ShareCrate: Loving With Food Review and Giveaway

food delivery giveaway

A couple of months back, I was invited to learn about Dream Dinners,  a national meal-assembly company inspired by the belief that families should eat wholesome meals around the dinner table together. Since I share the same desire, I knew I had to go find out more information! I was excited to learn about the money and time-saving opportunities, not to mention the delicious seasonal meal options. There is so much that goes into meal-time prep- from planning what to serve, buying groceries, and allowing plenty of time to prepare the meal and gather everyone around the table.  Dream Dinners strives to make this process simplified so you have more time with the people you love the most. To extend the idea further, the ShareCrate package was created to send meals to families experiencing life-changing events, be it celebrating new beginnings or offering support during hard times.

With the popularity of other delivery services, a ShareCrate package is the perfect way to show friends and family far away that you care. I recently received my very own ShareCrate to blog about my experience. Today, I will be sharing my wonderful experience. At the end of the post, you too will have a chance to receive your very own ShareCrate! Simply leave me a comment on what you love the most about the ShareCrate concept to enter the contest. Next Thursday I will use random.org to announce a winner.

When you place an order, the package will look similar to this adorable cardboard box. Just seeing the packaging brought a huge smile to my face.

Sharecrate-boxOnce you open the package, you will see a carefully packed Styrofoam cooler with dry ice.

Styrofam-sharecrate-coolerHow cool! Ahhhh no pun intended. But REALLY! Wholesome meals. Delivered. Easy to prepare. So you can spend more time with the people you love. My heart was rejoicing!

Each ShareCrate comes with three frozen easy-to-prepare meals, most of which can be made in 30 minutes or less. Additionally, you recieve the cooking instructions and nutritional information for each meal.

sharecrate-freezer-bag-food

sharecrate-freezer-food

Each package comes with one meal that goes from freezer-to-oven, Creamy Chicken Florentine Tortellini. That meal takes 1.5 hours to cook in the oven, but there is no preparation needed. You simply follow the cooking instructions and you have an incredible Italian dish ready for the entire family to enjoy. The cooking instructions are easy to follow you don’t to be a kitchen aficionado to prepare high quality meals for your family. The other two meal offerings, Sesame Glazed Meatballs with Jasmine Rice and Chicken with Honey, Garlic, and Orange and Roasted Broccoli can be placed in the refrigerator to thaw the morning of the day you want to serve them. Each meal comes complete with all of the ingredients and seasonings needed to prepare the meals, except for olive oil needed for cooking. There are two different size offerings: the medium option feeds 2-3 people per meal and the large option feeds 5-6 people. Regardless of the size you decide to order, the meal offerings won’t change.

Although all three meals were delicious, my favorite meal was the Chicken with Honey, Garlic, and Orange and Roasted Broccoli. The sauce was sweet but not overpowering of the chicken and broccoli. It was a healthy meal that felt like a splurge because I had prepared restaurant-quality food in the comfort and convenience of my home.

orange-chicken-sharecrate

sharecrate-glazed-meatballs

The cost for a medium ShareCrate is $89, plus shipping. The cost of a large ShareCrate is $139, plus shipping. When shipped, the family doesn’t have to be home. All packages contain enough dry ice to ensure the meals stay sufficiently frozen from shipping until 8pm the day of delivery. ShareCrate is currently available for delivery to Alabama*, Arkansas*, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia*, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa*, Kansas*, Kentucky, Maine*, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi*, Missouri, Nebraska*, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota*, Ohio, Oklahoma*, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina*, South Dakota*, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington D.C., West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Additional delivery areas will be added in the coming months.  (*limited delivery area) In addition, for every ShareCrate sold, a meal will be donated to a child in need through the non-profit organization Living the Dream.

For more information on Dream Dinners and ShareCrate, visit www.dreamdinners.com and www.lovingwithfood.com.

 

What do you love about the ShareCrate concept?

 

 

**Disclaimer: I was not paid, but received the package to review. These thoughts and opinions were strictly my own.

Menu 911: Healthy and Easy Menu Ideas for Busy People

MENUS FOR BUSY PEOPLE

The biggest complaint I hear when I talk to people about food is they don’t know the best way to feed themselves or their families. Sometimes, it’s “I have all this food in my pantry and don’t know what to cook with it.” I’ve also heard, “After a long day, the last thing I want to do is spend time in the kitchen.” From those who hate grocery shopping, “I hate grocery shopping. I never know what I’m going to want to eat so I buy different things that spoil before I get to eat them. It’s such a pain.” I totally understand all of these feelings. While I like finding new recipes and eating them, grocery shopping is my least favorite part. AND I DON’T EVEN HAVE ANY PICKY EATERS IN MY HOUSEHOLD (YET)!

So today, I hope to inspire you and your grocery list. These techniques help me save time and money by not eating out every time we are in a hurry or don’t feel like cooking. (Sorry if I’m preaching, but that is not a good habit to get into for a BAJILLION of reasons- mainly your diet and budget.)

The key to planning your grocery shopping is to think about what your favorite meals are. Day in and day out, what do you eat the most of? For my Husband and I, we eat mainly Italian, Greek, Mexican and PEANUT BUTTER. (My Husband thinks PB is a food group.) Almost every week we have either pizza or spaghetti. Although that might surprise you or sound boring, I really look forward to a meal that I don’t have to stress over how it’s going to turn out. We eat Greek and Mexican frequently because I like cooking with rosemary and cilantro. Take a look at how these influences show up in our household..

My Go-To Meals:

Salads– Every week I buy 2 packages of honey goat cheese or Feta at ALDI (because it is so CHEAP there) and 2-3 heads of (red leaf or romaine) lettuce. I top it off with a variation of some pecans, granola,  and a fruit if in season.

salad with goat cheese and pecans

If I am in the mood for a Greek salad and chicken gyros, I use this salad recipe.

Sandwiches– I rotate out roast beef and provolone melts, blackerry fontina cheese sandwiches, and Jeff Mauro’s roasted cauliflower melt

Spaghetti or pizza

Sweet PotatoesI roast the potatoes and  1 red bell pepper for 45 minutes  at 415 degrees and top with goat cheese and red peppers. You can also adorn it with the toppings of a regular potato. 

Tacos

Sides and Snacks I always have on-hand:

Black beans and Rotel tomatoes

Hummus and carrots (I also share carrots with our dog, Pogo since they are nutritious for dogs as well.)

Quinoa and Couscous

Apples and Peanut Butter

Celery and Peanut Butter

Bananas 

Seasonal Fruits and Veggies

Since the best way to save money at the grocery store is to plan ahead, make a menu with the staples you buy every week and save it so you have a copy each week.  It will help you save money in the long run if you stick to the items on your list. In addition, I highly recommend planning 4-5 dinners each week. Ask your family members if they would like to see certain meals on the menu this week. (If you are a party of one, you lucky dog, you! You don’t have to worry about pleasing anyone else with your menu choices.) Once you have figured out what you want to make, add the ingredients you need from those recipes to your list of staple menu items. Once you get good at this menu building process, it should take you only 30 minutes to plan your menu. With the birth of Pinterest, there is no excuse for boredom in the kitchen. 🙂

Does this help you better plan for your trip to the grocery store? What are your families’ favorite go-to foods?

Amazingly Easy Sourdough Bread With Cranberries And Swiss Cheese

whole2(This is a guest post by Scott Cuzzo from The Fermented Evangelist.)

Making sourdough bread is often considered a daunting task!  But through the power of kefir, making sourdough bread is actually very easy.  Kefir even adds it’s own yeast.  With kefir you can make basic sourdough bread with only three ingredients: kefir, flour and salt.  Could it get any easier?

A little background.

Kefir is milk that has been fermented by the addition of a SCOBY.  SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast.  If you are new to this stuff, that may sound frightening, but it is not.  The process is similar to making yogurt, but is both easier and better for you!  Kefir makes milk better by adding a rich array of probiotics, and breaking down things like lactose, that are often hard for some people to digest while making nutrients more easily absorbed by the body.  Many people who are lactose intolerant are able to tolerate kefir.

Kefir means “good feeling” in Turkish, and when I drink kefir, I do feel good!  Some days I swear it improves my mood almost instantly.  Perhaps it is the strong dose of B vitamins.

And the benefits (without getting too technical) of making sourdough are:
• nutrients (like B vitamins and more) are broken down and are easier to digest and absorb
• reduces blood sugar spikes that can be common with carbohydrates
• makes bread that often can be tolerated by those with gluten sensitivity
• creates preservative-free bread that stays fresh longer than regular bread (due to phytic acid)
• is part of the ancient art of making bread (there is something magical about making bread this way!)

Ingredients:
1 cup of rye flour
1 cup of kefir
1/4 cup of water (if needed)
1/2 a packet of yeast (optional)
1/2 tablespoon of salt
2 cups of white all purpose or bread flour
1 cup of diced Swiss cheese (or another medium-firm cheese)
1 cup (more or less) of dried cranberries
1 dash of oil
1 egg white to brush on top (optional)

kefir_ryeMake the sourdough starter:
Mix the rye flour and kefir together in a glass jar with a lid.  Leave the lid a smidge loose so any pressure can be released.  Allow the flour and kefir to sit at room temperature for 2-3 days.  Give it shake from time to time.  Your mixture should be like thick pancake batter.  If the mixture gets too thick, add some water to thin it out a bit.  Open the lid from time to time and smell.  You will begin to smell the “sour” that give sourdough bread it’s distinctive tang.  If you want a more powerful sour flavor, let your starter go a couple of days longer.  But for me, I find that 2-3 days is just about right for a good, but not too powerful sourdough flavor.

starterMake the dough:
When you are ready, add all of your sourdough starter into a mixing bowl.  If you have a mixer with a dough hook…that is going to be perfect.  If you want strong arms, use a bowl and a strong spoon.  Remember to stretch first, and stay hydrated if you go the bowl and spoon route. If you want, add a half packet of yeast now and mix thoroughly into your starter.  This will ensure you have an even distribution of yeast.  Adding yeast will merely speed things up.

(A note about the yeast…  Kefir contains yeast already.  You do not need to add additional yeast, but sometimes I do to speed along the process.  If you add the yeast your bread will probably rise in a couple of hours.  If you opt to skip the yeast, your dough may take an extra day or two to rise.  Both options are just fine, I do it both ways.)

Add the salt and mix thoroughly.

doughbowlBegin to add your white flour in half cups, mixing along the way.  You will probably need to stop the mixer, scrape the sides, and shift things around to get an even mix.  Keep adding white flour until your dough “comes together”.  If using a stand mixer the dough might begin to clean the sides of the bowl and hold together.  You want a nice, pliable dough, not too dry and not too wet.  Adding your flour slowly will let you judge things.  Do not rely on my exact measurements for flour…you need to add enough to make your dough just right.

When your dough looks right, add the cheese and cranberries and mix until incorporated.  I often rehydrate my cranberries in warm water to make them softer.  This is a great idea.  If you do this, you might need to add some more flour to adjust for the extra moisture.

cheese_cranDump your dough onto a clean counter and knead just a bit.  Your mixer may have provided enough kneading, but it’s always fun to get your hands on some fresh dough.  Over kneading will cause your dough to start to look rough…stop if you hit this point.

Add your dash of oil into the mixing bowl and turn the bowl a bit to spread the oil around.  Plop your dough into the bowl and give it a swirl to get it oiled up, like a coed trying to get a tan.  Then flip the dough over once to make sure the entire dough ball is coated with oil.  Cover your bowl with plastic wrap.  If you don’t get a good seal, use a rubber band.  I always save those bands that keep the broccoli together.  Usually these can stretch to fit my KitchenAid mixing bowl.  Set your bowl in a warmish, draft-free location to rise.  If you added the optional yeast, your dough might double in about two hours.  If you do not add extra yeast, your dough might take a couple of days to double.  This is not bad!  Flour that gets more time to ferment is even better for you…plus you get to work on your patience!

At the risk of getting lengthy, I will add, that if your dough is rising, and its bad timing to bake it, you can punch it down, put it into an oiled Zipoc bag and toss it in the fridge.  Bread dough will easily keep a few days this way!  Often, I make a two-loaf batch and toss half into the fridge to bake a day or two later.  Cold dough will just take longer to warm up and start to rise again.

lumpWhen your dough had doubled in size, turn it out onto the counter and knead a bit more, shaping the loaf into the size to fit your container.  You can use a typical loaf pan, or a pie plate, or even just place it on a baking sheet.  This time I used a baking sheet with a piece of parchment.  If you use a loaf pan or pie tin, make sure you oil or butter the inside before placing your loaf into it.  Remember that your dough will likely double in size after your second kneading and shaping, so allow for expansion.

Cover your dough with a clean dish towel or plastic wrap.  If using plastic wrap, give the top of your loaf a bit of oil so the dough doesn’t end up sticking to it.  Trust me, I’ve done this…learn from me.

risingAllow your loaf to rise until doubled in size.  Beat an egg white with a half tablespoon (yea…like I measure anything!) of water and brush on top.  You won’t use all the egg, not even most of it, just brush on enough so you can see the top is glistening.  This step is optional, but gives the top a nice shine.   Sometimes I save a few slivers of cheese and make a design on top.  Totally optional. Today I went with a radial design.  Then, make an omelette with your leftover egg.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 30-45 minutes.  Factors vary, the size and shape of your loaf, etc. will all factor in.  I set my timer for 20 minutes, and start checking my bread at this point.  I typically will give my loaf a half a turn in the oven as well, as sometimes ovens don’t heat evenly.

meltingBake until done.  Keep checking as needed.  You want a nice brown loaf, but the real test for doneness is if your loaf has a hollow thump when you give it a thump with your finger.  If doesn’t have that hollow thump, pop it back into the oven for a bit more time.

If you have a nice color but not the hollow thump, place some foil very loosely over the top to prevent the top from getting too dark.  If you seal your foil on top, you will steam your nice crisp crust…let’s not do that, ok?

Final thoughts.

And now that I’ve gotten you to buy some kefir…please make sure that you drink it!  I really do believe that kefir is really one of those very special super foods.  If you don’t like the taste of it plain, it blends really well with nearly any fruit.  Or you could sweeten it up with honey.  If you use sugar…that will be our little secret.  I hope you try kefir.  Even more, I hope you find a way to make kefir and other fermented foods a regular part of your diet.  I have found it to be utterly life-changing.

Actually, you could strip this recipe and process down to three ingredients.  You could make basic sourdough bread using simply kefir, white flour and salt!  I hope you give this a try.

In another few days I will share with you my fermented salsa recipe!  I have made this many times and my friends and coworkers seriously love this stuff, even if they don’t know how good it is for them!  I know…sometimes saying “fermented” scares people away.  That is because they don’t understand.  But you and I…we KNOW things.  Fermented foods are powerful healing foods, and that is so very important.  And if you think “fermented” will scare people away, you can always call it “cultured” instead.  🙂

 

Life by the Inch

one-day-at-a-time

As a new blogger, I was terribly stressed last week. I had all of these wonderful Easter recipes I was going to share with you … desserts for kids, desserts for adults, our wonderful Easter meal, yada yada. Yes, I’m a horrible planner when it comes to blogging. I DID get a blogging planner to review so now I will start using that. YAY! However, midst all of the blogging holiday stress while working a full time job, I started feeling like Jesus was saying, “Really Toye?! Is this what Easter is about? Having the perfect eggs, the perfect outfit, the perfect food?!” In his Jesus kind of way he gently reminded me “Heck no!” Jesus didn’t come so every thing in our lives would be the best thing ever.

What is perfect anyway, except Him? 

So I quit trying so hard. I made the Aztec Easter Eggs and told myself that was enough crafts . When I found out that the store had run out of lamb tenderloin I didn’t cry and throw in the towel; I learned a good lesson about planning and used pork tenderloin instead. All that other time I could have wasted trying to make everything turn out right, I just gave to God. I used that time to be with Him. To imagine what it must have been like with Jesus through this time. The betrayal, the sacrifice for me… for you… the love like nothing I’ve ever known. The fear of how I would have reacted if I had been present watching Jesus crucified. The confusion I would have felt seeing Him on the third day.

Jesus came so that we would SEEK Him and SHARE His love with everyone around us. Most of the time that means things are messy and don’t go according to our desires, but it’s the best way. 

When things start to feel out of control, remind yourself of what is important and what this life is truly about. No matter what is going on, hand it over to God. He will give you wisdom and peace in His time, just keep asking Him and spending time with Him. When you find yourself picking these worries back up, hand them over again. Trust me, it’s a bad cycle many times. This fabulous boss I had once told me, “Life by the yard is hard, but by the inch, it’s a cinch.” It has helped me to give God the steering wheel and direct my course numerous times.

In true fashion to living by inch, I’m sharing the yummy result of that particular instance of letting God plan the menu. The tenderloin pairs well with this roasted rosemary potatoes recipe and a roasted veggie medley.

Rosemary Pork Tenderloin

(8-10 servings)

Prep time: 1 hr 20 minutes  Cook time: 40 minutes

Total: 2 hours

Ingredients:

2 2 lb  pork tenderloins
2 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 1/2 Tbsp. chopped rosemary leaves
4 Tbsp. ground mustard
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp.  salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c lemon juice (or the juice of one lemon)
Directions:

1.Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

2.Rinse the meat in cool water and trim any excess fat. Place it in the baking pan.

3.In a small bowl, combine olive oil, rosemary , mustard, garlic, salt, black pepper, and lemon juice.

4.Carefully cover marinade all over pork roast, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

5. Take it out of the refrigerator and place it in the oven checking it after 30 minutes.

Note:

I find tenderloins very tricky. Depending on the size, the time in the oven can vary. After 30 minutes, take it out of the oven and go ahead and cut in to it to see if it is still pink on the inside. If it’s not, it’s done; if it is, put it back in and check it every 10 minutes.