PlateJoy is the meal planning service I never knew I needed until now

This post is sponsored by Platejoy. any opinions expressed are my own

I’m a mom of 4 busy kids and I also happen to work outside my home as well.  The idea of having a home cooked meal ready everyday was almost alien to me.  My typical day starts at 7 am and doesn’t end until about 10 pm.  There are days where it’s not quite as hectic so I do make a good home cooked meal.  Other days it was usually spaghetti, pizza, chicken nuggets, whatever I could throw together quickly.

Then Platejoy fell in my lap.  Honestly, I didn’t expect much.  I figured, if nothing else, maybe I’d get a few new meal ideas.  I didn’t know that I would use it consistently. Then I registered and got started and my mind changed about meal planning services.

Platejoy customizes your meal plan to you and your family.  You can customize by family size and it gives you the right ingredient amount, you can exclude ingredients you know you don’t use, you can choose a specific diet such as gluten-free, diabetic, keto, kosher, etc.  You can exclude allergen ingredients, you can even choose how many meals you want Platejoy to plan for a week. Maybe you only want 2 meals because you have the rest covered.  Maybe you want a new recipe every day.

Another thing I liked was that you can purposely choose to have a recipe that will make extra for leftovers.  I totally chose this option. Because on those crazy days I NEED this option.   The recipes are not difficult at all.  The first one I made was a batch recipe: Cheesy chicken broccoli quinoa casserole.  No it didn’t look exactly like the picture but it was good. And the recipe made A LOT. It made plenty for my family of 6 and a bunch more for leftovers.

There was easy lunch recipes like the avocado, black bean, and rice burrito. So simple but so good. I ended up having it for lunch 2 days in a row.  Tonight’s dinner was Greek beef skillet with roasted cauliflower.  So good and I can’t wait until my hubby gets home from work to try it.

Not only was I able to customize the amount of portions for my family but I was able to put in there that my  hubby and I are trying to lose weight so it gave us healthier recipes.  I’m also able to track the recipes I make to my Fitbit which definitely helps with staying accountable.  Perfect for those with New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier or lose weight.

To sum up, here are my Top 10 reasons I love Platejoy:

  1.  customize my meal plan to my family size
  2.  exclude ingredients we don’t/won’t use
  3.  printable grocery list to make shopping for your meal plan a breeze
  4.   Update your “virtual pantry” so Platejoy knows what ingredients you already have
  5.   Search for recipe by ingredient
  6.   Can track your meals to your Fitbit to stay on track
  7.   Choose recipes portions so you purposely have left overs for those busy days
  8.   New recipe ideas every week
  9.    Exclude allergens in recipes such as peanuts
  10.    Platejoy app makes it easy to look up recipes, change meals at the last minute, and more

 

If you’d like to try Platejoy there are tons of Platejoy coupons and deals available for Platejoy on Dealpotr including a 10 day free trial!

 


Chicken and Dumplings with Chicken Soup for the Soul and Zaycon

Chicken Soup for the Soul and Zaycon Foods provided me with complimentary products. The opinions I have expressed are my own

I’ve been wanting to make a homemade chicken and dumplings for a while now.  For whatever reason it seemed like it would be difficult to me. With a family of 6 I’m always looking for ways to make meals to feed everyone and still stay on budget.  I also want to make things my kids will actually eat.  I picked up my recent order of Zaycon Foods natural chicken breasts and Chicken Soup for the Soul sent me some of their new grocery products.  So, I figured, stop procrastinating Angie and just do it. My kids love to help me cook and bake so 2 of  my boys were in the kitchen with bells on when I told them I need product models and cooking helpers.

Zaycon chicken soup boys

 

I adapted a family recipe I had for chicken paprikas.  I figured, everyone like the chicken paprikas it’s basically the Hungarian version of Chicken and Dumplings so …here it goes.

Homemade Chicken and Dumplings

For dumplings:

  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1 Tblsp salt
  • water

For chicken:

I got a big pot of water boiling first for the dumpling and a smaller pot of water boiling for the chicken.  I cut my Zaycon Foods Chicken breasts up into bite size pieces (easier for my 5 yr old and 2 yr old to eat) I filled my 2 quart sauce pan about 3/4 of the way with water and got it boiling.  I added the chicken pieces to the water and cooked my chicken this way.  This made for a tender chicken. I left it cook on medium/high in the pot for a while while I made the dumplings.

Next we mixed up the dough for the dumplings.  Mix the first three ingredients of the dumplings together in a mixing bowl.  Slowly add water.  You want it to be a sticky consistency.

dumpling dough

You want a sticky consistency for the dumpling dough that you can drop by spoonful into the boiling water

 

You will be dropping it by spoonfuls into that big pot of boiling water you started.  Once it’s the right consistency, take a teaspoon and drop the dough by spoonful into the boiling water and cook until it floats.  You don’t want to put too many in at a time.  If they stick to the bottom just take a slotted spoon and scoop them out.

 

Drop dumpling dough by spoonful into boiling water.

Drop dumpling dough by spoonful into boiling water.

cooked dumplings

Boil until dumplings float. It will only take a minute or two. Scoop out the floating dumplings with a slotted spoon

 

Use the slotted spoon to scoop out the dumplings and put them into a strainer in the sink while you’re cooking the rest so the water can drain off.  Continue until you’ve used all the dough.

Go back to your chicken cooking in the pot now and add some of the Chicken Soup for the Soul Chicken Broth for more flavor.

Chicken Soup for the Soul Chicken broth going in

Chicken Soup for the Soul Chicken broth going in

Get it boiling again. Drain the water/chicken stock/chicken broth liquid into a smaller saucepan and get it boiling in the smaller saucepan.  Remove the chicken from the heat. We’re now going to make a gravy out of the broth.  I used about a 1/4 cup of cold water and add a heaping tablespoon of flour to the cold water in the measuring cup.  Mix well in the measuring cup. Then slowly add the cold water and flour mixture to the boiling chicken broth mixture.  Stir and continue cooking on high until the broth starts to thicken to a gravy consistency.  Just a note: I really liked the Chicken Soup for the Soul broth.  It had just the right flavor.  I’ve had other broths that tasted really fatty or really salty but this was just the perfect flavor for making my gravy or for making chicken soup.

Once you got your gravy left the only thing left to do is fix your plate. Put some dumplings on your plate, add some chicken, and ladle some chicken gravy over top.  Yum!  Very filling.

Homemade chicken and dumplings

Some Thoughts After The Cooking and Eating Are done

Cooking with my kids is a good way for me to share with my kids.  I love explaining where the recipes come from. I think it’s important for my boys to learn to cook from me, I mean, they aren’t going to be under my roof forever.  I think cooking is an important life skill but also can be fun and expressive.  While we cooked my oldest son likes to take on more and more of the duties.  He’s only 12 but I think cooking makes him feel a little bit more grown up.  We talk about school, we through in some math lessons (if we’re doubling the recipe how much flour do we need?) My son talked to me about how he’s excited for the first day of trout fishing with his dad.  My youngest son likes to feel like he has a part.  He’s so happy to mix ingredients and dump in the ingredients.  He’s so proud to tell daddy he helped make supper. Of course they hammed it up as my product models too.  I thought I’d throw one or two more pictures in here just for them.  For us it wasn’t just about the time around the table but the time cooking together as a family.

chicken soup bbq saucechicken soup meal builder

In making this chicken and dumplings, I accomplished something I’ve been wanting to try for a while.  So what does one do after making a meal they’ve been wanting to make for a while, have it be successful in that everyone loved it, and everyone has a full belly?  Why sit down and read some of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book From Lemons to Lemonade!  Truly inspiring by the way.  One of those books that give you a warm feeling inside.

When I picked up my Zaycon Foods Chicken the drivers, who I later found out was named Ty, was super friendly and made my experience very pleasant.  The chicken is natural chicken breasts and they’re big.  I definitely recommend Zaycon Foods chicken breasts if you have the opportunity.

As far as my Chicken Soup for the Soul kit goes I received a few items. Besides the Chicken Soup for the Soul chicken broth I also Chicken Soup for the Soul Meal Builders cooking sauce in Sesame Ginger flavor and Chicken Soup for the Soul Barbecue Sauce.  We’ve been itching to fire up our new grill and we still have plenty of Zaycon chicken left so I’ll be testing the Classic barbecue sauce very soon.

You can find Zaycon Foods chicken and Chicken Soup for the Soul cooking products here.

GIVEAWAY

1 Luv Saving Money reader will win

Chicken Soup for the Soul broth and Chicken Soup for the Soul “From Lemons to Lemonade” book

US only


NuNaturals Review — tasty Stevia products

I want to try eating better I really do. I try to have my family eat better too. It’s a tough job. We like sweets. What can I say? I’ve considered trying alternative sweetener but, they just don’t taste the same to me. I had heard about Stevia products but have never tried any of them.

NuNaturals offers a variety of Stevia products from white stevia packets, liquid Stevia, baking blends, liquid cinnamon, health supplements, and a whole lot more.

I received a very generous package to sample the NuNaturals products. I tried some myself and also gave some to one of my friends who is dieting and one of my coworkers who is Diabetic to get their take on it as well.  You can use the NuNaturals products to cut down on or eliminate the sugar in recipes or adding to your favorite food or drink. 

One product I really found myself using a lot was the Pure Liquid Cocoa Bean Extract. First of all, the flavor was pleasant. I could put a drop on my finger and taste it.  It really did have a sugar taste in my opinion (and I am not normally a fan of the flavor of alternative sweeteners). This product also has other benefits though.  10 milliliters of this extract has the same amount of the beneficial polyphenols that a chocolate bar has.   What are polyphenols?  Well they are the an anti-oxidant that reduces free radicals (reactions that can cause damage to cells).  Chocolate contains some polyphenols but the NuNaturals Pure Cocoa Bean Extract gives it to you with no fat and no sugar.  I added this to my coffee almost daily since I received it (instead of sugar). 

The Baking mix and many of the white Stevia products work on a 1:1 ratio.  In other words, if the recipe calls for a cup of sugar you substitute a cup of the NuNaturals Baking Mix instead. 

You can use this in any of your own recipes to cut down or eliminate on sugar.  Or, you can check out a few of the 150 recipes on www.nunaturals.com like Sour Cream Bundt cake, Raw vegan soft serve ice cream, Natalia Rose’s Green Lemonade, and lots more. 

I had given my coworker who has Diabetes the Pure liquid Stevia in a plastic bottle, some of the baking mix, and some of the NuStevia white stevia powder packets.  She told me she thought it was similar to some of the other Stevia type products she tried in flavor but it was a pleasant flavor. 

In my personal opinion, it seemed the liquid versions tasted more like sugar to me than the powder version.  It could be all in my head but like i said, it’s my opinion.  The Baking Blend was another favorite.  Very good flavor when I tried it in an apple cinnamon muffin recipe I tried.  The texture and flavor was not much different from when I’ve made the recipe with sugar, the kids didn’t even notice. 

I received such a generous package, I really could go on and on with each product.  The last one I’ll highlight is the Pure Liquid Vanilla Stevia Alcohol free.  This was another product I enjoyed putting in my drinks to add a little flavor.  It has a very smooth and pleasantly sweet Vanilla flavor.  I think this would also be great for some added flavor in a candy or frosting recipe.

 N

There are so many products that NuNaturals offers.  Stop by their website and check them out.  Also NuNaturals.com is offering FFCM readers a special discount of 15% when you enter code: BLG228 
 at checkout.  You can also get free shipping on their site on order of $35 or over (after discount). This discount code is good until Feb. 28, 2011. 

Review Summary:  NuNaturals products are similar in cost to other sugar alternatives on the market.  I love that  NuNaturals offers such a wide variety of products.  Small products you can stick in your purse to use wherever you go and items to help you bake/cook healthier.  The customer service is friendly and quick to get back to you if you have questions or comments. 

PS:  Be on the look out for a NuNaturals giveaway coming soon!

Can’t wait to try it?  That’s cool, you can request some free samples from NuNaturals by sending a self addressed, stamped #10 envelope to:

NuNaturals , Inc.
2220 West 2nd. Ave. # 1
Eugene, OR 97402

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Country Bob’s All Purpose Sauce Review and #Giveaway—CLOSED

 Random.org chose number 2: theladya and number 31 SLS as the winners.  Winners have been emailed and have 24 hrs to reply to winning email.  
***as a side note, please be sure to include a way for me to contact you when entering giveaways.  A number was drawn but there was no contact info: email, twitter id, FB id, for me to contact that person so unfortunately I drew another number.  I really hate to do that but I must have a way to contact***

I had heard about Country Bob’s All Purpose Sauce but hadn’t had the opportunity to try it yet. A sauce that you can really use for anything? Well I’d have to try that for myself.

I received two bottles of Original Country Bob’s All Purpose Sauce to try.  I have to say that I’m not a fan of the traditional bottled BBQ sauce that you can buy up here in the north.  I don’t know what it is, but I just don’t care for it.  I didn’t know what to expect from this sauce. Would it be salty? tangy? bland? sweet?  I was trying to decide what to make with it.

My 7 yr old has been bugging me since the end of last week to make sloppy joes.  He had to wait until I went to the grocery store to get hamburger buns.  So, I decided today I would go ahead and make him his sloppy joes along with some tater tots.  I thawed some ground turkey (yea that’s right I snuck that in there too).  Went to get the sloppy joe mix and it wasn’t there.  Either I imagined we had it or my toddler carried it off somewhere.  Hard to tell at this point.  My son was disappointed.  Then a light bulb went off, “duh, I could try using the Country Bob’s All Purpose Sauce”.  It’s supposed to be all purpose right?

It smelled wonderful as I mixed it in the pan with the browned ground turkey.  I tasted a little bit of the sauce.  It had kind of a sweet, tangy flavor.  Maybe a hint and I mean a small hint of spiciness.

So I served up the sloppy joes and waited for their reaction.  They were eating them.  I didn’t see any noses wrinkle or hear any complaints.  When they were about half done with their sloppy joes I asked them if they liked the taste of the sloppy joes with the County Bob All Purpose Sauce.  They said they did about the same as regular sloppy joe sauce.

I read the label to them as we were eating “hey kids, you can even use this on you tater tots.  My toddler tried this. He’d dip his tater tot, nibble it, dip it again, nibble it, etc etc.  I tried it to and thought it was just as good as using ketchup only with a little different flavor.

County Bob’s All Purpose Sauce uses all natural ingredients.  As I read the ingredients on the label while I chewed my sloppy joe I was pleasantly surprised that I understood each and every ingredient in that bottle.  Simple things like garlic, vinegar, corn starch, etc.  I kinda like to know what I’m eating.

As an added positive for me the bottle is made from plastic, not glass.  My 19 mo old toddler knows how to open the refridgerater door now and worry about him getting at a glass jar.

It was also interesting to see that on the side of the label in smaller print it says “Christ is our CEO” with a little Jesus fish in the phrase.

Review Summary:  This is truly a handy sauce to have around.  Works like ketchup, BBQ sauce, sloppy joe mix, steak sauce, dipping sauce, whatever you need.  Keep a few bottles of this around and save some room in your fridge.

Ok enough about my experience, let’s get you to taste County Bob’s All Purpose Sauce.

GIVEAWAY
Country Bob’s is offering 2 FFCM readers 2 bottles of their original All Purpose Sauce.  
US only
Mandatory Entry:    Follow FFCM with Google Friend Connect
(don’t forget to leave an email so I can contact you if you win)
Bonus Entries: Please leave a separate comment for each entry completed.
1.  Visit Country Bob’s website and tell me one recipe you might like to try if you win.
2.  Follow Country Bob’s on twitter: @countrybobs
3.  Like Country Bob’s on Facebook
4.  Like FFCM on facebook.
5.  Follow FFCM on twitter: @angiewith3 and leave your twitter id

6.  Tweet this giveaway using the RT button in the upper left corner of this post OR you can use this phrase:

”  Enter to win 2 bottles of @countrybobs all purpose sauce on http://bit.ly/dQD7sE 2 winners 2/21 US @angiewith3 “

Can tweet 2 X per day at least 2 hrs apart.

Giveaway will end Feb. 21, 2011.  Open to US residents only.  2 winners will be chosen using random.org.  Winners will be contacted via email and will have 48 hours to reply to winning email.  If no reply at 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen.

***I received 2 bottles of Country Bob’s All Purpose Sauce to review.  I did not receive any monetary compensation for this post.  Any opinion expressed are my own. ***

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Tropical Traditions Coconut Cream Concentrate Review and #Giveaway 12/10—CLOSED

 RANDOM.ORG DREW NUMBER 97.  CONGRATULATIONS LYNDSEY.  WINNER HAS BEEN CONTACTED VIA EMAIL AND HAS 48 HOURS TO REPLY.

With each product I get to try from Tropical Traditions, the more I become a fan. This review was kind of interesting for me. I started off thinking “what the heck, this product was not what I thought it would be” to “wow this product is what I thought it would be” Let me tell you why, I neglected to seek out the full directions. I know, I know, when all else fails, read the directions right? LOL just kidding. I give hubby a hard time about this all the time. I guess he gets to rub it in for a minute.

Here’s how it went.  I received my generous sized jar of the Coconut Cream concentrate from Tropical Traditions.  I had been wanting to try it.  It seemed like a very versatile products  You can mix it into drinks like coffee or even water to make a coconut flavored drink. You can mix it into your baking and cooking to add a little coconut flavor too.  I thought it would be great to try for some of my holiday baking.

When I got the jar, I noticed that it had separated.  There was a layer of coconut oil on the top and the coconut cream concentrate was on the bottom.  I tried to scoop it out but only kept getting the coconut oil.  The jar said it would separate in temps lower than 75 degrees.  That’s my house like 24/7 365.   At first I was really disappointed.  I thought  “How can I use this stuff?”  So after trying different things on my own, I finally decided to check the Tropical Traditions website.  Well there it was, the video on how to mix the Coconut Cream concentrate.  I felt so silly, I should have gone to the site in the first place. 

So I tried it.  What do you know it worked!

I looked over the recipes on the Tropical Traditions site.  It’s so easy.  You can look at them all or just for the products you’re using.  My kids helped me pick one out.  We decided to try the “Chocolate Coconut Creme Bar” recipe.  It was easy, quick to make, and tasted pretty good.

The Coconut Cream Concentrate melted easily in the pan.

The Chocolate Coconut Creme Bar turned out smooth.  You could definitely taste the coconut flavor in the bar.  I also tried some in my coffee  I was expecting a sweeter coconut flavor but it reminded me more of a toasted coconut type of flavor.  Something like a macaroon.  My family tried the Chocolate Coconut Creme Bar and I took some to work.  I heard several comments that it tasted like a mounds bar without the flakes of the coconut. 

Once I figured out how to use the product I loved it.  If there was one suggestion I might have, it would be to have some quick directions on the side for how to mix it.

Plus  from now until Nov. 28 you can get $10 off any order of $16 or more.  Use code: 24110
If you order I’d so appreciate it you’d use my referral ID: 6162177

GIVEAWAY
Tropical Traditions is going to give one of my readers their own jar of Coconut Cream Concentrate to try for themselves.  Open to US and Canada.
Mandatory EntryFollow Tropical Traditions on twitter: @troptraditions 
Must be completed before any bonus entries will count.  Don’t forget to leave an email address so I can 
contact you if you win.    
Bonus Entries:  Please leave a separate comment for each bonus entry completed.  If there is a +1 after the entry leave one comment for that entry.  +2 leave 2 comments for that entry and so on.  

1.  Sign up for Tropical Traditions email newsletter (+2)

2. Like Tropical Traditions on facebook (+1)

3. Tell me what recipe you might like to try with your Coconut Cream Concentrate if you win (+1)

4.  Tweet this giveaway using the RT button in the upper Left corner OR you can use this message:

”  I entered to win a jar of Coconut Cream Concentrate from @troptraditions on http://bit.ly/TTcream 12/10 US/CAN @angiewith3″

Can tweet 2 X per day at least 2 hours apart.  (+1 for each tweet)

5.  Follow FFCM with Google Friend Connect, Networked Blogs, RSS feed, and/or email (+1 for each one.)  Please leave a separate comment for each one completed

6.  Follow me on twitter: @angiewith3 (+1)

7.  Like FFCM on facebook (+1)

8.  Enter any of my other current giveaways and leave a comment telling me which one(s) you entered  (+1 for each one)

9.  Purchase anything from Tropical Traditions with my referral ID:  6162177   (+5)

Giveaway will end 12/10 at 10 PM EST.  1 winner will be chosen using random.org.  Winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to respond to winning email. Open to US and Canada

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product. 

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