Serrano Steak: A Super Simple Savory Serving

Sorry for my excessive use of the s words, but this recipe was stupendous and extremely simple!

Now that I’m taking some time off for the summer and have time to cook, I’m getting more Hello Fresh boxes.  We had this recipe tonight and it was absolutely delightful.  I wanted to share it with you.

Worried about whether beef is good for you or not?  Check out this post and learn all about the health benefits of beef!

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Chimichurri: It’s What’s for Dinner

I thought I’d share a few recipes with you today to maybe get us talking about food and cooking again?  I love those boxes from Hello, Fresh, but dang if our schedules can get synced!  Every week that I have time to cook and want a box, they have recipes that feature things I don’t eat, like broccoli and salmon.  Yuuuuuuuuuuuck.   When they have cool looking recipes, I am traveling or busy and can’t order the box.

I do, however, keep an eye on their recipes.  It’s always an option to print them out and make them at home, which is what I’m going to do with my latest craving, and that’s for something with chimichurri sauce.

If you have never eaten chimichurri sauce, you don’t know what you are missing!  It is so flavorful, and super easy to make.  It’s a South American condiment with a parsley or cilantro base.  Some recipes call for both parsley and cilantro.  From there, recipes vary regarding ingredients.  I’ve seen recipes that include garlic, chili peppers, cumin and shallots.  Then you need a liquid (usually vinegar) and an oil to make it all blend together.  You just put the ingredients in a food processor and whirl them into this amazing sauce that is bursting with a fresh taste and vibrancy you just don’t get anywhere else.

For a great chimichurri sauce recipe, look to Bon Apetit Magazine by clicking here.

You can use chimichurri on steak, chicken, and even on vegetarian dishes if you’re not a meat fan.   Here are two recipes from Hello, Fresh that are particularly appealing and that I’ll be making in the next few days.

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Pan Seared Steak–Oh This is a Good One!

OMG this one was to die for.  I gave my son about 2/3 of the meat since he’s a growing boy.  I warned him not to waste a bite of it, so he eventually got full and gave me two slices of the meat back.  I devoured them.  This is one recipe I will make again.

The Witch’s Tips for the Best Results

  • If you have some fresh thyme, strip the leaves off a few stems of it and toss with the potatoes and onions. Some chopped fresh rosemary or even parsley leaves (Italian parsley) would work.
  • Pull the meat out of the fridge an HOUR before time to cook.  Get it to room temperature to ensure a thoroughly even cooking temperature.
  • Have your pan absolutely smokin’ hot when you put in the meat.  You want that lovely sear on it.
  • Use a microplane if you have it to grate the garlic down to a wonderful paste.  This is preferable to chopping or mincing it.
  • Use Irish butter in place of regular butter in the pan sauce.  You won’t regret it!

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Chicken & Nectarine Panzanella… YUM!

downloadAs you know, I subscribe to Hello Fresh.  It’s a meal service that’s just amazing in terms of great recipes and fresh ingredients.  Last week they sent a recipe that I loved so much I want to share it with you here.

This is a wonderful salad that may not sound that appetizing on the surface but when you put all the flavors and textures together?  Oh WOW is it something special!  Even the raw zucchini ribbons are delicious and I’m not a big zucchini fan.  My only advice is don’t skip any of the ingredients, because they all go so well together.  Plus it’s chock full vitamins, minerals, fiber, and all kinds of good things your body needs.  Enjoy and let me know what you think!

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Dinner in a Box: An Update

54e491586ced6e484a8b4568Several months ago I wrote about the dinner-in-a-box services I’ve subscribed to.  I’d like to bring you an update about those.

When last I wrote about this, there were three services I had tried:  Blue Apron, Hello Fresh and Plated.  I only tried Plated a couple of times.  Their recipes just didn’t speak to me the way the ones from Blue Apron did.  Hello Fresh also had good recipes that were, in my estimation, more appealing than those from Plated.  Plated was also more expensive and I really didn’t like that.  Plus you have to pay a membership fee to get the lower price ($12 per meal) from Plated, otherwise their meals are $15 each.

From around October through January I got virtually no shipments from any of the services.  It seemed like the weeks I had time to cook the recipes were unappealing (ie, they had salmon or broccoli in them).  The weeks they had great looking recipes?  I was traveling or busy with holiday meals and parties.  In February and March it seemed like all the food planets aligned for me and my son.  The recipes started looking more and more appealing and my schedule opened up so that I could actually make time to prepare them.

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The very best part about Hello Fresh is the packaging–they bag all the ingredients by recipe.  So, all you have to do to unpack your shipment is throw a few bags in the fridge.  All you have to do to prepare for dinner is grab the appropriate bag of ingredients and the corresponding package of protein (meat, fish, etc) and you’re ready to start cooking.  This is where Blue Apron is lacking–they pack all the ingredients loosely in a box and you have to pull them out individually.  It’s not that time-consuming of a process but it is more work.

I keep both services set to NOT send me a shipment, just in case I get busy and forget to check to see if I like the recipes that week.  It is Murphy’s Law that if I forget to cancel a shipment that will surely be the one that’s filled with icky things I don’t eat.

The routine we’ve settled into is this:  if I know I will be home and able to cook the following week, then I check both services to see which one has the better recipes.  (I am yet to happen upon a week in which both were equally appealing.  If that ever happens I guess I’ll have to buy both boxes!)  I can usually decide which ones is better, but if I’m torn I show them to my son and let him choose.  The box arrives on a Thursday or a Friday, just in time for weekend cooking fun.

Each two-portion recipe is very generous in terms of serving size.  If we have a guest over we can usually make it stretch to three servings, although some require augmenting with some extra pasta or salad I have on hand.

Sometimes things go wrong, but that’s rare.  In over a year I’ve one box from one of the services arrive with one ingredient missing.  It was garlic, which I had on hand anyway.   forcard_splash_featureI’ve received at least one shipment from both Blue Apron and Hello Fresh in which one of the ingredients was rotten or spoiled.  Never the important stuff like the meat, but, for example, once I got a lemon that was rotten on one end.  Another time I got a package of fresh herbs that had gotten all slimy and mushy.  When this kind of thing has happened and I e-mailed them, I always received a quick apology plus a $10 credit on my account to make up for the inconvenience.  You can’t ask for much more than that.  All-in-all, though, I have to say they both do an excellent job of packing fresh food accurately and making sure that everything is included.

Here are a few of my favorite Hello Fresh Recipes you might enjoy trying for yourself.  Just pick up the ingredients at your local grocery store!

And, here are a few of the really good Blue Apron recipes, too:

If you want to try either of these, please send me your e-mail address to info@broomwithaview.com and I will send you an invite.  For Hello Fresh you get $40 off your first box of food and I get $20 credited to my account.  For Blue Apron I don’t get anything, but, I do have free boxes of food to give away to you and I’m happy to share!

 

 

 

Dinner in a Box

There are several companies now that send you what I call “dinners in a box.” They send you original recipes that include step-by-

A Blue Apron boxed shipment.

A Blue Apron boxed shipment.

step instructions, plus all the ingredients you need to create each recipe.   You supply salt, pepper, oil, and the prescribed pots, pans and utensils.  I’ve tried three of these services and I want to share my experience with them here.

The concept behind this is to let you make fresh, healthy meals at home.  Skip take-out, avoid trips to the grocery store, and just enjoy your chilled box of fresh meat, seafood, vegetables and condiments that arrives at your door each week.  The services I have tried all had certain things in common.

  • They sell meals in two-portion servings.  If you’re cooking for one this probably isn’t practical.  But, for a family of two or four, the portions make sense.
  • You receive three unique meals for three different days of the week.  Typically you get a beef, a fish, and a poultry.
  • If you’re vegetarian, they have options for you, too.
  • If there’s a particular type of protein you dislike, you can specify that.
  • There’s little or no waste because you get exactly the amount of food you need to prepare the servings you’ve purchased.  If you need one stalk of celery that’s what you receive (rather than entire bunch).
  • The calorie count for each meal is included, and is typically under 600 or 700 calories.
  • The food is shipped in an insulated box with ice packs that will keep food fresh and cold for at least two days.  So, for instance, they can ship (either FedEx or UPS) on Wednesday and your box arrives on Friday.  The food is still cold when it gets there (I live in the south and found it to stay cold even during our hot summer months).  Meanwhile the company didn’t pay for super expensive overnight shipping, which in turn keeps the prices reasonable.
  • You can skip any shipment if you don’t like the recipes being offered.  You typically have to make that decision 7 days in advance, otherwise they ship you the box automatically.
  • The cost per meal is usually $10 to $15.  So, while it is more expensive than buying the food fresh, it’s still cheaper than a restaurant, plus there’s no tax and no tip to pay.  I also think it saves money if you tend to impulse buy at the grocery store, since you can avoid that place completely as long as you have oil, salt and pepper in the house.
An actual Blue Apron shipment I received.

An actual Blue Apron shipment I received.

As I mentioned, I have tried three of these services:  Blue Apron, Plated, and Hello Fresh.  I’ll tell you a little bit about each of them.

The Services

Blue Apron is the first one I tried.  I have been a subscriber for about 9 months now.  They ship in a cardboard box that has an insulated liner.  Those boxes make awesome disposable travel coolers when you need to keep food or beverages cold, so I save them all in my garage.  The food is generally loose in the box, with meat and fish on the bottom, then vegetables and other ingredients on top.  Each recipe has a little brown paper bag of “knick-knacks” you’ll need, such as vinegar, a special herb or spice, etc.  When it’s time to cook, choose one of your three recipe cards (which are very well-written, and have nice big photographs on them to guide you), pull your ingredients, listed on the card, grab the bag of knick-knacks, and follow the instructions step-by-step.

The one drawback of Blue Apron is you do not get any choice of recipes each week.  They have three offerings, and you either take the whole box or you skip that week’s shipment.

I then tried Plated.  The beauty of Plated is you get to choose meals from a selection of offerings.  You can specify that you want one steak entree (which, again, is going to feed two people), but two of the chicken entrees for that week.  Their packaging system is very similar to Blue Apron’s, though they bag the ingredients by recipe.  That is super convenient!  I confess, though, that I just didn’t care for their recipes.  I watched them for weeks until they offered something I wanted, and the recipes were good, but not great.  They just weren’t as flavorful as what we had gotten used to from Blue Apron.  Also, they have a membership fee you have to pay to get the meals for $12 each.  Otherwise, they are $15 each.  Kind of steep, if you ask me.

You may recognize Plated from the ABC show “Shark Tank.”

Hello, Fresh is the latest one that I tried.  I tried it because they had a special offer on Zulily for discounted vouchers.  I was able to the four-person box for $51.  That box contains 12 individual meals (three recipes, four services of each), and normally sells for $129.  I couldn’t pass up that deal–less than $5 per meal sounded great!

I have since received two of their boxes and am very impressed with the packaging.  Everything ships in a styrofoam cooler packed inside a cardboard box.  Everything is bagged according to recipe and

My "layout" of an actual Blue Apron recipe.  I get out all the ingredients before starting to prep the dish.

My “layout” of an actual Blue Apron recipe. I get out all the ingredients before starting to prep the dish.

very clearly labelled.  If you are ordering for four people the ingredients are packaged in units of two.  So, you can make all four servings at once, or, you can make two servings tonight, and save the other two for another night.  The recipe cards are not quite as big and easy to read as the ones from Blue Apron, but, the recipes were flavorful and very good (except for the turkey burgers, but then again I’ve never had a decent turkey burger anywhere that I can recall.)

They also give you five recipes to choose your three from.  If you don’t choose they select for you, but, at least you have some options in case one of them doesn’t sound appetizing.

Should You Subscribe?

A chef friend of mine told me, after I kept posting pictures of my food boxes and the finished meals on Facebook, that I needed to “take off the training wheels” and start cooking for myself.  But, I enjoy trying new recipes and ingredients that I otherwise wouldn’t try (who knew I would love “forbidden rice?”)  I also enjoy not going to the grocery store, and that admittedly is one of the main reasons I continue to get a box of food (from either Blue Apron or Hello, Fresh) almost every week as long as the recipes look promising.

One thing you can do if you aren’t sure is try them out–none of these services require long-term commitments.  Some have free or cheap trial offers.   (I currently have five free boxes of food I can send out to friends.  If you want to try one, e-mail me at info@broomwithaview.com and I will send you an e-mail invite.)   Give it a try to see what you think.  You can cancel any of these services after just one or two boxes, if that’s what you decide you want to do.