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MARY’S SECRET INGREDIENTS: A SUBSCRIPTION BOX REVIEW
Reviews, Subscription Boxes,

Mary’s Secret Ingredients: A Subscription Box Review

I’m kind of strange in that one of my favorite types of gifts to receive is food-related or kitchen tools. Honestly, nothing is more exciting to me than either of those things. I could get lost in William’s Sonoma or Sur La Table.

So I was excited when I first stumbled upon the Mary’s Secret Ingredients subscription box. I was using the Freebie app, which allows Chicago’s heavy social media users access to delicious food, events and more in exchange for a social shout out. Freebie was offering users this box for just the cost of shipping, so I decided to give it a try.

The first box I got was excellent and all the tools and ingredients have been used up or dispersed across my kitchen, so I decided to order another box to review… and because I enjoy the surprise of what gets included each quarter. Here’s what I got:

Mary’s Secret Ingredients: Subscription Box Review

Instead of getting a lot of random cooking ingredients that might be hard to actually imagine using, this box was a useful combination of ingredients and kitchen tools.

Mary's Secret Ingredients Subscription Box Review

Ardent Mills: Ultragrain All-Purpose Flower (Estimated Value $5) – This flour is touted as being healthier than regular white flower and can be used interchangeably in recipes without messing up your baking. Before I fully understood it, I’ve messed up recipes using whole wheat flower. This is the perfect pantry staple for people who want to be just a little healthier and don’t want to think too hard about switching up their recipes.

Coastal Goods: Sarah’s Sea Salt – Tuscan Salt (Value $6.25) – I absolutely love spices and seasonings, and this one is no exception. Rosemary is one of my favorite ways to season meat, and it’s one of the main ingredients in this mix. I’ve seen smaller packages of seasoning that retail for a higher price than this, so I’d consider it to be a value.

Jenkin’s Jellies: Hell Fire Pepper Jelly & Guava Brava Pepper Jelly (Value $14) – I’m actually quite intrigued by this spicy jelly combo. The Jenkin’s Jellies website suggests using it paired with cheese and crackers or as a topping… yum! I’ve got some experimenting to do.

POURfect Ultimate Measuring Spoons with Leveler Tool ($13.99) – This is actually one of the main kitchen tools I’ve been missing, which has resulted in many hasty and incorrect measurements when baking. Now I have no excuse! What I love about this particular set is that it’s so exact, even in super small measurements. The leveler tool helps make sure you don’t use even one grain too many.

Total Value: $39.24

Total Cost: $25. Used a 25% off discount and paid $20. Use code “LOVEBOX” before 12/4/15 for 25% off a box!

I think this subscription box is enough of a value to get it even a third time! Especially when you consider the fact that you aren’t even paying extra for curation. So far I’ve been very pleasantly surprised and each month is something new to look forward to.

Would you give Mary’s Secret Ingredients subscription box a try? What subscription boxes have you tried? Let us know in the comments!

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CheapWeek,

CheapWeek: Home Cookin’

If there was one theme to summarize this week for me, it would be: delicious food. This week was about an equal split between having awesome food out at restaurants, and spending time in my own kitchen, executing delicious recipes.

7/6 – #Foodiechats and #BetterBurgerProject at Frontier

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I’ve been lucky to become an active part of the #Foodiechats community. About a month ago, I took a trip to Aurora’s Two Brothers Roundhouse for a live event. This week, I was invited to an event at Frontier, sponsored by the Better Burger Project, which is a contest offered through the James Beard Foundation. Look for a dedicated #Foodiechats post soon. I had an awesome time and met some amazing Chicago foodies! Can’t wait until the next event 🙂

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7/7 – Farmer’s Fridge on Spring Rewards and Roasted Tomato & Garlic Soup

I bought a credit on Spring Rewards for Farmer’s Fridge that was $2 for $5 and bought myself a Buffalo Chicken Salad for lunch ($8 total). As you guys have probably already figured out, I love Farmer’s Fridge, and even featured them on a post about Best Salads in the Loop.

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For dinner, I made one of my favorite soups, Roasted tomato and garlic (with garbanzo beans). Look for a how-to coming soon on the blog!

7/8 – RPM Steak on Uber Eats and Weezer at the Taste of Chicago

One of my favorite restaurant groups, Lettuce Entertain You was featured on Uber Eats this week. They have so many awesome restaurants, including my favorite Chicago restaurant – Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba. I ordered the Mediterranean Salad from RPM Steak using a free promo code (that you could’ve gotten if you were following me on Twitter!). Even if you didn’t take advantage of the savings this week, you should sign up for LEYE’s scratch off booklet.

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After work, I headed over to Grant Park for the Taste of Chicago. I can already see a bunch of you rolling your eyes, but hear me out. Don’t go for the food. It’s over-priced and the portions are way too small. The most unique item there was rattlesnake sausage, but I wouldn’t want to eat that anyways (though my boyfriend did). Purchase natural sausage casings to store them properly. But the Taste of Chicago tends to attract big music acts, and you get to see them FOR FREE (unless you’re one of those person who HAS to be up close and personal and wants to shell out $25 for that privilege). So we snacked on some over-priced food, but got to see a big-name act, Weezer, for free. I had some bad-ass “Papas Bravas” from the Bruges Brothers food truck, which were reminiscent of spanish patatas bravas, but also had chorizo slathered all over them.

And look at these cute wine cans I found!

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7/9 – Client Breakfast

Today was an interesting day at work. A couple members of the Social Media Beast team made their way to Burr Ridge. I used my Zipcar connection to secure our transportation, and had an awesome omelette once I got there. That was probably the highlight of my day… I took it easy that night. Everyone needs a break every once in awhile!

7/10 – Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup, Chicken Enchiladas and 1000 Followers on Twitter!

Today was a big cooking day for me. I made some delicious Lemon Chicken Orzo soup after defrosting about three pounds worth of chicken. Here’s the recipe I used, if you’re curious. I love this kind of soup and made enough for a couple meals. Big batches are the key to taking care of a lot of meals with a proportionately low level of effort.

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Because I had so much chicken, I made chicken enchiladas for dinner. I modified this recipe, which was pretty easy to follow, but be careful with the oven instructions. I was past-due for some homemade enchiladas, and made some cilantro-lime rice to go with it. I’m so happy to have moved to a place with a functional kitchen! It makes creating all this delicious food so much more enjoyable than in my old studio.

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Finally, a personal goal was accomplished today when I hit the 1,000 follower mark on Twitter. Follow me if you’re interested in digital marketing news and (obviously) Chicago events and deals.

7/11 – Tour de Fat and Cafe Gaudi

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I forced myself out of bed bright and early for New Belgium Brewing’s Tour de Fat. My boyfriend somehow managed to break his bike (#spokeproblems), so we both decided to rent Divvys in case we got too drunk to bike home. That’s what I love about Divvy versus bringing your own bike everywhere. Sometimes you’re going to want to make one way trips, and you can’t do that with your own bike. We took part in the bike “parade” with a lot of crazy bikers and bikers. Next year we’ll have to come in costume! We had a few beers afterwards at the carnival. There was a silly “fashion show” featuring event attendees and free style rappers, describing each participant. We tried some of New Belgium Brewing’s small batch beers including their Hop Tart (yum!) and Pear Ginger (meh) beers. We listened to a couple bands, got some Curry Wurst from the Donermen food truck, and called it a day. At least for the Tour de Fat.

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We had a Groupon to spend at Cafe Gaudi, but stopped first at one of my boyfriend’s old haunts – Quencher’s. I hadn’t previously been to the bar and was anxious to try it out. They had my favorite shitty beer (does that even make sense?) from when I studied abroad in Barcelona – Estrella Damm.

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After Quenchers, we took the blue line to Cafe Guadi for some tapas. It was anything but authentic Spanish, but it hit the spot. We got patatas bravas, croquettas, bacon wrapped dates, and a few other “tapas” with a pitcher of sangria. Then we officially called it a night.

7/12 – Awesome Breakfast, Awesome Dinner and Apartment Organization

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One of my favorite weekend traditions is making a big, bad breakfast. I realized that today was the first time since moving that I actually went through with it! The boyfriend and I cooked up potatoes, eggs, and bacon for a perfect start to the day.

We woke up really early after passing out really early, so I spent the rest of the afternoon organizing my apartment and running some errands. I love days that I can devote completely to these activities. I also had a chance to work on some freelance projects, which is a weight off my shoulders.

Finally, I curled up on the couch to watch the end of Shark Week, and made a bad-ass bacon chicken pasta bake.

What a great week.

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