Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Stitch Fix #29 Review - January 2017

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Stitch Fix #29 Review - January 2017

Stitch Fix #29 Review - January 2017

Note:  This point contains affiliate links to support my blogging addiction!  :)

Wow!  The first part of 2017 has just flown by!  I just barely got back on track with my blog and it's already time for another Stitch Fix review!  If you checked out my last one, I'm sure you noticed that I took about a 6-month hiatus.  I was receiving fixes during that time; I just wasn't reviewing them.

I've found that Stitch Fix is a fun experience to share, though.  I always enjoy trying everything on, attempting to find a spot in the backyard with decent light, and forcing my husband to take pictures of me.  Ha ha.

Seriously, though.  There's a certain satisfaction in sorting through the photos and assembling the experience into something that might help (or at least entertain) someone else!  :)

If you're reading this, you're probably familiar with Stitch Fix, but if not, read on for a brief description of my history with Stitch Fix and a short explanation of how the whole thing works:

I became a member of Stitch Fix in January of 2015, and I am definitely a fan!  The situation in my closet is definitely looking up.  In fact, if there any issue at all, it's that it's TOO FULL!  It's been really nice to receive clothing in the mail that I can try on at my convenience, especially since I'm not a fan of shopping!  (Well, I've been known to drink and Prime now and then, but that's a different story . . . )

To get started, you go to their website and fill out your style profile!  That gives you a chance to show your stylist your measurements, usual sizes, how you like things to fit, and the styles that generally appeal to you.  
If you're interested in checking it out, please consider following my link to schedule your first fix!  (I am a member of Stitch Fix's affiliate program, which means I get a small commission for anyone who signs up using my link.  However, my opinions are always my own and I pay for all of my own fixes!)


When you order a fix, you pay $20.00 to have your own personal stylist look at your style profile and preferences (which can include a Pinterest board).  They will choose five clothing and/or accessory items specifically for you.  They are shipped right to your doorstep!  You have three days to try the items with other things in your own wardrobe and decide if you want to keep them.  The $20.00 styling fee is credited toward any items that you decide to purchase, and you receive a prepaid shipping envelope to return anything that you don't want.  If you happen to keep all five items, you receive a 25% discount on the whole box!  You can choose to receive fixes every month, every few weeks, or only once in a while.  Here are some links to my previous reviews, if you'd like to check them out:

December 2016 - #28
June/July 2016 - #22
May/June 2016 - #21 
April 2016 - #20
March 2016 - #19
February 2016 - #18
February 2016 - #17
January 2016 - #16
December 2015 - #15
November 2015 - #14
November 2015 - #13
October 2015 - #12
September 2015 - #11
Stitch Fix Keepers
September 2015 - #10
August 2015 - #9

I was pretty overwhelmed with the whole holiday and end-of-semester madness in December, so I did not manage to write my stylist a note or update my Pinterest board before my my last fix.  Luckily, Lauren still picked out some great things and I ended up adding a beautiful top to my closet!  This time, I did much better!  I wrote Lauren a note with some ideas and did a decent overhaul of my Pinterest board.  

She noticed!  Here's her note to me:

Stitch Fix #29 Review - January 2017 - Stylist Note

Wait . . . what red blazer?  Is that a thing?  Can I have one, please?  Ha ha.  :)

One of the nice things about Stitch Fix is that they send you a style card with ideas for each of the items that you receive.  If you're clueless about fashion (as I can be sometimes), it's nice to see a couple of different ways to wear a new style.  Here's the style care that came with this fix:

Stitch Fix #29 Review - January 2017 - Style Card

At first glance, I was excited about the halter top, the dress, and the split back blouse!

Well . . . here's how it all turned out!

1. Collective Concepts Krissa Keyhole Halter Blouse - $54.00


Stitch Fix #29 Review - January 2017 - Collective Concepts Krissa Keyhole Halter Blouse

Sorry about the shadows!  The light was pretty weird when I these pictures were taken and it was hard to find a good spot.  Oh, well.  At least you can see the top!

I can see why Lauren picked this for me.  It's definitely my style.  I love bright colors, and this orange/red background with the beautiful (but not too-girly) flowers seemed right up my alley.

I probably could have figured out a much better way to style this.  Cute jeans?  Nicer shoes?  In all honesty, though . . . this is probably how I would wear it.  Denim shorts and Converse!

The fit was perfect.  I was also glad to see that it was polyester, not rayon, so I could count on it NOT shrinking!   

Here's a shot of the back that also contains a closer view of the pattern.

Stitch Fix #29 Review - January 2017 - Collective Concepts Krissa Keyhole Halter Blouse Back

Lauren did suggest that I try this top with the cardigan.  However, I just knew I would never wear it like that.  To me, this is a spring and summer top.  The only bad thing about it is that it will probably just sit in my closet for a couple of months.  That's OK, though.  Those hot days will be here in no time!

This was an easy decision.

Verdict:  KEEP


2. Renee C Leida Split Back Blouse - $48.00


Stitch Fix #29 Review - January 2017 - Renee C Leida Split Back Blouse

As you can see, I moved to a new spot.  The shadows got even crazier, so by the time I got to my second outfit, I had to switch things up!

I was really excited to try this split back top!  I knew it would be a perfect for either work or casual wear.  I love polka dots and I could already think of several items to pair it with.  I decided to go with the Liverpool Anita Skinny Pant that I received in my September 2015 fix.

The top did fit, for the most part.  Unfortunately, I felt that the split back came up a bit too high for me.

Stitch Fix #29 Review - January 2017 - Renee C Leida Split Back Blouse

If I bent over at all, my back was exposed.  I wouldn't wear it to work like that, and I didn't want to have to wear something under it.  I knew that I might wear it as part of a casual outfit, but something about the fabric and pattern combination was just saying "work" to me.  It didn't work for work, so I decided to pass!

Verdict:  RETURN



3. Loveappella Leila Knit Dress - $58.00


Stitch Fix #29 Review - January 2017 - Loveappella Leila Knit Dress

I immediately liked this dress.  I prefer dresses without a defined waist.  I'm tall and I have a long torso, so I seem to have better luck with swing or straight style dresses.  I liked the pattern and the soft knit seemed comfortable but thick enough to provide some camouflage.  I hate knit dresses that cling to every lump and bump!

To style this dress, I decided to go with basic black tights and riding boots.  These boots make frequent appearances in my review photos - they're my favorite pair!  They're so comfortable and they fit my calves just perfectly - reasonably priced, too!  They're available here:



Here's a shot of the back of the dress.  I have to say - that pattern was pretty good at the whole camouflage thing, too.  There have been times when I've seen a shot of the back of a dress and thought, "Nope."  Ha ha.

Stitch Fix #29 Review - January 2017 - Loveappella Leila Knit Dress Back

Well, it wasn't bad.  I just wasn't super excited about it.  My husband called it a work dress.  Well, I don't actually wear dresses to work all that often.  And the fact that he called it a work dress kind of takes the excitement about wearing it as a date-night dress.  Oh, well.  Seriously - no one dresses up for anything in this town anyway, so my date-night outfits often look like the halter top/shorts/Converse combination that I wore in the first photo!  

Verdict:  RETURN


4. Staccato Caylie Textured Open Cardigan - $48.00


Stitch Fix #29 Review - January 2017 - Staccato Caylie Textured Open Cardigan

This cardigan was a pretty shade of blue.  It seemed rather thin to me, which isn't necessarily a bad thing in Arizona.  However, this was more of a throwaway, lower quality kind of thin.  I got the feeling it might fall apart if I threw it in the wash.

Once I put it on, I noticed that the sleeves were just a bit too short.  That sealed the deal for me.  I need long arms!  Too bad, though.  I liked it more than I thought it would.  Honestly, if I had loved the other four items, I might have kept it.

Stitch Fix #29 Review - January 2017 - Staccato Caylie Textured Open Cardigan Back

As you can see, I chose to wear my other favorite pair of riding boots - also Steve Madden.  I don't know what it is about that brand - maybe they work for me because I have rather narrow feet and calves.  If you're the same way, you might want to check them out.  Here they are on Amazon!



I also wore the Kut From the Kloth jeans that I received in my very first fix.  There are still working quite well for me!

Anyway, back to the cardigan.  Nah, not really working for me.  Oh, well.

Verdict:  RETURN

5. 41Hawthorn Liss Button Back Striped Pullover - $58.00


Stitch Fix #29 Review - January 2017 - 41Hawthorn Liss Button Back Striped Pullover

I do like stripes.  Lauren was right about that!  When I first saw this sweater, though, I just didn't go for it.  The combination of the mint pastel and light grey just seemed kind of . . . frumpy?  I don't know.  Either color is fine by itself.  I just didn't love them together, and I'm not sure why.  Hmmm.

The back had some cute button detail, which I also usually like.

Stitch Fix #29 Review - January 2017 - 41Hawthorn Liss Button Back Striped Pullover Back

This was a very thin sweater.  Again - not a bad thing in Arizona, but it was pretty see-through.  The flimsy fabric was super clingy.  Remember what I said about knits, and how they sometimes stick to every lump and bump?  Yeah.  

I just didn't feel good in this.  It wasn't awful, but I think there are many other striped sweaters that would look much better on me.  Someone else would love this; it just wasn't my cup of tea!

Verdict:  RETURN

So this fix was a 1/5 (which is still a win), and I'm super excited to wear my new top.  In March, maybe.  Ha ha.  No, really - it's perfect.  Around here, it's summer for 8 months out of the year, anyway!

I'm excited to see what Lauren will send my way next time!

By the way, if you'd like an easy way to see Stitch Fix items that other people have received, you can check out some other Stitch Fix reviews by clicking on the link below and visiting a great linkup.  It's hosted by Maria of Crazy Together.  I always enjoy seeing her fixes and joining in the fun with other Stitch Fix fans!  :)

Crazy Together Stitch Fix Linkup Graphic

http://crazytogether.com/athleisure-fix-january-stitch-fix-review/

Please comment!  Did I make the right calls?  Have you received any of these items?  What did you think?

Thanks again for reading!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Pistachio-Amaretto Cheesecake Bars

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    Pistachio Amaretto Cheesecake Bars

    The other day, I ran across a recipe on Pinterest that immediately caught my eye. It was a cheesecake that featured the flavors of pistachio pudding and amaretto! I knew I had to check it out. I went to The Gold Lining Girl to take a closer look. Here's a link:

    http://thegoldlininggirl.com/2016/04/amaretto-pistachio-cheesecake/

    I have to say, I completely agreed with Sarah's assessment of pistachio pudding. It doesn't really taste like pistachios. It IS delicious, though. It's in a category all by itself!

    I really wanted a piece of the cheesecake! However, I knew that if I made it, my husband and I would be dealing with a very large dessert that would hang around the house for days and days! I decided to see if I could downsize the recipe into a more manageable square pan of cheesecake bars. 

    I made some changes to the ingredients.  I started by cutting the ingredients in half, but I didn't want use a half package of cream cheese or a half can of sweetened condensed milk.  I used only 2 packages of cream cheese, added an extra egg, and used sugar instead of the condensed milk.  

    I also wanted to add a little bit more chocolate!  Why not, right?  I decided to use chocolate graham crackers for the crust.  I also noticed that we happened to have some Godiva chocolate liqueur in the liquor cabinet (probably leftover some random seasonal martini drink that I made for a party).  I chose to top the cheesecake bars with a boozy whipped cream.  You could use regular whipped cream if you want, or you could just spike it with more amaretto if you don't have any chocolate liqueur.  

    Anyway, Here's what I came up with:

Pistachio-Amaretto Cheesecake Bars


Ingredients:


For the chocolate crust:


1/3 cup raw almonds
6 whole chocolate graham crackers
2 tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup melted butter

For the pistachio-amaretto cheesecake filling:


Two 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
One 3.4 oz. box of instant pistachio pudding mix
1/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp. almond extract
3 tbsp. amaretto liqueur

For the chocolate whipped cream:


1 half-pint container of heavy whipping cream
A pinch or two of sugar
One to two tbsp. of chocolate liqueur (or another liqueur of your choice)

Mini chocolate chips, for garnish


Instructions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9x9 square baking pan. 

2.  Place the almonds in a food processor.  Process until they are the consistency of large crumbs.  Add the graham crackers and sugar.  Continue to process until the mixture is a uniform mix of fine crumbs with some larger crumbs.  Press into the bottom and sides of the baking pan.  The sides of my crust went up about 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the bottom.  Set aside.

Crust for Pistachio Amaretto Cheesecake Bars

3.  Place the cream cheese in a medium bowl.  Mix with a hand mixer on medium speed until softened and uniform.  Add the pudding mix, sugar, almond extract, and amaretto.  Continue to mix until smooth.  (The mixture will be thick.)  Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition until smooth.  Transfer the mixture to the baking pan and carefully spread to cover the crust. 

4.  Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until filling is puffy and mostly set.  Cool completely and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Pistachio Amaretto Cheesecake Bars - Out of the Oven
Mine browned a bit more than I wanted.  I took it out after 28  minutes.  The mixture is pretty solid from the get-go because of the pudding.  I think 20 to 25 minutes is the ticket.
5.  Make the whipped cream:  Place the cream in a medium bowl and add sugar and chocolate liqueur to taste.  Whip with a whisk until soft peaks form.  You can also use a hand mixer. 

6.  Cut the cheesecake into 8 bars.  Top with the whipped cream and mini chocolate chips.  Enjoy! 

Pistachio Amaretto Cheesecake Bars

There you have it!  My husband and I both thoroughly enjoyed these.  I was a little worried as I was mixing the cheesecake mixture because it was SUPER thick, but it worked out just fine.  I was afraid that it would get thicker as it baked, but it stayed creamy and luscious.  It was definitely solid all the way through, but I found that to be a bonus.  It was easy to cut into nice pieces.

This is a great recipe to turn to on some random Tuesday when you just want a delicious taste of something sweet (with a modest amount of leftovers to enjoy).  However, next time I want a beautiful, large cheesecake with a much more refined presentation than these bars, I'll try Sarah's recipe at The Gold Lining Girl!

Feel free to comment on this recipe.  Did you try it?  What did you think?  Isn't the color of pistachio pudding just . . . unnatural?  Not like real pistachios at all.  Ha ha.  But it's so good . . . :)

Please consider subscribing if you'd like to follow my recipes, fashion mishaps, fitness adventures, and crafting craziness:

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Thanks for reading!


Monday, January 16, 2017

79. Lamb Picadillo Tacos

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Lamb Picadillo Tacos

This post contains affiliate links to support my blogging addiction!

I have a confession to make.  I came up with this taco recipe over the summer, right around the time my taco project temporarily crashed and burned!  We had a family get-together, and I figured I'd knock off three taco recipes in one day.  Well . . . I did.  I just didn't do a great job at documenting them.  Then I took a few months off of blogging.  By the time I got back to it, I didn't feel right posting the recipes I had made that day because it had been so long since I had made them that I wasn't sure I could adequately write about the experience!

I remembered that the lamb picadillo tacos were awesome, though!  I knew I needed a do-over.  I bought the ingredients for my months-old recipe, made it again, and decided to get a blog post up right away (as I usually do) while both the recipe and the cooking experience were still fresh in my mind.  I'm confident that what you're reading is an accurate representation of my original recipe!  I usually don't get to try them twice before posting (because this project is CRAZY), so it was kind of a bonus for me this time!

I got the inspiration for these tacos from a picadillo mollete recipe that I found in one of my many cookbooks: 



It was basically a sandwich - a picadillo filling stuffed in a roll and lightly fried. 

Picadillo is a kind of hash that can be found in many Latin cuisines - Mexican, Spanish, Cuban, etc.  It usually involves ground meat and potatoes, but can also include olives, raisins, and many other ingredients. 

Interestingly, the term "mollete" can also refer to different things, depending on the cuisine.  It can be a flatbread or a type of sandwich. 

So . . . what goes in a sandwich?  Cheese!  Pickles!  Lettuce! 

You can see how this happened.  I had an idea and took it down some crazy road that has quite possibly never been traveled before.  Ha ha.  This is probably the most unauthentic incarnation of picadillo that has ever been made, but it was pretty delicious.  If you're not a fan of lamb, it would work equally well with ground beef or ground turkey. 

So . . . here's what I did:

Lamb Picadillo Tacos 


Serves 4 (about 12 tacos)

Ingredients:

For the lamb filling:


1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
1 lb. ground lamb
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup peeled and diced russet potato (about 1/4 inch dice)
1/2 small plum tomato, diced (also 1/4 inch)
2 tbsp. dried currants (or raisins)
1/4 cup pimiento stuffed green olives, chopped
2 tbsp. dry sherry
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. white wine
1 and 1/2 tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 tbsp. sherry vinegar
1/2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Filling Ingredients for Lamb Picadillo Tacos
I know - it's got a lot of ingredients.  However, you might have most of these in your pantry already!

12 high-quality crunchy taco shells (freshly made, if you can get them)

Taco Shells for Lamb Picadillo Tacos

Garnish as desired with:

Shredded iceberg lettuce

Kosher dill sandwich slices, sliced in half lengthwise

Pickle Slices for Lamb Picadillo Tacos

Finely shredded provolone cheese

Provolone Cheese for Lamb Picadillo Tacos

Cholula (or another hot sauce of your choice)


Instructions:

1.  Make the lamb filling:  In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and red pepper, lower the heat a bit, and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, and cook for an additional minute, or until fragrant.  Add the cumin, oregano, lamb and salt and raise the heat back to medium.  Cook and stir, breaking up the lamb into small pieces, for about 10 minutes or until the lamb is fully cooked.

Browned Lamb for Lamb Picadillo Tacos

Add the remaining ingredients, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer.  Lower the heat and gently simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the potato is tender and most of the excess liquid has evaporated.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.  Keep warm.

Lamb Filling for Lamb Picadillo Tacos

2.  Heat the shells:  Toast briefly (a minute or two) in a 350 degree oven until hot and fragrant.  Watch them - they can go from toasty to burned pretty quickly!

3.  Assemble the tacos:  For each taco, place a taco shell on a plate.  (If you have nifty little taco holders like the ones below, use them!  They make things easier!)  :)



Place one of the pickle slices inside.  Fill with some of the lamb mixture.  Top with lettuce, cheese, and Cholula.  Enjoy! 

Lamb Picadillo Tacos

There you have it.  Lamb picadillo tacos!  We both loved them, though we had different opinions about some of the ingredients.

I love pickles, olives, vinegar, and all things sour and briny.  I thought the olives in the filling, the vinegar in the Cholula, and the slice of pickle in the shell really went well together.  Steve thought the pickle was overkill.  He preferred just the meat, cheese, lettuce, and hot sauce.

If you're like me and you love pickles, I would recommend including the pickle slices.  If you would rather not, you'll still have some delicious tacos!

Three tacos seemed to be a good serving size for this recipe.  We got one dinner and one lunch out of this recipe, and we enjoyed it just as much the second time! 

If you've followed my recipes, you probably know that I don't worry too much about a little extra fat.  That being said, it is true that ground lamb can contain a little bit more fat than some people prefer.  If you wanted to brown the lamb separately, drain it, and then add it to the pepper and onion mixture, I'm sure that would work!  As for me, I didn't stress about it!  :)

This was a good one!  I will definitely make these again.  I can even see myself using the picadillo filling for other purposes.  It's so flavorful and delicious! 

If you'd like to follow along as I finish my taco project (and I will finish), please consider subscribing to my blog by clicking the link below:

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Please comment:  What do you think of this idea?  Did you make the tacos?  How did they turn out?  Until next time . . . Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

78. Lentil Tacos with Roasted Root Vegetables, Lightly Dressed Spinach, and Feta-Yogurt Sauce

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Lentil Tacos with Roasted Root Vegetables, Lightly Dressed Spinach, and Feta-Yogurt Sauce

This post contains affiliate links to support my blogging addiction!

OK.  It's time.  I'm finally going to get back on the horse with The Taco Project.  If you've followed my blog at all, you may have noticed that I took on a personal challenge to create one hundred unique taco recipes in a year's time.  Well . . . that didn't quite happen.  I got a bit overwhelmed.  I actually do have a job.  I love my job, but it does NOT involve making tacos.  It was tricky to balance it all. 

So, I hit a wall.  I needed a break.  I took a few months off from blogging.  I was disappointed in myself for missing my deadline (which would have been this past August 2nd), but I still felt like I had accomplished so much and I wanted to finish the project when I was ready.

Sigh.  I think I'm ready.  Twenty-two more recipes! 

This latest creation came on the heels of a fantastic trip to New Orleans.  I went there for a jazz conference, which was amazing in itself.  I brought Steve along, so (naturally) we did some sightseeing as well.  When I say sightseeing, I mostly mean EATING!  And drinking.

Shrimp and grits.  Roast duck.  Blackened redfish.  Red beans and rice.  Fried chicken.  Bread pudding.  Oysters.  More bread pudding.  More oysters.  More shrimp.  Beer.  Bourbon.  Repeat. 

O.O

I brought my running shoes.  They rested comfortably in my suitcase for the whole trip.  Ha ha.

I have no regrets, but I knew it would be time to get it together when we got home.  School starts next week!  There's more to life than bread pudding and bourbon!  :)

The initial idea for these tacos came from a lentil filling for a vegetarian moussaka from the Cafe Flora cookbook.  You can find it here:



Random, I know!  Great cookbook.  Great moussaka.  These tacos don't take like the moussaka at all.  I was just craving something vegetarian and relatively healthy.  The idea evolved from there, and these  
tacos ended up fitting the bill quite nicely. 

Here's the recipe:

Lentil Tacos with Roasted Root Vegetables, Lightly Dressed Spinach, and Feta-Yogurt Sauce


Serves 3 to 4 (about 8 filling tacos)

Ingredients:


For the feta-yogurt sauce:


1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
3/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. hot smoked paprika

Ingredients for Feta-Yogurt Sauce for Lentil Tacos

For the lentils:


1 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup green lentils
1 and 1/2 cups water
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. salt, divided
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. hot smoked paprika
2 tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Ingredients for Lentil Filling for Lentil Tacos

For the roasted vegetables:


2 medium parsnips (about 7 to 8 oz.), diced into small 1/4" to 1/2" pieces
2 medium carrots (about 7 to 8 oz.), diced into small 1/4" to 1/2" pieces
1 medium rutabaga (about 7 to 8 oz.), diced into small 1/4" to 1/2" pieces
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Root Vegetables - Rutabaga, Carrots and Parsnips

For the spinach:


2 heaping cups chopped spinach
1/2 tbsp. sherry vinegar
1/2 tbsp. walnut oil (or olive oil)
1/4 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

8 to 16 corn tortillas, depending on whether you double them up

1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and finely chopped, for garnish

Instructions:

1.  Make the feta-yogurt sauce:  Place the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl or measuring cup with high sides .  (I used a 2-cup Pyrex glass measuring cup, not the shallow bowl pictured below.)  Blend with a hand blender until the consistency is thick and relatively smooth.  Alternately, you could use a small food processor if you have one.  Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.  Set aside.

Feta-Yogurt Sauce for Lentil Tacos

2.  Prepare the lentils:  Heat 1/2 tbsp. of the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion, lower the heat a bit, and cook until soft and slightly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Add the lentils, water, bay leaf, and 1/4 tsp. of the salt. 

Lentils with Onion and Bay Leaf

Bring the water to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer until the lentils are just done, about 20 minutes.  Drain the water thoroughly.  Season the lentils with the remaining 1/2 tbsp. olive oil, 1/4 tsp. salt, oregano, smoked paprika, parsley, and pepper.  Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.  Keep warm. 

3.  While the lentils are cooking, roast the vegetables:  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  In a medium bowl, toss the diced vegetables with the olive oil, salt and pepper.  Transfer to a shallow baking pan and spread out into a single layer. 

Diced Root Vegetables - Rutabaga, Carrot, and Parsnip

Roast the vegetables for about 15 minutes, or until tender and slightly browned. 

4.  While the lentils and vegetables are cooking (Yay for multi-tasking!), prepare the tortillas to your liking:  I prefer to heat mine in a dry cast iron skillet over medium high heat for about 30 seconds to a minute on each side.  After each one is done, I place it on the foil and immediately start the next one.  I stack them on top of one another as I work.  When I'm done with the whole batch, I wrap them completely in the foil.  You can keep them warm in a 250 degree oven if you wish!

Corn Tortilla in Cast Iron Skillet


5.  After the lentils, vegetables, and tortillas are ready, toss the spinach:  Place the chopped spinach in a medium bowl.  Add the sherry vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper and toss to combine.

6.  Assemble the tacos:  For each taco, place one or two tortillas on a plate.  (If your tortillas are thin, double them up.)  Spoon on a small amount of the lentil mixture.  Top with some of the spinach and roasted vegetables.  Add a generous amount of the feta-yogurt sauce (we ended up adding more than pictured) and sprinkle with walnuts.  You can also add a little sprinkle of the hot smoked paprika if you wish.  Enjoy! 

Lentil Taco with Roasted Root Vegetables, Lightly Dressed Spinach, and Feta-Yogurt Sauce

After four days of indulgence, I have to admit that I was a little nervous about how these would go over.  Steve asked me what kind of tacos we were having and I just said they were vegetarian.  I didn't mention the lentils.  Or the rutabaga.  Ha ha.

Well . . . we both liked them!  The subtle spice from the hot paprika was great!  I loved the different textures from the lentils, roasted vegetables, and crunchy walnuts.  The yogurt and feta added a salty tanginess that was the perfect topping!  Steve put Cholula on his.  I did NOT.  I love Cholula, but I didn't think these needed hot sauce.  If you think it needs some extra kick, though, go for it!

I'm not sure that corn tortillas were the best choice for these tacos.  Corn might have been one flavor too many, though it certainly wasn't a bad thing.  Next time, I might use flour tortillas.  It would certainly work with either!

The sauce was very thick, but I didn't mind.  I didn't want to dilute the flavor by adding liquid.  I put it in a little plastic bag, snipped off the end, and piped it onto the tacos.  I thought it worked pretty well. 

Steve admitted that these weren't his favorite tacos ever, but he liked them.  He said they were very "vegetarian".  Ha ha.  To me, that's a good thing, but it may not be a good thing for everyone.  Take that as you will.  :)

If you're feeling overindulgent/guilty and you want something very tasty that also feels a bit on the healthy side, these tacos are for you!  They came together pretty fast, though there was some multitasking involved. 

Feel free to comment on this recipe!  Did you try them?  What did you think?  

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Stitch Fix #28 Review - December 2016

Yum

Stitch Fix #28 Review - December 2016

Note:  This point contains affiliate links to support my blogging addiction!  :)

So . . . once upon a time, I used to have a blog.  Actually, it was about six months ago.  I still HAVE the blog; I just haven't posted in a while.

I don't know.  Life happens, I guess.  Last year, I started a really crazy recipe creation project (tacos), got overwhelmed, and kind of hit a wall.  Then, school started and I had a super busy fall semester.  As a result, I've gotten a bit behind in sharing my Stitch Fix experiences!  In fact, I haven't shared anything lately.  I think that needs to change!

If you're reading this, you're probably familiar with Stitch Fix, but if not, read on for a brief description of my history with Stitch Fix and a short explanation of how the whole thing works:

I became a member of Stitch Fix in January of 2015, and I am definitely a fan!  My closet has improved 1000% since then.  It's been really nice to receive clothing in the mail that I can try on at my convenience.  I've received some great pieces that I wear often.  I may never see the inside of a mall again!  :)

To get started, you go to their website and fill out your style profile!  That gives you a chance to show your stylist your measurements, usual sizes, how you like things to fit, and the styles that generally appeal to you.  
If you're interested in checking it out, please consider following my link to schedule your first fix!  (I am a member of Stitch Fix's affiliate program, which means I get a small commission for anyone who signs up using my link.  However, my opinions are always my own and I pay for all of my own fixes!)


When you order a fix, you pay $20.00 to have your own personal stylist look at your style profile and preferences (which can include a Pinterest board).  They will choose five clothing and/or accessory items specifically for you.  They are shipped right to your doorstep!  You have three days to try the items with other things in your own wardrobe and decide if you want to keep them.  The $20.00 styling fee is credited toward any items that you decide to purchase, and you receive a prepaid shipping envelope to return anything that you don't want.  If you happen to keep all five items, you receive a 25% discount on the whole box!  You can choose to receive fixes every month, every few weeks, or only once in a while.  Here are some links to my previous reviews, if you'd like to check them out:

June/July 2016 - #22
May/June 2016 - #21 
April 2016 - #20
March 2016 - #19
February 2016 - #18
February 2016 - #17
January 2016 - #16
December 2015 - #15
November 2015 - #14
November 2015 - #13
October 2015 - #12
September 2015 - #11
Stitch Fix Keepers
September 2015 - #10
August 2015 - #9

Yes, I did receive fixes in August, September, October, and November of this year.  No, I did not review them.  I kept at least one item from each of those fixes, though.  Here's to getting back on the horse!  It's FUN to share what I receive, so I'll try to do better in 2017!

Anyway, moving on . . .

I received this latest fix toward the end of a week-long vacation in Hawaii.  It arrived early!  I had to ask my neighbor to take it off of our front porch and keep it safe for me until we got back.  I'd like to say I was eagerly anticipating the moment that I would open the box, but that isn't true.

The trip was a whirlwind.  We were both sick.  Picture yourself in paradise, but you don't feel like doing anything.  And your appetite is all messed up.  Yep.  That was us.  Yay! 

We tried to make the best of it and had as much fun as we could.  We got home late at night on December 23rd.  I proceeded to get worse.  Christmas Day was my low point.  I think I blew through a whole box of Kleenex by myself.  Ugh.

After a couple of days had passed and I was finally starting to feel better, I was getting curious about what was in the box.  I finally dragged myself over to my neighbor's house and picked it up!

Stitch Fix Box - Stitch Fix #28 Review - December 2016

It seemed so light - no shoes this time, I guess!  That's fine with me.  I've received shoes frequently in my last several fixes, and the last few pairs haven't really worked out.  I was fine with receiving only clothing this time!  I opened the box and found some nice winter colors embedded in a few bold patterns:


Stitch Fix Box Contents - Stitch Fix #28 Review - December 2016

One of the nice things about Stitch Fix is that they send you a style card with ideas for each of the items that you receive.  If you're clueless about fashion (as I can be sometimes), it's nice to see a couple of different ways to wear a new style.  Here's the style care that came with this fix:

Stitch Fix Style Card - Stitch Fix #28 Review - December 2016

Lauren was my stylist again!  I think she's been styling me for about a year now.  She picks out great stuff!  I have to confess, I was not a good client this time.  I did not leave her a note to ask for anything specific.  I did not update my Pinterest board.  She had nothing to go on.  Oops. 

Her note to me was just as positive as ever, though!  Here's what she said:

Stitch Fix Stylist Note - Stitch Fix #28 Review - December 2016

There were a couple of items that I wasn't sure about, but I was excited to give everything a try! 

Well . . . here's what I got!

1. Tolani Talline V-Neck Silk Dress - $188.00


and

2. Rune Porter Legging - $44.00


Tolani Talline V-Neck Silk Dress and Rune Porter Legging - Stitch Fix #28 Review - December 2016

I tried to find some good light in our backyard, but my photos definitely have a winter cast to them.  And I'm wearing my most wintery lipstick.  My husband calls it my goth lipstick.  I'm not sure if he really knows what "goth" is.  Anyway, it's called "Dominatrix".  I think I mostly bought it for the name, but it is actually great lipstick.  It smells amazing.  Ha ha.  You can get it here.  If you think that might be your jam.  No judgement here!



As Lauren suggested, I tried the dress and the leggings together, completing the look with black riding boots.  I found the silk dress to be quite flimsy and see-through.  I definitely would not have been comfortable wearing it without something underneath it. 

So . . . I kind of hated this dress.  It was pretty baggy on me.  I felt like I was wearing a sack with a really pretty print. 

The neckline really bugged me.  The v-neck was very low cut and loose.  I couldn't think of a necklace that would look good or be comfortable with this gaping neckline.  The tab sleeves hit me at a weird spot, but if I unrolled them, they were shorter than I would have liked.

And . . . $188?  Wow.  I'll spend that much on a dress, but it needs to be an awesome dress!  Nope.  This is not that.  Ha ha.

The leggings are mostly covered up in the picture, but there's not much to them.  Basic black leggings.  And when I say leggings, I do not mean leggings-as-pants kind of leggings.  These make you feel like you need to cover your butt.  I wasn't a fan.  I might as well have been wearing tights.

I have several pairs of "pants" that are almost leggings.  They are very thick.  Some of them have pockets.  I feel comfortable wearing them with shorter shirts.  That's what I want in a legging.  These leggings gave me that uncomfortable feeling that I get from wearing tight pantyhose - you know, when they start sagging in the crotch?  That's one of the reasons I don't wear hose.  Nah.  I really didn't need these.

Verdict (dress):  RETURN

Verdict (leggings):  RETURN

3. Central Park West Zofie Mixed Material Sweater - $138.00

Central Park West Zofie Mixed Material Sweater - Stitch Fix #28 Review - December 2016

(Note to self:  Time to get those highlights touched up, huh?)

My gut feeling when I saw this sweater was that I was going to love it.  Not a bad thing, right?

Then I saw the price!  I just knew it was going to be that one item that I had to keep! 

Lauren knows that I like animal prints, back details, and zippers - I could totally see where she was coming from with this one, even though it was pricey.

Central Park West Zofie Mixed Material Sweater Close Up - Stitch Fix #28 Review - December 2016

I paired the sweater with my Level 99 coated skinnies from my October 2015 fix.  I decided to keep the riding boots on, especially since those jeans are SHORT for winter . . .

By the way, I love these Steve Madden boots!  I wear them all the time.  They're so comfortable and they fit my calves just perfectly - reasonably priced, too!  They're available here:


So . . . did I decide I couldn't live without the expensive sweater?  Ha ha.

I got lucky.  I put it on and thought, "Meh."  It wasn't bad.  The sleeves were long enough.  I'm a tall person with long arms, so that was a plus!

I just didn't think it was that flattering.  It didn't wow me.  It was a nice sweater, but . . . this happened to be one of those times when the IDEA of something was much better than the reality.   

Central Park West Zofie Mixed Material Sweater Back - Stitch Fix #28 Review - December 2016

I decided to pass.  My credit card was relieved!

Verdict:  RETURN


4. Daniel Rainn Sealy Tassel Tie Blouse - $68.00


Daniel Rainn Sealy Tassel Tie Blouse - Stitch Fix #28 Review - December 2016

(Note to self:  The nineties called.  They want the choker back.)

Look at my face.  Ha ha.  It's saying, "Here we go again . . . another Daniel Rainn top."  It seems like I get one in almost every fix.  I'm almost getting sick of them.  But then they end up being cute and I keep them. 

I wanted to hate this one.  Feminine?  Flowers?  What?  I don't want to be that kind of princess.  I like an edgier vibe.  How about some spikes?  To go with my goth lipstick?  Ha ha.

Lauren suggested trying this top with jeans.  I decided to just continue the experience with the same Level 99 jeans and Steve Madden riding boots that I wore with the sweater.  If it's not broke . . .

Daniel Rainn Sealy Tassel Tie Blouse Back - Stitch Fix #28 Review - December 2016

I looked in the mirror and grudgingly admitted that this was a nice outfit.  My husband liked it, too, though he did point out that I have quite a few boho/hippie tops already.

Yes.  Yes, I do.  That is totally not the point.

OK, Daniel Rainn.  You win.  This time.

Verdict:  KEEP

5. Edyson Maisha Ponte and Faux Leather Jacket - $88.00



Edyson Maisha Ponte and Faux Leather Jacket - Stitch Fix #28 Review - December 2016

The last thing in my fix was this jacket.  Lauren suggested throwing it on over the Daniel Rainn top, so that's what I did.

The color kind of threw me off.  I like grey, but this is a warmish mocha grey.  Weird.  Not part of my usual color palette at all!

The jacket was so fitted that I didn't think it would fit over the top.  Sometimes I'm better off sizing up with layers.  My shoulders are very broad.  However, the jacket did have some stretch in the shoulders and arms, so it just barely worked with the thin Daniel Rainn top!  I still think a large might have been better (this was a medium), as I would only have been able to wear this with short sleeved and/or very thin tops.

Edyson Maisha Ponte and Faux Leather Jacket Back - Stitch Fix #28 Review - December 2016

In the end, I liked it much better than I thought I would.  However, I didn't see myself wearing it very often.  I have some other layers already in my closet that would work just fine with the outfit above.  I decided I didn't need it.

Verdict:  RETURN

Well, there you have it!  I'm happy with the one top that I kept, and I'm really looking forward to my next fix!

I requested to keep Lauren as my stylist for next time, and I am going to make a point to write her a detailed note and update my Pinterest board!  A 1/5 fix isn't bad, but I wouldn't mind getting another 3/5 (or even a 5/5) one of these days!  :)

By the way, if you'd like an easy way to see Stitch Fix items that other people have received, you can check out some other Stitch Fix reviews by clicking on the link below and visiting a great linkup.  It's hosted by Maria of Crazy Together.  I always enjoy seeing her fixes and joining in the fun with other Stitch Fix fans!  :)

http://crazytogether.com/stitch-fix-for-the-holidays-december-stitch-fix-review-43/


Please comment!  Did I make the right calls?  Have you received any of these items?  What did you think?

Thanks again for reading!