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Meal Kit Comparison: Which Is Best?

April 13th, 2019 No comments

It’s ABOUT TIME… my long promised Meal Kit Comparison post. We tried Sun Basket, Gobble, Marley Spoon, Green Chef, Purple Carrot, Dinnerly and Freshly. We rate and review each of these meal kit companies, recipes and respective ingredients below. I learned A LOT and report about it after making and trying the aforementioned and 100+ Blue Apron meal kits.

Meal Kit Comparison – Starts with Sun Basket

Sun Basket Packaging

Sun Basket — Fast Chicken Salad with Kale, Kiwi and Apples (Recipe 1). Top photo. The Kale arrived pre-cut. I found myself picking out the inferior, dry pieces. I would rather chop it myself. I usually remove the stem/center, but it was included in the chopped Kale. The provided dressing was just okay. And the Coconut Flakes would’ve been better toasted, seemed like an after-thought garnish. We (Matt & I) rate each recipe starting with this one.

Sun Basket Recipe 1: Matt 6 1/2, Shelly 6 (Out of 10).

Greek Salmon over Zucchini Noodles and Wilted Greens

Sun Basket — Greek Salmon over Zucchini Noodles and Wilted Greens (Recipe 2). I tossed out the pre-chopped Greens due to a bad smell. The Salmon was dry, though not overcooked. I liked the Tomato and Olive Relish. We liked the Zucchini Noodles, but they’re hard to stir and preserve as ‘Noodles’ when cooking. That’s fine, but good to know.

Sun Basket Recipe 2: Matt 6 1/2, Shelly 5 1/2.

Mediterranean-style Cod with Artichoke Hearts and Kalamata Olives

Sun Basket – Mediterranean-style Cod with Artichoke Hearts and Kalamata Olives (Recipe 3). Cod quality wasn’t that great. Potatoes didn’t have much flavor though Salt and Peppered. I liked steaming the Fish over the Vegetables. Learned how well this cooking method works. Dish was easy to make and clean-up.

Sun Basket Recipe 3: Matt 6, Shelly 6.

Sun Basket Recipe Booklet

Sun Basket Overall — Menus are just okay, not as exciting as others, seemed somewhat repetitive with ingredients. Though Menu is international, which is good. Website is friendly and easy to use. Choose (3) out of (18) different recipes/meal kits. Recipes arrive in booklet form. Also within it are all the recipes you didn’t choose, which is nice. Best recipe score was 6 1/2.

Gobble Review Notes

Meal Kit Comparison – Trying Gobble

Gobble – Nice packaging, similar to Blue Apron. Received one incorrect recipe card, but was easily able to print the correct one from Gobble’s website. They provide smaller recipe cards than other companies.

Gobble – Pan-Roasted Chicken in Three Peppercorn Sauce with Green Beans and Mashed Potatoes (Recipe 1). Potatoes were not good. Gravy made up for it. Chicken was tough, though not overcooked. Odd cuts of chicken were provided. Not as pretty as the online photos.

Pan Roasted Chicken

This is how the Mashed Potatoes and Gravy arrived (below). No bueno.

Gobble Recipe 1: Matt 7, Shelly 6.

Louisiana Shrimp with White Cheddar Grits

Gobble – Louisiana Shrimp with White Cheddar Grits (Recipe 2). Had to further devein the ‘deveined’ Shrimp. Like the Mashed Potatoes in Recipe 1, I don’t like unloading grits from a plastic bag to heat them in the microwave. Also, I didn’t like the pre-cut trinity. It looked a bit degraded in freshness, translucent Onions.

Pre-cut Trinity and bagged Grits, etc.

Gobble Recipe 2: Matt 7 1/2, Shelly 7.

Brazilian Black Bean Stew

Gobble – Brazilian Black Bean Stew with Roasted Squash and Swiss Chard (Recipe 3). I had to toss-out the provided Swiss Chard. It was too dried out. It’s scary not knowing what’s inside a compact bag of pre-cut Greens. Good thing we’re growing our own Swiss Chard. I love the idea and components of this recipe, but the pre-made beans and rice were just okay. I plan to re-create this recipe sometime. Our score for this recipe is below. Best overall recipe score was 8.

Gobble Recipe 3: Matt 8, Shelly 7 1/2.

Meal Kit Comparison – Trying Marley Spoon

Marley Spoon – Box was delayed a day, because company didn’t have enough ice to ship. Recipe card photos are dull in color and paper is un-glossed. Nice packaging. Largest, tallest box received.

Marley Spoon Packaging

Marley Spoon – Cheesy Roasted Pepper Panini with Goat Cheese & Spinach and Side Salad (Recipe 1). Too much filling for the Panini, it overflowed. A Bun for the Panini Bread is not the best option. No photo.

Marley Spoon Recipe 1: Matt 8, Shelly 8.

Cilantro Chicken and Rice

Marley Spoon – Cilantro Chicken and Rice with Bell Pepper and Lime (Recipe 2). Flavorful, but wouldn’t garnish it with raw onions again. It’s unnecessary and over takes the dish. Having to use a blender or food processor is a first for a boxed Meal Kit. Good thing I have one.

Marley Spoon Recipe 2: Matt 7 1/2, Shelly 8.

Four Cheese Ravioli Alla Norma

Marley Spoon – Four Cheese Ravioli Alla Norma with Crispy Garlic Breadcrumbs (Recipe 3). It was super easy to make and very good.

Marley Spoon Recipe 3: Matt 8, Shelly 8.

Overall… good quality, nice packaging, tasty meals and good recipe selections. Marley Spoon costs about the same as Blue Apron, my long-time favorite Meal Kit company (so-far). Best recipe score for Marley Spoon was 8.

Meal Kit Comparison – Trying Green Chef

Green Chef also offers Paleo, Vegan, Keto and Gluten-free meal kit options. Very nice packaging. All looked good, though much was pre-prepared.

Green Chef Meal Kit Ingredients

A pre-cut Red Pepper was provided for a recipe. I want a whole one. There are small Red Bell Peppers. Pre-cut Onions too. I don’t like that either. They degrade, but I used them, and it didn’t ruin the meal.

Harissa Spiced Tuna Steaks

Green Chef – Harissa Spiced Tuna Steaks and Apricot Tomato Sauce, Kale Pistachios and Couscous (Recipe 1). The Tuna was nice looking. Recipe said to cook the Yellowfin Tuna 3 to 5 minutes per side, but was too long for the thin Fish provided. I cooked ours 2 1/2 minutes per side and it was still overcooked, as expected, but all was flavorful.

Green Chef Recipe 1: Matt 8, Shelly 8.

Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps

Green Chef – Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps with Quinoa, Toasted Nuts and Seeds, with Lemon Pesto Aioli (Recipe 2). I liked the Couscous with the Vinegar, Agave and mixed Toasted Nuts. The Dressing was just okay, pre-made. Homemade would have been better.

Green Chef Recipe 2: Matt 8, Shelly 8.

Cheese Steak Stuffed Peppers

Green Chef – Cheese Steak Stuffed Pepper with Provolone Cheese, Spiced Potato Hash with Red Peppers (Recipe 3). Uneven, pre-cut Onions and Grated Cheese were provided. The small Onion pieces burned a little while cooking. Not a good thing. However, not a bad flavor overall. Our score for this recipe is below. Best recipe score was 8.

Green Chef Recipe 3: Matt 7, Shelly 7.

Meal Kit Comparison – Trying Purple Carrot

Purple Carrot Packaging

Purple Carrot – All was fresh and impressive. Some stuff was pre-cut, but mostly whole ingredients. Only the hardest thing to cut, the Squash was pre-cut, which was helpful. A booklet of all recipes was provided, as like Sun Basket. Only six recipes to choose from online at this time.

Black Bean & Polenta Casserole

Purple Carrot – Black Bean and Polenta Casserole with Chile Butter (Recipe 1). The large bag of Spinach was very fresh. I was a little nervous about the Vegan Cream Cheese and Vegan Butter provided for this recipe, but didn’t notice a difference. That was nice to discover.

Slice of the Black Bean and Polenta Casserole

Purple Carrot Recipe 1: Matt 7, Shelly 7.

Autumn Bibimbap

Purple Carrot – Autumn Bibimbap with Gochujang Brussels Sprouts and Sesame Aioli (Recipe 2). I didn’t use the Kimchi or Vegenaise (Mayo instead). I didn’t like the color of the Vegenaise, yellow-ish. I liked the Brussels Sprouts with Gochujang. The Fried Rice ended up too hard. Seems 5 to 7 minutes is too long not to stir the Rice. I don’t know. Kind of a weird recipe, which I like, but it didn’t work properly.

Purple Carrot Recipe 2: Matt 6 1/2, Shelly 6.

Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Purple Carrot – Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Cranberries and Hazelnuts (Recipe 3). A beautiful photo of this recipe is on Purple Carrot’s booklet cover. Had to toss out the Broccoli Rabe for this recipe, since it didn’t last a week. Used Swiss Chard from our garden instead. Added leftover sauteed Onions before the Squash. All was tasty with the Dried Cranberries, and had good texture with the Toasted Hazelnuts.

Purple Carrot Recipe 3: Matt 8 1/2, Shelly 8.

Black Bean and Polenta Casserole Ingredients

Recipes were grouped in plastic bags. I prefer no bags, loose ingredients or in paper bags, because all seems to stay fresher longer.

Butternut Squash Gnocchi Ingredients

Vegan Butter and Cream Cheese work okay. You won’t notice the difference. Though I’m still sketchy on Vegenaise (Mayo’s substitute). Someday perhaps, or not. Best recipe score was 8 1/2.

Meal Kit Comparison – Trying Dinnerly

Spinach and Ricotta Calzones

Dinnerly – Spinach and Ricotta Calzones with Tomato Garlic Dipping Sauce (Recipe 1). Crust was large and could have used more filling. I added Peppers to the filling too, and could have added more. It had a good flavor and texture.

Dinnerly Recipe 1: Matt 7, Shelly 7.

Dinnerly is one of the least expensive Meal Kits available. You download the recipe cards from the internet, instead of them being provided. The menus make me think that I might as well make the dish myself and save even more money. Easy ideas. Dinnerly’s website functions just like Marley Spoon’s. The companies are related. Dinnerly is budget Marley.

Sausage and Kale Soup Ingredients

Dinnerly – Sausage and Kale Soup with Pasta and Parmesan (Recipe 2). It was just okay. A little bland. It made a lot of Soup. I added Beans for extra credit. I like the ‘extra credit’ options listed on the recipe cards. Helps company keep costs down, while suggesting something you might already have in your pantry.

Dinnerly Recipe 2: Matt 6 1/2, Shelly 6 1/2.

Banh Mi Burger

Dinnerly – Banh Mi Burger with Pickled Carrots and Cucumbers (Recipe 3). I didn’t like the provided Chipotle Mayo, weird taste. Would rather make my own combination.

Dinnerly Recipe 3: Matt 7, Shelly 6.

Overall… everything was just okay. With the right recipe choice, it could be a good dinner option, due to its price. And now I want to try Every Plate, Dinnerly’s budget meal kit rival I just discovered. I will amend this post after we try it. Best recipe score was 7.

Freshly = Pre-Made Meals

Meal Kit Comparison – Trying Freshly (Not a Meal Kit, a Pre-Made Meal)

Freshly – Choose between 30 meals. Just heat in the microwave and eat. They arrived nicely packaged between three layers of ice packs. They are best heated in their respective packs, and then plated, to keep moist.

Freshly Meal Samples

Freshly – We, mostly I, tried 6 different meals. Balsamic Turkey (Meal 1). The Vegetables were dry, cut too small and bland. The Turkey was tough. The Balsamic Mushrooms were good. Matt 6, Shelly 5. Pork Al Pastor (Meal 2). It was flavorful, could use a tortilla or chips for varied texture. Matt 6, Shelly 7. Moroccan Style Tagine (Meal 3). It was just okay. Had to pick out a few tough Vegetable Skins, and the small Onions in it were hard and not satisfying to eat. Seemed like a heated, frozen meal I’ve had before. And not any better. Shelly 5.

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Freshly – Moroccan Style Tagine

Freshly – Buffalo Chicken and Cauliflower (Meal 4). Chicken was tender and good. Cauliflower was just okay, a little bland. Shelly 6. Southwest Chicken Bowl (Meal 5). It should have been tasty, but it was bland and dry. Needed Salt and Pepper and more sauce. The Corn in Freshly’s dishes seems once frozen or canned, not fresh. The Vegetables, Beans and Quinoa were dry too. The Chicken was tender and well cooked. Shelly 6. Meatballs and Spaghetti Squash (Meal 6). The Meatballs where okay. Sauce was very good. On a side note, I finally decided I don’t like the texture of Spaghetti Squash. Shelly 5.

Freshly Packaging

What I learned from all…

I want to prepare everything on my own. I don’t want to receive anything pre-cut. I never purchased pre-cut items in the grocery store. Also, few ingredients can be combined to make something great. And, I can save money not buying a Meal Kit every week. I can make simple, fancy meals on my own from what I’ve learned from Blue Apron, elsewhere, and from this Meal Kit Comparison. I also saved money taking advantage of the introductory offers from each of these companies. You should too. See their pricing below.*

Meal Kit Comparison Pricing:

Sun Basket – Introductory offer is 50% off = $25.

Gobble – Introductory offer is 30% off = $42. Generally $79/week.

Marley Spoon – Introductory offer = $30.75. Generally $61.50/week.

Green Chef – Introductory offer is 40% off = $38. Generally $79/week.

Purple Carrot – Introductory offer $25 off. Generally $72/week.

Dinnerly – Introductory offer is $30. Generally $40/week.

Freshly – Introductory offer $45 for 6 Meals. Generally $60/week.

*PRICES are estimated and subject to change. See respective websites for up-to-date pricing and other information.

The Best Time To Dine Out Is During Orange County Restaurant Week.

February 27th, 2019 No comments

Orange County Restaurant Week will run March 2 – 9, 2019. It’s definitely one of the best times to dine out if/when in Orange County. Click HERE for a list of participating restaurants, prix fixe menus and prices. While this post is about Orange County Restaurant Week, the photo relates to an upcoming report comparing several meal kit companies… Blue Apron, Green Chef, Sun Basket, Gobble, Purple Carrot, Freshly, Dinnerly and Marley Spoon. We tried them ALL. That post is after OCRW. Until then, it’s time to enjoy a restaurant in OC.

Newport Beach Restaurant Week Starts Today.

January 14th, 2019 No comments

Newport Beach Restaurant Week happens this year between January 14 – 27. It’s the best time to have a delicious meal there. Prix Fixe meals range between $10 – $50 for lunch or dinner. For a list of participating restaurants, menus and exact pricing, check out NBRW’s website here.

Categories: Food Pictures & More

A Happy & Hardy 2019 To YOU From Nibbles Of Tidbits.

December 31st, 2018 No comments

Happy New Year to YOU & your family from us, Freis West. Yes, we’re still here cooking up fun in our lovely remodeled kitchen. Stay tuned to see more of what that looks like in 2019.

Awe, too much Flour dear?!?

Homemade Nicoise Salad (My Variation Made With Salmon).

October 23rd, 2018 No comments

One of my favorite Salads is a Nicoise Salad — I made the pictured with Salmon instead of Tuna.  Matt and I split one perfectly pan fried fillet.  One can make this Salad without a recipe, as most ingredients are grouped on the Salad, instead of tossed together.  Nicoise Salads include Hard Boiled Eggs, Potatoes, Haricots Verts or Green Beans, Nicoise or Kalamata Olives, Tomatoes, Red Onions, Butter, Boston or Romaine Lettuce, and optional Capers — That’s what I use to make mine.  I toss the Lettuce with a mixture of Lemon Juice, Olive Oil and Whole Grain Dijon Mustard, then layer the rest of the ingredients on top (as shown).  Salt and Pepper is added to all.  It is SO GOOD to eat and easy to make.  I usually have most ingredients on-hand.

Which Company Delivers The BEST Meal Kit? Our Review Is Underway.

September 3rd, 2018 1 comment

I’ve made hundreds of Blue Apron meals, which we LOVE to eat.  It’s hard to pass up their unique, diverse, ever-changing tasty menus and the price is right too.  Blue Apron’s cost is lower than most Meal Kit Delivery companies.  Though due to curiosity and first-box discount incentives, we previously tried Hello Fresh, Plated and Home Chef and their respective reviews and comparisons to Blue Apron are linked in this sentence.  Now, we are underway trying several others — Sun Basket, Gobble, Purple Carrot, Green Chef, Marley Spoon, Freshly, Dinnerly, Factor 75, Balance/Bistro MD, Munchery, Global Belly, Takeout Kits, Shaker & Spoon (a cocktail club) and Burgabox (if they get back into the game).  Did you know there were so many?  This is far from a list of all of them, but some we plan to try.  After all has been delivered, prepared and consumed, a report of pros, cons, costs and more will be posted here on Nibbles of Tidbits.  We just finished (3) Sun Basket meals and (3) Gobble meals are scheduled to be delivered this week, and (3) Marley Spoon meals the week after that, etc.  Yes, our review is underway and I have a lot to say.  I already miss Blue Apron, but will definitely be fair.  Stay tuned.

Pictured:  Chicken Salad with Kale, Kiwi and Apples (Sun Basket)

Food & Fun With ‘My Fair Selfie’ At The Orange County Fair.

July 28th, 2018 No comments

We sure love, support and appreciate the Orange County Fair!  And this year, so far, we’ve had a lot of laughs at the OC Fair’s newest exhibit, My Fair Selfie.  For an extra $5, YOU can have your photo taken by OC Fair ‘My Fair Selfie’ attendants with your camera.  YOU hand them YOUR camera, choose your props, and then strike funny poses in front of 11 unique backgrounds.

As always, BIG thumbs up go to Chicken Charlie (above) and Dominic Palmieri (below), two long time, behind the scenes Chef Stars at the Orange County Fair.  We respect all the effort they put into making each Orange County Fair year a great one.  2018 is on track for greatness.

Thank you Charlie and Dominic, and so many others for your hard work and creativity.

HERE is the Orange County Fair’s link to some of the new, fun and crazy FOOD this year.

We’re glad to see many of the old favorites and especially like seeing the edgy, experimental food items, like those made with crushed Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and Fruity Pebbles Cereal.

Each year it’s a surprise.

Deep Fried Shrimp Skewer with Chipotle Sauce and Fruity Pebbles (above) and Matt with a Unicorn Cotton Candy Rainbow Popcorn Dessert of sort (below).  I do not recall the exact specifications of each, but we enjoyed them.  The Unicorn-Thingamajig is made with liquid nitrogen and smokes like dry ice while you eat it, as shown in OC Fair movie link below.

OC Fair Movie — Max (30) second download to view short video of the Unicorn-Thingamajig.

Another My Fair Selfie vignette with giant Cotton Candy — How can you not have fun?!

Free Your Inner Farmer At The Orange County Fair.

July 15th, 2018 No comments

The Orange County Fair is in full bloom right now — It started on Friday and runs through August 12, 2018, open Wednesday through Sunday.  This year’s theme is Free Your Inner Farmer.  It’s perfect, since we just harvested another four Japanese Eggplants, a large Zucchini, a handful of Sweet Peppers, the last of the Cucumbers, and our sixth-ish colander of Tomatoes.  And we can’t get to the Fair soon enough to see how our still growing Zucchini (pictured), currently 15″ long and almost 12″ around, measures up to this year’s winners.  We shall see.

FYIOC Fair DISCOUNTS can be found HERE.  Enjoy!

How Does Our Garden Grow? Temperamentally Well This Year.

June 30th, 2018 No comments

It’s been an interesting year (so far) in the garden — Good and sad, but mostly good.

Japanese Eggplant grew so well for us last year, but it was during a total kitchen remodel, thus we were unable to enjoy them — And this year it’s growing wonderfully for us again.  Yay!

We are also having luck with Swiss Chard again this year.  I LOVE it, since it can be eaten raw or cooked, like Spinach.  We’ve also plucked out a few Beets, which I boiled for a Beet Salad with Olive Oil, Apple Cider Vinegar and Salt & Pepper.  Sadly, our Purple Cabbage plant is struggling beneath the towering Swiss Chard, Japanese Eggplant and Pickling Cucumbers.

Soon to turn orange, Sweet Peppers are pictured above.  We have yellow ones growing too.

And we just harvested twelve ears of Corn that sure looked beautiful on the outside, but were sadly chewy inside.  We might have waited too long to pick them.  Not sure.  Instead, we plan to grow Autumn Corn next year.  We like the fun of opening each husk to view the pretty, mystery colors inside.  We can usually buy edible, relatively inexpensive Corn in the store.

Our four Tomato plants are a bit of a disappointment this year.  We don’t have many Tomatoes and their skins are thick.  All taste good inside, but are tough on the outside.  I’ve been roasting them in the oven to easily remove their skins and use the insides in Vegetable and Pasta dishes.

We’re always growing Pineapples.  Well, Matt is.  He’s the Pineapple King, as previously reported.  We have several growing in pots and in a designated Pineapple Patch next to the Tomatoes.

We’ve been eating Blackberries from our Blackberry bush for the past month, but its yield seems to be slowing down.  They’ve been sweet to eat, once past the bush’s harsh thorns to pick ’em.

What to do with Pickling Cucumbers?  Yes, I’ve made Pickles a few times, but they just keep growing.  Tzatziki Sauce and Cucumber Salads are next.  The plant is beautiful with yellow flowers.

Not pictured — One Zucchini we’re growing is quite large.  It appears to have doubled in size overnight.  I want to pick it, but Matt wants to see how large it will get.  We’re also growing Salad Greens, Rosemary, Thyme, Basil and Kale to eat, which are all generally doing well.

We’ve been known to bring a large bowl of Purple Grapes to an Annual Fourth of July Party, but not this year.  The above is all we’ve got — One scrawny bunch.  Get out your magnifying glass to see them.  They are getting larger, so we will see if we get to eat them before the birds do.

We Will Forever Stand For Our American Veterans: Thank You!

May 27th, 2018 No comments

We honor the men and women who died while serving in the United States military.  THANK YOU will never say enough.  Your sacrifice allows me to live freely.  Nibbles of Tidbits will forever stand with gratitude.  We LOVE and highly appreciate each and every veteran, past and present.

Photo Credit: How to make the pictured CAKE.

Stay Tuned: Still Cooking & Nibbling On Tidbits Of Everything.

February 16th, 2018 No comments

I think to myself — I don’t want to photograph it.  I just want to eat it.  Especially if I made it.  That’s my problem right now.  Well, it really isn’t a problem, unless you have a food blog.  It’s not that I’m not cooking and tremendously enjoying our new kitchen.  I guess I’m not wanting to interrupt that time to take photographs.  And the convenient lighting doesn’t make it quick.
That’s mostly it.  For those interested, I apologize.  I’m still here and always in the kitchen, though you would not know that here.  It will be my goal (once again) to put forth good food content in the future, as I certainly don’t lack for ideas or material, just the will at times.
I like living in the non-media (actual) moment and enjoying tasty food at my leisure.  Afterwards the kitchen is a mess, so what’s to photograph there?  Ha.  Until the next day, when it happens again — A scenario that has transpired all year.  I have no complaints.  I’m loving time in our beautiful open kitchen.  I can see the television and backyard now.  More will be shown another day.
In addition to my own creations, I’ve made a couple-hundred Blue Apron meals.  I’m still a big fan.  Pictured are two Blue Apron meals I recently prepared:  Pork Chops & Balsamic-Pear Compote with Fennel & Sweet Potatoes (top/middle) and Chile & Orange-Glazed Chicken with Roasted Vegetables & Garlic Mashed Potatoes (directly above).  Both were fantastic and are worth making again.  I told myself, at a minimum, I would photograph and post more of our tasty Blue Apron meals, though quick photos don’t do them justice.  But you can see that the menus are enticing and interesting.  At least we think so.  Note:  Apologies for the weird formatting in this post.  It will be remedied in the next post.  Stay tuned.  More of everything!

Home Chef: A Weekly Meal Delivery Kit Comparison.

December 20th, 2017 No comments

Home Chef is another company that offers the delivery of weekly meal kits.  I’ve previously reported about a few others — Blue Apron, Hello Fresh and Plated.  And now, here is Home Chef.

Our Home Chef meal selection included Coconut Jasmine Rice Bowls with Fried Plantains and Corn Pico De Gallo, Fig and Goat Cheese Flatbread with Walnuts and Caramelized Onions & Brown Sugar Salmon with Ranch Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans.

The recipe cards came with a nice white binder and they were 3-hole punched on good card-stock.

Each meal is grouped in its own sealed, handled bag with a straggler or two in the box, and the meat is under ice, which is convenient and good.  All received with this shipment was fresh.

However, the Naan received for the Fig and Goat Cheese Flatbread was folded into its meal kit bag and thus cracked in a few places.  I had to carefully place them back together before topping and baking them.  They ended up tasting great, but it was mostly due to the Caramelized Onions, Fig Preserves, Goat Cheese and Arugula — An amazing combination.

We liked the Brown Sugar Salmon too, though mine didn’t end up as gorgeous as the one on the recipe card.  Not uncommon, but the sweet, tangy flavor it was anticipated to have was there.

Home Chef’s price is comparable to Blue Apron’s — The Home Chef cost is $59.70 a week for (3) meal kits for (2) people and Blue Apron’s current cost for the same is $59.94.

We like Home Chef, and we like Plated and Hello Fresh too, but Blue Apron is still our favorite weekly meal delivery kit company.  Aside from these meals and the others I’ve tried and reported about, Blue Apron meals have been prepared in our kitchen on a weekly basis for about two years now.  I like Blue Apron’s unique meal options and that all is made from scratch.  It’s extra time and labor in some cases, but worth it in flavor.  I like Naan, but would have preferred fresh Pizza Dough with the winning combination of Caramelized Onions, Fig Preserves, Goat Cheese and Arugula.  Pizza Dough would most likely come with a similar Blue Apron meal.  I have no complaints about any of these companies and I am still willing to try others, if the menu is right.

Veterans Eat Free On Veterans Day: Thanks To Paul Stanley & Others.

November 3rd, 2017 No comments

PAUL STANLEY AND GENE SIMMONS OF KISS SALUTE THE TROOPS ON VETERANS DAY

The Rock Icons’ Rock & Brews Restaurants Will Offer Free Pulled Pork Sandwiches to Veterans, Active Military and First Responders on November 11, 2017.

Rock & Brews, the rock-inspired, family-friendly restaurant co-founded by Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, is paying tribute to veterans, active military and first responders on Veterans Day, November 11, by offering a complimentary meal* at participating restaurants with proof of service.

“We often forget that freedom is only free for those who don’t have to sacrifice to make it possible,” said Stanley and Simmons in a joint statement. “At Rock & Brews, November 11 is a special day and we show our gratitude and support for the women and men who have or continue to put their lives on the line for our country.”

All year round, Rock & Brews locations nationwide partner with local military and veteran organizations to support veterans and military personnel in their communities for their grand opening fundraisers and other events. To date, the Rock & Brews brand has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to local organizations directly benefiting veterans and military.

For more information on Veterans Day offerings at Rock & Brews, visit www.rockandbrews.com to get more details regarding your local Rock & Brews restaurant.

*Complimentary meal options vary at participating locations. Only one choice per guest with proof of service. Choices may include pulled pork sandwich; Caesar salad; chicken Caesar salad; two topping pizza; or backstage burger.

About Rock & Brews:  Rock & Brews is a one-of-a-kind, rock-inspired restaurant and entertainment concept designed to engage people of all ages with quality comfort food and local favorites, a broad selection of craft and international beers, and an energized environment that is reminiscent of being at a family-friendly music event.  Founded by rock icons Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of KISS, along with partners, restaurateur Michael Zislis and concert industry veterans Dave and Dell Furano, the first Rock & Brews opened near Los Angeles International Airport in Southern California in April of 2012.  Each of the brand’s 17 locations in the United States and Mexico boasts a backstage environment showcasing a “Great Wall of Rock,” iconic rock art, concert trusses and lighting and multiple flat screens sharing some of the greatest rock concert moments of all time.  Most offer a play area for kids and many are dog friendly.  For more information, please visit www.rockandbrews.com.

By Me:  The above press release is posted in honor of our Veterans.  I respect and appreciate their immense sacrifice for this beautiful country.  As a side note, I had a poster of Paul Stanley on my bedroom wall while growing up.  A poster of him, Adam Ant, David Bowie and a few others.  Back to the important stuff — When I learn of other meals being offered to Veterans, I’ll post the information below.  God Bless our Veterans and the USA.  Photos are from a previous visit to the Rock & Brews in Buena Park, CA.

Our Total Kitchen Remodel: Where Nibbles Of Tidbits Get Cooked.

October 14th, 2017 No comments


Yes, Nibbles of Tidbits is still live.  And continuously eating — Mostly out and microwavable frozen meals while the kitchen was being remodeled, but now I’m cookin’ up a storm, as I like to say, though you wouldn’t know that from here lately.  All of that is sure to change having this beautiful, inspiring kitchen.  We just love it.  And food looks great here too.  I created this short, before and after video to show the dramatic change.  We set up a temporary kitchen in the garage, thought up a new design, selected a contractor, materials, colors, products and style, and hoped for the best.  We are very pleased with the final results, which shall be starring here.  We’re happy to present Nibbles of Tidbits’ new kitchen and we are thankful to/for all who made it possible.

The Slidebar Rock-N-Roll Kitchen: Grubs’ Scratch Made Surprise.

September 4th, 2017 No comments

The Slidebar Rock-N-Roll Kitchen — I love rock and roll and great food, especially together.  I had been to The Slidebar before to see a Black Sabbath cover band, but never ate there until recently. I didn’t know that The Slidebar’s full-name literally includes the word kitchen.  Now I know.

We were invited to The Slidebar to try the Cali Bandito Tacos — YES!  Yes, because they are made with Gringo Bandito Hot Sauce and we are fans of The Offspring, plus it’s good Hot Sauce. Dexter Holland, the singer of The Offspring makes Gringo Bandito Hot Sauce.

Carne Asada and Portobello Mushrooms are marinated in Gringo Bandito’s Original Red Hot Sauce for The Slidebar’s Cali Bandito Tacos.  The Mushrooms are marinated for the vegetarian version of the Cali Bandito Taco.  We tried both and really liked both.  Though I often prefer vegetarian, the Carne Asada Taco was my favorite.  The Beef was tender and very flavorful.

We’re told these Tacos pair best with a Modern Times IPA and we agree that the Orderville paired well. And as good as the Red Hot Sauce is, I like Gringo Bandito’s Green Hot Sauce better.

I wish I was there (above) eating them right now with this photographer.

Aside from The Slidebar’s cool interior, exterior and bands, I learned that most of their food is made from scratch.  The Salsa, Chips and Beans on the plate with the Tacos are all made from scratch.  And the Tortillas for the Tacos too.  All made from scratch.  It’s not just bar food.

I am impressed with Chef Brandon at The Slidebar.  Each dish tasted to be made with love.

My biggest take away — The SlideBAR is The Slidebar Rock-N-Roll KITCHEN.  I want more of their made from scratch food.  They say… Grub You Crave – Scratch Made, and we know it’s true.

Related:  The nearby Burger Parlor makes a Gringo Bandito Tostada Burger that’s terrific too.

Santa Maria BBQ Is Now Open In Buena Park: Red Oak Wood Style.

August 17th, 2017 No comments

We welcome Santa Maria BBQ to the neighborhood.  Yay!  Real BBQ is nearby.  I see a lot of BBQ places opening up around here, but mostly Korean BBQ.  That’s perfectly fine, but I’m starting to see too many.  I like variety.  And thus I’m happy that I now have quick-access to Smoked Meat, and especially excited that Santa Maria BBQ smokes Chicken too, because it’s one of my favorite things to eat.  Santa Maria BBQ smokes their Meat over genuine California Red Oak Wood.

Santa Maria BBQ is located at 8002 Orangethorpe Boulevard, Suite A, in Buena Park.  It’s within the new-ish Clark Commons Apartment Complex on the corner of Orangethorpe and Stanton.

Santa Maria BBQ offers indoor (below) and outdoor (above) seating.  I always like that.

It’s large, clean and stylish inside Santa Maria BBQ Majestic Coffee & Tea.  There’s BBQ to be had on one side and Coffee, Tea & Dessert on the other.  It’s a nice combination.

Most Meats are smoked, then quick grilled.  Order at the adjacent counter.

And order Coffee, Tea & Dessert at the counter pictured above.

We had flavored Izze’s to drink this visit, but hope to have Beer and Wine next time.  Santa Maria BBQ is awaiting its liquor license to offer both.  Enlarge MENU above for a better view.

Loading wood into the smoker and lowering/raising the grill when necessary.  It smells so good.

They unfortunately ran out of my preferred BBQ picks, Smoked Chicken and Baby Back Ribs this day, but we plan to go back soon to try them.  If good, we’ll surely be regulars.  Santa Maria BBQ opens at 11:30 a.m. and closes at 8:00 p.m. daily, but could close earlier, if they run out of Meat or business is slow.  They are understandably gauging their supply and crowds.

BBQ To Go — Matt is taking ours out below.  They do catering too.

Where do I park?  We all wonder.  In back — Within the building cul-de-sac (below).  The spaces are numbered, but they are reserved for Santa Fe BBQ and Majestic Coffee & Tea customers.

You may also parallel park along Yard Street, in un-numbered spots, if available.

There does not seem to be parking out front on Orangethorpe.  I believe it’s all red, but will check that again.  However, Santa Maria BBQ did obtain permission from Sherwin-Williams (across the street) to use its parking lot, after Sherwin-Williams hours.  Santa Maria BBQ customers may park there, after Sherwin-Williams closes.  That’s a nice evening option.

We toast to Santa Maria BBQ and wish them much success.

To be continued.

Annual Guaranteed Fun At The Orange County Fair: We’re In.

July 23rd, 2017 No comments

It’s happening now through Sunday, August 13, 2017 and you don’t want to miss it.  We never do. The Orange County Fair has much to offer adults and children alike.  And it’s a great place for those adults who act like children, though we don’t know anyone like that. 😉  See you there.

The 2017 OC Fair Goes Gourmet And We’re Set To Substantiate That.

July 8th, 2017 No comments

 

It’s my favorite thing at the OC Fair — The FOOD.  And it’s about gourmet food this year.  That’s even better.  It’s reported that ‘The 2017 OC Fair Goes Gourmet’.  See the OC Fair’s official press release below and we at Nibbles of Tidbits will see you at the Fair.  It starts July 14th and we’re ready to taste everything.  I usually enter the Culinary Arts Competitions, but our kitchen is currently being remodeled.  I caught myself thinking up ideas of what to enter this year, but remembered, duh, I don’t have a kitchen right now, and probably won’t for another three to four weeks. You’ll see that here later.  Until then, read what will soon be happening at the OC Fair.

Farm to fork. Artisan crafted. Locally made. Small batch. These words don’t just define a food revolution, they hint at what you’ll find in the culinary exhibits and demonstrations at the 2017 OC Fair. Steal away from the midway for a little while to discover artisans who bring the “Farm Fresh Fun” theme to life. Taste award-winning California olive oil. Sample locally made kombucha. Learn how butchers, bakers and local booze makers are changing the way things are crafted in Orange County and beyond. The culinary team at OC Fair & Event Center has curated a lineup that showcases top local chefs, TV celebrities, cookbook authors and local businesses to help Fairgoers get a taste of what that food revolution is like.

Let’s take a look at what and who you’ll find at the Fair in the OC Promenade Culinary Arts Building:

Pies: Karen Uyeda is a passionate fair attendee and previous OC Fair Blue-Ribbon Winner for her pies. She launched Sweetcie Pie and her business has flourished. Learn her pie-making secrets. July 19, 3 p.m.

Spirits: Brian and Robin Christenson launched the very first craft distillery in Orange County, Blinking Owl. These locavores and grain nerds will teach how they mill, ferment and distill barrel aged whisky and more. They have a great local story to tell. July 22, 3 p.m.

Paella: Junior chef Isabella Vegh is a member of 4-H and a previous triple Best of Class Winner in Preserved Foods and Winner of the Youth Spam Competition. Isabella will demonstrate how to make authentic Paella Valencia. July 20, 5 p.m.

Butchery: Chef Noah Blom of ARC Restaurant, Restaurant Marin and The Guild will give a primal cut butchery demonstration and he’ll share his best tips. Aug. 2, 5 p.m.

Meat:  Executive Chef Melissa Cortina, of Bavette’s Meats and Provisions, attended Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, and learned at the hands of master Italian butchers. She will answer questions about buying, using and preparing meat. Aug. 13, 5 p.m.

Bread: Cortina will be joined by former Blue Man Group performer Don Kohler who will demonstrate how to make unique Icelandic geothermal rye bread in your home kitchen. Kohler is now star of Hallmark Channel’s The Home & Family Show. Aug. 13, 5 p.m.

Beer: The first and only non-GMO, vegan-friendly beer, Dr. Jekyll’s Craft Beer, is produced by Tom Costa, an avid home brewer of more than 25 year. Learn how to bring craft beer into the kitchen and onto the plate. Aug. 6, 3 p.m.

Fermented Food: Fairgoers can learn about the health benefits of lacto-fermentation from Dr. Yasmine Mason of Fermentation Farm, and try a free sample of kombucha. Daily

Seasonal: Chef Ernie Alvarado, pictured above, of Urbana is bringing Farm Fresh Mexican-inspired dishes to the table. Find out how he has mastered the use of seasonal produce in his creations. July 22, 7 p.m.

Sweets: Chef Stéphane Tréand will showcase his incredible talents by creating a highly technical sugar sculptor showpiece. July 30, 5 p.m.

Produce: Robert Schueller of Melissa’s Produce is known as Produce Guru. Become one of his followers and increase your knowledge of fruit and vegetables.  July 20, 2 and 4 p.m.

Here’s their Official List of all the Culinary Events and Demonstrations happening this year.

The OC Fair Is Coming, The OC Fair Is Coming: Fab Annual Occurrence.

July 5th, 2017 No comments

The Fair will be at the Orange County Fair Grounds starting Friday, July 14th.  And we can’t wait. We will be there on July 22nd for a media event.  And before and after that date, because we love the OC Fair.  More about this year’s Orange County Fair to be reported here on Nibbles of Tidbits.

Bottle Logic Brewing: India Pale Ales Are My New Favorite Brew.

June 20th, 2017 No comments

Bottle Logic Brewing — United in the thirst of knowledge and BEER.  It’s a hip brewery in Anaheim.  We stumbled upon it, after kitchen remodel shopping directly across the street.  We asked our phones where to get a Beer and lucked out learning about Bottle Logic.  Their Beer makes me love Beer, especially IPA’s.  And Bottle Logic loves dogs.  We brought Leon on our second visit.

The Constants is Bottle Logic’s Tasting Flight — It offers (5) tastes for $8.  Two IPA’s, a Brew, Ale and a Stout.  It’s how I fell for IPA’s.  Particularly the Recursion and Double Actuator.

Grab a stool at the bar, near the containers or outside, if available — With or without your dog.

A different Food Truck is parked outside Bottle Logic Brewing each day.

This day it was Falasophy — We had their Brussels Sprouts (above) with a Sweet and Spicy Tahini Sauce and Hummus & Zaatar Pita Chips (below) with Olive Oil and Cumin, both I’ve hoped to have again each subsequent visit, but haven’t timed it yet.  We absolutely loved both.  All was perfectly prepared and very flavorful.  The Food Truck schedule is posted on Bottle Logic’s website.

Water bowls for dogs are provided inside and out.  Thanks Bottle Logic.  Very nice!

Leon likes you too.  He’s with Matt above and below.  We’ll be back.

It’s such good brew, Matt gets a growler to-go.  And last time I was envious of him having it at home, so I’m getting one to-go next time.  Various brews are sold to-go in various sizes.

The line for brews can be long at times, but it moves along and it’s worth the wait.  We think.

Burger Parlor: Oh Those Onion Rings & Gringo Bandito Tostada Burger.

May 12th, 2017 No comments

We LOVE the Burger Parlor’s new Gringo Bandito Tostada Burger (pictured above) — It’s made with a Hormone-Free Nebraskan Beef Patty and includes a Crisp Tostada Shell (yes, it’s true), Crushed Avocado, Roasted Anaheim Chili, Marinated Carrots, Gringo Bandito Crema, Gringo Bandito Aioli and a Fried Egg.  The well-selected ingredients create an amazing Burger.

What is Gringo Bandito you might ask — It’s a Hot Sauce created by The Offspring’s Lead Singer, Dexter Holland.  Well, we also love The Offspring and saw them in concert the last two years at the Orange County Fair.  Together Dexter Holland and the Burger Parlor’s founder, Joseph Mahon created the Gringo Bandito Tostada Burger.  And it’s now on the Burger Parlor menu.

The Burger Parlor could make the best Onion Rings I’ve ever had.  We had them a few times previously and I’d considered writing an entire post about them, but didn’t get around to it.

Inside the Burger Parlor’s Fullerton location (above and below).  There’s another one in Orange.

They have Beer and Wine too, in addition to Milkshakes and Sodas — Cheers to that.

We were The Ramones #57 waiting for food delivery.

This visit we also had the Kali Burger made with Smoked Bacon, Crushed Avocado, Provolone Cheese, Peppers, Caramelized Onions, Arugula and Chipotle Aioli (below).  Another great combo.

We split and shared both.

It’s tricky cutting a Gringo Bandito Tostada Burger, due to the Tostada Shell (and Egg) on it.

A Tostada Shell is an unusual ingredient on a Burger, but it really works, especially with Marinated Carrots between the Burger and the bottom of the Bun.  Both are perfect with an Egg.

I may have a whole one next time, if I can decide between all the gourmet combinations.

The also make a House Ketchup that’s offered next to Heinz.  We got one of each and used all the House Ketchup.  You cannot tell the difference by looking at them, but Burger Parlor’s House Ketchup tastes like it’s meant to go with the Onion Rings.  There’s something special there.

The Burger Parlor knows how to make things right — Their wall instructions impressed us (below).

We highly recommend the Burger Parlor and their Onion Rings — To me, they kind of taste like Shrimp Tempura, especially with the House Ketchup.  The duo is on my favorite’s list.

The Burger Parlor is a favorite of many and has the awards to prove it.  We’ll be back.

Grateful To Grow: The Start Of This Year’s Garden.

April 29th, 2017 No comments

Last year we planted six Tomato plants in one raised bed and this year we only planted four.  Though we love an abundance of Tomatoes, we could hardly get to them.  It became a Tomato jungle we had to forge through.  They look sparse now, but we hope to have the same luck this year.

In our other raised garden, we planted Jalapenos, Poblano Peppers, Japanese Eggplant, Red, Brown & White Onions, Cilantro, Curly Parsley, Purple Basil, Lime Basil, Pineapple Sage and Thyme.

We’re seeing at least ten small clusters of Grapes growing on the old Grape vine.

We bought a two-inch Boysenberry vine from Knott’s Berry Farm last year and we’re happy that it continues to grow.  We hope to see Boysenberries on it some year down the road.

Matt has a green thumb, and especially a Pineapple green thumb — We have one starting above, one maturing below, and four others that we’re hoping will do something.  He’s grown several.

Wild Blackberries grow on the other side of the house — They’re great to have, but VERY thorn-ey.

Serrano Peppers grow throughout the year in a couple other pots, whether we want them or not.

Zucchini is growing in another corner of the yard.  I have not grown it before.

And Oyster Mushrooms are growing in the house — In a Mini Mushroom Farm we got from Home Depot.  We soaked its internal plastic bag in water for a day, cut an ‘X’ in the front of it and returned it to its box to grow.  Pictured below is five days growth.  It’s fun to watch them grow so fast.

For non-edible enjoyment, flowers grow in the side planter below.  We planted hundreds of miscellaneous flower seeds to yield a flower-grab-bag to surprise us all summer long.

I had the sign below made for our garden shed — FW stands for Freis West.  Most of the Freis live back East.  In Michigan and Wisconsin.  They’re Freis East and we’re Freis West (FW for short).

We’re also growing Meyer Lemons, Limes, Tangelos and Rosemary (not pictured) and tend to our gardens daily.  We’re grateful to see all grow and will share the abundance in a few months.

Porto’s Bakery & Cafe Is Now Open On Beach In Buena Park.

April 10th, 2017 No comments

I’ve only heard good things about Porto’s Bakery & Cafe, so I was excited that they opened up one in Buena Park, off Beach Boulevard down the street from Knott’s Berry Farm.  It just opened last month. We attempted to go there a couple times, but the line wrapped around the building.

We finally went there recently and only had to wait in line for 15 minutes.

A large, beautiful space with indoor and outdoor seating was constructed for Porto’s in Buena Park.

On this day (and perhaps always), there were secondary lines.  Once inside, we were directed to one of two other lines to order food.  Each area included glass cases displaying gorgeous desserts and savory items — Cakes, Cookies, various Pastries, Croquettes, Empanadas, and much more.

I asked for (at least) one of each of the House Specialties listed below.

Though I ordered one of each of the House Specialties, I only ended up with most of them — One of each from the case below, except the Rellenito, because they were out of them.  Now we have to go back for the rest, plus more, which is fine without a line.  Matt (pictured at top) leaving with our sweet and savory boxes — A great moment.  We were eager to get home to try it all.

Our savory box below included a Ham Croquette, Cheese/Pepper Potato Ball, a Chicken Empanada, a Chorizo Pie, a Seafood Potato Ball, two Meat Pies, and two Potato Balls, because it is one of Porto’s specialties — Potato Balls filled with ground Beef and Peppers.  We each had to have our own.

We shared it all — And the Potato Ball was our favorite too.  The meat inside it is so well seasoned.

We also shared a Guava Strudel, Raspberry Kiss Cookie, Cherry Turnover and Mango Empanada.

I loved the Raspberry Kiss Cookie — It’s not the most dazzling dessert there, but it is tasty.

Porto’s closes at 7 p.m., but allows those in line at that time into the building to order.

Porto’s prices are pretty good too — There’s much more we want to try there.