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Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Give Yourself a Break from Cooking with Feast and Fettle

As a stay-at-home-mom of two kids ages 7 and 2, I find myself always in the kitchen preparing meals.  Whether I'm whipping up waffles and strawberries for breakfast or preparing a minestrone soup for dinner, the kitchen is one of the most used rooms in my house.  I cook about 6 nights a week so it's safe to say I do get tired of cooking meals.  If I'm not actually cooking, I'm mentally thinking about what we're going to eat for dinner the next night! With four people in my house to feed, cooking is one thing that is a constant. 




Feast and Fettle is a fully-prepared, gourmet meal delivery service that services busy individuals and families in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and now Connecticut!  As of March 24th, Feast and Fettle delivery vans can be seen in Greenwich, Darien and Stamford CT with plans to expand to Fairfield, New Haven, Middlesex and Westchester (NY) counties later this year.  The company was founded in 2016 and has been pleasing stomachs ever since.  Some meal delivery services deliver a box of meal ingredients that still need to be cooked.  Rest assured, these meals are fully made and do the hard work for you by allowing you to sit back and relax.  Take a night off of cooking, because you deserve it!

The meal plans provide a week's worth of meals for 1,2,or 4 people depending on your household size. Choose from a couple's plan, singles plan, or family plan. Each tier offers a specific number of entrees and sides.  

Each week you'll make your selections from Feast and Fettle's curated menu of entrees and sides.  You'll always have at least 8 entrees to choose from, 3 of which are vegetarian and vegan friendly.  There is also 10 different side dishes (including dessert!) to pair with your entrees.  You have the ability to click on each meal to see the ingredients listing too to make sure it is suitable for you.  Choose from meals like cold sesame noodles with broccoli and kale to pistachio crusted codfish with creamy parmesan polenta on the side.  There is definitely something on the menu each week to please even the pickiest of eaters! 

Feast and Fettle would be an ideal gift for someone who just had a new baby, an elderly relative or friend, a birthday present for a loved one, or just a way to spoil someone who would love a break from cooking.  The best part is that this is a one size fits all gift that anyone will love.  You won't have to worry about someone already having this gift! Food is for everyone.

I was able to receive a couple's plan to try with my husband.  Since I cook so frequently, I was thrilled at the opportunity to put rest my hands for a few days and give myself some time off from kitchen duty! We don't have date nights very often, so I looked at the meals as sort of a way to bring a restaurant into our home.

I can admit that I am a little picky when it comes to meals, and I don't love everything.  My husband Jay on the other hand could eat rocks and sticks and say it was delicious.  He enjoys all dishes it seems like!  When I was choosing our selections I was pleased to see that many things on the menu appealed to me.  I ended up choosing:

Entrees:
Mushroom Bolognese
Buttermilk Roasted Chicken Legs
Simply Grilled Flan Steak
Crab Stuffed Flounder

Sides:

Sauteed Corn with Shittake Mushrooms
Garden Salad with House Vinaigrette
Sesame Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges
Creamy Parmesan Polenta






Thyme Challah Rolls

Dessert: 
Blondies 

What's nice about the Feast and Fettle Meals is that it gives you an opportunity to try dishes you wouldn't normally make at home.  I know I don't have so much time with my busy schedule to make stuffed flounder, that's something I'd order at a restaurant.  Thankfully, you can bring restaurant quality dishes to the comfort of your home without paying a babysitter!



My order was delivered today in a very large refrigerated bag with an ice pack to keep everything chilled.  All the meals were stacked nicely together in containers with easy-to-see labels.  I liked that the labels had expiration dates on it so you knew exactly when to eat each dish by.   You do have to give the bags back they are not yours to keep.  The nice thing about the delivery service is that you don't have to be home to receive the order.  You do have to make sure you do bring it inside as quickly as possible since the food is perishable.  There's a fun little gift inside for everyone's first order, adorable little dark chocolate turkeys.  What a nice welcoming idea.



For our first meal, my husband and I wanted to try the crab stuffed flounder and creamy parmesan polenta.  He is a big fan of polenta and was excited at the idea of it being cheesy.  A directions sheet is included for reheating the food so you know exactly how to warm it up.  I heated the fish in the oven while the polenta got nice and steamy in the microwave.  Since this meal was only for my husband and I, I served my kids a different dinner.  I did make seasoned broccoli for my whole family, which I paired with the Feast and Fettle meal.  



The crab stuffed flounder was so tasty! I had never had this before, but cannot wait to try it again.  The juicy crab was bursting with flavor and paired nicely with the mild fish.  Jay and I both enjoyed it.  I must say the creamy polenta was a wonderful side dish to have with the fish too.  If you're a cheese lover this polenta is definitely a must-try.  I couldn't get enough of that perfectly cheesy goodness 

The portions are definitely a decent size and more than enough for two people, I'd say.  If one person tends to like larger than normal portions they may still feel hungry but it was more than enough food for me.

You can't have a fabulous dinner without dessert of course! I am known for ending meals in my own home with a sweet-treat, so I was happy to see that Feast and Fettle shared my philosophy.  The blondies they sent in our order were massive.  They looked almost like mini pies, I'd never seen blondies that big before.  Since they were large and in charge, my husband and I split one.  I chose to heat it in the microwave to make it more softer and gooey.  We both thought the blondie was wonderful and enioyed the chocolate goodness it brought.  Yum!




The next meal I tried was the pasta with bolognese sauce.  Pasta is one of my most favorite foods and I knew I couldn't wait too long to dig in!  I paired it with the house salad and a challah roll.  One of my most-used kitchen items is the air-fryer it's like a mini box of magic.  Everything that goes in comes out fantastic and perfect.  I reheated the challah rolls in it.  They were mouthwateringly delicious and provided a perfectly soft and warm fluffy interior.  Truly, that roll was the best roll I've had in a long time and tasted like it was just purchased from a bakery the same day.


Now for the pasta, it was cooked well and not mushy at all.  The bolognese sauce was rich and full of flavor.  I enjoyed sprinkling a small amount of provided grated parmesan on top for a touch of cheesy goodness.  

For all you salad lovers, the salad did not disappoint.  It was extremely fresh and the veggies crisp and wonderful.  A perfect accompaniment to any pasta dish of course! 

I was extremely satisfied with the quality of my Feast and Fettle meals.  I feel spoiled and well-taken care of with such luxurious meals every night! I definitely think I could get used to this, ha ha! Both Jay and I are very much looking forward to trying the rest of the remaining meals.

If you're looking for some delicious eats that come straight to your home and give you a break from cooking, it's time to make an order!

*DISCLOSURE* Thank you to Feast and Fettle for a week's worth of meals.  All thoughts are strictly my own.



Monday, March 28, 2022

Parenting During a Pandemic+Headway

March 2020 was a time of uncertainty, fear, and general panic.  Nobody had previously lived through a pandemic or knew what to expect.  Guidelines for safety and health changed all the time.  The world was shutting down and people were scrambling to figure out how to continue life as we knew it.  It was not an easy time, but here we are exactly two years later better and stronger.  Remote learning is not a primary way of teaching students anymore, and mask mandates have gone away for towns and schools.  We have the advantages of vaccines and boosters now to protect ourselves and others.  It hasn't been an easy road but we've all done the best we can in these tough times.  

Remember when we were told it was a two week shutdown to flatten the curve? Nobody ever would have believed it would be two years and counting. 
One positive thing the pandemic brought to my family was lots of quality time together since we were always home.  My husband started working remotely (and has been since March 2020!) and has been a huge help in helping me with the kids.  If I need to go to the dentist during Jack's naptime, he's home to watch him.  Things are easier and less stressful with an extra set of hands.  I enjoy my husband Jay having dinner with us every night, which he never used to do.  We all have grown closer too. 

Parenting during a pandemic is something that not only brought me intense guilt, but left me questioning decisions I made too.  Jack was born in August 2019, so in March of 2020, he was 7 months old.  We were just starting playdates and library storytime when the shutdown occurred. Nobody ever saw something like this coming. 

Here I was at home with a 7 month old baby who could have zero interaction or socialization with others outside of his immediate family.  The four walls of our home became all he knew since being near people was frightening.  I did my best to keep him entertained and happy but it was hard knowing he couldn't go to a baby gym, or even play at a playground.  All the while Scarlett was finishing up her final months of preschool via Zoom.  Our weeks were chaotic and filled with masks, gloves, and food shortages.  Scarlett started talking to her friends on Facetime to stay connected.  She was only 5 years old and didn't understand how serious the state of the world was, even though we tried to express it in simple terms for her.



As the months went on all you heard about was people dying from Covid and rising cases.  Hospitals didn't have enough beds for everyone.  We couldn't see family except from behind a phone or computer screen.  Holidays, birthdays, and special events were canceled.  Jack's first birthday was not what I envisioned it would be for him. We didn't see my family in person for about 18 months.  As a parent you worry every time you take your child to the store.  I was a broken record constantly telling Scarlett please keep your mask over your nose, don't touch your face, wash your hands,  don't forget the hand sanitizer etc.  We couldn't have indoor playdates for well over a year, and I felt guilty always telling Scarlett no when she asked to see friends, unless it was outdoors.  It's better to be safe than sorry was our new life motto.  I found myself exhausted, stressed, and depressed from life.  

Fast forward to present day and Jack is now 2.5 years old.  He started preschool in September 2021 and has really been enjoying his time there.  He is speech delayed and is wary in new environment which concerns me. Jack spent so much time at home that I worry that it affected his development.  Everyone tells me that he'll catch up, which I hope he will.  We still keep him home somewhat to keep him safe since a vaccine is not available to him and he refuses to wear a mask.  Although I try to take him out more than I used to.  It's not normal or healthy to grow up primarily inside away from people.  The early years of childhood are the building blocks for life, it saddens me that Jack has to deal with this as well as all children his age. 

Scarlett is back to school in-person this year.  There's been no classroom shutdowns like there was in Kindergarten because of covid cases.  I have never set foot inside her school beyond the lobby.  I hope now I'll be able to since the mask mandate is gone.  I'll be meeting her teacher for the first time next week too, which I'm looking forward to.

Now that the pandemic seems a little more under control and less ominous it's time we can start to breathe slightly.  It's safe to say that it has taken a toll on ourselves and families which is expected.  It's okay to accept that you may feel that you're not the same person you once were, nobody is.  I do worry about how the pandemic has mentally affected Scarlett since she is now 7 and understands more than she did 2 years ago.  She had to be away from friends and people both physically and emotionally for a long time.  Can you imagine telling your child please don't hug a friend or relative? It's just inhumane. She has received both covid vaccines, but we still are living in a pandemic.  It's not over. 

Thankfully, everyone is in the same boat together and stronger because of it. 

It's not shameful or uncomfortable to receive help to better yourself and also to feel better.  Therapy is a wonderful tool that anyone can use for any variety of reasons, especially the pandemic.  

Headway is a national network of in-network therapists that help connect patients looking for mental health care with one of their 15,000+ providers.  Headway gives patients the ability to find the best in-network therapy provider for them based on their needs.  So many people are struggling with the impact of the pandemic, and as a society, we are beginning to normalize the need for therapy.  Many new mental health companies are not able to offer the benefit of online therapy with insurance which limits access to help for those in need.  It's wonderful that these therapists are covered by insurance.  Headway is also developing extensive resources on mental health and therapeutic support to help educate people in need on how therapy works, why it is important, and how you can treat various illnesses.

I definitely would love to find a family therapist to speak with to discuss my feelings about the pandemic with, and also just to have on hand for other issues I may have.  The fact that insurance covers these therapy sessions is fantastic.  

If you're looking for resources on mental health, here are three great ones.  Please click here, here, and here

*DISCLOSURE* This is a sponsored post in partnership with Responsival.  All thoughts and opinions are strictly mine. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Introduce Bokksu Into Your Life

When I get the opportunity to travel, there's nothing I enjoy more than trying traditional foods native to that place or country.  Whether it's sampling a local fish in Jamaica, or having the opportunity to eat an authentic Costa Rican breakfast, I'm open to it all.  I feel that it's important to broaden your horizons and try something that you may not have the opportunity to again.



Bokksu is the only truly gourmet Japanese snack box featuring exclusive artisanal snack and baked goods from local makers and prestige Japanese brands.  This premium subscription service allows individuals to discover delicious snacks and teas from all over Japan.  Having lived in and snacked through Japan, founder Danny Taing curates a gourmet box for subscribers every month filled with unique offerings.  Bokksu will take you on a gourmet journey through Japan.  From Hokkaido white chocolate butter cookies to Kyoto hand ground matcha, each box will be a culinary surprise! 

Each month has a specific theme that isn't reveled ahead of time.  You can choose from a classic Bokksu subscription, or a tasting subscription.  The classic one offers 20-25 Japanese teas and snacks while the tasting box has 8-10 snacks.  If you want to pay per month to have a box each month that's an option as well as 3 months, 6 months, or once a year.  A subscription box would make the perfect gift for a foodie or someone who is interested in new experiences.

I received Bokksu's box which has the theme of citrus.  This is a very fitting theme now that we're in getting into warmer weather.  Citrus keeps you cool on a hot summer day and the box is filled with Japan's most refreshing citrus snacks.  Since I am unable to travel to Japan, why not let a taste of Japan come to your own home? 

I honestly have no prior experience with Japanese snacks and wasn't sure what to expect before opening the box.  The box contains familiar citrus flavors like orange and lemon as well as some that most would not be familiar with like Yuzu, Hyuganatsu, and Shiquasa.  All three of these are delicious Japanese fruits that I've never even heard of, let alone tasted! I was interested and curious at what I was about to taste.  

Once you open the box, you're met with a myriad of snacks ranging from sweet to savory. A selection of teas was also included, as well as a booklet detailing what each snack is along with information about it.  

The snacks range from orange and lemon cakes to orange biscuits and smoked crackers and peanuts in a lemon salt flavor for starters.  That's definitely an interesting combination, if I say so myself!  Green tea and Hyuganatsu jelly are also included.  

I really thought the Bokksu box was a great opportunity to try something new and exciting. I haven't yet sampled everything, but what stood out to me was the rich orange biscuits and the orange stick cake.  A few items I wasn't extremely partial to, but that's okay because it's all about opening yourself up to new tastes.  


The rich orange biscuits combine two dark chocolate biscuits with a layer of tangy orange cream made with 41% fresh orange juice concentrate.  This classic sandwich cookie that resembles an Oreo is a favorite in Japan and I can definitely see why.  One big change I noticed is the lack of sugar in the cookies.  A typical American sandwich cookie is very sweet and packs a big sugar content.  The rich orange biscuits were very light, not overly sweet at all, and not heavy.  The orange flavor is extremely prevalent and welcoming. You're not going to eat these and instantly regret it, like you may other cookies. They would pair perfectly with a cup of green tea for a mid-day snack.

I haven't had many orange cakes in my lifetime, so when I saw that the orange stick cake was included I was intrigued.  The light fluffy orange cake is delicately airy and moist.  You'll notice that it's baked with real orange slices on top, giving it a classy look and delightfully zingy freshness perfect for summer.  A big bonus of this cake is that it's a small stick portion. There's no room for overindulgence or overeating which I am guilty of.  

I love the orange slices that are baked in, it gives the cake extra personality and looks beautiful.  Like the rich orange biscuits, the orange flavor is clearly noticeable and again very light.  The cake is not ridiculously sweet at all like most cakes are, but just sweet enough for your sweet tooth to be satisfied.  I really enjoyed it and would love the privilege of having it again one day.  Both the cake and the biscuits had hints of the other fruits incorporated along with orange. 

I look forward to trying the rest of the box and seeing what else I enjoy.  Who knows, maybe I'll be able to go to Japan some day and be able to try these snacks in person?

If you're looking to give your taste buds a treat, it's time to head on over to Bokksu.  

*DISCLOSURE* Thank you to Bokksu for providing a box in order to facilitate this post.  All thoughts are strictly my own.