give us enough options! I hope the kitchen exhaust fan in the new house works well so I can cook fish and seafood again.

Another week…

  • Posted on August 7, 2011 at 9:21 pm

Another week gone by in a whirlwind of activity. I think this month is just going to continue to be that way, and I best try to get into my zen about it NOW and just accept that’s the way it’s going to be and figure out how to deal with it. I’ll be back in NYC again on Thursday of this week. Have I mentioned how much I loath driving in NYC? It’s like bumper cars in a slalom with a little frogger thrown in for good measure. Ugh. At least that -should- be the last time for a little while. I can hope.

The chef from Elements and his sous and one of the waiters are down in NOLA for a seafood competition. And thanks to the joys of technology and twitter, we’re able to see at least some of what they’re up to. Of all the meals they’ll have down there, it’s the jambalaya at Coop’s Place and coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde that I’m oh so freaking jealous of.  That’s the New Orleans meal I crave. One of these years we’ll get down there, just not in the heat of summer.

Now planning a trip to Ohio for October. See about staying in some cool places on the way back.

Cold brewed ice coffee ROCKS. I’m seriously loving making my own ice coffee. I just plan it into the weekend fussing and it’s not a big deal to make, and then the carafe lasted me the whole week- including Saturday! The coffee’s so good that I just add some vanilla soy milk, no sweetener, and ice and I’m on my way in the morning. This is so going to cut down on my Starbucks fix.

Summer Heatwave

  • Posted on July 23, 2011 at 5:19 pm

We’re at the end of this horrific hellacious heatwave here in NJ and throughout much of the country right now. I’m grateful that we’ve managed to maintain power, which means air conditioning and computers….and the Husband’s sanity. I did still manage to get out to run some errands today, but early for me. I’m glad that Griggstown has a stand at the farmer’s market. Usually I go up to the farm itself so I can check out their fruits and veggies, but today I was grateful to just get a couple of chickens and not have to make an extra stop and get out of the car again. I can roast a chicken in the convection toaster oven and not have to heat up the house. Chicken salad for the Husband, and something for me with the thighs, maybe make some couscous to go with them. Since it would be just for me, I could even think about doing it in the microwave.

I bailed on the dry cleaners, that’ll have to wait. Tomorrow it’s ONLY supposed to get up to 93. Only 93? That’s crazy hot even for me, and I don’t mind it warm. Not sure what we’ll do about dinner tonight. I got some ground beef, though they didn’t have the all natural, and I hadn’t thought to get any from the organic farm that now sells at the farmers market. Next week I will have to, it seems, so ground beef, maybe some steaks. I’ll make some tacos at some point this week for dinner. I’ll roast a pepper when I roast the next chicken tomorrow.

For today, though, there’s some more chicken salad, some cooked shrimp, cold cuts and salad fixin’s, and pita and humus would be fine for me. Might be some other options lurking in the fridge. And fruit. I have plenty of fruit. There are peaches and sugar plums and blueberries and cherries and an orange flesh melon that was oh so sweet.

And did anyone get the name of that truck that hit me, backed up, and then rolled over again?

Summer Supper

  • Posted on July 17, 2011 at 10:13 pm

So maybe it’s not your typical mid-summer supper, but it worked for us for tonight. Tacos with all natural ground beef I picked up from the Amish along with some shredded cheese, and some whole wheat tortillas from the supermarket. Next time maybe I’ll chop up some of the farmers market tomatoes instead of using the jarred salsa. Or maybe I’ll just remember to buy some better jarred salsa. This one was supposed to be on someone’s best of list, I think, which is why I bought it instead of what I usually buy. But I found it way too watery and it just made everything messy. Maybe if I drained the whole jar it might be useable but that’s just a hassle. Meh. But otherwise dinner was really yummy, and I think we’d do it again. Not too bad to make even in the heat of the summer.

Once that was done I roasted a quick chicken in the convection oven. I forgot the carrots today, I was in too much of a rush, but it will make chicken salad for lunch for the Husband for one day and lunch for me for one or two days during the week. Even though my work schedule is going to be messed up this week and odds are I didn’t need to make the chicken. Oh well. Maybe just take one day for me and make more chicken salad for him. We’ll see.

I just ordered a cold french press to make ice coffee concentrate. I don’t usually like hot coffee, except, weirdly, for a soy cappuccino at elements from time to time, and I think that’s mostly because they don’t do iced coffee beverages. Otherwise, year-round, my preference is for iced coffee or espresso drinks. But you can’t just throw hot coffee over ice for the most part, it just gets watery that way. You generally make a stronger coffee concentrate which you put over ice and with some soy milk and maybe a bit of flavoring. It’s part of the reason I don’t make it at home. But if I can put elements’ coffee blend into a concentrate over ice and have that most days of the week, in my nice reusable cup, yeah, I can take the effort once a week to do that. Besides, if I don’t have to go get a coffee, it’ll help keep me away from the pastries in the morning, even if I did choose carefully it was still no good even twice a week!