Chef’s Plate

I don’t know exactly how I came across the website for Chef’s Plate but it was probably Facebook. If you haven’t heard of Chef’s Plate, in a nutshell it is a “food box”, you know like the monthly beauty boxes? Except in this case once a week (or less if you skip weeks) you get two meals delivered to your door. Something about this really intrigued me so I immediately signed up.

A quick look at Chef's Plate Chicken Supreme with mashed potatoes and asparagus.

I had to register of course, provide a few preference details, and then pick a few recipes from their weekly assigned choices. On their website they had a coupon for two free meals (it’s still there) so I entered that and instead of paying $49.80 I paid $28. A $6 delivery charge is included in those prices.

I received an email last night that my box had been shipped and around 2:30 this afternoon it arrived via FedEx. I’d like to point out that a meal for two people x 2 is actually pretty heavy so I’m surprised they are able to do such reasonable shipping.

Here is a quick Instagram video of me unpacking the box (I mention them forgetting a piece of chicken but there was actually two in the package):

Everything is nice and chilled.

A video posted by Moe (@biggirlblue) on

The well packed box came with four ice cold packs around the meat. Since one of the meat options was chicken, and this was a concern for me, I was relieved to see everything was still so chilled considering the heat and humidity we are experiencing this week.

I have unpacked everything and put it in the fridge. I have to head out and do some grocery shopping (haha) and will decide when I get back what we will try first. Dinner options I received: Corned Beef on a Pretzel Bun and Herb Crusted Chicken Supreme (both are pictured on this page), one for each of us.

A heavy card stock recipe direction card came for each meal. There are a lot of instructions on the back so it doesn’t look like they are making you guess how to do anything.

I’m quite excited about trying some new recipes and I love the fact that I don’t have to go hunting for ingredients at the grocery store because everything is included (except basics i.e. brown sugar). I always get frustrated when I try to follow a new recipe and it turns out I cannot find one to five of the ingredients I need.

I will post an update once I try both meals and let you know how it goes.

A quick look at Chef's Plate corned beef on a pretzel bun

Chef’s Plate is currently delivering Ontario wide and “expanding quickly”.

UPDATE on My First Two Chef’s Plate Meals

From here on, the images are of my actual plated results.

Corned Beef on a Pretzel Bun with homemade tomato jam and mixed green salad — We both hated the salad that came with this meal. It was too bitter. I did not use all the juice from the half of lemon and it was still bitter. I think it needed sugar or something to balance it.

The sandwich was really good and I have actually found myself craving to have it again. The portion size was quite large and Jeff ended up saving half his sandwich for lunch the next day.

Corned Beef on a Pretzel bun with spinach salad and tomato jam via Chef's Plate.

There was also a side of tomato jam which was awesome. Jeff even liked it and he is not a big tomato person — that’s an understatement, he tends to pick tomatoes off everything.

Lemon was carried throughout the meal, in the dressing for the salad, spread for sandwich, and in tomato jam.

The full page recipe cards are easy to follow but I would like to see larger images. I know space is a premium but a little larger would be nice.

Montreal Spiced Steak with new potatoes and red delicious apple kohlrabi salad — Overall it was a tasty meal that was fairly easy to prepare and cook. The salad was OK. Better than the last one. I also mixed the ingredients together first before applying over salad, rather than mixing like the directions said, to give a more uniform taste.

The steak was yummy but perhaps the steak spice was a bit too salty. I’ve never pan fried a steak before so this was an interesting experience and I’m happy with the results and can see myself doing it again. The potatoes were awesome of course, they are potatoes, but they needed a cooking time of 30 minutes and not the 20 instructed.

A photo posted by Moe (@biggirlblue) on


UPDATE on a Few More Chef’s Plate Meals

We have tried a few more recipes over the last few months. I won’t give a full review of them, just a few quick thoughts.

Chicken Cheese Melts with tomato, basil, and corn nut chopped salad — Loved this. A new way for us to make chicken. I have never cooked with Provolone and cornflake crumbs before.

Chicken cheese melt and salad from Chef's Plate.

Turkey Meatballs over fresh spinach fettuccine and lemon butter sauce — Lovely, glamerous looking dish that really felt like no effort to make. Just enough for two. My first time cooking with marinated artichokes. Delish!

Fresh spinach fettuccine and turkey meatballs from Chef's Plate.

Chicken in a Lemon Cream Sauce with mashed potatoes and leek haystacks — Never thought of leeks as a side before (usually only make leek soup) so this was interesting to try. Chicken and potatoes were a win.

Chicken with cream sauce and capers with a side of mash and leek salad. From Chef's Plate.

Hand Rolled Ricotta and Kale Manicotti with fresh pasta and garlic bread — There was very little complaining about the greens in his pasta. It’s a fancy dish that was easy to make because all the ingredients were right there.


A photo posted by Moe (@biggirlblue) on

Herb Crusted Chicken Supreme with mashed potatoes and spiced green beans — This was an interesting method of cooking the chicken (stuffing then pan frying) and was very tasty. Described as “hard” difficulty on recipe card but really wasn’t that difficult in my opinion.

Herb Crusted chicken with a side of beans and onions from Chef's Plate.

Vegetarian Thai Red Curry with chickpeas, green beans, and whole wheat roti — This was a beautiful dish to look at. It was fragrant but overall not a favorite for either of us. It seemed too overloaded with the chick peas and somehow was too spice and too bland at the same time — too much heat. I did not use all the curry paste, thank goodness.

Vegetarian Thai Curry chickpeas from Chef's Plate.

Final Thoughts on Service

I really love the concept of having all my ingredients on hand and ready to go without having to worry about what I missed. The convenience is awesome! I also liked that I was able to learn a few cooking techniques as well as work with and taste new ingredients that I would not normally be exposed to. If you don’t like what they pick for you there are at least four other options to change to on their website.

As for the company and website, it is very easy to manoeuvre to change meal selections and to skip weeks. I picked and chose the weeks I wanted to use the service in advance up to two months. And there is a pause option that I am currently using because we had a big home expense and I did not want to have to worry extras payments. This is seriously one of the best features of the system. I hate box programs that make you feel trapped.

I like the service and will use it again soon.

Topic Links
* Visit Chef’s Plate to sign up (Yep, if you use this link I get a free meal.)

Homemade Pirate Costume

My DIY Pirate instructions from a pair of second hand pleather pants. I made this for my husband in 2010 (and he still has it today) but it can be easily used for a woman pirate. First up, buy a pair of pleather pants from the second hand store in your size or bigger. The bigger you get the more material you have to work with. I say pleather because it would be a waste to cut into leather and it’s cheaper. I found a pair of pleather pants for $13 and they were in excellent condition.

The red dash lines are cut lines. Before I started I had to cut out the thin material liner which was easy enough. A. on image at left — The pleather pants had a 2″ waist band and a side zipper that I cut out. B. and C. are additional cuts just above the knee and again about 6″ longer. D. is a cut line to remove the seams in crotch.

How to cut the pleather pants.

The material on the lower half of the pant makes up the buccaneers of the pirate costume (the boots).

Buckeneer shoe covers for pirate costume are cut from lower legs.

The small section between B and C makes the fold over at the knee. The small piece is turned inside out and placed a few inches within the top of the larger piece and hand stitched around. I used waxed floss because it slid in and out nicely and didn’t break easily. The stitches were large enough to hold pieces together. Nothing fancy as it won’t be visible anyway.

I made a cuff by inserting a smaller piece into the longer one and folding it over.

I cut the remaining large pieces of fabric in half up the crotch and opened them. One piece makes up the back of the vest and the other piece I cut into two pieces out to make the front part of the vest. I didn’t use a template, I just eyed it. The front pieces were cut into point which made the vest longer in front and short in back. Out of leftovers I cut long strips about half an inch wide and as long as I could make them.

Pirate vest cut from main body of pants.

I poked holes in the shoulders where the front pieces would be attached and the side pieces where the front would connect with the back. I then threaded the long strips through the holes in a cross pattern as if lacing shoes and tied the two ends in long knots. The size of the vest can be adjusted by the ties.

To finish off the costume he wore his work cords, a white shirt I had in the closet, a noisy silver belt I picked up from the second hand store for $3, and a black stretch sash I had around his head, and a pair of black shoes. I put some dark eye make-up on him and finished off the look with a sword I picked up from the costume store for $5. Total cost $21.

This could be adapted for a woman: black skirt (short or long) or men’s baggy pants, white or red blouse, bandanna or sash on head, and wide belt at waist.

Plus Size Costumes

Originally published 8/31/2010 at Large & Lovely, BellaOnline.

A Fruit Fly Serial Killer

This summer we developed a fruit fly problem. What is surprising is that it has taken this long, since we have been composting for years. We just seemed to hit the right amount of ripe bananas and compost to ignite a war between us and them.

When we noticed the first signs of the little critters flying around we ignored them. Big mistake. Don’t ignore them. One of the first thing we learned about fruit flies is that they produce like bunnies — in a shorter time span — about every seven days we could expect a new outbreak.

We started making a conscious effort in killing them. First I had a notepad that I used to swat them. I did pretty good with about ten flies in a session. Then all of a sudden it was like they learned from their dying comrades to get out of the way and I couldn’t hit one of them. Then I was putting a Ziploc bag near the bananas with a banana in it to catch them. This worked for about two Ziploc bags and I was only getting about six to eight at a time, hardly enough to account for wasting a bag or a banana. Finally I told Jeff, no more bananas or kitchen composter until we get this under control. We froze the bananas we had left (great for smoothies by the way) and cleaned out the kitchen compost collection container. It’s been about three weeks and we have seen a decrease in flies but they are still around and if they are still around… well hello bunnies.

I went to the Internet and found a forum with suggestions on how to kill fruit flies and the one method in particular that spoke to me was using cider vinegar in a glass with Saran Wrap on top with holes punched in the top to attract the flies. They crawl in but can’t crawl out. It seemed like a pretty inexpensive solution and the dead flies could just go down the drain.

I picked up a small bottle of cider vinegar the other day and put a glass by the banana area and by the compost area — just in case they are like butterflies and have the same flying route sense. I know, I know. Then I put one in the bathroom as that seemed to be a hot spot too.

Within two hours I had caught twenty flies in all three glasses. They were walking around so I swirled the glass to catch them in the fluid. My Karma is totally out the door. I got up this morning and there was a new hatch — each glass had ten to twenty flies. Eureka! It works! It really works.

Dead fruit flies in bottom of glass.

All day I have been circulating around the three spots and checking the glasses, giving them a swirl etc. I will change the glasses and solution tomorrow and add some fresh cider vinegar and Saran Wrap and wait.

Saran Wrap over a glass to catch fruit flies.

I am hoping to only have to do this for two more seven day cycles and in the mean time I am going to do a lot of surface cleaning to hopefully calm things down. It’s starting to get colder too so things will be in our favor. Fingers crossed.

From Ashes to Swans

The March break went quickly. Most of Jeff’s time was spent around home doing odd jobs, hanging a few hooks, re-attaching the gas tank to our twenty year old truck, and marking papers (I took a day off here and there). This weekend we drove to Presqu’ile Provincial Park to spread my mothers ashes. We were expecting it to be somewhat quiet but were surprised to learn that it was a waterfowl weekend — birders come to birdwatch — lots of car traffic.

We drove around for awhile until we decided that near the deer pasture would be a good spot (my mother was not much of a swimmer). We hiked in for about ten minutes and found a spot beside a mossy stone between two trees. It was a bright overcast day and the mood was reasonably light, I made a joke about my mother being stuck between a rock and a hard place — you had to be to appreciate it.

On route out of the park we stopped by the waterside near the back of someone’s cabin and saw two beautiful white swans eating. Most of the time their heads were in the water so I was able to get quite close. Beautiful. I took the Canon Rebel with me and took a few pictures (if you click on thumbnail you will get larger image).

New Year Traditions

When the in-laws come to visit over the holidays we usually ring in the New Year together. We start with an early supper out, followed by a drive through to the neighbouring town which has a light display set up behind the main drag of their downtown area. Every year we go and every year it has either rained and drizzled. Except last night, it was frigging cold. It was so funny because we were all wishing for rain that we used to complain about. I think our walk through the light display was in record time for us. Still it was fun and we followed through with the tradition. Here are a few pictures of the evening (taken with my Sony Bloggie which does not have a flash):

I started the night out with a Zombie which is a mixture of three rums, orange juice, lemon, grenadine and a another item I cannot remember. Pretty though:

zombie drink with rum

The waitress was nice enough to take a family photo:
family dinner

Half way through our lovely dinner the cook sent out a tray of skewered shrimp because “we looked like good people”. They were damn good shrimp:

plate of shrimp

On with the light show:

These first two photos give you an idea of how big the display is as I could not fit it all in one shot. We went in on the left, left a donation in the coin box, then entered to walk through. I only took a few pictures of my favorite things. You can click on the image for a slightly larger view.

city Christmas lights

city Christmas lights

I think these were new, they were out on a dock by the river:

Christmas tree lights

Christmas lights 4 b

This is one of my favorite items. They have them every year and I would totally buy one if they were available. There are also large bunnies about half the size made from the same lights.

Christmas lights 4


Christmas lights 5

Main trail through light display.

Christmas lights 6

Christmas lights 7

Last view of my favorite reindeer.

Christmas lights 8

We made a quick stop at the war memorial for soldiers that died in Afghanistan then headed home for some wine, comedy, and ringing in the New Year.

Happy New Year!

Breathing In and Out

Sleep has never really been a hard thing for me. I can sleep in a chair, a moving vehicle (I am not fun on long trips because I cannot stay awake), and I can sleep in bed. I have always been the type of sleeper people dream about, within two minutes of my head hitting the pillow I am sawing logs and ready for dreamville. That was at least until the last few months.

I am and will forever be a night owl but even night owls have regular sleeping habits and the last year I have been alternating between my norm and extended hours up to 5, 6, even 7 a.m. ( I will be working on a project and get it in my mind I do not want to stop until I reach a certain point). The extended hours are recking havoc on my sleep patterns and I find myself waking up sometimes hourly before I decide to get up all together and get on with my day feeling like shit.

The last few weeks I have developed my own combat pattern where instead of counting sheep I count breaths.

Beginning with 1, I take in a deep breath fairly slowly and on 2 I let it out slowly. I continue alternating my breaths with each number to the count of 50, forcing myself to focus on my breath and the counting, limiting my multitasking brain to two things. My mind might wander for a second to something else but I quickly corral it back to the breathing and counting.

The trick is to keep the breathing slow enough that I am taking in more air than usual but quick enough that it is comfortable and obviously not too quick that I hyperventilate myself into a sleep.

This provides my brain with more oxygen than it is used to getting. By the time I am done I am either rejuvenated enough to get up early and start the day or relaxed enough to fall asleep for a few more hours. Today I started the day earlier than planned.

How are your sleep habits?

The Hawk and the Squirrel

Usually when I get up the first I do, once I have said “hello” to all the critters, is let the dog out into the backyard. Yesterday I opened the backdoor and there was this large bird about twenty feet away from the stairs. It took a few seconds for it to register that it was a bird of prey because it was so out of place. I yanked the dog back in, closed the door, and continued to watch it.

hawk in back yard

As you can see he is pretty close. This is the closest I have ever been to one and it is especially unusual for it to be in town; although I am pretty close to the outer edge. Anyway, my first thought was it must be injured and made a mental list of places I could call for assistance (bird sanctuaries, animal rescue etc). It hobbled a few steps and that was when I saw the black tail and realized it was in hunter mode and had nabbed itself a squirrel. You can see the squirrel’s tale horizontal with the bird’s backside.

hunter and prey

The dog at this point was worked up. She wanted out to do her business and she knew I had seen something which made her even more excited. It is a chain reaction for her. I mulled over the idea of opening the door and shewing the bird away but then I would have a dead squirrel to deal with if it did not take it to flight — I do not do dead critter clean-up. I eventually decided to take Shelby out front to do her business and to wait out the bird.

When we came back in the hawk was getting down to the business of his meal. I kept an eye on him for an hour and a half while he worked away. It was an interesting experience to see this live. He eventually flew away with the squirrel in tow and Jeff had minimal clean-up before the dog could go out exploring.

I was disappointed that I could not get better pictures of the bird. The images above were as close as I could get with my Sony Bloggie — part of the clarity issue was I was taking the images through two pains of glass (not very cleans ones at that).

At one point I dug out the pocket binoculars so I could get a closer look at the bird’s features and our National Audubon Society Field Guide to Northern Birds in an attempt to determine if it really was a hawk or if it was a falcon. This was also an interesting process because I could find similar features on many of the birds of prey but none completely looked like the bird I was seeing. The closest was the Red-tailed Hawk in the light phase. Further inspection of photos and bird sites online makes me think it was a “juvenile”.

While I was viewing with the binoculars I wondered if I could hold up the lens of my camera to the binoculars to get a closer photo. Surprisingly it worked. As you can imagine it was incredibly hard to hold the arms up and center the circles so the shadow of the binocular kept moving around. Warning: The next few images may be graphic! You can click on the thumbnail for a slightly larger image.

hawk eating squirrelhawk holding down squirrelhawk eating squirrelred tailed hawk eating black squirrelred-tailed hawk tail feathersred-tailed hawk leg feathers

I realized the pictures are not magazine quality they did turn out better than I expected. This one is probably the best.

red-tailed hawk

While I was experimenting with camera a binoculars I thought I might as well try some video too (I get especially wobbly near the last minute so you may get sea sick):

And that was my little walk on the wild side!

Fall is Here

It is official, fall is here and the leaves have begun falling off my favorite tree.


10 Good Things

A few months ago I told you about some of sleep writing. Well sometimes when I am actually wide awake I will write down things and I will not date them or include why it was necessary for me to write it down. When I find them months, sometimes years later one of the first things I wonder is what I was thinking that made it necessary to put pen to paper. These two lists are a perfect example of why I should make notes.

10 Good Things

  1. Cat kisses
  2. Dog noses
  3. Hot hot tea
  4. A cheque to me, not by me
  5. A finished project
  6. Hand knit socks
  7. No reruns
  8. A note from an old friend
  9. Chocolate, I know I perpetuate the stereotype
  10. Warm sun/cold breeze

10 Bad Things

  1. Cat scratches
  2. Dog slobber
  3. Cold tea
  4. Bills
  5. Unfinished business
  6. Holes in my socks
  7. Reruns after two episodes
  8. Loneliness
  9. Cauliflower
  10. Cloudy and damp

I found them on my desk folded up with a few rough draft poems so I am assuming these are some kind of list poems.

If you have a blog, or Facebook take a few minutes and post about ten random good and bad things.

Ants Versus Man

In July we noticed a few petite ants in the front entrance making their way in and across the floor to a curled up piece of linoleum. We tried to ignore it for a few days killing off the ones we saw but otherwise hoping the problem would disappear. One afternoon we were both hunched over watching them crawl as we tried to figure out if they were going under the linoleum to get out the front door or some other way. I do not know what possessed me but I knocked on the wooden frame of the closet and the ant traffic suddenly increased. Perhaps, the ant earthquake alarm went off. Now when I say there was an increase I am talking 10 to 20, not a lot by the normal person’s standards but my mine… ahhhh!!!!

Over the next few days Jeff put out some ant traps. Did not work. Tried some ant drops. Sort of worked. Ant traps and ant drops worked better together. We were still seeing the odd ant. One day instead of squishing the life out of one we sat and waited until it made its trek across the great divide of our front entrance to see how it got in and out. There were a bunch of ant hills outside our door just off the cement slab. They all received drops. We waited another week but were still seeing the odd ant coming home.

Jeff decide to lift up the already loose linoleum to see what was happening underneath. Whoa, some funky old tiles. Jeff had all the intention of laying the linoleum back down but I sarcastic said, you should just rip it up and we can use the funky old tile. I can wax it to shine it up blah, blah blah. I laughed and turned my back. When I looked back he had sliced a huge chunk of the linoleum with an Exacto knife.

First cut of linoleum cut back.

After ripping up all the linoleum we decided the old tile underneath was not in good shape. And really busy to look at.

Ripped up all of linoleum.

So he ripped that up and we were left with uneven cement covered with tile glue. We gave it a good wash and left it for a couple days until we decided what we were going to do.

Removed tile.

During this time, no ants.

In our conversations it was decided that the front entrance would get fresh ceramic tile. This later expanded to include the bathroom which also had old linoleum that was discoloured and rolling in places etc. So that was ripped up.

We spent a lot of time shopping for tile (and a new toilet — might as well replace that since everything is ripped up right?), getting information on how to treat the underlay, level concrete, and of course how to lay ceramic tile. Jeff has always been a true do-it-yourself handyman willing to give anything ago.

Level front entrance.

He decided to tackle the bathroom first because it was a smaller space and had less corners to worry about. One day he spent over 14 hours laying the tile and getting it just right.

Grouting bathroom floor tiles.

In my wisdom I decided to sand and paint the old wooden vanity with melamine-like paint (never again).

Painted cabinet wiht melamine paint.

And remove the original wallpaper from the front entrance closet and paint it (color is elephant skin). Jeff has since painted the trip white.

Painted closet

Jeff’s parents came for a visit about the time we finished off the bathroom so we decided to put the front entrance on hold until we did not have as much foot traffic to coordinate. Jeff laid the tile for the entrance this weekend and I actually think it went much faster than the bathroom even though it is a bigger space.

Test tile layout

The floor will set for a few days while we take care of a few appointments and he gets a few things organized for school. Then he will grout, add baseboards and quarter rounds.

Buttered tiles

We have not seen another ant, knock on wood… er ceramic tile. But if do, we are ignoring them — it’s cheaper!