Lunch With Loni

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Plated- Subscription Review June 18, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 12:49 am

I’m doing something a little different than my typical recipe posts and reviewing a subscription meal service called Plated.  I did not receive anything in exchange for this review and the thoughts are 100% my own.  You’ll probably see similar posts in the future as I decided to try out a few different types of subscriptions.

What is it?  Plated has a different menu with 7 meals each week.  You choose which meals you’d like delivered, and also choose whether you’d like it to serve 2 or 4 people.  The meals are delivered in a box that has large ice packs in it, and the meat/fish were vacuum sealed.  For my area, I could opt for a Wednesday or Saturday delivery day.  I chose Saturday, and happened to be home when it was delivered.  I can’t vouch for how the box would hold up to sitting outside in the sun for a number of hours.  My items were all in great shape and conveniently packaged so that the ingredients for each meal were together.

How much does it cost?  Meals are approximately $15 per plate (per person), less with membership ($10/month).  It seemed a little pricey to me vs. going to the store and buying ingredients myself for a recipe.  However, like most subscription services, they offer great discounts when you first join.  So there was little risk.  If I decide to keep it, I’ll think of the cost as opposed to a meal or activity out—a “date night” idea if you will, as opposed to comparing the price to making a typical meal on my own.  Having everything on hand is so convenient and I like the fact that it can push you outside of your box.  I purposely picked red meat and salmon.  I rarely cook either.  I also don’t use as many fresh herbs in recipes as I’d like.  Each of the meals I tried out came with fresh herbs, which was really nice.  I was concerned they may not be as fresh as they should, but they were all great.

How easy is it to make?  As far as ease of preparation, the recipes are rated in terms of how difficult they are to prepare.  Having the ingredients all in one place makes things quicker and less stressful.  No last-minute dash to the grocery store because you get halfway into making something and find that you’re missing a key ingredient!  They come with easy-to-follow recipe cards with step-by-step instructions and photographs.  There are also videos on YouTube if you like that method of learning.  The steak meal included fingerling potatoes that I had to cut a bunch of tiny slices into.  While the end result was lovely, it made me realize my knife work needs some refining.  It took a while and the end result was definitely not perfect.  Still, fun to give something different a whirl.

What could be better?  A couple of things I would have liked: 1) Suggestions on what type of pan to use.  My steak didn’t sear as well as I would have liked.  I don’t cook steak often at all.  I used a nonstick pan and I think a heavier pan/cast iron pan would have worked better.  I learned and used one for the salmon the next night!  2) Exact measurements for spice blends so if you want to recreate the recipe, you know.  The salmon came with a spice rub and it says what type of spices are in it, but not the amounts.  3) If the regular price was a little lower.  The ingredients were top notch, and I know shipping isn’t cheap, but I’m not sure how frequently I’ll buy if there isn’t some type of promotion going on.  I think I’ll still use it, just occasionally.

Overall review?  Definitely worth a try!  It’s fun, and good for foodies and novices alike (my husband would like having everything on hand and the user-friendly recipe card).  

If you do feel like trying Plated out, you can use my referral link to save 1/2 off your first order.  No pressure here!

Now for the photos:

 Recipe #1: Butter Basted Steak with Hasselback Potatoes

“Before” Picture of the Ingredients–notice the oyster mushrooms?  Never cooked with them before!  

Plated "Before"

“After” Picture

Butter Basted Steak

Pan Seared Salmon and Avocado Tacos

Salmon Avocado Tacos

Seriously, how gorgeous are these?!  Totally worthy of a dinner party and a nice glass of sangria!



One Bowl “Bruschetta” Tilapia June 15, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 2:49 am

If you don’t own a chopping device that makes life easier for you–I’ll go ahead and recommend the one I got and use all the time. I’m not being reimbursed by them or anything, I just happen to really like it.  Sometimes putting together a soup can be time consuming because of all of the onions, carrots, celery, etc. you have to dice first.  The food processor doesn’t always get the right consistency.  Some pieces wind up too large, others turn into mush. This thing takes care of that issue, and it comes with swappable blades so you can dice, slice, and cube.  I used it the other night to throw together a topping for grilled tilapia. Originally I thought of it as a spin on insalata caprese, the Italian salad with basil, tomato and mozzarella. The final product was actually more reminiscent of a bruschetta topping, though. Use it however you like!  The fish did fall apart a bit when I took it out of the foil.  I still think it was pretty enough to eat.

 Here’s the link to the chopper on Amazon (but I actually got it on Zulily for a bit cheaper):

Bruschetta Tilapia 


  • 2 ripe tomatoes (3 plum tomatoes), diced large (I used the cube setting on my chopper)
  • 1/2 red onion (finely diced)
  • Handful of basil, minced
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Ground black pepper
  • 4 oz feta cheese
  • 3 pieces of tilapia (or chicken)


1.  Toss all ingredients together.

2.  Place fish in separate pieces of tin foil.  Top with tomato mixture.  Fold foil packets to seal.  Place on grill approximately 10-12 minutes until cooked.



Lemon Berry Ricotta Pancakes May 25, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 6:06 pm

I have to pronounce ricotta in the true Italian fashion a la Giada when I say what’s in these pancakes.  That’s as fancy as I’m going to get.  This was another breakfast for dinner meal (always a winner in this household).  I made them with blackberries, because I had some in the fridge.  Blueberries or raspberries would work just as well.  I wound up slicing the blackberries in half length-wise so that I could have more berry in each bite and didn’t have berries sticking too far out of the pancakes as I cooked/flipped them.  I also added a bit of lemon juice to the milk to turn it into buttermilk.  Overall, delicious recipe and with a nice richness from the ricotta.  You don’t even need syrup on these (though I warmed up some coconut oil, agave syrup and lemon juice to drizzle on top).  I would cut down on the baking powder if I made again.  One tablespoon seemed like a bit more than necessary for pancakes, and I felt like I could taste it a little in the final result.  Otherwise, delicious recipe that’s a nice twist on the classic blueberry pancake and totally brunch-worthy (would go perfectly with a bellini)!


 Recipe Located At: Pancakes by Adrianna Adarme



Lemon Berry Ricotta Pancakes



  • 1/2 cup of whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of ricotta
  • 3/4 cup of milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon of butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup of berries (your choice)
  • Butter for the skillet (I used coconut oil this time and it worked well)



1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees F. Combine the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
2. Combine the ricotta, milk, egg, lemon zest, vanilla extract, and melted butter in another bowl, mixing until smooth.
3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Be careful to not over mix.
4. Preheat your skillet over medium high and brush with about 1 1/2 teaspoons of butter. Scoop up a 1/4 cup of batter into a measuring scoop and drop onto the skillet. Add a few berries, gently pressing them into the pancake. Cook pancake for 2-3 minutes (until bubbles appear on the surface) then flip and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, until golden brown. Repeat with the rest of the batter, re-buttering the skillet and adjusting the temperature, as needed.
5. Transfer warm pancakes to a baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm.


Mexican Chili Cheeseburgers May 24, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 8:45 pm

These actually aren’t what I expected when I first read “chili cheeseburger.”  There is no chili oozing out the sides of a super cheesy burger.  Nope.  Instead, it’s a burger flavored with many of the ingredients you’d use in chili, topped with a nice thick slice of sharp cheddar cheese, grilled onions, and sliced tomato.  Less steps than making chili to put on your burger, healthier, and with huge flavor payoff.  I used 92% lean beef for these and they were still oh-so-juicy.  Cooking Light, you did not fail me with this one!  As usual, my recipe had a few minor alterations.  I did not have jalapeno peppers on hand, so  I seeded some canned chipotle peppers and included those instead.  It lended a nice spicy/smoky flavor to the burger.  I also blended some with BBQ sauce and Greek yogurt to use as a topping to the burger instead of the usual ketchup/mayo/mustard.  Good call.  But you do with it what you will, as burgers are made to be modified to suit your tastes (and pantries)!

 Recipe Located At:


Mexican Chili Cheeseburgers 


  • 1 pound ground round
  • 1 cup chopped seeded plum tomato
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons minced seeded jalapeño pepper (or 2 teaspoons minced seeded chipotle pepper)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 (3/4-ounce) slices reduced-fat Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup lowfat Greek yogurt (or lowfat sour cream)
  • 1 tablespoon BBQ sauce
  • 1 tablespoon pureed chipotle pepper
  • 4 (1 1/2-ounce) hamburger buns
  • 8 (1/4-inch-thick) slices tomato (optional)
  • Grilled onions (optional)
  • Iceberg lettuce leaves (optional)


  1. Combine first 9 ingredients in a bowl; stir well. Divide mixture into 4 equal portions, shaping into 1/2-inch-thick patties.
  2. Prepare grill. Place patties on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 6 minutes on each side or until done. Place 1 cheese slice on top of each patty; cover and grill an additional minute or until cheese melts.
  3. While burgers cook, mix Greek yogurt or lowfat sour cream with pureed chipotle pepper and BBQ sauce.  
  4. Spread 1 tablespoon of yogurt mixture over top half of each bun, and set aside. Place patties on bottom halves of buns; top each with lettuce/ tomato/onions, (if desired), and top half of bun.

French Onion Dip Burgers May 17, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 8:19 pm

Who doesn’t love French onion dip?  When you combine that flavor with a burger, you have yourself a winner—especially on toasted pretzel buns (not homemade, sorry).  The sauce that goes on this burger is good enough to eat on its own, which of course I did.  The original recipe calls for potato chips and pickles.  I didn’t have either, but I still thought these were some darn good burgers.  They weren’t as pretty as some burgers, but I don’t really care.   They’re also messy, but isn’t that a sign of a good burger?!

 Recipe Located At:


French Onion Dip Burger 


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 5 onions, 4 thinly sliced and 1 peeled
  • bay leaf
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1 cup beef consomme
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 2 pounds ground beef sirloin
  • About 1/4 cup worcestershire sauce (eyeball it)
  • A handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  •  buns, split


1.  Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and bay leaf; season with salt, pepper and the thyme.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until deep caramel and very soft, 35 minutes. Deglaze with the beef consomme; cook until all the    liquid   is almost absorbed. Let cool, then discard the bay leaf. Stir in the sour cream or Greek yogurt.

2.  Preheat a griddle or large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat (we cooked ours on the grill). Season the beef with the worcestershire, salt (for a crusty coating) and pepper. Using a box grater, grate 3 to 4 tbsp. of the peeled onion over the meat (this flavors the meat and keeps the burgers moist). Add the parsley. Mix the meat (dont overwork) and form 6 patties thinner at the center than at the edges. Drizzle with olive oil. Cook, turning once, for 6 to 8 minutes for pink centers.

3.  Serve the burgers on the buns, topped with the sauce (and potato chips and pickles if you want).


Lemon Blueberry Sour Cream Crumb Bars May 5, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 1:51 am

Yep, I’m still at it.  The lemon blueberry combination has not gotten old.  I made this recipe for a work picnic, and they were a hit. I will let you know in advance, these are more blueberry than lemon, though.  I’d actually amp up the lemon flavor in them if I make them again for myself.  If you have a crowd that prefers the blueberry to the citrus, then it is probably right up their ally.  Personally, I love a good kick of citrus.  I actually added lemon zest to the crust, which the recipe didn’t call for.  It still didn’t come through enough for my liking if I’m expecting lemon.  The crust is deliciously buttery, which always makes for a good bar.  I found I needed to bake mine longer than the recipe called for, and the center kind of all melded together so it looked more like blueberry than sour cream/blueberry.  That didn’t bother me at all, though.  Also, it always seems like I don’t have as much crumble topping as the photo of the recipe I’m making.  I think people are secretly using more than they’re telling me on their blogs.  😉


 Recipe Located At:


Blueberry Bars 



  • ½ c butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • ½ c light brown sugar
  • 1½ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp lemon zest


  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ c sour cream
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract



  1. Preheat oven to 375 and prepare an 8×8 square pan by lining with parchment paper and spraying with cooking spray.
  2. Make the crust by whisking together in a medium bowl the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the melted butter. The dough will be crumbly but make sure all of the butter is incorporated.
  3. Reserve ¾ cup of the crust and press the remaining into the bottom of your 8×8 prepared baking pan.
  4. Combine the fresh blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice in a small bowl until the combined and set aside.
  5. For the sour cream filling, mix together in a large bowl the sour cream, sugar, 1 Tbsp flour, egg, and vanilla. Pour over the crust in your 8×8 pan.
  6. Spoon the fresh blueberry mixture evenly over the sour cream.
  7. Sprinkle your reserved ¾ cup crust over the top and bake for 25-28 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely and serve into squares. Store in the refrigerator up to 3 days.

Gluten Free Lemon Blueberry Loaf April 27, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 7:56 pm

You’ll probably be seeing a lot of the lemon/berry combination over the next couple of months.  The lemon berry breakfast cookies were awesome, but I think this recipe may have topped them.  They’re different enough that the cookies don’t have to be jealous, though.  I was surprised at how moist and light this bread was.  I would describe it as a “coffee cake” type bread, but definitely not a sink-to-the-bottom-of-your-stomach coffee cake.  It’s another gluten-free recipe with my co-worker in mind.  If you’re not on a gluten-free diet, you can just use regular flour.  I made the original recipe a bit lighter with egg whites and banana instead of the eggs, and 2% milk instead of the whole milk.  You really don’t taste the banana in the final product, either.  Does it help convince you to try this recipe out if I tell you I am about to put another loaf in the oven?


 Recipe Located At:


Lemon Blueberry Loaf 


  • 1 1/2 cups Gluten-free flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 medium ripe banana, mashed very well
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries


For the syrup:

  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp. agave syrup


For the glaze (which you could probably skip if you want to save on sugar):

  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tsp. fresh lemon juice


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  In a medium size bowl mix flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, beat the coconut oil, organic cane sugar and lemon zest on medium-high speed. When color lightens, add the eggs one at a time, until each is fully incorporated. Add the milk and vanilla and stir. Blend in dry ingredients. In a small bowl, toss the blueberries with the 1 teaspoon gluten-free flour. Gently fold into the batter.

3.  Scrape batter into a prepared loaf pan (I lined mine with parchment paper, but you can use a non-stick spray as well). Place in the center of a preheated 350 degree oven and set the timer for 45 minutes (you may need to cook it for 50-55 minutes, whenever a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.)

4.  While the bread is baking, make the syrup: mix lemon juice and agave syrup in a small bowl (I heated the mixture in the microwave so it really formed a nice cohesive syrup).

5.  Once you have removed the bread from the oven, allow to cool for about five minutes before transferring to a plate. Using a wooden skewer, pierce the top of the bread all over using a wooden skewer, then brush  the loaf generously with the syrup, allowing it to seep into the holes.

6.  Allow the loaf to completely cool before icing it with the glaze. Stir together the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl. Drizzle the glaze over the top. Makes 1 large loaf.