Healthy Choice Simply Cafe Steamers

by April on August 17, 2016

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Healthy Choice. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support this blog!

 

Lunch is something I take very seriously, especially when it’s during the workweek. It’s a glorious hour to indulge in not working and not thinking and just spending time doing anything you want. And of course, anything I want includes eating, especially a good meal that will keep my brain ticking for a few more hours. As often as I try to pack leftovers, or a nice salad for myself, some weeks are just overwhelming and it ain’t happening. So when Healthy Choice offered me the chance to try some of the new offerings from their Simply Cafe Steamers line, I thought that this would be a great way to have something on hand that I could grab and take for lunch rather than having to go waste money and calories.

healthy choice simply cafe steamer bowls

I tried out four of their new organic steamer bowl meals and wanted to give a solid review of each one in case anyone is trying to find ways to save themselves some stress over lunch too.

Three Cheese Tortellini

healthy choice simply cafe steamer tortellini

This is a tortellini with spinach and mushrooms in a sweet marinara sauce. I took out some of the bigger mushrooms because I don’t like to have to chew mushrooms, even though I like the flavor they add to dishes, so I go for the small pieces when it comes to fungi. Sometimes frozen meals that are heated up smell amazing but don’t follow through with the taste, but this one really did. There would be no lunchtime disappointment with this one, which is a win in my book. I liked that the added spinach gave a good dose of dark, leafy greens in a meal that I find often lacks those nutrients that are needed to stay awake through the 3 o’clock slump.

Creamy Spinach & Tomato Linguini

healthy choice simply cafe steamer bowls linguine

The first thing I noticed after heating it was that the sauce had separated a bit. It wasn’t nearly as cheesy as I was imagining it would be, but maybe I was setting myself up to think it was cheesy because the packaging doesn’t say that it is- just that it’s creamy.

It may have been the anticipation of cheese where there wasn’t any, but this one wasn’t doing it for me. I passed it off to my husband to finish.

Sweet & Spicy Asian Style Noodle Bowl

healthy choice simply cafe steamer bowls asian noodles

I could tell my the smell that this one was going to be my favorite! I love noodles, especially Asian style ones. Normally I don’t love sweetness in my savory foods, but this had the perfect twinge of sweet to knock off a little bit of the spice but not much. WOW this one is not one you’d want to eat right before a meeting where you were stuck without a water bottle! It’s pleasantly spicy, but the heat does linger and sparkle across your tongue. Actually, this one would be GREAT if you were looking to increase your water consumption while working! There’s a great ratio of vegetables to noodles to sauce. I seriously wouldn’t have thought this was a microwavable meal if it was served to me elsewhere. Plus, the steaming method that these use really keep the noodles al dente and from getting oily.

Unwrapped Burrito Bowl

healthy choice simply cafe steamer bowls burrito bowl

Reading pays off ya’ll… I was super surprised to see a green sauce in the bottom of this bowl when I lifted the steamer basket off to mix everything together. It’s a tomatilla sauce, which is really nice, I’ve never really gone for tomatilla sauces when there is the option of a hearty red salsa around. But wow, this one packs a hot punch too! Again, it’s a pleasant spice, but definitely one that’ll have you hydrating frequently for a few minutes afterwards. The fact that it loads in 9 grams of protein is a huge plus for me too.
Overall I really did like three out of the four of these meals, and definitely look forward to more lunches that include these steamer bowl options! 

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Puff Pastry Tomato Pie

by April on July 20, 2016

Summertime is for tomatoes, hands down. Whether it’s plain, big red ones or every color of heirloom under the sun, I’m finding myself unable to resist the siren song of tomatoes at the farmer’s market each week. But that ain’t a bad thing because I can turn them into one of our favorite, favorite summer dishes of all time.

summer tomatoes

The Southern classic tomato pie is something that I actually had never had until just a few years ago but now it just isn’t summer without several of them, even though it’s the stupidest idea ever to turn the oven to 425 in July. I know. But it’s worth it.

Last week I was trying to clear out the freezer and came across the puff pastry sheets I forgot I bought and was like, tomato… pie… on a puff pastry. Let’s try it. I based it on my go-to tomato pie recipe, tweaking the amounts and subbing out the cheeses for a nice, sharp cheddar. Let’s just say, I made this Sunday and again Wednesday night and not just because I had several more tomatoes to use up in a short timespan.

summer tomatoes

Puff Pastry Tomato Pie

Ingredients

  • One Pepperidge Farms puff pastry sheet, thawed per directions
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 cup diced onion (yellow or red onions work great here)
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of dried basil, oregano, black pepper
  • dash of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 medium tomatoes

Directions

  1. If you haven’t already, take the puff pastry out of the freezer and thaw it out per directions on the box.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425.
  3. Heat up the oil in a small saute pan over medium heat.
  4. Add the diced onions and saute until they are just starting to brown on the edges.
  5. Meanwhile, mix 1 cup of shredded cheese, the mayonnaise, and spices together in a mixing bowl. Set aside
  6. Slice the tomatoes about 1/4″ thick. I like to use the very top of the tomato, cutting out the part where it was attached to the vine for no waste.
  7. Lay the puff pastry on a cookie sheet.
  8. Spread the onions over the puff, stopping about 1/4″ from the outer edges.
  9. Lay the tomatoes over the onions, overlapping them if desired.
  10. Take this opportunity to fold the edges of the puff pastry inwards just a bit, like 1/8″. tomato pie on puff pastry
  11. Spread the cheese and mayo mixture over the tomatoes, using your fingers if necessary to get it to cover the tomatoes as best as possible.
  12. Top the mayo mixture with the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese.
  13. Let it ride in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the cheese on top is brown and the puff pastry is puffed and golden brown.

tomato pie on puff pastry

Here’s a tip you probably won’t find anywhere else… once you remove your sizzling pie from the oven, you may notice oils from both the cheese and the puff pastry sliding around the bottom of the cookie sheet. As the pie cools, put an oven mitt under one edge of the pan so that the oil can slide down to the opposite edge and not sog up the bottom of the crust, PLUS it keeps you from eating that much more liquid fat!

tomato pie cooling

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The Reality of Owning Pets

July 16, 2016

This isn’t a food related topic but it’s one that I think a lot of people can empathize with: pets. I’ve always, always had at least one pet in the home for my entire life, fish totally not included. There was always at least one dog around as a kid. Often there were multiple dogs because […]

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After the Pin

July 13, 2016

If you’re like me, which is to say, a late 20s to mid 30s female that has access to a computer or smartphone and enjoys doing things with your hands, you probably have indulged in Pinterest sprees. Yes, sprees. Maybe it starts out innocently with wanting to see how a bunch of things will look […]

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Summertime Has Arrived

June 12, 2016

The mercury is up there and people are posting photos of their wildly inaccurate in-vehicle thermometers like we don’t know it’s toasty outside. For the record, some people are posting that its 109F and no, they are wrong. Though I love the warm weather, I’ve been staying in for the most part this weekend, mostly […]

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Dairy Free Coconut Ice Cream

June 7, 2016

While in DC last month, we went to a tapas place in Georgetown called Bodega and stuffed ourselves silly with so many types of Spanish dishes. But I still had to end the night with a little sweet in the form of a coconut sorbet that was pure and rich and amazing. It’s the kind […]

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Palmetto Pinball Club — An Underground Aboveground Gaming Experience

June 1, 2016

To prep yourself to read this post, go ahead and click on this YouTube link and get the song going before proceeding. We’re getting some pretty cool things happening in Columbia, including a semi-secret pinball club. Patrick and I had an impromptu date night Friday that started at The Whig for some drinks and bites […]

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How Do You Know When You’re Adulting?

May 30, 2016

I recently turned 31, and cliched though it may seem, I still feel like I am either college age or close to it, not eight years past commencement. But then there are other times when I really like I am #adulting so hard, like this past week when I went to open my very own […]

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Saffron: Authentic Indian Restaurant with Mexican and Chinese Options

May 26, 2016

Yes, it’s a real thing. It’s the whole name of this new restaurant located in a non-descript building that also houses a tire store on 378 in West Columbia. I saw the sign from the road the other day and within the week dragged Patrick there with me, all because of the hilariously long name. […]

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Washington DC Girls Trip

May 24, 2016

In those ugh months of winter I saw an ad online where JetBlue was trying to entice people to click through with promises of $44 airfare. Feeling the urge for some sort of break, they lured me right in where I began perusing the places I could go for a fairly inexpensive airfare when CHS […]

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