Saturday, 27 August 2016

Chef's Plate Review - August Week 3 - Canadian Meal Preparation Subscription Box + PROMO CODE

Canadian Box Addict pays for this subscription. This post contains referral links.
What is it? Chef's Plate
How Much? Starts at $49.80 per week, plus $6 delivery. Prices in Canadian dollars.
What’s in it? Fresh ingredients and delicious recipes delivered weekly to your door

Chef's Plate is a weekly meal delivery service that sends original gourmet recipes and pre-portioned farm-fresh ingredients so you can cook a fresh, healthy, and nutritionally balanced meal. Chef's Plate started in Toronto in 2014 and now ships to most major cities in Ontario, BC, Manitoba, and Alberta. They will be expanding to Quebec and the Maritimes in coming months.
Chef's Plate is putting Canadians back in the kitchen. By delivering easy-to-follow recipes and fresh pre-portioned ingredients right to your door, we take the guesswork out of cooking and have made food fun again! No more Sunday night grocery store lines, no more hunting for recipes – we handle everything so you can relax and enjoy the cooking experience! 

There are two plans available: The "2-Person Plan" includes market fresh meals for two and the "Family Plan" includes market fresh meals for four. Once you've selected your plan, decide if you'd like to receive 2, 3, or 4 recipes per week. Plans are priced per plate. For example, if you purchase a 2-Person Plan with two recipes per week, that's four plates. The "2-Person Plan" is $10.95 per plate (serving) and the "Family Plan" is $9.95 per plate. The weekly delivery fee is $6 per box. I subscribe to the "2-Person Plan" with two recipes per week, which is $55.80 per week with shipping. Prices are in Canadian dollars and there is no tax.

Chef's Plate has a great referral plan too. Once you're signed up, for every friend you refer, you get 2 plates free, and your friend gets their first 3 plates free. That means your friend (and you, if you keep reading to the bottom), can get your first week for only $16.95 (based on a 2-Person Plan with two recipes).

This is my second delivery, but it's the third week. Read my Week 1 review here. I skipped week two, partly because none of the recipes appealed to  me, and partly because I wasn't sure if I would be home to accept delivery. Delivery day for the Vancouver region is Tuesday. Boxes ship out via FedEx on Monday night. The food is packed in an insulated box with gel ice packs to keep everything cool. For those that reside in houses, you don't need to be home to accept delivery. FedEx will leave the box at your front door, or wherever you indicate (you can add special delivery instructions). Those in condos or secure buildings will need to be home to accept delivery, or make arrangements with a doorman or neighbour.

Recipes are released two weeks in advance and seven new recipes are available each week. There is typically one chicken dish, one beef dish, one pork, turkey, or fish dish, and three vegetarian dishes. At least one dish will be gluten free and at least one will be dairy free. You can see upcoming menus here. You can select your preferred dishes, or skip the week. If you don't make a selection, Chef's Plate will choose for you, so be sure to login and select your weekly meals! You can skip as many times as you want, or cancel any time.

The ingredients are locally sourced from Canadian producers. Vegetables are farm fresh, and arguably fresher than you would get from a supermarket. Meats are antibiotic and hormone free. Ingredients are designed to remain fresh up to five days after delivery. Items should be refrigerated as soon as the box is unpacked. Fish dishes should be cooked within two days of delivery, to ensure freshness.

 My first pick for Week 3 was Fish Taquitos
Back by popular demand our fish and sweet potato taquitos with are loaded with all the fixings, inspired by the markets of Puebla. The flaky basa fillets are cooked in Mexican chilli powder and loaded into fresh flour tortillas and served with creamy guacamole and tomato salsa.

Something new I noticed this week is full ingredients and nutrition facts. This label is affixed to the back of each meal bag. This is a nice feature! 

For Fish Taquitos we have tortillas, sweet potatoes, avocado, two basa filets, Mexican Chili Powder, a garlic glove, cilantro, yellow tomatoes, a shallot, a red tomato, and a lime. Chef's Plate sends all the ingredients required, aside from oil, salt, and pepper.  

The recipe is 8x11, full colour, double sided. There are step by step directions with pictures. This is considered a "medium" level recipe, but you don't need to be a chef to use Chef's Plate. Basic cooking skills are an asset, but not necessary.

Step one is always "Read the entire recipe card". That makes me laugh. I don't know how many times I've rushed through a recipe and realized I missed a step or ingredient. Next, each recipe starts with prepping the "mise en place", which simply means putting  everything in its place, or having all your ingredients prepared and ready to go. Since the ingredients are pre-portioned, all you need to do is rinse and chop!  

Let's talk about this avocado. When I took it out of the bag, it felt really soft. I was worried it was overripe and would be brown inside. I cut it open and was quite surprised to see that it was perfect. It's hard to get a perfectly ripe avocado when you need it! 

After the veggie chopping was done, I set to cooking the sweet potato, which was very easy. 

While the sweet potato cooked, I mixed together the salsa and guacamole. 

I didn't get a picture of the fish cooking, but it was very quick and simple - just a quick pan fry, 2-3 minutes per side. One critique is that I didn't have enough Mexican Chili Powder to nicely coat both sides of the fish pieces. I went to my spice cabinet and used some taco seasoning to finish it up.

Up next - assemble the taquitos. This was easy. There were six tortillas, so I just divided the fish and sweet potatoes between them. 

To make them into taquitos, instead of tacos, roll tightly and quickly brown in a frying pan. 

Top with salsa and guacamole and that's it! 

I really enjoyed this meal. I don't often cook fish at home because it kind of scares me. This dish was so easy and I realized I should not be afraid of fish. The flavours were fresh and bold. Typically when I cook Mexican inspired food I need cheese or sour cream. This dish didn't need anything extra. If you wanted to extend the meal for left overs or to serve three, add a salad or bean side dish and serve two taquitos per person instead of three.  

My second pick was Pork Steamed Buns.
Bursting with savoury pork filling, these soft and fluffy steamed buns deliver big flavour! Stir-fried ginger pork is tossed in a black bean sauce and complimented with pickled radishes and cucumbers. You win some you "dim sum" with this recipe!

I was super excited about this one. I love steamed buns. I dubbed this recipe "Asian Sloppy Joes". 

For Pork Steamed Buns we have six buns, green onions, cucumbers, radishes,  Gochugaru powder (Korean red pepper), black bean paste, pureed ginger, cider vinegar, sugar, and ground pork. Again, I only needed to supply oil, salt, and pepper. One critique here is that the small paper sugar packet was thrown into the bag with the other ingredients. A lot of moisture develops in the bag, so the sugar packet was nearly destroyed. It probably should have been placed into a small plastic zip bag for protection. 

This is an "easy" level recipe and takes only about 25 minutes to prepare.

There are two parts to this recipe. One is the pickled veggies. I recently started doing "quick pickles" with my Asian dishes and salads. It's super easy, and takes hardly any time. This recipe calls for cider vinegar, sugar, and a bit of water. Just bring it to a quick boil, then remove from the heat and let it sit while preparing the rest of the dinner. 

 The second part of the recipe is the meat. Throw it in a pan with the seasonings and cook. That's it!

To steam the buns, Chef's Plate suggests placing a metal colander over a pot of boiling water. I used a steamer basket instead, because I have one. Use whatever you have to get the job done! When the buns steam, they puff up and become very soft. 

Assembly is easy. Meat and pickles. That's it. Serve the remaining pickles on the side as a salad. 

G and I loved this dish. The meat was so good with just a hint of spiciness. I loved the quick pickles. The buns were delicious - slightly sweet, soft and chewy. I really want to create this dish again so I'm hoping I can find frozen steamed buns like this at T&T market. We each had three little sandwiches and it was just enough food. Our appetites were satisfied, although we would have loved some left overs.

Once again, I was really pleased with my Chef's Plate experience. The meals were very tasty, and I would definitely cook both recipes again. They were quick and easy, which is perfect for after a long day of work. I like that Chef's Plate gives you everything you need, with minimal food waste. I'm terrible for throwing out produce because I don't use it. I strongly suspect that Chef's Plate is actually saving me money, from less eating out and less food waste. I need to look into this theory more! I know some people are concerned about the amount of packaging waste, but everything is reusable or recyclable. Even the gel ice packs are recyclable. PMD Recycling has a monthly drop off depot near my house, so soft plastics (bags, etc) that can't go in my blue bin go there. If your local city recycling program doesn't accept soft plastics, check for a company in your area that takes those items (PMD also takes Styrofoam, foil packets, and loads more).

I've already selected my meals for the next two weeks. For August 23rd delivery I picked Korean Steak Stir-Fry and Lemon Pepper Chicken.

For August 30th delivery, I selected a Pork Spring  Roll Bowl and Avocado & Black Bean Tostados. You may notice a trend. I'm all about Mexican, Asian, and... chicken. 

Keep an eye out for upcoming reviews. I'm not sure I can keep up with reviewing every week, but I will sure try.

If you are interested in trying Chef's Plate, you can get your first THREE plates for FREE! That's a $33 savings. Simply use my referral link here, or enter my referral code #3platesFromcdnboxaddict in the promo code section at checkout. On a "2-Person 2 recipe plan", your first week will only be $10.95, plus $6 shipping. After that you can continue with your subscription, skip as many weeks as you want, or cancel.

Click here to check out Chef's Plate.

Disclaimer: Box information is correct as of posting date. As prices and terms are subject to change, please be sure to read the FAQ of this company before 

Friday, 26 August 2016

Put a Bow On It Deluxe Box Review - August 2016 - Canadian Lifestyle Subscription Box

This box was provided complimentary for review.
What is it? Put a Bow On It Deluxe Subscription
How Much? $36/month, plus $10 shipping. Prices in Canadian dollars.
What’s in it?  A beautifully wrapped gift curated with a fun & exciting theme

Put a Bow On It is a Canadian subscription service based in St. Albert, Alberta. Each month, Put a Bow On It sends a box of fabulous lifestyle products curated around a fun and exciting theme. There are two box options available: the Premium box and the Deluxe box. The Deluxe box is similar to the Premium box, but on a smaller scale. Each monthly box will have a different theme, with different items, so you could feasibly subscribe to both. The Premium box retails for $59.99, plus tax and shipping. Boxes may include items from several categories, including cosmetics & beauty, jewellery & fashion, home decor, technology, cooking & baking, health & lifestyle, and more!

Monthly subscriptions automatically renew, until cancelled. Gift subscriptions do not re-new. Order by the 14th of the month and your subscription will start in the following month. For example, order by September 14, and your first box will be October. Order after September 14, and your first box will be November.

See my previous Put a Bow on It reviews here.

The  box arrives wrapped in branded kraft paper. Inside, is a perfectly wrapped gift. Once unwrapped, you find a white branded cardboard gift box. It's a little overkill if the box is for yourself, but as a gift, it's absolutely perfect.

The theme for the August Deluxe box is "Nail Envy".

The  full page product sheet details the main items. There are a few smaller extras that aren't listed. The sheet notes that some colours, flavours, and scents may vary.

Prestat Dark & Rich Chocolate Bar ($6)
This is a nail themed box, but what better way to start off a day of pampering than with a high quality chocolate bar!

Barielle Daily Moisturizing Hand Mask ($4.99US/$6.50 CDN)
Start your at-home spa day with these moisturizing hand masks. I've tried hand masks before and they are very weird, but also very effective.

Bath & Body Works Endless Weekend Hand Cream ($5 US/$6.50 CDN)
This shea butter and Vitamin E hand cream has a lightly perfumed scent. It's nice and subtle. This product is no longer available on the Bath & Body Works website.

Bath & Body Works PocketBac Pure Paradise ($1.75 US/$2.25 CDN)
I love getting hand sanitizer in boxes. I use it all the time, but it's not something I ever think to buy. Bath & Body Works also sells the cutest little holders that clip onto a bag or purse. I need to get one!

The Body Shop Colour Crush Nail Polish in Cupid Pink ($4 retail)
This is a fun flamingo pink colour. The card lists the value as $8, but they actually sell for $4 online (and are currently on sale for $2). Colour Crush polishes are 5-free and vegan.

Starpro Nail File (~$2)

Lori Nail Polish Remover Towels (5 wipes, ~$2.50)

I couldn't find either of these products online so they may be wholesale or salon only items. I like the lori wipes. One wipe is large enough to take care of two hands and it has a nice conditioning formula. The nail file is pretty basic, but it works. 

Indigo Leather Catchall ($19.50 retail)
This leather catchall is from Indigo (Chapters) and while they originally retailed for $19.50, they were recently on clearance for as low as $4.50. It didn't come with any wrapping or packaging, which I found odd. Thankfully it wasn't damaged or marked up at all. I will use this on my dresser or nightstand to hold delicate jewellery.

Calvin Klein Leaf Scented Candle Duo ($28 retail)
These are nice candles and they are great to set the mood for an at home spa day. I couldn't find these on the Calvin Klein website anymore, and they only seem to be available for purchase on re-seller sites, so they may be discontinued. 

The August Deluxe Box from Put a Bow On It included nine items, with a retail value around $75 Canadian. This box retails for $36 CDN, plus $10 shipping. A few of these items were marked down to clearance prices, but even then, the box value still ends up being a little more than the cost paid. The Nail Envy theme is great. I like that they included items to set the mood (chocolate and candles), along with all the necessities for an at home manicure. The Deluxe box is a nice and affordable option for those thinking of trying Put a Bow On It.

It's too late to sign up for the September box, but there is still time to get in on October. Sign up before September 14th to secure your spot for the October box.

Click here to check out Put a Bow On It.

Disclaimer: Box information is correct as of posting date. As prices and terms are subject to change, please be sure to read the FAQ of this company before signing up.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Luxily Boutique Box Review - August 2016 - Lifestyle Subscription Box

Canadian Box Addict pays for this subscription. 
** As of late August, this box is no longer shipping to Canada. Customers who placed their orders for the October box prior to this change will still receive their boxes.** 
What is it? Luxily Boutique Box
How Much? $49.95 every 2 months, including shipping. Save on longer terms. Prices in US dollars.
What’s in it? Full-sized surprises with the best in fashion, beauty, home!

Luxily Boutique Box is a curated lifestyle subscription box filled with the best in fashion, beauty, and home. Luxily Boutique Box was founded to give women a positive, uplifting gift box each month and they strive to find the most fun, hard-to-find gifts to put into each box. In addition to a bi-monthly subscription box, Luxily Boutique also offers curated gift boxes and an online store.

This is my second Luxily Boutique Box. My first box was 'Pineapple Express' in June, and it was fantastic. Check out my review here.

The August theme was "Sweet Escape". No spoilers were released, but on Instagram, Luxily posted the following:
If you work, or are a stay at home mom, or a college student- this one is for all of you! Total #girlboss!
If you work, or stay at home, or go to college... well doesn't that pretty much cover everyone?! This hint did nothing to help figure out what might be inside the box. Usually I can guess some of the items, but this time, I had no idea.  

The product card is affixed to the inside of the lid, which is a super cool idea. It can easily be removed and saved, if you need it. The card also reveals the theme for October's box (see more details at the end of this post).

First look

S'well Quartz Finish 9oz Water Bottle ($25)
I have wanted a S'well bottle for soooo long and they are expensive (this 9oz version is $38 CDN). This one is a pretty purple, but it's very small. It might be great for taking my morning coffee to work. Liquids stay hot for 12 hours or cold for 24 hours.

Calliope Hair Tie Set ($10)
The write up on these hair ties says they are 100% vegan free, which makes no sense at all, since "vegan free" technically means non-vegan. I'm not vegan, and I've never thought about it much, but I didn't realize vegan fabric was a thing. It does make sense that those who are vegan for animal welfare concerns would want to avoid silk, wool, and other animal sourced materials. As for these hair ties... if you are a regular read you will know that I hate ribbon hair ties. I use them for packing and travel. They are great at holding rolled clothing without causing creases.

The Handbag Raincoat Midi ($28)
This is such a random item for an August box. I think this is one of those items you don't know you need until you have it. I walk to work, so I might actually get some use out of it, if I can get past the fact that it looks kind of silly! They come in mini, midi, and maxi. This is what it looks like on a handbag:
So stylish! ;-)

The Social Type Muah! Matchbox ($6)
These matches are cute, for sure, but it's another random item that doesn't fit the theme. 

Well-Kept Screen Cleansing Towelettes ($6)
This was a bonus item included as a thank you to subscribers. I already have a couple packs and they are great. I use them on my laptop, tablet, phone, and even eyeglasses.

The August "Sweet Escape" box from Luxily Boutique Box included five items, valued at $75 US. I'm mixed on this box. Luxily Boutique Box costs $49.95 US, with free shipping to Canada. With exchange, I paid $67.22 Canadian. The $75 US value translates to about $98 Canadian. The value is definitely there, but I don't see how the products relate to a "Sweet Escape" theme. Some of the items seem out of place for the theme and season. The products are all nice on their own, and the packaging and presentation are top notch, so I will be sticking around to see what October brings. 

October's theme is "Bestie Box":
Octobers box is filled with lots of fun things your bestie would send you!!! Lots of etsy artist in this box!
The retail value is estimated at $74 US.

New subscribers can save 15% off their first box by signing up for the Luxily Boutique e-mail list. When you navigate to the Luxily Boutique Box website, a popup will come out asking for your e-mail. Just fill it in, and your 15% off promo code will be revealed. If you don't get a popup, there is a tab on the right hand side of the page that says "Get Discount".

Click here to check out Luxily Boutique Box

Disclaimer: Box information is correct as of posting date. As prices and terms are subject to change, please be sure to read the FAQ of this company before signing up.