Tuesday Reviews-Day: Keurig 2.0 K550

Tuesday Revews-Day

It’s a fun day when new toys come in the mail.

I give points for packaging, and the booklet that came with the brewer is quite spiffy with it's tissue liners, etc.

I give points for packaging, and the booklet that came with the brewer is quite spiffy with it’s tissue liners, etc.

Though I suppose it’s not quite right to call the new Keurig 2.0 system a toy, it’s more like a workhorse! I received the K550 model through an Influenster promotion and have been getting to know my new coffee maker for the past couple of weeks. Now, since this was a promotion, I figured they’d be sending out the basic model (the 350) and, believe me, I wouldn’t be complaining! I’ve wanted a Keurig for some time but I couldn’t quite justify the cost just for me since Todd drinks neither coffee nor tea. So when I picked up my brewer and found it was the large, feature-full K550 I was even more impressed, and impatient to try it out!

My first brew! See the black circle on the lid? That tells you it's the updated K-Cup that'll work in this brewer.

My first brew! See the black circle on the lid? That tells you it’s the updated K-Cup that’ll work in this brewer.

Things I love about my K550:

  • An 80 oz reservoir with a charcoal filter that means I only need to fill it up once a week (on average) for my morning coffees and evening teas. And when it needs a refill the screen asks nicely, “More water, please”
  • The brewing size options and strength control that does the measuring for me at a push of a button, saving me time, and not making me think too hard about using either a regular cup or a travel mug.
  • The choice of tank light colors to match my kitchen—it’s a small but nice detail and the little touches are what set them apart from the more utilitarian machines.
  • And, of course, the ability to brew a carafe as well as a cup! This was another big detractor to buying a Keurig in the past, since I want to be able to offer my guests coffee and cup-by-cut can be tedious in group situations.
The tank light in "action." There's also a nightlight feature that comes in pretty handy if you forget to leave the light over the stove on ;-)

The tank light in “action.” There’s also a nightlight feature that comes in pretty handy if you forget to leave the light over the stove on 😉

Some things I’m not 100% on board with:

  • It doesn’t work with the refillable pods. This has to do with the machine reading the code on the K-Cup lids for quality control issues. So my Mr. Coffee will only be put on the shelf until the old coffee stash is used up, not put out to pasture just yet.
  • The auto-brew function is only for carafes. A bit of a bummer, but it’s still so quick to brew the single-servings in the morning there’s no immediate inconvenience.
  • The samples that ship with the brewer are all caffeinated, and I don’t really do caffeine for medical reasons. You’d think that at least one sample in the multi-pack could be decaf or even one of the herbal tea blends, right? After all, judging by the website offerings, 16% of their K-Cup varieties are caffeine free in one way or another!

That last one I’d researched so I picked up a couple boxes of decaf K-Cups before the brewer arrived, then a few more when I next went to the store. Since I’d been under the weather I was drinking more tea than anything else, and a surprising perk to using the K-Cups was no tea bag in the mug to deal with. I mean, sure, duh, but it was one of those things that I was so used to dealing with that not having to was pretty cool. It’s also nice for evening cup of Sleepytime that I bring up to bed with me, not having to worry about the tea bag or a mug. My Earl Grey Decaf K-Cups are on their way and I’m really looking forward to them!

Yummy coffee on a messy desk... such is my life!

Yummy coffee on a messy desk… such is my life!

As for coffee, I’ve been switching between the Green Mountain Hazelnut Decaf and the Donut Shop Decaf in the mornings, occasionally swapping in Tazo’s Zen Green tea (not totally caffeine free, but fairly low; low enough where it doesn’t trigger my arrhythmia in any case). I’ve also got a few more cases of K-Cups coming in to try out: the current buy 2 get 2 free offer when you register your brewer at Keurig.com comes in handy for stocking up, especially if your local selection is a little spotty.

One of the big complaints I’ve seen among reviews is the fact that the older K-Cups won’t work with the 2.0 system for the same reason the refillable pods don’t: the lids don’t have the right encoding or whatever and if you try to put one in the machine it’ll give you a rather polite ‘Oops!’ message and not let you brew it. If you already have a stash of K-Cups, you may want to put off upgrading to the 2.0 system until your stock has run low.

With the size and strength brewing options of the 2.0, not to mention the little check box for teas or other specialty items, I really hope Keurig will come out with their own refillable K-Cup that’ll work in the 2.0 brewers. I’d definitely buy one so I can use it with the loose teas I have. Plus, for folks who like to support local beaneries that don’t have the volume to produce K-Cups, it’d be a great way for Keurig to bridge the gap between local coffee producers and their brewers. In the mean time, the K550 does have the option to dispense up to 6oz of hot water at a go, so I could still use my stock of tea bags up. (I suppose it’s also useful for watering down coffee for those who like theirs on the weaker side. Different strokes!)

The hot water feature. The option comes up whenever you close the top after removing the spent K-Cup, or you can press the little water droplet on the side of the screen.

The hot water feature. The option comes up whenever you close the top after removing the spent K-Cup, or you can press the little water droplet on the side of the screen.

The K-Cups do have a major leg-up on the convenience factor, though, and I certainly like that the only clean-up is taking out the used pod. The brewers do require periodic maintenance, but even that doesn’t seem too onerous (use of a descaling solution for build-up and then running a reservoir or two of water to rinse it out), and I think the use of the optional filter in the tank is supposed to keep the mineral build-up to a minimum.

Overall I’m thrilled to finally have a Keurig of my own, and I look forward to trying out the carafe feature over the holidays (when I can brew a pot of “leaded” for my family and still make my own decaf without any extra fuss). It’s made my morning and evening routines that much easier–even a few minutes saved each day adds up!

***In case I didn’t make it painfully clear already, I was sent a Keurig 2.0 K550 brewer for the purpose of testing and review through my participation with Influenster.com. All opinions expressed are my own.***

When Inspiration Strikes: Pork Cutlets Cristo

Getting a VoxBox is always a bit of a treat--this one came with the Sargento coupons and a soft-sided lunch tote.

Getting a VoxBox is always a bit of a treat–this one came with the Sargento coupons and a soft-sided lunch tote.

Todd and I take turns each week setting the menu, grocery shopping, and cooking supper. We’ve been doing it this way since we first moved in together and I am continually grateful to has a husband that enjoys cooking as much as I do. Sometimes my menus are very specific (especially if I’m working on a new cookbook review) while other times they can be pretty vague: just stating the primary protein, starch, and vegetable for the meal. Keeping a good variety of spices and condiments on hand means I can improvise at will without needing to make a special trip to the grocery store.

Such was the case last weekend when I was making pork chops. Granted, we seldom buy the old-fashioned bone-in chops, usually it’s the leaner loin chops, and this day I’d actually picked up the thin cutlets instead. As I was seasoning them with salt and pepper I was reminded of a recent conversation with friends about Monte Cristo sandwiches–a rare indulgence back in the day, there’s just something about the sweet and savory combination of the meats and cheeses with the powdered sugar and the raspberry jam, not to mention the crunch of the fried outside with the melty goodness of the cheese inside. I love those sandwiches so much that I even devised a slimmed-down version of it for my own cookbook.

While I wasn’t tempted to break out the deep fryer for supper that night, I was tempted by the flavor combination, so while the cutlets sizzled in the pan, I grabbed some grainy mustard, some strawberry preserves, and some Sargento Ultra Thin Swiss that I’d recently picked up with the coupon in my recent VoxBox from Influenster.


Pork Cutlets Cristo

Pork Cutlets Cristo

serves 4

8 pork loin cutlets (approx. 1 lb)
kosher salt, black pepper
garlic-infused olive oil
2 Tbsp grainy mustard
2 Tbsp strawberry preserves
4 slices Swiss cheese (like Sargento UltraThin), sliced in half for 8 pieces

Season cutlets with salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil into a hot frying pan large enough to accommodate all 8 cutlets.

Brown each side of the cutlets over medium-high heat, arranging the cutlets in a way that leaves the center of the pan open.

Add the mustard and the preserves to the center of the frying pan and stir together with the remaining olive oil and resulting pan juices. Top each cutlet with a half-slice of Swiss cheese and wait only long enough until it melts (should be quick) before moving two cutlets (one serving) to a place.

Spoon a bit of the strawberry-mustard pan sauce over the top of each cutlet.



I served the cutlets with a quick creamed spinach (frozen spinach cooked with a bit of butter, a bit of 2% milk, a generous handful of grated Parmesan cheese, and thickened with an arrowroot slurry) and it made for a nice and light Sunday supper. Sure, it’s not the decadence of a true Monte Cristo sandwich. To bring it closer a toasted crouton (the larger kind of French cuisine, not the smaller ones that top your salad) underneath the cutlets would be a tasty addition, and also soak up some of those pan juices, as well.

I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

4 Months and Counting Down!

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

It’s really starting to feel close, now, but I’m happy to say we’re continually ticking things off the to-do lists! Most items have been shopping-related, more on the specifics in their own good time. In fact, most of the mainstream wedding highlights have been accomplished, what’s really needed is some serious DIY time.

Things recently accomplished:

  • Secured T’s suit & tie for the wedding (still need shoes)
  • Prepped a helluva lot of wine bottles for further DIY
  • Ordered and received linens for reception tables (buying was cheaper than renting)
  • Found the perfect fabric for table runners.
  • Ordered glassware for the wine-blending ceremony.
  • And started scripting the ceremony.
  • Shopping for honeymoon essentials (get your mind out of the gutter–not THOSE kind of essentials).

According to the experts now is the time to get on with:

  • Cake tastings
  • Hair and Make-up artists
  • Music Selections
  • Addressing Invitations (according to TheKnot.com–personally I think it’s way too early for that!)

Like I said, mostly this month I need to finish up the DIYs-in-progress and get cracking on some new ones–including the invitations! T’s got some projects of his own that need working on, for that matter.

Something else cool that happened was I received one of the Something Blue Vox Boxes from Influenster.com


Disclaimer: I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

The Something Blue box is, of course, geared towards bridal party members and features Luster whitening toothpaste, Dr. Scholl’s For Her Ball of Foot shoe inserts, 2 sets of Kiss false lashes, 2 containers of Qtips Precision Tip cotton swabs and a packet of Urgent Rx powdered pain reliever.

The aspirin powder contains caffeine so I won’t be able to use it, but I’ll keep it handy for the next time Todd needs it. It certainly sounds like a good thing to put into emergency kits or bathroom baskets for the day-of! Other than that, though, I’m looking forward to trying out everything else in the box, especially the Ball of Foot inserts–I’ve used Dr Scholl’s keel cups in my flats before (for tendinitis) and they work great, so I’m hoping these will work just as well to keep my tootsies cushy all day.

So far my attempts at using false lashes have been dismal, I’ve yet to get a pair successfully on, so the fact that there are a total of 4 sets might be a good thing! Kiss includes a pair of curved tweezers to help with application, so we’ll have to see if that actually helps me or not!

Of course, the Qtips will never go to waste, especially with those pointy little tips to help correct make-up mistakes. And the toothpaste, well, it’s certainly worth a shot to see if it really does whiten like it claims. (I didn’t notice a difference when I brushed after dinner last night, but we’ll give it a few goes before passing a singular judgement.)

Coming up: our first planning meeting and how it galvanized me into action!