Saturday, December 28, 2013

Tempting Clam Dip

This is a recipe that I grew up with. My mom made it on Christmas Eve every year, and I carry that tradition on to this day. Caitlin especially looks forward to it. I have to say, my mouth was watering thinking of making it days ago. It’s very easy and delicious. I hope you enjoy it too.

First, rub the inside of a mixing bowl with a cut clove of garlic. Place the softened cream cheese in the mixing bowl and beat it with a mixer until smooth.

Grate the onion on the small holed side of the grater. It takes a little time to get 2 tsp of onion by grating it, but consider it a lesson in patience. Don’t use the juice that results; it’ll make the dip soupy and loose.

Drain the can of baby clams, reserving the juice. You’ll have more than enough clam juice for the dip; I threw the rest into the pot of Oyster Stew I was making. You can also pour it into a sandwich bag and freeze (place the sandwich bag upright in a small bowl; when frozen just take the bag out of the bowl).

Now add the grated onion, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, clam juice, and pepper. You can add salt if you’d like; I think it’s great without the added salt.

Add the whole baby clams and mix in with a wooden spoon. Don’t use the mixer for this as it will decimate those clams! You can use chopped clams if you’d like, using 2 cans, the 7 oz. ones. We really like the whole clams in it.

Place into a serving bowl and unleash the potato chips! Enjoy ~TMMF

Tempting Clam Dip

8 oz softened cream cheese
¼ of a Vidalia onion
     (enough to make 2 tsp grated)
2 tsp lemon juice
1 ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ c clam juice (from the can of clams)
dash black pepper
1 10 oz can whole baby clams

Monday, December 23, 2013

HelloFresh: a Mosaic Review

This past week I’ve been reviewing a home delivery company called HelloFresh. In exchange for the review, I received for free a box from Hello Fresh with 3 meals for two people. Co-founder Hamish Shephard and the magic angels there not only pick out delicious recipes for you to try each week, but they also send you all the pre-portioned ingredients and deliver them to your door.

This saves you time choosing recipes for what to make for dinner, and also the time of shopping for all the ingredients and portioning them out for each recipe. You have what you need with no waste, and everything is FRESH. There are very few ingredients not included (and they do make sure you know), but in my three meals, it was just one or two tablespoons of olive oil. Hey, I don’t even list that in most of my recipes here; I just say, for example, to sauté the meat in a little oil, etc.

Sample of a Veggie Box

Here is how it works with HelloFresh: it’s a subscription service (that can be paused or adjusted very easily as needed, or cancelled) with no charge to join, that delivers the box of recipes and fresh ingredients to your home each week after you have chosen the Classic or Veggie Box.  You choose whether you want the box for two people or 4, then which three of the 5 recipes offered that week that you’d like for the Classic; the Veggie Box has a pre-chosen 3 recipes. I want to mention that Hello Fresh creates these recipes, and let me tell you now, from what I was given and made, the recipes are FANTASTIC.

I’m just going to give a basic rundown of my experience wit HelloFresh as a whole, and in later posts I’ll be doing each recipe separately.

The box was delivered to my door last Wednesday, my birthday. Caitlin and I went through it; everything stayed fresh and safe by two huge ice packs, in  an insulated box.

Most all ingredients were in their own separate bags, and then those were in larger bags and labeled for the appropriate meal, so there was no way you could be mixed up as to what went with what recipe.

I had in my Classic Box these three recipes:

Classic Beef Stew with Chickpeas and Green Beans;

Yogurt Marinated Shrimp over Arugula Salad;

and Sautéed Chicken with Ginger Parsnips & Carrots.

When it was time to “Let’s get cooking!” for each meal,  all I had to do was pull all the ingredients out (of the fridge), and by following the recipe card, my daughter Megan and I would set to work on it. The recipe cards give a photo of the ingredients, a typical recipe format, and a photo of the finished product. On the back of the card, there are step by step instructions with 6 photos to go along with it. My kind of recipe card! You all know how I use a lot of photos at The Magic Meal Fairy! ;)

I found the recipes easy to follow, especially with the photos to help. I had very little difficulty with them, except with the Classic Beef Stew; one step had me placing various vegetables into boiling water in a certain order, then drain and place them into a bowl of ice water to half the cooking process. When I next needed to work with those vegetables, the step had me putting only the potatoes into the next step, and they were mixed in with carrot coins and green beans. Not a huge deal; it was just a little awkward and more time consuming to go through them and pick out the diced potatoes.

On another recipe, I was at the point of putting the food onto the plates and when I checked the photo on the recipe card, their plate of food had celery in it, and I didn’t have any celery in mine! ;) I quickly read the recipe ingredients and the instructions, and realized that celery wasn’t included in the recipe.

But their photo looked so much better with that green added to it, and I believe it would have tasted wonderful with this dish, so I decided that next time I make it at home, I’m going to add it! I consider these two things very minor; little blips, but just sharing because I’m supposed to review it. But if those 2 things are the only negatives, then this is one great company!

The ease of having the ingredients all portioned out was wonderful, but I would say to read the recipe ingredients first, as sometimes a recipe may call for ¼ of an onion, and a whole onion is given to you, for example. I think in 2 of the meals in my box, there were ingredients that were not appropriate for HelloFresh to exactly portion out that way, so you have that added little bonus of food you can use in something else later! Just read the recipe first and note any ingredients in which this may be the case.

I have to tell you, in regards to the “Fresh” in HelloFresh, they are spot on! These ingredients are as fresh as if you had just bought them at the grocery store. I had to use fresh gingerroot in two of my recipes, and the gingerroot was so fresh, it was juicy and made my fingers smell heavenly! All the vegetables I received in my box were fresh as can be and just perfect! The meats were the same way, and the beef they supplied for the Classic Beef Stew was incredibly tender! I knew as soon as I opened that particular package and started slicing the beef into smaller chunks that it was going to be that way. It was velvety tender and the knife sliced through it like butter.

The food was so delicious, and the recipes I found to be invigorating and challenging. By that, I mean that before I had heard of HelloFresh and done this review, I wasn’t one to try new recipes that I wasn’t sure I would like. I was somewhat trapped in my little comfort zone, but when I chose my Classic Box recipes, I decided I was going to step out of that comfort zone and try recipes that I normally would have turned up my nose at and thought, “Ewww! No way!” ;) I knew I would like the Classic Beef Stew with Chickpeas and Green Beans, but the other two I was unsure about. But rather than choose something else, like the Penne all' Arrabbiata, which I was fairly sure I’d love, I ended up being brave and going for the Yogurt Marinated Shrimp over Arugula Salad and Sautéed Chicken with Ginger Parsnips & Carrots.

Now that I’ve taken that step, I am very excited about trying other recipes that I most likely would not; I’m ready to experience something new and fresh. I have HelloFresh to thank for that.

Oh, and guess what I found in my Box too? Yes, they randomly place little extras in their boxes as a surprise! I thought that was really neat.

So, great recipes that are easy to follow, ingredients provided for you and mostly pre-portioned as well as being fresh and in excellent condition; now onto some of my observations about HelloFresh as far as service is concerned. The team at HelloFresh, in my opinion, are angels. They are very conscientious about making sure you are taken care of in all aspects. If there is any problem at all, they respond very quickly to your concerns. They sent me an email before my delivery and someone even called me to talk about the box I had coming, made sure I had all the contact info, asked me if I had any concerns, questions, etc.

They are very friendly, polite, and so eager to help and make sure your experience with their company is excellent. And I don’t think they were being that way with me because of my being  a reviewer with Mosaics doing a review of their company; I don’t think the people I dealt with were aware of that fact because I had to explain that to them when I communicated with them both in email and on the phone. My dealings with them showed me that customer service is their top priority (along with quality ingredients), striving to ensure that their customers have the best experience possible with their company.

Now for pricing info for the HelloFresh Boxes, you can click on this link HelloFresh Boxes
to see prices for the different boxes and the number of people you need to feed. The Vegetarian Box is slightly less expensive than the Classic Box. Oh, let me tell you something about that: I had received the Classic Box for 2 people, and I have to tell you, they give you plenty of food! We had enough of  the Classic Beef Stew with Chickpeas and Green Beans to give four of us full bowls. That one was just fantastic. We could not stop raving about how wonderful it tasted and how tender the beef was. The other two dishes were the same as well, making enough to feed 4 of us healthy portions. We were ecstatic about those two dishes as well. Definitely keepers. ;)

HelloFresh has all the links you need to answer any questions you have, such as the FAQ's, and if you have something not covered by those, just contact them and they will be eager to help. Here is the link for contacting them: Contact HelloFresh. They are friendly, personable, and so willing to go above and beyond to help you.

On my limited budget, I cannot afford to continue on as a weekly customer, but I have kept my subscription with them and have paused my delivery; my plans are to (hopefully!) get one box a month for the wonderful recipes and convenience of their service. If I can do that, what a treat that will be! Believe you me, if I had the resources to use HelloFresh’s services on a weekly basis, I would. I cannot say enough good about them! Their service is excellent and their product wonderful, and this has been one of the best experiences for me.

For other Mosaic reviews about HelloFresh, click here: Mosaic Reviews of HelloFresh.

I really hope you’ll consider giving Hello Fresh a try at least, and I even have a special code for you to use that will get you $20 off at checkout, plus give me $20 off a future box (pretty please? Haha, just kidding, no pressure here; it’s just a really great experience from which we can both benefit.) The code you use is: 3GYSLR. Enjoy! ~TMMF

Friday, December 13, 2013

Baked Spinach Stuffed Tilapia

Phil loves fish, just about any kind. When I made this dish, Baked Spinach Stuffed Tilapia, he just loved it. I could have used a different kind of fish, as Phil would have loved it anyway, but since this is what I had at the time, I used it. Next time I’ll ask Phil what kind he’d like and make this recipe with that one, if it's not a "stiff" kind, like swordfish and the like. By the way, I came up with this recipe because I was looking through the freezer to decide what to make for supper, and when I saw the spinach and bacon, the idea for stuffed fish came to mind.

First, sauté the bacon in a skillet. It doesn’t have to be crispy; as a matter of fact, the stuffing will be better with the bacon somewhat soft. When the bacon is cooked, chop into small pieces.

While that is cooking, place the frozen spinach in a bowl and microwave on high for about 5 minutes. When cool, press out the water.

Meanwhile, dice the Vidalia onion and celery, and sauté in a skillet until nicely browned.

Dice the bread and put in a large bowl. Add the salt and pepper and mix.

Add the chopped bacon and the sautéed onions and celery.

Mix in the drained spinach, melted butter, and chicken bullion. I frequently use my hands to do this.

Take about 1/3 cup stuffing mix with your hand, or use a scoop. Kind of squeeze it a little; you don’t want it loose so it falls apart or falls “out” of the fish.

Place it on the bottom of the piece of fish and wrap the fish around it on each end.

Place the stuffed fish in a greased 9 X 13” casserole dish. You can cover the baking dish with tin foil if you'd like.

Bake at 350° until fish is flaky, about 40 minutes or so.

While the stuffed fish is baking, make the cream sauce. In a medium saucepan, make the roux. Melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Bring to bubbling, stirring constantly.

Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly. When thickened, add the salt and pepper.

When the stuffed fish is done baking, place on plate and ladle the cream sauce on top. Sprinkle with parsley if you’d like. Enjoy! ~TMMF

Baked Spinach Stuffed Tilapia

8-9 Tilapia filets
½ lb bacon
1 stalk celery
½ small Vidalia onion
1 10 oz. package frozen spinach
14 pieces bread
1-2 Tbl. butter, melted
½ c. chicken bullion
   (hot water and ½ cube)
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper

Cream Sauce

½ c. butter
½ c. flour
2 c. milk
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper